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It’s like you want it you’re saying John sweetheart please cut off the TV and inside you’re hoping oh don’t cut off the TV because you want to teach you to want John to learn and so see your whole way of dealing with John becomes very different because now I’m not worried about fighting I’m not in any battle with John because I control his world and if you get good at this you just think about it and it takes and some of you can go kind of high tech with some of this you know you can do it electronically by shutting down rooms in your house you can they sell these great you can buy outlets to put into your entertainment room for example or to John’s bedroom and you replace all the outlets and you have a little infrared remote control you carry in your pocket these things are out there and they’re not very expensive.
So, when John doesn’t shut it down you just simply go you know and it just is cool because again I don’t have to battle John I’m going to teach John with the consequences that come with John’s choices and then see all this whole issue around control suddenly disappears meaning this battles that you have around control issues if you’re battling with and it doesn’t matter if your son or daughter is diagnosed with ADD or oppositional defiant part of what they’re there for is really to teach you in many ways you can’t get by with average parenting if you have an ADD or oppositional child you’ll jump out the window if you stay in that realm but you have to elevate your parenting so you get this that John understands that in the world he can push back but there’s always a consequence that comes with pushing back which is not going to be me yelling and screaming at John that makes sense.
I can’t control John but I can control his world so I first step into the reality of that like I don’t control John and by the way, John shouldn’t listen to me, John is that you know he’s no reason for John to listen unless I teach him that it’s in his interest to listen to me. See that’s critical John’s got to understand it’s in sweetheart it’s going to be in your interest to get these lessons and so when he’s 6, 8, 11, 12 and you have great control over John’s environment, that’s what prepares John when he’s 16 he’s over at his buddy’s house it’s 9:55 and he calls and says mom you know I’m I think I’m going to stay an extra hour late.
I’ll be home you know by midnight or so and you’re in sweetheart you have a choice you can come home at midnight and then you’re going to find those car keys just don’t anywhere to be found and your friends won’t be coming anywhere near for a week or so or you can be home at 10 as we agreed upon and probably you’ll get to go out tomorrow night like you want to see if I’ve been teaching John that my words come with clear limits and my action always follows that John will be going okay, got it that doesn’t mean John will always choose what you want him to choose but you can bet just like the fleas in the jar right that once you take the lid off that they tend to honor the consequence that was firm and clear they will honor the consequences that you stick to as long as you’re firm and clear that make sense.
It’s just a magical thing a lot of your fear and worries about what’s going to happen in those teenage years you can just relax with that because it’s not nearly so challenging and scary when you understand that this is the way that John learns and if John gets these lessons that your words come with clear consequences with clear limits that you honor and follow through with those consequences then you’ll find John it will usually follow through by honoring what you’d like for him to do. For these kids that are more oppositional defiant ADD kids, you know all you want to do is to take all that energy and funnel it in a direction where they’re not fighting you, you know, but where they fight something it’s worthy of fighting for you know if the coach says you’re never going to be able to make the team because you’re just too slow you want your son to go I’m going to get faster or if they have a sense like you know I nobody’s found a cure for cancer, I could do that there’s a problem here. I can find that you want them to focus their energy on something worthy and worth fighting for and you’ll find that if you can honor this thing where you control the consequences impeccably.
Kids get that lesson they put their they start shifting their attention to something worth fighting. For a couple of years ago, I work with a family and in of with some of these boys in particular I find more often boys that are diagnosed with ADD. They not only have a lot of energy but they don’t require a lot of sleep you know. They can get by on four or five hours sleep and they’re like you know it’s just amazing. So I had this one family I he this little boy six seven eight years old didn’t require much sleep he’d be up at four four thirty in the morning he did have trouble getting him to bed you know nine thirty ten o’clock at night and and the family struggled so because they would end up particularly mom in this particular state because she was very reactive so child would push she would react big drama unfolds and that would happen over and over and over and over again but eventually they got it so that they completely eliminated the drama and the resistance and they really taught him that choices come with consequences and so he did this wonderful thing by the time he ended up 11 and a half 12 years old he started working on his uh his sporting life you know devoted himself to soccer and then eventually he ended up in football and he became obsessed with it now you might say he was a little over the top in terms of his obsession and the energy that he put into it but he was very disciplined in school he didn’t fight with his parents he didn’t create difficulties there he ended up in fact he just graduated last year ended up focusing all of his energies in a way that really served him and that’s what you find that these kids can do even the most difficult challenging kids but we don’t get it by using a lot of words we won’t get it by lecturing.
