“My hyper 4-year-old runs around the house every single night.” – Ask Dr. Leman 161 (Episode 345)


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It’s time for another Ask Dr. Leman: “My hyper 4-year-old runs around the house every single night.” Listen in to find out Dr. Leman’s response on today’s episode of Have a New Kid by Friday Podcast.

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Doug: Go to bed and stay there. Ah, what are you doing out of your bed again? I said, “Go back the bed and stay there.” What, she’s up again?
Does this sound familiar? Do you ever struggle with trying to keep that three-year-old or four-year-old in bed? Well, that’s the question that [Tabor] asked that we get to ask Dr. Leman for her and hear what he has to say about [inaudible 00:00:28]. Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.

Andrea: And I’m Andrea.

Doug: And we are really, really, really, really, really glad that you are with us today. And if this happens to be your first time, I’d like to know this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter raises any concerns for you or a child, please go seek a local professional for help. Well, if you ever want to leave a question, you can go to birthorderguy.com/podcastquestion and leave a question right there.
Well, let’s jump in and hear what Tabor has to say.

Tabor: Hi, Dr. Leman. This is Tabor. I have a four-year-old daughter and a three-month-old son. And for about a year, we have struggled with bedtime with her. When she’s asleep, she stays asleep all night. But her night time routine is not something that we anticipate with any kind of excitement.

We eat dinner at the table every night, and I’m a stay-at-home mom so I’m normally with her all day, except for the day she goes to preschool. Her dad usually does bedtime with her, where he helps her brush her teeth and go potty, put on jammies. He reads a book and then he leaves the room with the door cracked.

Well, we have [inaudible] the lock on her door and have for years, I might add. She knows it’s there, we know sometimes she may not go right to sleep when we leave her room, so we do allow her to have a book in bed that she’s allowed to read just until she falls asleep. The problem is that when we leave the room, she gets out of bed and runs into living room and seems very hyper.

And this happens just about every night. And without a word, we walk back to her bedroom as she runs in front of us to beat us to her bedroom. We shut the door and we lock it. And every night she stays in her room, screaming and crying until she falls asleep. This is very disheartening as a parent. And I’m just asking, what are they doing wrong? Please help us. We love your podcasts and all the books that we’ve read. And thanks so much.

Dr. Leman: Well, thank you for that, Tapor. That’s a great question. And how you guys find time to even listen to our podcast at this busy time of the year is beyond me, but we’re glad you do. Having a four-year-old underfoot all day long, as you know, is a huge, huge job. And that little three-month-old might be part of this, she’s probably doing a little bit more than her attempt to get attention from you, but a couple things.
It started a year ago. So my guess is that when she first did this, it was really cute and really funny. I can just see her running around in her little jammies, running around the house like a low-flying plane. And you probably chuckled and laughed. It was probably cuter than cute, but again, after a year of it, you’re ready to rent her or UPS or to another state.

So here’s what I’m going to suggest to you. We know she does her dog and pony show, but what would happen if when you tucked her in at night, you put a little latch on the outside of the door, that when she went to open the door to do her nightly dog and pony shows, she found she was locked in. Now I can tell you what she will do. She will scream. She will yell. She will pound on the door. She will kick the door.

But here’s the secret. If you do nothing, don’t breathe a word, don’t tell her to get back in bed. Don’t tell her to stop kicking the door, anything, she will fall asleep in all probability on the floor with her blankie or her little bunny rabbit or whatever she sleeps with.
Now, if you want to just treat the behavior, that’s how you do it. And by the way, I recently wrote a book, my newest book is Why Kids Misbehave – and What To Do About It. And you have a very active child. We won’t get into labeling her any more than that at this point. She sounds like she’s an attention-getter, but also a powerful little sucker. So you want to nip it in the bud behaviorly, that’s probably the best way to do it.

Andrea: Dr. Lehman, in her question, she said that she has the lock on the door and they have been locking the door every night. So what would be the next step for her?

Doug: But they do it after she runs around the house.

Andrea: Oh.

Doug: They put her in bed, she runs around the house and then-

Andrea: And then they lock the door.

Doug: And then they do the Leman.

Dr. Leman: Yeah, yeah. They know that show is coming, so why not just nip it before it gets going?

Doug: So Dr. Leman, you left us hanging there. That’ll stop the behavior, but you were saying that there might be something deeper here that we could address. Is there?

Dr. Leman: Well, yeah. And I don’t want to … I know you use the term deeper, it sounds like some psychological sign that something is really amiss. What I said was, she is a attention getter, but she’s showing signs of being a very powerful little kid. And so many times when you shut off power in one area … Let’s go back to whack-a-mole parenting, the powerful behavior will show up in another way. So just be aware of that.
Again, you’d be a great candidate to read that new book, but there’s also a book out there called Parenting Your Powerful Child, which, if you want to get ahead of the game, Tabor, read that little puppy, it’s a good book. Read the ratings on Amazon, see what people say about it. People love the book. So there’s good material there, we’re glad you listen to the podcast.

