HELP FOR PARENTS WITH STRONG-WILLED, OUT-OF-CONTROL CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

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

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Should Parents Reward Good Grades?

Mark:

I am in Week 2 and I am already seeing improvements in my daughter! We have a long way to go, but she didn’t get this out of control overnight. So I have a question ...my daughter just came home with 100% + bonus points on a Social Studies test that she normally wouldn’t have studied for and would have probably gotten a C or D. Molly is almost 14 and in 8th grade. She calls to tell me the good news and then asks me what her reward will be. I was not sure how to answer that. I told her she should just be happy with her performance (which she is), but she still keeps pushing for a reward. Should I give her something? She proposed we eat out at her favorite restaurant. I didn’t want to make the reward food, since she is overweight already.

You advice is appreciated.

Thanks!

J.

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Hi J.,

Typically we neither reward good grades nor punish bad grades.

Why? Because a built-in reward/consequence system is already in place.

The "reward" (after receiving a good grade) is the satisfaction a child feels by being successful ...the consequence (after receiving a bad grade) is the disappointment a child feels by doing poorly. Even though they may not admit it, all children feel a sense of disappointment when they receive a bad grade -- although they talk themselves into believing that the 'D' or 'F' is no big deal.

Another reason we don't reward good grades is because the parent's "reward" is usually a poor reinforcer. For example, if you said, "I'll take you out to eat if you get 100% + bonus points on your Social Studies test" ...do you think she would work hard to get the grade? I don't think so.

You DO want to reward her, but with acknowledgment and praise -- not with over-indulgence.

When can you use "eating out" as a reward? She can earn the money to buy her own meal by doing extra chores.

Having said all this, if she brings home a great report card (e.g., all 'A's and 'B's), then it's O.K. to "pull a surprise" (i.e., you can take her out to eat -- but with no reference to the grades).

Mark Hutten, M.A.

Re: Children Adjusting To Mom's New Parenting

Hi K.,

== > I’ve responded throughout your email below:


Hi Mark,

I love your program and have started using it on my 2 boys aged 5 and 8.

I have learnt that I am a severely overindulgent mother, a bit of a shock to the system.

I have started the poker face and staying extremely calm, a thing I use to do and yes back then my children where well behaved.

LOL

My 8 yr old son is a gifted child. I have problems with his inability to accept that others cant do things the way he can.

He constantly puts down his little brother, is rude to others, defiant and extremely competitive. I believe that this shows low self-esteem.

I have started the chores with lots of refusal, so he has lost the things he loves.

Yes things have got a lot worse, as you mentioned they could but now he is crying and all emotional when things go wrong, instead of blaming others and abusing people.

I wonder is this a new way of trying to get me to back off and change my mind.???????

== > Partially …mostly he’s confused about your different parenting …this is his way of adjusting.

Prior to this we had a huge outbreak of throwing and hitting things which isn’t his usual way of dealing with things. Normally he would be extremely abusive and defiant. Amazingly enough I stayed calm and waited it out …. acombined time of over 6 hrs of hysteria in 2 days.

Quite proud of myself.

He is shocked that I am no longer arguing or repeating myself and the louder he gets the quieter my voice becomes.

My 5 yr old has got into a habit of bad language and hitting when things don’t go his way, probably because his brother is very good verbally and that’s his way of equaling things.

I started with the 24hrs of losing things, then went to 48hrs …this was then started again because of hitting and kicking… so 5 days in all.

Is this 2 long for a 5yr old ????

== > Close, but not quite. 7 days would be too long.

My 5yr old loves the thought of “I have EARNT something,” he’s very impressed by it.

Both my boys are extremely well behaved at kinder & school, it’s just with ME.

== > Children don’t mind showing their “ugly side” (as I call it) to the person they trust the most. This would be you. They can behave poorly in front of you because they are comfortable with you.

PS I have always been very involved in their lives and had always done what was in week 1 activities.

I do play a lot with my children… Do you think taking my time (e.g., playing games) away from them when they haven’t been respectful towards me is to tough a consequence ??? Doing this would upset them greatly.

== > It is a tough consequence – perhaps the toughest. But that’s o.k. Playing games with mom is a privilege – not a right.

I would appreciate your thoughts about the emotional way my 8yr old is reacting and you thoughts on the time with my 5 yr old.

== > I think the best thing I need to say at this point is for you to slow down a bit. I want to do what is in your family’s best interest. Thus, the best advice I can give you at this point - since you just got started with the program - is to simply work through the four-week sessions. Only do one session per week – nothing more! If we try to implement a bunch of new parenting changes too quickly, it will backfire.

I’m not trying to avoid answering questions. However, since most of the problems you talked about in your email will be addressed directly in the eBook (mostly in the Online Version), and since the program is designed to take baby-steps toward change, I would encourage you to resist your impulse to leap through the program in search of the “magic bullet.” Instead, enjoy the process of working through each session – one session at a time. The results you so desperately desire will come independent of your striving for them. Patience is “key” right now.

Rest assured, you WILL get the answers you need to be successful with this program, but when the timing is right. I would like to save you from rushing into things, and then failing. Is this O.K.?

Your oldest son is 8-years-old. It has taken 8 years for the problems to get to this point. So it is going to take at least a few weeks to get the problems reversed.

We must implement change gradually because change is tough. People don’t like change, and kids will totally reject parenting changes if they occur too fast. (This isn’t to say that you won’t notice any improvements in your child’s behavior fairly quickly though.)

As you work through the program, email me as needed for clarification about the strategies outlined in the eBook. Then after the four-week program - after you have digested most of the material - email me again with a specific question regarding any parent-child difficulty you may still be struggling with.

Thank you for being patient with the process. The reward will be well worth the effort.

Mark

P.S. Be sure to watch ALL the Instructional Videos [online version of the eBook].


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Son On Drugs


Hi Mark

Just an update on what is going on with my son C__. C__ is on drugs and a friend of his mother signed for a lease on a townhouse for him to move out. It is party central there. C__ phoned me at work the other day and told me that he is scared that he is not feel well at all. A lady he works with took him aside and told him she has a concern for his health that maybe he is diabetic. He is living on energy drinks 2 -3 at a time. He asked me to get him some food that he should be eating, and he would pay me for it. He works at a grocery store, but hey I thought it was a way to talk to him for a minute or 2. I told him I was going for grocery and I would be away the rest of the weekend so I would bring over some groceries. I got to his townhouse, the one girl that lives there answered the door and looked at me funny, I know something was up. She went downstairs and got C__ to come up and he was higher then a kite. I said are you stoned and he said what do you expect? I told him to take his groceries out and put them in the fridge and give me my shopping bag. I heard voices in the basement. I followed him to the kitchen and then I ran down the stairs. There is knowing in the rec room so I went to a door and opened it up and there in the fruit cellar was 7 of them smoking dope! I asked them if their mother knew they were doing this? Then I turned out and started yelling and screaming at the one kid that's mother took my son out of the rehab center and signed the lease for the townhouse. I was yelling and screaming at him that his mother had betrayed me when I was getting my son help. The kid said I wasn't doing anything here. After I finished yelling and screaming I left. C__ was still in the kitchen putting the food away. He never came down to the basement when I was yelling and screaming at these kids. I have not contacted him since this happened on Friday night.

Today I received this email from him...

