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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Skype Counseling for Parents of Strong-Willed, Out-of-Control Children and Teens

Mark Hutten, M.A. - Counseling Psychologist

The problem is that most parents of strong-willed, out of control children and teenagers have tried very hard to regain control -- but with little or no success.  And it seems the harder the parent tries, the more the child "acts-out."

I often hear the following statement from parents: "I've tried everything with this child -- and nothing works!"  But when they work with me, they soon discover they have not tried everything, rather they have tried some things.

If you're interested in Skype counseling, simply do the following:
  1. Create a Skype account, if you haven't done so already -- it's free!
  2. Add me to your contacts list. My Skype name is: markbhutten. [After you get into your Skype account, do a search using my Skype name. You'll see my picture and my name: Mark Hutten.]
  3. Send me a contact request. I will accept it and add you to my contacts.
  4. Email me so we can set-up a day and time to talk: mbhutten@gmail.com
  5. At some point before we meet, you will need to send a PayPal payment of $49.00 to: mbhutten@yahoo.com
Sessions are 1 hour long (only one session per week, but we can do multiple weeks if needed).

I'm here for you if you need me, Mark Hutten, M.A.

Email me if you have questions: mbhutten@gmail.com 

Not ready to do counseling yet? Try my program first then:

==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens 

...is a downloadable eBook with video instruction designed to help parents of strong-willed, out of control children and teenagers.

My bio:

I'm the founder of Online Parent Support, LLC, a practicing counseling psychologist, and a parent coach with more than 25 years’ experience. I've worked with hundreds of children and teens with behavioral problems over the years. I also present workshops and training courses for parents and professionals who deal with troubled children and teens.

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    Tried and Tested Disciplinary Strategies for Defiant Teens and Preteens

    How much longer will you tolerate dishonesty and disrespect? How many more temper tantrums and arguments will you endure? Have you wasted a lot of time and energy trying to make your child change?  

    ==> If so, then this may be the most important article you'll ever read!

    What To Do When Your Defiant Child Has To Have The "Last Word"

    “What do you suggest for a child with oppositional defiant disorder who always has an intense need to have the last word?”

    Because defiant behavior is all about control, many kids who exhibit it seem to have a strong need to have the last word. Remember that they don’t want the argument to end, because when it does, their sense of control ends also.

    Unfortunately, dealing with a child who has this need to win often generates in parents the same intense need to come out on top.

    Your strategy here would simply be to give your child the control he or she wants. Make the conscious decision to “surrender to win.” Go ahead and allow your child to have the last word.

    Once his or her goal has been accomplished, the behavior usually stops. “Parting-shot” comments can be ignored and consequences given later (similar to the strategy outlined here).


    ==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens

    Oppositional Behavior: When Your Child Violates Rules Right in Front of You

    Let's look at a couple examples:
    • The parent is walking through the living room and, as she passes, the child puts her/his feet up on the coffee table (when told previously not to do so).
    • The parent tells all the kids to calm down and use their “inside voice,” but the defiant child immediately shouts out loud.

    Planned ignoring is a conscious decision to not attend to the behavior at the time it occurs. It does not mean ignoring the behavior forever, which would be condoning it. 

    Usually, when a child violates a rule immediately after it has been given, it is an attempt to engage the parent in an argument and seize control of the situation. Behaviors that are insubordinate, but do not endanger the physical or psychological safety of others, can be temporarily ignored.

    When your child sees that you are not going to “give up” control by taking the time to engage in an argument, the behavior often stops. If, however, when the behavior is ignored the child escalates it, you need to interpret the meaning of the behavior.

    It’s important to let ALL your kids know about the strategy of “planned ignoring.” You might say:

    “There are going to be times when someone violates a rule and it looks like I’m not paying attention or I’m letting them get away with it. I want you to know that I am choosing to ignore them for the time being because what’s most important is that I continue to teach and you continue to learn. I want you to know that the misbehavior will be addressed at a later time and the child will receive consequences for her/his behavioral choices. The rules haven’t changed.”

    ==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens

    Parent’s Strategy for Dealing with Oppositional Defiant Behavior: Ask Rather Than Tell

    Let’s look at this common parent-child exchange:

    The parents says, “You need to finish your homework before you go out to play.” The child responds, “If you let me go now, I’ll do my homework later. I want to play with Jason now.”

    If you persist, your child may continue to try to “make a deal” (e.g., “I’ll do half my homework now, only play outside for a little bit, and then come back and finish my homework”).

    Your strategy is to ask rather than tell...

    Oftentimes this type of interchange can be proactively avoided by “asking” the child what he should be doing, rather than by telling him what he is supposed to do (e.g., “What needs to be done before you go outside to play?”).

    For the most part, children with defiant behavior really don’t want to be doing something different, they just want to have control and not feel as if they are being told what to do. Kids who are trying to make deals are really saying, “I want to feel like I have control over what I’m doing and when I’m doing it.”

    If the parent interprets that sentiment out loud and points out that they do have control, oppositional kids often will comply. For example, you could say:

    “You want to feel like you have control about the ‘what’ and ‘when’ of your choices. You do have control. No one can make you do anything you don’t want to do. You don’t do homework – you don’t go outside. You do your homework – you go outside. It’s your choice.”


    ==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens

    Parents’ Strategy for Oppositional Children: Teaching the Difference Between the Letter of the Law and the Spirit of the Law

    Examples of oppositional behavior in the child:
    • When told “Turn your cell phone off while you’re at the dinner table,” the defiant child may turn it off, and then turn it back on.
    • When given the direction “Lower your voice,” the child may speak in a lower tone, but use the same volume.
    • When given the direction “Pull your chair up to the table,” the child may bring the chair up, but then sit on the floor.

    Parent’s Strategy: Teach the difference between the letter and the spirit of the law:

    Generally, when faced with the “loophole finding” child, parents will try to become more precise in their language or to add additional rules. Rather than trying to plug the loopholes, give your defiant child a lesson that teaches the difference between the “letter of the law” and the “spirit of the law.”

    Unless your youngster has a language impairment, he knows what you mean and is merely testing the limits. In your lesson, you can give examples of statements a parent might make, and then ask your child to identify the intent.

    Examples:
    • No yelling. Does that mean: (a) be silent or (b) start whispering?
    • Stop running. Does that mean: (a) walk or (b) start skipping or hopping?
    • Turn around. Does that mean: (a) face me or (b) turn in a circle?

    Not only does this lesson get the point across, it generally is a lot of fun for parents and the kids. Once you are certain that your child understands the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law, one additional rule can be added: “Follow the spirit of the law.”

    Now, when your child tests the limits, you can ask, “Are you following the spirit of the law?” This effectively derails the child who innocently looks at you and smiles, saying, “But I did what you SAID!”


