There is a new post on Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Sleep Problems that just came out today.

Here is a very easy inexpensive way to win over your child.  It is called:

The Thoughtful Gift

Did you ever receive a small gift from someone you were close to when you were not
expecting it?  How did it make you feel?  Happy?  Closer to the other person? 

Here the idea is to give something small on an occasional basis to say to your child, “I love you,” or “I was thinking of you.”  When you do this you send an extremely powerful message to your child. 

I have a friend whose family employed the Thoughtful Gift and it became a family institution. Whenever someone wanted to tell another family member, “you are important to me” that person would do so by giving the other an Andes mint.  Thus, she would get a mint from her brother.  Her brother would get one from her mother.  Her father would give her mother. Well, you get the idea.  It was a very simple gift.  It was small, it wasn’t expensive, and everybody liked it.  It doesn’t seem like much but giving and receiving Andes mints was one of her most cherished childhood memories.  This just illustrates how simple a Thoughtful Gift can be, but how powerful is it’s effect. 

There are a few conditions this gift has to meet to be extremely effective.

  1.  The gift should be unexpected.  The power of this technique is in the surprise. 
  2. The gift should be something that the child will appreciate.  This is pretty straight forward.  You are giving the gift to make a connection with your child.  If you give something that you like but your child won’t value, then who were you thinking about when you chose the gift?  Even if your child recognizes that you were trying to make a connection with him, the real message you will be sending is, “My mother doesn’t understand me.” 
  3.  There should be no feeling of need to reciprocate.  This is also very important.  A gift that comes with strings attached isn’t a real gift.  It is a payment in advance for a future favor that is collectible upon demand. 
  4. The gift should be small.  This is also important, though it is not so intuitively understandable unless you think about it.  The power of giving a small gift has very little to do with the actual gift. 

The reason this technique works is not because of what the gift is, but because of what it represents.  When you give your child a small gift you are saying, “I love you”, “I was thinking about you”, “you are important to me.” 

The gift becomes a symbolic representation of your feelings.  Once the gift itself has significant value, much of this message gets lost.  Instead, your child may feel that this is a payment in advance for some yet to be asked request. 

You probably would react this way yourself.  Say your spouse or significant other one day would walk in and unexpectedly lay a single red rose down in front of you, and say, “I was thinking of you today”. 

If you are like most women, you would probably get the warm fuzzies. 

Now take the same scenario and this time instead of laying in front of you the single red rose, he gave you the FTD $100 special bouquet.  Would you really believe him if he said the reason was, “I was thinking of you today”, or would you spend the rest of the night waiting for the real reason to come out? 

And even if no reason ever came out, wouldn’t you wonder what was going on and think it a bit strange?  Your child is going to react the same way that you would. 

Keep it small and it will work for you.


Anthony Kane, MD

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The most important thing that you can do to get your child to comply with your wishes is to build up your relationship.

Children have a natural desire to please their parents.  This is true when they are young and it is also true when they become teenagers. Even adults have a need and desire to gain approval from their parents.

You can use what nature has given you as a way to help your child to do what you ask.

Now, if children want so much to have their parents’ approval, why is it that so many of them just won’t listen?

The reason is that other factors get in the way. For an ODD or difficult child probably the biggest reason they defy adults is that they resent the subordination they feel toward the adult. They just don’t want to be dominated by anyone and they won’t take orders no matter how much sense it makes and even if it is for their own benefit.

For an ODD child, the issue is who is in control, and almost everything else is secondary.

With such a child, getting them to obey is a major task. You can’t make them do anything. The more you try, the more they will fight you.

So how do you get such a child to listen to you?

You can’t force your ODD child to obey you. But you can get your ODD child to want to obey you.

You do this proactively, by developing and using your relationship.

Developing and strengthening a positive relationship with your child has numerous benefits:

  • You will be happier
  • Your child will be happier
  • You will enjoy your time together much more
  • You will reduce the amount of fighting and arguing
  • Your child will be much less likely to get into serious trouble.

Over the next few weeks we will be discussing a number of things you can do that will help you get your child to cooperate with you and build your relationship.

However, if these ideas make sense to you there are some steps you can take now immediately. We have created a number of resources for you to help you with your challenging children.

Our Resource List:

If your child is defiant and you want to know techniques you can use to help him:

Go to:

If you want to make your consequences and discipline effective

Go to:

If you want an easy to understand step-by-step method to eliminate disrespect, defiant behavior, talking back, tantrums and transform your child into a loving respectful son or daughter, then:

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