Daughter is smoking anywhere between 3-5 joints a day...

Hi Mark. My daughter has now moved back home - about 1 1/2 weeks ago - having been gone for about 1 month in total. The work at the factory that she had been doing has now more or less dried up or is very sporadic. I have told her that as she is still refusing to attend school for the last couple of months she will have to go out and get another job as I do not want her staying at home all day doing nothing whilst I am at full time work. Also I do not trust her in the house on her own as she has people round without my permission.

>>>>>>>>> To allow her to just hang out at your house with no job and no effort to pursue an education is a gross form of over-indulgence. This cannot continue …period!

Trying to persuade Lauren to get another job yesterday turned into quite a heated discussion with her storming off and more or less ending in her threatening me with verbal and physical abuse and threatening to leave home again. Already today she has had her boyfriend round for a short while even though he is effectively 'banned' from our house.

>>>>>>>>>> Don’t waste time “persuading” …state that she has “X” number of days to either procure employment and/or get busy with her GED -- or she has to find somewhere else to live (14 days would be my time limit).

I do not feel I can chuck her out during the day as there is nowhere else she can go but don’t think she should be allowed to stay at home doing nothing if she is not prepared to go to school either.

>>>>>>>> Whose problem is it? The more responsibility you take for HER problem, the less responsibility she will take.

I cannot physically drag her out of her bed and to find something but do not want to keep going through this worry every day for the next 4/5 months before we find out if she has been accepted a place in college. She is also running up quite high debts with other people where she is living beyond her means and with no way of paying people back currently.

The whole situation is making me extremely upset and anxious and I feel powerless. I do not feel that she is trying to make any effort at all to compromise, its all take, take, take from her side and angry mood swings when things don’t go her way.

>>>>>>>>> “Compromising” is a traditional parenting strategy that doesn’t work.

The only time she is calm otherwise is when she is smoking weed - which obviously also really concerns me as she is smoking anywhere between 3-5 joints a day @ 16 years of age and I feel that this is very habit forming. She recently said, 'I don’t believe the cops should harass you for smoking weed .... They should be concerned about why people are trying to kill us ... rather than about me sitting here smoking on a joint.'

>>>>>>>>>> To allow her to live in your home and abuse illicit drugs is yet another gross form of over-indulgence. You should “turn her in.”

Please could you offer me some advice as to how best to motivate her into doing something more positive and respecting our house rules?

>>>>>>>>> As long as the over-indulgence persists – I'm afraid you’re stuck!

==> Online Parent Support: Help for Parents

Mother Pushes Her Teenage Son After Being Pushed Herself

>>>>>>>>>> Hi …I’ve answered below:

If R___ physically pushes me (albeit not very hard) how do I handle?

>>>>>>>>>> As I hope you read in the Anger Management chapter of the Online Version of the eBook, you have reached the 6th and final level of the anger ladder:

6th - Physical violence enters the picture here. This violence may be partially controlled because the kid knows what he is doing, even though later he might claim it was an accident. The kid plans to stop when he gets his way …if the parent gives in, he’ll back off.

Some of the things that may occur in this last stage:

· destruction of property
· domestic battery
· cops are called – sometimes by the kid
· parent files incorrigibility charge
· kid may not be conscious of his actions
· kid may become suicidal
· he may physically hurt the parent

>>>>>>>>>> I don’t think you realize how serious this is.

>>>>>>>>>> I would tell your son that the next time he pushes you, the police will be called and battery charges will be filed. And you, dear mom, cannot push back. If he were smart enough to pull it off, HE could call the cops ON YOU during these risky episodes in which pushing and shoving is going on. I see it happen – ALL THE TIME (i.e., the kid calling the cops of the parent and alleging abuse).

>>>>>>>>>> I’m telling you that you are treading on dangerous ground here. You DO NOT want Child Protective Services breathing down your back.

As a human being...I could not help myself...no one likes to be bullied...I pushed back (I know WRONG). Then it happened later with him dismissing my requests with a hand wave, an annoyed..."just stop talking" and a shove out of his way.

I am trying so hard to be calm but this came after he THREW his sibling on the ground.

Tried to follow the program protocol. Got out of the situation fast. Calmly said...you chose your consequence. Went to his room and took away his phone and laptop. But I am still seething. Let me know any other ideas. Taking away things has not seemed to work very well. We both think he is trying to get grounded to avoid peer pressure situations with alcohol and drugs but he refuses to open up as we ask him and try to engage him in ANY normal conversations. Know you say if something is not working try something different.

>>>>>>>>>> Don’t believe it when your son seems unaffected by discipline. Children often pretend discipline doesn’t bother them. Continue to be persistent with your planned discipline, and consider yourself successful by keeping your parenting plan in place. When children pretend a discipline doesn’t bother them, parents often give up on a discipline, which reinforces the child’s disobedience. Remember, you can only control your actions, not your children’s re-actions.

P.S. Parents must have a ‘zero-tolerance policy’ for children’s use of physical altercations to get their way (i.e., pushing, shoving, smacking. hitting, spitting, etc.).

Mark Hutten, M.A.


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

Behavior Problems to Put in the "Deal-With-It-Later" File

"Mark, What do I do when I’ve issued the 3-day-discipline (e.g., for violating curfew), but then my son creates a new problem before completing the discipline (e.g., calls me a bitch, then breaks a plate by throwing it in the sink too hard)? Do I start the 3 days over even though the “broken plate episode” is unrelated to the curfew violation, or does this new problem get a different consequence?"


You only restart the 3-day-discipline if the original crime is re-committed (in this case, if your son violates curfew again).

When parents issue a 3-day-discipline, it is very common for kids to introduce additional behavioral problems (temper tantrums, threats, etc.) as a way to (a) get the parent side-tracked from the original consequence and (b) get the focus off of them and onto the parent’s anger.