    ==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens

    A Tough Tactic for Parents with "Run Away" Teenagers

    Dear Mark,

    I have recently "joined the program" and have seen an overall improvement. I have 3 daughters aged 17 (now left school & unemployed after going to live with her father several months ago because he does not have any boundaries), 14 (major issues see below) and 10. The children's father consumes alcohol in excess, which contributed to his lack of supervision.

    Separated/divorced 4 yrs ago and my 14yo went to live with her father over 12 months ago where she was basically unsupervised until crisis this April including alcohol & Marijuana use, shoplifting, running away etc. I now have court orders to stop her running back there when I placed boundaries on her.

    She is under care of mental health team (initially depressed now behaviour issues) and she has been attending appts. She keeps saying that she would rather live in a foster home than live with me (in a comfortable home).

    I remove privileges of computer, bedroom door, phone, iPod, groundings etc, but she seems only to be good enough to get them back until the next time! Her logic is she might as well enjoy herself because going to be disciplined when returned.

    Major issue at present is her running away for up to 4 days (I do report her to the police). I have now reached a point where I have had enough. Over 12 months ago she was a scholarship student at a private school, but has deteriorated in public school (multiple suspensions for disrespect, disobedience). Unfortunately school has not handled situation well as refusing to do "in house suspensions" so my daughter sent home. I asked multiple times for meetings with all concerned, but seems easier for them to just wait for her to be suspended again. The only option next year is Boystown residential program monday-friday - but the child has to co-operate!

    I don't know what else to do...she has refused to come home again and I don't know where she is.

    Please help me...

    Thanks, S.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Hi S.,

    Re: I don't know what else to do...she has refused to come home again and I don't know where she is.

    This will be a difficult task perhaps, but you will need to stop taking responsibility for her "runaway behavior." You can't hog tie her to a bed post ...nor can your keep her locked up in the house.

    The quick answer is this: (a) "act as if" you are not bothered by her running away; (b) let her run; (c) do not attempt to find her and do not attempt to communicate with her (however, if she calls you, then do field that phone call); (d) when she returns, simply re-issue the consequence; (e) when she runs again, start the cycle all over.

    Listen...

    Clearly she knows that "running" pushes your "worry" buttons ...she gets a pay-off in the form of knowing she has control of (a) your emotional state and (b) her freedom to do what she wants. So the more you 'fuss' -- the more power she feels. Paradoxically, the more you are relaxed about her 'running' -- the less power she feels.

    She runs because it keeps her in charge. 'Running' keeps her in charge because it gets a reaction out of you. As soon as you stop reacting -- game over! There's no pay-off anymore. She loses the power to push your worry buttons. As long as she can keep you in a state of anxiety and fussing -- she wins!

    Her running is her responsibility now... and it has natural consequences associated with it as well.

    So now you decide. Are you going to continue to feed this behavior with your reactions? Or are you going to pull the plug and let her worry about herself?

    You pick. 

    Mark Hutten, M.A.

    ==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents with Defiant Teenagers

    When Your Teenager is Abusing “Over-the-Counter” Drugs

    Question

    I have a question about my 17 year old. With all the issues we have been having with her over this past 1.5 years, I definitely have a hard time trusting her anymore. Things seemed like they were starting to come around and I was letting go a bit of the feelings of mistrust. Then, yesterday I cleaned my daughter's room as she was at work and we are trying to sell our house and had a showing. We only get 2-3 hours notice so there are many times I have to clean her room so it's ready for showing. She knows this and also knows that if she doesn't do it herself, it has to get done so I will be in there cleaning.

    Everything was fine until she got home and went into her room and come out hollering at me and asking me what I did with her Sleep Eze pills. I know she has been purchasing them once in awhile as she has been having problems sleeping. I never touched them nor saw them. She started acting almost panicky and started looking through my things thinking I had hid them – she starting slamming doors and swearing when she couldn't find them. That all made me very suspicious so I looked them up online and found out they are often used to give teens a "buzz". That really upset me as I had naively thought that they were only using them once in awhile for her sleeping issues. Now I totally believe otherwise.

    I never buy these for her, but she is quite able to buy them herself. There are no restrictions on them, plus she works and has her own money which I don't ask her what she is spending it on. I am so concerned now and I don't know how to approach this. She gets so angry if she thinks I am accusing her of using "drugs". She has in the past, so I am always on the lookout for that. I totally never thought she would be doing it again. I don't want to come across as not trusting her again just when things were starting to go better but on the other hand, I need to know if there's a reason to be worrying about this. Are these products actually addictive, and are they used to give kids a buzz? She either uses Sleep Eze or Nytol. I know it's best if I have proof, but I guess I do have proof that she is using them at all because I have seen her buy them. How should I approach this?


    Answer

    Adolescents do indeed abuse some over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, such as cough and cold remedies, to get high. Many of these products are widely available and can be purchased at supermarkets, drugstores, and convenience stores. Many OTC drugs that are intended to treat headaches, sinus pressure, or cold/flu symptoms contain the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM) and are the ones that adolescents are using to get high. When taken in high doses, DXM can produce a "high" feeling and can be extremely dangerous in excessive amounts.

    OTC drugs are legal and mostly safe when used as directed, which may lead children to believe that these drugs are always safe to take. The truth is: medication abuse can lead to addiction, overdose, and death. It's up to you to keep track of your youngster's use of OTC drugs and to stay alert for signs of abuse.

    Nearly half of OTC drugs, more than 125 products, contain an ingredient called dextromethorphan (or DXM). It is in cough suppressants that can be found in stores in caplet or liquid form. It also can be ordered on the Internet. When taken in very large doses, DXM can produce a high. It also can pose a real danger to the user, including:
    • Brain damage
    • Death
    • Dizziness
    • Hallucinations
    • Hot flashes
    • Impaired judgment and mental functioning
    • Loss of coordination
    • Nausea
    •  Seizure

    Watch for signs that your youngster may be abusing DXM or other OTC drugs:
    • OTC drugs seem to vanish from your medicine cabinet.
    • You find OTC drugs stashed in your youngster's room or backpack.
    • Your youngster takes large amounts of cold or cough remedies or takes a medication even when not ill.
    • Falling grades, mood swings, and changes in normal habits or appearance also can signal a possible drug abuse problem.

    One in 11 adolescents abused OTC medications, such as cough medicine. The problem is more common than you might think. Adolescents take large doses to get high, sometimes mixing these drugs with prescription drugs, street drugs, or alcohol. Some adolescents crush pills and snort them for an intensified effect.

    A recent study found that six percent of 12th graders reported past year abuse of cough or cold medicines to get high. That amounts to about one in every 16 high school seniors. Signs and symptoms of abuse may include:
    • Long-term effects— Addiction, restlessness, insomnia, high-blood pressure, coma, or even death.
    • Short-term effects— Impaired judgment, nausea, loss of coordination, headache, vomiting, loss of consciousness, numbness of fingers and toes, abdominal pain, irregular heartbeat, aches, seizures, panic attacks, psychosis, euphoria, cold flashes, dizziness, and diarrhea.