Subject: I'm Sorry

Honestly though mom I can't keep saying I'm sorry. It has been my choice to do the things that I have done... the only one I have to blame is myself. But do you really think that me being on my own and out of the house does me any good? Hmmm lets think about this one... How does a kid raised like I was get trapped in web with all the others who I looked down upon? I don't know how It happened mom I really don't, I've fucked up the past year and a half of my life I have nothing to show for it... I can't believe it has stretched this far. Sometimes I try to answer your e-mails, but it makes me feel to depressed I don't even know where to begin...
So for what its worth to you and dad I'm sorry.

Love
C__ the fuck up

My reply:

It breaks our heart to see you in so much pain. C__ you are not a fuck up at all.
Yes it was your choice to go down this path. We have been praying for you every day. It takes a big person to realise their mistakes. And an even bigger person to learn from their mistakes in life.

You are always welcome to come home, but we have rules that have to be followed. Only you can choice to turn your life around and you will need extra help and we are always here to help you, but it must be your choice and it is never to late.

If you are serious about getting help call us.

Take care of yourself.

Love Mom & Dad



Mark, am I being snowed here?


Please write back.

Thanks A.

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Hi A.,

Re: Mark, am I being snowed here?

I'm so glad you asked. I was getting worried there for a minute.

You already know the answer ...yes!

You where on the receiving end of an attempt by your son to garner your sympathy. Great strategy on his part. Once the parent becomes sympathetic, she begins to feel guilty ...then she begins to doubt herself and her decisions ...then she caves. Once the parent caves, the child is once again in the power seat (i.e., he gets to do what he wants -- with parental approval).

Here's the bottom line: Trust is gone. Your son will have to earn your trust back before you can trust him again. And the only way that is going to happen is for you to see at least one year of sobriety under his belt.

Mark Hutten, M.A.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Daughter shoplifting, using drugs, having sex...!?

Dear Mark,

I have listened and reviewed your CD and book and have found them very helpful. My daughter seems to be doing better, but just yesterday my sister told me that she is doing things that I know nothing about when she's not home. Last year was a nightmare year for us with constant fighting, door slamming, tantrums, etc. This year she seemed to be settling down some, but what my sister told me concerns me greatly. Shoplifting, drug use, sex and God knows what else. My daughter is in ninth grade and is fourteen years old. I am very concerned with her choices. She is seeing a counselor one a month for what is diagnosed as anxiety disorder. Can you give me some help or advice? I am angry, disappointed, and ashamed. I don't quite know where to go from here.

D.,

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Hi D.,

First of all, it doesn't sound like you have hard evidence that what your sister said is true. Avoid believing everything your hear -- even from a trusted sister (she may not have all the facts either). I find that when I get reports from one individual regarding another individual, some of it is true -- some of it is not.

Re: shoplifting—

When you first get the call, write down where you need to go to get your daughter and the phone number of the facility. Many parents do not do this and try to figure it out after they have hung up the phone. Avoid this added stress by writing it all down.

Avoid confronting your daughter at the scene or facility. It just will not help and could go against both of you if charges are filed.

Find out who is in charge and treat this person with respect. Find out if charges are being filed. Write these things down; do not rely on your memory.

When you get home with your daughter, take a time out. You will both need it. There is nothing wrong with letting your daughter know that you are not prepared to discuss this with them yet.

Talk with your spouse about consequences. Try and do this a day or two later, so that you know you are over the shock and have calmed down.

Lay out the consequences in an Action Plan for your daughter.

Re: drug use—

Please refer to the page of the eBook entitled "Read These Emails From Exasperated Parents" [session #4 - online version].

Re: sex—

While adolescent sex may not be wholly preventable, the health risks it involves can be reduced through communication within the family. Research shows that frequent parent-child discussions about sex and its dangers may prevent adolescents from engaging in risky sexual behavior.

One message for those intimate parent-child conversations is that early sex is a threat, and it remains a greater threat to girls than to boys. Adolescent pregnancy occurs in about 750,000 girls each year. Compared with adults, a adolescent, with an immature cervix, is more likely to catch an STD, triggering problems like smoldering pelvic inflammatory disease that can silently take away fertility, tubal pregnancies, cervical and even throat cancer, and transmission of disease to offspring at birth. That doesn't mean boys are invulnerable; they just suffer fewer and milder consequences.

However much our daughters should take equality with men for granted, they must know that sex is distinctly sexist. An old saying goes that men give love to get sex while women have sex to get love. There's something there. The brains of adolescent boys are raging with the libido hormone testosterone, while girls have some increase in testosterone but at far lower levels. In contrast, girls have more oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, and seem to be more sensitive to it than boys. Also, teenage emotions are responding to basic instincts from the lower brain, which awakens the body to its generative capacities. Such impulses searching for instant gratification can easily overwhelm the higher frontal lobes—which impose thoughtful, rational, and conscience-driven restraints on behavior—because, by some quirk of nature, those distinctly human higher cognitive centers don't fully mature until the early 20s. Parents, like it or not, have no choice but to be their kids' frontal lobes for a time, and that's a source of vintage adolescent turbulence.

Mark Hutten, M.A.

When Parents Disagree About How To Parent

Mark-

We have a sixteen year old son that fits the criteria for ODD. We have two other sons fourteen and twelve that show no signs of this disorder. We have sought professional help on and off since he was two. The first I heard of this disorder was a year ago when I started researching on the internet for the problems we were having in parenting a child like this. The difference in how we want to parent our son has caused a major problem in our marriage. Dealing with a child with this disorder has to be about the hardest thing I have ever encountered. I am very willing to listen to a professional or follow a program such as your own because all I have read about this disorder as well as your program and advice from the last psychologist we went to points us in the same direction. We have improved our relationship with our son by using similar tactics like your program suggests, but unfortunately my husband has a hard time withholding privileges, setting up some solid rules, and following through with consequences when my son breaks the rules. We are barely talking to each other at this point. I am looking for some guidance to help me get my husband on board, and I believe that if we follow a program such as your own, we can be successful. I would appreciate any help you could give.

Thanks, C.

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Hi C.,

It’s not surprising that parents have differing views on the best way to discipline their children. Working out those differences requires clarity and perspective.

Other matters can usually be resolved by compromise or agreeing on which parent will set the rules about particular issues. Even so, forming a united front on discipline is often more easily said than done. Here are some ideas that may help:

· Ask why the other parent wants to discipline in a particular way. Listen to their response without interrupting. Be respectful, caring, and patient.

· Ask yourself why you are opposed to your parenting partner’s method. What are you afraid will happen?

· Be prepared for behavioral problems. Remember that many changes in children’s behaviors are linked to their stage of normal development. It should come as no surprise that your toddler becomes defiant or your preschooler has an occasional temper tantrum. Talk ahead of time about how each of you would handle these predictable situations. That way you’ll have fewer conflicts when they occur.

· Don’t be trapped by your past. That includes both your own childhood and the style of discipline you may have used in an earlier marriage. Look for ways to explore, with your spouse, your unquestioned assumptions about disciplining children. One good way to do that is to take a parenting class together. That does two things: It helps you realize how differently other people respond to the same situations you face as parents, and it gives you and your spouse a common base of information from which to develop your shared approaches to discipline.

· Don't let negative childhood experiences determine your decision making about discipline. Keep your focus on the positive aspects of your family life in childhood to bring to your current parenting practices. This approach will free you to replace discipline strategies that don't work for both parents because of beliefs based in families of origin with solution-focused practices that respect and continue the positive experiences of both parents' childhoods.

· Explore discipline options, balancing the pros and cons. Decide which responses are most constructive for your parenting goals.

· Find out how the other parent wants the child to behave in the future.

· Find out what the other parent is afraid will happen if he/she doesn’t discipline their particular way.

