Admit it: we’ve all had times when we’ve thought, “Yep—my kid’s a brat.” Maybe it was after a day of incessant whining, crying, or battles of the will. Or maybe it was in the middle of the grocery store when she has a melt-down because you said no to the lollipop. Or maybe it was even on Christmas morning, amidst the torrent of wrapping paper and boxes, when he started screaming, “Where’s my new transformer!!!!? Why didn’t you get me my new transformer!!!!?” Yep—this one’s a brat.
Well, Kevin Leman claims that it is possible to change this “bratty” behavior, and...ready for the best part?...he says that’s it’s possible in just five days. In his book, Have a New Kid by Friday, Leman addresses behavior problems for toddlers through teens and poses a relatively simple solution: take back the control in your home.
The book is organized by days—Monday through Friday—with a question and answer section entitled “Ask Dr. Leman” to close out the end of the book. Each day he gives specific tips and goals to accomplish.
For starters, in the Monday chapter he has readers ask themselves the question, “Who is really in charge of your family?” He addresses today’s prevalent problem of disrespectful kids, where parents are basically treated like servants: doing the laundry, making the meals, chauffeuring to events, all while the children disobey, grumble and complain, and issue orders. The goal for Monday is observation—observe how your home is run. Monday is also where he introduces one of the major techniques in the book: “Say it once, turn your back and walk away.” In other words, what you say is what you do. You shouldn’t have to give your child multiple warnings or get into an argument over your request—he should hear what you say and do it the first time.
Tuesday’s chapter focuses on character. The goal is to take note of your own attitude, which is so often reflected in your children (they had to learn it somewhere, right?). He gives three tips for building character: 1. Don’t rescue your kids from the consequences of their behavior (If Laura forgets her lunch, I guess she’ll be going hungry that day). 2. Don’t simply react—instead, respond in a way that meets your child where they’re at (Just because Josh is cranky doesn’t mean he deserves to be yelled at—maybe he’s had a bad day and needs to talk about it). 3. B doesn’t happen until A is completed (There is no going to a friend’s house [B] until the trash gets taken out [A].)
On Wednesday, he gives the three basic types of parenting: Permissive (“Have you chosen to go to bed yet?”), Authoritarian ( “Get to bed NOW!”), and Authoritative (“Let me know when you’re done brushing your teeth and I’ll come tuck you in.”) So the goal for Wednesday is to figure out what type of parent you are and remember that “rules don’t work without relationship.”
Thursday’s focus is encouraging your child. Leman says, “Every child lives up to the expectation you have for him.” He explains the difference between praise and encouragement: praise links the act to the person (“You’re so cute when you sing that song!”), whereas encouragement focuses on the act itself (“What a great song! Where’d you learn it?”) He also gives the ABC’s of encouragement: Acceptance, Belonging, and Competence. All three of these elements are important in a child’s journey to becoming an adult.
In the Friday chapter, he says, “Get ready to put the plan in motion!” He gives “The Top Ten Countdown to Having a New Kid by Friday,” which basically summarizes all the tips discussed in the book:
10. Be 100 percent consistent in your behavior.
9. Always follow through on what you say you will do.
8. Respond, don’t react.
7. Count to 10 and ask yourself, “What would my old self do in this situation? What should the new me do?”
6. Never threaten your kids.
5. Never get angry. (But when you do, apologize quickly.)
4. Don’t give any warnings (If you warn your child, you’re saying, “You’re so stupid, I have to tell you twice.”)
3. Ask yourself, “Whose problem is this?” (Don’t own what isn’t yours)
2. Don’t think the misbehavior will go away.
1. Keep a happy face on, even when you want to…..do something else.
Overall, Have a New Kid by Friday is an entertaining, yet thought-provoking and practical read. Leman’s humor makes the book extra enjoyable, and his tips are easy to understand and implement. The book presents a broad-spectrum overview of discipline and addresses issues relevant to children of every age. After you finish reading it and putting it into practice, you may not have an entirely new kid by Friday, but he will certainly be at least a little less of a brat.
You can get a copy of Have a New Kid by Friday at Amazon or you local bookstore. Would love to start a discussion about Have a New Kid by Friday on our facebook page. We will update this page & send out a facebook status when it's all set up.