    In many parts of the country, adolescents can easily buy OTC cough and cold remedies at any supermarket, drugstore, or convenience store where these products are sold. They can also get them from home, or order them over the Internet. And even if they do not order OTC drugs online, they can surf the Web to find information and videos on what drugs to try and mix together.

    Where should you look to make sure prescription drugs are not readily available?
    • With Relatives: Grandparents may be another source of prescription drugs for adolescents. In fact, 10 percent of adolescents say they took drugs from friends or relatives without asking.
    • With Friends: Talk with the moms and dads in other households your adolescent has access to about safeguarding medications.
    • At Home: An adolescent may scout his own home first if he's looking to get high from prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

    Your adolescent can overdose on OTC drugs. The point at which adolescents may overdose on OTC drugs varies depending on the amount of the drugs they took, over what time period, and if other drugs were mixed. Some OTC drugs are weak and cause minor distress, while others are very strong and can cause more serious problems or even death. If you suspect your adolescent has overdosed on OTC drugs, take them to the emergency room or call an ambulance immediately for proper care and treatment by a medical doctor.

    Mixing alcohol with certain medications can cause nausea and vomiting, headaches, drowsiness, fainting, and loss of coordination. It can put users at risk for internal bleeding, heart problems, and difficulties in breathing. Alcohol also can decrease the effectiveness of many needed medications or make them totally ineffective.

    Some of these medications can be purchased over the counter - at a drugstore or grocery store - without a prescription, including herbal remedies and others you may never have suspected of reacting negatively with alcohol.

    Before you or your adolescent take any prescription or OTC medication, carefully read the label, and/or consult with your family physician or local pharmacist. And never mix medications with alcohol. Moms and dads should set clear rules and consistently enforce those rules against any underage drinking.

    What Parents Can Do About OTC Drug Abuse—

    Because OTC drugs are easy to get and legal to purchase, teens may not realize how harmful they can be. Moms and dads need to know the facts about OTC drugs and warn their kids. Let them know that OTC products are not "safer" to misuse simply because they are legal, have a legitimate purpose, and are easy to buy.

    Talking with adolescents and staying in touch with their lives are the first steps to keeping them free from abusing consumer products and medications. Following are a few basic preventative steps that you can take to help your youngster understand the importance of using OTC medications responsibly and help discourage abuse of dextromethorphan and other drugs:

    1. Avoid overstocking OTC drugs in your home.

    2. Be mindful of the season. Your youngster can benefit from medicinal relief of cough, cold, and flu symptoms by taking OTC cough and cold preparations according to the instructions on the manufacturer's label. But be aware if your youngster is using cough and cold medications outside of cold and flu season or if he or she continues to self-medicate after symptoms have subsided.

    3. Check your home. Take a quick inventory of all consumer products kept in your home. Be aware of the products in your medicine cabinet, and ask questions if you notice that any products are used frequently or disappear.

    4. Consider having your youngster assessed by a drug and alcohol therapist if you think he/she may be addicted to OTC medication.

    5. Don't allow your youngster to keep OTC drugs in his bedroom, backpack, or school locker.

    6. Monitor your youngster's Internet use. Unfortunately, there are Internet sources that sell dextromethorphan in a bulk powder form or encourage adolescents to share their experiences with abusing dextromethorphan. These websites are not regulated so it becomes increasingly imperative that you be aware of where your youngster is getting information on the Internet, what sites he/she is spending time on, or with whom he/she may be communicating.

    7. Role model responsible use of OTC and prescription medications.

    8. Talk to your youngster. Speak with your kids often about the importance of carefully following directions on the labels of all OTC medications. Help them understand the dangers of abusing OTC cough and cold medications.

    ==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

    Child Biological Factors Involved in Conduct Problems

    “What biological factors (if any) are involved with a child who acts-out frequently?”

    Considerable research has been carried out into the role of child temperament (i.e., the tendency to respond in predictable ways to events) as a predictor of conduct problems. Aspects of the personality (e.g., activity levels displayed by a youngster, emotional responsiveness, quality of mood and social adaptability) are part of his or her temperament.

    Studies have found that although there is a relationship between early patterns of temperament, and adjustment during adulthood, the longer the time span the weaker this relationship becomes.

    A more important determinant of whether or not temperamental qualities persist has been shown to be the manner in which moms and dads respond to their kids. "Difficult" infants have been shown to be especially likely to display behavior problems later in life if their parents are impatient, inconsistent, and demanding.

    On the other hand "difficult" infants, whose parents give them time to adjust to new experiences, learn to master new situations effectively. In a favorable family context, a "difficult" infant is not at risk of displaying disruptive behavior disorder at 4 years old.

    Cognitions may also influence the development of conduct problems. Kids with behavioral issues have been found to misinterpret or distort social cues during interactions with peers (e.g., a neutral situation may be construed as having hostile intent). Also, kids who are aggressive have been shown to seek fewer cues or facts when interpreting the intent of others.

    Kids with conduct problems experience deficits in social problem-solving skills. As a result, they generate fewer alternate solutions to social problems, seek less information, see problems as having a hostile basis, and anticipate fewer consequences than kids who do not have behavioral problems.

    ==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens

    Does divorce "cause" defiant behavior in kids and teens?

    “My 14 y.o. son’s behavior has taken a major turn for the worse. My husband and I have recently separated and are making plans to divorce. Could there be a connection between my son’s erratic behavior and the fact that his dad has left?”

    The inter-parental conflicts surrounding divorce have been associated with defiant behavior in teenagers affected by the break-up. However, although some single parents and their kids become chronically depressed and report increased stress levels after separation, others do relatively well.

    For some single parents, the events surrounding separation and divorce set off a period of increased depression and irritability which leads to loss of support and friendship, setting in place the risk of more irritability, ineffective discipline, and poor problem-solving outcomes. The ineffective problem solving can result in more depression, while the increase in irritable behavior may simultaneously lead the teen to become rebellious and antisocial.

    Studies into the effects of parental separation and divorce on child-behavior have revealed that the intensity of conflict and discord between the parents - rather than divorce itself - is THE significant factor. Kids and teens of divorced parents whose homes are free from conflict have been found to be less likely to have problems than kids whose parents remained together, but engaged in a great deal of conflict, or those who continued to have conflict after divorce.

    In addition to the effect of marital conflict on the teenager, conflict can also influence parenting behaviors. Marital conflict has been associated with inconsistent parenting, higher levels of punishment with a concurrent reduction in reasoning and rewards, as well as with moms and dads taking a negative perception of their teen’s adjustment.

    As a side note, research has suggested that parents of kids with behavior problems frequently lack several important parenting skills. Parents have been reported to be more critical in their use of discipline, more inconsistent, erratic, and permissive, less likely to monitor their kids, as well as more likely to punish pro-social behaviors and to reinforce negative behaviors.

