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Daughter is angry at me most of the time...

"My 13 year old daughter is angry at me most of the time. It is hard to say anything to her without her snarkyness "don't talk to me" or "I know" ect. I never know if I should let it pass or jump on it. Then later she will ask rather nicely if she can go to a friends. Do I say "no" now because of the earlier rudeness that I endured BUT did not act on at the time? Week 2 is hard. So many issues and hard to pick where and what battles to tackle in the heap. Also, her 16year old sister is so "good". This builds a lot of resentment with my 13year old. She wonders why all these rules only seem to apply to her. She always says we favor her sister. Her sister does what she is suppose to without problem. She is pleasant and works hard at school. I don't know what to say to my 13 year old about why only she had to have all these extra chores and rules."

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I'm still concerned about leaving him here while we're gone...

Hello Mark, First, thank you for your calm and sensible way of dealing with these problems. We have appreciated the help.

We have a dilemma. Spring break is coming and a trip has been planned. Our 17 year old son, for whom we started your program doesn't want to go. He would like to go on an alternate trip with a friend and his family, which would only be for part of the time we will be gone and just staying around town at home or with other friends the rest of the time.

One of the reasons we started your program was a little incident earlier in the year when we found he had a party with alcohol in the house when we were out of town. We tried to get him to talk to us about what he thought would be an appropriate punishment but when he didn't come up with anything on his own we came up with some restrictions he of course didn't agree with. He did stick to it pretty well with only a few changes that we discussed prior to the events. Another was his lack of motivation and sort of a passive aggressive way of dealing with us and blowing off chores and school. He's had a few angry outbursts but nothing violent towards us, he does have a punching bag that has gotten a workout on a couple of occasions.

Since starting your program things have improved but I'm still concerned about leaving him here while we're gone.

I thought about getting him to write an itinerary of where he would be each day with phone numbers of the homes he would be staying in so we could call there each evening and make sure he was actually in those places. The other idea was to write up a contract of what was expected of him while we were gone.

I'm feeling apprehensive but would really like to trust him to do the right thing. He will be going off to college next year so it would be great for him to show more maturity at this point.

If you could help in any way we would really appreciate it.

Thank You, A.

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Re: Poor self-esteem is teenage girls...


My daughter is 14 years old. She has always been difficult, but it is escalating to new levels. She has on several occasions pretended to be someone else – the first time was really big when she had a website as her handsome supposed cousin “Jake” and managed to fool almost everyone at school. When she was discovered a few months later, she was ostracized by a large part of the student body that was embarrassed by her charade. You would think she would learn!

Coincidentally, we moved out of state a few months later, and she has started texting people from school as “other people”. She has also continued to text people from her old school saying she is someone else too. Some of these “alter egos” are real people and some are made up. I have had a series of consequences (taking away electronics etc) yet it seems to have no impact whatsoever. Even the natural consequences (her lack of friends, the embarrassment etc) have had no effect. She truly dislikes herself, which is one of the reasons she pretends to be someone else.

So this week hit a new low. I got a call from my daughter this morning hysterical crying, asking me to get her from school. She then texted me and told me she had pretended to be someone else, took intimate pictures of herself and sent them to this guy at school. He figured out it was her, and started showing them around school. So then the principal called and told me the same story and that he had taken the boys’ cell phone away. I had the school take my daughter’s too, which I picked up from them. I am going to meet my daughter after school today, take away her phone, internet access etc., but I really don’t think it will do anything long term. Being shunned by her peers didn’t even help! The principal was perplexed, as we live in a small town now and he said they had never run into this (and didn’t think it was within the jurisdiction of the school anyway). I have read articles about how this could be considered child porn, so in a way I am glad for that.

She has recently started therapy (again), but it is really early on. Her school grades have hit an all time low and everything is just falling apart. Any advice would be appreciated. I really need some guidance of what would be appropriate to do at this point.




Hi J.,

Your daughter is receiving a series of natural consequences – so you should not add your own consequence to the mix.