If the parent falls for this, she ends up issuing additional consequences on top of existing consequences …restrictions against the kid begin to pile up …and before long, the kid is grounded for 3 months with no privileges …and both the parent and the kid have forgotten what the original problem was.

Don’t let this happen to you. Do not let your son get you distracted from the original problem and the associated consequence for that problem. Here’s how you do this:

If your son commits another crime (figuratively speaking) during a 3-day-discipline, put this new crime in the “Deal-With-It-Later” file. You literally write the problem down on a piece of paper (e.g., ‘son called me a bad name and broke a plate’) and put this note-to-yourself somewhere where you can find it after the original 3-day-discipline is completed.

After the original 3-day-discipline is completed, you then confront your son regarding the second problem he introduced by saying, “Just for your information, in the future, if you choose to ____________ (in this case, “call me a bitch and break my dishes”), then you’ll choose the consequence which is ________________ (here you just follow the strategy “When You Want Something From Your Kid” in the Anger Management Chapter of the Online Version of the eBook).

So, does your son get “off the hook” for calling you a name and breaking a plate? In a way, yes …but only for the time being. He will have to answer to you if the name-calling and plate-breaking occur again in the future.

Pick your battles carefully – but perhaps more importantly, pick them one-at-a-time. Do not try to fight 14 battles at once. You’ll just blow a blood vessel in your brain …and your kid will be successful at getting you to chase your tail.

Use your “Deal-With-It-Later” file frequently. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and energy that would otherwise be spent in chronic power struggles.

Q: How do you eat an elephant?

A: One bite at a time.


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


P.S. Speaking of mistakes you don’t want to make—

I sometimes get emails like this:

“O.K. I purchased and read your eBook today. Now …I have the following problems with my teenager...”

Then the parent goes on to list about 6 – 10 problems that she is facing currently.

This is a mistake. DO NOT read the entire eBook in one sitting and then attempt to implement all the recommended parenting strategies at once.

When I conduct my parent group live (the same thing you have online), we take 4 weeks to digest the material – one session a week, each session lasting about 90 minutes. You should do the same. Your agenda will look like this:

Week #1: Read/listen to session #1 and implement session #1 assignments.
Week #2: Read/listen to session #2 and implement session #2 assignments.
Week #3: Read/listen to session #3 and implement session #3 assignments.
Week #4: Read/listen to session #4 and implement session #4 assignments.

Otherwise, you’ll be biting off much more than you can chew -- which will result in a “mac-daddy”case of parenting-heartburn.

Mother Becomes Discouraged After Implementing New Parenting Strategies

"Hi Mark, I have to admit I am a bit discouraged. I have been following your rules carefully and consistently for a few weeks now. Good news. I have seen some improvement in compliance with house rules. Bad news ...the more compliance I see, the more silent treatment and other anger management stages I see being exhibited. So ...let me know if this progression is normal, and again, assuming that I AM following the rules EXACTLY as you have them laid out ...how long it should take to see SOME improvement in attitude.While I try to remain non-affected ...after weeks and months of saying ‘I love you’ and not having anything said back can get pretty damaging. I feel like I am now getting close to the reciprocal of the silent treatment and emotional numbness so I don’t fly off the handle. Any thoughts?"


Yes …first of all, feeling discouraged is a natural step in the progression of this parenting-model. As change begins to happen, most (if not all) parents experience some “doubt” that this “system” (i.e., this new set of parenting strategies) actually works. Plus, things often get worse before they get better. But don’t get sidetracked just because you’re discouraged. Don’t go on ‘how it feels’ right now, because it always feels a whole lot worse than it actually is.

Re: silent treatment. When kids give parents the silent treatment, it is just another form of seeking intensity/energy from the parent; they want to get a reaction out of you; they are attempting to push your “rejection” buttons. If you are offended by the silent treatment, be sure to give NO indication that you are offended (e.g., in the form of anger or returning the silent treatment).

I find that when “the silent treatment” goes on for a lengthy period of time, it is most often the case that the parent is not “catching the kid in the act of doing something right” enough (I assume you read that part of the eBook – if not, please review). When the parent provides a lot of intensity when things are “going right,” the kid usually get his “intensity fix” and does not turn to more destructive means to get attention.

Re: saying “I love you.”
This is a ‘gift’ that you give your child. Expect nothing in return. If you are offended because your child does not respond positively, then you are too emotionally invested in the relationship (i.e., taking on too much responsibility).

Let me offer a refinement on the “I love you” business. From now on say, “Love ya” once a week as you walk by your child. Don’t look at him/her …don’t stand there waiting for a response …say it quickly, move on to your next task, and detach from the outcome.



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

Make Your Defiant Teenager Itch!

Hi Tom,

I’ve responded to your email in various places below. Please look for these arrows: >>>>>>>>>>

Mark, thanks for your e-book and quick responses. After reading your book I realize I have been an overindulgent parent, primarily the result of guilt over the divorce I sought when my son (now 15) was very young. He now has pretty high self-esteem, but low motivation and he is an underachiever in school (C+ despite being very bright).

Now that I have been fired as his manager I am changing my ways and your strategies are helping. He missed an assignment in school recently, which affected his grade. I told him if it happened again he would lose his computer and cell phone privileges for 3 days. Well, it happened again and I informed him of the consequence. Of course he threw a fit, but I kept my cool. By the second day he had calmed down and was fine. He got the privileges back at the end of the 3 days, but then the day after that, I found out he had missed two other assignments. Of course, I gave him the same consequence.

My question is, should you ever change or up the consequence for repeated offenses?

>>>>>>>>>> Actually, I would start with the least restrictive consequence first (e.g., no cell or computer + grounding for 1 day). Then for a repeat offense, go 2 - 3 days, but never more than 3.

