Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD
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That makes me a little nervous.
Actually, my name is Mark Hutten-Locker, but this name seems to confuse everybody. So in an attempt to make my life a bit easier, I chop off the "Locker" part (except in those cases where my full name is needed, of course). Hope this isn't too confusing. Please just call me Mark Hutten. Thanks!
I continue to use your strategies from the online book. We continue to have fewer and less intense discussions with our son. In fact, they happen very rarely now.
The issue we still struggle with is getting him to open up and communicate with us. An example, last night he worked. Typically his shift is from 4 pm to ~ 9 pm. He came home ~8:30. After saying hello, I asked "I'm surprised to see you this early. Weren't you busy tonight?" His reply was a one-word answer, "No". I do realize that I didn't form the question the correct way and I allowed him the option of a one-word answer. But in trying to keep the conversation going, all I got were grunts and more one-word answers.
Mark, on a typical day, if we hear 50 words from him we are lucky. There is very little conversation at the dinner table when we eat together and like last night, many of the conversations end with me running out of things to talk about and him going on his way to something he wants to do.
How do I encourage some conversation in our home? He has never been much of a talker, even before all of the behavior problems started.
I don't think you have a problem here. He's not much of a conversationalist, but that's o.k.
I wouldn't try to squeeze words out of him. Don't assume that "few words" = "hidden problems."
Try to match to him. In other words, keep conversations short on your end too. In this way, you will (a) send a message that you are indeed interested in what is going on in his life, and (b) avoid giving him the impression that he is not divulging enough information.
It sounds like he simply does not need a lot of "parent time." I wouldn't take this personally.
Children need to know that their family members think homework is important. If they know their families care, children have a good reason to complete assignments and to turn them in on time. You can do many things to show that your child that you value education and homework.
Set a Regular Time for Homework
Having a regular time to do homework helps children to finish assignments. The best schedule is one that works for your child and your family. What works well in one household may not work in another. Of course, a good schedule depends in part on your child's age as well as her specific needs. For instance, one child may do homework best in the afternoon, completing homework first or after an hour of play and another may do it best after dinner. However, don't let your child leave homework to do just before bedtime.
Your child's outside activities, such as sports or music lessons, may mean that you need a flexible homework schedule. Your child may study after school on some days and after dinner on others. If there isn't enough time to finish homework, your child may need to drop some outside activity. Let her know that homework is a high priority.
You'll need to work with your elementary school child to develop a schedule. An older student can probably make up a schedule independently, although you'll want to make sure that it's a workable one. You may find it helpful to write out his schedule and put it in a place where you'll see it often, such as on the refrigerator door.
Some families have a required amount of time that their children must devote to homework or some other learning activities each school night (the length of time can vary depending upon the child's age). For instance, if your seventh grader knows she's expected to spend an hour doing homework, reading or visiting the library, she may be less likely to rush through assignments so that she can watch TV. A required amount of time may also discourage her from "forgetting" to bring home assignments and help her adjust to a routine.
Pick a Place
Your child's homework area doesn't have to be fancy. A desk in the bedroom is nice, but for many children, the kitchen table or a corner of the living room works just fine. The area should have good lighting and it should be fairly quiet. Your child may enjoy decorating a special area for homework. A plant, a brightly colored container to hold pencils and some favorite artwork taped to the walls can make homework time more pleasant.
Turn off the TV and discourage your child from making and receiving social telephone calls during homework time. (A call to a classmate about an assignment, however, may be helpful.)
Some children work well with quiet background music, but loud noise from the CD player, radio or TV is not OK. One history teacher laments, "I've actually had a kid turn in an assignment that had written in the middle, 'And George Washington said, "Ohhhhh, I love you."' The kid was so plugged into the music that he wasn't concentrating."
If you live in a small or noisy household, try having all family members take part in a quiet activity during homework time. You may need to take a noisy toddler outside or into another room to play. If distractions can't be avoided, your child may want to complete assignments in the local library.
Provide Supplies and Identify Resources
Have available pencils, pens, erasers, writing paper and a dictionary. Other supplies that might be helpful include a stapler, paper clips, maps, a calculator, a pencil sharpener, tape, glue, paste, scissors, a ruler, a calculator, index cards, a thesaurus and an almanac. If possible, keep these items together in one place. If you can't provide your child with needed supplies, check with her teacher, school guidance counselor or principal about possible sources of assistance.
For books and other information resources, such as suitable computer Web sites, check with the school library or your local public library. Some libraries have homework centers designed especially to assist children with school assignments (they may even have tutors and other kinds of individual assistance).
You may want to ask your child's teacher to explain school policy about the use of computers for homework. Certainly, computers are great learning and homework tools. Your child can use her computer not only for writing reports and for getting information through Internet resource sites, but for "talking" with teachers and classmates about assignments.
In many schools, teachers post information about homework assignments and class work on their own Web sites, which also may have an electronic bulletin board on which students can post questions for the teacher and others to answer. (For more information about using the Internet, see the U.S. Department of Education's booklet, Parents' Guide to the Internet, listed in the Resources section, page .) However, you don't have to have a computer in your home for your child to complete homework assignments successfully. Some schools may offer after-school programs that allow your child to use the school computers. And many public libraries make computers available to children.
