Have a New Kid By Friday

As regular readers know, I have a strong willed child. One of our biggest struggles is getting her to obey, so naturally I was drawn to the bestselling book Have a New Kid by Friday, where Dr. Kevin Leman boldly claims your child will loose his or her bad behaviors within five days. The first quarter of this book explains the author's plan, giving you a part to chew on every day of the week. The premise is really pretty simple: Tell your child what you want her to do - once, then turn away and get busy with something else. If your child doesn't do what you ask, do nothing. Wait for her to ask something of you later in the day - then simply tell her "no." When she freaks out and asks why you're refusing to do something you've always let her do before, explain you didn't like her behavior earlier in the day - and leave it at that. This method, Lehman claims, works for "ankle biters" as well as teens (and yes, really even for adults).

The rest of the book deals with specific problems with the special aim of determining whether the problem is a mountain (worth bothering with, like refusing to go to church) or a mole hill (nothing to worry about, like a picky eater). In some instances, I found Lehman's method worked wonders. As a bonus, I found I was a lot less stressed. Suddenly, I was released from nagging - something I didn't even realize I'd been doing. Now, instead of telling my preschooler four times to do something, then disciplining her, I only had to say it once. However, many parents will find Lehman's advice difficult to follow. For example, when discussing teens who don't want to go to church with the family, the author suggests going to church without them, then doing something really fun afterward; in other words, make your child feel left out of something fun. I know this would be tough for me to do, and I wonder: What if that doesn't work? Because, in fact, I found Lehman's method doesn't always work. He almost acknowledges this when discussing defiance. He writes: "If spanking is compatible with your family values, this is indeed the time for a good swat on your kid's tail, combined with a stern look that says you mean business." Unfortunately, however, not all kids respond positively to spanking; some children actually become more strong willed when you spank. So I have mixed feelings about this book. I do think the method described in Have a New Kid by Friday is helpful, but I'm not sure how well it really works on very young children and strong willed kids. All in all, it's not the "cure" I'd hoped for, despite the fact that Dr. Lehman repeatedly says he guarantees great results.

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  1. I have read the book too and it's not a flawless method. I have a very strong willed child. One that likes to fight, argue and question EVERYTHING. While the method of turning and not saying anything else after giving a command does get her attention it does not fully resolve anything. Later in the day when I give her a "no" for something she asks me I am not free from an argumentative child. I have learned that not any one parenting method works 100%. One needs to know her child. Daily interaction and observation, prayer and asking God for wisdom and grace is the only way to parenting. Each child is different and under the influence of so many factors like all of us adults. It's like any other relationship you need to spend time on it, work it, depend on God to love that other person. :)

  2. I have not read all of your posts about your child but have you tried having the rule "obey first, then we'll talk"? My questioner/strong willed/free spirited/out of the box thinking child is reminded of this CONSTANTLY (she is almost 4). When I tell her to do something & she comes back w/a comment I will either quickly quote Philippians 4:13 (do all things w/o complaining & arguing), say 'yes ma'am, mamma' (to remind her to obey & not talk back), &/or say 'obey first, then you can ask my your question'. one or sometimes all three are generally applied. this is so she is reminded that obedience is not a choice but at the same time her opinion is valid & she can voice it (respectfully) after she has first done what I have told her to do (tonight, it was going to the potty, for example). hope that helps!