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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What To Do When You Don’t Like Your Teenager’s Friends

Parenting an adolescent can be tough, especially when he or she starts bringing new friends home. With all the different friends your youngster is bound to make, it’s very likely you’re going to dislike at least one of them. Here’s what to do to keep this issue from becoming a big problem:

1. As long as your youngster isn’t getting into trouble with his friend, and your dislike is not based on anything concrete, let your youngster make his own choices about which friends he is going to hang-out with. Keep a close eye, but believe in your kid to make good decisions.

2. Ask yourself if what you don’t like about the friend really matters. Is it the way he dresses? Is it a lack of good manners? Is your youngster getting into trouble with this friend? Once you identify this, you will have a better idea of how to proceed.

3. Be a fly on the wall when the friend is over.  One of the best ways to listen to conversations your teen and her friends are having is to make snacks and walk in and out of the area replenishing the snacks and drinks without saying anything that would call attention to yourself.

4. Don’t turn everything into a life lesson. If you do this every time your adolescent tells you a story, soon he won’t tell you anything. Laugh with him. If you can’t do that, laugh at him. If something he says causes minor concern, wait and bring it up later under a different context.

5. Don't attack your youngster's friends. Nothing will start an argument faster than suggesting that her friends are not good enough. She really needs her friends at this stage in her life. Criticizing the friends is seen by adolescents as being the same as criticizing them.

6. Every time your youngster gets into trouble, it can’t be the fault of the other youngster 100% of the time. Remember that your youngster is not perfect. There may be times when he is the bad influence.

7. Few things drive an adolescent closer to her “problem friends” than a parent’s snap judgment. You may tell your adolescent you just don’t like her friends when you don’t really know them, and this can make her very angry, possibly driving her closer to the friend in order to try to prove you wrong. In many cases, if you try to tell your youngster who not to be friends with, you can bet you have just picked her new best friend, even if that friendship happens entirely behind your back. Adolescents have a tendency to dig in their heels when they're given an ultimatum, either out of loyalty to the friend or resentment at being told what to do.

8. If the friendship shows signs of falling apart, don’t point out how you were right all along. Your teen certainly doesn’t want to hear “I told you so” anymore than we as grown-ups want to hear that when we make mistakes.

9. If you decide that you do need to get involved in your child’s friendships, sit her down and give her clear concrete reasons. Focus on the impact the friendship is having on your adolescent, rather than spouting off a list of things you dislike about the other kid. Are her grades slipping? Has she given up other friendships? Have you caught her lying? Has she gotten into serious trouble? Discuss these concerns with a serious tone.

10. If you notice that your youngster is suddenly cussing or missing curfew since he started hanging out with a particular friend, focus on dealing with his behavior rather than disrespecting the friend. If you're consistent about disciplining your teen for any rules he and his friend break while the friend is visiting, he may get sick of being in trouble every time his friend comes over and eventually ditch him.

11. If your teenager meets a friend you like, encourage that relationship. Offer to take them to the movies or some other outing. Talk about how great it was and how it worked out so well for everybody (without exaggerating).

12. If you're discouraging a particular friendship, make it easier for your youngster to start a new one. Fill his calendar with activities he enjoys. It will give him a chance to meet new friends outside of school and the neighborhood.

13.  Instead of telling your adolescent everything you don’t like about his friends, make a point of talking to him about what friends should be. Take some time to teach your adolescent what traits to look for in a friend.  Be subtle though. Adolescents know when you are trying to drop hints and come at something from another angle.

14. Make sure your youngster knows your family rules and values. For example, "You can only go to parties if a parent is there to supervise." Be as clear and consistent as you can about what's acceptable and what's not.

15. Make your home somewhere teens want to hang out. The teens who are the real troublemakers don’t want to hang out anywhere near moms or dads. So they will tend to go away and find other peers who are equally less supervised.

16. Many moms and dads feel they need to manage their teenager’s choice of friends out of a sense that they're losing control, but that's not doing your children any favors in the long run. You want your kids to be able to make decisions on their own. 

17. Moms and dads often don't like their kid's friends without realizing that children choose friends for specific reasons. Ask yourself, “Why is my youngster attracted to this particular kid?" Is she lonely? Did her group just dump her? Is this person exciting to be around? Learn how to ask the right questions in a curious, nonjudgmental way. For example, "Help me understand what it is about Craig that you're drawn to."

18. Sometimes, children just "try on" friends for a while to see who fits, then move on. In some cases, they may choose friends with traits they feel they lack and admire. In other cases, they may choose friends with similar traits (e.g., teens with low self-esteem can be attracted to other teens with low self-esteem).

19. Take time to get to know your adolescent’s friends. Then, if you really do disapprove of them for legitimate reasons, you have a leg to stand on. Think about opening your home to them or driving them to outings. Your initial “accepting attitude” will probably go a long way in establishing your credibility if you have issues with your adolescent’s friends later.

20. The best judge of character is often other teens. Listen to what your child’s other friends have to say about the kid you don’t like.

21. With respect to romantic relationships, don't let your dislike of your teenage daughter’s boyfriend hinder your relationship with her. Make sure she knows you're always there for her, regardless of whom she's dating. 

Rude Teens and Backtalk: 25 Tips for Parents

Backtalk can be one of the most frustrating behaviors for moms and dads. It's hard to keep cool and clear-headed when teens are being disrespectful. The angrier we become, the more backtalk our teens dish out. Don't despair. Taming backtalk takes practice, but if you stay calm and consistent, you can get a hold of this troublesome behavior. 

You can control this vicious cycle if you follow some of the tips below:

1. Avoid the word "if" (as in "If you do that again, I'm going to..."). It makes you sound weak instead of decisive, and your teenager will pick up on that. Moms and dads tend to over-talk. Taking action is much more effective.

2. Back off. If your adolescent is irate, any attempts to restrict or discipline her will only be counterproductive. Give her some time to cool off. If the situation calls for a consequence, it can be dealt later, but too often moms and dads make threats that are too harsh in the heat of the moment.

3. Backtalk sometimes comes from adolescents trying to learn how to assert their independence and test limits, so help them make good choices within the boundaries that you set. As much as possible, help them to be responsible for their own behavior, even if it means that they have to deal with the negative consequences (this can often be the best learning experience).

4. Be willing to have conversations (not arguments) about adjusting the rules and consequences every few months as your teenager gets older and can take on more responsibility. However, make it clear that your adolescent must be able to present her position to you without being rude (an excellent life skill to instill). In addition, all parties involved need to understand that just because the adolescent may present a good argument in a polite manner, it doesn't mean that you're required to change your position. Be willing to listen with an open mind and be up for a discussion, but in the end, you are the mother or father with the life experience to make good decisions, as well as the adult responsible for your teenager’s safety and well-being.

5. Beware small things that may start long arguments. A little disagreement over whether or not you were fair in grounding him two weeks ago may spiral into a fight over how fair you are regularly.

6. Calm down. If the teenager talks back in a very disrespectful way, leave the room and the conversation. If the teenager trails behind, let him know that backtalk will not be tolerated, and ignore the teenager. After calming down, then decide on the punishment for the offense. Do not lecture or give long-winded speeches, as your adolescent will simply tune out, which will in turn make you more likely to get worked up.

7. Do not negotiate with your teenager, back down, or let her draw your into an argument about the consequence that you are enforcing. Consequences are consequences and shouldn't be up for discussion or argument. If your teenager feels like she can argue or negotiate a consequence, she'll be more likely to continue an undesired behavior and moreover, more likely to argue even more the next time around.

8. Do not talk about several issues at a time. Concentrate only on one thing, and try to sort it out rationally.

9. Encourage your teen to express herself in the future. Most teens hold their frustration in too long, and then do something drastic when it's too much.

10. Give your teenager the same respect that you would like, and try to refrain from name-calling or labeling with such words as, “spoiled brat.” Instead, keep the focus on the behavior that you would like to change.

11. Ignore any backtalk associated with the consequence. Don't get drawn into explaining or justifying your position. Also, don't punish your teenager again if he gives you backtalk when you enforce the consequence. Treat it as one incident.

12. Ignore mumblings. Sometimes teens complain. It's their way of saying they'll do it, but only because they have to, not because they want to. This is fine. A response isn't necessary, or even expected by the teenager.

13. Make sure that the rules of the house are very clear and specific. You may need to say to your teenager (at a time when you are both calm), “We have been fighting a lot lately, so we need to sit down and clarify what my/our expectations for your behavior are, and what the consequences will be for breaking the rules.”

