Mom Needs Training Wheels: Working through the Total Transformation Program

Posted September 5, 2008 by

Hi, my name is Lola Howle and I just became a “parent blogger” for Empowering Parents. Here’s a short run-down of where I am now: I recently got the Total Transformation program and began using it to help me with my 13-year-old ADD son. He is a genius at running over me, using abusive language, stopping just short of physical aggression. I look at my introduction to the Total Transformation as going back to Square One in my own childhood and learning structure, patience and logical consequences. I can’t remember ever having a curfew or structured consequences in my upbringing, so have nothing to draw upon in dealing with my son.

By the way, I’m a single mom, but his father is nearby and supportive (if rather inconsistent, like me) when backing up my rules for our son. There’s also a babying grandma in the mix – the same one who sheltered me as a child. So, I have to overcome the temptation to treat my son the same way I was raised. The difference is that my personality was very obedient and timid. My son can be obnoxious, aggressive, and argumentative. He’s also smart, funny and sensitive when he wants to be.

I’m interested in talking about not only how the Total Transformation works on my son, but how it works on me! My goal: to gain insight into how I thought parents were “supposed” to act — and translate that into gaining control in my relationship with my son. I’m hoping the end result will be wonderful for both of us. After the first week of tentatively trying a few of the introductory basics in July, I already started seeing improvement (along with some acting-out of course).

Does anyone out there use the Total Transformation Program, and if so, do you have any advice for me? Any insights you could offer this “mom who needs training wheels”? Thanks!!

Empowering Parents would like to welcome Lola Howle to EP, one of our very first “Parent Bloggers”.


Lola Howle is a Parent Blogger for EP.

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  1. Krista K Report

    Our ten year old daughter has been exhibiting violent aggressive behavior both physically and verbally since the age of two. She seems to get ‘stuck’ when anything (and I mean anything) does not go in the way that she perceives that it should go. Over the years we have been led now the medication path, taken some parenting courses and even went cold turkey on all meds for over a year to try the natural route with homeopathy, etc….all to no avail. We have seen first hand that doctors are very willing to hand out prescriptions and that a lot of parents are looking for what we call ‘the magic bullet’ and we were guilty of that as well, after all, we just wanted what was best for our daughter. Through James’ teachings, we are learning that there is no overnight answer but we are willing to put the work into making changes to our current ‘ineffective’ parenting styles. We are only as far as Lesson 3 but both my husband and myself make sure to listen to each lesson at least two times and then come together to discuss our combined strategies. We are not seeing a lot of success yet (our house has been taken hostage) but I am a firm believer that anything worth having, takes an awful lot of work. A prime example of this is the fact that we are still happily married even though the statistics constantly reveal that most couples with special needs children divorce sooner than later. We have felt very isolated as a result of our daughter’s behavior but like James said, it’s time to empty those deep emotional pockets and start living life again through making our daughter accountable for herself. Thanks to all of you for your words of encouragement and persistence. It really helps to hear that we are not alone.

  2. A Survivor Report

    To make the Total Transformation work, I agree you have to STICK WITH IT. I listened to the CD’s over and over again (I kept them in the car and listened to them when I was alone). Then I would write out a dialogue with my son relating to a problem we had, thinking through I would say, using the techniques, what his responses might be and what I would say next. I was then able to stay calm and have a decent conversation with him, whether he wanted to or not. Yelling and arguing is so counterproductive and makes you feel awful as a parent. Total Transformation can help you get away from that. If you can afford it, keep going to the counselor too. You need all the support you can get!

  3. Lola Report

    I have limited funds right now, also. Although my son would LOVE to earn $$$$ rewards and video games, I can’t afford those. We are working with increments of time — time with friends, time with me, time on the phone or computer, bedtime, etc.


  4. Amber Report

    I have a 5 year old son who is very defiant and aggresive. We are a blended family. My ex-husband is a great father, but allows my son to do as he pleases. The child does not even walk for heaven sakes, his dad carries him everywhere. So when he comes to my house which include my self, my husband my 5 year old’s blood sister and his half brother it is a true challange. I guess I need to check out this TT program and see what it has to offer. I am at wits end with this child and do not know where to go. I have days that I always, always love my son, but I dont always like him. He is aggresive and mean to his siblings and to animals, and can be a bully to the neighboring kids and then cannot figure out why they dont want to play with him. So in the mean time while I order this program, does anybody have any suggestions? We are putting him im hockey to help run down his energy and boost his self esteem. It is a sport he has always been interested in, but it is still a privlage and we know that, so where is the line between helping him find himself and discovering who he is as an indevidule and making sure that he is not being rewarded for negative behavoir?

