That our words are going to teach critical lessons when they don’t. Let’s imagine John doesn’t like to do his homework right. So, John procrastinates every day. Now, I have sat down with John dozens of times and I’ve told John about how important get school work is. I told him about what the difference college will make sometimes. I’ve even taken John out on little special outings and we’ll go out and I’ll sit down, I’ll say John sweetheart I just want to talk to you about this homework thing. I’m so concerned I want you to do well in life blah blah blah right. I can talk to john, talk to john, talk to john, and talk to John about his homework.
Have any of you seen that make a difference in behavior? I never see it make a difference and there’s a reason why words will never teach critical life lessons. It just doesn’t work that way words are great for teaching history, words are great for explaining math, words are great actually for me conveying to you an understanding of what needs to be done but the lesson is taught through the consequence that comes with choices that’s where the lesson is taught and so we really have to get this, that if you’re 12 years old for example some of you might have a 12-year old that was brushing their teeth independently when they were six and now you have to remind them 10 times to brush their teeth when they’re 12 right.
See, there’s a problem in that because see we keep thinking that the words the reminders are going to really get that point across and it doesn’t what happens is, unfortunately, is that John becomes more dependent upon me than independent. See, if I keep reminding John to brush your teeth, brush your teeth, brush your teeth, brush your teeth, then what happens is there’s a dependency that develops on that and some of you probably know this pretty well it’s as if your kids are getting older but they’re becoming more and more dependent upon you rather than independent and here’s what happens at 12 or 13, 14 somewhere in there whatever your kids own in terms of behavior whatever they own whatever they mastered at that age when they start to step away as an adolescent that’s what they step away with they don’t step away with brushing their teeth if you’re reminding them 10 times to brush their teeth.
What happens is you’ve invested in those braces and suddenly they’re not even brushing their teeth well enough to justify the crazy expense of the braces and you lecture and you talk and you beg and you plead and nothing really changes right. So just remember that, that if you’re using lots and lots of words then what happens is that those words become a crutch for them and they become dependent upon that and you see this happening at home, you see this happening in the classroom at times with kids who need lots of extra help you find that they become rather than them becoming more inspired to work harder. What happens is they become lazier and lazier and lazier and here’s the rule of thumb just to keep this in your heart keep this in your mind forever if you ever feel like you’re working harder at their success then they are you’re off track.
It’s very simple you can just check inside like am I working harder your success than you are they’re age-appropriate developmental success of what they need to be doing if you put more time into their spelling test than they did problem right. If you put more time into them remembering their clothes for the soccer game problem anywhere you turn if it feels like you’re working harder than they are you’re going to be off track. Now that doesn’t show up right away that’s the seduction. It shows up two, three, four, five years later as it starts to become very clear that they’re becoming more dependent and more incompetent compared to their peers. They’re not able to keep up, they’re more helpless, they’re asking for help the homework comes home, they sit down in front of the table, they pull out the homework, and they go.
I don’t know how to do it, they don’t even know what’s on the page and they don’t know how to do it right and you can always tell if when this is unfolded because you’ll see that there’s really no effort involved and the question sounds much more like a whine than it does a question: I can’t do this help me, I’m so stupid, I don’t know the teacher didn’t teach this, I’ve never seen it before. I mean it’s amazing how many times you’ll hear that like it’s a mystery where this came from you know. It’s just amazing so if you see that pattern emerge another lecture another set of words about what they need to get and what’s important in their education isn’t really going to make a difference.
Words will never teach these critical lessons only the consequences that come with choice will do that that make sense. Yep her question is do we wait to, go to the dentist to get cavities for the brush and the teeth thing right. Well, there’s a great one because the consequence is delayed and the consequence is serious so you have to come up with a better system. It’s that’s that whole parenting thing to me because you’ve got to make sure that there is a consequence so you have a structure and a routine that ensures that every day there is a consequence for following through with certain responsibilities both ways, if I follow through then life’s going to work easy for me, if I don’t follow through, I want to make sure life’s not going to work as easily but I do that without a lot of this isn’t going to teach it.
