Biggest Parenting Mistakes: Exclusive

Biggest Parenting Mistakes: Exclusive

A woman asks Dr. Phil what she can do about her 9-month-old son who is throwing temper tantrums.

"First off, don't reward the tantrums, and secondly, you just really have to redirect," Dr. Phil explains. "Discipline at 9 months old should be totally confined to redirecting. If they're just out of control because they're frustrated with something, remove them and put them somewhere else. Just don't give them tons of attention when they're throwing a tantrum."

Another woman says of her 3-year-old, "She's fine all day long until Daddy gets home, and then she's horrid. She just wants to hit him. Her whole attitude changes. And he doesn't want to discipline her because he doesn't see her." Her husband works 50-60 hours a

"What you can do is start preparing her for him to come home," Dr. Phil tells her. "One of the things that I think people miss the power of, is not recognizing that children oftentimes don't have the behavioral repertoire that we think they may have." He suggests that she start talking with her daughter about an hour before her husband comes home. "Say, 'Daddy's coming home, let's make a plan. Let's do something really nice for him.'" Dr. Phil says. "Give her a behavior that is incompatible with the undesirable behavior ... and you will crowd that behavior off the radar screen. She will learn that new set of behaviors and your problem is fixed, and I bet you can eliminate it in two or three days."

A woman wants to know what she can do if she sees things going wrong or just wants to be helpful

to the parents of her godchildren.


Dr. Phil warns her that it's not so much her business, but she can sit down and talk with the parents without the child there. "Drop phrases out of your vocabulary like, 'What you need to do is,'" he suggests. "Just say, 'It's very awkward for me, because I don't want to cross the boundaries with you here, but kind of once removed from it, I just see something that I want you to think about and know about, and if it's something that's useful, then fine, and if not, I'm just going to love you around it.' That's really all you can do, because it's really not your job."

A single mother of three kids asks what she can do when her kids are let down by their father. "I kind of try and compensate when they're with me," she says. "I feel guilty when I do discipline, and how do you get

over that?"

Dr. Phil tells her that it's her issue, and she needs to fix the problem within herself. He explains that children have needs for predictability, security, safety and calmness. "Children that have gone through a divorce, those needs are magnified exponentially. The greatest gift you can give them is that they can see there is somebody that is capable of running this family. There is somebody that is capable of maintaining the expectations, the rules, the boundaries of everything that is there. If you allow them to get away with things that they shouldn't get away with because you're compensating for a disappointment they had from their dad, they're disappointed by their dad and they're now confused by their mother." The children will feel that no one cares about their well-being. "That's the worst message you can give them. Maintain order. Maintain the rules. It's the greatest gift you can give those kids when they've been through the situation you're describing."Another mom says, "I have a 10-year-old daughter who's scared to death of being kidnapped." She asks, "What do you do
in that situation?"

Dr. Phil explains that parents cannot watch every move their child makes even if they attempt to. "Children are the safest when they have been trained to self-protect. Children are the safest when they have been taught what we were saying just a few minutes ago about the role-playing, recognizing problems, knowing what her resources are. She will calm down if she has a self-protection strategy that you talk with her about." She needs to talk with her daughter and ask her what she would do in different situations, so she will be prepared if they arise. "If she has a strategy, then she feels empowered. It's loss of control or a feeling of helplessness that causes anxiety. You give them a sense of self-determination, and that will subside."