Parents tell me their daughter is intelligent and did well in school up until the seventh grade, at which time she stopped doing the required work and her grades, consequently, went down the proverbial tube.
My response: "Who cares?"
The parents of a 15-year-old want to know what to do about his refusal to keep his bedroom and bathroom neat and clean. His possessions are strewn everywhere, he doesn't hang up his towels, he disposes of food by shoving it under his bed, and so on.
My response: "Who cares?"
In each case, the parents have a legitimate complaint. I am simply asking these parents to identify the person or persons who is/are upset by the problem in question, because it is a simple fact that the person or persons who is/are upset by the problem will try to solve it. And therein lies the possible reason why these problems aren't being solved, because in each case the problem can only be solved by the child in question.
In each case, I discover, it's the parents who care. They are upset. They are pulling their hair out. And in each case, the child does not care. The girl does not seem to care about her grades. The teen is oblivious to the mess that is his room and bathroom.
The fact is that the wrong people care. The wrong people are upset. Therefore, the only people who can solve the problems have no reason to solve them. The simple fact is that not until these children are forced to become upset about these problems - not until they begin to care more than their parents care - will they solve them.
So, the girl's parents confiscate her most prized possession: her cellphone. She will get it back when her grades come up and stay there for one grading period. When she is informed of this, she throws a tantrum like one she hasn't thrown since she was a toddler. Good. Now she cares. If any sense at all remains, she will solve her problem.
And the teen comes home one day to discover that his parents have thoroughly cleaned his room. In the process, they threw away whatever they felt like throwing away and have stored his most coveted possessions in a storage locker to which only they have the code. They tell him to take a close look at the job they did because he must keep his room and bathroom to that standard for two straight months before they will return his stuff. And if he doesn't clean his room, they will. At first, he is angry. When that doesn't move his parents, he asks their forgiveness and promises to keep his room clean if they will return his stuff. They refuse. He gets angry again, then apologizes again, then begins to beg. His parents stand firm. Good. Now he cares.
In each case, the child quickly solves the problem.
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