Counseling may not yield much bang for your buck. These things (i.e., attention seeking behaviors) usually pass with time anyway.

Self-esteem is related to how confident we feel about our talents and abilities. Consider the following in order to understand the internal and external pressures girls feel and how these pressures affect the development of their self-esteem:
  • Eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression are the most common mental health problems in girls.
  • 59% of 5–12th grade girls in one survey were dissatisfied with their body shape.
  • 20–40% of girls begin dieting at age 10.
  • By 15, girls are twice as likely to become depressed than boys.
  • Among 5–12th graders, 47% said they wanted to lose weight because of magazine pictures.
  • Health risks accompany girls' drop in self-esteem due to risky eating habits, depression, and unwanted pregnancy.
  • Girls aged 10 and 12 (tweens) are confronted with "teen" issues such as dating and sex, at increasingly earlier ages. 73% of 8–12–year olds dress like teens and talk like teens.

When and why does girls' self-esteem drop?
  • Starting in the pre-teen years, there is a shift in focus; the body becomes an all consuming passion and barometer of worth.
  • Self-esteem becomes too closely tied to physical attributes; girls feel they can't measure up to society standards.
  • Between 5th and 9th grade, gifted girls, perceiving that smarts aren't sexy, hide their accomplishments.
  • Teenage girls encounter more "stressors" in life, especially in their personal relationships, and react more strongly than boys to these pressures, which accounts in part for the higher levels of depression in girls.
  • The media, including television, movies, videos, lyrics, magazine, internet, and advertisements, portray images of girls and women in a sexual manner—revealing clothing, body posture and facial expressions—as models of femininity for girls to emulate.

The sexualization of girls and mental health problems—

In response to reports by journalists, child advocacy organizations, parents, and psychologists, in the American Psychological Association (APA) created a Task Force to consider these issues. The Task Force Report concluded that the sexualization of girls is a broad and increasing problem and is harmful to girls' self-image and healthy development. Sexualization is defined as occurring when a person's value comes only from her/his sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics, and when a person is sexually objectified, e.g., made into a thing for another's sexual use. The report states that examples of sexualization are found in all forms of media, and as 'new media' have been created and access to media has become omnipresent, examples have increased.

The APA Task Force Report states that sexualization has negative effects in a variety of domains:
  • Cognitive and emotional health: Sexualization and objectification undermine a person's confidence in and comfort with her own body, leading to emotional and self-image problems, such as shame and anxiety.
  • Mental and physical health: Research links sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in girls and women—eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression or depressed mood.
  • Sexual development: Research suggests that the sexualization of girls has negative consequences on girls' ability to develop a healthy sexual self-image.

How can parents help their daughters develop healthy self-esteem?

Although the media, peers, and pop culture influence children, parents still hold more sway than they think when it comes to having an impact on a daughter's developing self-esteem. Here's how parents can help:

1. Monitor your own comments about your self and your daughter.

2. Get dads involved. Girls with active, hardworking dads attend college more often and are more ambitious, more successful in school, more likely to attain careers of their own, less dependent, more self protective, and less likely to date an abusive man.

3. Watch your own stereotypes; let daughters help fix the kitchen sink and let sons help make dinner.

4. Encourage your daughter to speak her mind.

5. Let girls fail - which requires letting them try. Helping them all the time or protecting them, especially if done by dad, can translate into a girl feeling incapable or incompetent.

6. Don't limit girls' choices, let them try math, buy them a chemistry kit. Interest, not just expertise, should be motivation enough.

7. Get girls involved with sports/physical activity, it can reduce their risk of chronic diseases. Female athletes do better academically and have lower school drop-out rates than non-athletes. Regular physical activity can enhance girls' mental health, reduce symptoms of stress and depression, make them feel strong and competent.

