When the Father Lets the Kids Get Away with Bad Behavior

Question: I have a 14 year old son, and we always seem to be angry with each other. I try to be patient, but whatever I do seems to annoy him and vice versa. My husband takes a different approach than me, and this also causes conflict between us as he lets our son get away with bad behaviour by ignoring it. If our son is rude to me, he doesn't say anything, he just says that I should deal with it. What can I do?

Click here for my response...

Our granddaughter is in more trouble...

"This morning I've discovered that our situation with our granddaughter is more troubled than my original thought of disrespect and disobedience….Lying has increased to almost a way of daily life for her. I discovered a flask containing alcohol under her mattress and a notebook with entries outlining making out with boys, sneaking out, smoking and the fact that she hates my husband and myself. She is nearly 14 and has lived with us for the past 8 years. Her parents divorced before she was a year with her Dad as custodian care taker. Once he remarried there was real trouble with step mother and step sisters. At age 5, she lived with her Mom & step-dad til she came to us at age 6…her mother is not in a position morally or financially to have her with her so we made the commitment to raise her. She has strong feelings of rejection from both parents which is only natural. She struggles with keeping more than one friend at a time. My question is that upon discovering this evidence which confirms our suspicions, should we confront her with our findings? Should her absentee parents be contacted before we confront her? Should we be contacting some outside intervention for her as well? Any advice you might offer would be appreciated. Our concern was not to 'corner' her into doing something drastic but to let her know that we know the truth and offer to help with solutions. Thank you, S.S."


Hi S.,

Let's take each of your questions in turn:

...upon discovering this evidence which confirms our suspicions, should we confront her with our findings?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Yes ...the strategy you may want to use to go about this is in the Online Version of the eBook: http://www.myoutofcontrolteen.com/q-a

Should her absentee parents be contacted before we confront her?

>>>>>>>>>> Not necessarily, but it might be the polite thing to do to keep them in the loop. Maybe wait until after you confront your granddaughter to update them. Also, I think it would be better NOT to invite the absentee parents to the confrontation.

Should we be contacting some outside intervention for her as well?

>>>>>>>>>>>>> Not yet.

1. Re: possession of alcohol: use the strategy in the link above

2. Re: lying: this is covered here: http://www.myoutofcontrolteen.com/lying

3. Re: sneaking out: refer to the section "What to do when you want something from your kid" in this chapter: http://www.myoutofcontrolteen.com/am

4. Re: smoking: this is covered here: http://www.myoutofcontrolteen.com/q-a
under this headline --"I'm pretty sure my daughter is smoking cigarettes. I hate the thought that she is doing this to herself, especially at such a young age. Any ideas?"

5. Re: hates my husband & myself: She doesn't hate you, rather she loves you but is angry with you -- and this anger (which is really about her parents) gets misdirected toward you. Thus be patient with her and let her have her anger -- she will not be talked out of it. (Notice I said "be patient" rather than "you should feel sorry for her and over-indulge her to compensate for the bad cards she has been dealt").

Keep me posted.

Here's to a better home environment,


It's been hard to take this back seat...

Hello Mark,

I know I have not been very diligent in corresponding. I will tell you ever since I made the statement to my son, "As a parent, I know I've made some mistakes in my parenting decisions. And I realize, as a parent, I have an obligation to you to make some changes." With that, I included: "...although I don't know what those changes are, completely, I can tell you that as they come up I will discuss them openly with you and we can come to agreements together, something we both can live with."

I've completely stepped back from 'hounding' him about grades and his bedroom...both of which he has taken responsibility, for that I am so grateful! I said to him that I can't do it for him when it comes to school and that he is solely responsible for whether he wants to successfully graduate high school and move on to college.

That said, it's been hard to take this back seat, but it's paying off and he's becoming more responsible. We attended a College Fair last month and it was his idea! I'm glad to say he's at least starting to think about college seriously.

Thanks again and I'm sure I'll be in touch.

R.V. (parent of a 16 year old young man)

What will your program teach me?

I have a 15-year-old who is driving me crazy. He talks back. He is always fussing on the phone with his girlfriend. Its his way or no way, and I am going out of my mind. I sometimes wish he was at boarding school. My nerves are out of control. What will your program teach me, and why should I buy it?


Hi P.,

>>>>>>>>>> Why should you join my program?

Because I have the best offer on the internet. If you don't believe me, try to find a better deal -- you won't!

My website is ranked #1 in MSN and #2 in Yahoo for parenting out-of-control kids.