Doug: So Dr. Leman, I just thought of something. There is new people daily coming to the podcast and this … I just brushed right over it, because we’ve covered this topic because it’s a real one that lots and lots of parents have. So I should go back one step and ask this question.
It sounds incredibly harsh to have a lock on the outside of the door that you’re just going to let the kid sit there and cry. That sounds so inhumane, A, and B, I’m not going to treat my kid this way for weeks on end. Help me answer those two fears of mine, if I were to do this.

Dr. Leman: Okay, if you don’t want to do that, just sit back and enjoy the dog and pony show every night and hope it’ll go away. But then come back to us two years from now and tell us how horrendous it’s grown into.
So, if you have a puppy, you train the puppy. If you happen to believer in Jesus Christ and you believe his Word, it says train up a child. Training is very demanding. It means you’re consistent, you have expectations. You put things in guidelines that help train the puppy. You put guidelines in that help train the child. Now, if you don’t like the puppy child analogy, I can’t help that. It’s a good one, trust me. You don’t start training a puppy at a year old. If you do, you’re going to have a lousy dog on your hands. So you start early.
So it’s just a matter of showing the child that once they go into that bedroom … See, I’ve always said, you can’t make a child go to sleep, but I can make them stay in their bedroom. That’s easy. And sleep, kids are going to sleep, they’re going to go potty and they’re going to eat. In most battlegrounds, in most homes across the US and Canada, center around those three things, sleeping, eating, and potty training.

Doug: So I’m going to ask the obvious question next that we get a lot of times, but won’t this damage my long-term relation with my child? Won’t she view me now as just this cold impersonal individual, and when she grows up, she just going to see me as this uuh.

Andrea: What about attachment?

Dr. Leman: She’s with this child 24 seven. She’s with her all day long. They take walks, they pick flowers, they read stories. They cuddle time. She’s just saying, “Hey, I got a problem and this is my problem. At the end of the day, when I’m done, we go to put little sweetheart in her bed and she starts her dog and pony show. What do I do?”

This is what you do. You lock that door. And you’re helping her long-term. She’s going to understand authority. She’s going to understand there are certain rules in life. You’re going to have the time that you need with your hubby without four-year-old of bouncing off the walls around you.

So, I meet parents like that all the time and I try not to be disrespectful or coming across arrogant, but this isn’t my first rodeo. And I’ve helped so many parents and they come back and they always say, “Thank you, Dr. Leman.” I mean, read the reviews. I’ve got A New Kid on my hand. I mean, we got a book called Have a New Kid by Friday, Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.
All those books are action-oriented. And you can talk yourself blue in the face, but until a little Buford understand that you mean business, that behavior is going to continue. You’re the audience, it’s a show for you.

Doug: But, Dr. Leman, it’s a real issue. We are all afraid that somehow we’re going to damage the psyche of our child by somehow doing hard things like this.

Dr. Leman: Okay. You got me going now, Doug. Okay. Let me talk to everybody about oppositional defiant disorder. This is something that the shrinks and the insurance companies have come up with to make sure that they get paid for going to their office to seek help for your misbehaving son or daughter.

This oppositional defiant disorder, in my biased opinion, is just evidence that you have been working way overtime trying to make this child happy at every turn. You’ve given them far too much, you’ve been too lenient with them. You haven’t been instructive. You haven’t had the kind of relationship you need with your son or your daughter. You haven’t assumed the authority that All Mighty God gave you. Not authoritarianism now, authority.

So again, keep in mind, God, didn’t put you on this earth to be walked over by your four-year-old. So yeah, there’s all kinds of things that make us feel guilty as parents. “Oh my goodness, Doctor. What is that my son has?” “Yes, he has oppositional defiant disorder.” “Oh my goodness. Oh, what am I going to do? How am I going to tell my husband?” You go home and tell your husband, he’s an electrical engineer. “Oh honey, I got the bad news. Our daughter has oppositional defiant disorder.” And as only your engineer husband could say, he says, “What does that mean?” “Well, I’m not sure, but it doesn’t sound good.”

I’m just telling you, it gets down to, “Hey parent, you got to be on the same page.” You got to discipline your children with love. You got to give them lots of encouragement, lots of hugs, lots of kisses. Yes, you read until you’re blue in the face. That’s what parenting is all about. You hold their head and their arm and their back and their bottom when they’re feeling poorly and they have a temperature, and you do all those things and you worry like a parent worries when their child’s sick. It’s part of being a parent.
But don’t get sucked into the latest nomenclature to describe your son or daughter’s illness, because it’s not an illness number one, it’s behavior that you quite frankly have taught your child to learn. Now, I can’t say it any clearer than that, Doug and Andrea.

