Parents are having great success improving their children’s behavior thanks to Dr. Norm’s book, Bad Children Can Happen to Good Parents.
If your family has experienced a crisis and resolved the issues by following Dr. Norm’s advice, he wants to hear from you. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include the following information:
- Describe the challenges that you and your child were facing
- Outline the action taken to resolve the child’s bad behavior issues
- Celebrate your success and tell us about the results
- Your name and contact information
*Please note, by submitting your story, you agree to allow Dr. Norm to share your story on his website, in books, speeches, interviews or other media. Should Dr. Norm choose to use your story, you will be contacted for additional information.
Below are some success stories about children whose lives were helped by Dr. Norm!
Pat fits into the role of the “transformer.” He basically was normal with few problems while growing up. For all intents and purposes, he was the child who was the “good boy” from the beginning. His problems did not begin until he was about twelve. At that time, he began to follow the lead of his more dominant peers. He easily was lead by the stronger, more aggressive, and dominant males in his peer group. As pubescence ended and the yearnings of adolescence approached, Pat began to explore independence. Unfortunately, following the more dominant peers in his group resulted in antisocial behaviors.
During individual counseling, Pat was pleasant, agreeable, and easy to engage in conversation. Initially, he appeared interested in solving his problems, but, when he was confronted with his lack of progress, he became argumentative and abrasive. When he was asked, “What seems to be the problem?” his response was, “I have no problems. My parents do. They overreact to everything and get on my case.”
Traditional psychotherapeutic techniques had little effect. Attempts to establish a working therapeutic relationship failed. Regardless of how well the relationship between Pat and me progressed, his behavior at home and school remained unchanged.
When Pat’s parents began the Six Step approach outlined in Bad Children Happen To Good Parents, they experienced some difficulty during the first two weeks. Although they appeared motivated and enthusiastic, they reported being negligent in their efforts to comply with Step Four: Consequences. They were too quick to let Pat “off the hook” when they perceived his positive response. Obviously, Pat was able to convince his parents that he was going to do as they expected. In reality, he was forestalling his punishment.
After his parents applied Step Four in a more consistent manner, Pat reacted with anger. He attempted to ask his mother about the reasons for their reaction to his “normal” behaviors. They removed all of the items in Step Two: Privileges and Pleasures, and made his penalty longer due to his continued discussion and misconduct.
After several weeks of improving and failing, they began to see a steady improvement in his overall attitude and productivity at home and at school. He quickly verbalized his unwillingness to continue to lose privileges. His parents viewed his progress as a “miracle.”
Winnie was fifteen years old and was an only child. Her occasional use of drugs and alcohol, lying, petty theft, and disobedient behavior bought her to the attention of the police, her school’s counselor, her state’s welfare office, and a family therapist. In spite of many conversation with the child at home and at school, she continued to evidence problems. Her parents and her school counselor were unable to gain her cooperation. Traditional and family psychotherapy were attempted, but failed.
From an early age, Winnie was considered to be spoiled and easily irritatated. She had little interest in self-play and she was easily bored. She constantly sought her parents’ attention. Attempts to redirect her actions resulted in temper tantrums. Her parents had problems in getting her to do homework. Her grades were average. At the age of eleven, her grades fluctuated between D’s and F’s. By the time that she was thirteen, she had lost interest in her schoolwork and was failing.
This picture is common among uncaring children. Winnie exhibited many early soft signs that her parents were untrained to observe. They were truly caring and loving parents, but they felt the usual guilt and frustration experienced by good parents.
When Winnie was brought to my attention, she behaved in the same way she had acted with her previous therapists. After trying the traditional approach without success, I suggested that the parents apply the Improvement Program for Bad Children.
To her parents’ surprise, Winnie’s response was positive. During the first two weeks, her previous misbehavior ceased. I reminded them of the “honeymoon” period – the initial reaction that appears positive but quickly is interrupted by misbehavior. After two weeks, Winnie became belligerent and defiant. They quickly reacted to her regression and imposed Step Four of my program: Consequences. Winnie’s response was to leave home. Her parents were depressed and guilt ridden. They felt that they might have been too hard on her and she might do something foolish. After much reassurance, they contacted the police and reported her missing.
Winnie’s running away from home and the subsequent parental guilt is not uncommon at this phase of intervention. The uncaring child may react to parental control by renewing and increasing her parents’ feelings of guilt.
In a situation like Winnie’s, parents must reinstate the original Improvement Program for Bad Children upon their children’s return. If they continue to oppose their parents with dangerous behaviors, Step Five: Over Correction should be enacted. The adolescents should be told that they are being denied their usual privileges. Provide them with the choice to succeed or to fail. If positive results do not follow disciplinary action, the alternative is to place them in an alternative living arrangement. This could range from short term psychiatric placement to long-term residential care for behavioral disorders.
In this case, the police bought Winnie back to her home. Her parents gave choices to her. She could comply with their house rules or choose to live in a state-approved residence. After having her alternatives explained, Winnie chose to comply. Although she attempted to argue and make her parents feel guilty for being so “upright,” Winnie finally settled down and did what was expected of her.
Parents must be diligent and consistent in their discipline if uncaring behavior is to be treated.