    A coercive process is set in motion during which the child or teenager escapes or avoids being criticized by his or her parents through producing an increased number of negative behaviors. These behaviors lead to increasingly aversive parental reactions which serve to reinforce the negative behaviors.

    Differences in affect have also been noted in defiant kids. In general, their affect is less positive, they appear to be depressed, and are less reinforcing to their parents. These attributes can set the scene for the cycle of aversive interactions between parents and kids.


    ==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens

    How to Tell the Difference Between Normal Rebellion Versus a Psychological Problem

    "My seventeen year old daughter is so very angry. She is involved with drugs and has gotten in some legal trouble as well. She is verbally abusive to me and to my husband who is her stepfather. The problem is that other times she is a joy to be around. She is funny, and very bright and creative. I wonder if she may have a psychological problem or may be an opposition defiant child. Not sure what to think right now."

    How can a parent tell the difference between normal rebellion and the signal that an adolescent is troubled? Ask yourself these two questions:

    1. Is this behavior change drastic for my adolescent? Normal rebellious behavior develops over time, beginning with an adolescent wanting to be with friends more and disagreeing with moms and dads more frequently. Problem rebellion is sudden and drastically out of character. For example, a normally rebellious "A" student may get a few "Bs" and cut a class or two, but if he suddenly starts failing or refuses to go to school, this can be a sign that your adolescent is experiencing an emotional crisis.

    2. How frequent and intense is the rebellion? Normal rebellion is sporadic. There are moments of sweetness, calm and cooperation between outbursts. If on the other hand, rebellion is constant and intense, this can be a sign of underlying emotional problems.

    Dealing with Normal Rebellion—

    The main task of adolescents in our culture is to become psychologically emancipated from their moms and dads. The teenager must cast aside the dependent relationship of childhood. Before she can develop an adult relationship with her moms and dads, the adolescent must first distance herself from the way she related to them in the past. This process is characterized by a certain amount of intermittent normal rebellion, defiance, discontent, turmoil, restlessness, and ambivalence. Emotions usually run high. Mood swings are common. Under the best of circumstances, this adolescent rebellion continues for approximately 2 years; not uncommonly it lasts for 4 to 6 years.

    How do I deal with my teenager's rebellion?

    The following guidelines may help you and your teenager through this difficult period:

    1. Treat your teenager as an adult friend— By the time your youngster is 12 years old, start working on developing the kind of relationship you would like to have with your youngster when she is an adult. Treat your youngster the way you would like her to treat you when she is an adult. Your goal is mutual respect, support, and the ability to have fun together.

    Strive for relaxed, casual conversations during bicycling, hiking, shopping, playing catch, driving, cooking, mealtime, working, and other times together. Use praise and trust to help build her self-esteem. Recognize and validate your youngster's feelings by listening sympathetically and making nonjudgmental comments. Remember that listening doesn't mean you have to solve your adolescent's problems. The friendship model is the best basis for family functioning.

    2. Avoid criticism about "no-win" topics— Most negative parent-adolescent relationships develop because the moms and dads criticize their teenager too much. Much of the adolescent's objectionable behavior merely reflects conformity with the current tastes of her peer group. Peer-group immersion is one of the essential stages of adolescent development. Dressing, talking, and acting differently than adults helps your youngster feel independent from you. Try not to attack your teen's clothing, hairstyle, makeup, music, dance steps, friends, recreational interests, and room decorations, use of free time, use of money, speech, posture, religion, or philosophy.

    This doesn't mean withholding your personal views about these subjects. But allowing your adolescent to rebel in these harmless areas often prevents testing in major areas, such as experimentation with drugs, truancy, or stealing. Intervene and try to make a change only if your teen's behavior is harmful, illegal, or infringes on your rights (see the sections on house rules). Another common error is to criticize your adolescent's mood or attitude. A negative or lazy attitude can only be changed through good example and praise. The more you dwell on nontraditional (even strange) behaviors, the longer they will last.

    3. Let society's rules and consequences teach responsibility outside the home— Your teen must learn from trial and error. As she experiments, she will learn to take responsibility for her decisions and actions. Speak up only if the adolescent is going to do something dangerous or illegal. Otherwise, you must rely on the adolescent's own self-discipline, pressure from her peers to behave responsibly, and the lessons learned from the consequences of her actions. A school's requirement for punctual school attendance will influence when your adolescent goes to bed at night. School grades will hold your teen accountable for homework and other aspects of school performance. If your adolescent has bad work habits, she will lose her job.

    If your teen makes a poor choice of friends, she may find her confidences broken or that she gets into trouble. If she doesn't practice hard for a sport, she will be pressured by the team and coach to do better. If she misspends her allowance or earnings, she will run out of money before the end of the month. If by chance your teen asks you for advice about these problem areas, try to describe the pros and cons in a brief, impartial way. Ask some questions to help her think about the main risks. Then conclude your remarks with a comment such as, "Do what you think is best." Teens need plenty of opportunity to learn from their own mistakes before they leave home and have to solve problems without an ever-present support system.

    4. Clarify the house rules and consequences— You have the right and the responsibility to make rules regarding your house and other possessions. A teen's preferences can be tolerated within her own room, but they need not be imposed on the rest of the house. You can forbid loud music that interferes with other people's activities or incoming telephone calls after 10 p.m.

    While you should make your adolescent's friends feel welcome in your home, clarify the ground rules about parties or where snacks can be eaten. Your adolescent can be placed in charge of cleaning her room, washing his clothes, and ironing his clothes. You can insist upon clean clothes and enough showers to prevent or overcome body odor. You must decide whether you will loan her your car, bicycle, camera, radio, TV, clothes, and so forth. Reasonable consequences for breaking house rules include loss of telephone, TV, stereo, and car privileges. (Time-out is rarely useful in this age group, and physical punishment can escalate to a serious breakdown in your relationship.)

    If your teen breaks something, she should repair it or pay for its repair or replacement. If she makes a mess, she should clean it up. If your adolescent is doing poorly in school, you can restrict TV time. You can also put a limit on telephone privileges and weeknights out. If your adolescent stays out too late or doesn't call you when she's delayed, you can ground her for a day or a weekend. In general, grounding for more than a few days is looked upon as unfair and is hard to enforce.

    5. Use family conferences for negotiating house rules— Some families find it helpful to have a brief meeting after dinner once a week. At this time your teen can ask for changes in the house rules or bring up family issues that are causing problems. You can also bring up issues (such as your adolescent's demand to drive her to too many places and your need for her help in arranging carpools). The family unit often functions better if the decision-making is democratic. The objective of negotiation should be that both parties win. The atmosphere can be one of: "Nobody is at fault, but we have a problem. How can we solve it?"

