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I want my husband and I to both be on the same page...

Hi Mark,

Want my husband and I to both be on the same page so from now on as I email these quick scenarios and questions to you I will copy him. If you would be so kind as to reply all that would be great!!

Wanted to run this one by you.

1. I called Ryan down for lunch. He proceeded to take his plate into the family room and to march over and turn the TV show off that his younger sister was watching and of course she screamed.

2. I told him to please bring the food into the kitchen. (We have had a SOFT rule on this but have been flexible...) To which he replied no and proceeded to watch his show.

I again said …you both need to come out for lunch. You can watch TV in the kitchen. I was very calm.

>>>>>>>>> You may want to consider having only one t.v. in the house (not one in the kitchen however).

Ryan began to whine ..."come on ...give me a break ...I eat neatly ...I promise I wont get any food on the floor and I can only watch this show here due to the fact it was recorded."

In an effort to pick my battles I said. OK. Ryan. If you had merely explained that and asked please this may have gone very differently. Similarly rather than just switch the TV off you should have asked please to your sister to see if she would be ok with your choice. To wit...he mumbled under his breath..."please."

>>>>>>>>> O.K. I have to stop reading here. I can see where this is heading.

You just engaged in a form of over-indulgence (albeit mild). Please follow the strategy “When You Want Something From Your Kid” [Anger Management chapter of the ONLINE VERSION of the ebook].

I said ...ok. IF you would just set up snack tables for you and your sister, you can both eat in here. Again he turned up the remote and said NO. "I don’t need a table and I am NOT doing ANYTHING for HER. She can do it. I am not doing it". I said...calmly...I understand that you may not agree with this but that is not your call. I gave you a way to get what you want. If you don’t do this by the count of 3 will lose all electronics for 3 days.

>>>>>>>>>> You are attempting to “reason with” your son here – you are appealing to his “rational mind” – which is a “traditional” parenting strategy that has little or no positive outcome.

Also, when you said “by the count of 3” – you unintentionally effected a power struggle.

A better approach would be to say, “WHEN you set up snack tables, you can eat and watch t.v. in the family room – take all the time you need” (confiscate the remote and withhold food until the snack table is set up …if it never gets set up, he doesn’t eat …unless he wants to eat in the kitchen).

Again he told me....NO. So I calmly said...ok. You have chosen your consequence and I left the room and calmly removed his cell phone, laptop and PSP and came back down and had my daughter eat her lunch in the kitchen.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> Good.

He proceeded to watch TV and eat his lunch. At one point he called in ... I need my computer for school. So YOU need to give it back to me anyway. I said should have thought of that before. He shouted that it will be YOUR fault if I don’t hand in my paper. I did not respond...assuming that if he TRULY needed to do schoolwork he could borrow my computer.

>>>>>>>>>>> Good. He was trying to push your ‘worry button’ here.

He then went on to tease his sister. Each time he would do something ...I would walk in and he would stop. This was so distracting I had to hang up my phone call and then he left the room calling back ...

>>>>>>>>> Teasing his sister is a different issue. You have to pick which battle you’re going to fight. Things are starting to pile up here [you’re in a power struggle again].

Make note of the additional behavioral problems and address them at a later date. Otherwise, your son will be successful at keeping you distracted – you’ll be running from one problem to the next, which will wear you out …plus he will win the struggle. Don’t get off the subject, which currently is the “eating in the family room” issue.

" I need my cell phone to call back a team mate about something important." I again held tight and said..."you will have to call him on the house phone." He said "I don’t know his number." I said..."oh well. We will get his mom’s number off the team roster."

>>>>>>>>> Good. You’re on track again.

He then mumbled and left the house to go out and play hoops.

Now...I was thinking this was SOMEWHAT successful and then I went upstairs to find his room was a mess. Now the irony is that He HAD picked up his room and made his bed earlier in the AM that day....the ONE thing we had seen SOME improvement in since we have started. After he left I realized that he had gone in and re messed up his bed...clothes were strewn all over the floor.

>>>>>>>>> Re-messing up his room is a separate issue. Make a note to address this later. You are allowing him to keep you distracted [which will be over-whelming and will interfere with your dealing with the original problem].

I am ASSUMING that again we restate the expectation around his room and make him clean it. This is the way that Ryan has ALWAYS been.

>>>>>>>>> Yes …but later.

If he feels like he blew it and is in trouble anyway...there is NO value in being good. So...please help? If we keep adding 3 days for each time now he mouths off/screws up...we will be back to the 2 month groundings that we are trying to avoid?

>>>>>>>>>>> Start with just one day with no cell …then if you have to, go 2 days with no cell or laptop …then go for the 3-day discipline and withhold all “toys”.

But the more important issue here is this: You must first disengage from the power struggle you are currently in with him. I can see that your relationship with him is one of “battle-of-the-wills.” And he’s winning (and always has).

To that end we are now thinking that if we say ...we have a big yard project to do today. If you do so without complaining or causing trouble you can earn back the electronics. You are doing the work either way.

>>>>>>>>> This is another traditional parenting strategy. I’m NOT saying, “don’t try it.” Go ahead and see if this works.

But, I think chores should be used for those occasions when the child is EARNING stuff and freedom – and should NOT be used as a way for him to make up for past sins.

He should be doing chores anyway. And to reward him (by retracting a consequence) for doing what he’s suppose to be doing anyway is, in effect, retracting the original consequence.

I know all this seems complicated, but you are greatly on track. But, again, you’ve got to get out of the power struggle. Follow the alternatives I’ve offered in this email to begin the process of disengagement.

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


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

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