How to Educate Your Teen About "S e x"

 "What's the most appropriate way to talk to teenagers about the topic of sex education?"

Sex education basics may be covered in health class, but adolescents might not hear or understand everything they need to know to make tough choices about sex. That's where parents come in. Awkward as it may be, sex education is your responsibility. By reinforcing and supplementing what your adolescent learns in school, you can set the stage for a lifetime of healthy sexuality.

If parents wait for the perfect moment to discuss sexual issues, they may miss the best opportunities. Instead, think of sex education as an ongoing conversation. Here are some ideas to help you get started and keep the discussion going:
  1. Clearly state your feelings about specific issues (e.g., oral sex, intercourse). Present the risks objectively, including emotional pain, sexually transmitted infections, and unplanned pregnancy. Explain that oral sex isn't a risk-free alternative to intercourse.
  2. If you're uncomfortable, say so — but explain that it's important to keep talking. If you don't know how to answer your adolescent's questions, offer to find the answers or look them up together.
  3. Don't lecture your adolescent or rely on scare tactics to discourage sexual activity. Instead, listen carefully. Understand your adolescent's pressures, challenges and concerns.
  4. Let your adolescent know that it's OK to talk with you about sex whenever he or she has questions or concerns. Reward questions by saying, "I'm glad you came to me about this."
  5. Your adolescent needs accurate information about sex, but it's just as important to talk about feelings, attitudes and values. Examine questions of ethics and responsibility in the context of your personal or religious beliefs.
  6. When a television program or music video raises issues about responsible sexual behavior, use it as a springboard for discussion. Remember that everyday moments (e.g., riding in the car, putting away groceries, etc.) sometimes offer the best opportunities to talk.

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

Sex education for adolescents includes abstinence, date rape, homosexuality and other tough topics. Be prepared for questions like these:

What if my friend wants to have sex, but I don't? Explain that no one should have sex out of a sense of obligation or fear. Any form of forced sex is rape, whether the perpetrator is a stranger or someone your adolescent has been dating. Impress upon your adolescent that no always means no. Emphasize that alcohol and drugs impair judgment and reduce inhibitions, leading to situations in which date rape is more likely to occur.

What if I think I'm homosexual? Many adolescents wonder at some point whether they're gay or bisexual. Help your adolescent understand that he or she is just beginning to explore sexual attraction. These feelings may change as time goes on. Above all, however, let your adolescent know that you love him or her unconditionally. Praise your adolescent for sharing his or her feelings.

How will I know I'm ready for sex? Various factors (e.g., peer pressure, curiosity, loneliness, etc.) steer some adolescents into early sexual activity. But there's no rush. Remind your adolescent that it's OK to wait. Sexual activity is for mature adults. In the meantime, there are many other ways to express affection (e.g., intimate talks, long walks, holding hands, listening to music, dancing, kissing, touching, hugging, etc.).

Adolescents and grown-ups are often unaware of how regularly dating violence occurs, so it is important to get the facts and share them with your adolescent. Moms and dads also should be alert to warning signs that an adolescent may be a victim of dating violence, such as:
  • Suspicious bruises, scratches or other injuries
  • Loss of interest in school or activities that were once enjoyable
  • Fearfulness around their dating partner
  • Excusing their dating partner's behavior
  • Avoidance of friends and social events
  • Alcohol or drug use

Adolescents who are abusive toward their partners are at risk of legal problems as well as emotional consequences. If they don't get help, these adolescents often develop lifelong patterns of unhealthy, unhappy relationships.

The lessons adolescents learn today about respect, healthy relationships, and what is right or wrong will carry over into their future relationships. Therefore, it's important to talk with your adolescent about what does and doesn't constitute a healthy relationship.

If your adolescent becomes sexually active (whether you think he or she is ready or not), keep the conversation going. State your feelings openly and honestly. Remind your adolescent that you expect him or her to take sex and the associated responsibilities seriously. Stress the importance of safe sex, and make sure your adolescent understands how to get and use contraception.

Your adolescent's physician can help, too. A routine checkup can give your adolescent the opportunity to address sexual activity and other behaviors in a supportive, confidential atmosphere — as well as learn about contraception and safe sex. The physician may also stress the importance of routine human papillomavirus vaccination to help prevent genital warts and cervical cancer.

