Monday, May 25, 2020

Pre-Teen: A Lingering Fever

Image by Hanna Kovalchuk from Pixabay

We are having some trouble with our 12 year old son. I can see how things have progressed and how we haven't quite followed the Rosemond plan. He is very rude with his sisters, he talks back a lot and this is when things escalate. He gets upset when things aren't to his liking. For example, if they are doing something in school he finds boring, he gets really flippant toward the teacher, or when we tell him something he doesn't like. If it I were to focus on one problem it would be handling adversity or bad news or situation he doesn't like. The biggest problem is talking back after the initial reprimand. It has escalated and we don't know how to reel it back in. He has spent days in his room. When he goes to his room he slams things and yells. So, how do we stop the backtalking and deescalate things back to a normal level?

In previous generations, acts of disrespect and temper tantrums used to be solely the property of three to six year olds. I have worked with teens and preteens for decades as a teacher and basketball coach, and I have watched the rise of a total lack of emotional resilience among these older children as well. Your realization that you haven't used consistently the traditional Judeo-Christian discipline methods that Rosemond espouses in your son's life is a major positive step. The downside is that you need to understand that reigning your son back in, will be more difficult at age 12, and will get worse before it gets better--especially if not nipped in the bud.
Suggestion (a version of Rosemond's Strikes method):

Put a list of two target misbehaviors on an index card attached to the fridge. From what I gather the list should consist of:
A. Lack of Emotional Control(temper tantrums)
B. Verbal Disrespect and Attitude

Explain to your son exactly what those mean.

Initially, when he misbehaves in either of those two target areas, give him a strike. Allow him two strikes per day. On the third strike, he's out!  Give him a consequence; one that is memorable, and emotionally painful. Two strikes may be given for one offense if the behavior is egregious enough. But first, you and your wife(?) must make a list of possible consequences that you could levy upon your son that would be memorable. These consequences must be big. Examples include no TV, phone or video games for three weeks; early bedtime for two weeks; extra chores for a month; no hanging with friends for 12 days, canceling a birthday party,  etc. These should be your strike 3 consequences.

Points to remember: This will hurt for a time; if done right, a short time. Do not cave--especially when the "I hate you"s appear and the tears flow.  Never communicate or try to reason with him during one of his emotional conniptions. Just walk away. Stayed poised and calm as you leave, telling him you will let him know what his consequence will be.

I do recommend hiring a Rosemond Parenting Coach. It will be worth the investment.  There are a lot of nuances on how to implement this strategy that may help clarify the process. At a minimal cost, some professional support may be necessary

Ask yourself: Just as we fear (awe and respect) God, does your son fear you?? Or are you a bit afraid of your son? Does your son know without a shadow of a doubt that it is HIS job to listen to you? Or does he believe it is YOUR job to listen to him?

During this time of enforcement, show him extra affection and love when the  "iron is cold."  Those times may be few and far between at first, so take advantage of them. Eventually one day, you will be singing along with a famous 19th-century author:

        Thank Heaven! the crises-
              The danger is past,
            And that lingering illness
              Is over at last-
            And the fever called "Pre-Teen"
              Is conquered at last.

Mike Smart, CLPC
"Parenting OutSmarted"   

Monday, April 20, 2020

6 Strikes in 1 At-bat

Hi John, my 9yr old daughter has taken to raising her voice, screaming, arguing, sarcasm and just downright disrespect when things aren't going her way. We have a target misbehavior chart and she can easily get 6 strikes within a tantrum - focuses on yelling, doing as you're told and harmful behavior (this last one is probably redundant). I am in the process of cleaning out her room for a lockdown when she gets home. During the tantrum she very much becomes the victim - it's not fair, everyone always takes, no-one ever does anything for me, etc... And then becomes sorry. One thing she always does is question what she has done - we always say it's the disrespect and how she is talking, but she doesn't seem to understand this??? Am I on the right track? What else can I do? I'm feeling quite deflated, upset and not sure of myself. Thanks ☹️

It sounds like you could use the help of a certified Rosemond Leadership Parenting Coach. It may be worth the reasonable expense. However, I do believe you are on the "right track"; and if you're not? So what?!!  As long as you "say what you mean and mean what you say", and don't cave---almost anything will work.  Be consistent and be patient.  And have a sense of humor when you can.
It does sound like a " lockdown" may be in order.  I wasn't quite clear on the Target Misbehaviors--was "Harmful Behavior" one of them?  That seems to be too broad of a category. Maybe you could have just two fairly specific Target Misbehaviors:  Emotional Rants and Disobedience, for instance.
Also, I don't believe a child should garner all six strikes within an episode;maybe two at the most. Remember, you can give a punishment before six strikes if you deem it necessary.Is there a "Tantrum Room" at your disposal in which you can put your daughter for 10 to 30 minutes? You can make use of that and an alarm clock as well. Another little strategy during one of her conniption fits:  tell Gertrude she has 3 minutes to run around the house five times;rain/shine/ hot/cold--doesn't matter. And the clock starts NOW!  It's amazing how that physical exercise release sometimes does help the child calm down.
Also, how do you typically respond when she throws a tantrum? Conversely, how do you respond to her when she "feels sorry"?

