The teacher asked her class what each wanted to become when they grew up.

A chorus of responses came from all over the room: "A football player", "A doctor", "An astronaut", "The President", "A fireman", "A teacher", "A race driver".

Everyone that is, except Tommy.

The teacher noticed he was sitting there quiet and still. So she said to him, "Tommy, what do you what to be when you grow up?"

"Possible" Tommy replied.

"Possible?" asked the teacher.

"Yes" Tommy said. "My Mom is always telling me I'm impossible. So when I get to be big I want to be possible".

In our long career of parenting we can wake up one morning and realize that we, too, have a "Tommy" on our hands, a child who is impossible. Frustration and anger may come in and we can make a strong decision: "Enough is enough" "We are not going to put up with this anymore" "Things will change from now on."

What usually happens next is that the parents share with the child their decision and they list ten or twenty things where the child has to change.

The child's every move gets criticized, punishments start flying, and in no time we have a war on our hands. The child doesn't know what happened and why his parents changed overnight. Maybe they are on the wrong medication, he thinks.

The frustration becomes much stronger as no change materializes, and a sense of helplessness comes in. The parents give up until one morning they wake up and repeat the process all over again.

"Failing to plan is planning to fail." A situation like this requires careful planning by the parents (and other family members involved). We have to realize that our "Tommy" will not be transformed overnight into the little darling we wish he would become. There are no quick fixes.

The child and the parents have to "un-learn" many behaviors from the past which are no longer acceptable. The bad news is that the process is a long one. The good news is that those behaviors can be un-learned and new behaviors learned instead if this is done in the right way.

A suggestion may be as follows:

1) The parents write down everything that they want to change in their child's behavior.

2) They then decide which is the most important and unbearable behavior that they want to work on.

3) They then work out their strategy how to go about making a change in one particular behavior.

4) They make a very firm and strong decision to ignore all other negative behaviors.

5) They then start complimenting and reinforce the positive behaviors when they happen.

6) "What gets praised gets repeated" and slowly but surely a new pattern of behavior sets in.

7) Once the new behavior is learned, practiced and becomes part of the positive behavior repertoire, we repeat the process by choosing the next behavior from the list.

The parents will find, to their surprise, that by ignoring all other bad behaviors and focusing only on one, that some of the items on the bad behavior list have now gone and the list is shorter than originally thought.

We must always remember that "A good friend is someone who forgets your past, believes in your future and accepts the way you are today."

Try it - it works!