14. Offer the teenager choices. Teens are less likely to argue if they feel they have a choice. Even if neither option is really attractive to them, they feel more empowered to be able to choose. So, give them choices whenever you can, but make it clear when no choice exists and you are not willing to negotiate, especially when it comes to matters of your teenager’s safety.

15. One common refrain from adolescents is, “You don’t understand!” Do not further frustrate your teenager by saying, “Yes, I do!” or “I went through exactly what you are going through now.” We all like to think of experiences as unique. Instead of asserting a "been there, done that" stance, help your teenager practice communicating without being rude by responding, “I may not understand, but I do want to try to understand what you are feeling. Can we talk about it later when we’re both calmer, or you can you write it down and send me an e mail, if you like?”

16. Realize that your teen is going through a difficult time. Teenagers have many stresses. Your child is maturing into an adult and is dealing with pressures from school, homework, friends, popularity, dating, after-school activities, individuality, hormones, etc. It's a heavy load for her to carry.

17. Remember that your teenager really does love you. She argues when she is angry and makes statements she doesn't mean because she is just learning to express herself and doesn't see many other ways, especially if she feels she is not being effective talking calmly.

18. Set up a certain time of day in which the teen can talk back to you. You can say to her, “From 6:00 to 6:15 p.m., you can ask me to re-explain all my decisions. Save it for then. If you need to, write it down in a note to yourself. Then at 6:00, we’ll sit down and I’ll explain to you why you can’t __________ (insert something they wanted to do, but you said ‘no’) or how come you got grounded for __________ (insert misbehavior). But at 6:15, our discussion is done. If you try to keep it going, there will be consequences.” In this way, if you feel like you want to give your teenager an outlet to vent her complaints, there’s a way to do it without getting sucked-in to perpetual arguing.

19. Tell the teenager what you need to tell him, and then leave. This will help the teenager appreciate that the mother or father has the last word.

20. Think about how you speak to your teenager and to others around you. How often are you sarcastic or rude? Is your teenager picking up on your tone and the way you treat others? Try to adjust your own behavior and remember that whether she knows it or not, you are your teenager's greatest influence in terms of nurturing the right kinds of behavior in her. Consider telling your teenager that you have noticed that you can be rude to others sometimes, and that you're going to try to modify your own behavior. Sometimes, moms and dads admitting that they too can make mistakes or have things that they need to work on, makes all the difference in terms of communication. Your teenager will feel less like she's under attack and more open to making adjustments of her own.

21. Treat first offenses like teaching opportunities. Firmly inform the teenager that the behavior is unacceptable. Then continue the discussion, never revisiting the issue that started the backtalk in the first place.

22. Try to break a pattern of interaction in which your teenager is constantly rude to you – and you in turn respond with frustration and/or punishment. Tell your teenager that you don't like the way your relationship has been lately, and that you would like to do something pleasant together. Let your teenager choose something that the two of you can do together, and make a pact that neither of you will be rude or critical. If one of you breaks the pact, end the activity, and try again another day. 

23. Use "I" statements to let your teenager know how his backtalk makes you feel. You might say, "When you speak in a disrespectful tone, I feel hurt and frustrated. "I" statements help us to stay calm and communicate clearly.  In addition, we are modeling positive communication skills to our teens. Many times, if we stay calm and let our teens know how we feel, they will calm down too. Backtalk is angry, impulsive behavior. When we calm down and give our teens a chance to think about what they have said, they will often feel truly remorseful.

24. When your teenager uses rude words to label you or someone else, ask her to be specific. Say, “When you call me _____, it is not only rude and will not be tolerated, but it also does not help me understand what you want. Tell me what you are upset about or what you would like to happen.”

25. Your teen learns that her parents can lose control and that by pushing the right buttons, she can get you to lose control. Understand that once you've started using yelling as a behavioral management tool, you’ve told your teen everything she needs to know about pushing your buttons.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Dealing with Parental Guilt: Tips for Parents with Defiant Teens

Guilt is a reality for those of us who are raising defiant teens. Balancing the tasks of raising kids, caring for our home, nurturing our relationship with our spouse, and earning money to pay the bills is just plain hard work.

To make matters even more difficult, our child is now a teenager who may be acting out (e.g., being disrespectful, verbally abusive, failing academically, violating curfew, etc.). Something has to give!

There’s just no way to do it all perfectly all the time – and so we don’t. We don’t fall short out of choice though, so we feel guilty. We are disappointed that our teenage son or daughter didn’t turn out the way we thought he or she would? We wonder how this child is going to function as an adult out in the “real world.” We feel like we should have been a better parent? And we have come to terms with the fact that our child is not the person we once knew. So what is a parent to do in light of all these circumstances?

Feeling guilty is a habit that will take time to break. If our guilt is excessive or debilitating, we may be reacting to memories of our own childhood, which may or may not have anything to do with what our teenagers need now.

Many of us feel that we are less than perfect in our parenting. The problem here is that we think that something is perfect. What would that be though? There is much written on what “model parenting” is, but there are many circumstances where this "model" does not make a difference, or is complicated by other “less than model” factors.

No mother or father remains calm and collected ALL the time. And no child ALWAYS behaves as a perfect little being. Thus, we need to accept that we are “less-than-perfect” parents. We must cut ourselves a little slack and demand less from ourselves – and our teens.

Recognizing what we “could have done” is not necessarily what was possible. When we think about what was possible (spending more time with our kids, not having worked so much, not going through with a divorce) we often forget that, at that time, there were other things going on that made that impossible. When recalling what was possible, our recall is usually faulty. For example, we have forgotten how intolerable it was to live with our spouse prior to that divorce, or how difficult it was to find a job that did not require moving to a new school district (which in turn angered our children).

When all demands of our child are met, he or she loses the importance of things and begins to take it as a matter of right. Who in this world gets all their demands met? Thus, we should help our son or daughter to develop frustration-tolerance and develop a “learn to earn” approach.

While being consumed with guilt, we forget an essential fact: we are not “all knowing.” Sure, we are probably better informed regarding “good parenting practices” than our grandparents where (perhaps). But, that doesn't mean we blame ourselves for not knowing everything.

The Holidays and "Disneyland Parent" Syndrome

Will your children be spending a good portion of the holidays with your ex-spouse? If so, you may find yourself dealing with “Disneyland parent” syndrome…

What is “Disneyland parent” syndrome? One possible reaction of an ex-spouse with part-time custody is to spoil the kids, ignore family rules, and become the “fun” mother or father in an effort to alleviate guilt, win the kids over, or make the ex-spouse look bad.  After divorce, it is common for one of the parents to feel guilty and think that her/she has to buy the youngster’s love and affection. In many cases, it is the nonresident parent who feels this burden so that his/her youngster will look forward to their time together.

Some Disneyland parents may only see their children on holidays, but when they do, they make up for lost time and may take their children on extravagant trips, ignore bedtimes, eat cupcakes for breakfast, or skip from one adventure to the next. When they are away from their kids, they may send expensive gifts that were not agreed upon by the other parent. Simply stated, these ex-spouses are focused on what their children want – and not so much on what they need.

While nonresident dads are often perceived as “the Disneyland parent,” nonresident moms are generally considered to be more involved in their kid's daily lives. However, research suggests that nonresident moms and dads exhibit a similar pattern of participation in activities with their absent kids, controlling for socio-demographic/family characteristics.

Most nonresident moms and dads either engage in only leisure activities with their kids – or have no contact at all. Only about 1/3 of Disneyland parents mention school among activities they participate in with their youngster. These findings indicate that nonresident “parent-child interaction patterns” may be the result of circumstances surrounding the nonresidential role rather than the gender of the ex-spouse.

Tips for ex-spouses in dealing with the “Disneyland parent” issue:

1. Be sure that you and your ex discuss a list of family rules that are enforced at both homes.

2. Don’t focus on material goods or having every holiday being an exciting vacation. Instead, listen to your children, understand their needs, and focus on spending quality time with them.

3. It is important for the nonresident parent to call as much as possible. This lets the youngster know that, even though you can’t be around every day, you are still there for them and they can talk to you any time of day.

4. If you are the nonresident parent, it will be natural for you to want to spoil your youngster if you haven’t seen him/her for an extended period of time. But it is important to remember your youngster still needs boundaries when he/she is with you. Setting boundaries will help your youngster respect you instead of seeing you as just a “buddy with money.”