With your support, your adolescent can emerge into a sexually responsible grown-up. Be honest and speak from the heart. Don't be discouraged if your adolescent doesn't seem interested in what you have to say about sex. Say it anyway. Studies show that adolescents whose moms and dads talk openly about sex are more responsible in their sexual behavior.


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

How To Say “No” Without Having An Argument

According to parenting experts, the average youngster hears the word “no” an astonishing 400 times a week. That's not only tiresome for you, but it can also be harmful to your son or daughter.

According to studies, children who hear “no” too often have poorer language skills than kids whose moms and dads offer more positive feedback. Also, saying “no” can become ineffective when it's overused (a little like crying wolf). Some children simply start to ignore the word, while others slip into a rage the minute that dreaded syllable crosses your lips.

So what's a parent to do — let her kids run amok without any limits? Well, no! Parents can break out of the “yes-no tug-of-war” by coming up with new ways to set limits.

Here are 20 positive ways to answer your child in the negative:

1. Adjust your use of the word "no" over time. For example, in the first year of life, the word "no" is usually reserved for warning your youngster of dangers he encounters (e.g., a hot stove). Preschoolers might hear "no" regarding their negative social interactions. Older kids and teens hear "no" in response to their material requests. Temper your use of the word "no" as your youngster's skills and independence grows.

2. Are You a Parent Who Can't Say No? In their zeal to give their kids everything they need, some parents risk giving their kids everything they want. Parents who practice attachment parenting risk becoming totally "yes" parents, with "no" being foreign to their parenting style. It is important for the parent to feel comfortable saying 'no' to the child from the very beginning.

3. Avoid Set-ups. For example, if you're taking your youngster along with you to a toy store to buy a birthday present for his friend, realize that you are setting yourself up for a confrontation. Your youngster is likely to want to buy everything in the store. To avoid the inevitable "No, you can't have that toy," before you go into the store, tell him that you are there to buy a birthday present and not a toy for him so that he is programmed not to expect a toy.

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

4. Create Alternatives To The N-Word. Constantly saying "no" causes this word to lose its punch. Since stop sounds are used mainly to protect, try using more specific words that fit the situation. Consider this example: When a child is about to reach into the cat litter box, your first reaction is to say "no," but follow it up with an explanation: "Dirty! Make you sick." Next time the youngster goes for the litter box (and he will do it again), instead of "no," say "Dirty! Make you sick." That (and a disgusted expression on your face) will help the youngster learn the “why” as well as the “what” of good behavior, and the litter box will lose its attraction.

5. Distinguish between reasonable requests and unreasonable requests. Seasoned moms and dads often advise new parents to "choose your battles." You and your spouse should decide what requests are reasonable. If your 5-year-old yearns to jump in puddles every day, perhaps he could be indulged now and then if you have time for a quick clean up before dinner.

6. Encourage your children to think about others. The next time your children ask for new clothes, start by asking them to take inventory of what they already have. If they have outgrown a lot of their clothes, use the opportunity to teach them about donating their old clothes to others in need. If your kids want a big birthday party but you don't think they need all those gifts, encourage them to ask guests to bring money to donate to a charitable organization or a book that could be exchanged at the party (so everyone gets a gift). Or you could just write "no gifts" on the invitation and explain to your youngster that some families might not have extra money in their budgets for gifts.

7. Explain why you're saying “no” in terms children can understand. The slave labor excuse might resonate with a 10-year-old, but it won't work on a 4-year-old. You'll just get a blank stare then more pleading. That's why your response has to be age appropriate -- and simple. If you have young kids and want to prevent in-store meltdowns, set limits before you go shopping and tell them what the consequences are for disobeying. "You can pick out one thing" or "We're just getting a few things at the grocery today, so please don't ask for anything."

8. Give Positive Substitutes. Present a positive with your negative: "You can't have the knife, but you can have the ball." Use a convincing expression to market the "can do" in order to soften the "can't do." "You can't go across the street," you say with a matter-of-fact tone of voice; then carefully state, "You can help Mommy sweep the sidewalk." There is a bit of creative marketing in every parent.