>>>>>>>>> But we may have a larger issue here! In the case where (a) a teen has a history of poor academic performance and (b) this lack of effort is a major source of parent-teen conflict, I strongly recommend that parents get out of the business of playing teacher, dean, and vice-principal. I don’t know if this is the case with your son, but if it is, you’ll want to read my response to a parent who had this problem (in ‘Emails From Exasperated Parents’ – online version of the ebook). {If your son is making nothing lower than a “C”, then this recommendation I’m referring to may not apply in your case.}

Should I have taken other privileges away in addition to computer and cell phone? Or is it better to stick with what I originally told him?

What is the best approach here? No matter what consequence I choose, there are always other privileges he enjoys, or even loopholes. For example, I was specific in that he couldn't use the computer or cell phone during the 3 days; but he still has other privileges during those 3 days--like video games. Also, I didn't specifically ground him so he visited a friend in the neighborhood (where he probably used his friend's computer), and I specifically said he lost the use of his cell phone, so he used the house phone instead (although for shorter periods). I was uncomfortable with this, but I didn't say anything because I didn't want to alter the consequence mid-stream.

>>>>>>>>>> When implementing a 3-day discipline, it is best that the child have no privileges + grounding (i.e., no use of cell or land line, no use of computer, no use of video games, no leaving the house – and in the case where he enjoys hibernating in his room -- no access to his bedroom except to dress and sleep). Otherwise, it is not an “uncomfortable” consequence. We want the consequence to “feel uncomfortable” to the child.

>>>>>>>>>> If, for example, you put on an itchy sweater made of sheep’s wool and break out with a rash, you tend to take it off because it is uncomfortable – and you may never wear it again! If the child finds a consequence to be “itchy,” he may decide not to exhibit the behavior that initiated the consequence he’s allergic to.

You saved us a lot of money on therapy.

I got your ebook a couple of days ago. It is priceless. You saved us a lot of money on therapy.

>>>>>>>>>> Good to hear!

After reading your ebook I still have a few questions:

1. What do you think of neurofeedback. Do you think it really helps with add?

>>>>>>>>>> I’m a very strong advocate for EEG Biofeedback.

2. What should we do when we hear from our 11 year old that her 13 year old sister is telling her that she hates her 3-4 times a day when they are at school?

>>>>>>>>>> Ignoring misbehavior is an over-rated parenting-strategy. However, in this case, I would ignore it. Pick your battles carefully. The more your 13-year-old knows she gets a ‘rise’ out of both you and her sister, the more she will be rewarded for this behavior and the longer she will use it as an effective tool.

3. We are having a difficult time monitoring computer time. Any ideas on how to set appropriate limits? She is using IM, photo shop and my space when she is working on her homework and then clicking off when we walk into the office. It's so difficult to monitor. Any suggestions?

>>>>>>>>>> Take the main AC power cord with you (located in the back of the computer). Alternatively, you could take the keyboard.

4. Our daughter always wants to spend the night at her friend's houses because their parents let them stay up as late as they want and wander around their neighborhood until 10 or 11 at night. Do I say no to her requests for sleepovers at these houses? As far as I know, nothing illegal is going on.

>>>>>>>>>> Yes, you should say ‘no’ …nothing good happens after 10:00 PM out in the neighborhood. Plus, your daughter will not get back into a regular sleep cycle until about the Thursday following the “up all night” weekend. I recommend that parents only let their kids stay up an hour or two later on Friday and Saturday nights (most kids stay up until 1:00 AM or later, then the parent complains when the kid can’t get up for school on Monday morning).

5. We've tried so hard to be positive and encouraging, but our daughter’s self-esteem is so low. How can we help her with feeling better about herself?

>>>>>>>>>> If you’ll follow the plan laid out in your session assignments, your daughter will get a steady diet of nurturing, ‘self-esteem boosting’ behavior from her parent.

6. Every couple of weeks she throws a huge tantrum when we give her a consequence. I don't think we have ever given in when she throws one, but we do pay more attention to her. Do we completely ignore these outbursts? Do we give her additional consequences because of the tantrum?

>>>>>>>>>> Assuming that you are delivering the least restrictive consequence first (e.g., grounding for 24 hours with no computer or phone privileges), I would just tell her “the 24 hours doesn’t start until you calm down and go to your room – take all the time you need.” This is a way to put her in charge of her own consequence.

>>>>>>>>>> Now you want to provide no intensity …put on your best poker face …and literally let her decide when the clock starts. After she calms down and goes to her room, look at the clock and start the 24-hour discipline (write down the time so you don’t forget). If she has another temper tantrum, just re-start the 24-hours.

6. We have set up a chore chart. If she doesn't do her chores she doesn't receive any money. This doesn't seem to bother her. How do we get her to do her chores without the money incentive?

>>>>>>>>>> I would use the strategy “When You Want Something From Your Kid” [in the Anger Management chapter of the online version of the ebook]. If you need additional clarification on this one, just send me another email.

I think that’s it. Thanks again for the great ebook.


Runaway Daughter is Smoking Weed

"I have only very recently become a member of the parent support group and although I am still reading the information provided, I am finding it extremely useful as the sorts of behavioural problems mentioned are spot on for my 16 year old daughter, L___. I wondered, however, if you might be able to give me some advice on how to best handle the situation I find myself in with her at the moment.

Three weeks ago, L___ decided that she did not want to stay at home as she didn’t like the house rules and wanted to stay out later and do her own thing as it was more fun, so she went to stay with a friend even though I said no to this and refused to let her go, she went anyway. This continued day after day - each day saying she would come home (and with me asking the parent concerned not to let her stay) however, this has continued and she shows no signs of wanting to come home, and has now 'moved' into her 18 year olds boyfriend’s house with his parents.

L___ does not want me to contact his parents at all and further more the parents have now started paying her to work in their factory. On top of this, and almost my main concern is, that Lauren is due to take her GCSE final exams in May/June of this year but she is refusing to go to school at all as she finds it boring and prefers to earn money from the boyfriend’s factory work. I am also aware that she is smoking weed on a regular basis and has experimented with other drugs in the past, which I believe is also affecting her behaviour. I am understandably extremely worried, upset and concerned.