Set a Good Example
Show your child that the skills he is learning are an important part of the things he will do as an adult. Let him see you reading books, newspapers and computer screens; writing reports, letters, e-mails and lists; using math to balance your checkbook or to measure for new carpeting; doing other things that require thought and effort. Tell your child about what you do at work.
Help your child to use everyday routines to support the skills he is learning-for example, teach him to play word and math games; help him to look up information about things in which he is interested-singers, athletes, cars, space travel and so forth; and talk with him about what he sees and hears as the two of you walk through the neighborhood, go shopping at the mall or visit a zoo or museum.
Be Interested and Interesting
Make time to take your child to the library to check out materials needed for homework (and for enjoyment) and read with your child as often as you can. Talk about school and learning activities in family conversations. Ask your child what was discussed in class that day. If she doesn't have much to say, try another approach. For example, ask her to read aloud a story she wrote or to talk about what she found out from a science experiment.
Attend school activities, such as parent-teacher conferences, plays, concerts, open houses and sports events. If you can, volunteer to help in your child's classroom or at special events. Getting to know some of your child's classmates and their parents builds a support network for you and your child. It also shows your child that his home and school are a team.
Children are more likely to complete homework successfully when parents monitor their assignments. How closely you need to monitor your child depends upon her age, how independent she is and how well she does in school. Whatever the age of your child, if she is not getting assignments done satisfactorily, she requires more supervision.
Here are some ways to monitor your child's assignments:
Ask about the School's Homework Policy
At the start of the school year, ask your child's teacher about any rules or guidelines that children are expected to follow as they complete homework. Ask about the kinds of assignments that will be given and the purposes for the assignments.
Talk with the teacher about your role in helping with homework. Expectations for parent involvement vary from teacher to teacher. Some teachers want parents to monitor homework closely, whereas others want them simply to check to make sure the assignment is completed on time. Ask the teacher to call if any problems with homework come up. Let her know that you will do the same.
Many elementary school students often like to have someone with them to answer questions as they work on assignments. If your child is cared for by someone else, talk to that caregiver about how to deal with homework. For an older child, if no one will be around, let him know when you want him to begin work and call to remind him if necessary.
However, if the teacher has made it known that students are to do homework on their own, limit your assistance to your child to assuring that assignments are clear and that necessary supplies are provided. Too much parent involvement can make children dependent-and takes away from the value of homework as a way for children to become independent and responsible.
Look over Completed Assignments
It's usually a good idea to check to see that your elementary school child has finished her assignments. If your middle-school student is having trouble finishing assignments, check his work, too. After the teacher returns completed homework, read the comments to see if your child has done the assignment satisfactorily.
Monitor Time Spent Viewing TV and Playing Video Games
American children on average spend far more time watching TV or playing video games than they do completing homework. In many homes, more homework gets done when TV viewing and "game" time is limited.
Once you and your child have worked out a homework schedule, take time to discuss how much TV and what programs she can watch. It's worth noting that television can be a learning tool. Look for programs that relate to what your child is studying in school, such as programs on history or science or dramatizations of children's literature. When you can, watch shows with your child, discuss them and encourage follow-up activities such as reading or a trip to the museum.
Likewise, limit the amount of time your child spends playing video games. As with TV programs, be aware of the games she likes to play and discuss her choices with her.
The basic rule is, "Don't do the assignments yourself." It's not your homework—it's your child's. "I've had kids hand in homework that's in their parents' handwriting," one eighth-grade teacher complains. Doing assignments for your child won't help him understand and use information. And it won't help him become confident in his own abilities.
Here are some ways that you can provide guidance without taking over your child's homework:
Help Your Child Get Organized
Help your child to make a schedule and put it in a place where you'll see it often. Writing out assignments will get him used to the idea of keeping track of what's due and when. If your child is not yet able to write, write it for him until he can do it himself.
A book bag or backpack will make it easier for your child to carry homework to and from school. Providing homework folders in which your child can tuck his assignments for safekeeping also can help him to stay organized.
Encourage Good Study Habits
Teachers generally give students tips on how to study. But it takes time and practice to develop good study habits. To reinforce good habits at home, you can:
· Help your child manage time to complete assignments. For example, if your eighth grader has a biology report due in three weeks, discuss all the steps she needs to take to complete it on time, including:
1. selecting a topic;
2. doing the research by looking up books and other materials on the topic and taking notes;
3. figuring out what questions to discuss;
4. drafting an outline;
5. writing a rough draft; and
6. revising and completing the final draft.
Encourage your child to make a chart that shows how much time she expects to spend on each step.
· Help your child to get started when he has to do research reports or other big assignments. Encourage him to use the library. If he isn't sure where to begin, tell him to ask the librarian for suggestions. If he's using a computer for online reference resources—-whether the computer is at home, school or the library—make sure he's getting whatever help he needs to use it properly and to find age-appropriate Web sites. Many public libraries have homework centers with tutors or other kinds of one-on-one assistance. After your child has completed the research, listen as he tells you the points he wants to make in the report.
· Give practice tests. Help your third grader prepare for a spelling test by saying the words as she writes them. Have her correct her own test as you spell each word.
