Her son is intolerable to me...

I have been involved/partnered for 3 years with a wonderful woman. But her son is intolerable to me. Despite a variety of diagnoses from doctors who see only his mood disorders and not his daily behavior, the most obvious diagnosis (that they all missed) is ODD. You can not do or say anything that he doesnt like w/o him jumping up screaming, sometimes for hours. Three years ago he was 5150’d for putting his fist through several windows, making numerous suicide threats, throwing things all over the living room and more. I pushed his mom to call the police and they took him to the hospital. The hospital kept him for only one night. If it was my kid, he’d have had to clean the mess he made and sign a contract about future behavior and professional help (including anger mgmt) before I would take him back to live in my house. But his mother never holds him accountable for anything, for fear of him hurting himself or screaming at her (which he does anyway.) He tore up the contract that I had helped her compose and she let him back in anyway.

The next day while she was at work, he smashed up her entire kitchen with a baseball bat. Then the hospital kept him for 3 weeks. To this day, his mother has not asked him to reimburse her the $2000 it took to replace the sliding glass door, the cabinets, etc. (It would have cost more, but a friend gave her a free stove, I gave her dishes, and she chose not to replace the microwave).

His mother vacilates between feeling sorry for him and being afraid of him. In fact, now she thinks she made a mistake sending him to the hospital (because he talks endlessly about how bad that made him feel and how horrible it was that we “did that to him”).

He fails at school, wont keep a job, smokes pot, and constantly complains about what a victim he is and how everyone owes him an apology. His mom has done everything (too much) for him, but he appreciates nothing and rails about his victimhood. He has issues about being a mixed-race child who was adopted (at 4 months) and his mother buys into all his excuses. I am a social worker with an MSW and a BA in psychology. I know plenty about the hurt children endure being seperated from birth parents etc. But I don’t believe for a minute that that is the cause of his outrageous behavior that she tolerates and rewards with nurturing attention.

He is very verbally abusive and incapable of listening. He is in charge of his mother instead of the reverse. He batters her verbally until she feels like dying. She appeases, accomodates, over-protects & over-indulges. She rewards his misbehavior and seems puzzled at the cause. I love her very much and don't want to leave like all her prior partners. But I am at my wits end. I can not stand to be around him; he is so hostile and cruel and she cant or wont take charge.

I have been searching through the internet seeking help with this problem. Personally, much as I love her, I think mom is a big part of the problem. Her son is no longer living in her home, but she pays his rent. Because he is completely financially dependent on her, she is the one person with real leverage, but she wont use it, due not just to insufficient info/strategies, etc. (I’ve given her plenty of good advice, which she uses on occasion.) But she rarely puts her foot down (even though he acts better on the rare occasions when she does), due to deeply ingrained emotional barriers like fear, misplaced guilt, and I don’t know what else.

If you have techniques that really work, how can you get her to consistantly use them?

--in love but desperate in California


I have to be honest here (of course). If she's NOT willing to work a program - and if she's the only one in a position to effect change - then don't waste your money purchasing the eBook.

Having said that, a weaker strategy supported by both caretakers is much better than a stronger plan supported by only one (you did say you have offered some advice in the past, which she uses on occasion).

In any case, you don't risk anything if you decide to try the program. If the strategies I've outlined don't provide you with any benefit [or very little benefit], just email me and I'll forward your invoice to ClickBank for your refund - and you can keep the eBook and everything that comes with the package.

Fair enough?

I know you're in a tough spot,


Online Parent Support

Take some quiet time each day and read God’s word...

Thank you for all your encouragement.

I find the one of best ways to relax and meditate is to take some quiet time each day and read God’s word the Bible.

In Joshua 1: 8, 9 Just after the death of his best friend and leader the mighty Moses, Joshua was given the responsibility to then take over the leadership of several hundred thousand people (very demanding strong willed people). He was encouraged to take time each day to meditate on God’s word. As you have encouraged us to do with our needy strong willed kids. Mine is conduct disorder & bi-polar needy. At times I feel overwhelmed, but then your words and the words of other’s in my life come ringing in my ears, don’t give up, be of good courage, you will get through this. So I keep going, each day, one day at a time.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

Keep up the great work, and take some time to meditate on the words of the creator of the universe who is not too busy to think about us.

Yours faithfully,


Failure As A Mother?

Hi Mark:

I'm interested in getting your book, is it sold at book store? My computer is really old and I can't download a large file and have no sound card.

I'm having a problem with my 16 year old son. He is disrespectful, smokes pot and sometimes gets very angry. I'm divorced and my new partner is having a very difficult time dealing with the disrespect in the home. I feel like I'm in the middle and am trying to make everyone happy.

I really need some help. My partner thinks it's my fault for how my son is acting. I am a failure as a mother? I have loved him, tried teaching him right from wrong, talked with him, and put him in a program for kids from divorced parents. I am a good role model, I don't drink, do drugs, I'm honest and loving. I don't understand why this is happening.

Thank you for taking the time to read this email.




Hi R.,

The eBook is a digital book not sold in stores. We have the eBook as a digital product so individuals can receive it instantly rather than waiting for shipping.

Even with an old computer, download time is only about 10 seconds. If for some reason you cannot download it, I'll send it to you as an attachment in an email.