I am unsure of the right things to say to her or how to best handle this situation to encourage her to want to come back home and stay and to go to school on a regular basis for the last 2/3 months. Lastly if possible to also show some respect to us, her parents, who obviously love her and want the best for her (we are divorced). I believe from the information I have read so far we have been indulgent parents and L___ is a scapegoat. Any advice you can give me would be appreciated."


I often get these types of emails (i.e., child has moved out …not conducting her life as she should …I’ve lost all control in the situation and am terribly worried about her safety …and so on).

I know this is hard on you. However, as you have probably read in my ebook, self-reliance is key. And it sounds like your daughter is beginning to develop some self-reliance as evidenced by the fact that she has left “the nest” and is actively involved in gainful employment.

I understand that things are far from perfect at this time (e.g., she’s put education on the back-burner and may be abusing illicit drugs). Nonetheless, she’s out there trying to ‘make it’ (albeit with help from b-friend and his parents).

A word of encouragement is needed here: I’ve never (as in 0% of the time) met a teenager yet that didn’t, at some point, realize she needs some form of education. So don’t be discouraged about this. Also, be careful not to create a “Romeo and Juliet” phenomenon here (i.e., the more parents try to keep young lovers separated, the more the lovers gravitate toward one another).

I’m sure your daughter knows where you stand with respect to drug use as well as the importance of an education. To repeat your stance on this will be somewhat redundant at this point. But, your house rules still apply. If she wants to live under your roof, she has to play by your rules.

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

Son Abuses Mother

"My son is 15 …his dad and I were divorced when he was 9. Apparently my son feels that I am an emotional wreck and would never be able to live without him so has moved to his dad's quite a few times since then. I have to admit, he is my whole life and I have not always done the best job of parenting, making him EVERYTHING to me. I had the usual guilt feelings of the divorce and tried to compensate by giving him everything as well as his dad doing the same. He is spoiled (for lack of a better word) and has never had to work for anything.

For the last few months, he has been extremely angry with me and has told me that he would love for me to kill myself, has never liked me and even leaves messages on my phone when I refuse to deal with his abuse. I have made it clear that he will not live with me until he learns to respect me, however he turns everything around so that it's my problem, he's done nothing wrong.

I have told him that I admit that I haven't been a perfect parent but that I would try to do my best. Too little too late? I don't know. Bottom line, how do I apply the lessons in your book to my situation when he doesn't want to be with me at all?

My son has also been using drugs, pot and not sure what else, I've been told possibly oxycontin. He has been picked up for shoplifting and also has a harassment report concerning a former friend of his.

I'm so afraid for him and his well-being. His dad is not on the same page. Please help. Can I still be involved in his life when he is not here and hating me so much? I'm feeling so helpless."

First of all, I want to congratulate you for refusing to allow him to disrespect you. I cannot tell you how important this is (even though it does put you in the position of being the “bad guy”). Your son doesn’t hate you … he’s just pissed that he can’t control you. I’m guessing that his dad enjoys the position of “good guy” and employs an over-indulgent parenting style to maintain that status.

You’re torn between (a) how do I get my son to respect me and (b) how do I maintain a quality relationship with him (i.e., one that I enjoy; one in which I feel loved, appreciated and bonded). Unfortunately, you will not be able to have both of these. You will have to decide which is more important: (a) modeling for your son that it is not O.K. to disrespect women, or (b) spoiling your son so that he gets his way, and as a result, is less hostile.

Now …you know what I’m going to say at this point.

If we were concerned about what’s in the best interest of your son in the long run (which we are), then you would be willing to sacrifice a warm, fuzzy relationship with your son for a valuable life lesson, which is “women will not allow you to abuse them, emotionally or otherwise.” This revelation will come in real handy for him some day.

Should you terminate the relationship with your son if he continues to be abusive? Possibly. When you "terminate the relationship," you're not saying to your child, "Hey ...I don't love you anymore, and I never want to see you again." Rather, you are sending a clear, verbal message that "as long as you choose to use abusive language and threats, I choose not to be around you."

You could include the comment, "whenever you decide to stop using abusive language and threats, I'd love to spend time with you" (tough love that, in many cases, is equally tough for the parent). In those cases where the child does not have the luxury of going to live with the other parent, you have to adopt a different approach obviously (which is discussed in the ebook).

I have had many mother-clients who told their abusive sons that they either (a) refrain from abusive language and threats, or (b) pack it up and go live elsewhere. But this is a decision that you -- and you alone -- can make. I’m not suggesting it at this point (unless it feels right in your gut).


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

Teenage Son Is Doing "Great" While Living With His Dad?

Hi Mark, As you may remember, my son has been at his dad's for over a week. His Dad has told me that he's doing great, says he's not doing pot anymore, catching up on internet homework etc. The mom in me is happy about that however am wondering how this could happen so quickly. Could dad be falling for a line of crap? I miss him terribly and am very hurt that all this has happened, I really want my child back, happy and healthy; in your experience, has the relationship with a parent and child ever been mended? I'm so afraid I've lost him forever. I know I have to work on myself and gain respect. This is all SO hard. ~ T.


Hi T.,

Re: Could dad be falling for a line of crap?

==> Probably.

Re: In your experience, has the relationship with a parent and child ever been mended?

==> I’ve lost track of the number of incidences similar to yours. It usually goes like this:
  • 18-year-old has been over-indulged most of his life 
  • 18-year-old moves out – or is kicked out – after a terrible ugly scene 
  • 18-year-old goes several months without any contact with parent due to a bad case of resentment flu 
  • After 3 – 12 months, the now young adult has recovered from his resentment flu and has gained some knowledge of how the “real” world operates (for the first time in his life) 
  • By virtue of (a) time away from the parent and (b) emotional maturation (i.e., the emergence of personal and behavioral characteristics through growth processes), the young adult returns to the parent-child relationship in the emotional and communicational sense (he sometimes returns physically – living with the parent again – in those cases where he was unable to function independently; a failure to launch)

Things are never as BAD as they seem, so don’t adopt the mistaken belief that you will never have a relationship with your son again.