9. Master "The Look". You can often correct a youngster without saying a word. Master disciplinarians use a look of disapproval that stops the behavior, but preserves the youngster's self-image. Your youngster should understand that you disapprove of the behavior, not him or her. To be certain you strike the right note in disapproval discipline, follow the look with a hug, a smile, or a forthright explanation, "I don't like what you did, but I like you."

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

10. Personalize "No". Rather than giving a dictatorial "no," add your youngster's name (e.g., “no Michael”). If you tend to shout, a personalized address at least softens the sound and respects the listener. Some moms and dads confuse respecting the youngster with granting him equal power, but this is not a power issue. The person with the power should respect the person taken charge of. That consideration holds true in parenting; it holds true in other relationships as well.

11. Prepare yourself to be on the receiving end of "no." Saying "no" is important for a youngster's development, and for establishing his identity as an individual. This is not defiance or a rejection of your authority. Some moms and dads feel they cannot tolerate any "no's" at all from their kids, thinking that to permit this would undermine their authority. They wind up curtailing an important process of self-emergence. Kids have to experiment with where their parent leaves off and where they begin. Moms and dads can learn to respect individual wishes and still stay in charge and maintain limits.

12. Reinforce your values by saying "no" with a calm demeanor. If you become shrill (and what parent doesn't at one time or another?) you risk alienating your youngster, as she rolls her eyes and discounts your reasoning. Saying "no" one time, firmly and with conviction will become increasingly effective over time.

13. Remember to listen to your youngster and validate his feelings. Although we as moms and dads are not obligated to explain every refusal to our kids, sometimes we need to open up the lines of communication by hearing the youngster's side of the argument, even when we know the answer will still be "No!"

14. Rephrase your youngster's question into a sentence. If he says, "Do I have to go to bed?" You can say, "I know you don't want to go to bed, but it is bedtime and we have to wake up early." Again, acknowledge their request, because all children want is to be heard.

15. Say, "Yes, but you'll have to use your money." Children don't have a problem spending your money. But if they have to pony up their own cash, they might back off with their requests. Plus, making children pay -- or at least chip in -- for things they want teaches them a good lesson about making choices.

16. State the facts simply. So if your youngster asks you to stay longer at his friend's house, instead of saying “no,” try saying, “We have to go now. But next time, we can stay longer.”

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

17. Substitute a choice if you feel that all you ever say to your youngster is "no." If your son asks to watch a movie you have decided is too mature, instead of saying, "No!" you could respond, "We can watch a movie, and the movies you can choose from are X, Y and Z."

18. Teach Stop Sounds. Often a change in your mood or body language is not enough to redirect impulsive actions. Words are needed. Kids soon learn which discipline words carry more power and demand a quicker response than others. And kids soon learn which tone of voice means business and which allows for some latitude. Arm yourself with a variety of "stop-what-you're-doing" sounds so that you can choose one that fits the occasion. Tailor the intensity of the sound to the gravity of the behavior. Save the really big sounds for true danger.

19. Use the word "no" consistently for maximum impact. If your teenage daughter knows you will cave in and extend her curfew after 20 minutes of begging, she has learned that "no" does not really mean "no." Consistency is important across all age levels. When You Say It, Mean It. Follow through on your directives.

20. What If Your Youngster Won't Accept No? Kids, especially those with a strong will, try to wear moms and dads down. They are convinced they must have something or their world can't go on. They pester and badger until you say "yes" just to stop the wear and tear on your nerves. This is faulty discipline. If however, your youngster's request seems reasonable after careful listening, be willing to negotiate. Sometimes you may find it wise to change your mind after saying "no". While you want your youngster to believe your "no" means no, you also want your youngster to feel you are approachable and flexible. It helps to hold your "no" until you've heard your youngster out. If you sense your youngster is uncharacteristically crushed or angry at your "no," listen to her side. Maybe she has a point you hadn't considered or her request is a bigger deal to her than you imagined. Be open to reversing your decision, if warranted. Make sure, though, that she realizes it was not her "wear down" tactics that got the reversal of your decision.