  5. Lola Report

    Thanks to everyone for the great comments and support! I will stick with it and am dedicated to taking it slow. I agree with going slow and advancing as you start to see progress. I also like Dr. Maria’s comment for getting partners or spouses to join the TT effort — as you work with your child and see some improvement, the other person will see the results and want in on the effort. I sent the first 2 CDs to my ex to help him see what our goals should be. My favorite part of the TT program is the concept of kids learning problem solving skills! My #1 concern for my son is his ability to succeed later in life and school being impaired by his argumentative attitude. I can’t do it all for him, and this gives me tools to teach him to get along on his own power!

  6. Dr. Maria Report

    I also am new to total transformation, but have seen results with my sons as well. My husband has not listenend to the CD’s as well, but he is getting there. I think alot of us make the mistake of not addressing the behavior alone, and get mixed up into the other emotional stuff, trying to rationalize with a son with ODD. Just doesn’t work! So, even if you do the program on your own (without hubby), the children will be so stunned with the new you, that they will have to change also. We change first, they change in response. As far as the hubby or anyone else in your life who does it differently than you, well that is OK, but don’t rescue them from the consequences of their way of dealing with the kids ineffectively. I think with time, they will see your example, and start to get it. Calm but firm actions and natural consequenses are always a good bet too! Lots of Luck. Dr. Maria

  7. Eva Atkinson Report

    We are just beginning to use The Total Transformation. My husband & I review the lessons separately and then get together and discuss them and what changes we need to make. I have found the Parent Support Line immensely helpful and worth the money!!!

  8. jean stewart Report

    I am a pediatrician with lots of experience/training in behavior, but my 8 yr old ODD son had my husband and I pulling our hair out. After psychologists and psychiatrists, we ordered the Total Transformation program (equivalent to about 10 insurance copays), and I am pleased to say it has helped emensely! — Kris D.; I did most of the learning, and passed it on to my ADHD husband (who has a hard time sitting thru anything like this). He says he has found it helpful with our son…and his coworkers! — What helped the most, was the phone contact: like having a psychologist on call, when I needed it. Honestly, our son needed medication to help his impulsivity and irritability as well, and we’re finally reaping the benefits of the TT program. Our son was “entitled”, “defiant”, and “irritable”; he still melts down occasionally, but can finally reason a little, and our whole family (and him) are breathing a sigh of relief. He’s finally learning that parents are in charge, and seems happier for it. We had to greatly restrict his choices, and make him earn his priviledges. I think he loves the structure.

  9. Bridgette W Report

    Kris D.,
    You are exactly right about what you said. ‘You both have to change before the children can change.’My husband and I are finally working together, with some shock response from our kids who aren’t used to the ‘unity’. We had a difficult time agreeing about how to handle situations, behaviors and consequences, prior to the Total Transformation. Like you, I had tried many books and programs, my husband was resistant to most or didn’t follow through.
    In all honesty, Dr.Lehman does not offer a ‘book’. He does not
    tell parents ‘what to do’. He talks about why kids behave the way they do, the ineffective parenting roles that help facilitate behavior problems, and gives a ‘no-nonsense’ approach to
    transforming your family. My husband related to Lehman’s style better than anything else we had tried before.
    Just a suggestion,order the program and watch the Introductory DVD together. The audio CD’s really helped my husband (and me)to ‘connect’ with the program together.
    The workbook offered is manageable and can be used to realistically identify with your unique family ‘traits’. Dr. Lehman really understands the challenges we face as parents. He gives practical, common sense solutions.
    I struggled with the same decision, about spending the money. Ultimately, it was better than paying a therapist to hash out our differences! So far, it is a learning process,not an overnight change. It has given us the courage to make gradual,
    necessary changes to become better parents–individually and together. Best of all, it has helped the kids feel happier and
    more secure in their environment. Hope that helps! Good Luck!