May I also recommend utilizing the Art of Obliviousness----whenever your daughter employs her negative attention-seeking behavior.
Be oblivious to her yelling by "making a phone call"; ignore her temper tantrum by walking away to "do the laundry."  Give your husband a kiss on the lips and laugh and hug with him while she is melting down.  In other words, pretend not to notice your daughter and her egregious behavior while it is occurring, because you're busy doing other things. Later, when things have calmed down, you can always mete out strikes or give consequences. The key is to NEVER respond to her by yelling, losing your poise, or giving her attention while the "iron is hot."  And remember:  her "side of the story" is irrelevant--you're not going to listen to her excuses, especially while her emotions are out of control.
        Let me know how the lockdown works. And, if necessary, employ a Rosemond Parenting Coach--who is always more-than-eager to help.

Mike Smart, CLPC
"Parenting OutSmarted"

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Terrible Twos Part II: The Teen Years

Image by Anastasia Gepp from Pixabay

My daughter is 14 years old and she thinks she is crazy in love for a boy in her school , same grade. She doesn't have a smart phone . But she bought an old phone from a friend for 80 dollars and used the phone to chat with her friends and the boy without our knowledge. We found that out yesterday. She hates me and my husband and wants to live at her friends house as they are the most loving and caring people in the world. She also writes about how she hates me as a parent and uses very strong cuss words to describe me as I am against her getting a phone.She tells me that she wants to pack her things and leave the house. Please advise.

Your daughter has hit the "Terrible Twos Part II"; thus ending the Season of Leadership and Authority(ages 3-13). She truly is exerting her independence---which can be good if done in a profitable way for parent and child. It appears she is not doing it profitably. I, personally, have waded through the rumbustious waters of raising three daughters who were all in high school at the same time. And I lived to tell about it--ha!
      I would recommend investing a few hundred dollars in hiring a Rosemond Parenting Coach.  One online response to your above concerns from an expert in teen behavior may not be as helpful as you were hoping. There are just too many issues to cover. There are some concerns and questions that I have as well that may require more information.  Remember: You DO need to handle a teen differently than you did when she was a child.
 Food for Thought:  Where is the phone that she bought, without your knowledge? Does she still use it?  What were the consequences/punishment  for her doing that?  The defiance and disrespect she has shown in her writings---her hateful rhetoric and use of cuss words, etc., ---are a bit alarming, but not horribly unusual in families. Were there consequences for any of that?   Her writings? To whom is she writing these things?  As far as her relationship with the boy, have you established dating rules in your household?
     At this age, maintaining an open/sharing/communicative relationship with your daughter is key. At this point that sounds like a monumental task. But it is possible, with help.   But you will need to have a Meeting of Matters with your daughter where items are discussed such as what exactly are Privileges--and how Privileges are determined to the degree that the teen is responsible. For instance, having a smartphone is not a Right--it's a Privilege. And receiving a privilege is dependent  upon her ability to be responsible--in her behavior, choice of friends, language, family chores, grades, etc. To address  these concerns and others,  and to discuss how to lead a Meeting of Matters with your child, I suggest your hiring a Parenting Coach.   It WILL be worth it. This needs to be nipped in the bud NOW.

Mike Smart, CLPC
"Parenting OutSmarted" 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

It Takes a Man to Teach a Boy to be a Man

I read John Rosemond's June articles on fathering and see the pattern he sees all the time: grown-up sons who amount to nothing.  I have 3 boys ages 9, 7, and 4 and want much better for them.  There are hardly any good books on fathering and John's books give advice to both parents. 

The only books I can recommend on being a husband and father are Rev. CR Wiley's books, "Man of the House" and "The Household and the War for the Cosmos." 

Does John have any specific advice and timelines on what fathers should teach their sons?  For example, should fathers teach them how to make things, repair things, personal finance, self-defense, how to talk to women, etc? When should fathers teach their sons things?