Also, things are never as GOOD as they seem, so don’t be surprised if you get a call from your son’s dad regarding problems with your son (although, it’s very possible that your son’s dad will cover-up any difficulties in order to (a) “save face” and (b) “give the impression” that he can do a better job parenting).


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

Getting daughter to move out is not going to be a small feat...

Dear P.,

>>>>>>>>>>I can see that you are really trying, and I am very happy to take time to respond to ‘well-thought-out’ questions such as these. Please see below:

We as a family need our daughter to leave this spring, and she has expressed the desire to leave as well. So she will be moving out cause it isn't working for either of us any longer. She doesn't want to live in a dorm, she doesn't have many friends that are going to be around here for college--so no roommates and she doesn't want a studio apartment. She pretty much has eliminated everything that is an option. I want to rent her a room that is next to the college and I think that would fit her needs financially and ours. I am not sure she will go for that either, so how do you go about making this smoothly when your teenager won't discuss an apartment on her own, or a dorm?

>>>>>>>>>> Ask her what she DOES want …if you can’t make that work (whatever it is that she comes up with) on your end -- financially or otherwise -- then she’ll simply have to settle for what she gets. WHEN she has a temper tantrum (because she’s not getting her way), put on your poker face …say I’m not going to argue …walk away …leave the house if you have to …anything. BUT DO NOT ENGAGE IN ANY POWER STRUGGLES OVER THIS.

>>>>>>>>>> Allow me to repeat this: (1) Tell her what you can and cannot do to help with college preparations, (2) provide NO intensity when she starts to bitch, moan, groan, whine and complain, (3) take a time-out away from her if you have to. (I can see that you are allowing her to keep you in a constant state of anxiety over this issue – she’s good!)

I am interested in preserving the relationship as much as possible, and I do understand your thoughts there, but this is not a loving child, she is hateful and resentful right now and has been for 2 years! I understand this will change, but how do you be loving and kind to your child when they are mean 24/7?

>>>>>>>>>You don’t …where did you hear me say anything about being “loving and kind”? However, I did say that “in remembering their own experience, parents next have to consider the experience they want to provide their son or daughter.” If this doesn’t include “love and kindness” – so be it.

It is beyond me. If I would have treated my mom like that, I would of been kicked out on my ear with no discussion. Additionally, since I have been applying your suggestions, it has gotten a little worse. You said to expect this, but it has been hard. She isn’t in any danger of running away, but getting her to move out is not going to be a small feat? And she will probably make it a disaster, not us. So what do you do there?

>>>>>>>>> If she wants to “make it a disaster,” that’s her choice – you don’t have to participate in her disaster.

>>>>>>>>>I can’t make you spit …I can’t make you stand on your head …I can’t make you mad …I can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do. In the same way, your daughter cannot recruit you as a participant in her “disaster” if you choose not too.

I just don’t know how to preserve something more than I already am! I am not trying to blame, but I just don't know how to handle this.

Additionally I didn't see that the oral contract wasn't applied to teenagers--I must of missed that in my readings--so how to you suggest we go about this, since we can't even talk to her about anything without a problem arising. Not one thing! Even day-to-day stuff is a bear to get through. I want to set a date with her and thanks for the feedback that this is feasible...so should I just say, we need you to move out on July 1st, letting you know now, and this is what we can afford to do to help you!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Yes …and please don’t make it anymore complicated than this!

One last thing--how do I get the sarcasm to stop. I have used some of your one liners and I have to say those are nice, cause she always is smarting off--but it seems when I use some of them she just has another one of top of it and when I leave rooms, she keeps going--what should I do here. I have an 11 year old that is suffering with it and is actually scared of her sister.

>>>>>>>>>> I’m glad you asked, because this gives me an opportunity to clarify the sarcasm thing. For those who don’t know, in the eBook I provide some one-liners you can deliver to your teenager, for example:

· And your crybaby, whiny opinion would be...?
· Do I look like a damn people person?
· Sarcasm is just one more service I offer.
· Does your train of thought have a caboose?

…and so on. But these comments should be used only when “things are going right” rather than as a weapon against a smart-mouthed daughter during those times that “things are going wrong.” These one-liners are great to use when you’re searching for some comedy-relief …when you are in a playful in spirit …and when your kid knows you are teasing -- but then and only then. (Thanks P. for providing me with an opportunity to clarify.)



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

Daughter Threatens to Kill Herself

"Mark, My husband and I read your e-book a couple of weeks ago and we have started making a lot of changes. Our daughter is not responding well. She took her tantrum to a whole new level last night, bringing a knife into her room and telling us that we make her want to kill herself. We have been giving her a lot of positive attention when she is good and spending time talking to her etc. But, she feels like she is always getting into trouble now. I realize now that we let her get away with so much in the past, and it is a difficult adjustment. We have sent her to her room at least once a day and taken away a lot of her computer privileges. We are not yelling or getting emotional, but being firm. I don’t know what else to do. I didn’t give her any attention when she had her tantrum last night, but I am worried that she will do something stupid. Also, she told us that one of her good friends has told her that she started taking drugs, but she is not sure if it is true and does not know what kind. Do we forbid her from spending time with her friend?"


It’s good that things are getting worse …that tells me you are working the program. Be patient with your daughter as she adjusts to the parenting changes you’ve made.

You’re in a precarious stage right now. This current ‘stage-of-change’ is the stage when many parents usually feel guilty (e.g., “I’m afraid I’m coming down too hard on my child”) as well as insecure (e.g., “I’m not sure I made the right decision when I decided to start using these new parenting strategies”).

