17 year old has some issues with authority...

My 17 year old has some issues with authority and is considered selfish. If he does good in school he should be able to spend the night out (both Fri/Sat). The group he hangs with is a little older and has parents that allow their house to be the local hangout (stays up till 3-5). I plan to sit down tonight with a list of consequences - no car 1 week, no phone 2 weeks, no allowance, etc., and am considering an intervention using some friends and family. What can you suggest?


A lot of 17-year-olds think they're grown up enough to set their own rules and to do such things as stay out all night. When you talk with him, emphasize that while his friends may have parents who think it's okay for them to stay out all night, that's not true in your family. In your family, you take your duties as parents seriously, and you believe it is your obligation to know where your child is, what he is doing, and that he is going to be safe in the house by a certain time (whatever your rule is about a curfew). You can tell him that that is the way you see it. If he continues to violate this rule, there will be more consequences. When he decides he is old enough to live on his own, then, of course, he can make any rules for his own life that he chooses. (I'm not necessarily in favor of an intervention for something like this).


==> My Out-of-Control Teen

Dealing with Violent Children

Hi Mark. Thanks so much for the parenting material, it has given my wife and I some positive direction in parenting our oppositional 10 year old boy. He ticks nearly all the boxes for ODD and in addition to working your program, we are endeavoring to have him see a child psychologist. However he is reluctant to go and when he does go he pretends everything is okay, insisting that he can control himself. The reason I am writing to you is that he has become increasingly violent, particularly towards my wife, often punching and kicking her with force. Should I be physically restraining him? This seems to increase his violence and up the level of his tantrum. I'm trying to stay poker-faced but still feel I need to do something to protect my wife and our children. I have taken our boy to the police after a recent violent episode, mainly for scare tactics, but they seemed quite bemused by the fact I would bring him. I'm also wondering if there is some medical issue below the surface here, but it is extremely difficult to get him to co-operate to go anywhere for assessment.

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==> My Out-of-Control Child: Help for Parents

Dealing with a Runaway Daughter

Mark, I'm the one that wrote you about my daughter running away. She is still missing and we keep hearing various chatter rumors from school that she is with this person or that person. Today I heard that she is with the original person she was with, which I've heard is dangerous! I also heard that they’re in downtown Reno jumping from hotel to hotel to not be detected. The police are not looking for her since she is a runaway – so they’re no help. I have to get all the leads and report them to the detective. I'm also working with the school police, which are also not much help! We've made posters and posted them everywhere, but in this one area, they are being taken down. I don't know if this is the lifestyle she wants or if she's being exploited. Her twin sister is very agitated everyday and wants to know if her sister is okay, but does not want her to come home because she says she's such a bitch.

Mark, I know you can't do much from where you are at but I'm desperate for some kind of support...I’m going crazy with worry and the unknown. Thank you, D.

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==> Online Parent Support: Help for Parents with Defiant, Out-of-Control Teenagers

How do you motivate your teenager to look for a job?

"My question is how do you motivate your teenager to look for a job? He says he would like having a job and his own money, but feels like he doesn't stand a chance of actually getting a job ...he has kinda given up before even trying."

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==> Online Parent Support: Help for Parents with Defiant, Out-of-Control Teenagers

Younger Girls Dating Older Boys: Tips for Parents

Parents often worry about their daughters having an older boyfriend. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, it turns out they have good reason to be worried. Here's just one example:

Kayla is 14. Her boyfriend is 18.

Kayla says, "I have to admit, because I am dating an older guy, you know, I am very more open to alcohol, just because, I can ask him, 'Hey can you go to the store and buy me something?'"

Kayla says another risk of dating an older guy might be getting pressured into having sex. She says, "I think a lot of guys especially in high school will go for younger girls just because they'll give it up, you know. They are willing to experiment, they are easier."

New research shows one in four girls who have had sex say their first time was with a guy at least three years older.

Kayla says, "When guys are older, girls will trust them: 'Oh, he knows what he's talking about. He has more experience.'"

The research shows that, with an older boy, girls are less likely to use a condom and more likely to get pregnant than other sexually active teens. So, frequently the younger girl is naïve. Sometimes she doesn't have the assertiveness to stand up for herself and demand that a condom be used.

Studies also show that, on average, girls who lost their virginity to an older boy ended up having more sexual partners than girls whose first time was with someone their own age. They frequently will start feeling like damaged goods, or that they are down a road sexually that they weren't ready to go down, but there's no going back. So, they will frequently then go onto another relationship with an older guy. Research also shows 10% of sexually active boys lose their virginity to a girl at least three years older, and that they, too, face damaging effects to their health.

Parents can set ground rules (e.g., teens can only date someone who is one grade level above them). You want to have your children talking to you about who they are interested in, who they think is cute, and who they have their eyes on. If you are having good communication with your teens, you get those clues a long time before they come home and say they have a boyfriend who's 18.

Online Parent Support: Help for Parents with Out-of-Control Teens

Children and "Head Banging"

"My son hits his head so hard and so often he has dark bruises on his forehead. He does this when he is frustrated, angry and anxious. What can I do to help him? He has told me he knows it's wrong but just can't stop. Please help me to help my son."

Kids who are emotionally and physically healthy, as well as kids with developmental or sensory issues, may "head bang." It is thought that head banging is a self-soothing process that kids partake in, much like thumb sucking or an attachment to a blanket or toy. Kids that bang their heads have at some point found the rocking or rhythmic sensations calming, and an aid to sleep.

Alternatively, some kids appear to bang their heads in an attempt to stimulate themselves or to bring pleasure. However, head banging may occur in combination with temper tantrums. While this may appear as if the youngster is trying to hurt himself or herself, it is usually the youngster’s way of trying to relieve stress.

Young people who are under-stimulated (those who are blind, deaf, bored, or lonely) head bang for stimulation. Kids who are over stimulated (in an overwhelming environment) find the rhythmic movements of head banging soothing. Head banging may be a symptom of autism, Tourette syndrome or seizure disorders.

You should take your youngster to the pediatrician immediately if he is engaging in head banging for a long period of time and seems unaware of his surroundings. If head banging is the only way a youngster can be soothed, or if he is unresponsive to attempts by you to interact with him, you should seek out medical attention.

Kids who bang their heads excessively and cause themselves harm may have a developmental disability. These kids may have to take medication or wear a helmet to protect themselves from injury. Older kids who bang their heads may need the attention of a psychologist. A psychologist can help the youngster find the source of his stress and teach him ways to cope.

Medical attention is usually not necessary in regards to head banging. However, you should make sure your youngster’s pediatrician is aware of the behavior. Unless the head banging is excessive or causing bumps or bruising, most pediatricians will advise parents to leave the youngster alone and to not interfere with head banging. Most kids outgrow this behavior in a few months.

Typically, healthy children don't seriously injure themselves while banging their head. Pain prevents them from banging too hard. Also, kids under 3 don't generate enough force to cause brain damage or neurological problems. The front or front/side of the head is the most frequently struck. A child’s head is built to take all of the minor head trauma that is a normal part of learning to walk and climb. Healthy infants, toddlers and older children who are head-bangers usually grow up to be coordinated and completely normal kids.

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