5. Never complain about your ex-spouse’s issues with your kids or make your kids take sides.

6. If you are the resident parent, try giving your ex-spouse more responsibility during the kids’ visits (e.g., getting them haircuts, taking them clothes shopping, etc.).

7. Understand that your divorce was likely necessary and that your children will be happier IF you and your ex-spouse are happier apart.

8. Understand that your ex-spouse is probably displaying feelings of deep guilt about the divorce, as well as not being able to be with his/her children full-time. Have an open and honest conversation with your ex regarding the issue, and reassure your ex that he/she doesn’t have to bribe the children for love.

9. When the children return home after visiting the nonresident parent, have a one-hour “transition time” where the kids just go to their rooms and unwind, unpack and have a snack. They don’t have to talk about the visit, chores, homework, or anything else. They just relax and re-acclimate to their home-environment. After an hour or so, meet with the children to set-up some structure for the night (e.g., homework, chores, TV time, bedtime, etc.). Also set-up some structure for the week (e.g., getting up, getting to school on time, etc.). Structure helps kids feel safe and content.

10. You don’t have to buy your kids lavish gifts every time they come to visit in order for them to enjoy their time with you. The small things are often THE MOST important things (e.g., leaving a note in their lunch box, watching cartoons together, walking around the park, etc.).  It’s the small things that convey to your kids that you still care about them.

Avoiding Homework Battles with Teens

Most moms and dads find it difficult to tolerate an adolescent that they feel isn't trying. And unfortunately, often times the parents' attempt to motivate the teen actually backfires. In other words, the teen still refuses to do homework, but now parent-child conflict enters the picture; her refusal to do homework is often an indirect way of expressing anger. So how can parents get their teenager to be responsible for homework - but at the same time - avoid a knock-down drag-out fight? 

Here are some tips for motivating your teen to do homework without the power struggles:

    1. After an elapsed time, encourage your adolescent to do something she enjoys. Having her do something in which she excels will help bolster the confidence she needs to try school challenges.

    2. Arrange for a peer study group. Encourage your teenager to form a study group of friends or neighborhood peers. Research shows that when teens study together, it can improve retention. It makes learning 'active' rather than 'passive' - and encourages communication. However, moms and dads should be aware of what is happening within the study group; study groups need to be monitored.

    3. Before trying any “remedies,” get a second opinion. If your adolescent's teachers feel she's doing pretty well (and if they have the test scores to prove it), it is worth listening.

    4. Bring their backpack to them. This may seem ridiculous to you, but it can work. Adolescents are lazy by nature. It can be all the more difficult to get them to work if what they need is downstairs - and they are comfortable on the couch upstairs. Sometimes, adolescents will forget about work, simply because it is not in sight.

    5. Consider whether your underachiever has hit a downward spiral because he's disorganized or just doesn't know how to cope with a busy schedule with several subjects to work on every night.

    6. Discuss consequences. If they are planning on going out with friends, don't nag them to get the homework done before hand, but let them know that if they fail any assignments, they will not hang with friends outside of school for a week. The same applies if they want to do something like go skateboarding or something like that. Allow them to go, but with conditions.

    7. Don’t argue or bargain. Teenagers will try to bargain their way out of homework. If they are able to get out of it once, they will keep trying. Let your teenager know that there is no room for negotiation. Don’t let procrastination turn into a bad habit.

    8. Find a homework tutor. Many moms and dads feel frustrated when they can’t help their teenager with homework. A helpful resource can be a tutoring center (e.g., Sylvan Learning Center).

    9. Help your teenager prioritize assignments. In high school, there are many long projects and papers rather than short worksheet assignments. This can be overwhelming, especially if your teenager procrastinates. To avoid this, help him prioritize assignments based on due date, length, and the percentage of the final grade.

    10. If grades are failing or falling, take away screen time so your teenager can focus and have more time to concentrate on his work.

    11. If you feel yourself getting reactive or frustrated, take a break from helping your teenager with homework. Your blood pressure on the rise is a no-win for everyone. Take 10 minutes to calm down, and let your teenager do the same if you feel a storm brewing.

    12. If your adolescent is simply being lazy, ask him to get up and do something that he will enjoy for a few minutes. Once he is off his butt, it might become much easier to get him to go and get his homework.

    13. If your school system provides an online grade book, take advantage of it. Check up regularly (at least twice a week), and notice when grades rise and fall, as well as missing assignments. Work with your adolescent to come up with plans to raise grades and do well on tests.

    14. Make it the rule that weekend activities don’t happen until work is completed. Homework comes first. The weekend doesn’t begin until homework is done.

    15. Make sure that homework is done in a public area of your house if your teen simply goes through the motions of completing homework, but in reality, is just goofing off.

    16. Instead of telling your teen to "go start your homework," bring him to the computer or his work space and sit down next to him. Don't give up and walk away. Just sit there next to him and violate his personal space until he opens the notebook or laptop and start the work. Watch to make sure that he really starts. Sometimes, it is a simple push that he needs. Once he is on a roll, you can walk away and let him continue.

    17. Monitor their computer history. If they are working on a computer, watch to make sure that they don't stray. You can also set parental controls and restrictions on their internet access.

    18. Progress may be exceedingly slow, but express pleasure in anything. An improvement from a C to a C+ is a good start. A few forays into grades of B- and above will prove to the underachiever that she is capable of better work, and nothing terrible will happen if she does it.

    19. Provide a good atmosphere for studying. It’s hard to study if someone is in the next room watching television. Set a good example and read a book of your own while your teenager is studying. The more you minimize distractions, the easier it will be for her to finish homework quickly and accurately.

    20. Relate assignments to the bigger picture. You’ve probably heard the questions: “Why do I have to do this?” or “When am I ever going to use this?” Explain how different assignments are applicable to real life and how they are used by people in various careers.

    21. To adolescents, the most important things are friends and hobbies. Homework is a byproduct of school, and nobody likes it. Undoubtedly, your adolescent will have peers that completely blow-off all of their work, and this can be a negative influence. Show them that they can be cool and have good grades, not one or the other. Do this by telling them stories about when you were a child, tests that you failed, and homework that you did not turn in. Don't make it seem like you are encouraging not turning in the work, but your adolescent will look at you differently when he knows that you were just like him at his age.

    22. Remember what worked in the past. Think about a time when your teenager has gotten homework done well and with no arguments. What was different? What made it work that time? Ask your teenager about it and believe what she says. See what works and motivates her.

    23. Responsible grown-ups were not necessarily responsible adolescents. Remember those days when you were going through the same thing? Allow your adolescent to learn from his failure, which is an excellent motivator. Just keep track of his progress to make sure that he does not fail too much.

    24. If your teen is an A+ procrastinator, you will want to see to it that homework is done at the same time each night.

    25. Since underachievers generally have low self-esteem, offering emotional support helps immensely. Show acceptance and affection for your teen, and make certain that she knows you love her no matter what her academic standing.

    26. Sometimes, one of the best ways to help an underachiever is to not get directly involved in homework. Find out how much time she should be spending on homework every night, and then require that that amount of time be invested. Make sure she touches base with you to show that she made an effort to do her work. Then check to see that the work makes it into the backpack, because doing the work - but not taking it to school - is another form of self-sabotage for the underachiever.

    27. Try to understand why your adolescent does not want to do homework. There are many reasons why adolescents may not want to do their work. Are they absorbed in some other task? Are they planning on going out with friends? Or maybe they're just obsessed with playing a video game. Whatever it is, knowing the cause is the best way to counter.

    28. Adolescents can feel loved "conditionally," which means that they only think you approve of them when they do a good job. This can lead to depression and bitterness. Thus, try to be as positive as possible. If your adolescent tells you that he failed a test, be understanding. It took a lot of courage for him to work up the nerve to tell you this, and the cooler you are with it, the more likely he is to come and talk with you on a regular basis.

    29. When you start over-focusing on your teenager’s homework, pause and think about your own goals. What are your life goals, and what “homework” do you need to get done in order to achieve those goals? Model your own persistence and perseverance to your teenager.

    30. When your adolescent simply dislikes the subject, confide in her that you will do it for her if she brings it out. Have her bring it to the couch where the two of you can sit together and work. Judge the scope of your adolescent's understanding, and then sort of trick her into doing the work herself. Tell her you have to use the restroom, and just walk away. Before you go, ask her to do two or more on her own.

    If none of the tips above help, consult a professional. Underachievement often has deep psychological roots, and if you're not making headway with your adolescent, you would be wise to contact someone who can help discover what's bothering her.