Doug: Well, and I think the huge thing that we can support with this and lots of people, the reviews, and everybody else is like, this you only have to do once or twice. And the quicker you stop this behavior … Like you said, they probably let it go for a year and then stopped it.
But the biggie is, we have remarkable relationships now with our children and they’re 21 and 19, 17 and 15. And our teenage years were the best years ever. And Andrea and I both get hugs from all our kids and they want to be with us. So it’s like, this doesn’t destroy your children, it actually sets them free. But you do need the resources. The culture out there is so much different than what’s going to help you succeed with your kids.
So there’s a great segue, wasn’t planned, to say, you can get a phenomenal book, Have a New Kid by Friday for $2 and 99 cents between now and the end of December of 2020. If you have not read any of Dr. Lehman’s books, go buy this one. This one is a great one to be a starter. It is super enjoyable, super practical. It covers a bazillion topics in there while giving you the confidence to be like, “Wow, I’m really going to be different than the rest of the world, aren’t I?” And it pays off. So you agree, Andrea, that our kids love us?

Andrea: Absolutely, yep.

Doug: And we thank you, Dr. Leman, for it. So go get the book, it will change your life. If you’re like, “I’m not really a reader.” And you’re like, “Ah, I sort of like books, sort of like books,” you can get this in a DVD series. Go to drlehman.com and you can order it for … Is it 20 or 25 bucks, I can’t remember?

Dr. Leman: It’s $25.

Doug: Highly, highly, highly recommended. If this is your problem, like Tabor’s, it will bless your socks off. So go get the eBook. Go to drleman.com for the DVD series. And now, a no-nonsense parenting moment with Dr. Kevin Leman.

Dr. Leman: One of the most powerful lessons in life one learns is to simply listen. As parents, many times we do way too much talking. We tell our sons and daughters way too many things to do where their alarm clocks remind them. It’s so good just to develop the skill. And that is when your son or daughter starts speaking, tell yourself, “No questions. I’m going to just listen.” Some of the things they say might even be upsetting to you. Some of the things they say you might really disagree with. Am I saying, “Just lie there?” Yeah, a little bit, because you have to listen. That means you don’t engage your mouth.

“Well, what do I say after he says these things that I really don’t believe, or I think are good or healthy or whatever?” You say something like, “Wow, that’s a unique perspective. I don’t know if you’d be willing to take this on, but when dad gets home tonight, I’d love to have this discussion with him because I think he should hear it. I think it’s important we understand how each other feel. Hey, you have a great day. I’ll see you at dinner.” That’s listening.

Doug: Alrighty, Dr. Leman. So I want a pay off. If I’m going to buck culture and I’m going to do the hard things and I’m actually going to be in authority as a parent, what is the outcome I’m going to end up with with my kids? If I become the one that is the authority in the family as a parent.

Dr. Leman: Well, I think the blessing you’re giving your kids is they’re going to feel good about themselves. I mean, think about that. Isn’t that what you want? You want your kids to feel good about themselves. They’re going to learn they’re not the center of the universe. They’re going to learn. They don’t always get their own way. They’re going to learn in your home there are rules. There are things you have to do. They’re going to learn cooperation. They’re going to learn respect for adults.
I mean, by the way, Tabor, I got to tell you, you sound like a great mom. That’s not easy being a stay-at-home mom with a four-year-old, hey. They can wear on you. So God bless you as you do things differently. And we’re glad you’re listening to podcasts and reading those books. And as

Doug likes to say, “We’re putting tools in your toolbox every day.” So you hang in there, you’ll get through this fine.

Doug: So the last question here, Andrea, you’re the mom. When you think about the times that you’ve had to put yourself into authority with your children, what is your children’s responses a week later to you? Are a cold to you? Are they distant to you?

Andrea: Well, I don’t think you have to wait a week. I think usually it’s overnight if it was really a hard thing. But they come back to me on a regular routine and they’re like, “Thanks for making me do that,” or, “Thanks for this.” Or just, “Thanks for being my mom.” They do appreciate it.
So it’s hard sometimes to hold that line, but they come back and show their appreciation later. So yeah, it does pay off like Dr. Leman said. And I keep thinking the phrase and I think Doug said it earlier, an unhappy child is a healthy child. And Dr. Leman, that’s kind of, I feel that’s the thing I remember from Have a New Kid by Friday book, thinking, “It’s not about me making the kid happy, it’s about me having that relationship and …”

Doug: Well, that’s a great segue, because that’s what we’re going to be talking about on next week’s podcast.

Andrea: Great.

Doug: What does that phrase mean? But I just want to [inaudible 00:18:43]. You said, Andrea, it is shocking when we have had to do hard things with our kids at any age, how quickly they come back and apologize or say thanks. Or [inaudible 00:18:53], “Thanks, you’re right. I was out of line.”

So, for all you parents out there, this might sound like crazy advice in today’s culture, but it works. Go get the resources so you can have the confidence. Go get Have a New Kid by Friday for $2 and 99 cents between now and the end December of 2020. Or Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours is a phenomenal book, if you have a powerful child or parenting your powerful child, if you think, “I just can’t read that book.” It will help you so much. It’s Christmas time that this has been released, this would be a great book to grab while you have a couple of days off, read through it, gain the confidence that you want.

Well, it was great to be with you. We look forward to the next time we get to add to your parenting toolbox so you can love those kids more and more.

Andrea: And thanks, Tabor, for your question.

Doug: Great question.

Andrea: You’re doing great.

Doug: Doing great. Take care.

Andrea: Bye-bye.

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