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

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Why two names?

Thank you. One more thing. I've gotta ask - is your name Mark Hutten or Mark Huttenlocker. Which one, and why two names?

That makes me a little nervous.



Actually, my name is Mark Hutten-Locker, but this name seems to confuse everybody. So in an attempt to make my life a bit easier, I chop off the "Locker" part (except in those cases where my full name is needed, of course). Hope this isn't too confusing. Please just call me Mark Hutten. Thanks!

Mark Hutten

How do I encourage some conversation in our home?


I continue to use your strategies from the online book. We continue to have fewer and less intense discussions with our son. In fact, they happen very rarely now.

The issue we still struggle with is getting him to open up and communicate with us. An example, last night he worked. Typically his shift is from 4 pm to ~ 9 pm. He came home ~8:30. After saying hello, I asked "I'm surprised to see you this early. Weren't you busy tonight?" His reply was a one-word answer, "No". I do realize that I didn't form the question the correct way and I allowed him the option of a one-word answer. But in trying to keep the conversation going, all I got were grunts and more one-word answers.

Mark, on a typical day, if we hear 50 words from him we are lucky. There is very little conversation at the dinner table when we eat together and like last night, many of the conversations end with me running out of things to talk about and him going on his way to something he wants to do.

How do I encourage some conversation in our home? He has never been much of a talker, even before all of the behavior problems started.



I don't think you have a problem here. He's not much of a conversationalist, but that's o.k.

I wouldn't try to squeeze words out of him. Don't assume that "few words" = "hidden problems."

Try to match to him. In other words, keep conversations short on your end too. In this way, you will (a) send a message that you are indeed interested in what is going on in his life, and (b) avoid giving him the impression that he is not divulging enough information.

It sounds like he simply does not need a lot of "parent time." I wouldn't take this personally.



Show That You Think Education and Homework Are Important
Children need to know that their family members think homework is important. If they know their families care, children have a good reason to complete assignments and to turn them in on time. You can do many things to show that your child that you value education and homework.

Set a Regular Time for Homework
Having a regular time to do homework helps children to finish assignments. The best schedule is one that works for your child and your family. What works well in one household may not work in another. Of course, a good schedule depends in part on your child's age as well as her specific needs. For instance, one child may do homework best in the afternoon, completing homework first or after an hour of play and another may do it best after dinner. However, don't let your child leave homework to do just before bedtime.

Your child's outside activities, such as sports or music lessons, may mean that you need a flexible homework schedule. Your child may study after school on some days and after dinner on others. If there isn't enough time to finish homework, your child may need to drop some outside activity. Let her know that homework is a high priority.

You'll need to work with your elementary school child to develop a schedule. An older student can probably make up a schedule independently, although you'll want to make sure that it's a workable one. You may find it helpful to write out his schedule and put it in a place where you'll see it often, such as on the refrigerator door.

Some families have a required amount of time that their children must devote to homework or some other learning activities each school night (the length of time can vary depending upon the child's age). For instance, if your seventh grader knows she's expected to spend an hour doing homework, reading or visiting the library, she may be less likely to rush through assignments so that she can watch TV. A required amount of time may also discourage her from "forgetting" to bring home assignments and help her adjust to a routine.

Pick a Place
Your child's homework area doesn't have to be fancy. A desk in the bedroom is nice, but for many children, the kitchen table or a corner of the living room works just fine. The area should have good lighting and it should be fairly quiet. Your child may enjoy decorating a special area for homework. A plant, a brightly colored container to hold pencils and some favorite artwork taped to the walls can make homework time more pleasant.

Remove Distractions
Turn off the TV and discourage your child from making and receiving social telephone calls during homework time. (A call to a classmate about an assignment, however, may be helpful.)

Some children work well with quiet background music, but loud noise from the CD player, radio or TV is not OK. One history teacher laments, "I've actually had a kid turn in an assignment that had written in the middle, 'And George Washington said, "Ohhhhh, I love you."' The kid was so plugged into the music that he wasn't concentrating."

If you live in a small or noisy household, try having all family members take part in a quiet activity during homework time. You may need to take a noisy toddler outside or into another room to play. If distractions can't be avoided, your child may want to complete assignments in the local library.

Provide Supplies and Identify Resources
Have available pencils, pens, erasers, writing paper and a dictionary. Other supplies that might be helpful include a stapler, paper clips, maps, a calculator, a pencil sharpener, tape, glue, paste, scissors, a ruler, a calculator, index cards, a thesaurus and an almanac. If possible, keep these items together in one place. If you can't provide your child with needed supplies, check with her teacher, school guidance counselor or principal about possible sources of assistance.

For books and other information resources, such as suitable computer Web sites, check with the school library or your local public library. Some libraries have homework centers designed especially to assist children with school assignments (they may even have tutors and other kinds of individual assistance).

You may want to ask your child's teacher to explain school policy about the use of computers for homework. Certainly, computers are great learning and homework tools. Your child can use her computer not only for writing reports and for getting information through Internet resource sites, but for "talking" with teachers and classmates about assignments.

In many schools, teachers post information about homework assignments and class work on their own Web sites, which also may have an electronic bulletin board on which students can post questions for the teacher and others to answer. (For more information about using the Internet, see the U.S. Department of Education's booklet, Parents' Guide to the Internet, listed in the Resources section, page .) However, you don't have to have a computer in your home for your child to complete homework assignments successfully. Some schools may offer after-school programs that allow your child to use the school computers. And many public libraries make computers available to children.

Set a Good Example

Show your child that the skills he is learning are an important part of the things he will do as an adult. Let him see you reading books, newspapers and computer screens; writing reports, letters, e-mails and lists; using math to balance your checkbook or to measure for new carpeting; doing other things that require thought and effort. Tell your child about what you do at work.

Help your child to use everyday routines to support the skills he is learning-for example, teach him to play word and math games; help him to look up information about things in which he is interested-singers, athletes, cars, space travel and so forth; and talk with him about what he sees and hears as the two of you walk through the neighborhood, go shopping at the mall or visit a zoo or museum.

Be Interested and Interesting
Make time to take your child to the library to check out materials needed for homework (and for enjoyment) and read with your child as often as you can. Talk about school and learning activities in family conversations. Ask your child what was discussed in class that day. If she doesn't have much to say, try another approach. For example, ask her to read aloud a story she wrote or to talk about what she found out from a science experiment.

Attend school activities, such as parent-teacher conferences, plays, concerts, open houses and sports events. If you can, volunteer to help in your child's classroom or at special events. Getting to know some of your child's classmates and their parents builds a support network for you and your child. It also shows your child that his home and school are a team.

Monitor Assignments
Children are more likely to complete homework successfully when parents monitor their assignments. How closely you need to monitor your child depends upon her age, how independent she is and how well she does in school. Whatever the age of your child, if she is not getting assignments done satisfactorily, she requires more supervision.

Here are some ways to monitor your child's assignments:

Ask about the School's Homework Policy
At the start of the school year, ask your child's teacher about any rules or guidelines that children are expected to follow as they complete homework. Ask about the kinds of assignments that will be given and the purposes for the assignments.

Talk with the teacher about your role in helping with homework. Expectations for parent involvement vary from teacher to teacher. Some teachers want parents to monitor homework closely, whereas others want them simply to check to make sure the assignment is completed on time. Ask the teacher to call if any problems with homework come up. Let her know that you will do the same.

Be Available
Many elementary school students often like to have someone with them to answer questions as they work on assignments. If your child is cared for by someone else, talk to that caregiver about how to deal with homework. For an older child, if no one will be around, let him know when you want him to begin work and call to remind him if necessary.

However, if the teacher has made it known that students are to do homework on their own, limit your assistance to your child to assuring that assignments are clear and that necessary supplies are provided. Too much parent involvement can make children dependent-and takes away from the value of homework as a way for children to become independent and responsible.

Look over Completed Assignments

It's usually a good idea to check to see that your elementary school child has finished her assignments. If your middle-school student is having trouble finishing assignments, check his work, too. After the teacher returns completed homework, read the comments to see if your child has done the assignment satisfactorily.