    My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

    Aggressive Male Teens: Tips for Single Mothers

    Your teenage son is becoming more and more aggressive toward you. He is quickly developing the habit of getting in your face and yelling when he doesn’t get his way. He has even threatened to hurt you if you don’t let him do what he wants. To make matters worse, he is taller and stronger than you, and you’re a single mother who gets no protection from your son’s father since he is rarely – if ever – around to intervene. What is a single mom to do?!

    Aggressive male teens emotionally abuse their single mothers in an attempt to control them. Emotional abuse is considered domestic abuse, and it is just as harmful as physical abuse. Domestic abuse is defined as any instance when one family member begins to dominate the other member. Your aggressive son abuses you emotionally so he can get complete control over you – your thoughts, beliefs and concept of yourself – in order to be able to do what he wants, when he wants, and without any consequences.

    Emotional abuse is often the prelude to physical abuse or domestic violence. If your teenage son threatens you with physical harm, don't take this as an idle threat. He won't play fair in his efforts to get his way. Listen to other family members, coworkers and friends when they express concern for you. Learn about the cycle of violence (i.e., a cycle your son follows as he continues to bring you ever more under his control).

    Here are some tips for single moms who are dealing with a violent teenage son who can easily overpower his mother in the heat of the moment:

    1. Break the silence on this issue. You need to let others know about the abuse. Talk to a female friend whom you trust and let her know what's been going on. If you have a healthy relationship with your ex-husband or his parents, tell them about your son’s abusive behavior.

    2. Talk to a counselor. Make a plan for how you will communicate with this person. Ask him/her to only call you while your son is at school or out with friends – or to wait for you to call, since your son may become more abusive if he finds out you're talking to someone. Depending on your situation, the counselor may recommend a formal "intervention" involving friends, family members, and perhaps even your pastor. During this meeting, this group of individuals will back you up as you confront your son about his abusive behavior. Tell him that you are not going to allow him to abuse you anymore, and insist that he get counseling for his anger problem immediately.

    3. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE for information and referrals in every state, crisis intervention or safety planning.

    4. File a protective order. Go to the court clerk's office in your town to file a request for a restraining order, requiring your son to stay a certain distance away from you.

    5. If friends, relatives or co-workers tell you they suspect you're being abused by your own child, don't be afraid to admit it.

    6. Make an escape plan in the event your son becomes violent (e.g., pushes, smacks, hits, throws things at you, etc.). Leave as soon as you're able, and call the police. At the first sign of rage, leave the house and go a prearranged place where you will be safe. That could be a friend's home or your parents’ home. It's also a good idea to have some extra clothing and toiletries in the trunk of your car.

    7. Realize that you're involved in a very disrespectful relationship and your child is abusing you. Even though he hasn’t used his hands against you (YET!), his words and put-downs are just as damaging.

    8. Recognize you have the right to be safe in your daily life. If your teenage son threatens physical violence against you, start filing police reports so you create a paper trail and obtain a restraining order so law enforcement can help you. With a trusted friend, develop a safety plan so you can get away with as little disruption of your life as possible.

    9. Your self-esteem may become affected due to the emotional battering you've been subjected to. You loved, provided for, and raised this child – and now he is treating you like a junkyard dog. Locate a therapist so you can begin individual therapy and start the healing process. Look for a therapist or clinical social worker who specializes in working with victims of domestic abuse or violence.

    10. Your son is able to control his behaviors. When someone interrupted one of his abusive episodes (e.g., his father, a teacher, a police officer), he switched from being abusive to being calm and charming. Talk to your therapist about this ability and observe this switch so you can gain new insight about your son, especially if you can't bring yourself to kick him out of the house. 


    My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

    How to Give Your Teenager an Attitude Adjustment


    Once a youngster reaches adolescence, many moms and dads may think it is too late to help him or her change a negative attitude. This is not the case, and while it may take longer, it is possible to help your youngster develop a positive attitude. Having a positive attitude is essential to your child’s happiness and success. A negative attitude can result in him or her feeling unloved, frustrated and easily led.

    How to Give Your Teenager an Attitude Adjustment:

    1. Avoid harsh criticism, especially if it includes humiliation and mockery. Sometimes it will be necessary to provide “constructive criticism” to your adolescent, and as a mother or father, you are right to do it. However, if the criticism is harsh, this will have a negative effect on the adolescent's attitude. The way you word constructive criticism is important. Using "I" instead of "you" statements is a good way to communicate with your child. For example, "I would like you to clean-up your room" is better than "You never pick up after yourself." The result should be the same; however, the first statement is more an opinion, whereas the second is negative and insulting.

    2. Encourage your teen to do something good for herself. It could be going for a run, reading a book or seeing a movie with a friend.

    3. Encourage your teen to take up new hobbies or pursue new interests. This gives him the opportunity to do something by himself and encourages him to work toward achievements. The fact you trust him to be independent will make him feel positive. Doing something he enjoys will also increase his confidence, especially if he receives any official recognition. Activities based on cooperation or working together rather than competition is also a good way to build a positive attitude.

    4. Encourage your adolescent to display cards and gifts from friends. Re-reading cards or letters from good friends can remind her that plenty of people like her.

    5. Encourage your adolescent to write down his good qualities. He should include qualities that others like about him, too.

    6. Encourage your teenager to surprise someone else with a thoughtful gesture. She could take cookies to a new mother or an elderly neighbor. Delighting another person is always a good way to feel better about yourself.

    7. Evaluate your own attitude. A youngster's attitude is a learned behavior. Adolescents watch their moms and dads and how they react to certain experiences and events. Kids learn a good portion of their belief system from their moms and dads. Therefore, a parent's attitude and a loving home environment are important to help develop positive attitudes in adolescents.

    8. Give your teen a sincere compliment a few times each week – and don’t let her brush it off.

    9. Let children know they're nearing the disrespectful zone with some pre-arranged signal. This red flag gives them a clear warning that more-drastic action will follow if they don't stop what they're doing, and, in public, it also allows them to save face in front their friends, which makes them more likely to be compliant than if you had barked out a direct order.

    10. Let your adolescent select the chores for which he will be responsible. He should then pick something he doesn't mind doing and something that fits with his time schedule.

    11. Offer leniency. If she has finals, give her a week off from her chores. Keep in mind that today's adolescents are often as strapped for time as we are.

    12. Praise your child when he deserves it. Show him you appreciate him and recognize when he makes positive choices. Most adolescents will bask in their parent's praise, so be sure to give credit when credit is due. Your adolescent's attitude will be much more positive if you also show him respect as well as command it from him.

    13. Set up a natural reminder system – a chart or a note left on the kitchen counter for the adolescent. Unemotional memory jogs will help him succeed at his chores.

    14. If your youngster doesn’t respond to some of the more gentle methods, step-up your response. Spell out the consequences of breaking the rule beforehand, and make sure that you can – and do – follow through.

    15. Teach the chore. You may think an adolescent has watched you run a garbage disposal a thousand times, but some of them won't have paid any attention.

    16. Teach them how to do positive self-talk. This is the little voice in our heads which we use to communicate with ourselves. Positive self-talk will have a direct influence on how positive a person's attitude and actions are. Tell your adolescent instead of using negative statements, replace them with positive ones. For example, "I can do this right, I just need to concentrate" is much better than "I failed again, I never do anything right." If you promote positive self-talk you should notice a distinct change in the child’s attitude.

    17. Teach your adolescent to aim high, while showing her how to acknowledge her limitations. There is no problem having dreams and aspirations, as long as they are realistic. If your adolescent wants to achieve the impossible, this will only make her feel negatively when she fails to do it. Unrealistic expectations are one of the biggest causes of negative attitudes in our kids.

    18. Teach your adolescent how to laugh at himself. People who are too serious tend to find something negative in everything they do. Having a sense of humor will encourage positivity.

    19. Understand that your teen is going through a difficult period of physical and emotional changes. Be patient as you help her learn to respect grown-ups and avoid growing weary or irritated if she slips up. Instead of growing angry if your teenager is disrespectful, use the moment as an opportunity to teach her further. Talk about ways she can respond the next time the issue comes up and talk about why she responded the way that she did.

    20. Use the BAM method. BAM stands for (a) Build on strengths, (b) Awareness, and (c) Model:
    • Build On Strengths: In discussions with your teenagers, begin by building on the strengths that they have shown, the positive behaviors in which they have engaged, and how to improve the undesired behaviors.
    • Awareness: Talk with your teens at those times when they demonstrate behavior that is less then respectful. Showing them in the moment is most beneficial. 
    • Model: Show your teens how to respect by interacting respectfully with your spouse and with others.

