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Am I Just Seeing This The Wrong Way?

Mark, Thank you for your help and for being available. We have not yet implemented anything but have read most of session 1. David does like to bully his brothers and I guess everyone he can when he gets angry or wants and outcome to be a certain way.

Last night my son David asked me if he could go camping with his friend and his friend's father this weekend. He was doing better in school [before the virus came along and the schools closed]. I do see his efforts and don't want to discourage any positive even if it isn't what I would like to see completely. However, I was going to let him go and then in an argument that he swears he didn't start he pushed his younger brother in anger. This is not a new problem and we have handled it with appropriate consequences.

David's stepfather told him immediately that he wasn't going on this trip. I am not sure that is the right thing to do because we haven't really prepared him or any of our children for this new approach we are all taking. I guess I feel that we haven't really stood too strong up till now and to choose something that means this much to him without him really knowing the consequences before the action is unfair. All my children know that there is no physical abuse or verbal abuse tolerated in this home. I have recently started working full time and am not even home anymore (which I am adjusting) in order to take these situations on.

Anyway, without taking anymore of your time I feel it is unfair and will only cause him to feel helpless and angry and pull away. I don't feel that we properly prepared him for these consequences. Am I just seeing this the wrong way? Do you agree that it is the right or the wrong way to approach this incident?



Hi C.,

Ideally the parent would neither retract a consequence once imposed, nor withhold a reward was issued (i.e., once you impose a consequence -- stick to it; once you reward -- follow through in spite of subsequent behavior problems).

So if you already told your son that he can go camping, he should be able to go. There was no contingency attached to the 'deal' (e.g., "If you don't push your brother, then you can go camping").

But the larger issue (as you will discover in the ebook) is fostering the development of self-reliance. Thus the question now is “what did your son do to EARN his camping trip?”

"Ignoring misbehavior" is an over-rated parenting strategy. But when it comes to "sibling rivalry," ignoring misbehavior is the best approach. This is difficult for most parents, because the idea of an older sib hurting a younger, smaller weaker sib is seemingly intolerable. But when parents refuse to play referee, the siblings are forced to develop "give-and-take" social skills that are greatly needed later in adult life. (I'm an older sib, and I can tell you that older sibs do not kill their younger brothers and sisters.)

Also, it would be best for you and your husband to consult one another before making any decisions regarding your children's rewards or consequences. When one parent makes a decision alone that the other parent does not agree with, then one or the other is forced into the position of being the "bad guy."

Here's to a better home environment,



==> DO you and your spouse disagree on how and when to discipline your teenager? Click here for a bunch of suggestions...

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

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