Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

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Should I stick to the harsh consequence...

Hi Mark,

Firstly I want to say how impressed I am with your ebook and online session training. I have been referring them both far and wide to other desperate friends, since I purchased them. If you ever want to work with someone to make it more country specific to Australia (including website design), and/or undertake business development here, I would be most interested.

Anyway, I am writing for your help. B__ has been spirited from birth. From a young baby and throughout childhood a total whinger (that is harsh but the truth), along the way getting up many people's noses and in particular teachers. She can equally be very funny and a great companion. She hates being alone. In addition to having an elder sister by two years she is a brother 8 years younger who suffers from a health issue.

In her early teens, when her elder sister (the quiet one) was having some issues she seemed to change and become more mature and reliable. When her sister came good after about two years she began acting out again.

At 14 years she got caught for truanting with a friend by school and in order to avoid punishment she disappeared overnight with friend (she goes to a private school and it caused a real flap).

At 15 she was caught shoplifting (with same girl) but got off with warning if nothing else happens in 5 years.

Throughout that year constantly backchatting and in trouble with teachers. With friends would leave house in middle of night to meet friends. If you say no all hell breaks loose, she yells, swears, threatens. On the other hand definitely no drugs, only a little alcohol, no smoking, will generally meet curfew, no getting in cars.

She is exceptionally bright but inordinately lazy. Has not got a passion in life except to look good, wear makeup, go to parties. We've tried to encourage her to find something she loves (made worse by the fact that her sister is an exceptional artist).

Recently there has been some improvement. Only a little alcohol, not much, has very nice boyfriend who we all like a lot. Not in trouble too much at school except for talking too much. But can't tolerate no. Is unreliable (lost good job because of), wont do chores unless extreme duress wants lots of stuff (not that she gets it). Can lay a guilt trip as good as the very best.

I am applying your program and have felt confident until today.

Today, she wanted to wear expensive item of mine to school for free dress day (why do they have them???). I said no because it was inappropriate and too good for school. All hell broke loose, yelling, swearing (my husband and I tried to keep down our own intensity and perhaps only 60% successful). I warned if she did not get over it and get to school she would not go to her boyfriends birthday dinner tomorrow night (a big shame). She couldn't get it together and missed being dropped at bus station with me but took off whilst I was away and I thought to school by her own means. Later I find she has come home but then heads off to school around 10.30am and arrives there after missing three periods.

I'm unsure. Should I stick to the harsh consequence (ie. missing boyfriends birthday dinner which punishes him to) when she did calm down and make a decision to get to school, albeit missing three periods? Or, should I offer her a choice of consequences such as... she can miss the dinner or lose her mobile phone for three days? I don't feel I am good at identifying what things to let slip by as opposed to what to really stick to.

Sorry for novel!




Hi B.,

Re: Should I stick to the harsh consequence (ie. missing boyfriends birthday dinner which punishes him to) when she did calm down and make a decision to get to school, albeit missing three periods?

One of our golden rules is to never retract (or water-down) a consequence once it has been issued. To do so will send a very clear message that "mom's bark is all bark -- no bite." Thus, the next time something similar happens, she will know that your words are fairly meaningless.


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