    My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

    Helping Children Deal With Disaster

    A catastrophe such as hurricane Sandy is frightening to many kids – and even adults. Talking to your kids about the event can decrease their fear.  It is important to explain the event in words the youngster can understand, and at a level of detail that will not overwhelm him or her. 

    Several factors affect a youngster's response to a disaster.  The way kids see how their moms and dads respond to such an event is very important. Kids are aware of their parent’s worries most of the time, but they are particularly sensitive during a crisis. Moms and dads should admit their concerns to their kids, and also stress their abilities to cope with the disaster.  Falsely minimizing the danger will not end a youngster's concerns.

    A youngster's reaction also depends on how much destruction and/or death he or she sees during and after the disaster. If a family member or friend has been killed or seriously injured, or if the youngster's school or home has been severely damaged, there is a greater chance that the youngster will experience difficulties.

    A youngster's age affects how he or she will respond to the disaster. For example, 5-year-olds may show their worries by refusing to attend school, whereas teens may minimize their concerns, but argue more with moms and dads and show a decline in school performance.

    Following a disaster, some children may develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is a set of symptoms that can result from experiencing, witnessing, or participating in an overwhelmingly shocking event. Kids with this disorder have repeated episodes in which they re-experience the traumatic event. Kids often relive the trauma through repetitive play. Upsetting dreams of the traumatic event may turn into nightmares of monsters, of rescuing others, or of threats to self or others. PTSD rarely appears during the trauma itself. Though its symptoms can occur soon after the event, the disorder often surfaces several months or even years later.

    After a disaster, moms and dads should be alert to these changes in a youngster's behavior:
    • Behavior problems (e.g., misbehaving in school or at home in ways that are not typical for the youngster)
    • Chronic sadness
    • Decreased activity
    • Intrusive thoughts or worries
    • Jumpiness or being startled easily
    • Listlessness
    • Loss of concentration and irritability
    • Persistent fears related to the catastrophe (e.g., fears about being permanently separated from mom or dad)
    • Physical complaints (e.g., stomachaches, headaches, dizziness) for which a physical cause can’t be found
    • Preoccupation with the events of the disaster
    • Recurring fears about death, leaving mom or dad, or going to school
    • Refusal to return to school and "clinging" behavior
    • Shadowing the mother or father around the house
    • Sleep disturbances (e.g., nightmares, screaming during sleep, bed-wetting) persisting more than several days after the event
    • Withdrawal from family and friends

    With the occurrence of hurricane Sandy, mothers and fathers – as well as educators – are faced with the challenge of discussing this overwhelming natural disaster with kids. Although these may be difficult conversations, they are very important.  There is no “right” or “wrong” way to talk with kids about such tragic events.  However, here are some suggestions that may be helpful:

    1. Acknowledge and validate children’s thoughts, feelings, and reactions. Let them know that you think their questions and concerns are important and appropriate.

    2. Be prepared to repeat information and explanations several times.  Some information may be hard to accept or understand. Asking the same question over and over may also be a way for a youngster to ask for reassurance.

    3. Be reassuring, but don’t make unrealistic promises. It’s fine to let kids know that they are safe in their house or in their school. But you can’t promise that there won’t be another natural disaster.

    4. Don’t let kids watch too much television with frightening images. The repetition of such scenes can be disturbing and confusing.

    5. Give kids honest answers. Kids will usually know, or eventually find out, if you’re “making things up.” It may affect their ability to trust you or your reassurances in the future.

    6. Kids learn from watching their moms and dads and educators. They will be very interested in how you respond to world events. They also learn from listening to your conversations with other grown-ups.

    7. Kids who are preoccupied with concerns about natural disasters weeks after the disaster is over should be evaluated by a mental health professional. If worries persist, ask your youngster’s doctor or school counselor to help arrange an appropriate referral.

    8. Kids who have experienced trauma in the past are particularly vulnerable to prolonged or intense reactions to news or images of natural disasters. These kids may need extra support and attention.

    9. Let kids know that lots of people are helping the families affected by hurricane Sandy.  It’s a good opportunity to show kids that, when something scary happens, there are people to help.

    10. Monitor your child for physical symptoms (e.g., headaches and stomachaches). Many kids express anxiety through physical aches and pains. An increase in such symptoms without apparent medical cause may be a sign that a youngster is feeling anxious or overwhelmed.

    11. Natural disasters are not easy for anyone to comprehend or accept. Understandably, many kids feel frightened and confused.  We can best help by listening and responding in an honest, consistent and supportive manner. Fortunately, most kids – even those exposed to trauma – are quite resilient.  By creating an open environment where they feel free to ask questions, we can help them cope with stressful events and reduce the risk of lasting emotional difficulties.

    12. Remember that it’s best not to force kids to talk about things unless – and until – they’re ready.

    13. Remember that kids tend to personalize situations. They may worry about their own safety and the safety of immediate family members.  They may also worry about friends or relatives who travel or who live far away.

    14. Some kids may not want to talk about their thoughts, feelings, or fears. They may be more comfortable drawing pictures, or writing stories or poems about the traumatic event.

    15. Use words and concepts kids can understand. Gear your explanations to the youngster’s age, language, and developmental level.

    Online Parent Coaching

    Dealing With The Attention-Seeking Child

    Attention seeking behavior is basically your son or daughter regularly misbehaving to get attention from you, the parent. It may be as simple as doing things to annoy you and disobeying any house rules.

    Your youngster is acting this way not because he likes to get yelled at, but because he enjoys the attention his misbehavior brings. He knows that you don’t like it when he misbehaves, and there is only so much you can do to stop him. This gives him a sense of power. The problem here is, sometimes moms and dads let the youngster have his way so he will stop acting-out. This is the worst approach since he will then realize that misbehaving also comes with bonus! Therefore the attention-seeking behavior pattern continues and will be used more often.

    Here are some of the traits of the attention-seeking child. He or she:
    • Is frequently out of his or her seat at school
    • Is late in getting school assignments turned in
    • May use profanity or crude language
    • Often tries to be nonconformist in order to gain attention
    • Often wears unusual or attention-getting clothing
    • Picks on siblings and other children
    • Responds negatively to authority
    • Says the wrong thing at the wrong time
    • Tries to force his or her way into peer groups
    • Usually asks unnecessary questions
    • Is usually loud

    Here is how the attention-seeking child’s behavior affects other people at home and school:
    • The concentration of the teacher and class is often broken.
    • Other kids may begin putting the attention-seeker down or avoiding him or her at every opportunity.
    • Other kids may react by excluding the attention-seeker from peer groups.
    • Parents and teachers are antagonized.
    • Parents and teachers are forced to give additional time to this youngster.
    • Parents often lose track of what they are trying to say.

    Here are some ways to deal with the attention-seeking child:

    1. Avoid power struggles by picking and choosing your battles carefully. In other words, if you don’t have the time and energy to respond effectively and avoid giving in, say yes from the start.

    2. Avoid triggers for the behavior such as the word “no.” Instead of telling your youngster what not to do (e.g., no screaming), tell him what to do (e.g., ask nicely). Similarly, instead of telling him he can’t have something (e.g., we are not playing with toys now), tell him when the desired item will be available (e.g., you can watch TV after dinner).

    3. Be constantly aware of the times you give attention to the attention-seeker. Be aware of the youngster's strong need for attention and provide it for positive actions—not just for disruptions.

    4. Bolster your youngster's confidence at every opportunity—in a quiet way. You must find a constructive way for the attention-seeker to meet his or her need for attention. Above all, attention can’t be denied, or he or she will go to extremes to get it.

    5. Change the timing of specific undesirable activities to come before more desirable activities. For example, if your youngster resists brushing her teeth, plan something fun to do afterward, such as special reading time with mom or dad. When she begins to exhibit resistant behavior, say, “First brush your teeth, then we will read a book together.” If you use a visual schedule, you can say this while pointing to the pictures.

    6. Create a visual schedule with pictures to represent your daily routine. Sometimes challenging behavior occurs because young people don’t know what is going to happen next or when the activity or item they want will be available again. Instead of telling your youngster what to do or what he can’t have, use the schedule to show him what he needs to do and when enjoyable activities are available. For example, when your youngster is misbehaving because you asked him to stop playing, instead of focusing on the behavior, direct his attention to the schedule and say, “Play time is finished. It is time for bed. We will play again tomorrow morning.”