When you download "My ODD Child" eBook, you will automatically become a member of Online Parent Support. As a member you will have access to the following:

1) Your online parent coach - me
2) The online version of "My ODD Child" eBook
3) The printable version of "My ODD Child" eBook
4) Over 3 hours of audio from the ODD seminar
5) 7 Power Point presentations used during the seminar
6) 2 videos used during the seminar
7) 10 videos that demonstrate "how to make money online" (for the single moms & dads who get little or no financial help from their child's other parent)
8) Access to my website
9) Online Parent Support Chat Room
10) Online Parent Support Forum
11) Online Parent Support Newsletter
12) Online Parent Support Newsroom
13) Online Parent Support Blog
14) 22 additional parenting eBooks
15) 22 additional eBooks on "how to make money from home"
16) Access to free government grants for families and women
17) A "Guide To Writing Funding Proposals"
18) A money back guarantee

>>>>>>>>>> What will my program teach you?

What to do when your child --
1. Abuses alcohol
2. Abuses drugs
3. Applies guilt trips
4. Applies insults
5. Argues with adults
6. Believes the rules don't apply to him
7. Blames others for his behavior
8. Blames others for his problems
9. Calls you names (e.g., "bitch," "asshole," etc.)
10. Deliberately annoys people
11. Destroys property in the house
12. Does not feel responsible for her actions
13. Does not take “no” for an answer
14. Engages in self-injury or cutting
15. Feels entitled to privileges
16. Gets caught shoplifting
17. Gets into trouble with the law
18. Gets suspended or expelled from school
19. Has a learning disability
20. Has an eating disorder
21. Has been sexually abused
22. Has frequent anger outbursts
23. Has problems with authority figures
24. Has problems with siblings
25. Is bullied at school or in the neighborhood
26. Is depressed
27. Is failing academically
28. Is getting into trouble with chat rooms
29. Is grieving the loss of a family member or friend
30. Is hanging with the wrong crowd
31. Is having unprotected sex
32. Is manipulative and deceitful
33. Is parented by a adoptive parent
34. Is parented by a divorced or separated parent
35. Is parented by a foster parent
36. Is parented by a grand parent
37. Is parented by a single parent
38. Is parented by a step parent
39. Is physically aggressive
40. Is resentful and vindictive
41. Is sexually abusive
42. Is touchy and easily annoyed by others
43. Is verbally abusive
44. Is very disrespectful
45. Lacks motivation
46. Leaves the house without permission
47. Lies
48. Refuse to do chores
49. Refuses to follow rules
50. Runs away from home
51. Skips school
52. Smokes cigarettes
53. Slips out at night while you are asleep
54. Steals
55. Suffers with ADHD
56. Suffers with Bi-Polar Disorder
57. Suffers with Conduct Disorder
58. Teases or bullies others
69. Threatens suicide
60. Uses excessive profanity

If you can find a better deal than this for under 30 bucks, you better take it.

Here's to a better home environment,

Mark Hutten, M.A.


Daughter Caught Smoking


Do you have a tried and true discipline for a teenage daughter who is caught smoking?


Sorry. You're not going to like my advice, but here goes:

You will not be able to stop her from smoking. Pick your battles carefully - and this is not a battle you should fight. In fact, the more you worry about it or lecture her, the more she will smoke! In fact, she will enjoy turning this into a game (i.e., I'll play "sneaking a smoke without mom knowing").

But you can stop her from smoking on YOUR property. Here's what you can say to your daughter:

"I can't keep you from damaging your health by smoking. But it's your health - not mine! However, I don't want you smoking in my house or anywhere on my property. If you choose to smoke on my property, you'll choose the consequence, which is grounding for 3 days without privileges (e.g., use of phone, T.V., computer, etc.)."

If your daughter smokes on the property, follow through with the consequence. If YOU smoke, keep your cigarettes with you at all times.

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

I Don't Want My Kid Following In My Footsteps

What if you haven't been the greatest role model for your kid in the past and are just starting out to become one? What can I do to help my kid not follow in my footsteps??!


Hi M.,

Simply think about what you say and how you act in front of your child. Your child learns social skills and how to deal with stress by listening to and watching you.

Do not take part in illegal, unhealthy, or dangerous practices related to alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs or he may believe that, no matter what you say, these practices are OK.

Perhaps most importantly, know that you are a good mother in spite of some bad choices you may have made in the past. The past is NOT the present, and no one should be held hostage by their past.


Any Natural Treatment For ADHD?

My son is ADHD, but I don't like the idea of him being on strong medication for it. Is there any natural way to treat ADHD?


Hi A.,

There are many natural treatments for ADHD, but few of them have ever been compared to a placebo, so it is hard to know if they really work.

The only natural treatments worth considering for ADHD are those based on increasing certain fatty acids in the brain. There are abnormalities in these fatty acids in the brains of people who have ADHD.

Omega-3 fatty acids may work best. Sources of Omega-3 are fish, flax seed oil, and some greens. Of these three, fish oils may work best and are worth trying -- not because they work so well -- but because they have few side effects. But there's no hard evidence that they work at all.

