Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD


Parental Frustration in Raising Defiant Teens

"I get so frustrated with my rebellious 13-year-old son - and often lose my temper! You can’t leave him alone for a minute without problems of some sort (won’t go into all that here though). Am I a bad mother? How can I avoid over-reacting like this? I know I'm throwing gas on the fire!!"

Most moms lose their temper with their teens from time to time. It's OK to feel angry …just don’t take it out on your son. If you feel angry with your son almost every day or have trouble controlling your temper, get some help. There's no shame in that! Start by talking to your family doctor. Also, there are groups that can help moms, too. You can join our support group here:

Parenting Defiant Children and Teens - Support Group

When you get frustrated and upset, give yourself a break (rather than getting angry, and then feeling guilty for getting angry). Everyone needs a break from being a parent once in a while. If you have another adult in your family, take turns getting away. For example, have your partner stay with your son so you can visit friends. Take turns sleeping late on the weekends. If you're a single parent, ask friends and relatives to help by running some errands for you. Maybe they could stay with your son while you go out.

Know that frustration is normal. All moms get frustrated. Teens take a lot of time and energy. Parenting is even harder when you have problems in your life (e.g., worries about your job, your bills, your relationships, problems with alcohol or drugs, etc.). To be a good mother, you have to take care of yourself!!! That means getting help for YOUR issues first ...then you can work on your son.

No mom or dad is perfect. They all make mistakes. Even very passive parents sometimes say and do things they don't mean to do (e.g., yell at their child or call him/her a "bad" name). But if you think you're having trouble controlling yourself, get help so a pattern of emotional abuse doesn't start.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

How to Foster Self-Reliance in Overindulged Teens

Do you happen to use an “overindulgent” parenting style? If so, then you are probably experiencing a lot of behavioral problems with your teenager! What’s the connection between overindulgence and behavior problems you ask? In this post, we will answer this question in great detail…

First of all, do you notice any of the following characteristics in your teen?
  • Asks for help on a task she should be able to do on her own
  • Can be obnoxious and temperamental
  • Constantly engages in whining and complaining
  • Demands things all the time
  • Exhibits extreme clinginess or the inability to be alone
  • Fails to bounce back from normal adolescent disappointments
  • Has little concern for the welfare of others
  • Ignores or negotiates every request you make
  • Is self-centered
  • Is verbally and/or physically aggressive
  • Is very manipulative
  • Lacks motivation
  • Repeatedly asks for rewards or money for basic chores 
  • Shows little gratitude for what she has
  • Wants to control the decisions of other family members

If this sounds like your teen, then it’s safe to say that he or she is overindulged, which is a nice term for “spoiled rotten!”

What happens when you have an overindulged teenager? The result of overindulgent parenting includes the following. The teenager:
  • begins to underestimate his abilities
  • believes the rules do not apply to him
  • depends on the parent to give him what he wants, but at the same time resents being dependent, and this resentment comes out as anger and ungratefulness – and a strong desire for more material stuff and privileges
  • does not get along well with authority figures (e.g., teachers)
  • feels entitled to privileges, but not responsible for his actions
  • finds school boring
  • gets labeled ADHD by school officials and mental health professionals
  • is the one in charge rather than the parent (i.e., the tail is wagging the dog)
  • is used to not having to be responsible for anything
  • learns how to avoid unpleasant tasks or challenges instead of facing them
  • learns to manipulate others instead of how to take responsibility

Even if your teen is already well on his way to becoming overindulged, all is not lost. Your goal as a mother or father is to teach him to weather the natural frustration of not getting what he wants without feeling like his world is ending or taking it as a sign you don’t love him.

Here are 25 ways to move from overindulgence to fostering self-reliance in your teen:

1. Allow your teen to make mistakes when safety is not an issue. It’s natural to want to step in and solve problems (which you’ve been doing for years). But now is his chance to make some minor mistakes and learn from them while the stakes are lower. He will also learn valuable problem-solving skills, and develop self-resilience and self-control.

2. Announce your limits, and stick to them. Let it be known what you will and won’t shell-out money for. Even if this leads to more arguments, make your teen respect your authority by refusing to budge.

3. Don’t FORCE your opinion on your teenager. Parents sometimes don’t trust what they have taught their teens. Did you ever plant some tulips? What happens if you yank the bulbs out every day to see if they’re growing? No tulips! Give the truths that you have poured into your teen’s heart and mind some time and space to take root and grow.