· Negotiate a Plan in Calm Waters. Sit down with your spouse and try to agree on ways to discipline at a time when nothing is wrong. When you discuss things calmly, you're more likely to come up with a plan you can both stick to. This will allow you to talk about what's best for your child, and not "who's right."

· Present a Unified Front. Kids understand when their parents feel differently about disciplining, no matter what their age. Children will often get away with misbehaving simply by creating an argument between you and your spouse — and this not only lets them off the hook, it creates a problem between the parents. Make sure that your child sees both parents following the same guidelines, no matter what the scenario. Once your kids start receiving the same treatment from both parents, they'll stop using your disagreements as a way to avoid punishment.

· Put your childhood experiences in historical perspective. Gender roles, child safety issues, environmental factors, and cultural norms change dramatically across the generations. What worked for your family 'back in the day' may not transfer comfortably to your current family situation. What are the issues in modern family life that trigger a strong belief that the values and child-rearing practices from your childhood are important to uphold and continue in your own family?

· Recognize that strong beliefs about child rearing may have their basis in childhood family experiences. At the same time, know that your spouse's beliefs have the same powerful roots.

· Recognize What Your Arguments Do to Your Children. No child likes to see his or her parents fight. When you argue about what to do with your kids, you create a troubling environment for them, which could have serious long-tem effects. Fighting with your spouse shifts the focus away from your child — and how they can learn to stop misbehaving — and on to a "parent versus parent" situation.

· Remember the positive experiences from your childhood. Think about your everyday life rather than the major events. What was going on around you during those happy times? It's fun to share these memories with your family, so make them a part of your traditions and family life. What are the positive values and childhood experiences that you want to uphold and continue in your family?

· Have a conversation between parents about the ways childhood histories may be influencing the disagreement about discipline. Take a problem-solving approach to identify:
  1. What is the specific child-rearing issue that is causing disagreement between parents?
  2. What are the feelings and beliefs that each parent has about the issue that may be rooted in childhood family history?
  3. What problem-solving alternatives can each of you commit to that will resolve the disagreement and unite both parents in adapting the beliefs and practices of your families of origin to your family life today?

Lastly, always bear in mind that a weaker parenting plan supported by both parents is much better than a stronger plan supported by only one parent.

I hope this helps,

Mark Hutten, M.A.

Re: Teens & Dinner

"How can I get my teen daughter to eat dinner with us - at least occasionally. She either refuses to eat, or eats in her bedroom?"

Getting your adolescent to sit down to a regular meal with the family might be a little like lassoing Jell-O, but a new study suggests bringing adolescents to the table has the power to help them resist drugs and alcohol, feel better about themselves and even get better grades.

Those are just some of the findings from Project EAT, a study of the eating habits and health of 4,746 middle and high school students conducted at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health. "Family mealtime appears to have so many benefits," says Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, lead investigator of Project EAT and author of "I'm, Like, So Fat: Helping Your Adolescent Make Healthy Choices About Eating and Exercise in a Weight-Obsessed World" (Guilford Press, 2005). "It lets kids watch their parents be role models for healthy eating, gives them access to healthier food than they'd get at fast-food restaurants and is an opportunity for parents to connect with their children," Neumark-Sztainer says.

The challenge? Finding time to cook — and to sit down together. "Just remember that what matters is time together, not when you eat or whether it's a perfect home-cooked meal," says Sztainer. These ideas can help you spend more quality table time with your adolescent.

FAQs from other parents—

How do you get your kids to eat with you? My son would rather grab fast food with his friends or eat in his room in front of the computer.

First, be flexible. Your adolescent may not eat at home every night, but the two of you can talk about it. I would sit down and say, "I want to have us eat together more often. We need to figure out a way to do that." Try to come up with some solutions together. The fact is, adolescents like getting good food that's free. And in our research, we've found that they like eating with the family, especially if the atmosphere is pleasant. They may stay away from the table, though, if they're getting grilled about homework or chores or the string beans they're not eating.

Is there a way to serve food that's healthier than takeout and microwave meals but just as fast?

Yes. Look for healthy shortcuts. Some of my favorite healthy fast foods from the supermarket include rotisserie chicken, baby carrots, pre-sliced fruits and vegetables, fresh vegetables you can microwave right in the bag and frozen stir-fry vegetable mixes. A dinner of eggs, whole wheat toast and some cut-up vegetables can work in a pinch. If you can stay away from highly processed foods, you'll get less fat, less salt and usually fewer calories.

What are the options for families like ours that aren't all at home in the evening?

Breakfast will work if all or most of your family members are home at the same time in the morning. Or try brunch on the weekend. Also be flexible about the time you eat. In our household, we tend to eat later than standard dinnertime because everyone is busy earlier. And you can have a family meal even if some family members are absent. One parent at the table is great for kids, too.

We eat out a couple of nights a week because we take our kids to practices, rehearsals and meetings. Does eating in a restaurant count?

Yes. Eating out has its benefits — nobody has to cook or clean up, and everyone can order what they like. It also provides an opportunity to learn about how to deal with the challenges of eating out. Portions served in restaurants are huge, and the selections include many high-fat, high-calorie items. Parents can, without saying a word, demonstrate how to get a healthy meal by making smart choices and eating reasonable portions when eating out.

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Children Who Play With Fire

Mark-

Thank you so much for your program and your willingness to make this available to us via e-book. While I have just purchased your program and an only in Assignment 1, I feel that this is our answer to a growing problem with our child. My son is 12 years old. He has been a handful since birth. I realize now that I am a 100% passive parent. I have over-indulged him out of guilt for, as his mother, working outside of the home all his life. I have always felt this was a mistake and gave him stuff and freedom to compensate. As a result, my son is defiant, disrepectful and has been suspended twice from school so far this semester. I am so thankful that your help has come along before he gets any older.

I have one major concern to address immediately. My son has had a fascination with fire, fireworks, and blowing things up for about a year. I realize some of this is normal but now his interest has resulted in damage to our home. Four days ago, he damaged the front of our garage because he blew up action figures in the driveway. When I asked him why he did that & did he not realize he was causing damage, he told me he had to do it because he was angry at the school's asst principal. This was the same day he had been suspended for two days for disrepecting teachers. He said that doing this made him feel better. I told him that he could not continue to do this. I had him wash and repair/paint the damage. He swore he would never burn again. Later that evening, we calmly discussed the possible outcomes of playing with fire..that this could be life-threatening and we could lose everything in a house fire. We even talked about fire safety and how we would exit our home in the event of a fire. He seemed to "get it".

You can imagine my surprise when the next day, I entered my kitchen only to detect smoke coming from our upstairs bonus room. I ran upstairs and was shocked at the damage he had done to the carpet upstairs. There are multiple burns. I immediately went to find him as he had already left the scene. I asked him about it & he gave me a glazed look. I am unsure if it was shame, denial or what..I have found no evidence of drugs or cigarettes so I do not believe this was a smoking session gone bad. I asked him if he had a problem that made him want to burn things. He said that when he gets mad, he burns and he feels better. (He had gotten angry at me when I denied him fireworks of all things directly before the bonus room incident.) I was shattered. I felt that there might be something more than just misconduct, but rather a psychiatric problem. Now I am confused as to whether he just totally disregards our home because he resents me for over-indulgence..or if he may also have a medical problem.

I have discussed this with my family. It seems that we agree that we must rule in/out any medical problem with a psychiatric evaluation. My plan is to have this done immediately. I am beginning Assignment 1 with him as well as he still needs behavior modification, regardless of the outcome of the evaluation. I would truly respect your opinion as to whether you believe I am going in the right direction.

