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Experiencing the Natural Consequences of Your Choices:
Learning What Life is Willing to Teach

Dear Dr Matt:

My name is Tara. I'm 25 and live in Tennessee.
My little brother has anger issues and an occasional food hoarding issues. when he doesn't get his way he will tell out mother that she is stupid and in some way tell her that she needs to die. She usually will ground him for this type of outburst but that doesn't work. He doesn't do it in school....just at home. He also does it to the middle child (my little sister) and he is the youngest. (he is 10 she is 12 and i am 25...nice age gap there) and i am worried that something is gonna snap and he is gonna end up getting expelled in school or worse...thrown in jail... for this kind of behavior. My mother and father are in denial about this. I have a child of my own and i know this is not 'normal' behavior.

Thanks so much!

Related Articles: Superlative Parenting: Learning the Art of Influence

Hello Tara:

Your worst fear for your little brother is "jail time." Truth is, Jail Time would be the very BEST thing for him — if he behaved in a way to deserve this punishment. He needs to experience natural consequences in Life, so that he might learn which behaviors bring happiness, and which behaviors bring sorrow — in himself and others.

Here's what I recommend:

1 - Don't insulate your brother from natural consequences that will teach him that his behavior is unproductive and hurtful.

As long as the consequences will not cause permanent harm — consequences that can kill or cripple — consequences will teach your brother was he needs to learn.

2 - Your brother must discover that Life has a Purpose; he needs to learn the Principles upon which happiness and fulfillment are based.

The adults in the home must be clear about Life's Purpose — for they cannot teach what they do not know and live. On this point, here's a poem from my book:

The Journey

For this is the Journey that men make:
To find themselves. If they fail in this, it matters little
whatever else they may achieve: Money, Fame, Revenge.
When they end the Journey, they can put them all into
a bin marked “ashes.” They mean nothing.
But if one has found that he has within him
a divine soul, if he has discovered the principles
upon which the fulfillment of that soul is based, and
if he implements those principles, then he has a mansion
within which he can live with dignity
and joy each day of his life.
(Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, page vi).

3 - Your younger brother will likely be resistant to learning via "lecture" -- but most people are! Teaching is NOT just Telling. The BEST kind of teaching / influencing will facilitate discovery.

True Principles must be taught by example first, and then by kind and creative conversations that raise thought-provoking questions and spark curiosity. You can learn essential Insights about Influence at my website.

As for the hurtful words that your little brother is saying to your mother. Let his actions be about him. The adults in the home will teach this ten-year-old the wrong message is they lash back at his bad behavior with their own bad behavior — returning evil for evil. Get clear about The Division of Response-Ability.

Dr Matt

Matt Moody, Ph.D.
Social Psychologist

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The Greatest Prize
for Life's labors isn't
in material possessions
or impressive accomplishments,
but in the progress of personal character.
You labor for your own becoming, this is your richest reward.
Who You Become is your greatest possession,
make it your Masterpiece!

(Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, page 274)

The book, "Changing Your Stripes" presents principles for getting out of
the ditch in which you've been dumped (the difficulties of which you are a victim), and
the ditch in which you've jumped (the difficulties for which you volunteer).

"Mastering a challenging situation
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mastering yourself!"

- Matt Moody 

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Social Psychologist & Personal Advisor

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