I've noticed that women are primarily interested in safety and nurture and men are much more "law and order" and are more-inclined to give their boys freedom to take risks.  It seems to me that emphasis on safety and nurture are detrimental after a certain age and definitely prevent boys from developing into men.  This is where fathers are really important.  Does John (or anyone else) have an opinion on how to raise boys who are resilient and self-motivated?

 In general, in a two-parent home, the primary responsibility in raising boys should be gradually transferred from the wife to the husband when the boys are still in elementary schools. I'm not positive about your marital status, but either way--the ball's in your court now with your sons. Remember: IT TAKES A MAN TO TEACH A BOY TO BE A MAN. And this is NOT to underplay the importance of the mother in a boy's life whatsoever.  But I do believe you are correct in saying that safety and nurture should gradually give way to more risk-taking freedom. You want to teach your boys how to protect others, not to have to be protected by others.  I also believe that teaching boys about personal finances, household/car repairs, self-defense, etc., are very important skills  to be taught. But the traditional, Judeo-Christian view of the characteristics that make a man:  good manners, good citizenship, toughness, sacrifice, composure, responsibility---should be taught from day one; especially the art of how to treat women. Teach your boys  to hold the door open for women and  say "yes, Ma'am" and "no, Ma'am." Teach them that women are to go ahead of them in line. Teach them to value the opinion of a woman as much as  or more than their own. And don't allow pornography to infiltrate their lives in any way.  And the only way for a boy to learn these skills is to practice them. A man without manners is not a man at all.

We don't want to raise wussified men. Love your sons dearly, tenderly--but never coddle them or allow them to play the victim. Some of what I said is not politically correct, and you will not hear much of this from some of the books on parenting. So YOU will have to teach your boys--starting now. It is never too early. And once you have trained them and they have mastered these concepts,  they will stand out from the rest of the world. They will be different than most--but in such a good way! 

Contact me for any further advice.

Mike Smart, CLPC
"Parenting OutSmarted"


Friday, January 31, 2020

Too Much To-Do From a Toddler

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

At 21 months, your daughter is still at the age where punishment/consequences are not the answer. She is still in Stage 1, the Season of Service, where she is solely dependent upon you, yet she thinks she is at the center of the universe; and that if you don't respond to her desires constantly and continually as she would like you to, she may very become upset.

First, you cannot enable your child by picking her up each time she cries. Once you develop that habit, she will become conditioned to cry until you do pick her up--even if it takes an hour of crying/fussing. Secondly, inform her that you will pick her up only when she stops crying, whining. And avoid, if at all possible, picking her up when she does so.  Only pick her up after she has been quiet for several seconds--even minutes as she learns her lesson.  If she continues throwing a fit, pick her up and place her in her crib. And leave her there.  And trust me--she will not be happy. Buy some ear plugs-ha!  After 5-15 minutes, if she is quiet, you may get her. If she hasn't calmed down, be prepared to wait her out. The next time she "has a cow", you can try playing deaf and ignore her, but after a time---back to the crib she goes.  Use the baby monitor to periodically check on her if need be. And get ready--- she WILL wail for an extensive period of time at first.  One little thing I would do if I had to go get my daughter out of her crib for an appointment or a meal, etc., was I would go to her crib room door and while she was fussing, open it a crack and bark like a dog one time, then another, etc., hoping she would stop her crying long enough  to listen for a second so I could get her. But I always tried my best not to get her until there was some semblance of silence.  Be prepared!  The first few times she is "encribbed," she will throw an extensive fit; it will pull on your heartstrings and test your patience. But if you don't cave at all, she will be become trained to be calm and ask nicely if she wants attention and hugs.  And by the way, when she does ask you to pick her up in a nice manner, you should most of the time early on. But as time moves on, you should be able to say "no"  off and on without a negative reaction on her part. Learning to entertain herself for extensive periods of time is a "must" for a child, so as to enhance their imagination and creativity---and allow you some peace and quiet.

Mike Smart, CLPC
"Parenting OutSmarted"
Certified Parenting Coach

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Kerfuffling Kids

Hi! I have a 9 year old daughter and boy/girl twin 7 year olds. The twins tend to play really nicely together. They are also in the same class and the same group on the swim team. My 9 year old has verbalized feeling left out on multiple occasions. We encourage them to all play together but it often ends in a fight. Three really does seem to be a crowd! The 9 year old sometimes chooses a twin to play with and then leaves the other one out or is mean to them. I can’t properly describe it but it’s really sad and hard to watch. I don’t know what to do other than encourage them to all play together and talk to her about how she’s acting. Please help!