When parents begin to doubt themselves, and when they fall for more manipulations (e.g., child says “I’m going to kill myself …”I’m going to run away” …etc.), they tend to revert back to their original parenting strategies, which is the “kiss of failure.”

Reverting back to original parenting strategies puts the parent back in her “comfort zone” again (or should I say “discomfort zone”?), but the huge benefits associated with positive change are never realized.

Re: “Do we forbid her from spending time with her friend?”

No …otherwise, your daughter will feel betrayed and may never divulge information about her friends ever again. Reward her for telling the truth by saying something like:

“We appreciate that you told us the truth about your friend …and we know you will be truthful about your friends -- and their possible drug use -- in the future. Since you’re honest, we trust you to see your friend.”

Do you really have all this trust in your daughter? No, of course not …but she will live up to – or down to – your expectations of her.

Mark Hutten, M.A.


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

Daughter Runs Away To Las Vegas

Hi Mark (this is S. from El Paso),

I think I told you about K____'s friend, J____, who is the mother of a 1 yr old child. J_____ is somehow influencing K____ and if I say anything negative about J_____, K____ becomes a yelling maniac!

K____ asked me a couple of weeks ago if her attitude changes when she's around J_____ and I told her, Yes - I DID notice a change in her and even K____ admits to it, too!

It seems that if I don't let J_____ spend the night with us, then she and K____ both leave the house in K____'s car and I have no idea where they run off too. Is there anyway (besides hiring an investigator to follow them) that I can somehow keep track of where she goes?

>>>>>>>>>>> Wait a minute …whose supposed to be in charge here – you or your daughter!? If your daughter is under 18, and if this is an on-going problem, you should call the police and file a runaway charge. If your daughter is 18, but does not want to abide by your rules, she can live somewhere else.

She always tells me she's going to a "friend's house" but she never tells me where her "friend" lives. Also, she and J_____ communicate with a young man who's in and out of jail and who's involved with a gang (he's supposedly J_____'s boyfriend - but J_____ has "several" boyfriends).

How can I find out what his real name is and where he lives without letting K____ know this?????

>>>>>>>>>> It’s not your job to track your daughter or to investigate her friends. It’s your daughter’s job to abide by your house rules. You are taking on too much responsibility – and the more responsibility you take on, the less your daughter will take on.

I feel that if I don't keep tabs on my daughter, I'm so afraid that something bad will happen to her. Also, how can I keep J_____ away from my daughter? Should I take a bench warrant out on her?? I don't want my daughter to be around this awful girl.

>>>>>>>>> Get a restraining order.

I also need to tell you that K____ and I had another argument but it was over something stupid, however, I DID NOT RAISE MY VOICE but K____ was yelling and cursing at me (using the "F"word and other vulgar cuss words). I hope she's not doing drugs because when my brother was using Cocaine, he would yell just like her!!!

Mark, what can I do at this point??

I know I must take away her car - first thing. But then what?

>>>>>>>>> Yes …take it away, but do so in the fashion described in my ebook.

Can I send her to a juvenile center (she's 17 now but she'll be 18 this July)?

>>>>>>>> Yes, but you have to be willing to file charges first.

I also feel that I must tell her father about her behavior and his parents (who also care lot about her). If I can get her away from these other "bad" kids, maybe she'll "see the light".

>>>>>>>>> She’s not going to be interested in seeing ‘the light.’ She’s only going to be interested in getting her freedom and stuff back once it has been taken away.

J_____ told K____ that her parents were locking her out of their house but I found out after talking with her parents that if they lock the doors at night (for safety, obviously!) then they always provide her with a key to the house. But you can't convince K____ that J_____'s lying. K____ says, "You only believe her parents because you're a parent and you never believe me!"

Since our "argument" tonight, I haven't heard from K____. I'm so worried that she's driving off to Las Vegas because this J_____ wants to go there! It's now 10:30pm (Friday) and I haven't heard from K____ at all. She also won't answer her cell phone.

Please tell me what to do!!! I'm so lost, Mark!

>>>>>>>>> Please don’t be upset with me when I say this: This is exactly what happens with over-indulgent parenting. The tail has wagged the dog for so long that it thinks it is the head. You, dear parent, are going to have to muster up some tuff love, or your daughter may end up ‘God only knows where.’

>>>>>>>>>Please …please …please … no more half measures! Please re-read the ebook and listen to all the audio files. You’ll pick up on so much more the second time around.

Keep me posted,

Mark Hutten, M.A.

==> MyOutOfControlTeen.com

Small Behavioral Problems Get Small Consequences

Hi Mark, I have a few quick ones for you.

1. I asked my 15 year old to pass me an empty cup and plate that is on the other side of the room. He ignored me so I asked him again. Then he grunted that it was not his but his brother's (which could be true) and kept playing his game.

I am trying not to escalate things and become aggressive. Also trying to pick my battles...so I ignored him but did stay calm and walked away. Let me know if this is right?

>>>>>>>>>> Small problems get small consequences. The next time you request that your son do something, but he refuses, say, “If you choose not to do what I asked, you’ll choose the consequence, which is __________” (pick something small and relevant).

>>>>>>> In the case of not helping with a small chore related to eating, maybe take away all snacks for one evening (i.e., no chips, cookies, etc.).

2. We loved your idea of a chore a week. Our kids right now has virtually no chores! So we wanted to start really slow...and said...2 times a day you have to put your clothes, towels, dirty sports thing in your hamper if you want to go out or have friends come over on the weekend. His siblings did EXCELLENT with this but Ryan the 15 year old did OK not great. He usually did better with gentle coaxing. One day I noticed that he did not do it...so I left him a reminder note. I came home 2 hours later and saw the note gone but he still had not complied? What should I do?

>>>>>>>>>>> Put on your poker face and follow through with the consequence: he doesn’t go anywhere that evening.