Re: no sound card. You can purchase CDs and play the audio in your car or elsewhere.

==> Here's the link for the CDs.

Feel free to call me if you have any additional questions or concerns about the delivery of this package.

Thank you,


P.S. Of course you are NOT a failure as a mother. Are you beating up on yourself? If so, stop!

Online vs. Offline

Hi Mark,

I am glad to have found your site on this my precious son's 17th birthday. I have every intention of ordering shortly. I did want to ask though, since it is online, are we (my hubby too) able to view the seminars over and over? I am not particularly enthused about an online seminar but short of driving to Indiana it's a great option. I prefer to have a hardcopy of books, so I'll print it out.

I am the only person in a family of 5 who does NOT take medication for ADHD (husband included), so I hope that we are all able to gain help from this newly found insight.

Looking forward to your reply.




Hi D.,

Yes …you can go through the program as often as needed – and at your own pace. You can print out a hard copy of the eBook, and I also have 2 CDs of the seminar (an additional $17.00) if you want to go the extra mile (click here for details). Thus, you can go through all the material without sitting at the computer. If you don't want to spend the money to get both the eBook and the CDs, I would recommend just getting the CDs.

Mark @ www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

ODD Boyfriend


I was just wondering if you could answer a few questions for me. My boyfriend is 19 years old and has oppositional defiant disorder and its driving me crazy. It seems like all we do is fight then he appologizes when he finally makes me cry. How can I make a simple convo not turn into an argument about nothing. For example I was waiting for him to finish getting dresses kinda watching him and he freaked out saying how he HATES when i watch him all the time it annoys him. What?! or another is we were talking about actors and I said that i didnt like a certain actor because he was too popular and he said that it wasnt a good enough reason and got really mad and the fight escalated to him calling me a bitch and me crying. I just cant help but "stick up for myself" but is this just fueling the fire? what are some techniques for dealing with this without feeling like im giving in or just agreeing with him all the time. I feel worthless and resentful alot but i also feel guilty for making him feel like he is a mean person all the time. He refuses to see anyone for help because he was pumped full of meds for adhd when he was just 5 and it really messed him up so is there anything i can do? please help. ive looked everywhere on the internet but i just cant find anything about dealing with a spouse or boyfriend with ODD. thank you for your time and i eagerly look forward to your relpy.

Best Regards


At the risk of turning this email into a sales pitch, I have to say you would greatly benefit from my eBook. I regularly recommend to parents that, in the case where one spouse acts more like a child and less like an adult, the more mature parent simply use the same strategies - except on the other parent.

You'll find a lot of ways to deal with your boyfriend. Just use the strategies in the same way you would with a child, because your boyfriend may be 19-years-old chronologically - but emotionally he's more like a 12-year-old (if he is ODD). There's a huge maturity-time-lag with ADHD/ODD individuals.

I'm serious, download the eBook and try the techniques on him. If you don't get any benefit from the eBook, just email me and I'll give you a refund. It's that simple. You'll drive yourself nuts if you don't know how to deal with an ODD personality - I promise.

Mark @ www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com

Son's Poor Academic Performance

"One area that I'm dealing with regarding my 15 year old (almost 16) son is with his school work. He has not interest in school whatsoever. He's barely getting by. He skips classes (which after he did last week, I grounded him for three days, as you suggest). I just received a call yesterday from his science teacher letting me know that he hasn't turned in assignments, and currently has a D in her class. He has D's and F's in his other classes as well. I'm sure you've heard this before, but I know he is intelligent. He has the potential, but he doesn't see it and doesn't care to apply himself. In your ebook, you talk about handing over ownership of this area in particular to your children. So, I've started doing this, however, I wonder if you can tell me what my place is in his life in regards to this area. I will also let you know that he is also dealing with depression, and was recently put on an antidepressant at the suggestion of his doctor. I'm sure this plays some part in all of this. If you can offer me any suggestions/advice as to what my role is in this particular area I would greatly appreciate!"

Re: “…what my place is in his life in regards to this area.”

First of all, I’m glad to hear that you are letting go of ownership of your son’s poor academic performance. As long as you take responsibility for it – he won’t!

As far as your “place” goes, you will need to do the following:
  1. Let him know that his schoolwork is HIS job and that you are not going to take responsibility for it any longer.
  2. If teachers attempt to recruit you as a co-teacher, tell them to call you if the issue is behavioral, otherwise - it’s his problem now.
  3. Ask to see report cards, but only to show your son that you are interested in is school life – not to reprimand or take back ownership.
  4. Continue to make periodic statements such as “you’ve got what it takes” …“I know you’re more than capable” …etc.

Re: “…dealing with depression…”

Simply follow through with the nurturing pieces outlined in the eBook (e.g., asking one question each day to show you are interested in his day-to-day life ...saying “I love you” ...spending time with him in an activity that costs little or no money ...catching him in the act of “doing things right” ...etc.).

Most teens grow out of their depression. Don’t focus on – or show emotions of worry about – this condition (unless he begins to talk about suicide). And don’t try to “cheer him up” by over-indulging him.

Sometimes the hardest thing for parents to do is “nothing.” But often times, less is better.

==> JOIN Online Parent Support

I have actually gotten the words...