· Help your child avoid last-minute cramming. Review with your fifth grader how and what to study for his social studies test long before it's to be given. You can have him work out a schedule of what he needs to do to, make up a practice test and write down answers to the questions he's made up.
· Talk with your child about how to take a test. Be sure she understands how important it is to read the instructions carefully, to keep track of the time and to avoid spending too much time on any one question. (See the Resources section for the titles of books and pamphlets that give more tips on how your child can get organized and develop good study habits.)
Talk about the Assignments
Talking and asking questions can help your child to think through an assignment and break it down into small, manageable parts. Here are some questions to ask.
· Do you understand what you're supposed to do? After your child has read the instructions, ask her to tell you in her own words what the assignment is about. (If she can't read yet, the teacher may have sent home instructions that you can read to her.) Some schools have homework hotlines that you can call or Web sites that you can access by computer for assignments in case your child misplaced a paper or was absent on the day it was given. If your child doesn't understand the instructions, read them with her and talk about the assignment. Does it have words that she doesn't know? How can she find out what the words mean? If neither you nor your child understands an assignment, call one of her classmates or get in touch with the teacher.
· Do you need help in understanding how to do this assignment? See if your child needs to learn more, for example, about subtracting fractions before she can do her assignment. Or find out if the teacher needs to explain to her again when to use different kinds of punctuation marks. If you understand the subject yourself, you may want to work through some examples with your child. However, always let her do the assignment herself.
· Do you have everything you need to do the assignment? Sometimes your child needs special supplies, such as colored pencils, metric rulers, calculators, maps or reference books. Check with the teacher, school guidance counselor or principal for possible sources of assistance if you can't provide the needed supplies. Check with your local library or school library for books and other information resources.
· Does your answer make sense to you? To check that your child understands what he is doing, ask him to explain how he solved a math problem or have him summarize what he has written in a report.
Watch for Frustration
If your child shows signs of frustration, let him take a break. Encourage him and let him see that you know he can do the work.
People of all ages respond to praise. And children need encouragement from the people whose opinions they value most—their families. "Good first draft of your book report!" or "You've done a great job" can go a long way toward motivating your child to complete assignments.
Children also need to know when they haven't done their best work. Make criticism constructive, however. Instead of telling a sixth grader, "You aren't going to hand in that mess, are you?" say, "The teacher will understand your ideas better if you use your best handwriting." Then give praise when the child finishes a neat version.
Talk with Teachers to Resolve Problems
Homework problems often can be avoided when families and caregivers value, monitor and guide their children's work on assignments. Sometimes, however, helping in these ways is not enough. If you have problems, here are some suggestions for how to deal with them.
Tell the Teacher about Your Concerns
You may want to contact the teacher if
· your child refuses to do her assignments, even though you've tried hard to get her to do them;
· the instructions are unclear;
· you can't seem to help your child get organized to finish the assignments;
· you can't provide needed supplies or materials;
· neither you nor your child can understand the purpose of the assignments;
· the assignments are too hard or too easy;
· the homework is assigned in uneven amounts—for instance, no homework is given on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, but on Thursday four assignments are made that are due the next day; or
· your child has missed school and needs to make up assignments.
In some cases, the school guidance counselor or principal also may be helpful in resolving problems.
Work with the Teacher
Continuing communication with teachers is very important in solving homework problems. As you work with your child's teacher, here are some important things to remember:
· Talk with each of your child's teachers early in the school year. Get acquainted before problems arise and let each teacher know that you want to be kept informed. Most elementary and middle schools hold regular parent-teacher conferences or open houses. If your child's school doesn't provide such opportunities, call the teacher to set up a meeting.
· Contact the teacher as soon as you suspect your child has a homework problem (as well as when you think he's having any major problems with his schoolwork). Schools have a responsibility to keep you informed about your child's performance and behavior and you have a right to be upset if you don't find out until report-card time that your child is having difficulties. On the other hand, you may figure out that a problem exists before the teacher does. By alerting the teacher, you can work together to solve a problem in its early stages.
· Request a meeting with the teacher to discuss homework problems. Tell him briefly why you want to meet. You might say, "Rachel is having trouble with her math homework. I'm worried about why she can't finish the problems and what we might do to help her." If English is your second language, you may need to make special arrangements, such as including in the meeting someone who is bilingual.
· Approach the teacher with a cooperative spirit. Believe that the teacher wants to help you and your child, even if you disagree about something. Don't go to the principal without giving the teacher a chance to work out the problem with you and your child.
· Let the teacher know whether your child finds the assignments too hard or too easy. (Teachers also like to know when their students are particularly excited about an assignment.) Of course, not all homework assignments can be expected to interest your child and be perfectly suited to her. Teachers just don't have time to tailor homework to the individual needs of each student. However, most teachers want to assign homework that their students can complete successfully and they welcome feedback.
Many teachers structure homework so that a wide range of students will find assignments interesting. For example:
—They offer students options for different approaches to the same topic or lesson;
—They give extra assignments to students who want more challenge; and
—They give specialized assignments to students who are having trouble in a particular area.
· During your meeting with the teacher, explain what you think is going on. In addition, tell the teacher if you don't know what the problem is. Sometimes a student's version of what's going on isn't the same as the teacher's version. For example, your child may tell you that the teacher never explains assignments so that he can understand them. But the teacher may tell you that your child isn't paying attention when assignments are given.