>>>>>>>>>>>Allow him to make mistakes (i.e., poor choices) – it’s how he will learn to make better choices. Don’t attempt save him from “non-compliance.” (The ‘reminder note’ is a good idea, but it doesn’t matter what he does with the note, after all, it’s his note).

==> Help for Parents of Defiant Teens

Discipline for Teen Ranting & Raving


I finally found my poker face but now my husband is having a hard time. We are having a hard time remembering the program when we are mad. It seems that once we have been pushed to the breaking point we resort back to old habits. I was not able to get my sons other 2 parents on board, so we are doing this on our own, which means every other weekend and every Tuesday for 3 hours my son is not following the program.

The hard part is if he gets him self grounded for 3 days and it falls in some of his fathers visitation the grounding ends up lasting longer than 3 days. But we are managing, I think. So, my new question to you is: I know that the discipline does not start until the ranting and raving is over, but what do you do when it starts back up in the middle of the 3 days? Do you start the discipline over again?

>>>>>>>>>>>>> Yes. When he stops ranting, look at your watch and start the clock again (write the day/time down somewhere so you don’t forget).

I think ‘no’ but I also don't think it's OK to let him get away with it? My husband I thought maybe a ‘yucky chore jar’ might be the trick to this? So, this idea is that we make up a bunch of yucky chores such as washing the toilet with a tooth brush or cleaning up dog poop or dusting the hole house, put them in a jar, and every time he mouths off about the grounding after it has started or mouths off in general he picks a chore for him to do. If he continues or complains about the chore he gets another one.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> This sounded good until the part where ‘he gets another one.” You don’t want to set up a situation where he keeps digging himself in a hole. He’ll never get out. If restrictions pile up, the kid will see no light at the end of the tunnel and will say, “Screw it.”

We love your program and think it works, but are finding some gray areas and we are trying to keep in mind that our son is only 10. Or is this just us feeling sorry for him?

>>>>>>>>>> There is a lot of gray area, and it’s good that you are differentiating between gray areas versus ‘black & white’ areas. You are only human, so of course you feel sorry for him from time to time. But catch yourself “feeling sorry for him,” and then get back on track with both nurturing and discipline.

Also, we know that when he is being disciplined he is to loose everything including wrestling practice. We are not sure that is good for our son because of his ADHD? PLEASE help us. Any answers you give are appreciated.

>>>>>>>>>>> I think we’re in one of those gray areas now. If you feel the advantages outweigh the disadvantages when you do NOT incorporate “wrestling practice” into the bag of “privileges withheld” during discipline times, then go ahead and allow him to do practice even when he’s on discipline.



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

Son Refuses to Move with Family to a New City

We are facing some challenging times ahead and I would like some advice on how to handle this with our 16 year old son. We moved to the town we are in now in the U.S. about 2.5 years ago from Canada. At the time our son had just started Grade 9. We had some rough times with him refusing to do school work, not caring about school and just being very angry. Things had just turned around with him recently when his Dad's company decided to close down without much warning. His Dad won't have any trouble finding a new job but we likely will need to move again.

As you can imagine, this prospect is not going over well with our son. He is saying he wants to stay here to finish high school. Unfortunately with his past academic efforts or lack of them, he isn't doing great at school. He is in his Junior year but he is a few credits shy of graduating on schedule as he has failed a couple of semesters in 2 courses.

Also, he does not have a job and he isn't driving. How do we handle this?? Do we just insist that he come with us as he is not ready to live on his own? Do I stay behind with him until he graduates and have his Dad commute on weekends for this time?

The issue I have with this is that if our son decides to not make a real effort to pass at school he could drag out the moving indefinitely.

Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this???


Re: “…he does not have a job and he isn't driving. How do we handle this??”

>>>>>>>>>>> If he doesn’t want to work or drive, whose problem is it? Yours or his? We know the answer: ‘his’. So if he doesn’t want to make money and be able to drive, this is his choice.

Re: “Do we just insist that he come with us as he is not ready to live on his own?”

>>>>>>>>>>> I would think so, unless he can stay with another family member or friend.

Re: “Do I stay behind with him until he graduates and have his Dad commute on weekends for this time?”

>>>>>>>>>> If you did, it would be just another form of over-indulgence. I’m getting the impression that you may be ‘feeling sorry for him’ due to the moves. This WILL make a bad problem worse – I promise.

Re: “Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this???”

>>>>>>>>>>It's common for teens to actively rebel against a move. Your son has probably invested considerable energy in a particular social group and may be involved in a romantic relationship. A move may mean that he will miss a long-awaited event, like a prom.

>>>>>>>>>>>It's particularly important to let you son know that you want to hear about his or her concerns and that you respect them. While blanket assurances may sound flippant, it's legitimate to suggest that the move can serve as rehearsal for future changes, like college or a new job. After the move, consider planning a visit back to the old neighborhood periodically -- if it's feasible.

>>>>>>>>>>>If he is strongly resistant to the move, you might want to consider letting him remain with a friend or relative -- if that's an option. This may be particularly helpful if you're moving midway through the school year.

>>>>>>>>>>>After the move, try to get his room in order before turning your attention to the rest of the house. Also, try to maintain your regular schedule for meals and family activities to give him a sense of familiarity.

>>>>>>>>>>When he starts school, you may want to go along to meet as many teachers as possible or to introduce him to the principal, dean, etc.

>>>>>>>>>Set realistic expectations about his transition. Generally, teachers expect new kids to feel somewhat comfortable in their classes in about 6 weeks. Some kids may take less time; some may need more.

>>>>>>>>>Keep me posted,

Mark Hutten, M.A.

What to Do When Teen-Behavior Problems Begin to Pile Up

In the content below, the parent's comments and questions are italicized ...

My comments [Mark Hutten, M.A.] are bold...