8. Watch television, movies, and other media with your daughters and sons. Discuss how images of girls are portrayed.

9. Counteract advertisers who take advantage of the typical anxieties and self-doubts of pre-teen and teenage girls by making them feel they need their product to feel "cool." To sensitize them to this trend and to highlight the effect that ads can have on people, discuss the following questions (adapted from the Media Awareness Network) with children:
  • Do you ever feel bad about yourself for not owning something?
  • Have you ever felt that people might like you more if you owned a certain item?
  • Has an ad make you feel that you would like yourself more, or that others would like you more if you owned the product the ad is selling?
  • Do you worry about your looks? Have you ever felt that people would like you more if your face, body, skin or hair looked different?
  • Has an ad ever made you feel that you would like yourself more, or others would like you more, if you changed your appearance with the product the ad was selling?

It is within the family that a girl first develops a sense of who she is and who she wants to become. Parents armed with knowledge can create a psychological climate that will enable each girl to achieve her full potential. Parents can help their daughters avoid developing, or overcome, negative feelings about themselves and grow into strong, self-confident women.

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Can children outgrow ADHD?


My daughter was put on Adderall in the 5th grade. She is now in the 10th grade and is not taking it. I took her off about 1 month ago because I did not think it was helping her. Her grades are good and I have seen no change in her. How do you explain this?? Can they outgrow ADHD?


We used to think children would "grow out" of ADHD. We now know that is not true for most children. Symptoms of ADHD often get better as children grow older and learn to adjust. Hyperactivity usually stops in the late teenage years. But about half of children who have ADHD continue to be easily distracted, have mood swings, hot tempers and are unable to complete tasks. Children who have loving, supportive parents who work together with school staff, mental health workers and their doctor have the best chance of becoming well-adjusted adults.

Until the early 1990s, the medical community considered ADHD a “childhood disorder.” Believing that children “outgrew” the condition, physicians routinely took them off medication before high school. In many cases, however, the teens struggled socially and academically, making it clear that ADHD symptoms had not gone away. And, as greater efforts were made to educate parents about ADHD, more and more of them, like Aidan’s mother, began to recognize their own ADHD symptoms.

Clinically, we have seen that some individuals do show enough improvement after puberty that they no longer need medication. But the American Academy of Family Physicians reports that two-thirds of children with ADHD continue to grapple with the condition throughout adulthood.

I advise taking children and adolescents off medication once a year. If the symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention, and/or impulsivity are no longer noticeable, they stay off. Should these behaviors return, medication should be re-started. This process teaches adolescents about the challenges ADHD presents in their lives, and how to determine for themselves whether medication is needed in school, at home, with friends, and so on. Medication should be used whenever symptoms interfere with the demands and expectations of a specific task or activity. It is not necessarily needed all day, every day.

For example, a college student may learn that she benefits from an eight-hour capsule to cover morning and afternoon classes, but can be off medication while she relaxes, exercises, or socializes later in the day. On evenings when she needs to study, she can take a four-hour tablet at about 6 p.m. An adult may find that he needs medication at work but not at home, or for some social functions, but not others.

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Disagreement about body piercing...

Hi L.,

I’ve responded throughout your email below:

Hi, overall my 15 year old daughter is following the rules. The assertive parenting techniques definitely help. However, we have had a long running disagreement about body piercing. She wants to pierce her lips and I said "no piercing". We had come to a compromise - I would pay for her hair care (that can get expensive!) and she wouldn't do any piercings.

== > Body piercings (not tattoos though) fall into the “pick-your-battles-carefully” category. I’m sure you have bigger fish to fry than worrying about a piercing. Save your energy for the more important issues.

Well, last night I came home and lo and behold she had pierced her bottom lip! I told her to take them out and she refused.

So, I grounded her - indefinitely until she takes the piercings out. Her response was that I couldn't force to stay home - she would come and go as she pleases.

== > Are you sure you went through all the material? We never ground indefinitely. Grounding procedures are covered in Sessions #2 and #3 [online version of the eBook].