Sorry I don't have better news for you,


He's Soiling His Pants

My son is 6-years-old and was diagnosed with ODD last year. I am currently having a problem with him soiling his pants. I am at "whits end" ...don't know what to do.


Hi J.,

Some of the reasons for soiling are:

---problems during toilet training

---physical disabilities, which make it hard for the child to clean him/herself

---physical condition (e.g., chronic constipation, Hirschprung's Disease)

---family or emotional problems

Soiling which is NOT caused by a physical illness or disability is called encopresis.

Children with encopresis may have other problems, such as short attention span, low frustration tolerance, hyperactivity and poor coordination.

Occasionally, this problem with soiling starts with a stressful change in the child's life, such as the birth of a sibling, separation/divorce of parents, family problems, or a move to a new home or school.

Encopresis is more common in boys than in girls.

Although most children with soiling do not have a physical condition, they should have a complete physical evaluation by a family physician.

If no physical causes are found, or if problems continue, the next step is an evaluation by a child psychiatrist. The psychiatrist will review the results of the physical evaluation and then decide whether emotional problems are contributing to the encopresis.

Encopresis can be treated with a combination of educational, psychological and behavioral methods. Most children with encopresis can be helped, but progress can be slow and extended treatment may be necessary. Early treatment of a soiling or bowel control problem can help prevent and reduce social and emotional suffering and pain for the child and family.

It will be important for you to catch your ODD son in the act of "not doing something wrong" (i.e., soiling himself). The trick will be for you to provide a lot of intensity when he is not soiling himself, and to provide NO intensity when he does.

Here's additional info on encopresis: www.aafp.org/afp/990415ap/2171.html

Please stay in touch,


How do I deal with my ODD child?

How do I deal with my child? He has all the symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).


Hi T.,

Actually it will take the whole eBook to answer this question adequately.

But in brief, parents typically use the same parenting strategies with their ODD kid that they used with their other kids -- why not? They are basically all the same -- right? Wrong!

Traditional kids respond well to traditional parenting strategies. However, ODD kids use traditional parenting strategies against the parent. Parents of ODD kids are in a never ending cycle of sabotage with their ODD kid. If you are in a power struggle with your ODD kid -- he's winning!

In my eBook, I'm going to show you a set of "non-traditional" parenting strategies that will work -- and they will work almost immediately.

If your situation is like that of the other parents I work with, things are not getting better -- they're getting worse. So please don't wait any longer.

Here's to a better home environment,


My daughter feels very frustrated...


My 12-year-old ODD daughter is at a school where groups of kids get dropped off at the mall to go to the movies, or just roam around, and then picked up by a parent a few hours later.

My husband does not want her to be able to go and do this with friends, and I am unsure as to whether to let her do this. It seems that many parents are letting their kids do this, and in this day and age I'm not sure how safe/unsafe this is.

My daughter feels very frustrated and "micromanaged" by her father and I, and is feeling that our over protectiveness is prohibiting her from having a normal social life with her friends.

What do you think?



Great question B.,

As you may know from reading my eBook, “self-reliance” is key. So, whenever you and/or your husband are undecided about what to do, you should ask yourself the question: “Will the decision I’m about to make promote or inhibit the development of self-reliance.”

If your decision will promote self-reliance, then go ahead with the decision. If not, then don’t.

Thus, I believe you will be promoting self-reliance in your daughter by allowing her to develop social skills in the form of going with peers to the Mall. This also provides a testing ground for her to make good or bad choices (more self-reliance promotion).

“Over-protectiveness” is another form of “over-indulgence.” And as you may have read in the eBook, over-indulgence is the cancer that contributes to emotional and behavioral problems in our kids – the #1 contributor!

The four methods of over-indulgence are:
  1. Giving the child too much stuff (materialism)
  2. Giving the child too much freedom (activity-ism)
  3. Over-nurturing (i.e., parent provides too much assistance or protection)
  4. Soft structure (e.g., lax rules, no chores, no family activities)

In the spirit of fostering the development of self-reliance, your daughter should EARN her trips to the Mall. To allow her to go without “earning” her trip is synonymous with giving her a free “hand-out” of freedom. And as you may have read in the eBook, free handouts create (a) disrespect, (b) resentment, (c) a sense of entitlement, (d) dependency, and (e) a strong desire for more and more free handouts.

For example, she might be able to do a few chores in anticipation of an upcoming trip to the Mall. Also, you could require her “check-in” via landline or cell phone at hourly intervals while she is away. And you could require her to be home by a specific time.

Again, great question.

I hope this helps in your decision-making,


Click for more help ==>  www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

Discipline vs. Punishment

Tonight I have been reading in your e-book about discipline vs. punishment. Do you have any more material on both of these? As I understand your idea, if I give my son a consequence for his action and he does it anyway, I then enforce the stated consequence - that seems like punishment to me. What am I not understanding?