Monitor Time Spent Viewing TV and Playing Video Games

American children on average spend far more time watching TV or playing video games than they do completing homework. In many homes, more homework gets done when TV viewing and "game" time is limited.

Once you and your child have worked out a homework schedule, take time to discuss how much TV and what programs she can watch. It's worth noting that television can be a learning tool. Look for programs that relate to what your child is studying in school, such as programs on history or science or dramatizations of children's literature. When you can, watch shows with your child, discuss them and encourage follow-up activities such as reading or a trip to the museum.

Likewise, limit the amount of time your child spends playing video games. As with TV programs, be aware of the games she likes to play and discuss her choices with her.

Provide Guidance
The basic rule is, "Don't do the assignments yourself." It's not your homework—it's your child's. "I've had kids hand in homework that's in their parents' handwriting," one eighth-grade teacher complains. Doing assignments for your child won't help him understand and use information. And it won't help him become confident in his own abilities.

Here are some ways that you can provide guidance without taking over your child's homework:

Help Your Child Get Organized
Help your child to make a schedule and put it in a place where you'll see it often. Writing out assignments will get him used to the idea of keeping track of what's due and when. If your child is not yet able to write, write it for him until he can do it himself.

A book bag or backpack will make it easier for your child to carry homework to and from school. Providing homework folders in which your child can tuck his assignments for safekeeping also can help him to stay organized.

Encourage Good Study Habits
Teachers generally give students tips on how to study. But it takes time and practice to develop good study habits. To reinforce good habits at home, you can:

· Help your child manage time to complete assignments. For example, if your eighth grader has a biology report due in three weeks, discuss all the steps she needs to take to complete it on time, including:

1. selecting a topic;

2. doing the research by looking up books and other materials on the topic and taking notes;

3. figuring out what questions to discuss;

4. drafting an outline;

5. writing a rough draft; and

6. revising and completing the final draft.

Encourage your child to make a chart that shows how much time she expects to spend on each step.

· Help your child to get started when he has to do research reports or other big assignments. Encourage him to use the library. If he isn't sure where to begin, tell him to ask the librarian for suggestions. If he's using a computer for online reference resources—-whether the computer is at home, school or the library—make sure he's getting whatever help he needs to use it properly and to find age-appropriate Web sites. Many public libraries have homework centers with tutors or other kinds of one-on-one assistance. After your child has completed the research, listen as he tells you the points he wants to make in the report.

· Give practice tests. Help your third grader prepare for a spelling test by saying the words as she writes them. Have her correct her own test as you spell each word.

· Help your child avoid last-minute cramming. Review with your fifth grader how and what to study for his social studies test long before it's to be given. You can have him work out a schedule of what he needs to do to, make up a practice test and write down answers to the questions he's made up.

· Talk with your child about how to take a test. Be sure she understands how important it is to read the instructions carefully, to keep track of the time and to avoid spending too much time on any one question. (See the Resources section for the titles of books and pamphlets that give more tips on how your child can get organized and develop good study habits.)

Talk about the Assignments
Talking and asking questions can help your child to think through an assignment and break it down into small, manageable parts. Here are some questions to ask.

· Do you understand what you're supposed to do? After your child has read the instructions, ask her to tell you in her own words what the assignment is about. (If she can't read yet, the teacher may have sent home instructions that you can read to her.) Some schools have homework hotlines that you can call or Web sites that you can access by computer for assignments in case your child misplaced a paper or was absent on the day it was given. If your child doesn't understand the instructions, read them with her and talk about the assignment. Does it have words that she doesn't know? How can she find out what the words mean? If neither you nor your child understands an assignment, call one of her classmates or get in touch with the teacher.

· Do you need help in understanding how to do this assignment? See if your child needs to learn more, for example, about subtracting fractions before she can do her assignment. Or find out if the teacher needs to explain to her again when to use different kinds of punctuation marks. If you understand the subject yourself, you may want to work through some examples with your child. However, always let her do the assignment herself.

· Do you have everything you need to do the assignment? Sometimes your child needs special supplies, such as colored pencils, metric rulers, calculators, maps or reference books. Check with the teacher, school guidance counselor or principal for possible sources of assistance if you can't provide the needed supplies. Check with your local library or school library for books and other information resources.

· Does your answer make sense to you? To check that your child understands what he is doing, ask him to explain how he solved a math problem or have him summarize what he has written in a report.

Watch for Frustration
If your child shows signs of frustration, let him take a break. Encourage him and let him see that you know he can do the work.

Give Praise
People of all ages respond to praise. And children need encouragement from the people whose opinions they value most—their families. "Good first draft of your book report!" or "You've done a great job" can go a long way toward motivating your child to complete assignments.

Children also need to know when they haven't done their best work. Make criticism constructive, however. Instead of telling a sixth grader, "You aren't going to hand in that mess, are you?" say, "The teacher will understand your ideas better if you use your best handwriting." Then give praise when the child finishes a neat version.

Talk with Teachers to Resolve Problems
Homework problems often can be avoided when families and caregivers value, monitor and guide their children's work on assignments. Sometimes, however, helping in these ways is not enough. If you have problems, here are some suggestions for how to deal with them.

Tell the Teacher about Your Concerns

You may want to contact the teacher if

· your child refuses to do her assignments, even though you've tried hard to get her to do them;

· the instructions are unclear;

· you can't seem to help your child get organized to finish the assignments;

· you can't provide needed supplies or materials;

· neither you nor your child can understand the purpose of the assignments;

· the assignments are too hard or too easy;

· the homework is assigned in uneven amounts—for instance, no homework is given on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, but on Thursday four assignments are made that are due the next day; or

· your child has missed school and needs to make up assignments.
In some cases, the school guidance counselor or principal also may be helpful in resolving problems.

Work with the Teacher
Continuing communication with teachers is very important in solving homework problems. As you work with your child's teacher, here are some important things to remember:

· Talk with each of your child's teachers early in the school year. Get acquainted before problems arise and let each teacher know that you want to be kept informed. Most elementary and middle schools hold regular parent-teacher conferences or open houses. If your child's school doesn't provide such opportunities, call the teacher to set up a meeting.

· Contact the teacher as soon as you suspect your child has a homework problem (as well as when you think he's having any major problems with his schoolwork). Schools have a responsibility to keep you informed about your child's performance and behavior and you have a right to be upset if you don't find out until report-card time that your child is having difficulties. On the other hand, you may figure out that a problem exists before the teacher does. By alerting the teacher, you can work together to solve a problem in its early stages.

· Request a meeting with the teacher to discuss homework problems. Tell him briefly why you want to meet. You might say, "Rachel is having trouble with her math homework. I'm worried about why she can't finish the problems and what we might do to help her." If English is your second language, you may need to make special arrangements, such as including in the meeting someone who is bilingual.

· Approach the teacher with a cooperative spirit. Believe that the teacher wants to help you and your child, even if you disagree about something. Don't go to the principal without giving the teacher a chance to work out the problem with you and your child.

· Let the teacher know whether your child finds the assignments too hard or too easy. (Teachers also like to know when their students are particularly excited about an assignment.) Of course, not all homework assignments can be expected to interest your child and be perfectly suited to her. Teachers just don't have time to tailor homework to the individual needs of each student. However, most teachers want to assign homework that their students can complete successfully and they welcome feedback.

Many teachers structure homework so that a wide range of students will find assignments interesting. For example:

—They offer students options for different approaches to the same topic or lesson;
—They give extra assignments to students who want more challenge; and
—They give specialized assignments to students who are having trouble in a particular area.

· During your meeting with the teacher, explain what you think is going on. In addition, tell the teacher if you don't know what the problem is. Sometimes a student's version of what's going on isn't the same as the teacher's version. For example, your child may tell you that the teacher never explains assignments so that he can understand them. But the teacher may tell you that your child isn't paying attention when assignments are given.

