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How do you know when it is over the top?

My wife and I have a 16-year-old daughter that we "discovered" was sneaking out of the house at night, partying etc. Once we confronted her, she and a neighbor girl ran away for about a day and a half. Since then she has been to 6-8 counseling sessions with no immediate results. We found you site and put your suggestions into practice now for about two weeks. She became very angry at first, but as privileges were taken away, she backed down some. My question is how do you know when it is over the top? If she threatens to run away again do we immediately call the police? We are just wondering what to do if it ever escalates to that level again. Ironically she is a very good student 3.7 GPA despite sneaking out a couple times a week on weeknight.


>>>>>>>>>>>How do you know when it is over the top?

Well …make sure you are not grounding or taking away privileges for too long – more on this here: (see “When You Want Something From Your Kid”).

>>>>>>>>>>>If she threatens to run away again do we immediately call the police?

Well first of all, don't threaten her. Avoid the temptation to say things like, "If you walk out that door, I'm calling the cops" or "If you leave, you're grounded for a month." or "Fine, go ahead and run ...I'll pack your shit and you live somewhere else."

Instead say, "You know that I can't control you -- and if you really want to run away from home, I can't stop you. I can't watch you 24 hours a day, and I can’t lock you up in your room. But no one in the world loves you the way I do. That is why we have established some house rules. Running away from home will not solve any problems. You and I know it will only make matters worse."

If your daughter follows through with her threat to run away, do the following:

1. Call the police. Don't wait 24 hours -- do it right away.
2. Get the name of the officer you speak with.
3. Call back often.
4. Call everyone your daughter knows and enlist their help.
5. Search everywhere, but do not leave your phone unattended.
6. Search your daughter's room for anything that may give you a clue as to where she went.
7. You may also want to check your phone bill for any calls she made in the last few weeks.

When your teen comes home, wait until you and she are calmed down before you address the matter. Then say (with your best poker face), "When you ran away, I felt worried and afraid. But I have an obligation to protect you. Therefore, if you choose to run away again, you'll choose the consequence -- runaway charges will be filed and a juvenile probation officer will want to meet with you."

If your daughter runs again, follow through with this consequence.


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