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"He is not going to be able to drive..."


Well, M______ we thought has been behaving better. We did have to take away driving privileges several times as a consequence, and I had to thwart his leaving with a friend once (he was confined to the house/yard), but for several days he was following our rules as far as we could tell. We had been told in June by A_______ Mom (the ex-girlfriend) that our son was not to contact her daughter in any way. We know they have still been together and talking to each other even though we told M______ we wanted the Mom to "OK" this and then we would have no problem with them seeing/talking to each other. He states "she will never call you".

In the interim, I put a blocker on his ex'es phone so no incoming calls come through, and he agreed to not contacting her for 2 weeks so he could be allowed to drive. Well, today, we found out that he lied. He was supposed to stay home and to be watching his little brother. Called and asked if his friend and two girls could come over (a new girl who seems very nice and her friend). We said OK but had to stay in the family room and his brother would be present and NO inappropriate behavior (only over for about 1 hr). Well, girls never came over. He had permission to drive to work later in the afternoon, which he did (I gave him the car keys when I came home.)

After he left for work, this new girl K_____ called for him. She was upset. She proceeded to tell me that M______, his ex-girlfiend and another girl met her at a local fast food restaurant near the Mall (with my 9 yr old present). K_____ got into the car. He was driving his buddy's car (the friend was at football) as the car M______ uses was parked and I had the keys, and he did not have permission to drive. We do not allow him to be driving another's vehicle and he is only allowed one passenger. This ex proceeded to assault K_____. She escaped from the car and walked/ran back to the Mall where she had been shopping. She feels she was "set up" as A_____ has been threatening to meet up with her to beat her up. My 9 yr old admitted that this assault did happen. He was crying when he admitted it as he was threatened by M______ not to tell. He further stated they drove home, and the other girl then took over driving the friend's car and the girls left. Now I'm waiting for M______ to come home from work to confront him about this.

Obviously, he is not going to be able to drive. He did sign a driving contract which is very strict. He will also be confined to the house/yard for a while. I would like to know your opinion on how long you feel is appropriate. Sometimes I feel that 3 days is not long enough, doesn't "hurt" enough as it only takes a few days (certainly only a week at the best) for him to be "consequenced" again. Also, he is supposed to watch the 9 yr old again on Thursday--would you trust him?

Just so you know, I am taking care of myself. I no longer feel trapped at home to make sure he is home--I'm letting him face consequences. Thanks for being there!



Hi J.,

Would I trust him? No. Trust is earned. He would have to earn my trust by following through with expectations. Then, and only then, is trust extended.

Re: length of consequence. If you go more than 7 days, he’ll forget what he’s being grounded for and the lesson will be lost. 3 days works best, because it gets the child “back in the game” as quickly as possible.

Think of it this way: When a basketball coach has a player that gets into a fight with a member of the other team, the coach doesn’t suspend his player for the season – he doesn’t even “bench” him for the entire game. Instead, he makes his player sit on the bench for only one quarter.

Why? Because not being able to play for one entire quarter feels like an eternity to that player. If he’s kept out of the game any longer than one quarter, resentment builds and his sense of devotion to the team wanes.

The idea behind disciplining a teen (whose brain is not fully developed yet, and who does not perceive the passage of time the same way as an adult) is to issue the consequence immediately (i.e., here and now), consistently (i.e., he gets a consequence EACH TIME he violates a house rule), and short-term.

You want him to get “back in the game” as soon as possible so he can, in a sense, make more mistakes -- this is how he learns, and this is how he finds ways to adjust his attitude and behavior.

Mark Hutten, M.A.

==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens

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