    6. Give space to a teen who is in a bad mood— Generally when your teen is in a bad mood, she won't want to talk about it with you. If teens want to discuss a problem with anybody, it is usually with a close friend. In general, it is advisable at such times to give your adolescent lots of space and privacy. This is a poor time to talk to your teen about anything, pleasant or otherwise.

    7. Use "I" messages for rudeness— Some talking back is normal. We want our teens to express their anger through talking and to challenge our opinions in a logical way. We need to listen. Expect your teen to present her case passionately, even unreasonably. Let the small stuff go — it's only words. But don't accept disrespectful remarks such as calling you a "jerk." Unlike a negative attitude, these mean remarks should not be ignored. You can respond with a comment like, "It really hurts me when you put me down or don't answer my question."

    Make your statement without anger if possible. If your adolescent continues to make angry, unpleasant remarks, leave the room. Don't get into a shouting match with your teen because this is not a type of behavior that is acceptable in outside relationships. What you are trying to teach is that everyone has the right to disagree and even to express anger, but that screaming and rude conversation are not allowed in your house. You can prevent some rude behavior by being a role model of politeness, constructive disagreement, and the willingness to apologize.

    When should you seek outside assistance?

    Get help if:
    • you feel your teen's rebellion is excessive
    • you find yourself escalating the criticism and punishment
    • you have other questions or concerns
    • you think your teen is depressed, suicidal, drinking or using drugs, or going to run away
    • your family life is seriously disrupted by your teen
    • your relationship with your teen does not improve within 3 months after you begin using these approaches
    • your teen has no close friends
    • your teen is skipping school frequently
    • your teen is taking undue risks (for example, reckless driving)
    • your teen's outbursts of temper are destructive or violent
    • your teen's school performance is declining markedly


    ==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

    How to Prepare Teachers for Your Child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder

    "My son has Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD. Should I give his teacher (tutor) some strategies to deal with him in the classroom during summer school (starts on Mon.)? If so, what can I tell her?"

    Yes, definitely give the teacher some ideas to deal with your son effectively. The school can be a great ally in keeping your youngster with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) safe and successful in the classroom, but you will need to make sure that the teachers have all the knowledge they need to help. Use the suggestions below to create an information sheet to bring teachers “up to speed.”

    23 Things Your ODD Child’s Teachers Should Know -- Information Sheet:
    1. Allow sharp demarcation to occur between academic periods, but hold transition times between periods to a minimum.
    2. Allow my child to redo assignments to improve his score or final grade.
    3. Ask me, his mother, what works at home.
    4. Avoid “infantile” materials to teach basic skills. Materials should be positive and relevant to my child’s life.
    5. Avoid making comments or bringing up situations that may be a source of argument for my child.
    6. Call me with questions or concerns as often as needed.
    7. Choose your battles carefully with my child. Selecting a couple of areas to focus on will work better than fighting over each and every behavioral issue.
    8. Clear, simply stated rules work better for my child than abstract rules and expectations.
    9. Give 2 choices when decisions are needed. State them briefly and clearly.
    10. If there will be any sort of change in my child's classroom or routine, please notify me as far in advance as possible so that we can all work together in preparing her for it.
    11. Make sure academic work is at the appropriate level. When work is too hard, my child becomes frustrated. When it is too easy, he becomes bored. Both reactions lead to problems in the classroom.
    12. Use of individualized instruction, cues, prompting, the breaking down of academic tasks, debriefing, coaching, and providing positive incentives.
    13. Minimize downtime and plan transitions carefully. My ODD child does best when kept busy.
    14. My child has significant challenges, but he also has many strengths and gifts. Please use these to help him have experiences of success.
    15. Pace instruction. When my child has completed a designated amount of a non-preferred activity, reinforce his cooperation by allowing him to do something he prefers or find more enjoyable or less difficult.
    16. Please keep the lines of communication open between our home and the school. My child needs all the adults in her life working together.
    17. Post the daily schedule my child knows what to expect.
    18. Praise my child when he responds positively.
    19. Provide consistency, structure, and clear consequences for my child‘s behavior.
    20. Remember that children with ODD tend to create power struggles. Try to avoid these verbal exchanges. State your position clearly and concisely.
    21. Select material that encourages student interaction. My ODD child needs to learn to talk to his peers and to adults in an appropriate manner. However, all cooperative learning activities must be carefully structured.
    22. Structure activities so my child is not always left out or is the last one picked.
    23. Systematically teach social skills, including anger management, conflict resolution strategies, and how to be assertive in an appropriate manner. Discuss strategies that my child can use to calm himself when he is feeling his anger escalating. Do this when he is calm.

    Information sheet tips:
    • In your note, focus on the ways that using strategies appropriate to your youngster's special needs will make things easier for the teacher, rather than insisting on rights and obligations.
    • Keep your tone friendly, helpful and no-nonsense. You are writing as an expert on your child and his diagnosis, not as a pushy, demanding parent.
    • Make a copy of all correspondence for your records. Using a datebook or a contact log, jot down when and what you sent to teachers, and what follow-up you made.
    • Remember, the start of school is a hectic time for the teacher. Even with the best intentions, he/she may not want to spend his/her free time reading tons of material. If you can put together an information sheet (like the one above) that looks manageable, you will stand a much better chance that the teacher will actually follow the instructions listed.

    ==> My Out-of-Control Child: Help for Parents with ODD Children

    Help for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

    Question

    I have a daughter who has been a problem since the age of 15 …she is now 27yrs …has a 2yr old daughter …she dumped the child and went to stay with boyfriend …doesn’t even contribute a cent to this child and I find myself having to start all over again raising a child. I don’t like this situation, but I feel sorry for the child …what can I do in this situation?

    Answer

    Many grandparents today are stepping in to raise their grandchildren when the kid's own parents are not able or willing to do so. In fact, the U.S. Census of 2000 found that over 2.4 million grandparents have responsibility for their grandchildren.

    If you are one of these grandparents, you have made numerous sacrifices in order to provide a better life for your grandchildren. What are some things you can do now to provide the best possible care for your grandchildren while still preserving your own health and well-being?