· Work out a way to solve or lessen the problem. The strategy will depend on what the problem is, how severe it is and what the needs of your child are. For instance:

o Is the homework often too hard? Maybe your child has fallen behind and will need extra help from the teacher or a tutor to catch up.

o Does your child need to make up a lot of work because of absences? The first step might be working out a schedule with the teacher.

o Does your child need extra support beyond what home and school can give her? Ask the teacher, school guidance counselor or principal if there are mentor programs in your community. Mentor programs pair a child with an adult volunteer who assists with the child's special needs. Many schools, universities, community organizations, churches and businesses offer excellent mentoring programs.

· Make sure that communication is clear. Listen to the teacher and don't leave until you're sure that you understand what's being said. Make sure, too, that the teacher understands what you have to say. If, after the meeting, you realize you don't understand something, call the teacher to clarify.

At the end of the meeting, it may help to summarize what you've agreed to do:

"OK, so to keep track of Kim's assignments, I'll check her assignment book each night and write my initials beside new assignments. Each day you'll check to make sure she's written down all new assignments in her book. That way we'll be certain that I know what her assignments are."

· Follow up to make sure that the approach you agreed to is working. If the teacher told you, for example, that your child needs to spend more time practicing long division, check back in a month to talk about your child's progress.

Homework can bring together children, families and teachers in a common effort to improve children's learning.

Helping your child with homework is an opportunity to improve your child's chances of doing well in school and life. By helping your child with homework, you can help him learn important lessons about discipline and responsibility. You can open up lines of communication—between you and your child and you and the school. You are in a unique position to help your child make connections between school work and the "real world," and thereby bring meaning (and some enjoyment) to your child's homework experience.

We have a crisis on our hands...

We have a crisis on our hands. We have twin daughters who are 27 years old who are still behaving like rebellious teenagers....which is why I got your ebook on teenage problems...because that is how they have been behaving for some time now. Even years we think.

We want these girls to move out of our home by 1st March. They are not paying us rent ....they are not helping with anything around the house. We live on a dairy farm and they say because they were born here and they love the place. They just want to stay here and feed a horse, a dog, and 3 cats.

Just lately they have been taking away belongings of theirs and selling them. We are starting to think they even may be taking some of our things but cannot be sure. They both have an applied science degree - one has it in Landscape Management ...the other has it in Resource Management. So they are not inarticulate by any means and have been given opportunities.

One has spent over a year overseas in Britain - the other had not earnt enough to go. Looking back perhaps we should have lent C_______ the money to go on an overseas working holiday with her sister as things have not been that good since N____ returned from overseas in June 2004… having spent about 18 months away from her identical sister.

Christine did not ask us for money at the time .....did not appear interested. Although she was always happy for her sister and seemed to relive the traveling as her sister relayed it to her by phone. Back in about September last year we invited local policeman to come and have a chat with them – this has not worked and they just treat the law and the justice system with no respect. We served a trespass notice on them - they ignored this. We locked them out, but they just set up camp on the farm.

We have offered them help to set themselves up in a flat ...offering to pay rent and bond for first month help them shift etc. They refuse to talk about it, walk away or hang up the phone.
They have an older sister 32yrs and an older brother aged 30yrs. He is a builder and got married in January 07.....they refused to go to the wedding and have not spoken to their brother and his wife for several months.

We allowed the girls back in the house for Dec. 06 and Jan. 07 Feb. 07...because we had some of their overseas relatives coming to stay for the wedding. The understanding was they move out on March 1st 07. I have been feeding them up until now. They have used our credit cards to charge up their cell phone. I think they may have been ringing up psychics ...which explains the need to top up their phone by large sums of money.

Our son has decided to give farming a go, sowe will move oout by 1st June 07. Girls say there is no way they are going anywhere. They say we are discriminating ...but they in no way are qualified to run the farm. They believe that every animal should live etc. And would probably let the farm go back to scrub. They are not facing reality in any way at all.

My question is "are we going to have to use the police as they refuse to even sit down & discuss anything "Or is there another way."

Thanks N.R.


The answer to your question is a resounding “YES” – you need to file charges against your daughters. Clearly, the tail has been wagging the dog for too many years now. But you are definitely not alone on this matter.

The latest parenting challenge is dealing with emerging adults who have no intention of leaving the nest. Many 19- to 29-year-olds either return home after college or they've never even left home. The media refers to them as "Boomerang Kids." Parents are worried that their kids won't leave home.

Young adults are indeed becoming more difficult to coax out of their comfy childhood homes. Since the '70s, the number of 26-year-olds still living at home has nearly doubled! Here are the top 4 factors contributing to this change:

1. They Are Unprepared

They are overwhelmed or unmotivated to live independently. They would rather play it safe by occupying the family home, playing computer games and delivering pizza. These kids often grow up living the life of the privileged. Here, well-meaning parents provide their children with all the amenities congruent with an affluent lifestyle. The parents are focused on doing more for their children than what their parents did for them – at the expense of keeping them dependent. Kids don't move out because they've got it made!

When your financial generosity isn't combined with teaching kids how to become self-sufficient at an early age, we cannot expect them to automatically possess adequate life skills when they reach legal adulthood. How will they gain the skills to confidently live their own life when they haven't had the opportunity to do things for themselves?

2. They Are Cautious or Clueless

They are committed, but unsure how to discover their ideal career path. They approach college with the same trial and error mindset their parents had only to find out that it no longer prepares them for today's competitive world.

Parents do their kids a disservice by waiting until they are 17 or 18 before initiating career-related discussions. In our dynamic society where change is a daily diet, this is much too late! It's best to start young, at age 13. This stage of development is the perfect time to begin connecting the dots between what they love to do and possible career options. It can take years to prepare for the perfect career. Beginning early will help teens maximize their opportunities in high school and make college a much better investment.

3. They Have Personal Problems

They don't have effective life coping skills, have failed relationships or are grieving some other loss or wrestling with a challenging life event. If your teen is struggling emotionally, don't make the mistake of thinking it will somehow magically get better without an intervention. Tough love requires that you insist your adolescent get professional help so that he or she can move forward. If you don't know how to have that kind of conversation, consider getting help from a parenting expert.

4. They Have Mounting Debt

They've accumulated significant credit card debt and moving back in with their parents is a way to pay it off. According to the National Credit Card Research Foundation, 55 percent of students ages 16 to 22 have at least one credit card. If your teen falls into this group, make sure you monitor spending together online. Helping your teen understand how to budget and manage credit cards will be important for handling a household budget in the future.

Kids can't learn to manage money if they don't have any or if parents always pay for everything. If your offspring moves back home, I recommend you charge a nominal amount for room and board. As an adult member of your household, it's important for your young adult to contribute to household chores and expenses.

If the purpose of your child's return home is to pay off bills or a college loan, have a realistic plan and stick to the plan to make sure your young adult moves out of the house.

Determine Goals and Stick to Them--

Most parents enjoy having their children visit and will consider offering some short-term help. However, indulging an adult child's inaction does not help your son or daughter begin his or her own life. If your child defaults on your agreement, be willing to enforce consequences to help him or her launch into responsible adulthood.

FDA Has Concerns About ADHD Medications

On February 21, 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) directed the manufacturers of all drug products approved for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to develop Patient Medication Guides to alert patients to possible cardiovascular risks and risks of adverse psychiatric symptoms associated with the medicines, and to advise them of precautions that can be taken.

