Two Years of Dr. Phil: A Look Back: Rebecca, Evan, Avery

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Dr. Phil follows up with the parents of a temper tantrum-throwing daughter, one year later.
It's been a year since Rebecca and Evan last saw Dr. Phil about their headstrong 4-year-old daughter, Avery. Though they doubted Dr. Phil's advice at first, they realized it worked when they put it to use.

"My relationship with Avery is no longer love/hate, but love/love," says Rebecca. "I learned from the last two shows that love is not just a feeling; it's an action. If she wants to wear something or have her hair look crazy, I let her do it."

Rebecca credits Dr. Phil's advice about backing off and decompressing the relationship a bit. "That really helped. He was so right," says Rebecca, explaining that Avery no longer has temper tantrums.

Evan has also seen a change in his family. "Their relationship is more like a relationship that a mother and daughter should have. They're close and they have a great time with each other," he says.

Rebecca can't resist asking Dr. Phil another question, and she promises not to doubt him.
Rebecca explains that Avery, 5, and her little sister Londyn, 2, fight 15 to 20 times a day, over everything, but especially over toys. "What should I do?" she asks.

"One of the biggest mistake parents can make is when they ask a child to do something that they're not developmentally capable of doing yet," says Dr. Phil, explaining that children don't really understand the concept of sharing until about the age of 5 for girls, and 7 for boys. Though Avery will begin to understand sharing very soon, Dr. Phil recommends they extinguish the fighting behavior right away.

"What you have to do is let her know that that is unacceptable behavior in a real consistent way," says Dr. Phil, pointing out that Rebecca has been inconsistent with her discipline, which makes it hard for Avery to predict the consequences of her actions.

Something Rebecca can try with Avery is to make her feel like "Mom's little assistant." By having the expectancies the "Big girls learn to share" and "Big girls offer toys to their little sisters," it will make Avery take pride in her behavior instead of being selfish. "She'll enjoy the sense of being grown up," says Dr. Phil.
The next step, Dr. Phil explains to Rebecca and Even, "is to find a consequence that you know they don't like, and if and when that behavior persists, you've got to make it where they can predict it with 100 percent accuracy."

For example, Dr. Phil explains, "They know that if you argue about that toy, it's gone. You argue about the next one, it's gone. You argue about the third one, they're all gone." Then you demonstrate, "If you can play nicely for an hour, I'll give you a toy back. And if you can play nicely with it, I'll give you another toy back. All of a sudden they learn, 'I control my world,'" says Dr. Phil, reiterating that kids are not entitled to toys; they have to earn them.

"That's good, I agree," says Rebecca, who says she will give it a shot.