If I had had this program when B___ was two, I think our lives would’ve been so much easier. I have actually gotten the words that you use to turn his arguments around - and his behavior. It wasn't easy, and things are not perfect, but we have far more good days than bad.

I doubted for several months that this program would work. But on faith, I kept doing it and doing it and doing it. Now my new parenting strategies have become a habit - and my son knows it. We still have our ups and downs, but I know I'm finally over the hump - and I actually enjoy seeing the fruits of my tough love. Thanks again Mark. I don't know where I would be without your support.

Grateful mum,


Online Parent Support

Mom Needs Support From "The System"


It has been another crazy week in my home.

B was in a patrol car three times within 26 hours this week.

He did not come home four nights in a row, Th-Fr-Sat-Sun. Stayed at that Foster kid's house against my wishes. G (estranged and STRANGE husband) is no help.

Tuesday..he skipped school...the City Police picked him up at 11:00 A.M. with his delinquent ghetto friend by the mall, took him to school. He wore bedroom slippers to school to cause a scene and call attention to himself. I had to go and get him as he was obnoxious. He came home went to bed. He had been running around for four nights. Slept for hours. I went to check on him later, he had switched door knobs to put one that had a lock on it...swapped from another door) and I used a paper clip to open it. When I got it open, the black friend was on the bottom bunk and B was on the top. They had ripped the magnets off the window in his room for the alarm system. They were planning to sneak out.

He and I were arguing. He pushed me and everything spoken to me had an "F" in the sentence. The two of them walked out at 11:00 P.M. I had the cops bring him back and they could not find the other boy. B let the other kid have his cell phone and they were calling each other. I went to bed, as I had been up four nights prior in a row and it was past midnight at that point. A went to the lav at 2:30 and said she heard voices in B's room. B snuck the other boy back in. At this point, I called the cops to report that he was "found" and the foster dad. They got up at 5:00 A.M. and went to school.

At 1:00 P.M. Wednesday afternoon, B went to get on the public transportation bus instead of the school bus. The principal grabbed his arm and told him you go on YOUR BUS as your mother wants you home. He told the administrator to get his "fing" hands off of him and he got arrested for disturbance. He spent four hours in JDD.

Thursday and Friday (last night) he stayed at that kid's again. He does not listen and just walks out of the house. He is strong and violent and I do not want to mess with him. My husband has no control either. He has two arrests and two court dates now. We need some help. He is completely out of control.

I have been advised from a few counselors here to let him suffer the natural consequences and I will have some leverage once the courts (which are inundated) kick in.

I would appreciate any input.

Thanks and have a great weekend!



I agree …he needs to experience the full ramifications of his poor choices, which he will. I know the wheels of justice turn slowly – but they turn – and he will have his day in court. Your mission in the meantime is to muster up some patience with the process.

If he destroys property, pushes you, leaves without permission, etc., simply call the police so they can make yet another report. This will give the prosecutor more ammunition when you actually do get to court.


My Out-of-Control Teen

Tough Love for Your Unruly Teen

"Well, I took the car away because he missed his curfew last night by 50 minutes. Total attitude all day. Now he has packed his things and left - after a big scene. I tried to remain calm, did not chase but am obviously concerned as to where he is. I think I am dealing with a child that is beyond what I can handle. We have tried counseling at a local level and were unsuccessful since he manipulated it. A lot of money and weak results. He refuses to go back. We may need an intervention program/boarding school. Suggestions on how we investigate that? Thank you again."

Click here for the answer...

Bipolar Teen


The diagnoses is in - he's got bipolar. This is what we thought all along based on the info on your site and your emails. Do you know how this is treated?




Hi F.,

Once the diagnosis of bipolar disorder is made, the treatment of children and adolescents is based mainly on experience with adults, since as yet there is very limited data on the efficacy and safety of mood stabilizing medications in youth.

The essential treatment for this disorder in adults involves the use of appropriate doses of mood stabilizers, most typically lithium and/or valproate, which are often very effective for controlling mania and preventing recurrences of manic and depressive episodes.

Research on the effectiveness of these and other medications in children and adolescents with bipolar disorder is ongoing. In addition, studies are investigating various forms of psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, to complement medication treatment for this illness in young people.

Lithium is a naturally occurring substance. As a medication, lithium reduces chemicals in the body that cause excitation or mania. Lithium is used to treat manic episodes of manic-depressive illness. Lithium helps to prevent and control symptoms of mania such as hyperactivity, rushed speech, poor judgment, reduced need for sleep, aggression, and anger.

Valproate is also an excellent mood stabilizer and is superior to lithium for mixed, chronic, or atypical forms of bipolar disorder in children. It has also been successfully used to treat aggression in patients with FXS and in children with autism.

Good luck - stay in touch,

Online Parent Support

SUCCESS is sooooo sweet...