The FDA is working closely with manufacturers of all ADHD medicines to include important information in the product labeling and in developing new Patient Medication Guides to better inform doctors and patients about the serious risks associated with the use of the following drugs:

· Adderall (mixed salts of a single entity amphetamine product) Tablets
· Adderall XR (mixed salts of a single entity amphetamine product) Extended-Release Capsules
· Concerta (methylphenidate hydrochloride) Extended-Release Tablets
· Daytrana (methylphenidate) Transdermal System
· Desoxyn (methamphetamine HCl) Tablets
· Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine sulfate) Spansule Capsules and Tablets
· Focalin (dexmethylphenidate hydrochloride) Tablets
· Focalin XR (dexmethylphenidate hydrochloride) Extended-Release Capsules
· Metadate CD (methylphenidate hydrochloride) Extended-Release Capsules
· Methylin (methylphenidate hydrochloride) Oral Solution
· Methylin (methylphenidate hydrochloride) Chewable Tablets
· Ritalin (methylphenidate hydrochloride) Tablets
· Ritalin SR (methylphenidate hydrochloride) Sustained-Release Tablets
· Ritalin LA (methylphenidate hydrochloride) Extended-Release Capsules
· Strattera (atomoxetine HCl) Capsules


Mother Receives an A+

Hey Mark,

I have read the book and think I am learning. However I guess like most parents I am concerned with what the result of my daughter’s action will be. So getting to the point, my daughter is not completely out of control, however I am trying to prevent that from happening, because as I mentioned before I know that she has drank and smoked pot. I TRULY believe that it's recreational and NOT a problem, and as I keep on open mind I am watching very closely to any sign if it should be a problem. However that isn't by main concern right now.

What I am concerned with is her not respecting my curfew and it's certainly not by hours later that she returns but minutes at a time, and to me that is still not respecting what I given her for a curfew. As I mentioned she is 17 and driving (has her own car). She has broken her curfew more than once and I have made her stay in 1-2 days, taken the car away etc... and I thought it was working because when she's able to go back out then she returns when she is suppose to and all seems OK but then maybe a couple weeks later she doesn't return at curfew time.

Now aside from being scared that something could have happened, I am hurt by this. I give her 5 minutes past her curfew and then I call her - "she is always on her way" ???????? and shows up with 10 minutes. I should not have to call a 17-year-old to tell her it's time to come home!!!! So this happened this past Tuesday night I decided that when she got off work at 4:00 pm she was to go straight home and I asked her kindly to clean her room and get rid of a few inappropriate items that I did not want in my home and that she is not to go ANYWHERE for the rest of the night. She did ask if she could go to the gym and I told her that I would pick her up when I leave work and she can come with me otherwise NO. If she did as I asked then Thursday and Friday she will be allowed to go out, however her curfew will be for those 2 nights 11:00 pm (I took 1/2 hour off for every 5 minutes that got her in the situation) so she was 15 minutes late over her 12:30 curfew.

I did tell her that none of this disciplinary action is up for negotiation and if she feels the need to argue with me at all during it then we will start all over to the first day of not going out at all and so on. Hopefully I have made myself clear, however I guess I am always questioning whether or not I am pushing too hard?? Not hard enough??? …and always have that fear of her "losing it". I feel that I have to take baby steps in the disciplinary action steps because I have given her more freedom in the past then I should have but that was because she was trust-worthy then.

Her argument on my curfew time is that is just not late enough and "I am 17-years-old Mom"... and her 2 closest female friends get to stay out until 1:00am??? However I prefer not to compare myself with their Moms (who both live alone with the daughters)???

So do you feel that I am doing the right thing???

Also we have been working on her grades, which improvement from her she is getting there??? However she is a junior and had A LOT of work to do the remaining of the year and senior year to get her credits up - IT IS DO-ABLE. She has an option to attend what her school calls "Horizons" which is from 10:45am-3:15 pm everyday. This program is for 8-10 students at a time and is a (from what I am told) a great program however they will not accept a student in if the students is not willing. She is not willing because she does not want to be in school until 3:15??? Therefore her only other option is to get it together SOONER than later!!!!

Thanks Mark. Sorry so long of email but I guess it's better to tell you as much for now so that you can clearly evaluate this matter :)..

Thanks again.


Dearest P.,

I cannot tell you how proud I am of the job you are doing. I rarely get the opportunity to pay this compliment (as evidenced by most of the emails here on the Emails From Parents Blog).

You are simply doing a bang-up job. You are ON TRACK like there’s no tomorrow. I have nothing to add other than to keep doing what you’re doing.

I would give you a big hug if you were standing in front of me now. You go mom!

Thanks for being such a great “student” (hope you don’t mind that term).


Is your teen "in control" or "out of control"?

Self-Reliance is Key!

Hi Mark,

Since I wrote you, a question with which I need some
help has popped into my mind.

My son is 16 and in the 11th grade. He has been in a
deep depression since the end of October. He is
beginning to pull out of it a little bit. Meds still
are not exactly right and will take a couple more
months to get right because two of them require very
slow dosing (lamictal and trileptal).

When my son just turned 12 and was entering the 7th
grade, he became actively suicidal. It took almost the
whole academic year to figure out what was going on
meds-wise and get him stable. Since then, he's done a
therapeutic wilderness camp, had lots of therapy, done
neurofeedback, and has been wonderful for three years
until the downturn in the fall, which was related to
an undiagnosed case of hypothyroidism and going down on
his meds (since he was stable for so long).

Since this latest depression, my husband and I have
laid off on all requirements. Now, we find ourselves
with a kid who is resistant to chores, respect, etc.
We can handle this and have been preparing him for the
big boom this weekend, “Honey, there are some things we
want and some things you want. But no one gets
something for nothing. We'll talk this weekend and
make a deal."

Here's my question: Will doing this kind of parenting
help to force some emotional growth? Or, should we
still consider a placement for him. At 16 and in the
11th grade, I see the clock ticking in terms of
getting him ready to leave home and manage his own

What have you seen?




The strategies in my ebook are ALL ABOUT fostering the development of self-reliance. Self-reliance is key! When we over-indulge our kids (the opposite of self-reliance), we end up with a kid who:

(a) Is dependent on us for free hand-outs of material items and privileges

(b) Is emotionally under-developed (i.e., we have a kid who is chronologically 16-years-old, but is emotionally more like 9-years-old)

(c) Is resentful because of his dependency

(d) expects continued indulgence

(e) has a strong sense of entitlement

(f) becomes detached -- not bonded -- to the parent

(g) experiences problems in other areas of his life as well (e.g., school)

When we as parents foster the development of self-reliance, we undo all (or most) of the above. To go into detail here about how one goes about fostering this development would be to re-write the ebook. I’ll simply direct you to the material, then we can tweak the strategies accordingly once you have implemented most of them.



The Romeo & Juliet Phenomenon


I am a “bitch” Mark ...can u tell me if I did anything wrong? …let me give u some background ...daughter’s boyfriend keeps sneaking in her bedroom at nights ...I told him not to, but he kept doing it, and one day they sneaked him into her bedroom and hid in the attic closet when I came home and they didn’t expect me.... the closest is right over my living room ...the ceiling didn’t hold my daughter's boyfriend's body weight and it destroyed my ceiling of my living room (cost over $100 to fix it). Well after everything that I told her he was not welcome onto my land anymore. I have warned her many times about him being on my land.

Well today I took her to school and then she asked me if I could pick her up after school ...and I said sure, and then she said that Justin (her b/f) was going to be here and could I give him a ride, and I said no. I wasn’t going to give her friends rides all over the place. Then she said fine I will walk home...

Well she came home about an hour after school with her b/f and he came on my land. I reminded her that he wasn’t welcome on my land and ask her to ask him to leave. Well she did and then he left and stood on the road ....about half hour later. I heard his voice outside my house on my porch. I asked my daughter again to leave and she had two minutes to get him off my land.

She said that she wanted him to come in and I said no again. She said "why not. Its cold outside.” I said ... “I already told u to get him off my land.” Well she started to yell at me. So I warned her to get him off my land. I stayed calm and collect so I didn’t take it out on her. She said well u have to respect that he is my b/f, and I told her that I do respect that but he has to leave. Then she yelled at me and called me a bitch.

Then I said to her. I’m gonna call 911 to have him removed if u don’t have him off in 30 seconds then I went to the door cause she wasn’t listening ...and told him to get off this land. He said to me “your funny” ...and walked away ...then she said to me ...u bitch …then I am leaving and am going to Justin’s and she left. And now I’m sitting here feeling guilty, hurt and sad about it all that has happened ...I don’t want her mad or hating me.


I want to compliment you. This is a great example of (a) refusing to be manipulated, (b) stating a house rule, (c) stating the consequence for breaking the rule and being prepared to follow through with the consequence, and (d) keeping your cool through the whole thing. Good job! Now your daughter knows you mean business.

