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She is hanging out with a really bad crowd...

I have a 17-year-old girl who is hanging out with a bad group of kids. She was charged with curfew violation and drinking under the age of 21 20 days ago. I have read your ebook and I thought that maybe things were improving, but last night we let her go out and she was supposed to be home between 11:30 and 12:00. We got a call from the police at 12:00 to come and get her. She had 2 15-year-olds in her truck and there was evidence of alcohol and some pot seeds and stems in her truck. She was again charged with curfew violation and she apparently told the police officer that she would rather be dead. The police officer told my husband that she is hanging out with a really bad crowd.

What can I do? My husband and I were talking this morning trying to figure out what has went wrong. Should we move her to a different school? How do we make her stay away from these kids? We both work and this is my very busy time of the year. Please help or give your suggestions.


Hi M.,

You’ve raised several issues here:

  1. Hanging with the wrong crowd
  2. Curfew violation
  3. Possible under age drinking
  4. Possible marijuana smoking

First, I have to ask. What did your daughter do to earn her truck? Second, what did your daughter do to earn her “night out” the other night?

The reason I ask is because – if she did nothing to earn the above – this was the beginning of the problems.

The method for all four of these problems is outlined in the Anger Management chapter of the ebook (online version) in the section entitled “When You Want Something From Your Kid,” which can be reviewed here:

I’ve taken the liberty of plugging in your specific set of problems into the strategy:

1. Clearly state your expectation.

"Be sure to be home by curfew. No drinking, smoking pot, or hanging with that crowd.”

2. If your child does what she is told to do, reward her with acknowledgment and praise.

"I appreciate that you got home by curfew and _________________."

Note: "Rewards" such as hugs, kisses, and high-fives increase your children's motivation to do what you ask them to do.

3. If your child refuses or ignores your request, then a clear warning (with your best poker face) should be given immediately in the form of a simple “If/Then” statement.

"If you choose to ignore my request, then you choose the consequence, which will be _________" (pick the least restrictive consequence first, such as grounding and no phone privileges for one evening).

4. If the warning is ignored, then quickly follow through with the discipline.

"Because you chose to ignore my request, you also chose the consequence which is grounding and no phone tonight."

5. If your child refuses to accept the consequence (e.g., leaves the house or she gets on the phone anyway), take everything away (or at least her "favorite" stuff and/or activities) and ground her for 3 days. If she has a rage-attack when she finds out she is grounded for 3 days, the 3-day-discipline does not start until she calms down. If she violates the 3-day-discipline at any point, merely re-start the 3 days rather than making it 7 days or longer.


In addition, you may want to review my response to a similar email from another parent.

The parent asked, "My daughter has a few friends who have experimented with alcohol. How can I keep her from seeing these friends, and what should I do if she comes home under the influence?

My response can be viewed here:

Moving her to a different school would be just another “traditional” parenting strategy that will most likely make a bad problem worse. I would simply use the strategies listed above for now.

Please keep me posted,


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