Just wanted to let you know about my success last night. J___ met at a little Italian restaurant me for dinner last night since we were the only two home. Nice dinner, some nice talk - college lacrosse recruiting, Christmas, etc. As we were leaving the restaurant to get into our separate cars he asked to go to the soccer game. I said no and that it was not open for discussion. I told him if he went I would take the car away for 3 days. He tried to call my bluff and said that never works due to inconvenience. I told him my good friend had agreed to help me since my husband is traveling so much. Of course he began to argue - even pulled the "that girl I really like is gonna be there!" routine. I kept a slight smile on my face (no scowling!) and repeated myself several times. He continued to negotiate and all I said was no and I am not going to argue. He threatened, told me I was acting like a robot, said this is b....it - all the things you know he was going to do. I laughed at some of his antics to make it lighter but firmly held my ground. We stayed in that parking lot "discussing" for 22 minutes. (i would have left sooner but since I intended to FIRMLY hold my ground I needed to wait it out.) He left in a huff and threatened. We went in opposite directions and when I got home (probably 2 minutes after he did) his car was in the garage and he was watching TV. I came in and made a BIG deal about his cooperation - intentionally acting like an over the top fool so he would laugh.

SUCCESS is sooooo sweet.
THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!


Kudos for a job well done!!

Bear in mind there will be more episodes like this one. Be consistent. Hunker-down for the long haul.


Online Parent Support

Transportation Issue

Love this product. It is as if someone sat in our house for three days and watched what was going on in order to write it! Job well done.

I agree with everything you have said, but I am stuck re: consequences. My husband works in a different city so he leaves Sun nite and returns Fri nite. Our 17 year old son has a car - we thought to make our lives easier. He is responsible for taking his sister to school, getting himself home from sports practices and running an occasional errand. I work full time, have little to no flexibility during the day and have two younger children who also have activities.

We did take the car away for one week and it was crazy. My younger ones were left waiting for me while I picked up Mr. 17 and then he started to get rides from friends and was showing up even later - they went to McDonalds, to someone's house, etc. When I told him not to do that he said, "I'm not the one driving. I have no control. So & so had to take Johnny home, go to the mall to pick up his new shoes, etc, etc, etc.".

You may ask what we did before he had the car. At that time none, of the kids had cars so parents carpooled. Now, since most kids have cars, there is no carpooling available.

The CAR is the greatest consequence we could impose. Especially since most of our fights are around his "excessive" use of freedom and disregard for curfews. But how do I make it work for ME!

Thank you,



It sounds like a compromise may be the best route to go.

On one hand, the car is your son's most valuable item, thus making it a great tool to use during consequences -- on the other hand, your life is easier when he's able to drive.

How about a partial consequence?

That is, whenever you would ordinarily like to confiscate his car for discipline purposes, is it feasible to simply put just enough gas in the vehicle for him to take sister to school, get to sports practice and run an errand - but no further? This will take a bit of calculation on your part (i.e., estimating mileage here and there). On those occasions when he abuses the partial consequence (i.e., makes a few extra stops along the way), I think you have to inconvenience yourself and park his car (1 - 3 days).

If this is not feasible, let me know and we'll come up with plan B.


My Out-of-Control Teen


I am seriously considering buying your book and online course. However, I am a single parent of extremely limited means and want to ask you a question first.

My 14 year old son Toby just fell asleep after being awake for more than 24 hours. Is this a possible symptom of bipolar disorder? I doubt it is the first time he has done this, but it is the first time I have verified it beyond doubt, or perhaps that I have believed him.

When he was a baby and toddler I don't recall him ever sleeping more than two hours at a time. I used to lock all the doors,turn off all the lights, take a sleeping pill myself, and bury myself under a pillow so I could sleep. He seems to be having a resurgence of this in adolescence. And, he has become quite hostile when I attempt to discipline him re schoolwork.

Yes, he definitely has phases of extreme irritability, hates rules & teachers, is highly intelligent, has had depressive phases, has been suicidal.

I am currently homeschooling with a charter school. I have definitely tried everything in the school department and am increasingly tempted to give up and send him back to his Dad and the juvenile justice system where his half-brothers were when I met them.

His father and paternal grandma are alcoholic, his mother, aunt, maternal grandma have all been diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder, his maternal grandpa was alcoholic and had an IQ of 176. I believe there is a relative somewhere on Mom's side who committed suicide. No one in my family of origin has ever been diagnosed with bipolar disorder altho a couple of my father's best friends were.

My son and I have both experienced counseling and schooling that were completely useless.

I personally have experienced counseling, schooling, and psychotropic medication that were quite useful, but my son refuses to discuss this.

I would appreciate your comments.

Thank you



Re: Is this a possible symptom of bipolar disorder?

Possibly. Sleep can be disturbed by mood disorders, PTSD, substance abuse, ADHD, and anxiety. Many children have sleep problems. Examples include:

· Bedwetting
· Difficulty falling asleep
· Feeling sleepy during the day
· Frequent awakening during the night
· Having nightmares
· Talking during sleep
· Teeth grinding and clenching
· Waking early
· Waking up crying

Many childhood sleep problems are related to poor sleep habits or to anxiety about going to bed and falling asleep. Persistent sleep problems may also be symptoms of emotional difficulties.

Nightmares are relatively common during childhood. The child often remembers nightmares, which usually involve major threats to the child's well-being. For some children nightmares are serious, frequent, and interfere with restful sleep.

A range of treatments is available for sleep disorders. Fortunately, as they mature, children usually get over common sleep problems as well as the more serious sleep disorders (parasomnias). However, parents with ongoing concerns should contact their pediatrician or directly seek consultation with a child and adolescent psychiatrist.

