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Hi Mark,

I have a son, N____, who is 6yrs and has been a great challenge for us as parents particularly from around the age of 1. He had very wild tantrums through the years quite often. Jumping to the present time I am grateful for the insight my friend and psychologist has given me about him. He informed me about ODD – oppositional defiant disorder and gave me website to check out. This brought me to you and I purchased your e-book and have been working my way through it. But I find it seems to be referring to older children, which may be connected as to why he is not responding to my attempts.

He is extremely strong willed and determined to be in control. He is very defiant and rebellious and breaks the discipline. I admit I have not been so good at keeping emotion out of my responses to him or not arguing with him. But we are at crisis point and don’t know what to do. We changed track with him the other night when my husband put him to bed early without dinner! He hated that but got up the next morning with the same behaviour.

We have 4 children – 21, 19, 15 and 6. 1st and 3rd child are quite easy going but the 2nd child has always been a burden for us. It is only recently that she has been diagnose with Borderline Personality Disorder and ODD. She is currently in a clinic for help. All my children have been born premature and the 2nd and last child born 5 and 6 weeks early. Now I am aware of mild learning disorders in the family. Nathan has Hyperlexia and is starting classes relating to this. His difficult behaviour is off and on. It comes in waves. Sometimes he is very delightful for weeks and then its back on for weeks. This bad patch has been going on a few weeks since going back to school after the holidays.

What are your thoughts and feelings toward these details I have shared Mark?




Hi E.,

The strategies in the eBook apply to children between the ages of 3 and 17. I doubt that his lack of “responding” is due to the age-appropriateness of the program. The goals of this program are to (a) foster the development of self-reliance in the child and (b) provide intensity (e.g., attention, interest, energy) ONLY when the child is behaving according to expectations. Thus, age is not the important issue here.

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 Child 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 son 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 his life? (page 20 of the printable version of eBook)

2. Are you saying to him "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 him 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 him at least one chore each day? (page 31)

9. Do you find something fun to do with him 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 son, 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 he EARNING ALL of his stuff and freedom? (see "Self-Reliance Cycle" - page 19)

13. Have you listened to ALL the audio in the Online Version of the eBook?

14. Are you putting on your best poker face when “things are going wrong?”

15. And perhaps most importantly, are you doing things to take care of your mental and physical health?

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. Continue to refine by emailing me as needed over the next few months. Refinement is a process, not a one-time event.

Mark Hutten, M.A.

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