Thank you again for your information and help..moreover your desire to help desparate parents.

Sincerely,

K.

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Hi K.,

Many kids set fires out of curiosity. But some of the kids will learn that fire is a powerful tool to gain attention or enact revenge. Other kids believe that if their first fire doesn't get out of control, they can control it.

Most experts agree that the best way to understand a youngster's fire setting is by looking at the age of the youngster and the reason for the behavior. There are three categories of fire setting, and for each a different strategy is used to stop the behavior.

Curiosity Fire Setting--

The youngster is usually between 3 and 10 years old and is almost always a boy. They prefer to spend time alone and may be hyperactive.

The youngster is curious and plays with fire to learn about it. Fires are usually set in a closet or under a bed. The youngster will usually panic if the fire gets out of control. Fires set can cause major damage or even death.

Treatment at this stage is fire safety education.

Problem Fire Setting--

The youngster is usually between 5 and 12 years old and is almost always a boy. They may have a history of school and social problems. Recent changes in life or suffering from stress or injury are common.

The fire is usually random or ritualized and located in or around the home.

There is often no clear cut reason for fire setting. This could be used as a "Cry for Help."

They will continue in this behavior until stress is relieved or they are taught safer ways to cope. There is a very high chance of repeat fire setting.

Treatment at this stage involves professional counseling and fire safety education.

Delinquent Fire Setting--

The youngster is usually between the ages of 10 and 18 years old. They can be both boys and girls and are almost always in a group.

The fire is usually at an outdoor location and could involve dumpsters, grass or other vandalism type fires.

The youngster tends sets the fires to impress their peers, out of boredom, or to be defiant.

Treatment at this stage involves professional counseling, restitution and fire safety education.

How Parents Can Help--

Parents play an important role in helping prevent fires involving kids. Here are some ideas to help:

§ Make sure your kids are supervised at all times.

§ Discuss with your kids the good and bad uses of fire, the dangers of fire and how quickly it spreads.

§ Encourage your kids to tell you about any other kids playing with fire.

§ Keep all matches or lighters in a place that is not accessible to kids, such as a locked cabinet. If you smoke, keep lighters on your person or in your purse, not scattered around the house.

§ Keep Matches, lighters and other fire setting tools off limits to your kids by telling your kids to immediately bring you any matches or lighters that they find. Set consequences for kids if they are found with any fire setting tools.

§ Lock up all flammable chemicals, like gasoline, turpentine or lighter fluid.

§ Make your house fire safe by installing smoke detectors and sharing with your kids the responsibility of checking the detectors once a month.

§ Practice with your kids stop-drop-and roll and crawling low in the presence of smoke.

§ Teach your kids fire safety by planning fire escape routes from each room in the house and practicing fire drills at your house once a semester.


FAQs from other parents:

§ I have found my son playing with fire. If I burn my son's hand will they stop?

This is a myth, if you burn your son's hand they will just be scarred. You must address the real reason for his/her playing with fire before they will stop.

§ Is fire setting considered pyromania?

Pyromania is a mental disorder -- fire setting is not. It is a behavior which can have many reasons and which can be stopped.

§ Is it normal for kids to play with fire?

While curiosity about fire is common, fire play or fire setting is not normal and can be deadly.

§ Is this just a phase that that they will grow out of?

It is not just a phase and you must deal with it immediately or it will continue to happen.

Good luck,

Mark Hutten, M.A.

My Out-of-Control Child: Help for Parents with Oppositional, Defiant Children

Home-School an ODD Teen?


Mark-

Thank you for such a great website. It really helps to have this support. I started applying your advice 3 days ago as I believe my son has ODD, and yes, it did get worse at first… I went through two days of hell while my 13 year old son punched, insulted and swore at me and his younger brother continuously- (his older sister keeps out of his way). I kept calm and did not show my anger and today he woke up in a good mood ...the first time in a many months. He was much calmer and only has had one outburst.

So I am continuing with the program and I know I have along way to go. He has been home from school for 3 weeks as he got beaten up by boys from his previous school and now says he hates school so I am trying to work with school, doctor and education authorities to get him back. (I live in England and the system is different here).

He is very bright but hates the school environment. I am a part-time college teacher myself and would like your opinion about whether I should let him home school which is what he wants or encourage him to return to school. I can see he really hates it but it is difficult for me to decide as I really enjoyed school as a child.

Thank you again so much... having the video clips is wonderful as being a single parent I have no one to discuss these problems with- what you say makes me laugh as it seems you are describing my child!

R.

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Hi R.,

It has been my experience that ODD children do poorly in regular school. I always recommend that they either home-school or attend an alternative school (alternative schooling being the better choice of the two).

In the event you would want to consider home-schooling, here are some ideas to get you started:

· A driving home-schooled adolescent can help take older family members to doctor appointments, grocery, etc.

· A family trip to learn History and Geography by seeing the country would be great fun full of valuable learning opportunities.

· A home-schooled adolescent can drive siblings to events while parents get other things accomplished (such as planning more difficult high school lessons).

· Doing a home improvement project as a family could increase home value while math, art and design skills, etc. are learned in a natural way.

· Grandparents can help teach valuable lessons while spending special time with their home-schooling grandkids.

· Home-schooling also allows one to know their child better.

· Home-schooling families can take vacations in off-season months which saves money and avoids crowds.

· Hours of practice can be dedicated to a special talent (spelling bee champs are often home-schoolers).

· If the home-school teacher is out of shape, doing 'P.E." together can be fun and healthy. Joining a local health club, pool, or walking club would add to the choices.

· If the home-school teacher loved art, for instance, visits to museums and taking community or college classes together could be great fun.

· In a family emergency, home-schooled students can travel or spend time helping out.

· Most home-schoolers get along well with their parents and trust their advice.

· Spending some time on a volunteer project could mean learning across the curriculum while changing the community in a wonderful way.

· Subjects that were missed in high school can be learned with the student.

· There are opportunities for high school aged adolescents to do internships or get a part time job. This can be a huge advantage later when needing to list experiences on job and college applications. Also, home-schoolers can work hours other kids can't.

· Today's DVDs and computer programs make learning fun for all ages.

· When students grow up as home-schooling friends and attend special functions together, all the parents and kids can get to know each other well. Home-schooled students tend to socialize well with kids of all ages and with parents too. This makes for safe and fun gatherings and outings in the important high school years.

Home-schooling families who learn to balance education and life to achieve a happy and healthy home are more likely to enjoy a home education lifestyle. Here are some ways to live daily life while home-schooling:

· Teens can help sell items on online auctions. Home-schoolers can learn life skills, math, language arts, and more as they help with family income.

· Add a garden journal where plant growth is tracked and math, handwriting, and language arts are covered naturally, as well as creating a good reference for the next year.

· Animals are instant learning opportunities.

· By refurbishing an old car, the family gets a classic vehicle and adolescents learn skills in 'auto shop.'

· Choose the best books and music, avoiding junk books and "mind candy."

· Computer games are always useful.

· Cooking, sewing, housework, and grocery shopping teach children life skills across the curriculum.

· Dealing with the inevitable bugs and watching growth teaches science.

· Encourage children to be discerning in building their own libraries.

· Find deals at used book-shops and yard sales.

· Games such as Yahtzee, Monopoly, and Blurt develop logic, math, and language arts skills.

· Gardening is important for providing food to some families.

· Older children can help in your work if you have a business.

· Plant flowers to pick (even if you only have room for one small pot).

· Saving up money for a good cause is also valuable.

