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

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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,


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