    7. Give him or her additional responsibilities.

    8. Help your youngster find visibility or leadership roles.

    9. When the behavior is not aggressive or harmful to others, ignore inappropriate behavior used to get attention or to obtain something that was denied. The benefit of ignoring is that your child will learn that positive behavior has a powerful pay-off, while his negative behavior is ineffective and therefore no longer necessary.

    10. In order to keep yourself from going insane, take adult time-outs. Sometimes you need a moment to step away from the situation, take a deep breath, and then come back when you feel calm and in control of our own emotions. Only then are you able to respond and assess the situation effectively.

    11. Increase the positive attention provided, especially at times when less attention is usually available (e.g., have him help with dinner preparations or praise him from a distance for playing nicely while you are busy changing his sister, etc.).

    12. Make the task or demand easier to accomplish successfully. Sometimes young people misbehave because the task is too difficult or overwhelming. For example, it might be too much to expect a youngster to clean up all of their toys when we ask; however, they may respond very well when we ask them to put one toy away at a time with some praise along the way (e.g., “Please put the red block in the box” … “Great job putting the block away” … “Put the green block in the box”).

    13. Model the behavior you want, and speak softly and quietly.

    14. Offer choices to increase motivation and interest in performing less desirable tasks. For example, if the youngster usually resists getting dressed, instead of saying, “It’s time to get dressed,” give choices such as, “Do you want to wear a red or blue shirt,” or “Which do you want to put on first, your shirt or pants?” Also, increase your youngster’s opportunity to make choices throughout the day so that he feels more control over his environment and learns to be responsible for the decisions he makes.

    15. Reinforce appropriate questions when your youngster asks them. This will help the attention-seeker and your other children to realize which questions are constructive and relevant.

    16. Seek help from psychologists and counselors as well as teachers to reinforce changes in this behavior, not only at home but at school.

    17. Set aside special alone time with each parent (e.g., ten minutes of special play time per night or a special weekend outing).

    18. Take time to talk to this youngster to discover the real problems and insecurities that he or she may feel.

    19. Teach your youngster to ask for what she wants in a more appropriate way. If she is seeking attention, teach her to ask you for a hug, help, or a turn playing with you. If she wants an item, teach her to ask nicely. Remember to praise her for asking you for attention or items appropriately, even when it may not be the best time (e.g., “Great job asking nicely. Mom is on the phone right now. I’ll help you when I’m finished”).

    20. Watch for improvement, and then relate how pleased you are with the improvement in behavior.

    21. You may wish to consult with a mental health professional to determine whether your child’s behavior falls within normal developmental limits and to help you select strategies that may work best for your child.

    My Child the "Drug Dealer"

    Your child was once loveable, cheerful, and a fairly good student. But now his behavior has changed dramatically. And to make matters worse, you suspect that your child is now using AND selling drugs. No attempts to reason with your teenager have helped. You have scolded, threatened, taken away privileges, had difficult talks with the school and the cops – and nothing works!

    You are watching your adolescent turn into a “stranger in your house.” The stakes are high, because he’s engaging in criminal behavior that could cost him jail-time, and he’s putting chemicals in his body that may literally destroy him. What now!? The first step is to recognize the signs of drug abuse and drug dealing. 

    Here are some of the prominent red flags that parents should look for:
    • any request for information is met with hostility
    • behavior problems in school
    • drop in grades
    • dropping old friends
    • has become disrespectful and defiant
    • has a sudden influence of a new crowd
    • increased truancy and tardiness to classes
    • is often sleepy and red-eyed when he comes home
    • is wearing the “uniform” of drug users (e.g., sweatshirt hood drawn up over his face, pants hanging low, etc.)
    • losing interest in activities the child once enjoyed
    • old friends don’t call any more
    • personality changes (e.g., a child who was once outgoing is now withdrawn, or someone who is usually relaxed is now fidgety much of the time)
    • refuses to let parents look at his cell phone for calls he has made and texts he has sent/received
    • spends hours in his room, uncommunicative
    • spends hours out of the house, places unknown
    • sudden mood changes (e.g., euphoria followed by tenseness or edginess; paranoia)
    • the friends he is hanging around have reputations for finding trouble
    • when you search his room, you find drug-related paraphernalia or cryptic notes

    Why do some adolescents use and sell marijuana and other drugs?
    1. Some adolescents are bored. Playing with criminal behavior is exciting. The drama and risk of getting marijuana, hiding it, using it, and selling it is its own kind of high.
    2. Some adolescents become drug users and dealers because they can’t figure out another way to fit in. The entrance requirements for the drug culture are easy. Just buy, use, and sell marijuana. Bingo! You have a group to hang with. For adolescents who are lonely or feeling they don’t have what it takes to gain membership in another high school group, this is very enticing.
    3. Some adolescents develop an addiction. It’s simply not true that adolescents don’t develop a dependence on marijuana. Some do. It’s also possible that you don’t know what else your child has been taking.
    4. Some adolescents get in over their heads and don’t know how to get out. What started as a way to fit in takes on a life of its own. Other adolescents threaten them if they try to leave the group. 
    5. Some adolescents have the mistaken idea that in order to be “cool,” they have to be better than their peers. They know they can’t compete with the “good peers” in the family or at school. They have the idea that they can’t be a star in any area that counts to their peers. Their self-esteem then depends on finding at least some way to be “better” than their peers. So they become the best at being “bad.” 
    6. Some adolescents think that using marijuana is normal. They have peers whose moms and dads smoke pot with them. They know grown-ups who rationalize their own illegal drug use by stating that it is no worse than alcohol and should be legalized anyway. 
    7. Some adolescents use marijuana for all the attention it gets them. Often times, negative attention is better than no attention. And if your teen didn’t get any of your attention when he was being “good” – then he is probably getting your attention now that he is being “bad.”
    8. Some adolescents self-medicate. Some teens who suffer from untreated depression or anxiety may use drugs to cope.

    What Parents Can Do About Drug Use and Drug Dealing—

    1. Check your teen’s bedroom. Good places to look for marijuana: under mattresses, under dressers, under cabinets, attached to the back of the drawers, inside pockets of clothes and jeans the teen never wears.

    2. Check your teen's attendance record at school. Is your teen skipping school to go get high? Does he leave early, arrive late, and sometimes not show up at all? Does he forge notes from his mom, or steal passes from the school office?

    3. Check your teen's vehicle after a Friday or Saturday night. If they were smoking in their vehicle, you can usually smell a strange odor coming out of it. Check for small pieces of joints (green leaf-like particles or seeds on the floorboards or seats). Look for white pasty substances on CDs, CD cases, dashboards, pictures, or mirrors that they might be doing meth, crack, or cocaine off of.

    4. Consider finding a therapist who specializes in adolescent substance abuse.  If your child won’t go, go yourself. An experienced therapist will be able to help you figure out how to approach your child and what you can do for him – and for yourself.

    5. Consider where they get their marijuana.  Teens usually start by getting their marijuana through their friends, eventually building up a network of dealers whom they meet at a convenient location. Some get their marijuana in parking lots (e.g., fast-food restaurants, superstores, gas stations, movie theaters, etc.).

    6. Develop an open, strong and trusting relationship with your teen, one without judgment.  Don't get angry with what your teen comes to you and tells you, or the next time they won't share with you what's going on in their life. Give them advice and maybe they'll make a better choice in the future.

    7. Don’t mistakenly pay for your teen's marijuana.  Parents often give their teen money to buy clothes or eat out, but the teen is saving that money to spend on marijuana. If you suspect your teen is using and/or dealing drugs, never give him cash.

    8. Don't think your teen is too young to be exposed to marijuana.

    9. Double check alarm systems. Even though parents may have an alarm system in their house, a teen is able to find a loophole to get out of the house past curfew time (e.g., fire escape ladder to get out a bedroom window and to the ground).

    10. Figure out what you will and won’t do if your teen gets into legal trouble. Will you get a lawyer to help or is he on his own? Calmly tell your teen what those limits are – and mean it. Then be prepared to follow through.

    11. Find out who the other moms and dads are. It generally helps when moms and dads band together. There are probably at least a few of his friends with moms and dads who are as concerned as you are. Get together and brainstorm ways to get your adolescents busier with positive things.

    12. Get your extended family to help in a positive way. Saving an adolescent is a family project. Can the grandparents take your teen along on weekend outings? Are any of his uncles doing something he’d like to learn?