· Saying "Hand me that pint of milk" teaches volume, for instance. Doubling recipes or measuring fabric help reach family goals for food and d├ęcor or clothing.

· Adolescents can make shopping lists, figure a family budget, do laundry, clean, etc.

· There are endless charities, churches, and non-profit organizations that would love help from home-schoolers.

· Volunteering as a family teaches the children compassion and other character traits, math, art, and life skills while fulfilling family goals to serve others in the community.

Good luck in whatever you decide to do,

Mark Hutten, M.A.

Sibling Rivalry: Tips for Exhausted Parents

HI Mark - we have finished the course and I must say a BIG thank you! It is working....doesn't always go smoothly but has been really helpful for us and I am very grateful. Now I have another issue that doesn't seem to really be addressed within your course.

I have two boys - 16 (Junior) and 13 (8th grade). They are at each other constantly - picking verbally away until it escalates into an argument with shouting and yelling. The younger one knows how to goat the older one. Of course, they each think we take the others side and treat them differently.

Here is my question.....I'm upstairs - they are downstairs - I hear the argument beginning and by the time I get downstairs they are yelling at each other and shoving (of course the other one started it and swore or pushed me or something - and of course they both deny it ). I didn't hear nor see what just happened and I don't know who is telling the truth. If I say "just stop fighting and one of you go upstairs and one go downstairs," I am accused of not punishing one for hitting or swearing - "I always get punished and he never does" …etc......even though I didn't see it or hear it. Sometimes my 16 year old will go into a verbal rage because I don't give the younger one consequences. It totally raises my blood pressure and I am caught in the middle. What is my course of action? HUGE THANKS!!

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Hi T.,

What you’re referring to is sibling rivalry (which is covered in the audio portion of the online eBook).

“Ignoring” behavior is an over-rated parenting strategy – but when it comes to sibling rivalry – it is often the best strategy. Here’s a two-part plan:

1. Don't take sides. If you intervene in squabbling, it should never be on one side or the other. Never intervene on one side or the other unless there is possible harm. By harm I mean the possibility of causing injury, not minor pain. Say, "The two of you stop it” …rather than, “Michael, stop hitting your brother” (which sounds like you’re taking sides).

2. Never listen to what went on. And I mean never. Again, the only exception is if there is potential harm to one or the other child.

When rivalry is present, here are the four common issues that kids are really fighting about:

1. Expressing competition. We live in a competitive society and sibling rivalry is an extension of that. It’s a way for kids to compete with each other and learn how to manage their own competitive behavior.

2. Getting a parent’s attention. This is the most common issue that spurs sibling fighting.

3. Jealousy. One sibling may be jealous of the other (what the other one has, how the other one looks, or how well the other one does in school).

4. Teasing. Sibling fighting may take the form of teasing. By doing this, they test the limits of what’s socially acceptable. In the family, kids can test what they can say by judging what kind of pain it causes. Though children may learn important lessons about how to interact with other people, there are other ways to learn that are less hurtful.

Here’s a list of helpful tips that parents can use to reduce or stop sibling rivalry:

Avoid favoritism. Some researchers believe that perceived favoritism is the greatest cause of sibling rivalry. So avoiding it helps immensely. This can be challenging since parents may favor certain traits in teenagers over other traits. That means teenagers who have the favored traits become favored.
  • Hint #1: Pay attention to each child and determine what kind of attention is needed. Consider that teenagers are different and need different things at different times. An exact minute for minute accounting of your attention is not essential. Sometimes a child may require some extra time.
  • Hint #2: Give each child his or her own special time with you. During this time, make sure no one else is around to compete for your attention.

Don’t take sides, don't be the judge. When they’re fighting, tell the kids, “I want you two to work this out,” and walk away. Don’t get involved in the fight.

Don't pay attention to the fight; stay out of it. If they are fighting for your attention and you don't get involved, they will learn other, hopefully better ways to get your attention.

Know when to intervene. Sibling rivalry can develop into abuse if one sibling regularly victimizes the other. If you follow all of the above, this probably will not happen. But if you’re still struggling with this situation, be alert. Check to see if someone is really getting hurt and who’s too helpless to stop the abuser. The abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual. If it’s going on, your response must be prompt and significant. This must not be allowed. If you can’t stop the abuser yourself, seek outside help—a counselor, a friend of family member, or the police or other authorities if you can't stop it any other way.

Make clear that ongoing conflict is unacceptable. When the fighting has stopped, say something to the rivals like, “I’m unhappy with the present level of fighting and I want you two to find a way to work this out.” If a fight is just beginning, you may give the rivals a group goal so they can work together for a positive outcome.

Offer problem-solving strategies when the teenagers are not fighting. It may be necessary to work with each child individually, but be really careful that you are not inadvertently playing into the rivalry by giving the desired attention. Offer support without saying whether the child is right or wrong. Ask what the child thinks the fight was about and how he or she might avoid this kind of fight in the future.

Remain positive. By finding something positive about each of your teenagers on an ongoing basis, you’ll reduce the level of sibling rivalry.

Teach empathy. Empathy is the opposite of sibling rivalry. The more sensitive siblings are to each other’s emotions, the less they’ll challenge each other as rivals.

Mark Hutten, M.A.

Daughter Needs Attention

"I have an 8-year-old daughter who said that she needs attention. She is the only child and I think she is getting 110%. How can I positively help her?"

It's normal for kids to need attention and approval. However, attention-seeking becomes a problem when it happens all the time. Even charming attention-seeking can become controlling. Many kids make tragedies out of trivial concerns to get your sympathy. Excessive attention-seeking results in a situation where your youngster commands your life.

Many kids misbehave to get attention. The most notorious reason for misbehavior in young kids, this can be the seed for discipline problems in later childhood and adolescence.

Your goal is not to eliminate your youngster's need for attention and approval. When handled correctly, your youngster's need for attention can be a helpful tool for improving your youngster's behavior. Eliminate not the need for attention, but those attention- seeking behaviors that are excessive or unacceptable. A mother who says, "Sarah, I know that you want me to stay and paint with you. I am busy now. If you can be patient and paint by yourself for ten minutes, I'll be able to spend some time with you then," is giving Sarah an opportunity to have the attention that she wants and needs. She is not giving in to nagging.

How Much Attention Is Too Much?

That depends on you. How much attention-seeking can you tolerate? The rule is that kids will seek as much attention as you give them. You must strike a balance between how much your kids want and how much you can give. Even normal attention-seeking can drive you crazy on some days.

Do not let your kid's need for attention turn into demands for attention. When kids do not get enough attention, they resort to outbursts, tantrums, nagging, teasing, and other annoying behaviors. They think, "If I can't get attention by being good, then I'll misbehave to get Mom's attention."

Three Kinds of Attention—

Adult attention and approval are among the strongest rewards for kids. Unfortunately, moms & dads seldom use attention wisely. There are three kinds of attention:

· Positive Attention
· Negative Attention
· No Attention

When you give your kids attention and approval for being well behaved, they are getting positive attention. Positive attention means catching kids being good. Focus on positive behavior. Positive attention can be words of praise or encouragement, closeness, hugs, or a pat on the back. A pleasant note in your youngster's lunch box works well. Positive attention increases good behavior.

When you give your youngster attention for misbehavior, you are giving negative attention. Negative attention typically begins when you become upset. You follow with threats, interrogation, and lectures. Negative attention is not a punishment; it is a reward. Negative attention does not punish misbehavior, but increases it.

What is the easiest way to capture your attention-sitting quietly or misbehaving? When kids do not receive attention in a positive way, they will get your attention any way they can. Do not pay attention to misbehavior. Pay attention to good behavior.