Now let’s trouble shoot: You have a Romeo and Juliet phenomenon on your hands that will need to be diffused (if not, they will continue to work harder at sneaking their rendezvous behind your back).

Unfortunately, if your daughter wants to be with someone, she'll find a way -- no matter what you say or do. Parents can only guide their children in the right direction and hope for the best. If they do a good job, their daughters will make the right decision all on their own. Since you will not be successful at keeping those two apart, you must adopt a philosophy of if you can’t beat ‘em - join ‘em. In other words, they should be able to see one another within limits, and you decide what those limits are. Maybe your limits will look something like this:
  • They can be together at your house only during those times that you are home and can monitor their behavior (if not, he has to leave)
  • Or you could schedule some activity for them in which you would be a distant chaperon (e.g., take them to a shopping plaza and tell them to meet you back at the coffee shop in exactly one hour)
  • Or your daughter is allowed to go over to her boyfriend’s house for a designated time period (if she violates the time limit, there is a consequence that is commensurate with the “crime”)

Dear Mother: You will not win this battle. Figure out a way for your daughter to see her boyfriend in a way that will keep her safe. This is the best you will be able to do.

Husband is not on the same page...

I have read your ebook and found it easy to understand and value the suggestions/examples given in the book. I have attempted to start the assignments in the book BUT the problem I have is convincing my husband to read and initiate the parenting strategies. What’s the best way to motivate my husband to at least get him to consider implementing these strategies?


A weaker plan supported by both parents is better than a stronger plan supported by only one parent. I would simply summarize for him the important points and then model for him the strategies that you want him to begin to implement. If he simply does not want to use a particular strategy, then you would do well to strike some sort of compromise with him. The compromise may be a "watered-down" version of the real thing, but again, that's better than the two of you being on separate pages.


Is it realistic to insist on appropriate attitude...

Hi Mark,

My question is: Is it realistic to insist on appropriate attitude, respect and tone of voice from my daughter at this beginning stage, and if so can you make some suggestions?




Actually, "insisting" is not part of our methodology. We simply: (a) state the rules, (b) state the consequences for breaking the rules, and (c) follow through with implementing the consequence if the rule is broken.

You can’t really stop a child from breaking the rules. She already knows what the rules are, and it gets old trying to convince her not to break rules. But you can deliver a consequence in a way that doesn’t accidentally reward her for negative behavior. And you can give your child your energy when things are going right rather than when they are going wrong.

Say to your daughter, "You know the rules. If you want to break the rules, there's a consequence -- no big deal. You decide."

We need an exorcist!

"We need more than parent coaching - we need an exorcist! Do your services include exorcism (lol)? Our daughter is the most selfish, insensitive teenager alive today - or so you would think if you had to live with her."

When a teenager seems insensitive or selfish, it is because she is in too much emotional pain to be able to consider the parent's feelings. Pain interferes with listening and with understanding where the parent is coming from. This is particularly hard to understand when the teenager hides her pain with rage or with the "silent-treatment."

Sometimes kids behave in manipulative, hurtful ways not because they think this will change the parent's behavior, but because they honestly feel they are doing the best they can given the circumstances.

If we, as parents, think our children do bad things because they have evil intentions, we may give up trying to influence them, become afraid of them, get angry with them, seek revenge, etc. Your daughter isn't “bad,” she's just desperate to find a solution to her problems and hasn’t found one yet.

Setting consequences for misbehavior takes some skill. When parents do it wrong, they end up making a bad problem worse. If they do it right and incorporate some incentives/rewards to go along with it, it can be the most rewarding experience they ever encounter.

What can you tell me about NVLD, and what can a parent do?

What can you tell me about NVLD, and what can a parent do?


Non-verbal Learning Disability (NVLD or NLD) is very like Asperger Syndrome (AS). AS and NVLD are generally thought to describe pretty much the same kind of disorder, but to differ in severity—with AS describing more severe symptoms.

Signs of NVLD include:

· Great vocabulary and verbal expression
· Excellent memory skills
· Attention to detail, but misses the big picture
· Trouble understanding reading
· Difficulty with math, especially word problems
· Poor abstract reasoning
· Physically awkward; poor coordination
· Messy and laborious handwriting
· Concrete thinking; taking things very literally
· Trouble with nonverbal communication, like body language, facial expression and tone of voice
· Poor social skills; difficulty making and keeping friends
· Fear of new situations
· Trouble adjusting to changes
· May be very naïve and lack common sense
· Anxiety, depression, low self-esteem
· May withdraw, becoming agoraphobic (abnormal fear of open spaces)

Here are some parenting tips for kids with NLD?

· Keep the environment predictable and familiar.
· Provide structure and routine.
· Prepare your child for changes, giving logical explanations.
· Pay attention to sensory input from the environment, like noise, temperature, smells, many people around, etc.
· Help your child learn coping skills for dealing with anxiety and sensory difficulties.
· Be logical, organized, clear, concise and concrete. Avoid jargon, double meanings, sarcasm, nicknames, and teasing.
· State your expectations clearly.
· Be very specific about cause and effect relationships.
· Work with your child’s school to modify homework assignments, testing (time and content), grading, art and physical education.
· Have your child use the computer at school and at home for schoolwork.
· Help your child learn organizational and time management skills.
· Make use of your child’s verbal skills to help with social interactions and non-verbal experiences. For example, giving a verbal explanation of visual material.
· Teach your child about non-verbal communication (facial expressions, gestures, etc.). Help them learn how to tell from others’ reactions whether they are communicating well.
· Learn about social competence and how to teach it.
· Help your child out in group activities.
· Get your child into the therapies they need, such as: occupational and physical therapy, psychological, or speech and language (to address social issues).
· Steer your child toward a playmate they have something in common with and set up a play date. This is a way to get some social skills experience in a small, controlled, less-threatening way.
· See if you can find a small-group social skills training program in your school system, medical system, or community. This kind of program will probably not be available in smaller communities.
· Encourage your child to develop interests that will build their self-esteem and help them relate to other kids. For example, if your child is interested in Pokémon, pursuing this interest may open social doors for them with schoolmates.
· Talk to your child in private after you have gone with them to a group activity. You can discuss with them how they could improve the way they interact with other kids. For example, you might point out that other kids don't feel comfortable when your child stands so close to them. Help them practice the social skills you explain to them through role-playing.
· Bullying is unacceptable. Your child's school must make every effort to prevent it. If talking to your child's teachers and principal does not put an end to the victimization, ask your child's doctor to write a letter to the school, and pursue the issue up to higher channels in the school district if necessary.
· These kids need as few handicaps as possible, so make sure your child is getting the counseling, therapies, and/or medication they need to treat any other problems or medical conditions they might have.
· Reassure your child that you value them for who they are. It's a little tricky to help your child improve social skills, and at the same time nurture their confidence to hold on to their unique individuality.

Does He Need Residential Placement?

I just logged onto your site for the first time and wonder if your tips can help us- a single parent with a 15 year old son who matches most of the factors you list in the behavior list AND as a result we are seeking residential placement before he does something really bad. He is a kid with great potential in spite of a low IQ and a school system, which is not meeting his needs. He has NVLD, which is not recognized by the school, and I cannot get them to understand that he needs different accommodations, not isolation in a special-ed classroom, which he hates.



Of course my bias would be to err on the side of trying the parenting strategies in my ebook first. Unless you will be sending him to a boarding school for at least a year, you will be wasting a lot of time and money on placement.

Keep in mind that I counsel kids who are struggling [just like your son], and I also work for a youth center that has 4 residential facilities. What I see is that the kid does very well while in placement, but if the parent has not made any changes on her end, the kid's "positive behavior change" has no longevity -- with a few short weeks after returning home, I see the behavior problems reappear with one negative caveat - the kid has been associating with other delinquents, and is a better "criminal thinker" as a result.


I just want to make sure this doesn't fall into the intrigue category...