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

How to Employ "Scream-Free" Parenting

Why should parents stop screaming at their kids – in all cases – effective immediately? Here are 4 important reasons why:
  1. With parental screaming, your children will learn that they never really have to change their behavior, because screaming is not much of a consequence. Instead, they will just listen to the yelling and do whatever they want to do anyway. And eventually, they will simply tune you out completely.
  2. When yelling becomes your usual method of dealing with problems, your kids are also apt to think that it is okay for them to scream a lot. You’re teaching your children that yelling is an appropriate response when one is angry or stressed.
  3. Screaming teaches that life, in general, is often out-of-control.
  4. Screaming actually empowers your children (but in a bad way), because it gives them the message that you are not in control …and if you are not in control, they assume that they are the ones in charge.

If you find yourself yelling at your youngster too often, it’s not going to be easy to stop (at least not right away). Learning how to change the way you communicate with your youngster takes practice. You may need a different disciplinary technique, because your children are going to push your buttons to try and get you to lose control (which is what they have been doing for a long time now). But you can learn to stay in control and communicate with them effectively.

Here are 20 techniques that will help you get the behavioral results that you want from your kids without screaming at them:

1. After an outburst, even a minor one, immediately ask, "OK, what could I have done to avoid the frustration?" This is a better question to ponder than, "OK, what could I have done to avoid yelling." Accepting that frustration is likely to lead to a conflict helps treat the cause instead of the symptoms. Now, each outburst, instead of being a failure and an opportunity for guilt, can be an opportunity to learn and add to your parenting arsenal.

2. Because screaming often makes a youngster feel badly about himself, he will often lash back in order to protect himself, and then become revengeful. He may, out of fear and sadness, stop the behavior for a short period of time, however the anger and humiliation he felt will build-up …and soon enough, he will lash out. A good example here is when moms and dads think screaming works when their kids are small, but are shocked when they experience severe disobedience when their kids become teenagers.

3. Count to 10 while really disengaging yourself from the situation. Walk away, go into a different room, and do a different activity. Even if you don’t have a clue what’s triggering your frustration, if you know that you are over-reacting, then you can try disengaging.

4. Find a word or phrase to distract yourself from yelling and remind yourself that your youngster isn't trying to drive you nuts -- he's just doing what kids do. "He's only 3, he's only 3," is one example. Repeat it to yourself several times when you feel like you're about to explode.

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

5. Find ways to accomplish stressful tasks without your kids in tow. If all of you “lose it” in the grocery store, shop for groceries online after they're in bed -- or even head out to the store after 9:00 PM, when it's empty and you can shop quickly and efficiently.

6. For some, screaming offers a form of physical release. Jogging in place or doing a jumping jack or two can distract you and give you the outlet you need when you feel like yelling. You probably won't want to do this in public, of course, but at home anything goes. Who knows? You may lose a few pounds!

7. Give yourself some time to transition when you come home. Take 10 minutes to get into some comfortable clothes, gather your thoughts, and then come out of your room and talk to your children. They’ll act like they can’t wait 10 minutes at first, but they’ll get used to it …they’ll learn to give you your space eventually.

8. If you get too upset by the situation to maintain control, you are also too upset to figure-out and set long-range consequences for the children. Learn to handle the conflict first - then you get to teach them with a consequence. And if it takes a few iterations before you get the hang of it - fine. When you have successfully handled the problem with patience and kindness, you will usually discover that consequences are simply unnecessary. And on the rare occasion where they are, they should be preceded by long conversations filled with lessons before a consequence should be agreed upon.

9. If you’re caught in a yelling match with your child, it’s always okay to stop at any point. No matter if the fight is just beginning, if you’re deep into it, or it’s been going on for 15 minutes, you can give yourself permission to stop and step away from the situation. You don’t have to attend every fight you’re invited to.

10. If you’re trying to get more control and would like to stop yelling, talk to your spouse or your friends, and really acknowledge all of it. There’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about—all parents scream from time to time. Your spouse might have some insights or some ideas of what you can do. Maybe he/she can even step in and help out next time when you start to lose it. He/she also might notice what some of your triggers are that you haven’t noticed yourself.

11. If you’ve had a bad day, then after the kids are in bed, take a long hot bath in Epsom salts and have a small glass of wine …works for me :)

12. It is perfectly O.K. to wait ten minutes—or even wait until the next day—to come back and talk with your youngster about her inappropriate behavior. Often times, parent-child conflict is truly not that urgent. Most of us yell about things that are minor if you really think about it. The problem might feel urgent at the time, but that’s only because of whatever we bring to the situation—not usually because of our kid’s behavior.