    Often, grandparents take on this obligation when the grandchild's own parents abandon them or when the kids can no longer live with them because of the parent's mental disorder, substance abuse, or incarceration. Thus, you may have the added burden of caring for kids who suffered from abuse or neglect from their own parents. These kids may feel insecure and afraid; they may be angry at their situation -- and even embarrassed by it. It will take time for these kids to feel safe and secure. You can encourage these good feelings and ease their adjustment to their new home in a number of ways:
    • Help your grandchildren to feel that they are "home" by making room for them and their belongings. Your home needs to be welcoming, safe, and child-friendly.
    • Practice positive discipline that emphasizes education, not punishment, and that rewards good behavior with praise.
    • Set up a daily routine of mealtimes, bedtime, and other activities so that the kids have some predictability in their lives.
    • Set up a few rules, and explain the rules to the kids. Then, enforce them consistently.
    • Work on communication skills. Talk to your grandchildren, and make sure that the kids know that they can always talk to you.
    Building new relationships can be difficult. Sometimes, it helps to find things that you can do with your grandchildren to nurture your relationship and to make them feel secure and happy in their new home. Here are some ideas:
    • Get computer savvy. If you don't have your own computer, use the one at the public library. The library may have classes or other free help for you. You'll find lots of things that you and your grandchildren can do on the computer, from games to school research.
    • Join a group. There are many local support groups for grandparents raising grandchildren, and a number of these groups also provide activities for the kids. You might also find welcoming groups at your place of worship or in the local schools or library.
    • Read. Kids love to hear stories, and even older kids may surprise you by sitting quietly as you read aloud. Kids who see you read have a better chance of becoming readers themselves.
    • Take up a sport or other outdoor activity. Kids of all ages need to be active. Physical activity may help your grandchildren feel better and develop a healthy lifestyle, and it can be an important stress reliever for you.
    If you're feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and unhappy, you are not going to be able to provide the best care for your grandchildren. It's important that you take care of yourself and not allow yourself to be overwhelmed by your parental responsibilities. Here are some suggestions:
    • Find a support group—either a group specifically for grandparents raising grandchildren or some other support group where you can share your challenges with others who will understand.
    • Learn to say "no." You don't have time to do everything. Learn to make priorities, and eliminate the unnecessary tasks in your life.
    • Take a break. A short time away from your grandchildren may give you some time to relax. Look for a trusted adult who can babysit or take over while you're out.
    • Take a parenting class. A class may help you to feel more comfortable with your status as a caregiver for young kids. It will also provide resources in the form of your teacher and the other students in the class.
    • Talk to someone. This could be a friend or relative or a professional, such as a counselor, family doctor, or someone at your church or temple. Unburdening yourself can be a stress reliever.
    There is a lot of useful free information for grandparents. Much of it is available on the Internet. If your computer skills are a little rusty, you can find help at your public library. Here are some places to start:
    • The University of Wisconsin Extension produced a series of factsheets titled Through the Eyes of a Child—Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.
    • The University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences has a website that carries links to all kinds of factsheets on child development, including easy-to-understand factsheets for grandparents raising grandchildren.
    • Generations United runs their own National Center on Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children, which offers information and resources.
    • For help that can be located in your particular State, there is a series of factsheets that have been produced by a national partnership among the Children's Defense Fund, AARP, Casey Family Programs, National Center for Resource Family Support, Brookdale Foundation, Child Welfare League of America, Generations United, the Urban Institute, and Johnson & Hedgpeth Consultants.
    • AARP runs a Grandparent Information Center, where you can sign up for their newsletter, check their message board, and search for a local support group.

    Good luck!

    ==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

    Should You File Criminal Charges Against Your Own Teenager?!

    Hi, I am just getting started with your program. Thanks for all the work you have put into it. I plan to put my work into it!

    Five days ago I found several receipts where my 17 yo daughter (will be 18 in 3 mos.) has used my debit card to take money from our bank account. I also found a check where she forged my husband’s name. She admitted to it. We told her we were either going to send her away to get help for this and all the other problems she is involved in OR that we were going to file charges against her.

    She emailed us after the confrontation (where we both remained poker faced). She begged not to be sent away, acknowledged that she needed to changed, and took verbal responsibility for her actions and apologized for blaming us for her behavior. Yeah, very heartwarming, but as you say, and as I already know: THEY LIE.

    Now my husband has changed his mind and does not want to follow thru with filing charges. He does not want to get involved in the "system". My heart does not want to put her thru the ordeal of filing charges etc., but my intellect says she must face the consequences and that it is better to face them now as a juvenile rather than LATER as an adult.

    SO.......is getting involved with the "system" the best consequence or should we do a 3 day grounding and have her work at home to pay us back for the money she spent (~$100)....or both?......or something else? (By the way....last night she took my husband’s cell phone---she currently has no cell phone privileges---and she ran up 50 text messages...and of course WE pay for that service so that is AGAIN what I consider stealing)

    Thanks you in advance for your advice and direction. ~ S.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Hi S.,

    Unfortunately, deciding to not file charges is just another form of over-indulgence. You want to set up a system where you model for your child how the “real world” operates -- and in the “real world,” when you steal and get caught – there are legal ramifications (in this case, it would be a felony if she were an adult).

    I would follow through and file charges. Short-term mild pain now will be much better than long-term major pain later. If she were truly sorry, she wouldn’t have taken your husband’s cell phone after getting busted the first time.

    I'm sure she's sorry, though (sorry she got caught).

    Mark Hutten, M.A.

    ==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

    When Disciplining Your Teenager Results In Physical Conflict

    Hi Mark, We are into week 2 of what is supposed to have been a 3 day grounding with my 16 year old. He is still skipping school regularly and although he is generally pleasant enough when he is home, he is non-compliant with his grounding. We have taken away his cell phone, i-pod, computer time and tv. He just simply goes out whenever he wants and stays out as late as he wants to. The only thing that he currently does as a privilege is when he gets home he takes food to his room to eat. He is 6'3" and there is no way of taking away this privilege without a physical conflict, so we don't know what else to do except to try and wait out his defiance until he complies with grounding. If you have a specific suggestion in this regard it would be appreciated. It seems to us that the point of your program is to decrease the intensity of the interactions with him, so again, we are searching for ways to reduce this privilege without a physical interaction.

    Also, on June 22 he is going to his Dad's for 1 month. If he hasn't complied with his grounding with us before that date, does he go away for a month without his phone and i-pod? If so, when he gets back do we try and start the 3 day grounding again or wait until he makes a mistake?

    We certainly appreciate that you are a very busy man, however, we really need some expert personal input from you, beyond what we have seen in the e-book and reference material. We take parenting extremely seriously and have searched again, and again through the material but cannot find answers to our particular questions. Thank you. T. & D.

    ```````````````````````````````````````````
    Hi T.,

    The program’s main goal is to “foster the development of self-reliance” in your child – not to avoid conflict. Conflict is inevitable. Please continue with sessions #3 and #4.

    There is no refusing grounding without serious consequences. If your son leaves, call the police and let them know that you have a runaway. If he gets physically abusive, call the police and file charges. Give him a heads-up that you will do this if he chooses to run off our get abusive. Then it's his choice to avoid - or receive- the consequence.

    Meanwhile remove every single form of entertainment in his room. Tell him that since he left, he is now on lock-down for twice as long as before. Take his phone, and call all of his friend’s parents and let them know that he is grounded, so if he shows up at their house, they should call you immediately.

    It sounds like you are afraid of your son. Let him know that if he engages in violence towards you, you WILL call the police and file battery charges.

    This is no joke! And these strategies will separate the girls from the women.

