Biggest Parenting Mistakes: Stefani and Patrick

Biggest Parenting Mistakes: Stefani and Patrick

"My 5-year-old daughter's over-friendliness has become dangerous," says Stefani. Her daughter, Shana, will talk to almost everybody. "Shortly after my son, Hunter, was born, we were in a

store and she told a clerk that her brother eats Mommy's boobies. She does not understand what should be kept at home or out in public."

 

"I don't think Shana understands what strangers are," says Patrick, Stefani's husband. "I don't think that she's ever met anyone whom she didn't like."

Because Shana is so friendly and open, Stefani and Patrick have not taught her their address and phone number, because they don't want her telling everyone where they live. "This has gotten to a really serious point, because Shana has actually wandered off while chatting with people," Stefani explains.

 

One day, Stefani was working at an after school program at their church and Shana was with her. "One of the parents came to pick up his daughter and brought his little puppy dog in. Shana was busy talking and petting

the puppy, and she followed the man with the puppy out the door, up the street and almost into his car," she explains. "If this would have been a bad guy, she would have been gone in a second. I had a flash of Shana lying in a ditch somewhere."

 
"When I think of my little girl standing by a stranger's car, I'm struck by fear and apprehension," Patrick admits. "My wife and I have both talked to Shana about the dangers of going off with strangers. I don't think she's getting it."

 

"My worst nightmare is that somebody with the wrong intentions would take Shana, and I would never see her again," Stefani says, tearing up.

Dr. Phil shares his thoughts.  "One of the most powerful currencies that you'll ever have, is that children want to please their parents," Dr. Phil tells them. "You've got to use that currency in shaping her behavior. You have got to let her know, 'When you do that, that does not make Mommy and Daddy happy. We don't like that.'"

 

He explains a mistake that many parents make. "You spend your time telling your child what not to do, and not telling them what to do," he says. Telling a child not to do things is a negative direction. "All you've done is say, 'Don't do it,' but you didn't tell her what to do instead. You've left her without that in her behavioral repertoire."

Dr. Phil also suggests that they role-play different scenarios with Shana. "I think you need to tell her that, 'If somebody asks you to go somewhere, if somebody's asking you your name or approaching you, that's just not OK if Mom or Dad or your teacher is not right there,'" he explains. "You've got to role-play with her in the front yard or in the living room." They need to teach her things to say in those different situations, like, "No. Leave me alone. I don't want to talk to you. Go away. This is not my Mommy. This is not my Daddy."



Patrick asks Dr. Phil how they can actually do this.

Dr. Phil suggests they set up a scenario and ask Shana what she would say if she was approached, and actually have her say it. "Have her do that like 10 times, I'll guarantee you she will love it," he says. "Then she'll get comfortable with that and do it."

Dr. Phil assures them, "You're not scaring her so much as it is letting her know, 'It doesn't make us happy, and here's what you do instead.'"