We will only get it by teaching John that consequences come with choices and the more that I’m willing to control John’s world when I can because when he’s 17 or 18 I don’t have too many tools left-right. I don’t have a lot of control a lot of John’s world’s out of my control so a lot of that depends I’ve got to make sure I pay attention to that early on that makes sense so finally and this is one of the pieces that is most important for you to in a practical way to master is that if I neglect to learn this lesson about responding to John and arguing with John and feeding John and negotiating with John if I neglect to learn that lesson.
What I end up doing if I had a video camera kind of following John’s life around what I would find is that when John is giving me what I don’t want I keep investing my energy in it I keep taking the moments that I don’t want and I’m pouring my intensity there right and I’m thinking that if I keep investing in what I don’t want. I’m going to get what I do want it will never work you’ll find that the rule of thumb here is that the more that you invest energy consistently and repeatedly invest energy in what you don’t want just expands it gets bigger it grows and so if I don’t like John being disrespectful and I say john don’t talk to me that way and he goes what way and I said that way and he goes what way I said that way I can’t stand that I feed that energy I throw all that energy into disrespect thinking I’m going to get respect.
It doesn’t work that way and so I encourage you to kind of think of your attention think of your energy as an invitation to your children and so anytime you give them attention anytime, you give them energy it’s an invitation to that moment to give you more of that now is it a thought process in their conscious brain that’s what you’re asking for of course not that’s not it it’s that your attention operates at an unconscious level it operates in a level that is much more powerful than what your words are that communicates that you value this moment in many ways see when we keep giving attention to the things that we don’t want out of their world looking up what we see is that the universe cares about me not listening the universe cares when I look out the window rather than when my pencil is moving on my math if there’s one universal law that we can say from the research it’d be this whatever you invest in whatever your attention consistently and repeatedly goes that behavior that moment has to grow.
So it’s like I use this weeds and seeds metaphor, most of you have an article that’s included there but this metaphor is this that in life you have in your home you have weeds the weeds being talking back, negotiating, disrespect, not listening, bickering, whining, helplessness, complaining, tantrums, drama drama drama, all weeds. Seeds of success happiness hard work effort kindness thoughtfulness responsibility picking up helping out all that good stuff for most of you I can project safely project and predict would be a better word I can predict the quality of your home life based upon a very simple thing if I had a video camera of life at home if more energy is going into weeds and seeds. I know what life is going to look like a year from now two years from now five years from now if more energy goes into what you don’t want if you keep watering the weeds with your attention you’re going to find that it just keeps growing so think of yourself think of your attention as water to either a weed or a seed you’re feeding it one way or the other and so the most important distinction at the end of the day at the end of the week at the end of the year is kind of notice what got more of my attention did more of my energy go into the moments I don’t want or did it go into what I do want because it’s going to be so easy for you to see what unfolds if you can shift your energy away from the weeds and into the seeds life changes automatically you don’t have to do a lot of other things that are nice to understand consequences.
How you use consequences to make sure you’re modeling healthy behavior but if I pull away from weeds and start feeding seeds life will change it always does it’s the primary tool I use in working with parents and you’ll see in the programs that I have on my website for example whether it’s a picky eater program or dealing with morning routines or homework habits any of those programs you’re going to see that I talk about weeds and seeds because if you ignore this you can set up systems and charts and reinforcement and…