My daughter has arranged one week's work experience at a local police station. She is actually considering becoming a police constable or studying criminology or social work. But right now she can be defiant. Could this be dangerous for her? I thought it would be good to meet local role models and police who will know her personally in the area etc., and she has to sign something to guarantee she will keep confidentiality and dress and behave appropriately.

I just want to make sure this doesn't fall into the intrigue category. I'm worried that any other work experience will bore her and this "bites" time.

What are you thoughts?



This does fall into the “intrigue category,” but the intrigue will most likely involve the “high-intensity” of police work and the risks involved -- rather than the “high-intensity” associated with breaking the law, being a criminal, etc. I think this is a good move. It’s very common for intense youth to sublimate, or redirect, their strong need for intensity toward a more socially acceptable means as an adult. She will make a great cop and will probably enjoy the periodic drama connected to this line of work.


Son Vandalizes Mother's Residence

"Last night my apartment was broken into and my car was stolen. I am sad to say that I think it was my 13-year-old son and some of his friends. My son has recently been directed to reside with his father. He is not happy with this decision and keeps running away. He is has been taken into custody a few times recently and in court he agrees to go to his fathers then runs. I was away working for a couple of days and came home to a broken kitchen window and remains of a party in the living area. My car keys and house keys have been taken. I woke up later last night someone was in the apartment when they realised I was there, they left quickly, and then I realised my car was no longer parked outside. I have reported it to the you have any advice?"

Unfortunately, this is a very common experience for parents who have sent their child to live elsewhere, whether at another parent’s house, a relative, or placement in a facility. It’s not uncommon for the child to return home, especially when he knows the parent is away, to help himself to the comforts of his former abode.

Your home should be a safe haven where you are protected from the outside world – even when it’s your own son [who is not supposed to be on the property without your permission]. I know it feels like a shame to have to talk about protecting yourself from your son, but you do what you have to do. I’m going to provide you with some crucial tips below, and it will probably seem ridiculous that one should have to go to these lengths.

In any event, here are 8 things you can do to make your home a safer and more burglar resistant place to live:

1. Doors: Proper doors are an important part of burglar proofing a home. The most common door used in homes is the hinge door. All exterior hinge doors should be solid wood core construction or be metal clad. Never install a door meant for inside use on the outside of a home. These doors are usually hollow inside, or made of inferior materials and are not a proper deterrent to a break in.

Doors made of wood panels, or those with glass panes may be aesthetically appealing, but they are not as safe as solid doors because the panels or glass panes are easily broken.

If the hinges on your door are exposed, and they probably are, non-removable hinge pins should be used to prevent removal of the door. Drill two holes opposite each other in the center of both leaves of the hinge, then insert a headless screw or nail into the leaf on the door frame side. Allow the screw or nail to protrude 1/2". The screw will engage the other hinge leaf when the door is closed.

Sliding Glass doors can be a safety hazard because they are easy to lift off the tracks and remove. To make such a door safer, use track screws, installed in the upper track of the door. The frame or the door should just clear the heads of the screws making it impossible to lift the door up. This leaves the criminal only one option, breaking the glass, which takes time and makes noise and will usually deter the average burglar.

2. The importance of proper locks: No matter what type of door is used, it will not be an effective deterrent to break-ins without a sturdy lock.

The lock on a door knob is simply a privacy device, not an effective lock. Sheriff’s Offices recommend a double-locking dead bolt on the door, one that uses a key on both sides. When someone is at home, the key should be kept either in the lock on the inside, or hanging somewhere nearby to ensure a quick escape in case of fire. Make sure the key does not hang near enough to a window or a pane of glass for a burglar to reach inside and get it.

The only time a double locking dead bolt is not recommended is if there is someone in the house incapable of unlocking it quickly in an emergency, such as a small child or handicapped person.

There are several other features a good dead bolt should have. Look for a one inch throw with a one eighth inch roller pin inside to prevent burglars from cutting through it. The lock should have a free turning cylinder guard around the key hole and one-quarter inch heat treated retaining bolts through the door to hold the lock on.

A 180 degree see-all viewer, commonly known as a peephole, is another safety device to include in a solid door. It will give a full view of anyone coming to the door, even if the person is standing to the side out of the normal line of sight.

3. Outside the home: It is very easy to let a home become overgrown with trees, vines and other plants. This may be a nice way to protect privacy. Unfortunately, this can also increase a home’s risk of burglary.

Allowing bushes and trees to grow on the borders of the property, or in front of windows will not only hide private activities from view, it will hide a burglar’s activities from view as well. Thieves can crouch behind these bushes and easily remove a window pane, gaining access to the inside of the home.

In addition, it makes it very difficult for sheriff’s deputies to check a home’s security while they are on routine patrol. Police officers are constantly driving through neighborhoods day and night and checking for anything unusual, such as signs of a break-in or strangers in the area. Allowing a home to become overgrown will not only provide a hiding place for thieves, but will create an obstruction to these deputies trying to check safety and security.

To make sure bushes and trees are properly trimmed, go out into the street during the day and look at the home as a burglar would. Are all the windows on the front and sides of the home visible? Would a burglar be able to hide from someone driving by the house? If you feel safe with the answer, your yard is properly trimmed.

4. Lighting: Another way to make it difficult for someone to break in your home, and easy for a patrolling officer to check on it, is to install adequate lighting in the yard as well as inside your home. A brightly lit yard at night is an undesirable yard for a stranger to enter if he is planning to break in. A well lit home interior will also discourage a burglar by making him or her think someone is at home.

A home owner can either install outside lighting, or call the local electric company for assistance. The City Electric System will install a street light on private property for a small fee of approximately $7 per month. The electric companies also provide free maintenance for such lights.

There are many types of yard lights to choose from. Traditional lights are mounted on the outside of a home, or on a pole in the yard. They are manually turned on and off, usually in the morning and the evening. These lights work well, except when a homeowner goes on vacation. Then, they must either be left on or left off either way, it makes it easy for a burglar to tell you aren’t home.

This is where timers for lights come in. It is relatively easy and inexpensive to buy timers for yard lights that will turn them on and off when you aren’t at home. The Sheriff’s Office highly recommends you have timers on your yard lights.

Another option in yard lighting is installing motion detector lights. Motion lights are yard lights that come on when their sensors detect body heat or motion nearby. This can be useful for several reasons: if you come home at night after dark, the lights will automatically come on when you approach; and, if a burglar enters what appears to be a dark yard, the lights will suddenly come on, scaring him or her away.
If you are an energy conscious person, most hardware stores market solar lights for the yard. Most of these lights will store enough energy during the day from the sun to stay lit for up to eight hours during the night.

In any case, lighting your yard is a must for a safe and secure home. Once you get lights installed, turn them on at night and go out to the street. If you can see most areas of your lawn, particularly around the home’s windows, you have a well lighted yard.

5. House numbers: Many people don’t realize how important it is to put visible house numbers on their homes. Posted addresses are not only used by the United States Post Office to deliver the mail, they are also crucial for law enforcement, fire department or ambulance personnel trying to locate a house in an emergency.

It is common to hear people give their official address as, for example, the second from the last house on a certain street. While this may sound quaint, it can make it extremely difficult for someone trying to locate the house in a hurry. If possible, obtain a numerical address for your house by going to the local branch of the United States Post Office and asking the postmaster to provide one.

To make it easy for the sheriff’s office, or other emergency personnel to respond in an emergency, put house numbers in a prominent and visible place. Having house numbers on a mailbox is important, but the mailbox is not always in a good spot for quick viewing.

When purchasing the numbers, make sure they are four to six inches high, and a contrasting color to the background color of the building.

Remember, post office personnel are not the only ones who need to find a house. For safety and security, make sure an ambulance, fire truck, or sheriff’s deputy can respond to the correct location quickly in an emergency.

6. Dogs as a deterrent: There are many things that can make a home structurally more secure against burglars. Alarm systems, secure windows, and top quality dead bolt locks are just a few relatively easy security devices that can be installed for added safety.