Online Parent Support

OPS Newsletter

I enjoy your newsletter and use the information provided. I have had some good results with the tools. I thought I would still be receiving the newsletter for one year and would like to do so. Please advise. Thank you, L.J.

Hi L.,

You can re- subscribe on the home page (subscriptions automatically terminate after one year). The newsletter is still free. CLICK HERE to go to the home page. Look for the sign-up box that reads:
I want to receive weekly newsletters from Online Parent Support (under the chat room).

There you will also find a link to the newsletter archive and can get caught up on all the past issues you may have missed.

Thank you,

My 14-year-old daughter...

Dear Mark,

I'm writing again about my 14-year-old daughter. I have really tried to follow your plan to the best of my ability but unfortunately my husband and I are not on the same page. He has gotten a whole lot better but will often overlook things to prevent any conflict or explosive behavior or retaliation. I cannot speak for him but I remain firm on my issues and even when he does back me up she does not cooperate. Consequences do nothing for her. We cannot force her to do anything such as go to her room, take a shower, etc. nothing too difficult to comply with. I feel we have lost control of our home to this girl. We have had her in counseling for the last few years and family counseling for the last six months and things seem to be getting worse with the total defiance. She really hasn't done any raging since August but the tension in our house is almost unbearable. I have actually considered leaving; there is only so much I can take.

We have considered boarding schools but many of them require her to want to go there and ask for some sort of writing sample on the application, which she does not cooperate with. She is very bright and very athletic and that is why we have considered regular boarding schools. I have also looked into specialty boarding schools and they are very expensive although she does not have to agree to go there. While I was on your website I seen a listing for boarding schools and many are the same as the ones I have seen. What I would like to know from you is if you have any recommendations for the schools. Are there some in which you've had more positive feedback than others?

She has never been a problem at school mainly at home. She wants everyone at school to think the best of her but is totally disrespectful to her parents and immediate family. She puts on a show for the extended family. No one has any idea what we live with every day. I know this sounds like we are giving up or letting someone else take over but this has been going on for the last four years and we all need a break. We adopted her when she was little and she is our responsibility and we are not ignoring that or throwing her away but nothing we do seems to work, and that is why we are searching for the best possible solution for all concerned.

Any suggestions or recommendations you can give would be greatly appreciated.




I think the best help I can be to you at this time is to provide you with a checklist of sorts.

Let's trouble shoot...

Below is a summary of all the assignments I gave you in My Out-of-Control Teen eBook. If parents do not implement most of these assignments, it is often the "kiss of failure." For example, the transmission in your car has hundreds of parts, but if just one little tiny part is not working -- the whole transmission does not work. The same is true with this "parent program." Omit just one strategy, and the whole plan runs the risk of failing.

1. Are you asking your daughter at least one question each day that cannot be answered with a simple "yes" or a "no" to demonstrate that you are interested in what is going on in her life? (page 20 of the printable version of eBook)

2. Are you saying to her "I love you" everyday and expecting nothing in return? (page 20)

3. Are you eating dinner together at least one evening each week -- either at home or out? (page 20)

4. Do you use "The Art of Saying Yes" whenever your answer is yes? (page 25)

5. Do you use "The The Art of Saying - and Sticking With - No" whenever your answer is no? (page 25)

6. Do you catch her in the act of doing something right at least once each day? (page 25)

7. Do you use the "When You Want Something From Your Kid" approach as needed? (page 31)

8. Do you give her at least one chore each day? (page 31)

9. Do you find something fun to do with her each week? (page 54)

10. Do you use the "I noticed ...I felt ...Listen" approach when something unexpected pops-up? (bottom of page 50)

11. When you are undecided about what to say or do in any particular situation, are you asking yourself the following question: "Will this promote the development of self-reliance in my daughter, or will this inhibit the development of self-reliance?"

If it is supportive of self-reliance, say it or do it. If it is not supportive, don't!

12. Is she EARNING ALL of her stuff and freedom? (see "Self-Reliance Cycle" - page 19)

If you answered "no" to any of the above, you are missing some important pieces to the puzzle. Most parents DO miss a few pieces initially -- you can't be expected to remember everything! But don't get frustrated and give up. We must be willing to hang in there for the long haul.

I'm talking about refinement here. Refinement is a necessary tool to use in order to truly be successful with these parenting strategies.

HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS: Parents who refine are, on average, 95% - 100% successful at getting the parent-child difficulties reduced in intensity and severity (i.e., the problems are easily managed).

The same can be true in your case. Don’t give up just yet. Please continue to refine by emailing me as needed over the next few months. Refinement is a process, not a one-time event.


Online Parent Support

My Out-of-Control Teens

Hi D.,

Please look for these arrows below: ==>

Hi Mark: A lot has happened since my last email about 5 weeks ago. Our son B, 15, was arrested for battery on a school official on November 2nd. (He threw a piece of candy at a teacher from a distance at lunch time horsing around.) He was arrested for battery on a school official and the teacher dropped the charges but he mouthed off to the cop and resisted arrest without violence. He is in the juvenile system and as of today in a diversion program. As a result for this recent offense, he was up for expulsion but in lieu of that is assigned to an internet-based alternative school. He is very capable, making poor choices and hanging out with the wrong crowd.