Thanks, D.


Great question D.,

--> Punishment is what parents do when they are angry with their child and want some form of revenge.
--> Discipline is what parents do when they help their child learn to make better choices.

--> Punishment is about parents trying to win a power struggle with their child.
--> Discipline is refusing to engage in a power struggle by calmly issuing a consequence as a learning tool with no ulterior motives.

--> Punishment is based on pride and ego.
--> Discipline is based on love and caring.

--> Punishment is NOT instructive.
--> Discipline is instructive.

Does this make sense?


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

Oppositional Defiant Disorder and What Parents Can Do


Thank you for your contact. I would like to run a couple of items by someone- here goes.

D____ (16) has apparently had alcohol and drug problems since he was 12 - we only noticed when he was 14. He has come home high many times - he also went into a residential substance abuse program voluntarily for 6 months - completed, and was great at home for about 6 weeks - same friends, same problems came back.

He got into some light trouble, crashed a motorized skateboard into a car (DUI), got a delay on license eligibility, went back to residential (court said to this time) for 45 days, administratively released without completion by residential as "dual diagnosis", and therefore not their type. He is now in contempt of court waiting for a court date.

The residential part time Psychiatrist came up with the ODD - diagnosis during his second stay. Not that I deny it - I just want to verify it. His behaviors certainly match ODD, but I'd like a real evaluation before the court has its say on Nov 17. They will likely place him somewhere, and if he refuses the program (and I expect he might) the Judge will levy a lesser time period but in Juvenile Hall - where it is lock down - the programs - depend upon wanting to get well - not locks. So he is a candidate for running if he wants to - and his defiance will lead him to tell the Judge to lock him up - whatever is the fastest way to be done with them and back on the street. Need I mention his school history is poor and liberally sprinkled with confrontations with authority figures?

D____ is also diagnosed add/adhd. Also, he is adopted. We know his parental history on the mother's side - she is a chronic drug/alcohol abuser with many stays in psychiatric facilities for "white out" due to overindulgence in drug combinations. She is not dead.

Does this kid need a residential program? He is obviously a risk to himself, but am I just taking a "time out" with a residential program, or can I hope for some lasting outcome? How do I get a real evaluation I can trust on the ODD component? Am I better off with therapy or behavioral mod? Should the AOD problem be treated first or simultaneously or after the ODD problem is validated and under therapy? Is there an underlying psychological cause of all this, or is the AOD feeding the ODD, or the reverse? Should I be searching for a cognitive - cognitive/behavioral - or straight behavioral treatment plan ....or something other? Are there drugs that he needs, or might take, that would alleviate symptoms (Depacote had no noticeable affect, Adderol seemed to help in school a bit, but the MD said no more unless he gave up drinking alcohol)?

Sorry to overwhelm you - but this stuff is my constant companion. I'll also talk to my wife on this (we are not separated or divorced - I just told her I was going to look into more avenues for information and direction, so I'm keeping her in the loop). I am not necessarily looking for solutions, but direction would be a big help. Thanks, J.


Hi J.,

We'll take a look at each question in turn:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>Does this kid need a residential program?


>>>>>>>>>He is obviously a risk to himself, but am I just taking a "time out" with a residential program, or can I hope for some lasting outcome?

You need some time away from him. Will residential tx be a waste of time? Not totally. Keep in mind you have something very important working in your favor (what I call the "maturity factor"). ODD kids mature by default. The longer you can keep him from killing himself, the older he becomes. And the older he becomes, the more he matures - at least to some degree - simply by virtue of the passage of time. So yes, you should hope for some lasting outcome. But you'll need to hunker down for the long haul.

>>>>>>>>>>>How do I get a real evaluation I can trust on the ODD component?

If your son has only four of the following characteristics, he is ODD. And ODD never travels alone, so it doesn’t surprise me that he has some ADHD symptoms going on as well. 30% to 40% of ADHD kids also have ODD:

1. Often loses temper
2. Often argues with adults
3. Often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults' requests or rules
4. Often deliberately annoys people
5. Often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
6. Is often touchy or easily annoyed by others
7. Is often angry and resentful
8. Is often spiteful and vindictive

All of the criteria above include the word "often". Recent studies have shown that these behaviors occur to a varying degree in all children. Thus, researchers have found that the "often" is best solved by the following criteria.

Has occurred at all during the last three months:
· Is spiteful and vindictive
· Blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior

Occurs at least twice a week:
· Is touchy or easily annoyed by others
· Loses temper
· Argues with adults
· Actively defies or refuses to comply with adults' requests or rules

Occurs at least four times per week:
· Is angry and resentful
· Deliberately annoys people

>>>>>>>>>>Am I better off with therapy or behavioral mod?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy. But when he comes home, your best bet is to use the strategies I discuss in my eBook. In working with ODD kids for nearly 20 years, I have discovered that parents are in the best position to do behavior modification -- moreso than a therapist.