13. Lower your expectations. If you find yourself screaming at your children all the time, you may simply be expecting too much of them. Acquaint yourself with what's developmentally appropriate and then tweak your actions (e.g., one hour-long trip to the supermarket rather than hours of errands will reduce whining, and by association, yelling).

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

14. Once the conflict is over, make sure everyone is ok …that there is no permanent damage. It isn't just for the children - it's to alleviate the sense of failure, to enable you to shake it off and continue instead of wallowing in guilt and self-pity for the rest of the day. Saying "I love you very much even though I was really mad at you" is a great way to stay in good standing with your child after the dust has settled.

15. Taking care of your kids can be exhausting to say the least. And yelling is a definite sign of stress and fatigue, which means you need (and deserve) a break! Have your husband or a trusted babysitter step in for half a day so you can get some much-needed time to rejuvenate.

16. Try whispering. It sounds weird, I know. But if your youngster has to strain to hear you, he's less likely to tune you out. And it's nearly impossible to sound angry (and scary) when you're speaking softly.

17. Use prayer and meditation during times of stress (usually after the dust has settled).

18. Walking away from a screaming match will often stop the fight in its tracks, right then and there. Stepping away—taking that time away from the heat of the situation—helps you as a parent to figure out what your response should be. Sometimes this will mean spending some time away from your youngster and then going back later and dealing with the misbehavior.

19. We all have triggers, and often they’re not very rational. Know what your triggers are and what sets you off (e.g., feet on the couch, backtalk, making a mess in the kitchen, etc.). Teach yourself what you can do when you’re triggered in order to respond more effectively. 90% of the time, the reason parents yell is because they were yelled at as kids. Even though they may have hated being yelled at, it is all they know, and they simply fall into that same pattern during times of stress with their own kids. So, be sure to understand your triggers!

20. When you catch yourself screaming, change the message to expressing your feelings (e.g., "I am so frustrated right now!"). Don’t make the mistake of simply trying to stop yelling (this will only create pressure and tension). The problem is that you've already lost control - you can't put a clamp on it - but you can give it a healthier outlet, both for you and for the kids who will receive the message, "Mom has emotions" instead of "you are bad."

Let's face it: Kids can be as exasperating as they are adorable – and parents are only human. But raising your voice is a losing battle. It doesn't discourage frustrating behavior and ultimately gets everyone more upset than they need to be. And then, of course, there's the guilt – and who needs more of that?

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

Skype Workshops for Parents of Strong-Willed, Out-of-Control Children and Teens

Mark Hutten, M.A. - Master's in Counseling Psychology

The problem is that most parents of strong-willed, out of control children and teenagers have tried very hard to regain control -- but with little or no success.  And it seems the harder the parent tries, the more the child "acts-out."

I often hear the following statement from parents: "I've tried everything with this child -- and nothing works!"  But when they work with me, they soon discover they have not tried everything, rather they have tried some things.

If you're interested in Skype counseling, simply do the following:
  1. Create a Skype account, if you haven't done so already -- it's free!
  2. Add me to your contacts list. My Skype name is: markbhutten. [After you get into your Skype account, do a search using my Skype name. You'll see my picture and my name: Mark Hutten.]
  3. Send me a contact request. I will accept it and add you to my contacts.
  4. Email me so we can set-up a day and time to talk:
  5. At some point before we meet, you will need to send a PayPal payment of $49.00 to:
Sessions are 1 hour long (only one session per week, but we can do multiple weeks if needed).

I'm here for you if you need me, Mark Hutten, M.A.

Email me if you have questions: 

Not ready to do counseling yet? Try my program first then:

==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens a downloadable eBook with video instruction designed to help parents of strong-willed, out of control children and teenagers.

My bio:

I'm the founder of Online Parent Support, LLC. I'm a life coach, couples' coach, and a parent coach with more than 30 years’ experience. I've worked with hundreds of children and teens with behavioral problems over the years. I also present workshops and training courses for parents and professionals who deal with troubled children and teens.