One of the most effective deterrents, however, really doesn’t have anything to do with the actual structure of a home. A dog will often scare away even the boldest of thieves. Not many burglars will risk being bitten by a dog and, best of all, a dog will let a home-owner know when strangers approach the house.

There are just a few precautions an owner must take if a dog becomes a part of home security. Make sure the dog is kept safely inside the yard. This can be accomplished by either a fence, or by chaining the dog.

In addition, post your property with a Beware of dog sign to let delivery people and meter readers know of the potential danger of entering the yard.

Dogs are not only a great way to keep a family secure, but they can be a wonderful addition to the family as well. And remember, a local animal shelter has many nice pets just waiting for a good home.

7. Burglar alarm systems: A well-installed, properly utilized electronic security system can result in peace of mind for a family while also making a home highly burglar resistant. It will not, however, make a home burglar proof.

Before buying a system check on the reputation of the manufacturer. It's a good idea to ask for a list of current or recent customers and contact them for their opinion of the company's product.

Find out if the system causes a substantial number of false alarms and make sure it has battery back-up power so it works during power outages. Criminals in general, and burglars in particular, often double their efforts during outages because they are less likely to get caught.

If possible, find out the education and experience of the company's installers. Ask if the company offers assistance in getting reduced insurance premiums, and if there is a warranty and maintenance contract for the system. A reputable company should provide both. Contact at least two or three companies and compare their systems and prices before deciding to purchase one.

8. Don't be an easy target: All the security information and equipment in the world will do no good if a homeowner does not follow several important safety rules:
  • Don't hide a key around your house. A burglar knows where to look, and may find the key no matter where it is hidden. As an alternative, consider giving an extra key to a trusted neighbor.
  • Don't put any personal identification on key rings. This way, if keys are lost or stolen, they cannot be traced to a residence. As an added precaution, if keys are lost or stolen, change the cylinders in the locks immediately.
  • Don't leave windows open when you are not at home, even if you are only leaving for a short while. An open window is an open invitation to a burglar to come in and help himself.
  • Don't leave valuables in the open. This is needless temptation to anyone casing the house for a burglary. It is easy to put valuables away in a drawer or cabinet.
  • Don't leave the doors unlocked or open, even if leaving for just a little while. Again, this is just asking to be burglarized.
  • Make sure all tools, and ladders are put away. Everything should be stored in a locked garage or tool shed. Tools can be worth a considerable amount of money and can be easily taken if not locked up.
  • Tools can also be used to facilitate entry by a burglar. A simple screwdriver or hammer can be used to pry open or break a window or a door. A ladder close at hand makes it easy for a burglar to climb to a second story window, on to a balcony or even the roof where it may be easier to break in.
  • At night, leave yard lights on. A light makes it difficult for someone to break in through doors or windows without being seen by neighbors or deputies patrolling the neighborhood.

What happens if, despite all your prevention efforts, you still become a victim of a burglary, or other property related crime?

First, try not to panic. Get to the nearest phone, and immediately call the Sheriff's Office emergency 911 line. It is important for you to remain calm so you can effectively communicate with both Sheriff's dispatchers and with Sheriff's deputies when they arrive.

If you come home to find your home has been vandalized or burglarized, do not go inside or disturb anything on the premises. If you went inside before realizing a crime had been committed, leave immediately and try to remember anything you may have touched or moved inside, and inform deputies of it when they arrive.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

I am running on fumes....

Hi Mark,

I know you hear from so many parents, you probably would not remember my story, but I emailed you a while ago about my daughter. She left home, telling people she was kicked out, and has moved in with her 21 yr old boyfriend (that she only met Christmas past). He has his own problems ....unemployed, recovering drug addict, etc.

Well, my daughter is gone almost a month now. I have tried to be supportive, telling her that this will always be her home, if things are not what she thought they would be or she just needs a break from her boyfriend, that the door is open. I tried to keep the lines of communication open, which is hard, because I do not condone what she has done. I still find it hard to believe that she has done this with no consideration whatsoever for her father or me. She is barely 17.

To get to my point, my daughter appears or certainly acts like she could care less if she ever sees me. She has called a few times, but not to ask how I am or chat, but to ask if I saw her sweater, or some stupid thing. When she left, she told everyone that we threw her out and she had nowhere to go. She told me to go f**** myself. I have been sick about this, and I am trying so hard to deal with this. But I am running on fumes.

I don't call my daughter anymore, at least in the past 2 weeks, because I just feel like I need to distance myself from her. I just feel I can't take this much more. What am I supposed to do? By distancing myself, am I doing the wrong thing? Should I just keep trying to maintain contact even though I feel rejection each time? Between trying to work and appear normal, and keep a normal atmosphere at home for the sake of my 11 yr old, plus other commitments, I just feel worn out and so defeated. I apologize for going on and on, it is just that I need to know if I am making things worse by distancing myself from my daughter. The wounds, at least for me, are so fresh. I never saw this coming. I feel like this is a bad dream. Thanks so much for your help.

A Sad Mom


Hi Sad Mom,

Several points:

When she tells people she was kicked-out, she is attempting to garner their sympathy. I’m guessing she has done a great job of pulling this one over on you too. Do you feel guilty? Do you occasionally – or frequently – feel sorry for her? Do you “beat up on herself” sometimes because of the mother-daughter conflict? If so, then she has successfully manipulated your emotions. If she is like the other juveniles I work with, she is an expert manipulator. This doesn’t make her a “bad kid,” she’s just a good ‘con artist’ (which is a strength or a weakness depending on how she uses it).

You said that your daughter “acts like she could care less if she ever sees” you. The operative word here is “acts.” I’m sure she is “acting” like she doesn’t care. This too is a manipulation that apparently you have fallen for. She DOES care; she’s just attempting to push your “abandonment” buttons (i.e., she wants you to feel bad/rejected because she’s mad).

You SHOULD “distant yourself” from her. And she should distant herself from you. I’m talking about ‘healthy detachment’ here. This is O.K. This is a good thing, because she needs to separate in order to grow. I know this is painful for you at some level, but when she feels fully emancipated, she’ll be done with the business of trying to make you feel miserable. There is light at the end of this tunnel whether you see it or not.

I would let some time go by before you contact your daughter again (maybe a month). You really have only one job now, and that is to ‘check-in’ with her every month or two to say, “I was thinking about you …how are things going.” And it doesn’t matter how she responds. Let me repeat this: It doesn’t matter how she responds.

With occasional “check-ins,” you will be sending a clear verbal message that (a) you will not be manipulated into feeling sorry for her, (b) you will not allow her to push your guilt or anger or rejection buttons, and (c) you have not returned the disfavor by rejecting/abandoning her.

Hang in there …you are doing fine in spite of your opinion about the present circumstances.


She is not doing her reputation any favours...


My 17 year old daughter who, up until now has been an absolute delight to raise, has become friends with a group of "undesirables". She and I have done nothing but argue since she became friends with them and as a consequence she packed her bags and went to her grandmothers to live for a week. She is playing the "I can do what I want when I want" game very well as she has her licence and her own car. As soon as she gets home from work she is in that car, hanging around the streets with these people (who don’t work and have nothing better to do). No need to tell you most of them are from a family of parents who care little about their children or have no control over what they do and where they go. Whilst she is not actually doing anything illegal I cannot seem to get through to her that she will get the reputation of the people she is hanging with. The group has been in trouble with the police on more than one occasion on vandalism, petty theft, minor traffic matters etc. etc. Whilst my daughter has not been in the same trouble I am so fearful that she will be dragged into it. I am suspicious that she is sweet on one of the boys in the group (and he is the biggest rat of them all).

I guess what I am trying to say is that I want bigger and better things for her but she cant see the big picture. All she sees is that they are her friends. She is out with them during the week until 11-12 o'clock at night and therefore keeping the household awake until she gets home (as we are worried about her). She tells tales about her whereabouts. Instead of telling us she is down the street parked and talking to these people she tell us she is at one of their houses (and she chooses the name of one of the friends she knows we don’t have a problem with).