    I know this is a very tough assignment for you! Can you handle these “tough love” measures? If not, I (unfortunately) may not be able to help you.

    Children will still be in charge of the household if parents continue with a passive style of parenting based on fear of the child. Where does that leave the child? It sets him up for failure, because quite honestly, the world will kick his ass if he acts this way later in life.

    In the real world, you cannot do whatever you want to – and then threaten people when you don’t get your way. Is this the message you want to send your son? I doubt it.

    No half measures,

    Mark Hutten, M.A.

    Testing Your Teen Using a Home-Drug Test: Good or Bad Idea?

    "What are your thoughts on testing a teen suspected of using drugs through the use of a home drug-testing kit that can be purchased online?"

    Home drug-testing kits sold on the Internet may not be the best way to determine if a teen is or is not using drugs, because it is not easy for moms and dads to know which test to choose, how to collect a urine or hair sample for testing, or understand the limits of test results.

    Parents who are anxious to know whether their kids are using drugs have easy access to kits sold on the Internet, but home drug testing is not consistent with the guidelines of professional medical organizations. The mother or father using these kits may be reassured by a "false negative," or mistakenly accuse their youngster of using drugs because of a "false positive".

    I recommend that the parent who suspects that her youngster is using drugs seek a professional assessment rather than conduct a drug test at home. I want to caution you about the limitations and potential risks of home drug-testing products. Testing for drug use at home, with or without the consent of the teen, can also seriously undermine the parent-child relationship.

    Moms and dads who are concerned that their youngster is using drugs may not know exactly which drug the youngster is using, and using the wrong test may delay the correct diagnosis of a serious substance abuse disorder. There are several types of tests for alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines and other drugs common among teens.

    Laboratory testing for drugs of abuse is a technically challenging procedure, even for medical professionals, and tests performed at home by an untrained  parent may have higher rates of error than professional tests. I have cited one study in which a certified laboratory had false negative tests between 6% and 40%, depending on the drug detected.

    False positives are also a problem as in the case of amphetamines, especially if the youngster is using high doses of caffeine or cold medications containing pseudoephedrine or theophylline. Similarly, poppy seeds contained in bagels and other foods may result in a false positive for morphine.

    Collecting a urine or hair sample is not an easy task for a parent. The standard protocol for collecting urine samples requires "observation" to avoid adulteration or dilution with water, and teenagers are quite adept at beating the tests. In addition, teens can purchase products from the Internet that "clean" urine by interfering with standard drug tests. But, observing the collection of a urine sample would not be acceptable to most families -- and is not advisable. The Web sites we reviewed did not address these issues, nor did they offer any details about how to collect a hair sample.

    Coerced home drug testing by parents may be perceived by teens as invasive and a violation of their rights, potentially damaging the parent-child relationship. Only one of the eight Web sites viewed gave clear advice on testing a youngster against his or her will.

    Many of the claims of benefits of home drug testing made by the Web sites are "unsubstantiated." Seven of the eight sites claimed that random drug testing prevented drug use by reducing peer pressure, but I can’t find any studies to substantiate that claim.

    Here are five ways that adolescents may try to cheat drug tests. They're all described elsewhere on the Internet, so you should be aware of them:

    1. Popping vitamins: Perhaps this works because niacin (aka vitamin B3) is known to aid metabolism, or perhaps it's because Scientologists are said to take it in excess to flush their bodies of toxins. Whatever the reasons, some adolescents got the idea that extreme doses of this vitamin would erase any trace of their illicit drug use. Instead, it almost cost them their lives. In two separate incidents, emergency physician Manoj Mittal of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has found adolescents who downed at least 150 times the daily recommended dose of niacin (15 mg) to cheat drug tests. Both kids were vomiting, had low blood sugar, and had "significant" liver toxicity when they arrived at the ER. And the niacin didn't even do what they'd intended; both tested positive for illicit drugs. People might think that since niacin is a vitamin it's harmless. But these cases suggest that our bodies have limits.

    2. Swapping urine samples: Whether they use a friend's clean urine, synthetic pee, or even freeze-dried urine purchased online, some adolescents try to pass off foreign samples as their own. The biggest tip-off is temperature. Anything significantly lower than body temperature is suspicious, which is why some have tried to shuttle samples in armpits or taped to thighs to keep them warm. Possibly the oddest trick of all is a device marketed to those trying to beat witnessed drug collections: a sort of prosthetic penis called the "Whizzinator" that claims to come equipped with clean urine "guaranteed" to remain at body temperature for hours, with the help of special heat pads. Believe it or not, the prosthesis comes in different colors.

    3. Switching drugs: Perhaps most alarming is that adolescents bent on defeating drug tests will sometimes switch their drug of choice to an undetectable (or harder to detect) substance that's considerably more hazardous. Inhalants, for example, include numerous types of chemical vapors that typically produce brief, intoxicating effects. You don't excrete inhalants in your urine, but inhaling is acutely more dangerous than marijuana. Indeed, inhalants can trigger the lethal heart problem known as sudden sniffing death in otherwise healthy adolescents, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

    4. Tampering: A sprinkle of salt or a splash of bleach, vinegar, detergent, or drain cleaner is all that's needed to muck up a urine specimen. These and other household substances are all too often smuggled into the bathroom and used to alter the composition of urine, making the presence of some illegal substances undetectable. Same goes for chemical concoctions sold all over the Internet. Sometimes these additives or "adulterants" will cloud or discolor urine, easily casting suspicion on the specimen, but others leave the sample looking normal. Laboratory toxicologists employ simple tests to catch these cheats. For example, a few drops of hydrogen peroxide will turn urine brown if it's been mixed with pyridinium chlorochromate, an otherwise-imperceptible chemical designed to foil drug tests.

    5. Water-loading: Gulping fluids before providing urine, a long-standing tactic, is still the most common way that adolescents try to beat tests. Whether cheats use salty solutions to induce thirst, flushing agents that increase urine output, or just plain old H2O, their aim is to water down drugs so they can't be detected. Some testing facilities may check urine for dilution and deem overly watery samples "unfit for testing." But consuming too much fluid too quickly can occasionally have dire consequences. 

    As I stated earlier, the best way to drug test your adolescent is to have a professional (e.g., doctor) do it.

    ==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

    When Your Teenager Refuses to Get Out of Bed On Shool Days

    "What is done in a case where my teenage son (16 years old) will not get out of bed for either school or work without a huge fight everyday?"

    Adolescents are notorious for staying up late at night and being hard to awaken in the morning. Your adolescent is probably no exception, but it's not necessarily because he is lazy or contrary. This behavior pattern actually has a physical cause — and there are ways to help mesh your adolescent's sleep schedule with that of the rest of the world.

