Sara, a precocious four-year-old, came with her parents for their first counseling session. Her preschool teacher suggested they get some help for Sara’s emotional outbursts. She had even gotten in trouble for biting other kids when she didn’t get her way. Her teacher really liked Sara but was concerned about her behavior. The parents were embarrassed and completely at a loss.
Midway through the first session, we asked Sara, “Who’s the boss in your family?” She pointed to her dad. Her mom burst into fit of laughter, exclaiming, “That’s so not true.” Sara started to giggle, then threw her hands on her hips and proclaimed “Mommy’s right. I’m the boss! But she wants to be the boss and that’s why we’re here.”
Does this sound at all familiar?
Perhaps you can relate to some of these other real-life cases:
- A six-year-old boy who’s a bundle of energy rarely responds to his parents’ requests and expects conversations and attention to revolve around him at the cost of other family members.
- A seven-year-old girl gets to decide when she goes to bed, who reads her a story at night, and if or when she brushes her teeth (or not).
- A nine-year-old is deeply unhappy because he can’t make or keep friends. In the classroom, he smacks kids in the back of the head to get attention.
- A four-year old child throws a temper tantrum each time she goes to the grocery store if she does not get the treat she wants.
Ask yourself the following questions about your parenting:
- Do you have to raise your voice, lecture or repeat yourself to get your kids to behave?
- Do your kids ignore normal, everyday requests when they just don’t feel like listening?
- Have you tried tons of different approaches to no avail?
- Have you been trying to avoid spanking and yelling but nothing else seems to work?
- Are you exhausted and upset because your kids seem disrespectful, entitled or ungrateful for all the things you do for them?
- Are you feeling frustrated and defeated despite your best efforts to be a great parent?
If you ever used the words strong-willed, defiant, spoiled, entitled, overly demanding, won’t listen, difficult or out of control or if you answered yes to some or all of the questions above, welcome to the club. Millions of parents are struggling, like you, with kids that are spiraling out of control—kids who need to learn how to listen better, comply to normal everyday requests, and take no for an answer.
The good news is we’ve helped hundreds of parents overcome these challenges and become successful, thriving, loving families. So read on….there’s hope!
In our respective roles as child psychologist and clinical social worker, we have been counseling kids and parents day in and day out and co-directing a non-profit family therapy clinic for well over thirty years. As a father and mother of two grown sons, we have experienced first hand the trials and tribulations of parenthood. As a married dual career couple, we have faced the challenges of sharing leadership in a family, working together as a team, and balancing the demands of work and home. In short, we have learned most of what we will share with you while deep in the trenches with thousands of families from diverse backgrounds—socio-economic, cultural, racial, sexual orientation, religious or not, single parented and blended.
Our goal is simple, namely, to help children feel good about themselves and have love and respect for others. We know from years of experience backed by solid research that children who have too much power over their parents are at risk for a host of problems. Kids who act and are treated like they are the boss of the family not only drive their parents crazy but often get in trouble in school, have difficulty with peers, and are deprived of fundamental lessons needed to survive in a world that will not always revolve around them.