Avoid this scenario:

James and David are sitting quietly and watching Saturday-morning cartoons for thirty minutes. Everything is peaceful. Father is working on the computer. Suddenly, an argument erupts: "It's my turn to pick a show." Father charges into the room. He turns off the television, scolds the two kids, and sends them to their rooms.

For thirty minutes, these kids were well behaved. Father said nothing to them about how well they were doing. Nothing was said about how quiet they were. Nothing was said about how well they were cooperating. The moment there was trouble, Father was instantly mobilized. Father did not give them any positive attention while they were being good. When they began misbehaving, Father rushed in with plenty of negative attention.

Negative attention teaches kids how to manipulate and get their way. They learn to be troublesome. They learn how to interrupt you. They learn how to control you. Negative attention teaches kids how to tease, nag, and annoy. It teaches kids to aggravate, irritate, and exasperate. We teach this by not paying attention to our kids when they are behaving appropriately, and by paying attention to them when they are misbehaving.

I have worked with hundreds of moms & dads who have taught their kids to be negative attention seekers. I have never met a parent who taught this deliberately. When you attend to the negative and ignore the positive, you teach your kids to behave in a negative way. Your youngster will misbehave to get your attention in the future.

Do not wait for misbehavior to happen. Do not take good behavior for granted. We do this with teenagers. We come to expect good behavior, and overlook their efforts. When a youngster demonstrates good behavior, notice it. Look for it. The more you notice, the more you will find. You will get more good behavior in the future. Anyone can catch kids being bad. Turn this around. Catch them being good. It's not easy. It takes practice.

Statistics show that the average American parent spends seven minutes a week with each of their kids. Do better than average. Telling your kids that you love them is not enough. Show them that you love them. Spend ten minutes of quality time with each youngster every day. No excuses, like I was just too busy today, or I didn't have time. We are all too busy.

In many families, both moms & dads work. Some moms & dads work two jobs. Your most important job is being a parent. When you come home after work, give the first thirty minutes to your kids. Do not be the moms & dads whose only hour with their daughter this week was in the principal's office or at the police station. Write your kids into your plan book. Make an appointment with each of your kids every day. Go for a walk and listen to what is happening in their lives. Turn off the TV for an hour and talk.

How to Ignore—

When you ignore misbehavior, you are giving no attention. Because attention is rewarding to kids, withholding attention can be an effective punishment. Withholding attention can weaken a misbehavior. When your youngster misbehaves to get your attention, ignore the misbehavior. Ignore your youngster's inappropriate demands for attention. You will weaken those demands and extinguish the misbehavior.

Some moms & dads find this hard to believe; they think that if a youngster is misbehaving, he must be punished. This is not true. Ignoring demands for attention is the best cure. When you ignore consistently, you will teach your youngster that misbehavior is not paid off with attention. Temper tantrums need an audience. Take the audience away, and there is no point to having a tantrum. Do not forget to redirect. Teach kids appropriate ways to get attention. "My ears do not listen to whining. Please ask in a soft voice."

When to Ignore—

Ignoring does not mean ignoring the problem. It means ignoring demands for negative attention. There are many misbehaviors that you should not ignore. Some misbehavior should be punished. Deciding when to ignore or when to punish is not easy, and there are no exact rules. It takes timing and judgment. When your youngster misbehaves to get attention, ignore it. If your youngster does not stop in two or three minutes, give him a reminder. Tell your youngster, "I do not respond to whining. When you stop, we'll talk." Wait another minute or two. If he still does not stop, then tell your youngster to stop or he will be punished: "Stop now, or you will go to time-out."

If you get angry or let your youngster push your buttons, you lose. If you must use a punishment, dispense the punishment without anger. If you get angry, then your youngster has succeeded in getting the negative attention that he was after. If you feel yourself getting angry, walk away. Cool off. If you give in, you will be providing your youngster with an attention payoff. You will be rewarding a misbehavior.

Do not take good behavior for granted: give your kids positive attention when they are behaving. Ignore demands for attention such as teasing and whining; giving in to these demands encourages kids to misbehave to get attention. Understanding these ideas is easy, but practicing them is difficult. You are worth it. Make the commitment. Your kids are worth it, too.

JOIN Online Parent Support

I am planning to do some workshops for parents...

Hi Mark,

I downloaded your course some time ago, to help me with my counselling work with teenagers.

There was one young lady of 15 years that I had been working with, who was the 'gang leader', drinking, spending the night with lads not coming home on time, driving her parents insane etc. etc, (actually there have been a few of these cases!) who is now behaving much, much better. The family are agreed that things are 90 percent better than before and the young lady decided that: "It don't get better than that!" She doesn't want to be too goody goody because that means she's 'boring' and 'uncool.' She's doing great, going to school (although reserves the right not to work hard if she doesn't want to!) and coming in at a reasonable hour. No more gangs and much less drinking.

Your course was extremely helpful Mark. I had been working with the same sort of strategies as you, but your course helped a lot because it is so well structured. I am planning to do some workshops for parents in the New Year, and looking forward to helping a lot more families.

Is it ok to use the handouts from your course? (e.g, Indulgence Quotient)

Warm Regards

J.

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Hi J.,

Re: Is it ok to use the handouts from your course?

Sure... I wish you tremendous success with your workshops!!!

Mark :)

Online Parent Support

Teens & Moving to a New Country

Hi Mark,

I've just downloaded your book and have already begun to feel a better understanding of what's happening in our home.

In August we moved our family of 2 teenage girls (15 and 16) away from our home in Canada to Europe. Our 16 year old has taken to the move like a duck to water, but our 15 year old is really struggling. About 10 months ago she started hanging out with a bad crowd and 'fell in love' with a bad boy (school drop out, problems with the police, bad home situation). Her behaviour has gone downhill - swearing at me and disrespectful, school marks dropping drastically, dropping out of all her activities. We thought the move to Europe would be a chance for her to 're-set' and get back on a good path, but she is SO angry with me. She won't spend time with us, tells me she hates me and I'm stupid, and won't even look at my husband. Reading your book I recognize that my behaviour has contributed alot to getting her where she is (way too indulgent!).

I'm sure she is not doing well at her new school and that she thinks that if she fails we will send her back 'home' to live. She has this fantasy that we'll pay for her to live in an apartment with her friend. I'm trying to make her focus on building her life here and to stop looking back. What advice do you have to help us get her to move on?

Many thanks,

S.

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Hi S.,

Relocating to a new community may be one of the most stress-producing experiences a family faces. Frequent moves or even a single move can be especially hard on kids and teens. Studies show kids who move frequently are more likely to have problems at school. Moves are even more difficult if accompanied by other significant changes in the youngster's life, such as a death, divorce, loss of family income, or a need to change schools.

Moves interrupt friendships. To a new youngster at school, it may at first seem that everyone else has a best friend or is securely involved with a group of peers. The youngster must get used to a different schedule and curriculum, and may be ahead in certain subjects and behind in others. This situation may make the youngster stressed, anxious or bored.

Kids in kindergarten or first grade may be particularly vulnerable to a family move because developmentally they are just in the process of separating from their parents and adjusting to new authority figures and social relationships. The relocation can interfere with that normal process of separation by causing them to return to a more dependent relationship with their parents.

In general, the older the youngster, the more difficulty he or she will have with the move because of the increasing importance of the peer group. Pre-teens and teenagers may repeatedly protest the move, or ask to stay in their hometown with a friend's family. Some youngsters may not talk about their distress, so parents should be aware of the warning signs of depression, including changes in appetite, social withdrawal, a drop in grades, irritability, sleep disturbances or other dramatic changes in behavior or mood.

