Thank you for your newsletter reminding me that there is help out there. I have neglected to give you our story because I know you are busy.
Our grandson has come to live with us here in Indiana one year ago from Hawaii . He has always been close to us since birth because his father was murdered when he was three months old and we cared for my daughter and him after that, until she remarried a military guy and moved to HI. D____ is 13 years old now …his mother has also joined the military and he is on the verge of being out of control.
D____ has been diagnosed ADHD and ODD and was on meds while in HI. However since he has been here, we have not kept up with these meds and it is my desire not to have too.
He was in therapy October and November, but the therapist only would show for the sessions less than half of the time and I did not know where to turn.
November was horrible, and then I began using your techniques. D____ responded very well to the poker face and the three-day groundings of his games and computer. He went from an average four detentions a month to none in Dec. and January. Now, February, he has six!
I don’t know of any changes at home or school that would have caused such a drastic change. He has begun to be disrespectful again and has had all of his fun items taken away. If he continues, I don’t know what to take away next. Starting over with the three days has me completely confused at this point since he is getting in trouble over and over again in the same day.
Any suggestions or questions?
A kid’s emotional and behavioral problems happen for a reason. The current problems could be due to something at home or school, something that happened in the past, bio-chemical changes that occur as the child develops, etc. (You did mention that he is 13-years-old now. Kids usually fire their caretakers as managers around this age and say, ”I take it from here.”) In any event, it wouldn’t be a good use of time and energy to speculate about the cause. All we can do is address issues today.
I find that when parents were experiencing an improvement in their child’s behavior, and then things got worse again, it is nearly always the case that the parent has neglected some of her strategies. The method discussed in my ebook consists of a ‘set of strategies’ that must be used ‘in combination’ with one another. If any part of the method is overlooked, the entire system fails.
Consider all the individual components in the transmission of your car. If just one tiny part (e.g., a check ball or a little spring) is lose or broken, the entire transmission stops working. The same is true with these parenting strategies.
Let me provide you with a check-list. If you answer “no” to any of these statements, you may have discovered a potential problem in your parenting transmission:
1. After issuing a consequence, I never retract it.
2. I allow my out-of-control kid to make wrong choices, which gives him wisdom; experience is a great teacher.
3. I am able to differentiate between my kid’s wants and her/his needs.
4. I don’t nag – I simply follow through with the consequence.
5. I don’t try to save my kid from negative consequences and painful emotions associated with poor choices.
6. I expect my out-of-control kid to resist my new parenting strategies.
7. I give equal love to all my kids, but parent them differently.
8. I give only one warning -- then I follow through with the consequence.
9. I give my kid at least five chores to do each week.
10. When I slip into a rage against my kid, I apologize, but I don’t try to compensate by over-indulging him/her.
11. I keep an eye out for my kid’s guilt-trips.
12. I know that a weaker parenting-strategy supported by both parents is better than a stronger strategy supported by only one, and I adjust accordingly.
13. I have learned to say “no”-- and to stick with “no” when it is my answer.
14. I only give my kid gifts on birthdays, Christmas and graduation.
15. I understand that over-indulged kids are too comfortable and that they need some discomfort before they will change.
16. I understand that parenting is not a popularity contest – I am not a "buddy"!
17. I respond to my kid’s anger with a poker face.
18. When taking away privileges, I take away the privilege for a short period (3 days works best; if it lasts too long, resentment builds, my kid forgets the infraction, and the lesson is lost).
19. When I catch myself feeling sorry for my kid, I know it is a sign that I am – once again – taking on too much responsibility.
20. When my kid needs to be cheered-up, I do so with active listening, empathy, paraphrasing, validation, and hugs rather than giving her/him stuff or freedom (e.g., unearned privileges, food, gifts, fun activities, etc.).
21. I do not dabble with these non-traditional parenting strategies – I am consistent!
22. I regularly use “The Art Of Saying Yes” when my answer is yes (covered in the ebook).
23. I regularly use “The Art Of Saying No” when my answer is no (covered in the ebook).
24. I regularly use the strategy “When You Want Something From Your Kid” whenever I want my kid to do as requested (covered in the ebook).
25. I avoid power struggles at all cost.
26. I have the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and I have the wisdom to know the difference.
The Strong-Willed Out-of-Control Teen
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.
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