The Norman Transcript

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January 18, 2013

You can’t stop a charging elephant with a fly-swatter

(Continued)

NORMAN —

While she’s at school one day, confiscate all of her favorite things and put them somewhere she can’t get to them. I recommend a rented storage closet or someone else’s attic. Favorite things include not only electronics, favorite clothing, and favorite playthings, but also privileges such as sleepovers and birthday parties.

When her shock and outrage has calmed sufficiently, tell her that if she wants her things back, she has to do everything you tell her to do, without argument or any other form of push-back, for a month. And that includes going to her room if that’s what you instruct. If she disobeys, the month begins anew the next day.

A journalist recently told me that some folks think this sort of approach is “harsh.” First, you can’t stop a charging elephant with a fly-swatter. Second, the best research confirms the commonsensical: obedient children are the happiest children. This approach is compelling, for sure, but to call it harsh is nothing short of soap opera. It is in a child’s best interest that his or her parents do everything they can to bring about obedience. Sometimes that requires making a child an offer she can’t refuse.

Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his website at www.rosemond.com.

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