Hello Mark. To begin, my name is Sara and I just wanted to say that I joined your online program a few days ago and it has already been so helpful. There seems to be an ample supply of resources in my community for parenting young children, but haven't come across much for parenting the pre-teen and teen ages. I've been studying the materials and started implementing the strategies therein. Which has now brought about a couple of questions I could use some support on.

First, a few days ago I removed my daughter's computer privilege for the 3 day time frame. I didn't engage in the power struggle, simply explained the consequence, and stated I wasn't going to argue. The first day went surprisingly well. She did say my rules were dumb and asked for clarification about how long and when she would get computer time back. I told her if there were no more occurrences of the specific behavior she would have her computer time back on Saturday (3 days).

Hi Sara. You are doing a wonderful job. Go MOM!

The second day however, wasn't as smooth. She attempted to argue with me about it and I stated I wasn't going to argue. Then she tried to manipulate the issue and say she ONLY wanted to put music on her ipod and wouldn't use the computer for anything else. I said she could download her music on Saturday. I was on the phone with a friend at the time, and had already put the call on hold once to tell her I wasn't going to argue and restate the time frame. I went back to my phone call and she started mumbling unpleasentries and even throwing some things around the living room. I ignored, then she started yelling get off the phone and eventually, inappropriate things to my friend on the phone. 

At this point, the parent should assert [with a poker face], “If you choose to continue to interrupt me while I’m on the phone, you will choose the consequence, which is the 3-day-discipline will re-start.” If she interrupts again, then follow through with the consequence.

I continued to talk in hopes that my friend wouldn't hear and did not end my telephone conversation immediately. That is absolutely inappropriate, but I was so lost as to what to do or how to address. On one hand if I got off the phone ... then, I allowed her to control the situation ... on the other hand, my friend should not be verbally attacked by my 13 year old daughter? What is your suggestion for an appropriate response in that situation. I know she needs attention and approval and I am making sure to spend time with her, ask about her day, give positive feedback for good things I notice, etc. I did nothing during or after that to address it. Do you go back and talk about it after the situation is calm? I'm confused ... I don’t want to engage in a power struggle, but there are certain boundaries she shouldn't cross isn't there? When I was off the phone, she then asked if I would download the music for her. I said yes, I could download the songs if she made a list (not sure if that was right).

Unfortunately, this was a form of retracting your established consequence – you just got manipulated again!

She then decided she would wait until Saturday and do it herself. This is so confusing and hard because it seems that every situation perpetuates another?

If you find that “one problem is creating another,” you simply state that if she chooses to introduce a new problem, she will choose the consequence, which is the 3-day-discipline will be started over.

Let’s use an example: Daughter has been issued a 3-day-discipline (i.e., no computer privileges) for getting on Facebook when she was warned not to. On day 2, daughter wants to get on the computer to download music. Mom says “no” (one time) …gives her reason for saying “no” (one time) …and tells her daughter that when the 3-day-discipline is completed, the privilege will be reinstated. 

The daughter begins to have an inappropriate temper tantrum as a result. Thus, mom states, “If you choose to continue to argue with me, you will choose the consequence, which is the 3 days starts over.” Daughter continues to argue. Mom now says, “Because you chose to continue to argue, you chose the consequence, which is the 3 days starts over -- as soon as you calm down.” When the daughter chooses to stop yelling/arguing, mom looks at her watch and re-starts the 3-day-discipline.

Also, I know I need to accept and validate her feelings about things ... how/when do you do that?

You do that when she is calm; when she is behaving appropriately. Validation is not part of the equation during the period of time you are issuing a consequence.

At the moment the situation occurs I'm not arguing about it or showing emotion or engaging in any power struggle. But, I also want to be careful not to totally disregard her. After a blow up do you go back and discuss what happened?

This is optional. If the employment of “Fair Fighting” (see the section on Fair Fighting in the eBook) works in her case, then yes, discuss and problem solve. Otherwise, just let the execution of the consequence be the teacher.

Best of luck,


==> Help for parents with out-of-control teens...

Daughter Goes To Juvenile Detention


I subscribed to your ebook because we fit most of the descriptions of parents of out of control teens. I didn't even get to the bottom of the first session and our daughter has gotten much worse. As I write this she is in juvenile detention. She was arrested at our home last night after she scratched my husband’s arms when he tried to get her from spraying peroxide around our bathroom. In the last week she has become more angry and has had threatening behavior brought on by a “no” answer from us for demanding behavior on her part.

Last night, she demanded in a rude manner that we go shopping at 8 o'clock last night for a new outfit for school today. When told that we weren't going at 8pm but we could go in the next couple of days, she began to slam things in her room. It sounded like furniture breaking. It deteriorated from there and 911 was called because I was scared of her behavior. I was looking for crisis intervention, not the cops. 911 didn't answer, so I hung up and tried to call her therapist. 911 tried to call back and the line was busy so the cops came to our house. When we relayed the story, they said that she would have to either be admitted to the hospital or be arrested and sent to juvenile detention. I don't know if you can help or if this falls within your parent-coaching offer. I don't know what to do next. I don't know what to do when she comes home. 



Hi J.,

First of all, as I mentioned in the program material, it is very common for things to get worse before they get better. A child who may have been over-indulged most of her life has great difficulty – initially – in adjusting to the parent’s more assertive parenting approach.

Second, it’s good that the police arrived at your doorstep after your daughter engaged in “battery” (scratching is indeed “battery” in the legal sense).

I think it was a blessing in disguise that the cops came out to your house. If you had your way about it, you would have talked to some crisis counselor over the phone – which would have been a total waste of everybody’s time. You were about to employ a “half-measure” – but fortunately, this was not in the cards (so to speak).

So, in spite of yourself, you are on track. Your daughter will sit in detention for a few days, then she’ll have a court date soon, then she’ll come home – at which point you simply continue to work the program as outlined.

She got a wonderful “life-lesson” (i.e., battery has legal consequences).

Mark Hutten, M.A.

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...