Alyssa is not even 4 years old yet, but she rules her household. "My daughter, Alyssa, bullies people," says Jana, mother of three. "She spits, screams, anything she has to do to get her way. Alyssa is the youngest of the three kids, and by far the most aggressive. Alyssa really picks on the children that are weaker and less aggressive. She has no mercy. She's got balls, let me tell you. Alyssa's just started name-calling. She will call you â€˜stupid,' or â€˜poopy head.' A horrible hour of Alyssa would be when she's screaming at the top of her lungs. Alyssa in public is just wild, straight from the jungle. I've even had people offer to shield me, so I can spank her. It embarrasses me. Makes me feel like I'm a very bad mom."
Her husband, Cory, tries to help with discipline, but he works a lot, so he isn't around for most of the day. "We've tried everything to discipline her, spanking, time-out, we'll wash her mouth out with soap, taking toys away, TV, just sending her to bed," explains Jana. "Spanking is a joke, she'll tell you it doesn't hurt. She's tough. Time-out is a living hell. She goes nuts. She just spits at you. I have no control over Alyssa, none at all. I'm their mother, but I still want my kids to like me. I can't make my kid behave. It's embarrassing. I hate when I have to discipline my kids."
Jana and Cory turn to Dr. Phil: "Have we done something to make her this way? Is it our fault? Please help."
Much like the previous guests, Jana and Cory are rewarding their daughter's behavior. "When you look at this, and you say, â€˜I'm afraid to spank her' " which I don't think helps anyway " â€˜I don't want her to think that I'm mean,' â€˜I feel guilty if I don't give in,' I mean, do you see that her behavior works?" asks Dr. Phil.
"Yeah," says Jana.
Dr. Phil brings up the way they put Alyssa in a time-out. "That's not time-out! She's in a La-Z-Boy recliner in the middle of the den, and has you as a captive audience answering questions for her â€¦ She's controlling you," he tells Jana.
He commends them for loving their children like they do, but says they still need a plan. "Your plan right now is, â€˜If I can get 15 minutes of peace, if I buy her this, if I give her this, if I turn this on, maybe, just maybe she'll leave me alone for 30 seconds.'"
It's time for this family to begin what Dr. Phil calls "commando parenting." That means Cory has to get involved again, even if that means he has to take a vacation from work, take a leave of absence, or even if they have to downsize so Cory doesn't work so much. Then they can invest time in parenting Alyssa together and teaching her how things work.
"If that means you have to sell your cars and ride the bus, becoming a slave to things at the expense of your little girl is absolutely not a good trade. Do you know that 85 percent of the children that get kicked out of pre-school wind up in juvenile delinquency halls? Because there's a conflict with authority, there's a lack of impulse control, there's an absence of boundaries and therefore they keep looking and pushing the envelope. You've got to stop this now. If you think she's a handful at 4, try 14," says Dr. Phil.