· Work out a way to solve or lessen the problem. The strategy will depend on what the problem is, how severe it is and what the needs of your child are. For instance:
o Is the homework often too hard? Maybe your child has fallen behind and will need extra help from the teacher or a tutor to catch up.
o Does your child need to make up a lot of work because of absences? The first step might be working out a schedule with the teacher.
o Does your child need extra support beyond what home and school can give her? Ask the teacher, school guidance counselor or principal if there are mentor programs in your community. Mentor programs pair a child with an adult volunteer who assists with the child's special needs. Many schools, universities, community organizations, churches and businesses offer excellent mentoring programs.
· Make sure that communication is clear. Listen to the teacher and don't leave until you're sure that you understand what's being said. Make sure, too, that the teacher understands what you have to say. If, after the meeting, you realize you don't understand something, call the teacher to clarify.
At the end of the meeting, it may help to summarize what you've agreed to do:
"OK, so to keep track of Kim's assignments, I'll check her assignment book each night and write my initials beside new assignments. Each day you'll check to make sure she's written down all new assignments in her book. That way we'll be certain that I know what her assignments are."
· Follow up to make sure that the approach you agreed to is working. If the teacher told you, for example, that your child needs to spend more time practicing long division, check back in a month to talk about your child's progress.
Homework can bring together children, families and teachers in a common effort to improve children's learning.
Helping your child with homework is an opportunity to improve your child's chances of doing well in school and life. By helping your child with homework, you can help him learn important lessons about discipline and responsibility. You can open up lines of communication—between you and your child and you and the school. You are in a unique position to help your child make connections between school work and the "real world," and thereby bring meaning (and some enjoyment) to your child's homework experience.
I have read the book and think I am learning. However I guess like most parents I am concerned with what the result of my daughter’s action will be. So getting to the point, my daughter is not completely out of control, however I am trying to prevent that from happening, because as I mentioned before I know that she has drank and smoked pot. I TRULY believe that it's recreational and NOT a problem, and as I keep on open mind I am watching very closely to any sign if it should be a problem. However that isn't by main concern right now.
What I am concerned with is her not respecting my curfew and it's certainly not by hours later that she returns but minutes at a time, and to me that is still not respecting what I given her for a curfew. As I mentioned she is 17 and driving (has her own car). She has broken her curfew more than once and I have made her stay in 1-2 days, taken the car away etc... and I thought it was working because when she's able to go back out then she returns when she is suppose to and all seems OK but then maybe a couple weeks later she doesn't return at curfew time.
Now aside from being scared that something could have happened, I am hurt by this. I give her 5 minutes past her curfew and then I call her - "she is always on her way" ???????? and shows up with 10 minutes. I should not have to call a 17-year-old to tell her it's time to come home!!!! So this happened this past Tuesday night I decided that when she got off work at 4:00 pm she was to go straight home and I asked her kindly to clean her room and get rid of a few inappropriate items that I did not want in my home and that she is not to go ANYWHERE for the rest of the night. She did ask if she could go to the gym and I told her that I would pick her up when I leave work and she can come with me otherwise NO. If she did as I asked then Thursday and Friday she will be allowed to go out, however her curfew will be for those 2 nights 11:00 pm (I took 1/2 hour off for every 5 minutes that got her in the situation) so she was 15 minutes late over her 12:30 curfew.
I did tell her that none of this disciplinary action is up for negotiation and if she feels the need to argue with me at all during it then we will start all over to the first day of not going out at all and so on. Hopefully I have made myself clear, however I guess I am always questioning whether or not I am pushing too hard?? Not hard enough??? …and always have that fear of her "losing it". I feel that I have to take baby steps in the disciplinary action steps because I have given her more freedom in the past then I should have but that was because she was trust-worthy then.
Her argument on my curfew time is that is just not late enough and "I am 17-years-old Mom"... and her 2 closest female friends get to stay out until 1:00am??? However I prefer not to compare myself with their Moms (who both live alone with the daughters)???
So do you feel that I am doing the right thing???
Also we have been working on her grades, which improvement from her she is getting there??? However she is a junior and had A LOT of work to do the remaining of the year and senior year to get her credits up - IT IS DO-ABLE. She has an option to attend what her school calls "Horizons" which is from 10:45am-3:15 pm everyday. This program is for 8-10 students at a time and is a (from what I am told) a great program however they will not accept a student in if the students is not willing. She is not willing because she does not want to be in school until 3:15??? Therefore her only other option is to get it together SOONER than later!!!!
Thanks Mark. Sorry so long of email but I guess it's better to tell you as much for now so that you can clearly evaluate this matter :)..
I cannot tell you how proud I am of the job you are doing. I rarely get the opportunity to pay this compliment (as evidenced by most of the emails here on the Emails From Parents Blog).
You are simply doing a bang-up job. You are ON TRACK like there’s no tomorrow. I have nothing to add other than to keep doing what you’re doing.
I would give you a big hug if you were standing in front of me now. You go mom!
Thanks for being such a great “student” (hope you don’t mind that term).
Is your teen "in control" or "out of control"?
Since I wrote you, a question with which I need some
help has popped into my mind.