==> This is a good thing. Most of my juvenile clients do very well in alternative school. The classroom is usually smaller and they get more one-on-one attention. His latest "Buddy" is an Afro-American 15 year old who is already a FATHER!! He is a foster child, living with six other foster kids with a single adult male. He has been going there all too often, against my wishes. Walks out of the house without permission, lies about his whereabouts and takes public transportation hither and yon. He got picked up by the police for sleeping on a girl's doorstep with the one mentioned above, they were both warned and let go.

==> If he leaves without permission, go to probation and file a runaway complaint. He was drug tested this morning. Negative except for a trace of marijuana and he admitted trying it three months ago. He is non-compliant at home, makes threats and breaks things to manipulate. All of this will be coming to an end.

==> Call the police and file a report whenever he destroys property. This gives your son’s PO more ammunition in court. Our daughter, A, 17, I found out today skipped school all day on Friday. I also found out today with a little research from a deputy, that her boyfriend is 21 and has his own apartment. Her Father signed a car loan for her on October 20th and now that she has wheels, it is harder to control her. She is grounded for a week and will lose driving privileges if she violates those terms. Her grades are great and she has maintained a job for over two years that she likes. I was going to have her battery charges on me dropped, but with her recent antics, we are going ahead. She has skipped other days too and forged her Father's signature on a note to get out of school.

==> I’m glad to hear you are not dropping the charges. I am hoping that they will both hit rock bottom and we will see some changes. They both have so much going for them, attractive, bright and I have already done their pre-paid college programs. They are making destructive choices. If Bart violates the diversion he will go through the court system and be on probation. All up to him. Any feedback appreciated...Thank you!

==> Well …as ugly as circumstances are right now, you’re doing what you should be (i.e., allowing natural consequences to take effect). Mark


Hitting, biting, slapping...

What do I do when my child is hitting, biting, slapping. She wont go in her room cuz I took off the door. I restrained her till my husband came home. She only does this to me and some at her sister. what do i do?


While some biting can occur during normal development, persistent biting can be a sign that a child has emotional or behavioral problems. While many children occasionally fight with or hit others, frequent and/or severe physical aggression may mean that a child is having serious emotional or behavioral problems that require professional evaluation and intervention. Persistent fighting or biting when a child is in daycare or preschool can be a serious problem. At this age, children have much more contact with peers and are expected to be able to make friends and get along.

Many children start aggressive biting between one and three years of age. Biting can be a way for a child to test his or her power or to get attention. Some children bite because they are unhappy, anxious or jealous. Sometimes biting may result from excessive or harsh discipline or exposure to physical violence. Parents should remember that children who are teething might also bite. Biting is the most common reason children get expelled from day care.

What to do:
·Say "no", immediately, in a calm but firm and disapproving tone.
·Do NOT bite a child to show how biting feels. This teaches the child aggressive behavior.
·If biting persists, try a negative consequence. For example, do not hold or play with a child for five minutes after he or she bites.
·For a toddler (1-2 years), firmly hold the child, or put the child down.
·For a young child (2-3 years) say, "biting is not okay because it hurts people."

If these techniques or interventions are not effective, parents should talk to their family physician.

Toddlers and preschool age children often fight over toys. Sometimes children are unintentionally rewarded for aggressive behavior. For example, one child may push another child down and take away a toy. If the child cries and walks away, the aggressive child feels successful since he or she got the toy. It is important to identify whether this pattern is occurring in children who are aggressive.

What to do:
·Do NOT hit a child if he or she is hitting others. This teaches the child to use aggressive behavior.
·For a toddler (1-2 years) say, "No hitting. Hitting hurts."
·For a young child (2-3 years) say, "I know you are angry, but don't hit. Hitting hurts." This begins to teach empathy to your child.
·If a child hits another child, immediately separate the children. Then try to comfort and attend to the other child.
·It is more effective to intervene before a child starts hitting. For example, intervene as soon as you see the child is very frustrated or getting upset.
·Parents should not ignore or down play fighting between siblings.
·When young children fight a lot, supervise them more closely.

When hitting or fighting is frequent, it may be a sign that a child has other problems. For example, he or she may be sad or upset, have problems controlling anger, have witnessed violence or may have been the victim of abuse at day care, school, or home.

Research has shown that children who are physically aggressive at a younger age are more likely to continue this behavior when they are older. Studies have also shown that children who are repeatedly exposed to violence and aggression from TV, videos and movies act more aggressively. If a young child has a persistent problem with fighting and biting or aggressive behavior, parents should seek professional assistance from a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other mental health professional who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of behavior problems in very young children.

Online Parent Support

Parent: "We have taken almost everything away from our son..."

Hi Judy,

Please look for these arrows: ==>


Once again I need your guidance and experience. I last e-mailed you beginning of November. Things have been going pretty well with the usual "falling off of the wagon" but overall we were feeling pretty good. If you remember we (husband and I) turned off M______ cell phone service and internet capabilities on his lap-top and we keep our desk top locked at all times unless we are using it. M______ has the potential of earning back the cell phone with parameters we gave him (proper house phone use and restriction of speaking with 2 people and passing with C grades [capable of A's and B's easily]). So far this has not happened--he keeps calling these people, but otherwise is OK. He has lost his TV in his room, playstation, and clothes when he left overnight with ability to earn them back. The items were kept locked in the back of my SUV. He was told if he wanted them back as he had earned them, to place them back in his room where they go and not just on the floor by Nov. 30 (told this 11/21 and reminded every few days of the deadline). If not, they would be given away to charity. He kept saying I should put them back as I took them, or I "would pay". I told him no with a straight face. Well, he chose charity--so far, no retaliation.