This is true, I can't force her. However, my reply was that while I couldn't force her to stay home I could start taking things away from her - anything I had paid for I could take away. No comment from her. I guess she thought about it for awhile and emailed her reply.

Her reply was that she had been cutting herself because she had been depressed and discovered that piercing was a more acceptable way of feeling the pain than cutting.

== > This was a good line of bullshit from your daughter.

Now, she had been seeing a therapist for depression and the therapist thought she had gotten past that. My response was to call her bluff - make an appt. with the therapist and hang tough with the 'no piercings' rule. Am I on the right track?

== > Calling her bluff is good. However, I think you are in a power struggle that you will not win. A body piercing is not really a behavioral issue per say (such as skipping school, violating curfew, drinking alcohol, etc.). As long as it is not done excessively (we can talk about what would be excessive some other time), a piercing should be allowed for a 15-year-old -- but it should be earned!

Why a piercing but not a tattoo? Because a child can simply remove the ring or stud if she does not want to wear it anymore. But a tattoo is permanent. If a child wants a tattoo, she can get one when she turns 18.


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Father-Figure & Son Conflict

Dear Mark, My son wants my partner out of the house & is telling me to choose. He is mega angry. I've told him it is not his decision. But I am feeling very crushed & overwhelmed. My partner is too, but he is angry with my son in a sulky sort of way & the atmosphere here is a tinderbox. I feel very stuck, torn and scared.

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Divorced Couple Disagrees On How To Discipline Their Children

Mark, I'm new to your program, and just getting ready to do the assignments for week 1. My x-wife has custody of my daughter, though I have her at my house about 50% of the time. My question has to do with my x-wife. She undercuts any discipline that I have ever tried with my daughter. The first week has shown me that I am an overindulgent parent. My x-wife is off the charts overindulgent. I can never get her on the same page with me for very long. When my 16-year-old daughter goes out of control, my x-wife will want to work with me until my daughter goes to work on her. Then she takes her side. What do recommend with respect to my x-wife? She has never wanted to participate in any counseling and really seems to convince herself that there is nothing wrong (usually this happens when my daughter behaves for a short period of time). I love your program, the first week has taught me more than I ever could have imagined. Thanks, J.


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Modified Grounding

I have ordered your e-book and have spent the last couple of days reading through the online version. ODD is not recognised in this country (yet) but you describe my son to a tee. He is 15 and we have had problems with him since he started school at the age of 3. However, things have come to a head of late. He is on the verge of being excluded from school with only 8 school week until his main exams start. He was in trouble with the police this week for the first time and was cautioned with criminal damage.

We have always been strict parents and have never given him everything he wants, but still comes out as a highly overindulged child (score 83) and he fits every trait you mentioned (except malicious gossip).

However my question is this. We have always used grounding as a consequence and up until the last month or so he has adhered to it. But now he refuses to accept the grounding and just walks out of the house. I feel powerless to ground him now as he just ignores me and his father and goes. At the beginning I was phoning all his friends to try and find him, but the last couple of times this week I haven't bothered and he has come home at the time he is supposed to.

Tonight he asked to stay out at his friends til 10pm and I said I would like him home at 9 as this is becoming the norm of asking for an extension everytime he goes out. I then said (following your programme) that if he stayed out until 10 then he would have a consequence, to which he replied we would just have to wait and see until tomorrow came and see what I could do about it.

We are both at our wits' end and don't know how to handle this, as part of your course is grounding. Can you give us any advice please. Have thought of doing something else apart from grounding, but then that means that he is in control of the situation?

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He has been boozing...

Hi Mark.