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    Tried and Tested Disciplinary Strategies for Defiant Teens and Preteens

    How much longer will you tolerate dishonesty and disrespect? How many more temper tantrums and arguments will you endure? Have you wasted a lot of time and energy trying to make your child change?  

    ==> If so, then this may be the most important article you'll ever read!

    What Oppositional Defiant Disorder May Look Like Throughout Childhood

    Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is defined as a recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that persists for at least 6 months. Behaviors included in the definition are as follows:
    • refusing to follow rules
    • losing one's temper
    • deliberately annoying other people
    • blaming others for one's own mistakes or misbehavior
    • being touchy, easily annoyed or angered
    • being resentful, spiteful, or vindictive
    • arguing with grown-ups
    • actively defying requests

    Here’s what ODD looks like throughout childhood:

    • family instability, including economic stress, parental mental illness, harshly punitive behaviors, inconsistent parenting practices, multiple moves, and divorce, may also contribute to the development of oppositional and defiant behaviors
    • temperamental factors, such as irritability, impulsivity, and intensity of reactions to negative stimuli, may contribute to the development of a pattern of oppositional and defiant behaviors in later childhood
    • when the parent punishes the youngster, the youngster learns to respond to threats
    • when the mother or father fails to punish the youngster, the youngster learns that he or she does not have to comply
    • the youngster's defiant behavior tends to intensify the parents' harsh reactions
    • moms and dads respond to misbehavior with threats of punishment that are inconsistently applied
    • interactions of a youngster who has a difficult temperament and irritable behavior with moms and dads who are harsh, punitive, and inconsistent usually lead to a coercive, negative cycle of behavior in the famil
    • these patterns are established early, in the youngster's preschool years; left untreated, pattern development accelerates, and patterns worsen

    • they lack the skills to solve social conflicts
    • they blame their peers (e.g., "He made me hit him.")
    • these kids may be more likely to misinterpret their peers' behavior as hostile
    • noncompliance with commands
    • kids with patterns of oppositional behavior tend to express their defiance with educators and other grown-ups and exhibit aggression toward their peers
    • kids with ODD and poor social skills often do not recognize their role in peer conflicts
    • in problem situations, kids with ODD are more likely to resort to aggressive physical actions rather than verbal responses
    • failure to take responsibility for one's own actions
    • emotional overreaction to life events, no matter how small
    • as kids with ODD progress in school, they experience increasing peer rejection due to their poor social skills and aggression
    • ODD behavior may escalate and result in serious antisocial actions that, when sufficiently frequent and severe, become criteria to change the diagnosis to conduct disorder

    NOTE: When many kids with behavioral problems and academic problems are placed in the same classroom, the risk for continued behavioral and academic problems increases.

    ==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Oppositional, Defiant Teens 

    Why We Are Seeing Our Young People Commit Horrific Violent Acts

    “Why are so many of our young people turning to senseless acts of violence these days… why are we seeing such an epidemic of mass shootings …why …why?!”

    Several things have occurred in recent years that appear to have created the perfect storm for mass shootings. In no particular order, mass shooters tend to have the following commonalities:

    1.    All mass shooters had the means to carry out their violent act (in most cases, purchasing their weapons through legal avenues). 

    2.    Most mass shooters reach an identifiable crisis point in the months leading up to the shooting.

    3.    There was both a means and an opportunity to carry out the crime in all cases.

    4.    Most had experienced trauma or exposure to violence in childhood (e.g., teasing, bullying, and/or ostracization by their peer group, physical and/or sexual abuse, parental suicide, neglect, domestic violence, etc.).

    5.    Most felt 100% justified in carrying out the shooting (i.e., they honestly thought they were “doing the right thing”).

    6.    Most become angry, despondent and violent because of a specific grievance (in the El Paso case, having a serious problem with Latino immigrants). Other examples of specific grievances include relationship rejection (or some other type of loss), a change in job status, feeling belittled or shamed by certain individuals, etc.

    7.    Mental health concerns are often present (e.g., thought disorders, suicidality, depression, anxiety, etc.).

    8.    Many of these shooters have been radicalized online (i.e., they study other perpetrators and model their violent acts after previous shootings).

    9.    Most had studied the actions of other shooters and pursued validation for their motives, which might explain why we had 2 mass shooting back-to-back (i.e., mass shootings tend to be socially contagious – they come in clusters).