Any tips on how to deal with trying to explain to her that she is not doing her reputation any favours by hanging around with this group of people, without putting this group of friends down as dead heads would be greatly appreciated.




Hi M.,

The portion of the ebook that would be most appropriate here would be the strategy entitled "When You Want Something Form Your Kid" -- in the Anger Management chapter of the online version.

It appears to me that you have bigger fish to fry than your daughter's "reputation" (e.g., possible drug use, illegal activity, getting pregnant, getting arrested, etc.).

Not to catastrophize, but she really seems to be in harms way.

I have some questions: What did she do to earn her car? What does she do to earn driving privileges? Also, what does she do to earn time out of the house to be with her "friends"?

I'll wait to hear back,


HEG Biofeedback

Have you heard anything about HEG?



Yes ... hemoencephalography (HEG) biofeedback is similar to electroencephalogram (EEG) biofeedback in that it is a drugless treatment for several conditions (e.g., ADD/ADHD, autistic disorders, mood disorders, etc.). HEG biofeedback does not involve electrodes like EEG biofeedback does. Instead, special infrared optical biosensors are used. HEG training occurs while the patient watches a video (of her/his choice). The goal is for the patient to learn to self-regulate the brain's frontal lobe activation (just as with EEG biofeedback). There's some debate regarding whether EEG is a more or less effective treatment than HEG biofeedback.



I was so pissed...!

Hi Mark,

I just wanted to say thank you so much for putting up with those of us who do a lot of whining. When I first emailed you, I said, "It's not working." Then you email back and said, "What's 'it'." Then I said, "The program." Then you said something and I was so pissed -- you said, "If the program is not working, it's because you are not working the program."

After I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I realized I had "half-ass-ed" it ...I had skimmed over the material, didn't listen to the lecture portions, didn't really invest the time or energy to do this thing right -- my bad!

I went back to the blackboard and read everything ...listened to everything, and started getting busy. Now, I'm happy to say that I am really making good progress.

I guess I just wanted to take shortcuts. As you said "there can be no half-measures ...half measures will be the kiss of failure."

Thanks again for your ongoing support and honesty. Sign me a grateful mother of three wonderful and challenging kids: ages 8, 12 and 14.


How To Get Teenagers To Study

"How do I get my teenage son (rather defiant) to study?"

Here's some pointers:

1. Don't do the assignments yourself. It's not your homework—it's your child's.

2. Help your child to make a schedule and put it in a place where you'll see it often. Writing out assignments will get him used to the idea of keeping track of what's due and when.

3. Provide a book bag or backpack for your child to carry homework to and from school.

4. Provide homework folders in which your child can tuck his assignments for safekeeping. This will help him to stay organized.

5. Help your child manage time to complete assignments. For example, if your eighth grader has a biology report due in three weeks, discuss all the steps she needs to take to complete it on time, including:
  • selecting a topic
  • doing the research by looking up books and other materials on the topic and taking notes
  • figuring out what questions to discuss
  • drafting an outline
  • writing a rough draft
  • revising and completing the final draft

Also, encourage your child to make a chart that shows how much time she expects to spend on each step.

6. Help your child to get started when he has to do research reports or other big assignments.

7. Encourage him to use the library. If he isn't sure where to begin, tell him to ask the librarian for suggestions.

8. Give practice tests.

9. Help your child avoid last-minute cramming.

10. Talk with your child about how to take a test (e.g., read the instructions carefully, keep track of the time, avoid spending too much time on any one question).

11. Watch for frustration. If your child shows signs of frustration, let him take a break. Encourage him and let him see that you know he can do the work.

12. Give praise. People of all ages respond to praise. And children need encouragement from the people whose opinions they value most—their families. "Good first draft of your book report!" or "You've done a great job" can go a long way toward motivating your child to complete assignments.

Children also need to know when they haven't done their best work. Make criticism constructive, however. Instead of telling a ninth grader, "You aren't going to hand in that mess, are you?" say, "The teacher will understand your ideas better if you use your best handwriting." Then give praise when the child finishes a neat version.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

16-year-old mom in a 35-year-old body...


Thank you for your support on the children. I am one who purchased your book for my sister-in-law who has an OOCT to say the least. I have tried to support her, but avoid family feud and need some help. If I need to purchase another book/license, that will be fine with me since it is 2 users you are supporting.

My sister-in-law's daughter will be 17 in November. She’s lower on developmental and social areas and quit school 3 years ago due to nobody being able to deal with her. Her mother (R) took her out of school and stated she would Home-school her, which never happened since her daughter will just not do anything. R has to work and some of us have tried to help her out such as my other sister-in-law trying to work with her on Home school material (when it was finally purchased after a year). I enrolled her (with teens & R's agreement) in a Kumon program, and my mother-in-law has tried too. What happens? Every time it seems to start working the teen goes into a fit of how someone spoke to her, or treated her wrong, etc., and R comes to her rescue and let's the family member (or non-member) have it and creates a larges chaos and family feud, so we all just back up.

We just had another one last week. R has been reading your book and been applying it -- it seems like she was starting to have success. My daughter went to their home to borrow a movie. R had previously stated that was fine. R was not home, but her other daughter said that is fine, just find one, my daughter did and the Teen just stuck her head out from the back with the look but my daughter (who was with a friend who verified her story) just ignored it and said HI. She got the movie, came home and 5 min later the teen called, asking my husband to speak to our daughter, when she got on the phone, the Teen just went off on her, questioning which movie she got and stating she is not to get a movie when her mother was not there and on and on. My daughter tried to tell her that she had discussed it with R and that was fine, no listening to this, the teen just kept fuming and screaming and yelling at her. My daughter just finally told her she did not have to listen to her and hung up on her. My husband was there and he verified that our daughter (who was a challenge when she came to live with us 5 years ago) did not scream, yell or act inappropriately.

The next morning R (his sister) caught him in church and told him that his daughter should mind her own business, her behavior was not all that and he told her that he was right there and our daughter did not act inappropriate. R would not hear of it and just went on about our daughter's behavior and he stated again that she was not out of line so R brought up times we were not around how she acted and my husband told her that we were not discussing any other times which we have not even heard about but the previous evening's occurrence. R would not accept that and stormed out of church, stating she would take her children somewhere else to church.

R finally did come back midweek service but 1/2 way through it, when the teens were asked to come up and sing and our daughter would not sing until my husband called her on it, she waited until they were done singing and left the service. This is a normal process, things seem to go good and R will 'support her daughter' and all chaos breaks lose. What is the issue here?

I have learned over the years to keep myself from the family, R and her mother always defend the teen and lose their cool and whenever they feel like it, the may even apologize and things are to be fine again. I know this is family but what I am wondering is why would the mother jeopardize all that was going good by 'throwing a fit' as she is trying to break her teen off?

Does all that make sense? If so, could you explain this to me please.

Thank you very much,

E. I.


Hi E.,

I run into situations similar to this one when I work with families. There are some occasions when the “mother” [who I thought was an adult] is actually more like a teenager (i.e., chronologically she is, say, 35-years-old, but emotionally she is about 16-years-old).

As you may have read in my eBook, children who are over-indulged do not develop emotionally until parents set limits and issue consequences for poor choices. In the case of R., I would venture to guess that she was over-indulged as a child (e.g., had few rules, was able to bulldoze over her parent, got her way a lot, etc.) as evidence by her temper tantrums that you have described.

Thus, in dealing with her, you would do well to employ the same strategies outlined in the ebook with her (e.g., setting limits, wearing a poker face, refusing to argue, etc.).

Most likely, the harder you try to help, the worse it will get. You may be taking on too much responsibility for R.

Stay in touch,



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?

Click here for full article...

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?

Click here for the full article...

The Strong-Willed Out-of-Control Teen

The standard disciplinary techniques that are recommended for “typical” teenagers do not take into account the many issues facing teens with serious behavioral problems. Disrespect, anger, violent rages, self-injury, running away from home, school failure, hanging-out with the wrong crowd, drug abuse, theft, and legal problems are just some of the behaviors that parents of defiant teens will have to learn to control.

Click here for the full article...

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