4. Don’t lose your temper. Staying calm helps you and your teen. Plus, it models the behavior you expect from him.

5. Encourage your teen to fully express himself. He is trying to discover who he is and is not (an important undertaking during adolescence) Accept that he may not like the things you do or have the same opinions, and get to know him as a person in his own right.

6. Establish ground rules for safety. As your teen tries out new behaviors and methods of self-expression, and gains new skills (e.g., driving, cooking, dating, etc.), she will still need limits to keep her safe. Negotiate rules when you can to give her a sense of ownership, but make sure she knows safety is a priority and is not negotiable.

7. Follow through with consequences consistently so that your teenager learns to accept responsibility for his own actions.

8. Foster a good work ethic. Even preteens can wash a car or help mix pancake batter.

9. Have your teen participate regularly in household chores (e.g., vacuuming, dusting, washing dishes, etc.). Also, teach him how to do his own laundry and care for his clothes.

10. Have your teen participate in making meals regularly.

11. Help your teen to discover his world. As he tries to figure out where he fits in, give him opportunities to try new activities and sports and to meet new people. He may end up discovering a lifelong career path in the process.

12. Hold your teen accountable. For example, if he continually oversleeps and misses the bus, charge him gas money to drive him to school. Now is the time for him to learn that his actions matter in the bigger world and affect others as well as himself.

13. Intentionally teach your teen how to work through conflicts with her peers. Simply preparing your teen with some practical conflict-resolution skills will help foster self-reliance and confidence.

14. Let natural consequences be your friend. For example, instead of nagging your teen to get a summer job so she can afford all the activities she wants to do – don’t. If she doesn’t follow through, she’ll just have to skip some of those activities.

15. Remind your teen you will always be there for him. As he spreads his wings, make sure you let him know you will be nearby whenever he needs you. This safety net will make it possible for him to have the confidence he needs to fly into his future.

16. Set shopping parameters. For example, if you’re out to a store with your teen and she wants a new pair of jeans, tell her she can have it—if she pays for it with her allowance money.

17. Talk openly and honestly about sex.

18. Teach your adolescents about Internet safety.

19. Teach your teen how to use an assignment pad to keep track of homework.

20. Teach your teen life skills. Your teen should be starting to learn how to manage money and drive safely in various situations. Increase her responsibilities as she gets closer to college age so she is ready to fully take care of herself when it’s time to move out and be fully independent.

21. Teach your teen to check the tire pressure and oil in the car he drives.

22. Teach your teen to think independently about commercials and advertisements aimed at teens.

23. Teaching your teen to monitor his own TV time and video game time.

24. Understand that making decisions for your teen can be destructive to his independence. Decision-making is a skill that only comes with practice. It isn’t something that’s magically conferred on a teenager when he turns 18. Letting him make choices means that he will probably do some things wrong and make poor choices, but he will learn from those, too.

25. Use praise. When you notice your teen is making a real effort to act differently, let him know that you notice.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Parenting Rebellious Teens

One day you wake up and find that life has changed forever. Instead of greeting you with a hug, your little boy rolls his eyes when you say "good morning" and shouts, "You're ruining my life!" You may think you've stepped into the Twilight Zone, but you've actually been thrust into your son's teen years.

During adolescence, teens start to break away from parents and become "their own person." Some talk back, ignore rules and slack off at school. Others may sneak out or break curfew. Still others experiment with alcohol, tobacco or drugs. So how can you tell the difference between normal teen rebellion versus dangerous behavior? And what's the best way for a parent to respond?

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Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Many families of defiant children live in a home that has become a battleground. In the beginning, the daily struggles can be expected. After all, we knew that problems would occur. Initially, stress can be so subtle that we lose sight of a war, which others do not realize is occurring. We honestly believe that we can work through the problems.

Outbursts, rages, and strife become a way of life (an emotionally unhealthy way of life). We set aside our own needs and focus on the needs of our children. But what does it cost us?

The majority of the population does not understand the dynamics of parenting an ODD child. Family and friends may think that you - the parent - are the one with the problem. Families are frequently turned in on false abuse allegations. Support is non-existent, because outsiders can't even begin to imagine that children can be so destructive. Where does that leave a parent?

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