My son is 16 and in the 11th grade. He has been in a
deep depression since the end of October. He is
beginning to pull out of it a little bit. Meds still
are not exactly right and will take a couple more
months to get right because two of them require very
slow dosing (lamictal and trileptal).
When my son just turned 12 and was entering the 7th
grade, he became actively suicidal. It took almost the
whole academic year to figure out what was going on
meds-wise and get him stable. Since then, he's done a
therapeutic wilderness camp, had lots of therapy, done
neurofeedback, and has been wonderful for three years
until the downturn in the fall, which was related to
an undiagnosed case of hypothyroidism and going down on
his meds (since he was stable for so long).
Since this latest depression, my husband and I have
laid off on all requirements. Now, we find ourselves
with a kid who is resistant to chores, respect, etc.
We can handle this and have been preparing him for the
big boom this weekend, “Honey, there are some things we
want and some things you want. But no one gets
something for nothing. We'll talk this weekend and
make a deal."
Here's my question: Will doing this kind of parenting
help to force some emotional growth? Or, should we
still consider a placement for him. At 16 and in the
11th grade, I see the clock ticking in terms of
getting him ready to leave home and manage his own
What have you seen?
The strategies in my ebook are ALL ABOUT fostering the development of self-reliance. Self-reliance is key! When we over-indulge our kids (the opposite of self-reliance), we end up with a kid who:
(a) Is dependent on us for free hand-outs of material items and privileges
(b) Is emotionally under-developed (i.e., we have a kid who is chronologically 16-years-old, but is emotionally more like 9-years-old)
(c) Is resentful because of his dependency
(d) expects continued indulgence
(e) has a strong sense of entitlement
(f) becomes detached -- not bonded -- to the parent
(g) experiences problems in other areas of his life as well (e.g., school)
When we as parents foster the development of self-reliance, we undo all (or most) of the above. To go into detail here about how one goes about fostering this development would be to re-write the ebook. I’ll simply direct you to the material, then we can tweak the strategies accordingly once you have implemented most of them.
==> Click here for the answer to this dilemma...
A weaker plan supported by both parents is better than a stronger plan supported by only one parent. I would simply summarize for him the important points and then model for him the strategies that you want him to begin to implement. If he simply does not want to use a particular strategy, then you would do well to strike some sort of compromise with him. The compromise may be a "watered-down" version of the real thing, but again, that's better than the two of you being on separate pages.
Hi Mark, My question is: Is it realistic to insist on appropriate attitude, respect and tone of voice from my daughter at this beginning stage, and if so can you make some suggestions? Thanks, happyfeet
You can deliver a consequence in a way that doesn’t accidentally reward her for negative behavior. And you can give your child your energy when things are going right rather than when they are going wrong.
Say to your daughter, "You know the rules. If you want to break the rules, there's a consequence -- no big deal. You decide."
==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents
What can you tell me about NVLD, and what can a parent do?
Non-verbal Learning Disability (NVLD or NLD) is very like Asperger Syndrome (AS). AS and NVLD are generally thought to describe pretty much the same kind of disorder, but to differ in severity—with AS describing more severe symptoms.
Signs of NVLD include:
· Great vocabulary and verbal expression
· Excellent memory skills
· Attention to detail, but misses the big picture
· Trouble understanding reading
· Difficulty with math, especially word problems
· Poor abstract reasoning
· Physically awkward; poor coordination
· Messy and laborious handwriting
· Concrete thinking; taking things very literally
· Trouble with nonverbal communication, like body language, facial expression and tone of voice
· Poor social skills; difficulty making and keeping friends
· Fear of new situations
· Trouble adjusting to changes
· May be very naïve and lack common sense
· Anxiety, depression, low self-esteem
· May withdraw, becoming agoraphobic (abnormal fear of open spaces)
Here are some parenting tips for kids with NLD?
· Keep the environment predictable and familiar.
· Provide structure and routine.
· Prepare your child for changes, giving logical explanations.
· Pay attention to sensory input from the environment, like noise, temperature, smells, many people around, etc.
· Help your child learn coping skills for dealing with anxiety and sensory difficulties.
· Be logical, organized, clear, concise and concrete. Avoid jargon, double meanings, sarcasm, nicknames, and teasing.
· State your expectations clearly.
· Be very specific about cause and effect relationships.
· Work with your child’s school to modify homework assignments, testing (time and content), grading, art and physical education.
· Have your child use the computer at school and at home for schoolwork.
· Help your child learn organizational and time management skills.
· Make use of your child’s verbal skills to help with social interactions and non-verbal experiences. For example, giving a verbal explanation of visual material.
· Teach your child about non-verbal communication (facial expressions, gestures, etc.). Help them learn how to tell from others’ reactions whether they are communicating well.
· Learn about social competence and how to teach it.
· Help your child out in group activities.
· Get your child into the therapies they need, such as: occupational and physical therapy, psychological, or speech and language (to address social issues).
· Steer your child toward a playmate they have something in common with and set up a play date. This is a way to get some social skills experience in a small, controlled, less-threatening way.
· See if you can find a small-group social skills training program in your school system, medical system, or community. This kind of program will probably not be available in smaller communities.
· Encourage your child to develop interests that will build their self-esteem and help them relate to other kids. For example, if your child is interested in Pokémon, pursuing this interest may open social doors for them with schoolmates.