  10. Kris D. Report

    I am a married mother of 4 whose home is chaos. I was a very obedient and timid child and my siblings were mostly obedient as well. Three out of the four of my children are much more strong willed than I was. Unfortunately, my parenting style is very different from my husband. He reacts with anger to everything and just yells louder and louder to get the children to behave and do what he says. I can’t get him to listen to me or read with me about how to change the way we react to the children. We have to change before they will. He says I don’t discipline the kids or give them consequences and let them run over me ( in front of the children). Can anyone help me figure out how to engage my husband in helping me make my house more calm and organized? I want to try the Total Transformation program , but it is very expensive and my husband doesn’t want to listen to anyone tell him what to do so it will be a waste of money like all of my other books and workbooks.

  11. Patty W. Report

    Talk about training wheels…I became a first time mother when an 11-year old foster child moved into my home. He arrived from 3-years in residential treatment, with a lot of scary diagnoses, and years of trauma and neglect. Yikes! I would not have made it without the Total Transformation Program. My advice: follow the program step-by-step, don’t rush (implement each lesson until you see results, then move on), rehearse what and how you are going to do/say something before you do/say it (some of this stuff doesn’t come naturally, at least to me!), and just keep at it (even when you are tired, discouraged, or just inclined to indulge the kid for a moment). The results are worth it. My “problem” child has settled in at lightening speed, our relationship is great, our home is peaceful and he is HAPPY! Me too!

  12. Iowa Mom Report

    The best piece of advice I have is STICK WITH IT. I did and I am so happy that I did. Our life at home with our spunky 8 year old is now pleasant and relaxed. When we started the program and even after several weeks into it, I thought we’d never see improvment or have a normal life again. But suddenly I started seeing positive effects and then momentum built.

    It was a transformation for me too. I had to remove my emotions from the exchanges with my daughter, which is really hard to do. The most effective tools for me are not engaging in the argument, factually stating consequences for inappropriate behavior and letting my daughter decide which way to behave, and FOLLOWING THROUGH on consequences. Another effective tool was to flip the consequences and turn them into priveleges. Instead of losing things for bad behavior, she earned priveleges for good behavior. And when I say priveleges, I mean anything in her life outside of basic needs (food, clothing, shelter). When my daughter woke up each morning, she had to earn everything from toys, treats and family outings to tv and computer time and even her preferred bedtime. We had a checklist of expected behaviors for her to accomplish each day – going to school, wearing a seatbelt, taking a shower, doing homework – to be done without arguments, tantrums, abusive language, etc. It worked, and we no longer have to follow this routine. Now her consistent positive behavior means that she automatically earns her priveleges. But if she has a lapse, we go right back to the earning routine, and she quickly pulls herself back together.

    Besides improved behavior, my daughter has also learned how to deal with her intense emotions and find ways to calm herself down before the situation blows up. She is better as identifying and communicating her frustrations and anxietites before they become a behavior problem.

  13. Jackie V. Report

    Lola, hang in there. I grew up the same way–not many rules, and not a lot of consequences for my actions. As a single mom of a rebellious teen-age daughter, I am really challenged to maintain control in my house. I’m thinking of trying the Total Transformation. Does anyone think it would be helpful for someone in my situation?

  14. Bonnie Report

    OMG I feel so much like you do! I too am a single parent with a grandparent in the mix that tends to only make things worse. My son is 8 yo but his father has never been involved. I had stiff structure when I was growing up. I am a RN with all the training you can get but my son stumps me everyday with his behavior. He recently was tested and is considered ODD. Counseling hasn’t worked so I went with the Total Trans. I have seen some changes and not all for the better. I’ve called the help line and they have been helpful with extra tips to try. I’m working on sticking it out with the hopes that it will kick in for us both soon. One thing I realized is this transformation is mainly for me. I have to change in order to help him to change. This is hard!! I’m looking forward to an easier morning!! My son battles getting up and ready in addition to going to bed. Good luck and hang in there!!!! Your not the only one!

  15. Monica Report

    The best advice I can give you, is to stick with it. I also am just beginning with the program, and see some changes in me as well as my daughter. Being also a single Mom, with no help from the other side, I know that I have already made it through a super tough road. But I made it! I know there is still an uphill climb, but I am very much looking forward to the view from the top!
    Stick it out and keep it up!



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