>>>>>>>>>Should the AOD problem be treated first or simultaneously or after the ODD problem is validated and under therapy?

We (or at least I) know your son is ODD. And it should be treated now along with everything else.

>>>>>>>>>>>Is there an underlying psychological cause of all this, or is the AOD feeding the ODD, or the reverse?

Odd is hereditary. The ODD child's parent is usually an alcoholic or drug addict and has been in trouble with the law.

>>>>>>>>>Should I be searching for a cognitive-cognitive/behavioral - or staright behavioral treatment plan ....or something other?


>>>>>>>>>Are there drugs that he needs, or might take, that would alleviate symptoms (depacote had no noticeable affect, adderol seemed to help inschool a bit, but the MD said no more unless he gave up drinking alcohol)?

Has anybody along the way mentioned anything about Bipolar Disorder as a possible diagnosis. If your son is self-medicating to the degree you describe, he may be Bipolar. Pharmacotherapy is an art and a science. His psychiatrist will have to experiment with different doses and combinations of drugs over a year long period of time.

Good questions. I hope I answered them sufficiently.

Please stay in touch,


More articles:
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...


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 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...


On Monday night when I got home from work, my 17-year-old son had broken my glass dining table top into pieces. He also burned papers in the kitchen. I called the police (of course), but they could only talk to him because he lives there. Here is the problem: I told him that I would not cook in the kitchen nor would I purchase food from outside until he cleans the kitchen. This is the third day and the kitchen has not been cleaned, as far as the glass and burnt paper. This morning when I got up, I noticed that he has punched another pane out of his bedroom window.

What do I do? Do I continue to stick to my ground about not cooking or not purchasing food (McDonald's, Chili's, etc.), thus allowing him to feed himself? There is a lot of food in the kitchen that he can easily prepare.




1st -- Do you live in the states? If so, what state? You should go to your local Juvenile Probation Department and file a complaint. No one should have to live like this! He is a danger to himself -- and you!

2nd -- I would go ahead and clean up the mess, but he should pay for ALL the damage eventually, either with money he earns from doing chores around the house or money earned from his place of employment. If he's 17, he should be working, not sponging off of you.

NEVER purchase food for him from a restaurant. If he wants to eat out, he must use his own money.

I think it would be o.k. to cook WITH him, not FOR him. In other words, he must be in the kitchen with you and help with food preparation as well as "clean up" (e.g., help wash dishes).

I'm going to be very blunt here (and please don't get angry with me for saying this) -- your son is obviously spoiled rotten!!! Plus, I'm terribly concerned for your safety.

Please review the chapter in the e-Book entitled "Anger Management."

Also, please stay in touch,


Problems Waking Teens Up In The Morning

"My 18 year old has finally got a job & is doing well, but we are experiencing terrible problems getting him up in the morning in order to get to work on time. He won't take any responsibility for this himself, but shouts abuse at us when we try to motivate him. What advice do you have?"

Unfortunately, you can't motivate him! Do yourself a big favor and get out of the business of playing “alarm clock” – “waking up” is your son's job.

The more you take responsibility for your son “waking up,” the less responsibility he will take. The problem is an ownership problem. Let go of ownership of your son’s employment. No more nagging him to get up. This problem belongs to your son.

When you give up ownership, your son will have to make a choice - he'll have to decide if he will or will not accept ownership of his employment. And he'll lose the power of pushing your “employment buttons,” to frustrate and worry you.

Out-of-control teens intentionally try to keep parents in the position of taking responsibility for “waking them up.” Often parents are in a never-ending cycle of their teen’s sabotage. Since parents are continuously telling their teens how important it is to get to work on time, their teens use this information to anger them. The more parents try, the less out-of-control teens work.

Many people who are successful in life performed poorly early in their teenage “work life.” Remember your high school reunion, and remember the people you never expected to do well because they couldn’t keep a job for very long -- but they did do well eventually.

Your son is not going to end up sitting on the street corner with a tin can waiting for coins to be handed him from sympathetic passersby because he can’t find or keep a job. Get rid of the fear that his choice to "sleep-in" will damage his future. When he decides it's time to take responsibility for getting up and off to work, he will.

Buy him an alarm clock. If it goes off and he chooses not to get up – it’s his problem. He may have to get fired a few times before he “wakes up” and figures out that mom is not going to continue to treat him as though he were a small child. You must let him make mistakes and bad choices. He’ll not learn otherwise.

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

I Need Some Advice

I need some advice on how to handle my ODD 16-year-old son. He's out of contol! He's been in and out of the mental wards -- and the latest is he assulted me.


Hi J.,

He sounds like a handful, just like all the other oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) teens and pre-teens I work with.