Kids who seem depressed by a move may be reacting more to the stress they are experiencing than to the relocation. Sometimes one parent may be against the move, and kids will sense and react to this parental discord.

To make the move easier on kids, parents may take these steps:

· After the move, get involved with the kids in activities of the local church or synagogue, PTA, scouts, YMCA, etc.

· Describe advantages of the new location that the youngster might appreciate such as a lake, mountain or an amusement park.

· Explain clearly to the kids why the move is necessary.

· Familiarize the kids as much as possible with the new area with maps, photographs or the daily newspaper.

· Help kids keep in touch with friends from the previous neighborhood through telephone, letters, e-mail, and personal visits.

· If a son or daughter is a senior in high school, consider the possibility of letting him or her stay with a trusted family until the school year is over.

· Let kids participate in designing or furnishing their room.

The more frequently a family moves - the more important is the need for internal stability. With the proper attention from parents, and professional help if necessary, relocating can be a positive growth experience for kids, leading to increased self-confidence and interpersonal skills.

Mark

Online Parent Support

I bought this book to share with foster carers...


Dear Mark. I am a trainer for foster carers in Royal Kingston-Upon-Thames, UK. As a social worker, I have worked for years with families and foster families trying to manage their out of control teens. I bought this book to share with foster carers and I'll also purchase the CDs to lend out to foster carers.

Who knows --- I might still find some tips to use on my grown up children when they offend me!! I love my eldest grandson (16) to bits but he has ADHD and I know how my daughter struggles with his behaviour. This book could help her too.

Could you confirm that it is acceptable under your copyright for me to share with others?

Many thanks

J.

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Hi J.,

Re: Could you confirm that it is acceptable under your copyright for me to share with others?

Yes ...absolutely!

Good luck,

Mark

Online Parent Support

Stepdaugher Hates Stepmother

Hello, before I waste anymore time I thought I'd cut straight to the point and just ask if you cover teens loving in split homes with step-parents.

My step-teen lives one week with her Dad and I, and one week with her mother (and boyfriend). Issues seem to come from the fact that she all of a sudden hates me, even though I've been around for 8 years and she's 15.

Do you cover anything like that because every book. Other therapist try to treat me like I'm a "parent" when she does not see me that way, so none of the tactics work. Just curious, as this teen is destroying my marriage and seems to be enjoying herself while she is doing it.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

B.

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Hi B.,

I can promise you that you will benefit from my program.

You are more of a mentor than a mother. You are an adult male in your stepdaughter’s life, much like an aunt, a scout leader or a teacher, but you live under the same roof and sleep with her father. Being one family unit will require careful planning with your husband. Set rules and boundaries together, but try to disrupt the family karma as little as possible. Decisions about finances need to be made with your partner as well, and not in a vacuum.

One of the major roads to failure as a stepmother is to take on the role of disciplinarian. The teenager tends to resent this new gal with new rules who comes in to disrupt her family. Successful stepmothers and family relations experts suggest that bio-dad should continue his role as the dispenser of discipline when required to maintain some consistency with the children. Your job as stepmother is to support his role, to make sure he is treated with respect, and to show solidarity. If you disagree with something, discuss it in private and reach a common understanding with your husband so as not to undermine his role.

Don't take rebellion personally. The teenage years are the transition time from dependence as a child to independence as an adult. Rebellion in some form is to be expected from all teens, even in intact families. So don't get offended when your stepdaughter is rebellious; take it in stride and focus on the behavior exhibited. It is less likely to be focused at you than it is to be focused on their changing world.

If you are consistent, stay within your role, and show that you care about and love her and her dad, the barriers will eventually come down and a positive relationship will become the pattern.

All the above is easier said than done, but very possible none-the-less.

Mark

Online Parent Support

Children & Sharing

I have a six-year-old very strong willed youngster. She can be so sweet… then she starts grabbing toys out kid’s hands, hitting and kicking. I have her on a chart, and she is doing better. However, she still has problems sharing and getting along with others.

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Perhaps one of the most common complaints that parents have about their young kids is that they find it difficult to get them to share.

Sharing is not something that is innate in a youngster and they will only learn it through your constant observation and guidance. Further more, there is a whole lot of concern about just what a youngster needs to learn how to share and when. Do they always need to share? You can help your youngster learn how to be more discerning with the sharing game if you just pay very close attention and follow some simple concepts.

DON'T EVER FORCE YOUR YOUNGSTER TO SHARE. The whole point of the exercise is lost if you have to force it. This means, don’t threaten them in any way - like telling them they will have to go home, telling them they will miss out on a treat or you will punish them. Not sharing something is a whole different ball game than being willfully mean so the outcomes should also be different.

OWNERSHIP COUNTS. In the greater scheme of things, you have to remember that ownership does really count for something. After all, you don’t go out in the world and give your cell phone, or car to a complete stranger simply because they ask. Try teaching your youngster that it is OK to refuse a request if someone asks for something that they have. This may apply to a bike or a special toy.

Of course, playground rules are a little different. If you are taking along a load of sand pit toys to the park then you may just have to try to explain to your child before you go that other kids are going to want to use them to and you will be sharing them with others. Perhaps you can help them pick out some toys that you will take along that other kids can use and something that they will use. Most importantly, involve them in the process.
If, once you get to the park and it is obvious that your youngster is simply not up to the challenge of sharing their stuff, you don’t have to turn around and come home.

There are things that you can do to help them along. A child doesn’t have the ability to look at things as rationally as you. All they know is that someone else is trying to take away their stuff. In their mind they don’t know if it will ever come back! Try saying something along the lines of, “We are going to share, which car can Johnny have? The red one or the blue one?” In this way, you are introducing the concept of sharing, THEY are making the decision (in a roundabout way) and you are doing it without aggression or force.

IF IT'S GOING TO BE AN ISSUE - LEAVE IT AT HOME! If you know that it is going to be an issue to share a special toy then try to leave it at home. Don’t expect other kids not to want to play with it and don’t expect your youngster to want to share it. Explain, as best as you can, that this is a toy for home. Trust me, other parents will appreciate it much more than you think. After all, how may times have you had to try and explain to a child why they can’t have someone else’s toy?

Above all, don’t expect too much. Sharing is not something that comes naturally and it is not something that is always warranted. Maybe what we should be teaching our kids, is to respect the property of others, that they can’t always have what they want and that it is OK to say no.

Online Parent Support

Temper Tantrums: Comprehensive Summary, Prevention & Intervention

Temper Tantrums: Comprehensive Summary, Prevention and Intervention 

There are 9 different types of temperaments in kids:
  1. Distractible temperament predisposes the youngster to pay more attention to his or her surroundings than to the caregiver.
  2. High intensity level temperament moves the youngster to yell, scream, or hit hard when feeling threatened.
  3. Hyperactive temperament predisposes the youngster to respond with fine- or gross-motor activity.
  4. Initial withdrawal temperament is found when kids get clingy, shy, and unresponsive in new situations and around unfamiliar people.
  5.  Irregular temperament moves the youngster to escape the source of stress by needing to eat, drink, sleep, or use the bathroom at irregular times when he or she does not really have the need.
  6. Low sensory threshold temperament is evident when the youngster complains about tight clothes and people staring and refuses to be touched by others.
  7. Negative mood temperament is found when kids appear lethargic, sad, and lack the energy to perform a task.
  8. Negative persistent temperament is seen when the youngster seems stuck in his or her whining and complaining.
  9. Poor adaptability temperament shows itself when kids resist, shut down, and become passive-aggressive when asked to change activities.