· Talk to your child in private after you have gone with them to a group activity. You can discuss with them how they could improve the way they interact with other kids. For example, you might point out that other kids don't feel comfortable when your child stands so close to them. Help them practice the social skills you explain to them through role-playing.
· Bullying is unacceptable. Your child's school must make every effort to prevent it. If talking to your child's teachers and principal does not put an end to the victimization, ask your child's doctor to write a letter to the school, and pursue the issue up to higher channels in the school district if necessary.
· These kids need as few handicaps as possible, so make sure your child is getting the counseling, therapies, and/or medication they need to treat any other problems or medical conditions they might have.
· Reassure your child that you value them for who they are. It's a little tricky to help your child improve social skills, and at the same time nurture their confidence to hold on to their unique individuality.
Of course my bias would be to err on the side of trying the parenting strategies in my ebook first. Unless you will be sending him to a boarding school for at least a year, you will be wasting a lot of time and money on placement.
Keep in mind that I counsel kids who are struggling [just like your son], and I also work for a youth center that has 4 residential facilities. What I see is that the kid does very well while in placement, but if the parent has not made any changes on her end, the kid's "positive behavior change" has no longevity -- with a few short weeks after returning home, I see the behavior problems reappear with one negative caveat - the kid has been associating with other delinquents, and is a better "criminal thinker" as a result.
My daughter has arranged one week's work experience at a local police station. She is actually considering becoming a police constable or studying criminology or social work. But right now she can be defiant. Could this be dangerous for her? I thought it would be good to meet local role models and police who will know her personally in the area etc., and she has to sign something to guarantee she will keep confidentiality and dress and behave appropriately.
I just want to make sure this doesn't fall into the intrigue category. I'm worried that any other work experience will bore her and this "bites" time.
What are you thoughts?
This does fall into the “intrigue category,” but the intrigue will most likely involve the “high-intensity” of police work and the risks involved -- rather than the “high-intensity” associated with breaking the law, being a criminal, etc. I think this is a good move. It’s very common for intense youth to sublimate, or redirect, their strong need for intensity toward a more socially acceptable means as an adult. She will make a great cop and will probably enjoy the periodic drama connected to this line of work.
"Hi Mark, I know you hear from so many parents, you probably would not remember my story, but I emailed you a while ago about my daughter. She left home, telling people she was kicked out, and has moved in with her 21 yr old boyfriend (that she only met Christmas past). He has his own problems ....unemployed, recovering drug addict, etc.
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My 17 year old daughter who, up until now has been an absolute delight to raise, has become friends with a group of "undesirables". She and I have done nothing but argue since she became friends with them and as a consequence she packed her bags and went to her grandmothers to live for a week. She is playing the "I can do what I want when I want" game very well as she has her licence and her own car. As soon as she gets home from work she is in that car, hanging around the streets with these people (who don’t work and have nothing better to do). No need to tell you most of them are from a family of parents who care little about their children or have no control over what they do and where they go. Whilst she is not actually doing anything illegal I cannot seem to get through to her that she will get the reputation of the people she is hanging with. The group has been in trouble with the police on more than one occasion on vandalism, petty theft, minor traffic matters etc. etc. Whilst my daughter has not been in the same trouble I am so fearful that she will be dragged into it. I am suspicious that she is sweet on one of the boys in the group (and he is the biggest rat of them all).
I guess what I am trying to say is that I want bigger and better things for her but she cant see the big picture. All she sees is that they are her friends. She is out with them during the week until 11-12 o'clock at night and therefore keeping the household awake until she gets home (as we are worried about her). She tells tales about her whereabouts. Instead of telling us she is down the street parked and talking to these people she tell us she is at one of their houses (and she chooses the name of one of the friends she knows we don’t have a problem with).
Any tips on how to deal with trying to explain to her that she is not doing her reputation any favours by hanging around with this group of people, without putting this group of friends down as dead heads would be greatly appreciated.
The portion of the ebook that would be most appropriate here would be the strategy entitled "When You Want Something Form Your Kid" -- in the Anger Management chapter of the online version.
It appears to me that you have bigger fish to fry than your daughter's "reputation" (e.g., possible drug use, illegal activity, getting pregnant, getting arrested, etc.).
Not to catastrophize, but she really seems to be in harms way.
I have some questions: What did she do to earn her car? What does she do to earn driving privileges? Also, what does she do to earn time out of the house to be with her "friends"?
I'll wait to hear back,
I just wanted to say thank you so much for putting up with those of us who do a lot of whining. When I first emailed you, I said, "It's not working." Then you email back and said, "What's 'it'." Then I said, "The program." Then you said something and I was so pissed -- you said, "If the program is not working, it's because you are not working the program."
After I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I realized I had "half-ass-ed" it ...I had skimmed over the material, didn't listen to the lecture portions, didn't really invest the time or energy to do this thing right -- my bad!
I went back to the blackboard and read everything ...listened to everything, and started getting busy. Now, I'm happy to say that I am really making good progress.
I guess I just wanted to take shortcuts. As you said "there can be no half-measures ...half measures will be the kiss of failure."
Thanks again for your ongoing support and honesty. Sign me a grateful mother of three wonderful and challenging kids: ages 8, 12 and 14.
