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Dear Dr Matt:
My name is Tara. I'm 25 and live in Tennessee.
Thanks so much!
Related Articles: Superlative Parenting: Learning the Art of Influence
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:
For this is the Journey that men make:
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.
Matt Moody, Ph.D.
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