Temper tantrums are:
  • a normal part of learning independence and mastery
  • a sign of frustration that a child can't do something comfortably
  • a way a young child lets out strong emotions before he/she is able to express them in socially acceptable ways
  • are most common among two and 3-year-olds, which is probably why the phrase "terrible twos" was invented
  • are not contagious, although the behavior of those around a tantrum can play into it
  • occur in about 80% of children between the ages of 1 and 4
  • disruptive or undesirable behavior or emotional outbursts displayed in response to unmet needs or desires, or an inability to control emotions stemming from frustration or difficulty expressing the particular need or desire
  • generally begin around age 12-18 months, get worse between 2 and 3 years, then decrease rapidly until age 4, after which they should be seldom seen
  • most likely to occur when a child is afraid, overtired, or uncomfortable
  • often a cry for help: your child is trying to get your attention
  • can be an extremely constructive part of the development of a healthy child

Parents:
  • can learn from their child by understanding the situation that caused the temper tantrum to erupt
  • can learn how to nurture and discipline effectively
  • may be tempted to be loud or angry, but tantrums are a time to be calm
  • may need to hug their child who is crying, and say they will always love him or her no matter what, but that the behavior has to change
  • may understand what a toddler says only 50 percent of the time
  • need to understand that temper tantrums are a normal part of early child development
  • often take the blame if their toddlers seem out of control
  • should choose which situations call for limits and which can be overlooked
  • should notify their child’s physician if the tantrums increase in intensity, the child holds their breath or faints during tantrums, the child’s behaviors are destructive, the child often hurts themselves or other people, the child displays signs of a mood disorder
  • should try to catch their children doing something good and compliment them several times a day

Young children don't have evil plans to frustrate or embarrass their parents. All young children from time to time will whine, complain, resist, cling, argue, hit, shout, run, and defy their teachers and parents. Temper tantrums, although normal, can become upsetting to teachers and parents because they are embarrassing, challenging, and difficult to manage. When children’s need for independence collides with the parents’ and teachers’ needs for safety and conformity, the conditions are perfect for a power struggle and a temper tantrum.

Control—

They want independence and self-control to explore their environment. To give your child a sense of control, let him or her make appropriate choices. Give children control over little things whenever possible by giving choices. Try to intervene before the child is out of control.

Attention—

After your child quiets down, you might say, “I noticed your behavior, but that won't get my attention.”

Prevention for Parents—

It is much easier to prevent temper tantrums than it is to manage them once they have erupted. Here are some tips for preventing temper tantrums and some things you can say:
  • Avoid boredom. Say, “You have been working for a long time. Let’s take a break and do something fun.”
  • Change environments, thus removing the youngster from the source of the temper tantrum. Say, “Let’s go for a walk.”
  • Choose your battles. Teach kids how to make a request without a temper tantrum and then honor the request. Say, “Try asking for that toy nicely and I’ll get it for you.”
  • Create a safe environment that kids can explore without getting into trouble. Childproof your home or classroom so kids can explore safely.
  • Distract kids by redirection to another activity when they tantrum over something they should not do or cannot have. Say, “Let’s read a book together.”
  • Do not ask kids to do something when they must do what you ask. Do not ask, “Would you like to eat now?” Say, “It’s suppertime now.”
  • Establish routines and traditions that add structure. For teachers, start class with a sharing time and opportunity for interaction.
  • Give kids control over little things whenever possible by giving choices. A little bit of power given to the youngster can stave off the big power struggles later. “Which do you want to do first, brush your teeth or put on your pajamas?”
  • Increase your tolerance level. Are you available to meet the youngster’s reasonable needs? Evaluate how many times you say, “No.” Avoid fighting over minor things.
  • Keep a sense of humor to divert the youngster’s attention and surprise the youngster out of the tantrum.
  • Keep off-limit objects out of sight and therefore out of mind. In an art activity keep the scissors out of reach if kids are not ready to use them safely.
  • Make sure that kids are well rested and fed in situations in which a temper tantrum is a likely possibility. Say, “Supper is almost ready, here’s a cracker for now.”
  • Provide pre-academic, behavioral, and social challenges that are at the youngster’s developmental level so that the youngster does not become frustrated.
  • Reward kids for positive attention rather than negative attention. During situations when they are prone to temper tantrums, catch them when they are being good and say such things as, “Nice job sharing with your friend.”
  • Signal kids before you reach the end of an activity so that they can get prepared for the transition. Say, “When the timer goes off 5 minutes from now it will be time to turn off the TV and go to bed.”
  • When visiting new places or unfamiliar people explain to the youngster beforehand what to expect. Say, “Stay with your assigned buddy in the museum.”

Intervention for Parents—

There are a number of ways to handle a temper tantrum. Strategies include the following:
  • Hold the youngster who is out of control and is going to hurt himself or herself or someone else. Let the youngster know that you will let him or her go as soon as he or she calms down. Reassure the youngster that everything will be all right, and help the youngster calm down. Parents may need to hug their youngster who is crying, and say they will always love him or her no matter what, but that the behavior has to change. This reassurance can be comforting for a youngster who may be afraid because he or she lost control.
  • If the youngster has escalated the tantrum to the point where you are not able to intervene in the ways described above, then you may need to direct the youngster to time-out (see “Resources”). If you are in a public place, carry your youngster outside or to the car. Tell the youngster that you will go home unless he or she calms down. In school warn the youngster up to three times that it is necessary to calm down and give a reminder of the rule. If the youngster refuses to comply, then place him or her in time-out for no more than 1 minute for each year of age.
  • Remain calm and do not argue with the youngster. Before you manage the youngster, you must manage your own behavior. Spanking or yelling at the youngster will make the tantrum worse.
  • Talk with the youngster after the youngster has calmed down. When the youngster stops crying, talk about the frustration the youngster has experienced. Try to help solve the problem if possible. For the future, teach the youngster new skills to help avoid temper tantrums such as how to ask appropriately for help and how to signal a parent or teacher that the he or she knows they need to go to “time away” to “stop, think, and make a plan.” Teach the youngster how to try a more successful way of interacting with a peer or sibling, how to express his or her feelings with words and recognize the feelings of others without hitting and screaming.
  • Think before you act. Count to 10 and then think about the source of the youngster’s frustration, this youngster’s characteristic temperamental response to stress (hyperactivity, distractibility, moodiness), and the predictable steps in the escalation of the temper tantrum.
  • Try to intervene before the youngster is out of control. Get down at the youngster’s eye level and say, “You are starting to get revved up, slow down.” Now you have several choices of intervention.
  • You can ignore the tantrum if it is being thrown to get your attention. Once the youngster calms down, give the attention that is desired.
  • You can place the youngster in time away. Time away is a quiet place where the youngster goes to calm down, think about what he or she needs to do, and, with your help, make a plan to change the behavior.
  • You can positively distract the youngster by getting the youngster focused on something else that is an acceptable activity. For example, you might remove the unsafe item and replace with an age-appropriate toy.

Post-Tantrum Management—
  • Do not reward the youngster after a tantrum for calming down. Some kids will learn that a temper tantrum is a good way to get a treat later.
  • Explain to the youngster that there are better ways to get what he or she wants.
  • Never let the temper tantrum interfere with your otherwise positive relationship with the youngster.
  • Never, under any circumstances, give in to a tantrum. That response will only increase the number and frequency of the tantrums.
  • Teach the youngster that anger is a feeling that we all have and then teach her ways to express anger constructively.

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