Because he can; because she doesn't have to

I often say that parents really only have two questions for me: "Dr. Knight, why does my child do this?" or "Dr. Knight, why doesn't my child do this?" I hear some version of at least one of these questions from nearly every parent that walks into my office. My answers are always pretty much the same: "Because he can," or "Because she doesn't have to." Now, I'm not casting blame on anyone in answering that way. Rather, I'm trying to short-circuit attempts to locate the "real problem" in the past (hint: the behavior is happening now so whatever is keeping it going also has to be happening now) and attempts to locate the "real problem" in either the child or the parent. (Problems generally don

Don't "do something." Do nothing.

Parents routinely tell me that they are just sick of struggling with their kids, fighting with their kids, pushing their kids to do a given thing, warning them not to do a given thing, punishing their kids over what they've done (or not done) and on and on and on. The sense I get during these conversations is that parenting has turned into an endless, draining battle. (And -- having been awarded the children I deserve -- I'm no stranger to that feeling myself!) When I hear this story, I know that part of what's keeping this particular dance going is a process that's happening inside of the parents. (Our kids have their own part to play in this situation, but I can talk about that another tim

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