    Everyone has an internal clock that influences body temperature, sleep cycles, appetite and hormonal changes. The biological and psychological processes that follow the cycle of this 24-hour internal clock are called circadian rhythms. Before adolescence, these circadian rhythms direct most kids to naturally fall asleep around 8 or 9 p.m. But puberty changes an adolescent's internal clock, delaying the time he or she starts feeling sleepy — often until 11 p.m. or later. Staying up late to study or socialize can disrupt an adolescent's internal clock even more.

    Most adolescents need about nine hours of sleep a night — and sometimes more — to maintain optimal daytime alertness. But few adolescents actually get that much sleep regularly, thanks to part-time jobs, homework, extracurricular activities, social demands and early-morning classes. More than 90 percent of adolescents in a recent study reported sleeping less than the recommended nine hours a night. In the same study, 10 percent of adolescents reported sleeping less than six hours a night.

    Irritability aside, sleep deprivation can have serious consequences. Daytime sleepiness makes it difficult to concentrate and learn, or even stay awake in class. Too little sleep may contribute to mood swings and behavioral problems. And sleepy adolescents who get behind the wheel may cause serious — even deadly — accidents.

    Catching up on sleep during the weekends seems like a logical solution to adolescent sleep problems, but it doesn't help much. In fact, sleeping in can confuse your adolescent's internal clock even more. A forced early bedtime may backfire, too. If your adolescent goes to bed too early, he may only lie awake for hours.

    So what can you do? Don't assume that your adolescent is at the mercy of his internal clock. Take action tonight!
    • Stick to a schedule. Tough as it may be, encourage your adolescent to go to bed and get up at the same time every day — even on weekends. Prioritize extracurricular activities and curb late-night social time as needed. If your adolescent has a job, limit working hours to no more than 16 to 20 hours a week.
    • Nix long naps. If your adolescent is drowsy during the day, a 30-minute nap after school may be refreshing. But too much daytime shut-eye may only make it harder to fall asleep at night.
    • Keep it calm. Encourage your adolescent to wind down at night with a warm shower, a book or other relaxing activities — and avoid vigorous exercise, loud music, video games, text messaging, Web surfing and other stimulating activities shortly before bedtime. Take the TV out of your adolescent's room, or keep it off at night. The same goes for your adolescent's cell phone and computer.
    • Curb the caffeine. A jolt of caffeine may help your adolescent stay awake during class, but the effects are fleeting. And too much caffeine can interfere with a good night's sleep.
    • Adjust the lighting. As bedtime approaches, dim the lights. Turn the lights off during sleep. In the morning, expose your adolescent to bright light. These simple cues can help signal when it's time to sleep and when it's time to wake up.

    Sleeping pills and other medications generally aren't recommended for adolescents.

    In some cases, excessive daytime sleepiness can be a sign of something more than a problem with your adolescent's internal clock. Other problems can include:
    • Depression: Sleeping too much or too little is a common sign of depression.
    • Insomnia or biological clock disturbance. If your adolescent has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, he or she is likely to struggle with daytime sleepiness.
    • Medication side effects: Many medications — including over-the-counter cold and allergy medications and prescription medications to treat depression and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder — can affect sleep.
    • Narcolepsy: Sudden daytime sleep, usually for only short periods of time, can be a sign of narcolepsy. Narcoleptic episodes can occur at any time — even in the middle of a conversation. Sudden attacks of muscle weakness in response to emotions such as laughter, anger or surprise are possible, too.
    • Obstructive sleep apnea: When throat muscles fall slack during sleep, they stop air from moving freely through the nose and windpipe. This can interfere with breathing and disrupt sleep.
    • Restless legs syndrome: This condition causes a "creepy" sensation in the legs and an irresistible urge to move the legs, usually shortly after going to bed. The discomfort and movement can interrupt sleep.

    ==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

    What To Do When Your Teenager Sneaks Out At Night

    "Our 14 year old keeps sneaking out in the middle of the night. We've screwed the windows shut, called police. She says she sorry...but she can't be that sorry if she keeps doing it. What is the best way to handle this? We've told her it is a safety issue more than anything else."

    You and your husband need to have a series of sit-down discussions with her. What needs to happen is that you end up with an agreement whereby she agrees she will not sneak out and you will allow some dating or other privilege. There are rules that are important to you; there are behaviors and freedoms important to her. You and she have to discuss these until you reach an agreement.

    You don't want her running away or sneaking out. At the same time, you want to keep a relationship with her. Things should be discussed until you can reach a compromise that as parents you can live with, and as a teenage girl she can live with the final agreement as well. Things may need to be written down. Maybe a written contract will result.

    These kinds of situations are difficult -- and delicate. Parents feel they should be able to dictate rules. But teens have a lot of power -- and mobility -- so a compromise is necessary. The goal is to come up with a workable solution that allows everyone to continue living together without hostilities and threats.

    In the meantime, here are some concrete tips:

    1. Be sure to explain the dangers of what she is doing. If possible the best thing you can do is to have an alarm system on your home and to be sure before you go to bed that all windows and doors are closed and the alarm is set.

    2. Hang bells on the door high enough to make it hard to quietly remove them. Also place screws in the screen to prevent the child from leaving through the window.

    3. If you have a girl, keep her make-up in your bathroom. Chances are if she is sneaking out she will be going somewhere and will want to look her best. Most teenage girls won't be caught dead around friends without her face on!

    4. If you have an alarm, install alarm codes. You can assign codes to different people in your house and it will record when they arm and disarm the alarm. It will also send you a text message or let you check online to see when the person is logging on or off of the alarm. You can use this data to prove that you know the exact times your daughter has been outside of the house at night!

    5. Motion sensor lights can be a good way to catch her and potential friends sneaking around the house. The drawback here is that it might catch other night crawlers like possums. Couple the motion sensor lights with an alarm system for a sure-fire way to catch your teenager if she’s climbing out the windows or unlocking doors late at night. If the teenager does try to sneak out, the piercing sound of the security system will quickly alert everyone in the house (and neighborhood!) that the girl is trying to sneak out. Alarm systems protect the whole family and provide the additional safety of making sure your teenager is spending the whole night where she belongs – in bed!

    6. Perhaps the most important step in preventing your child from sneaking out is to expect they will. So many parents think their child won't, but chances are they will. Next, leave your bedroom door open at night while you are sleeping.

    7. Set an alarm to check on her at odd hours throughout the night. With any luck, you’ll catch her gone & be sitting calmly on her bed when she comes back. The shock of being caught will not only put the bad behavior out on the table, you’ll also be able to immediately tell if she’s high on drugs, alcohol or just seen the boyfriend.

    8. Talk with her. Just acknowledging that you know she is sneaking out is a big step towards getting everything out in the open. Tell her why it’s not safe to sneak out and explain what can happen to her late at night. If she’s meeting up with friends or a boyfriend, expand your talk to explain the dangerous of drug use, late-night partying, having sex too young and more. After the talk, punish her. You need to show her that this behavior is not acceptable in your house.

    ==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

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