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Success stories from readers reinforce teachings
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One of the wonderful things about my job is my readers, many of whom feed me material on a regular basis. Here’s a sample of some recent feedings:
• Siblings learn to resolve their own problems: A mother stopped her children from coming to her to resolve disputes between them by cheerfully telling them, “Oh, I can fix this problem very easily. In fact, I can fix this right now and for the rest of the day even if you’d like. Would you like that?”
Mom says she rarely gets past “easily” before her kids have vanished and are working the problem out themselves.
• Toddler learns to behave himself in preschool: A 3-year-old boy was being disobedient and disrespectful toward his preschool teachers. The parents told the teachers to isolate him at the first incident of the day, call home, and one of them (usually mom) would come get him. At home, he was confined him to his room for the remainder of the day and put to bed early.
The parents report that it took more than a week’s worth of almost full days spent in his room to convince their son that crime didn’t pay, but he finally got the message. It goes without saying that the earlier this lesson is learned, the better.
• Child learns to control her fears: A 5-year-old girl would not go upstairs in the home unless one of her parents accompanied her. The problem was that her bedroom was on the second level, so these requests averaged 10 a day. Once in her room, and after she looked in her closet and under the bed, she was okay and mom or dad could leave. Needless to say, it was a bit of an inconvenience.
The parents had tried in vain to reason and reassure their daughter out of her fears. In fact, as I have frequently pointed out in this column, these attempts not only failed but also seemed to make the problem worse.
Modifying a strategy they’d read about in one of my books, the parents began giving their timorous child three “tickets” — small rectangles of colored poster board — at the start of every day. For a parent to accompany her upstairs, the little girl had to give up a ticket. No ticket, no escort, at which point she either had to resign herself to staying downstairs until bedtime or make the dreaded trip by herself.
The first few days, her tickets were gone by lunchtime. Nonetheless, she persisted in her requests for a bodyguard, but her parents stayed firm. She begged, cried and acted generally psychotic, but her parents didn’t give in.
On day four, she used her third ticket at 5 p.m., and every day for the next week, she used her third ticket close to bedtime. Then, quite suddenly, she announced to her parents, “I’m not afraid anymore,” and began going up and down the stairs multiple times a day on her own.
• Child learns to eat vegetables: Rodney, 4, would not eat veggies. They tasted bad, he said. They made him want to throw up, he said.
One day, his parents read a column of mine and got an idea. They sat Rodney down and said, “Your doctor says that if you don’t eat vegetables, then you have to go to bed right after dinner.” When he pressed for an explanation (he’s very smart), they shrugged their shoulders and told him they didn’t know. “Doctors know lots of things,” they said. “That’s why they’re doctors. And so, we have to obey the doctor.” Three early-bedtime days later, Rodney’s vegetable aversion had been cured. His doctor is a genius!

Rosemond, a family psychologist, answers questions at his Web site:
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