Just last night (Monday), two of the mothers in attendance at my 'ODD Seminar' were in tears regarding problems at home. It's the same story I hear again and again:

"My son...

...calls me a "bitch"
...uses the "F" word in nearly every sentence
...comes home when he wants
...leaves when he wants
...is failing at school
...is about to get kicked out of school
...has no appreciation for anything I do for him
...has threatened me
...refuses to follow any rules or do any chores
...steals, lies ...and so on."

Rather than work with parents, I used to just work with the ODD kids who had recently been discharged from placement. Then after several years of finding a formula that works with these kids, I decided to teach parents what I had learned.

So I put the method on paper in the form of a book and started a parent group (for parents with out-of-control teens and preteens).

Now all this material is online. You can literally attend my ODD Seminar from home.

If your situation is like most parents situation, things are not getting better -- they're getting worse. This is because ODD kids are what I call "unconventional" or "nontraditional." And conventional parenting strategies DO NOT WORK with these kids.

Thus, we will be looking at a set of unconventional parenting strategies in my eBook.

Please don't wait! If you decide NOT to download my eBook, you may still email me for assistance at mbhutten@yahoo.com. But I'll be able to assist you more effectively once you have gone through the Seminar:

Major Improvement

Hi Mark,

We have had a major improvement at home for now.

My Hubby went on a work training course about managing change in the workplace, and one thing he learnt regarding change in the workplace was not to just say, "this is what’s happening, now go do it." He was told to keep in regular contact with his employees.

This made him/us realise what we said to our 11-year-old: "Don't like your attitude, don't like your behaviour, change it." But that would be it, we wouldn't do anything or say anything else -- then 3 weeks later we'd be saying the same thing. It was like a big circle that NEVER changed.

So for the last 3 weeks we have been having a nightly meeting with our son. We bring a talking object (only the holder of the object may speak, and we put Josh in charge of what it was to be, so it changes daily), and we discuss the day.

We have found this has had a huge impact with Joshua. He likes attention. So our meetings are when our little one is in bed or outside. We have had to call a couple of what we call “crisis meetings” during the 3 weeks, but generally we have found a major improvement. We spent lots of time on the positives of the day, and we brush over the negatives - unless the day has been a major disaster with extreme behaviour.

This for our family is working well.


See improvements in your home:

I'm Getting No Support From My Fiancé


I am still working on instilling assignment 1 into myself. I have caught myself many times arguing with my kids, but quickly caught myself.

My fiancé (to be honest) is not the support network I was hoping for. We live together, and he is here with the kids while I am at work and he hasn't even picked up the your book that I printed out.

I am unsure as to what to do. I have only really begun this today. I had to read it between working full time, a 19-month-old baby, 3 teenage boys, and a teenage daughter that isn't living at home any longer. I guess I am behind schedule.

I apologize. I kept waiting for my fiancé to take the time to go over it with me. I wanted to make sure I could count on his support. I don't believe that I can count on him to support me or even take this new approach seriously. Can I make this work even though he is still living here and not taking this too seriously?



Hi C.,

There have been instances where my wife felt un-supported, but she does a good job of asserting herself and telling me what she needs. This is very helpful to me, because I get a clear idea of what I need to do differently.

Anyway, I think it is very possible to make this work even though your fiancé is not taking things seriously. You will have to take the initiative however.

Can you sit down with him sometime and get him up-to-speed on the MOST important parenting strategies. Those would be:

· “The Art of Saying Yes”
· “The Art of Saying No”
· “When You Want Something From Your Kid”

He is probably willing to work with you to at least some degree -- if not, you should get rid of him!

Explain the most important strategies listed above. Keep it short and simple (i.e., summarize these strategies for him). Then the two of you practice, practice, then practice some more. Eventually your new parenting strategies will become habit.

Stay in touch. I’m here for you.


My Son Hates Me

"My son feels offended because I went to the school and got a drug test to be performed on him. What I can do to ease the hate he now feels toward me? How can I make him talk to me again without giving him the edge?"

I don't think your son hates you. He probably doesn't like you, though. Sit down with your son and have the following conversation:

Tell him that you love him so much that you are not willing to stand by and watch him make poor choices and engage in self-destructive behaviors that will hurt him -- and his family. This is why you are using "tough love."

You're not out to make his life miserable, you are trying to help him grow. If you didn't love or care for him, you wouldn't bother with him.

Resist your impulse to strive and struggle for your son's acceptance. Don't strain to get him to "like" you as you begin to set some limits with his behavior. Instead, enjoy the process of the good parenting you are doing. His acceptance will come independent of your striving for it.

Love and caring for your son is about process, not outcome. And process is about purpose. And purpose is about doing what you know in your heart is the right thing to do whether your son sees it yet or not.