- selecting a topic
- doing the research by looking up books and other materials on the topic and taking notes
- figuring out what questions to discuss
- drafting an outline
- writing a rough draft
- revising and completing the final draft
==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Oppositional, Defiant Teens
Thank you for your support on the children. I am one who purchased your book for my sister-in-law who has an OOCT to say the least. I have tried to support her, but avoid family feud and need some help. If I need to purchase another book/license, that will be fine with me since it is 2 users you are supporting.
My sister-in-law's daughter will be 17 in November. She’s lower on developmental and social areas and quit school 3 years ago due to nobody being able to deal with her. Her mother (R) took her out of school and stated she would Home-school her, which never happened since her daughter will just not do anything. R has to work and some of us have tried to help her out such as my other sister-in-law trying to work with her on Home school material (when it was finally purchased after a year). I enrolled her (with teens & R's agreement) in a Kumon program, and my mother-in-law has tried too. What happens? Every time it seems to start working the teen goes into a fit of how someone spoke to her, or treated her wrong, etc., and R comes to her rescue and let's the family member (or non-member) have it and creates a larges chaos and family feud, so we all just back up.
We just had another one last week. R has been reading your book and been applying it -- it seems like she was starting to have success. My daughter went to their home to borrow a movie. R had previously stated that was fine. R was not home, but her other daughter said that is fine, just find one, my daughter did and the Teen just stuck her head out from the back with the look but my daughter (who was with a friend who verified her story) just ignored it and said HI. She got the movie, came home and 5 min later the teen called, asking my husband to speak to our daughter, when she got on the phone, the Teen just went off on her, questioning which movie she got and stating she is not to get a movie when her mother was not there and on and on. My daughter tried to tell her that she had discussed it with R and that was fine, no listening to this, the teen just kept fuming and screaming and yelling at her. My daughter just finally told her she did not have to listen to her and hung up on her. My husband was there and he verified that our daughter (who was a challenge when she came to live with us 5 years ago) did not scream, yell or act inappropriately.
The next morning R (his sister) caught him in church and told him that his daughter should mind her own business, her behavior was not all that and he told her that he was right there and our daughter did not act inappropriate. R would not hear of it and just went on about our daughter's behavior and he stated again that she was not out of line so R brought up times we were not around how she acted and my husband told her that we were not discussing any other times which we have not even heard about but the previous evening's occurrence. R would not accept that and stormed out of church, stating she would take her children somewhere else to church.
R finally did come back midweek service but 1/2 way through it, when the teens were asked to come up and sing and our daughter would not sing until my husband called her on it, she waited until they were done singing and left the service. This is a normal process, things seem to go good and R will 'support her daughter' and all chaos breaks lose. What is the issue here?
I have learned over the years to keep myself from the family, R and her mother always defend the teen and lose their cool and whenever they feel like it, the may even apologize and things are to be fine again. I know this is family but what I am wondering is why would the mother jeopardize all that was going good by 'throwing a fit' as she is trying to break her teen off?
Does all that make sense? If so, could you explain this to me please.
Thank you very much,
I run into situations similar to this one when I work with families. There are some occasions when the “mother” [who I thought was an adult] is actually more like a teenager (i.e., chronologically she is, say, 35-years-old, but emotionally she is about 16-years-old).
As you may have read in my eBook, children who are over-indulged do not develop emotionally until parents set limits and issue consequences for poor choices. In the case of R., I would venture to guess that she was over-indulged as a child (e.g., had few rules, was able to bulldoze over her parent, got her way a lot, etc.) as evidence by her temper tantrums that you have described.
Thus, in dealing with her, you would do well to employ the same strategies outlined in the ebook with her (e.g., setting limits, wearing a poker face, refusing to argue, etc.).
Most likely, the harder you try to help, the worse it will get. You may be taking on too much responsibility for R.
Stay in touch,
I’ve made some comments below. Please look for the arrows: >>>>>>>>>>>
I have a 14 year old son with ODD. I need advice on step one of lesson one of your parenting program (apologizing, preparing him for change). I have tried this approach with him in the past. It causes him to go into an all out episode that tends to last for a month. He feels it gives him permission to blame everything on us.
>>>>>>>>>>> Just omit the apology part. Include all the rest, because he deserves to know that some parenting changes are coming; he needs a “heads-up” on this.
He says were just lying because he knows that we don't believe what we're saying, even though HE knows we ARE to blame. It does not get him to admit that he is even part of the problem. And like I stated, this goes on for about a month.
>>>>>>>>>> The strategy does not include ‘getting him to admit his part.’
So, my questions are: 1. Is it really necessary to apologize again, even though I have done so in the past with no success?
If so, must the apology come first, or can I first state that things will be changing?
>>>>>>>>>>> See above.
2. Can I reword the apology and warning of upcoming change?
He can spot someone else’s words a mile away.
3. Can I deliver this info a little at a time?
>>>>>>>>>>> Preferably, just state that change is coming, and that you will give him time to adjust to the changes. Just keep it simple.
It does not work well to tell him too many things at once. 4. Is there a best time to start this whole process?
>>>>>>>>>>> The best time is now.
He has been in an elevated defiant mood for a week or more. Would it be best to wait until he is in a less defiant mood, or is this the opportune time?
