I have good news for parents: You do not need more than a few tools in your disciplinary tool-bag. One especially valuable tool, one that belongs in every modern home, is the “Doctor.” The Doctor is akin to a genie – an invisible parenting sprite, so to speak – whom you invite to take up residence in your home. But it’s not like inviting your cousin to come live with you because the Doctor takes up no room, consumes nothing, makes no mess, and moves on within a few weeks.
You can invoke the Doctor’s paranormal powers concerning a broad range of parenting problems including tantrums, disobedience, compulsive nose-picking, even refusing to eat. So, for example, you can tell a, say, five-year-old who is throwing frequent tantrums because you will not customize her life precisely to her liking, “I spoke to the Doctor today about your tantrums; you know, your screaming fits. He tells me that children your age who throw lots of screaming fits aren’t getting enough sleep and told me that if you throw a screaming or even a yelling or crying fit, you have to go to bed immediately after we eat supper so you can catch up on your sleep. He also said that if you have a fit after supper, you have to go to bed right away.”
The five-year-old female child in question is a real person. She lives with her parents in a small midwestern town where she was, until recently, developing quite the reputation for explosive tantrums that were even occurring in restaurants, stores, and other public places. She went to bed right after supper every night for six nights. Then she went to bed early five nights out of the next ten. Then she stopped throwing tantrums. Several weeks later, she told her mother that she felt a lot better now that she wasn’t having screaming fits all the time.
Or, take the case of the six-year-old boy whose parents had spent tens of thousands of dollars on various forms of “feeding therapy” – which consists, as best I can tell, of cajoling, bribing, and exclaiming “Good job!” whenever said child touches his lips with a new food morsel – including a stint in-residence at a well-known feeding therapy institute in the Midwest. Yes, the parents picked up and moved 1500 miles so their food-averse child could have nothing but the best. After eight weeks of intensive midwestern feeding therapy, the child’s food repertoire had gone from three to five.
After a 90-minute discussion with me, the parents told their son about the Doctor – a new Doctor, mind you, one they’d never seen before – and his revolutionary finding that children who refuse to eat what is put in front of them (from that point on, said defiant boy’s plate featured the same foods everyone else in the family had on their plates)…yes, you guessed it…aren’t getting enough sleep! Within a week, the child was eating what his parents and siblings were eating. He continued to complain about not liking what his parents fixed, but when he did, they simply said, “You must be feeling tired” and he ate.
The Doctor’s ground-breaking therapy cured a nine-year-old who enjoyed calling his single mother names and completely ignored her when she gave an instruction. The Doctor was able to determine that – all together now: THE BOY WASN’T GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP! Only two weeks of treatment was required to cure what a psychologist had said was a case of oppositional-defiant and attention-deficit disorders.
Turns out, the boy was just a sleepy little brat.
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