Believe it or not, one day your son will see the bigger picture and realize you were doing him a favor all along.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Is She ODD?


Thanks for your concern. Well I have started reading the ebook, but have not yet completed. I thought I should first complete reading before implementing. I think its an excellent book and am looking forward to seriously using the advise given there. I just wanted a little clarity with respect to my case. Please bear with me.

I have only one adopted child (adopted from the day she was born) who just turned thirteen. Since childhood we have found her to be a very difficult child. Though we have not got her diagnosed clinically as an ODD child, from what I have read in the past and also from your book she conforms to at least 90% of the criteria given for ODD.

Since she had always been very hyper, impulsive, lacked concentration, easily distracted and used abusive language, I had her locally (in Pakistan) assessed when she was 8 and was told she is not ADHD just a high spirited child and needed a behavioural therapy program.

In order to confirm this I had taken her to a psychiatrist in Dallas (where my family lives) when she was ten years old and she was diagnosed as having anxiety disorder with a mild case of ADHD not to be ruled out.

At that time she had a fear of darkness and never slept alone in her room. She slept with us till she was ten. Then based on the US doc’s advice, I gradually (in one years time) weaned her out of this and now she is not scared of the dark and sleeps alone in her room -- in fact she does not even want us to enter her room.

I realised from what I have read in your book that our parenting style was the one used by parents of normal children. Honestly speaking I am more of an overindulgent parent. But due to the unmanageable state of affairs now which has driven us up the wall, we feel we need help.

My question to you is that do you think its safe to follow your instructions given in your book even though she has not been clinically diagnosed as ODD?

If you need to know more about my daughter please feel free to ask. I just feel that since none of my previous parenting style has helped I should follow your advise as my gut feeling is that something is definitely wrong with her behaviour as she lacks control and is highly emotionally sensitive too.

Anxiously awaiting your reply,



Hi S.,

I’ll give you the short answer first:

The methods described in my ebook are very safe for those children who have not yet been diagnosed with ODD.

Most of my teen and pre-teen clients have not been formally diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or conduct disorder (CD). But ALL of them have the characteristics of the disorders to one degree or another. Whether you have big problems or small ones, the techniques discussed in the ebook will work well for you.

Now for the longer answer:

If your daughter has only four of the following characteristics, she is ODD. And ODD never travels alone, so it doesn’t surprise me that she has some ADHD symptoms going on as well. 30% to 40% of ADHD kids also have ODD:

1. Often loses temper
2. Often argues with adults
3. Often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults' requests or rules
4. Often deliberately annoys people
5. Often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
6. Is often touchy or easily annoyed by others
7. Is often angry and resentful
8. Is often spiteful and vindictive

All of the criteria above include the word "often". Recent studies have shown that these behaviors occur to a varying degree in all children. Thus, researchers have found that the "often" is best solved by the following criteria.

Has occurred at all during the last three months:
· Is spiteful and vindictive
· Blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior

Occurs at least twice a week:
· Is touchy or easily annoyed by others
· Loses temper
· Argues with adults
· Actively defies or refuses to comply with adults' requests or rules

Occurs at least four times per week:
· Is angry and resentful
· Deliberately annoys people

I hope this answers your question.

Stay in touch,

The Dependency Cycle

Hi, some good news. The other night I had a really good chat with my son and went over the dependency cycle with him -- and also got him to tick which of the statements of behaviour was his, and which was the parents.

He was very honest and laughed when we came to the parent’s bit on saying “no” to kids. When I asked him why he was laughing, he said, “Because it sounded just like his dad.”

I have spoken to his dad and told him this and printed off some information for him including the dependency cycle. I have had a quick look at it with him, and he has said he will read it, but he wasn't sure if he could totally follow your program as he does find it so hard saying no.

But he has said we can go over it together and adapt to what he thinks he can manage and take it from there -- small steps at a time.

So I am making some progress.

Kind regards,

A. J.

More information on the Dependency Cycle: www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

Am I Just Seeing This The Wrong Way?

Mark, Thank you for your help and for being available. We have not yet implemented anything but have read most of session 1. David does like to bully his brothers and I guess everyone he can when he gets angry or wants and outcome to be a certain way.

Last night my son David asked me if he could go camping with his friend and his friend's father this weekend. He was doing better in school [before the virus came along and the schools closed]. I do see his efforts and don't want to discourage any positive even if it isn't what I would like to see completely. However, I was going to let him go and then in an argument that he swears he didn't start he pushed his younger brother in anger. This is not a new problem and we have handled it with appropriate consequences.

David's stepfather told him immediately that he wasn't going on this trip. I am not sure that is the right thing to do because we haven't really prepared him or any of our children for this new approach we are all taking. I guess I feel that we haven't really stood too strong up till now and to choose something that means this much to him without him really knowing the consequences before the action is unfair. All my children know that there is no physical abuse or verbal abuse tolerated in this home. I have recently started working full time and am not even home anymore (which I am adjusting) in order to take these situations on.