>>>>>>>>>>>I don’t think it really matters.
I also need your advice on another aspect of his behavior. We have an 11 year old son who is the target of his brother's "attention." The older son's mission in life is to mentally torment his little brother. The more we punish the older one, the more he torments the younger one. My younger son is on the verge of a complete nervous breakdown. Sending the younger one out to play is not an option as there are no other children in our neighborhood for him to play with. I've had him try calling friends to see if he can go to their houses to play, but all his friends have parents that both work and are not allowed to have friends over while the parents aren't home. We have no relatives in the area whose house we could send him to. We live in a small house and the boys share a bedroom, so my younger son doesn't even have a place of his own that he can go to escape.
Sometimes (if my husband isn't on night-shift and therefore is not sleeping), I send the younger boy to my bedroom to escape. But that usually results in me having to physically restrain the older one from going in after him. If I try to send the older one to his room, he simply refuses. The older boy does not have a stereo, MP3 player, T.V., or other "toys" that can be taken from him as punishment. He rarely plays video games, uses the computer, or the phone, so there's really nothing to take away there. It seems that his only form of recreation is in tormenting his brother.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>> I’ll refer you to the ebook that details the strategy to use here: www.myoutofcontrolteen.com/am
>>>>>>>>>The above link is to the Anger Management Chapter (refer to “When You Want Something From Your Kid”).
Thank you for your time.
>>>>>>>>>>>>> If you have further questions, just float me another email.
My 16 yr old daughter rec'd F's and we are not allowing her to get her drivers license until her grades are c or better. Are we doing the right thing?
Re: poor academic performance, please go to www.myoutofcontrolteen.com/q-a and read this email from a parent: "My son brings home straight F's on his report cards. I ground him for the entire grading period, but he continues to fail in nearly all subjects. I know my son is a bright kid and can do the work when he wants to. What can I do to motivate him?" -- B. R.
Re: withholding her driver’s license, please review the following page: www.myoutofcontrolteen.com/rely
Given that we as parents want to (a) get out of the business of playing teacher, dean, vice-principal, etc., and (b) foster the development of self-reliance, the answer to your question is “no” – parents are not doing the right thing by not allowing a teenager to get her driver’s license.
Whenever you are undecided about what to do, always ask yourself, “Is the decision I’m about to make going to foster the development of self-reliance or inhibit it. If your decision will foster the development, then go with it. If not, then don’t.
Not allowing her to get her driver’s license will inhibit, to some degree, the development of self-reliance.
>>>>>>>>>>>How do you know when it is over the top?
Well …make sure you are not grounding or taking away privileges for too long – more on this here: www.myoutofcontrolteen.com (see “When You Want Something From Your Kid”).
>>>>>>>>>>>If she threatens to run away again do we immediately call the police?
Well first of all, don't threaten her. Avoid the temptation to say things like, "If you walk out that door, I'm calling the cops" or "If you leave, you're grounded for a month." or "Fine, go ahead and run ...I'll pack your shit and you live somewhere else."
Instead say, "You know that I can't control you -- and if you really want to run away from home, I can't stop you. I can't watch you 24 hours a day, and I can’t lock you up in your room. But no one in the world loves you the way I do. That is why we have established some house rules. Running away from home will not solve any problems. You and I know it will only make matters worse."
If your daughter follows through with her threat to run away, do the following:
1. Call the police. Don't wait 24 hours -- do it right away.
2. Get the name of the officer you speak with.
3. Call back often.
4. Call everyone your daughter knows and enlist their help.
5. Search everywhere, but do not leave your phone unattended.
6. Search your daughter's room for anything that may give you a clue as to where she went.
7. You may also want to check your phone bill for any calls she made in the last few weeks.
When your teen comes home, wait until you and she are calmed down before you address the matter. Then say (with your best poker face), "When you ran away, I felt worried and afraid. But I have an obligation to protect you. Therefore, if you choose to run away again, you'll choose the consequence -- runaway charges will be filed and a juvenile probation officer will want to meet with you."
If your daughter runs again, follow through with this consequence.
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OK, I ordered your book, read some of it by skipping around for now, hoping for an answer to help get me started and so far I have tried all that I have been reading.
My most desperate question involves my son leaving mad, staying out all night or days at a time and not contacting me so I know where he is or whom he is with. I started out with grounding him to the house, which didn't work as he comes and goes, when I am not home, as he pleases.
He went so far as to skip school one day having a "female friend"over and then lied about not going to school. He told me if I didn't ask him questions he wouldn't have to lie to me. I have recently taken his house key and he still left then came back the following evening at knocking on the door because it was locked. I set his book bag outside and told him was not getting in. He responded with "you knew where I was" and I chose not to respond back so he left. I hated doing this but he is constantly leaving and not coming home when he is mad, then calls my daughter's cell phone to see if I am mad....like he has accomplished what he set out to do. I know I am asking a lot seeing as I have just begun your program but as I stated, what I have read, been there done that.
Let's do this ...most of the answers to your questions and problems are addressed in the ebook. I would ask that you read the ENTIRE ebook and listen to ALL the audio files. Then email me a specific problem (just one or two at a time).
Take a deep breath. This will take a little time to turn around.