From Bundling Up to Toughing Up

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“Suzanne Gelb Image”

”Silly — Must I Wear Those Junk Clothes?”


Q: Dear Dr. Gelb:

I am 9 years old and I got some roller blades for Christmas. But my mother won’t let me use them on the sidewalk without putting on all this junk that comes with it, on my elbows and knees, and especially the helmet. I hate the helmet, I look silly in it.


A: Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Silly:

I’m not a medical doctor, but it is my understanding that the head and the brain are some of the most sensitive and vulnerable organs of the body. Sometimes the slightest fall can cause major damage to the brain if the head hits in a certain way. I imagine that the discomfort that you are experiencing with your gear will soon subside and then putting on these safety devices will probably feel as natural as stepping into a favorite pair of shoes. So you see, mothers are smart when they love their children enough to care, as your mother obviously does.

”Couch Potato — How Can I Get My Teenager to Cooperate?”

Q: Dear Dr. Gelb:

I have a 14-year-old son. I can’t get him to do anything around the house, he just lies on his bed and watches TV and eats junk food.

Couch Potato’s Mother

A: Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Couch Potato’s Mother:

It is unfortunate that you did not begin teaching your son disciplined behavior when he was much younger. But that is water under the bridge, and if you intend to change this boy’s behavior and attitude, then now is the time. I have always maintained that if parents do not teach and command a desired behavior change before children reach about age 15, then short of a correctional institution, which may or may not bring about change, an unruly child is not likely to be receptive or amenable to change.

One approach could be to start today by implementing consequences for your son’s misbehavior. Make a list of the things that you want him to do around the house, type it out and make copies of it. Then make a list of consequences that will be applied if he does not fulfill his responsibilities and do his assigned tasks.

Some courageous parents have really bitten the bullet so-to-speak and had great success with turning around their unruly 13 and 14 year olds, by applying strict, but reasonable consequences from the get-go, informing their teens that these privileges could be earned back if and when the parents are satisfied that the teen has seriously reformed his or her behavior. In this regard, the first thing one mother did was to take the family television out of the house and give it to a charity. Next, she went into her daughter’s closet and removed all of her favorite clothes and shoes, placing them in storage. This parent then informed her daughter that she, the parent, would be choosing what the daughter would be wearing, and that the only food to be eaten would be food which is served at the table. This was a good start. That mother continued to add to her consequence list until her daughter got the message that it was actually more rewarding to cooperate with her parent’s wishes than to rebel against them. In time she earned some of her privileges back, and the consequences became motivators for positive behavior choice.

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

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