    13. Give your teen a random drug test. Make sure it's after a weekend.

    14. Identify the things that are going well, however small. These are the things you can build on to develop better self-esteem and better communication. Does he come to dinner with the family? Laugh at a joke? Anything like this means that he is not totally disengaged from the family. Remember this to give yourself hope and encouragement. Compliment your teen whenever you can to strengthen the connection between you.

    15. In spite of the turn of events, this is still your child. Try to find ways to put aside your anger, fear, and disappointment. Let your teen know that the reason you are angry and afraid is that you care deeply about him. Catch him being good as much as you can.

    16. Know who your teen's friends are. If a teen won't bring their friends over to the house to hang out with their parents and get to know them a little better, they most likely have something to hide.

    17. Let your teen know that you see through the bad behavior to the talented, smart child he once was – and still is. He doesn’t have to meet some abstract standard of perfection or compete with anyone else for your love or attention. He is valued for who he is.

    18. Lock your liquor cabinet.

    19. Look closely at your teen. To cover up the physical signs that your teen is using marijuana, he might pull his hat down over his eyes, put gum in his mouth, and put Visine in his eyes to take away any redness. When he comes home, he may avoid conversation by giving his parents short yes or no answers. When drug use takes a toll, you may notice a rapid loss of weight, paleness of the skin, discoloration, dark circles under the eyes, shaky hands, dropping grades, more absences from school than you know about, sudden mood changes, and a rise in anger at family members.

    20. Check their text messages, and look through their pockets, purses, wallets and backpacks. Ask for permission, but if they're mad that you're looking through their stuff, it may be because they have something to hide.

    21. Make an appointment with a therapist for a comprehensive evaluation. Let your child know that sometimes people get involved with marijuana because there is something legitimate going on. You care enough about your teen to find out.

    22. Remember that the most trusting parents are the ones who are the easiest to take advantage of. 

    23. Remind your teen that it is a parent’s job to help their adolescents grow up physically healthy and emotionally strong and you intend to do your part. You don’t want your teen to go to jail, overdose and get sick, or die. You will therefore never get off his back about marijuana.

    24. School guidance counselors have seen lots of adolescents like your child. They have also seen lots of moms and dads who have abdicated their responsibility for their adolescents. They don’t know that you are a concerned parent unless you tell them. There may be a drug abuse program connected to the school. If so, take advantage of what help is offered.

    25. Try to get your teen involved with something he likes that will put him into a different group and take up his time in a positive way. He needs new ways to feel good about himself. Work behind the scenes and get someone else to call your teen with an offer or an idea.

    The bottom line is this: Parents should step back and analyze what is really going on. Drug use and drug sales are a sign of a much deeper issue. Like most moms and dads, you’ve probably been dealing with the symptoms (e.g., hair, dress, curfews, contraband, etc.), not the deeper problems (e.g., feelings, peer pressures, family dynamics, addiction, etc.). You will be in a much better position to come up with solutions if you have a better idea of what the real problems are.

    Why Some Teens Hate Their Parents

    One minute, your teenager is begging you to take her to McDonald’s for lunch. The next minute, she’s insulting your intelligence and calling you a “bitch.” If you look closely, you'll notice that you've been through this before: When she was a 2-year-old, she needed you one minute, and was throwing a tantrum the next. She was seeking independence then – and she continues to do so now.

    Part of being a teenager is about separating and individuating, and many teens feel like they need to reject their mom and dad in order to find their own identities. Teenagers focus on their peers more than on their parents and siblings, which is normal too.

    So, why do some teens lash out and use harsh words like "I hate you"? 

    Because they are in a difficult stage of "transition" (oh, and by the way, they don't actually hate you, rather they are simply trying to separate from you and haven't found a tactful way to do it, yet).

    Here's a closer look at what's really going on with the "I hate you" line:
    • A teen may lash out at this age to test the “safety net.” A healthy teen feels safely wrapped in a comfortable net of parental-protection and love. Ironically, then, it is sometimes the most healthy teens that experience this feeling of distress when they feel this "net" lifting. The more they venture into the world, the less they feel the comfort of that "net." Thus, they may start to do some strange things to test and make sure it is still there. They may become defiant with the subconscious hope that their mother or father will tell them, "No, you can't do that because it’s not safe.” Or they may say harsh things to their mother or father to "test" and see if the parent’s love is strong enough to endure hardships. Teens may give parents any number of tests. They are not doing this on purpose or with an awareness that they are "testing". All they feel is this subconscious pull to do so.
    • The parent may be preventing the teen from making the transition into young adulthood, which influences the teen to make an extra effort to "push away." A preteen often has a lot of adult capabilities, and mature teens even have a lot of adult thought processes. However, many are still treated like small kids, talked down to, or not given enough responsibility and trust. Teens of this age need many venues in which to experience that they can function on their own and that the people around them believe in their capabilities.
    • They are passing into a time period where they are taking more part in the world around them, and they are learning to function more and more in the "real world.” This can be a scary time for some teens, and they may go through a version of what happened when they were experiencing a similar transition as a toddler.

    So what can parents do?

    1. A parent can help her teen through this transition by allowing him to take on more responsibility.

    2. A parent can help her child through this transition by letting him know that she trusts him to make the right decisions.

    3.  Just because your teenager verbally hurls something hurtful at you doesn't mean you should back down. Much like dealing with a toddler in the throes of a tantrum, you need to be consistent and firm. It's hard, but you are the parent, and you get to say what is right for your teen, whether she’s 3 or 17.

    4. Let your child know that you love her no matter what, and make sure you set reasonable and gentle limits for her – and that she has consequences when those limits are exceeded. For example, if she has a curfew, make sure she has a consequence if she comes home after her curfew. She WILL become upset and may call you names for enforcing the curfew, but inside she is feeling a strong sense of happiness and security knowing that her mother and father really do care enough to still watch over her in some way and take care of her. Of course, any teen would never admit this at the time. She is in the middle of trying to prove that she is a young adult and can function without her mom or dad. But, she still does need her caregivers.

    5. Moms and dads can help their teen through this transition by letting her know they are there for her with unconditional love, and that even if she says mean things to them – they still love her.

    6. Reflect back on how your child dealt with that first transition in her life. Did she have difficulty with it? She is probably experiencing that same difficulty now.

    7. Regular chores around the house (ones that help a teenager feel he is an important part of the household and is actually helping it run) can help as can giving him more difficult tasks or asking for his help with adult tasks (e.g., changing a tire, assembling furniture, fixing things around the house, etc.).

    8. Sometimes moms and dads feel so hurt by their teenager’s treatment that they respond by returning the rejection. Teens know that they still need their mom and dad – even if they can't admit it. The roller-coaster they put you on is also the one they're feeling internally. Parents need to stay calm and try to weather this teen-rebellion, which usually passes by the time he is 16 or 17. But your teenager should NOT be allowed to be truly nasty or to curse at you. If this happens, you have to enforce basic behavior standards. By letting your teen know that you're here for him no matter what, you make it more likely that he'll let down his guard and confide in you once in a while.

    9. The parent can help his teen through this transition by giving her opportunities to show and experience that she is capable.

    10. The teenager needs to be able to experience things outside the house in the form of field trips with classmates, overnights with clubs, camping trips, competitions or other activities in which he can show he is a strong, responsible "adult.”

    11. When teens are at their worst, they need your love the most. We don't necessarily need to like them, but we do need to continue to love and parent them. They may be angry – and we may be angry – but remember that this effort to discipline and guide them comes from your deep love for them.

    12. Through these tough conflicts with your teen, you have to keep talking ‘to’ him (and sometimes ‘at’ him). This is an opportunity to demonstrate your unconditional love. Whether it's through the bathroom door, in notes, or in person when your teenager is bummed-out at the dinner table, in every situation, keep the lines of communication open.

    A Parent's Worst Nightmare: 2C-I ("Smiles")

    A new killer drug has recently hit the U.S. All parents should be aware of this and talk to their teenagers about it:

    2C-I (also called "Smiles") is becoming a serious problem. This drug comes in liquid, pill or powder form and is usually snorted or ingested.

    Overdoses of the drug have been reported in Indiana and Minnesota, but 2C-I is surfacing in many parts of the country. During an overdose, the user’s muscles may become rigid and his/her body temperature becomes elevated. Overdoses have been known to cause seizures, kidney failure, and fatally high blood pressure.