I got to make sure it’s going to be the consequences that do that good question. Now, mistake number six is trying to raise responsible kids by controlling kids rather than controlling the world they live in. This is a critical one to get because it is so powerful if you can get this understanding. Here I am, John’s not cutting off the TV remember. Here he is sitting there I’m yelling at him five times to cut off the TV, my behavior, my words sound like this John cut off the TV sweetheart cut off that TV I’m tired of this, cut off that TV. I’m done with you, I’m done arguing with you about this, I’m tired of fighting over this pick up those toys, put that away, stop hitting your brother, eat your broccoli, don’t do that, what’s your bag doing there, pick that up. I said put that away stop hitting him didn’t I say stop hitting him: control, control, control, control, control, control, control.
Do we control, do we control our kids? Do we have control over them? No, but listen to my words isn’t. It amazing you would think that I had control talking like that so here’s what really gets us in trouble is that we live in this world inside our head where we see secretly believe they should listen. How many of you believe your kids should listen right. I believe it so here I am with John right. I walk over to John. John has been sitting here not cutting off the TV 427 days in a row right. In my brain, I think I have a cut on the TV. John like I’m still hopeful right but reality says I have not cut off the TV John so here we have fantasy right here sits reality now’s where we get into trouble because I come over here and I’m dealing with reality and I’m just playing in fantasy in my head like John you should be listening to me I’m screaming at John and think about John’s head he should be thinking good maybe dad is stupid or something he doesn’t get it like like I’m not cut off the TV. Kind of a kid and I’m still thinking he should cut off the TV right.
Now granted, if in talking with parents, I didn’t have ways to give you tools to help John cut off the TV. I wouldn’t be in a business that’s what it’s all about here but it’s what we think that gets us in trouble and makes me act like an idiot when I say act like an idiot. I throw the tantrum because I’m holding on to fantasy while I’m dealing with reality if I can focus my thinking in a way that’s more reality-based which is John is not going to listen. John does not listen when I ask him to cut off the TV that’s reality right. Now if I know that when I approach John that he’s not going to listen and if secondly I know I don’t control John. How do I know that 427 days in a row I’ve not controlled John with my words, I should be getting it by now so here I am I got these two ideas? Now I don’t control John and my yelling and screaming aren’t going to make a difference none of that’s going to work so what do I control if I don’t control John I control the TV absolutely what else do I control the house what does what that John cares about do I not control really if somebody comes in and takes John’s breaks into John’s bedroom and steals his iPod and they break in the garage and they take his bicycle is John’s name going to go on the police report. See john needs to awaken to the reality here that dad owns everything yes it was your gift but I still own it it’s kind of a weird thing and I know you won’t like that but it’s true and so until you move out and you have your own place I own it all, therefore, I control it.
Now, I don’t mean this in a way that that that because see that one the critical points here is I want to get out of this tension with John and the way I get out of the tension with John is first I embrace reality which is a not cut off the TV John right. Now I’m approaching John and I’m not in some fantasy in my head about John listening. In fact, I know John is not going to listen right but the second part is I also know I don’t control John but I do control everything John cares about as you guys pointed out the TV is one of them so rather than me yelling at John to cut off the TV, what might I do turn off the TV what’s that turn off the TV say John it’s time to eat now some of you may have a John in your home that when I walk out of the room he’s going to go turn on the TV right.
So, once again John needs just a little more realistic training which is a sweetheart I want you to understand something like this TV thing is so simple you say sweetheart here’s the deal when I ask you to cut off the TV. I’ll give you a few minutes to do that and then if you don’t cut off the TV, I’m going to cut it off and so if I cut off the TV, the TV is going to be off for the next day now you might have the idea that you’d want to cut on the TV again but here’s the deal if you happen to cut on the TV then not only is the TV going to go off but I’m going to walk in unplug the cable box or whatever it is that’s relevant it’s going to go in the trunk of the car and it’s going to stay there for the next three days and by the way, I would love for you to test me on this today if you’d like just so we can get it out of the way right see when you have clear limits and consequences that come with limits you don’t want to back away from the teaching moment see this is a teaching moment john’s going to have.