Anyway, without taking anymore of your time I feel it is unfair and will only cause him to feel helpless and angry and pull away. I don't feel that we properly prepared him for these consequences. Am I just seeing this the wrong way? Do you agree that it is the right or the wrong way to approach this incident?



Hi C.,

Ideally the parent would neither retract a consequence once imposed, nor withhold a reward was issued (i.e., once you impose a consequence -- stick to it; once you reward -- follow through in spite of subsequent behavior problems).

So if you already told your son that he can go camping, he should be able to go. There was no contingency attached to the 'deal' (e.g., "If you don't push your brother, then you can go camping").

But the larger issue (as you will discover in the ebook) is fostering the development of self-reliance. Thus the question now is “what did your son do to EARN his camping trip?”

"Ignoring misbehavior" is an over-rated parenting strategy. But when it comes to "sibling rivalry," ignoring misbehavior is the best approach. This is difficult for most parents, because the idea of an older sib hurting a younger, smaller weaker sib is seemingly intolerable. But when parents refuse to play referee, the siblings are forced to develop "give-and-take" social skills that are greatly needed later in adult life. (I'm an older sib, and I can tell you that older sibs do not kill their younger brothers and sisters.)

Also, it would be best for you and your husband to consult one another before making any decisions regarding your children's rewards or consequences. When one parent makes a decision alone that the other parent does not agree with, then one or the other is forced into the position of being the "bad guy."

Here's to a better home environment,



==> DO you and your spouse disagree on how and when to discipline your teenager? Click here for a bunch of suggestions...

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

My Son Starts Fires


My son starts fires. He recently decided to catch playing cards on fire and throw them under his bed. We could have had our house burnt to the ground. My husband wants to take him to a burn unit to show him what kind of damage can happen to the skin when burned. Does this sound like a good idea or not?


Not! Remember that defiant kids enjoy intensity. So a trip to the burn unit will not intimidate him, rather it will intrigue him.

Often times parents will attempt to "scare" their children into behaving properly. For example, parents may want their child to:

-- take a tour of juvenile detention
-- take a tour of adult jail or prison
-- go through the "scared straight" program (where kids go to an adult prison and get yelled at by a bunch of incarcerated convicts)
-- go to the local morgue to view the deceased, mangled body of someone who was not wearing his seat belt or who drove drunk

These are examples of "traditional" parenting strategies that make a bad problem worse.

Why? Because it provides a high level of intensity (i.e., interest, fascination) -- and defiant children love intensity.

Worse yet, exposure to such things de-sensitizes them, thus yielding the opposite effect from what the parent wanted to accomplish (i.e., rather than scaring the child, they have now raised the curiosity level in the child). Fear-based motivation has the opposite effect with defiant children.

So what should you do instead? In my Ebook, there is a chapter entitled “Anger Management” – and in that chapter there is a section entitled “When You Want Something From Your Kid.” You’ll find a better parenting strategy there.

Here’s to a better home environment,



My Son's Father Works Against Me

One of the members of Online Parent Support recently told me that her ex-husband is not on the same page with her regarding discipline. Sometimes he cooperates with her, other times he does his own thing -- which undermines her.

Her oldest son lives with his father, but visits her a couple times a week. The son does not like visiting mom, because mom has rules and dad does not (not many anyway). So here was my response:


Good to hear from you A.,

I think I detect a bit of cooperation from your ex, although he does not like to be the "bad guy" and does not like to be put in the middle (i.e., between you and your son).

If you haven't already done so, please give you ex a copy of the ebook. Is he open to trying a few new things? If he will get on the same page with you, the two of you will have tremendous success with your eldest son.

However, if your husband "does his own thing" as far as discipline (or lack thereof), then we must revert back to the strategy I talked about in the last email (i.e., 'strategy' is about what you CAN control).

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

If your ex seems to always work against you (e.g., withdraw a discipline you have already imposed, blame you for the families problems, etc.), then I encourage you to cultivate the "art of letting go."

"Letting go" would look something like this:

-- Your ex has his rules; you have your rules

-- When your son is with dad, he can operate under dad's rules

-- When your son is at your residence, he must operate under your rules

-- If he does not like your rules, he can choose to (a) follow your rules anyway, or (b) leave your residence and go back to dad's

-- If your ex is working against you rather than with you, take no complaints from him regarding your son's behavior (e.g., You might say to your ex, "If you are having problems with our son while he is at your house, I cannot help you as long as you operate under a different set of rules than what I have.")

I think your ex needs to experience some painful emotions associated with his poor parenting choices. Use the strategies I discuss in the eBook on both your son and your ex.

Stay in touch,


How do I get my over-achieving daughter to slow down?

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