I am email you for advice. I had emailed and told you my son C__ had moved home after being out on his own. It has been a struggle. He is off of drugs and has sub it for booze. This week he found out that he has been boozing, he said it is to get the edge off. He is scared about applying for college and what direction he will go etc. etc. We found the booze in our house drank etc. On Friday, the old C__ had returned, he went out with his girlfriend and he came home when he was expected and came in and touch base with me and apologized to my husband for being 5 mins. late. No big deal we said, they had gone to a late movie and he drove her home. This was the old C__. Last night he went out to a friend's place, his girlfriend met up with him and he snuck her in his room. I had not heard him come in and it was 2:00 am. he was suppose to be in at 1:00. I told A__ she had to leave his room. He was drunk and they went downstairs to the rec room. My husband and I went to the rec room and I told C__ that there is no problem with A__ staying the night we have a guest bedroom. I was called every name in the book he just snapped and then my husband started yelling at him. I told A__ I would drive her home. She told me that she had never seen this side of him, and why did he just snap. I told her it was the booze and that when he was on drugs this is how he gets. That we had a concern about him, because of our backgrounds with alcohol that people in our family at a point act like this. That he is a good person but that this is the problem we are facing now. When I got home, he had gone for a knife and was going to kill himself my husband and him got into a fight. P__ got the knife away from him. He then took off out the door. We called the police, they came and took him to the crisis center. This morning the hospital called to pick him up, that he was not a threat to himself. We sat down as a family, and told him that the next time the police were called that he will be removed from the house for good.

What are your thoughts?


Why wait for another bout of chaos before you make a move? Plans should be drafted and discussed immediately so that he can get back out on his own as soon as possible. Most parents attempt to change a child or situation through reason and discussion, usually one-on-one. When this fails, frustration may lead to anger. This can go on for years. Appeals to reason and one-on-one discussions rarely produce change in someone engaged in self-destructive behaviors.

Begin making plans for him to move out - before, not after - another crisis occurs.


I am more empowered today...

I am more empowered today. I was able to get through the first few chapters quickly because I had already implemented things like the poker face and take care of me. When I went to the next chapter, I started into my next training and loved it. I do feel there is hope.

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I wish I had this information when I left the hospital after delivering my son...

Thanks Mark,

I spent the day going over week one and I just want to say that I find your information so great. I wish I had this information when I left the hospital after delivering my son. Thank goodness he is only 7-years-old and I have access to this help while he is still young. I have also gotten him into a child psychologist and a regular counselor; also he just started a special program at a new school for kids with ODD diagnosis. Thank you so very much, you put all the info together for me.... a light bulb moment...thank you…thank you!

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When Children Misbehave While On Family Vacation

I've run into a spot of bother with A___ (and M___) and am unsure of what to do now. We have just had a 10-day (interstate) holiday at the beach and it was the worst holiday I've ever spent with this child. Her behaviour became appalling and consisted of alternating between constant whining and whining, ignorance of any request, arguing nonstop, fighting with other children and verbal abuse. I would remind her (when I had the energy) that the way she was speaking to me was unacceptable but Martin tried to just ignore her because he thought if I reprimanded her, she was getting a reaction and that's what she wanted. I'd have a lot of trouble letting ANYbody speak to me the way she was and so then we started to constantly disagree (with your words "ignoring behaviour is an overrated parenting technique" echoing in my head..!)

I am now in a really bad headspace, my eyesight is deteriorating again due to MS or stress or whatever, and now that we are home I feel like we are back where we started with you 4 or 5 months ago. My question to you is, how do we keep things going when the circumstances change? She had no money on the holiday because she hadn't done enough work prior to our leaving but when we went out to eat (which we had to do a lot) it's hard to deny her and ice cream for example when the other kids are having one. My mother only sees her once or twice a year and so gave her a few things when she visited (although mum did say she was now very worried about her with a view to what the future would hold for this willful and defiant child) and my mother doesn't voice an unrequested opinion lightly....

The topic of sending her away to school was raised as well but we would have to find a school strict enough to settle her down and it's all too hard. It's her 9th birthday on April 28th and I've said there will be no party (I've given her a little one every 2nd year till now and she is due this year) because she was so difficult whilst we were away. Perhaps we will just have to forgo a holiday in the future, I don't know.

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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...