==> So for, so good. GREAT JOB!

We have seen him using an I-pad and a gaming system that do not belong to us. He says the I-pod is a friend's and he bought the I-pad for $50 (highly unlikely as they are $200 and we dole out his weekly money from his job)--LIES, LIES, LIES. We are waiting to meet with these boys and their parents (will see at the upcoming school sporting events) to verify things. Yesterday I found a Rx patch for an ADHD drug that he is not on. Also after he returned from a sports event (we were unable to go) I found a digital camera in his sports bag along with a uniform from the opposing team. (I was emptying the gym bag as it smelled and found those items.) I began to look in his room and also found a men's watch, bracelet and cell phone. I took them. He was confronted about these and of course lied his head off about it. Later, he snuck into my bedroom, found my hiding space, and took them back. He then was denying ever having them as we had no "proof". Well, he lost the use of a car and we took back his license. He was told he could start to earn back the privilege of use of the car when the items showed up, and the consequence would start.

==>You’re still on track!!

This morning, I told him he needed to tell me the truth about the items. He did not want to, but I told him he needed to start to trust me, that I would listen, ask questions, but not yell, consequence, etc. for 24 hours. He said someone "gave" him a bottle Vicodin that he sold for the I-pad, and he then traded it for the camera. He said the I-pod really was a friends. Also "found" the uniform, watch, and bracelet in the lost and found. Told he needed to produce them, and that we would return them to the school. He said he would "think" about it. Told the way he was acting was the person he would turn out to be, to really think about doing the right thing. Consequence would begin when the items were returned.

==> I think at this point I would tell him that if the items are not given to you within 24 hours, you will call police and file a report as well as call the school. We’re dealing with pure, unadulterated theft here.

==> JOIN Online Parent Support

His coach showed up this afternoon (I was planning on calling him to tell him about our "findings". The other schools coach called and complained that someone had pooped in a sports bag. He knew M______ was the only one with enough free time to do this. M______ was not here with us, as he was at work. We told the coach about the other things. He wants to see M_____ later today to ask him personally about it.

==> Good!

M______ has a counseling session tomorrow evening and a meeting with his PO on Wednesday. I did tell M_____ that I would not cover up for him and would report what I know/have seen and on his behavior. He constantly is taking things from his older brother so he is charged $5 for entering his room and $% for each item "borrowed". He is constantly using profanity and within the last week or so it is really escalating. He says F____ at least 12 times per day, usually aimed at me. He also says "Why don't you go kill yourself". I don't let him see me get angry, but I do tell him not to do this around 9 yr old brother. However I am getting REALLY tired of it. I told him today, if he swore at me or in general was disrespectful to me I would not be doing his laundry as he did not respect me and I didn't owe him this service.

== > Actually dear mom, he should be doing his own laundry anyway!!!!!!

He has been seeing a boy who we are very uneasy with. He says his parents (separated, currently newly with his Dad, and recently moved back to this area after being 5 hrs away with his Mom) don't care where he is, who he's with, etc. and doesn't go home for days. He was told until we could speak to a parent, he was not to spend the night again. We didn't think this was "cool", as we feel a parent should know where their child is as long as they were minors and living in the family home.

I guess Mark, what I'm asking is "what now?" We have taken away almost everything. Trust is totally shot and very difficult to even allow him to go places etc. He will have "natural consequences" but what else can we do? I need some insight on where to go from here as far as consequences, privileges, etc.

== > If he will receive natural consequences associated with the above problems, then I wouldn’t issue another consequence on top of it.

Regarding “we have taken almost everything”: Let’s lower the bar a bit by only fighting one battle at a time. The biggest issue currently seems to be “theft.” Put everything else in the “deal-with-it-later” file. The 3-day-discipline starts as soon as he returns the stolen items – and after 3 days, he gets all his stuff back.

I do get some support from friends but most of their children are preteen so I can talk/vent but they do not have the same life experiences yet. Thanks again. I will try to keep this all in perspective and just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Have a good week. ~ J


==> JOIN Online Parent Support

She has turned up the dial on her defiance...


We are new to your service – and will be implementing the week 1 assignment with our 17 ½ year old senior daughter. We have observed problems for some time now (about two years to be exact – same time as she started birth control pills which has always made us wonder if that is coincidence or physiology). “We have read Parenting Your Out-Of-Control Teenager” by Dr. Scott P. Sells also – which seems to share many of the same pinciples. We’ve tried a contract and various approaches – but we (her dad and I – we are married) have not both consistently held to the contract information so weakened its affect, no doubt. We barely have been getting by – doing much enabling (making calls to school for her schedule problems, filling out college apps., etc.) just to keep her progressing through this last year of high school – but realize that is part of problem.