    The effects of 2C-I have been called a combination of MDMA (ecstasy) and LSD, only far more potent. Users have reported a speedy charge along with intense visual and aural hallucinations that can last anywhere from hours to days.

    2C-I is relatively new. It first surfaced around 2003 in European party scenes and only recently made its way to the states. One user describes the high as a "roller coaster ride through hell," while another warns "do not drive on this drug," after recounting his own failed attempt on the highway.

    According to data obtained by the American Association of Poison Control, half of those exposed to 2C-I in 2011 were teens. The fact that 2C-I is new and untraceable in standard drug tests makes it more of a challenge for physicians to treat. It also contributes to drug's growing popularity among high school and college-age young people.

    Users of 2C-I report a physical stimulant effect, often quite strong and clean. The onset of effects usually occurs within two hours, and the effects of the drug typically last somewhere between 4 to 12 hours (depending on the dose). The effects of the drug at smaller dosages (less than 12 mg) have been reported as more mental and less sensory. The effects of the drug at larger dosages (12-30+ mg) are often described as combining psychedelic or hallucinogenic effects typical of drugs such as LSD with the empathogenic or entactogenic effects of drugs such as MDMA.

    Users report feeling light and sometimes giddy or excited during the first two hours. Some physical effects include dilated pupils, high energy, and muscle relaxation. Unpleasant physical side-effects include muscle tension, nausea, and vomiting.

    What teens need to know:
    • Unless they are aware of the problem, physicians in your area may not immediately test for this chemical if you are admitted to the hospital due to an impending overdose, which means they won't know what to do to help you!
    • Those caught distributing the drug face serious criminal charges.
    • Teens in North Dakota and Minnesota who gave or sold the drug to other teens who overdosed are now being charged with 3rd degree murder.
    • Teens who take 2C-I behave erratically and describe the trip as being an intense - and horrific - visual and aural hallucination that can last from hours to days.

    If you suspect that your teenager is taking 2C-I or other synthetic drugs, consult with his or her doctor immediately!


    My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

    Are You Creating A Monster?

    What’s up with this title: Are You Creating A Monster?  

    Well… in other words, are you spending a lot of time, energy and money seeing to it that your child is as “happy as a lark” to the exclusion of helping him or her develop self-reliance and a sense of personal responsibility?

    Kids don’t turn into a monster because they’re innately bad. Instead, an over-indulgent parent who doesn’t provide limits and structure can foster out-of-control behavior in children. If you are creating a monster, you’ll know it. Child monsters are rude to you and other grown-ups. They won’t share with other kids. They will act bossy and demand to be first in line. They don’t answer your questions and ignore your instructions. If you deny them a new toy or treat, you’ll face a tempest of crying, howling, and little fists pounding the floor. 

    Here are a few more signs that you are in the process of creating a monster:
    1. Your child believes the rules do not apply to him.
    2. She can be very manipulative.
    3. He does not get along well with authority figures.
    4. She refuses to do any chores.
    5. Tantrums are normal in toddlers, but your 5-year-old is still throwing a fit every time she doesn't get what she wants.
    6. When you say "no" to your child, "no" eventually becomes a "maybe" which eventually becomes a "yes."
    7. You don’t want your son or daughter to have to go through what you went through as a child.
    8. You feel guilty because of having to work and not being able to spend enough time with your child, so you compensate by giving him a lot of freedom and privileges.
    9. You have a hard time asking your child to do a particular chore because you know it will likely start an argument.
    10. You rarely (if ever) leave your child with grandma or a babysitter.
    11. You serve dinner and your youngster doesn't want to eat what's on the table, so you go out of your way to make a special meal for him.
    12. You sometimes feel guilty about your parenting (e.g., “I haven’t done enough” or “I haven’t done a very good job”).
    13. You sometimes feel sorry for your child.
    14. You try to be your child’s “friend.”
    15. Your 6-year-old continues to act like a baby or toddler -- kicking and screaming, biting other kids, and not using age-appropriate ways of communicating her thoughts and feelings.
    16. Your child feels entitled to privileges, but not responsible for his actions.
    17. Your child is in charge (i.e., the tail is wagging the dog).
    18. She usually gets her way in the long run.
    19. He usually throws fits when it's time to go to school or day care.
    20. Your youngster can't go to sleep unless you're there.

    So how do avoid creating a monster? By setting age-appropriate boundaries that let children go after life exuberantly and test the limits, starting in the toddler years. Here's how:

    1. Many moms and dads shower their children with gifts and never require them to earn something on their own. But spoiling your children with all the toys, clothes, and electronic gadgets they want deprives them of important life lessons (e.g., saving up for a treasured possession). If you get everything you want, you don’t learn gratitude. If you never have to wait, you don’t learn patience. Unchecked, a youngster’s sense of entitlement can spill over into the classroom, sports team, and play dates, causing rejection from other peers. Even spoiled brats hate being spoiled brats. They will be the first ones to know that their selfishness is getting in the way. They will show you, even as they’re defending themselves, that they’re envious of peers who aren’t spoiled.

    2. Avoid rescuing or overprotecting your child. Is your son always late for school? Stop nagging and let him suffer the consequences of constant tardiness. It sounds simple, but most moms and dads are quick to rush in and rescue. Unless the child is in danger, let him stew in the messes he makes. Moms and dads who repeatedly shield their children from consequences thwart their growth in character.

    3. Avoid the trap of over-explaining or haggling endlessly over routine matters (e.g., tooth-brushing, turning off the video game, bedtime, etc.). Your youngster will only argue with you like a pint-sized lawyer. Does your 10-year-old son really need dozens of nightly reminders about the benefits of personal hygiene if he’s smart enough to beat you at Chinese checkers?

    4. Be consistent. Always do what you say you're going to do. If you tell your daughter there will be consequences for a certain behavior, she should know you mean it. “This time I'm really taking your iPod away if you don't get busy doing your homework" doesn't work when you've already said it ten times.

    5. Commit yourself wholeheartedly to stop creating a monster. You have to commit. If you do it halfway, it’s better than not at all, but it’s not going to work until you really do it. For example, a mother who wants a youngster to start cleaning his room has to make sure that the job gets done right. If you pick up one crayon and a piece of clothing and that’s it, it isn’t going to work.

    6. Don't let your guilt get in the way of your parenting. Your job as a mother or father is not to make yourself feel good by giving your son or daughter everything that makes you feel good when you give it.

    7. Provide consistent discipline and consequences. Actions speak louder than words. Cut the chatter and provide concrete consequences. For example, is tooth-brushing a problem for your youngster? Try no snacks for the entire next day. No warnings, no threats, just a total prohibition of junk food for the next 24 hours.

    8. Redefine what taking care of your kids means. Are you providing for them emotionally and spiritually? You need not buy them material goods in order to create a bond. Instead of tangible gifts, how about spending some time together? Be careful that you aren't teaching them that emotions can be healed with food and fun activities.

    9. Replace empty threats with clear, calm, concise instructions. Children hear their moms and dads say, "stop, no, it’s the last time." All the screaming and the counting to three and the threats -- we have trained them to ignore us for 11 hours because they know that in the 12th hour, they’re going to get their way. Say what you mean. If you just say the words and say what’s going to happen and stick to it, that’s what has the power -- the consequence. You don’t even have to yell.

    10. Stay calm. Losing your temper with bad behavior only makes you feel bad and look out of control (kind of like a monster) -- and it doesn't teach the youngster better behavior.

    11. Stay on track. Despite a parent’s best intentions to stop creating a monster, lots of things can derail the effort (e.g., fatigue, being overwhelmed by work responsibilities, marital troubles, etc.). Moms and dads can remind themselves that the reason they’re going to give in is a selfish reason -- because it’s easier. Remind yourself that you didn’t hesitate when the child, as a 2-year-old, wanted to drink the Chlorox. You had to take it away from them, right? Even if they said they hated you and they screamed, you didn’t feel bad about that. You have to develop the same mind-set and realize that this is best for them.

    12. Talk openly with your child about behavior as he gets older. School-age children are capable of insight, so sit down and to try to figure problems out together. For example, if you ask a son, "Why are you doing this?" …he may not be able to tell you. But if you say, "I wonder why this keeps happening" …that open-ended question might give him the room to speculate. You might be surprised by what you learn!

    The bottom line is this: Your primary job as a mother or father is to prepare your youngster for how the world really works. In the real world, you don't always get what you want. You will be better able to deal with that as a grown-up if you've experienced it as a youngster.

    My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

    Articles

    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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