Stop monitoring their playtime, and RELAX. Stop trying to figure out who's to blame, and who's the victim. Stop allowing them to run in and whine to you.  Stop listening to each child's "side of the story."
         Give them two rules when the three of them play together: 1) No whining, running to mom, or tattling 2) No physicality(pushing, punching, etc).  Other than that, let them fight their own battles--without your involvement. Relax and enjoy the time alone. Maturity in a child comes with experiencing conflict, AND figuring out how to work things out between each other. Feelings will get hurt and one child may get left out at times. That's okay. Any time they break one of the rules and one comes to you whining or hurt from being hit---ALL three should be put in the PeaceMaking Room, a room such as the boring laundry room where there is very little to do, no entertainment, etc. Set an alarm clock for 15 minutes--if they keep complaining or slow-walk it to the PeaceMakingRoom(PR), then keep adding minutes: if they have to go to the bathroom or get a drink, add a minute, etc.  Do not listen to each individual's "story", just tell them they have 60 seconds(or whatever)to get in the PR. Their job in the PR is to work things out between each other and when the allotted time is up, you will check and see if they have solved the problem(s). Then they may come out.  If they haven't, add more time and back in to the PR they go. Invariably, they will say that they have worked things out. You may send them out to play again, or add a bit of spice to their punishment if the situation seems extra egregious, by assigning an extra  chore for them to do first.
In essence, when one breaks either of the two playtime rules, ALL must enter the PR.(One caveat: If you start to notice a pattern over time where one sibling in particular seems to be the one consistently causing the conflict, only that child will be sent to the PR; in addition, an early bedtime for a week or so may be in order). It won't take long before this goes from an major, emotionally-wrenching stressor, to just a periodic, rare, minor kerfuffle.

Mike Smart, CLPC
"Parenting OutSmarted"

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Prevarications, Pranks and Privileges

My 5 year old child seems to be developing a habit for lying.  Last night, he stayed with a friend and her two kids while I attended a meeting.  On our way home, he told me this..."Zachary did something really, really bad tonight.  His Mom told him to get the toys picked up and now!  But, he just kept on playing and she brought the belt in and whipped his tail....he still didn't pick up the toys and she made him go to bed to sleep".   I said, "really?"  He further added a couple of details....  Following this supposed incident....I asked if he was sure that really happened...he again said yes!  I then told him that I noticed When I returned he and Zachary were playing and picking up toys when I, if his Mom sent Zachary to bed to sleep, how was he still up when I got there?  Of course, he had no answer.....I then told him that when we got home and I was not driving, I would either call or text Miss Amanda to find out what happened because she didn't mention any of that to me when I picked him up.  The, the "Oh no Grandma, don't call her or text her, I was just pranking you!".  I used that opportunity to given him examples of a "prank" verses telling a lie.....

This isn't the first time he has given me detailed situations which were entirely made up occurred.  His mother, my daughter was an avid liar and still is today.  I really want and need to try to nip this bad habit in the bud.  We have had many past conversations about telling the truth with positive reinforcement for the truth and no significant negative consequences when he is truthful even if it's something he knew better than to do....

Suggestions to curb this habit now?


"What a tangled web of tales we weave, when first we practice to deceive!"  What an imagination youngsters possess, and the raging rush a preschooler feels when he first starts learning to tell a lie is tantalizing.  As their moral sense develops, we hope our children will outgrow the deceptive tendencies that all children possess at some point during their growing-up years. Because of the ubiquity of Imagination Prevarication all children, I believe things will work out fine--as long as you nip it in the bud NOW. Dishonesty, deception and lying are very serious matters deserving of very serious consequences. In addition, lying DOES work in the short term, so it can be addicting.  Suggestions:
     1. Let your grandson know that until further notice, pranking is equivalent to lying.
     2. When you think he is lying--he is. Even if later you discover he really hadn't been lying in a particular instance, his past behavior has given rise to your assumption of his lying. Be sure and let your son know that his habitual past behavior will definitely influence your present viewpoint.
    3. Since lying can develop into a serious habit, serious consequences are needed.  The next time  he tells one of his "stories", take away several of his prized possessions and privileges--ones that will make him feel some emotional pain when he cannot avail himself of them. He can earn one possession/privilege back for every week or ten days he goes without lying.  And each time he lies , he loses another possession/privilege. In 2-3 months, hopefully this budding habit will be a thing of the past.
4.  Avoid talking about his lying if at all possible. Don't get into long discussions about it. The less it is discussed, the less the attention he will get for his "stories."
5.  I have allowed for my children's imaginative storytelling, as long as he is not intentionally trying to mislead
  Let me know how it all works out.

Mike Smart, CLPC


Pre-Teen: A Lingering Fever

Image by Hanna Kovalchuk from Pixabay QUESTION: We are having some trouble with our 12 year old son. I can see how things have progre...