She just finished a successful high school tennis career and now that this is over, she has turned up the dial on her definance and disrespect for us and our rules. We have a rule that she be home by curfew (which we have lengthened to 1a.m. already) and not stay overnight. She can get a ride from us anytime. Well, she stayed overnight a week ago now on the weekend and lied about where she was as well – she sent a text message to tell us where she was and we were already asleep (she had been following curfew up to this time during this year). We found out she was at her boyfriend’s house (he is two years older and now lives on his own with a roommate or two) – we found this by seeing her online checking account purchase from his community on the following morning and also her online log of phone calls and text messages through our cell phone carrier – she had calls back and forth to the girlfriend where she was reportedly staying. We disabled the car we let her drive, when she returned home and she has been without a vehicle now for a full week.

Her stubborn defiance is amazing – and she dug her heels in and has decided to really show us. She said if she can’t have the car anyway, she does not follow the rules and she did not come home now, three nights in a row. She did tell us where she was AFTER the first night (last Thursday – there was no school this past Friday so it became like a weekend night) – it was her boyfriend’s again – supposedly – but who knows. She comes home in between and then gets someone to pick her up and leave – then tells us she is staying overnight again and again we are not sure where the second night – but she gets a ride home again and is here in the afternoon for a bit.

Her dad talked with her about getting her car back and gave her two terms: come home every night and agree to seeing a counselor with or without mom and dad. She was disrespectful and defiant to him and told him she would not do that. She left again and said she was going to a nearby town – then we didn’t hear from her again except to say she would not be able to get home due to the snow (it had indeed snowed here about 8 inches). We replied via text message (she refused to answer the phone on a call) that we would come get her by our 4 wheel drive vehicle – tell us where you are, we can be on our way. She did not respond at all. We then called friends and no one knew where they were.

I talked to her boyfriend who said he did not know where she was this time and that he told her to go home the night before but she said we had given her permission to stay that night (he is very laid back and has trouble dealing with conflict – but has always been respectful and basically cooperative with us). I asked him to call me if she arrived at his place and we would come to pick her up – told him in no uncertain terms that we did not want her staying overnight at his place, that she is too young, etc. He said he would call (but who knows if he would). I also called another friend to enlist help – but think that fell on deaf ears as this friend was at her older boyfriends place at the time I called – and this friend seems to have few rules (part of the problem is the group our daughter hangs with – either older than her or very limited parental supervision – parents who are being “friends”, it seems). I texted another few people whose phone numbers I have gathered – people who she had mentioned being with. No response or help from this endeavor.

Our next item to take away is cell phone – she was told in a text last night, the last one of evening, to call us in 30 minutes for a ride, or we would expect her home by 1 a.m. Told her we would disconnect cell phone in the morning if she did not respond or come home. Well, here it is morning and no reply so we will disable cell phone (which is her life line). Not sure where she is or if she will come home soon. She has a 3:30 pm appointment with an energy healer (Reiki) who she really likes and opens up with – this person is a positive influence and will talk with her about much of this. Our daughter will not talk with us at all and says she is making plans to buy a car, earn more money to have her own way and get her own cell phone, etc. so she does not have to deal with us, etc.

We are not sure what to do next if she doesn’t come home or keeps leaving and we don’t know where she is. We think she’ll go to school tomorrow and we thought we could call the police liaison officer there for some advice and help – she has a good relationship with him (he’s all for the teens and well received by most, etc.). She has good grades and has not been in trouble in school up to this point. Losing her cell tends to move her over the edge – so not sure what will happen next but it has to be done or it’s another idle threat. She can’t seem to find rides and function without her phone – but she also knows we are here to give her rides and she knows the terms to get the car back and avoid cell phone turn off – but is not willing to cooperate.

She exhibits most of the descriptors of oppositional defiant disorder. We tried a counselor this summer but she refused to go back and indeed we did not find a good match – it did shift energy though and she was willing to talk to us for a time – that’s passed. Found another young woman counselor who also is a clinical hypnotist and she saw her once – but didn’t like having to talk so much so refused to go back to her – again, didn’t find the “match”.

Are we on the right path? What else might we do to get her home or if we need to continue really “tough love” – do we have to let go and let things fall apart for her to get her to face this and take some responsibility for her actions?

Thank you for your help and information – greatly appreciated,



Hi B.,

After reading your email, I believe most of your questions will be answered by the time you get through the 4-week program. If after that time you need any clarification, do not hesitate to email me again.

I think in your case, the most applicable strategies will be in the following areas of the eBook (online version):

1. The Art of Saying 'Yes' / The Art of Saying 'No'
2. When You Want Something From Your Kid (in the Anger Management Chapter)
3. When Something Unexpected Pops Up (in Emails From Exasperated Parents)

Stay in touch. I'll look forward to hearing back from you to clarify.


Online Parent Support

Son Assaults Mother

"Hi Mark, I'm new to this site. I have a couple of questions and scenarios that I would like to run by you. I have just charged my 17 year old with assault and put him out of the house, I was informed that he could go to a shelter, however there are no beds available at the shelter and he is now trying to come back home, as he has burned his bridges everywhere else. There is a no contact order in place, he cannot be within 100 ft of the house, and he is only permitted to contact me by phone. This is part of the scenario, there is more involved, I desperately need some advice. Could you please get back to me?"

Click here for the response...

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

"I have taken the quiz and surprisingly found that I was a severely over indulgent parent. This angers me because I didn't think...