    10.    In many cases, the shooter communicated to others through (a) specific threats of violence (e.g., via Facebook and Twitter), (b) an expression of suicidal thoughts or plans, or (c) a marked change in behavior.

    11.    At some point prior to the shooting, many decided that life was no longer worth living and that killing others would be appropriate revenge, which might explain why they have either expected to be killed by police during the episode, or took their own lives immediately after they completed their evil task.

    In summary, it appears that the core issue for these individuals revolves around mental health problems – specifically starting in childhood!

    ==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Oppositional, Defiant Teens

    What To Do When Your Defiant Child Has To Have The "Last Word"

    “What do you suggest for a child with oppositional defiant disorder who always has an intense need to have the last word?”

    Because defiant behavior is all about control, many kids who exhibit it seem to have a strong need to have the last word. Remember that they don’t want the argument to end, because when it does, their sense of control ends also.

    Unfortunately, dealing with a child who has this need to win often generates in parents the same intense need to come out on top.

    Your strategy here would simply be to give your child the control he or she wants. Make the conscious decision to “surrender to win.” Go ahead and allow your child to have the last word.

    Once his or her goal has been accomplished, the behavior usually stops. “Parting-shot” comments can be ignored and consequences given later (similar to the strategy outlined here).

    ==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens

    Oppositional Behavior: When Your Child Violates Rules Right in Front of You

    Let's look at a couple examples:
    • The parent is walking through the living room and, as she passes, the child puts her/his feet up on the coffee table (when told previously not to do so).
    • The parent tells all the kids to calm down and use their “inside voice,” but the defiant child immediately shouts out loud.

    Planned ignoring is a conscious decision to not attend to the behavior at the time it occurs. It does not mean ignoring the behavior forever, which would be condoning it. 

    Usually, when a child violates a rule immediately after it has been given, it is an attempt to engage the parent in an argument and seize control of the situation. Behaviors that are insubordinate, but do not endanger the physical or psychological safety of others, can be temporarily ignored.

    When your child sees that you are not going to “give up” control by taking the time to engage in an argument, the behavior often stops. If, however, when the behavior is ignored the child escalates it, you need to interpret the meaning of the behavior.

    It’s important to let ALL your kids know about the strategy of “planned ignoring.” You might say:

    “There are going to be times when someone violates a rule and it looks like I’m not paying attention or I’m letting them get away with it. I want you to know that I am choosing to ignore them for the time being because what’s most important is that I continue to teach and you continue to learn. I want you to know that the misbehavior will be addressed at a later time and the child will receive consequences for her/his behavioral choices. The rules haven’t changed.”

    ==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens

    Parent’s Strategy for Dealing with Oppositional Defiant Behavior: Ask Rather Than Tell

    Let’s look at this common parent-child exchange:

    The parents says, “You need to finish your homework before you go out to play.” The child responds, “If you let me go now, I’ll do my homework later. I want to play with Jason now.”

    If you persist, your child may continue to try to “make a deal” (e.g., “I’ll do half my homework now, only play outside for a little bit, and then come back and finish my homework”).

    Your strategy is to ask rather than tell...

    Oftentimes this type of interchange can be proactively avoided by “asking” the child what he should be doing, rather than by telling him what he is supposed to do (e.g., “What needs to be done before you go outside to play?”).

    For the most part, children with defiant behavior really don’t want to be doing something different, they just want to have control and not feel as if they are being told what to do. Kids who are trying to make deals are really saying, “I want to feel like I have control over what I’m doing and when I’m doing it.”

    If the parent interprets that sentiment out loud and points out that they do have control, oppositional kids often will comply. For example, you could say:

    “You want to feel like you have control about the ‘what’ and ‘when’ of your choices. You do have control. No one can make you do anything you don’t want to do. You don’t do homework – you don’t go outside. You do your homework – you go outside. It’s your choice.”

    ==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens

    Parents’ Strategy for Oppositional Children: Teaching the Difference Between the Letter of the Law and the Spirit of the Law

    Examples of oppositional behavior in the child:
    • When told “Turn your cell phone off while you’re at the dinner table,” the defiant child may turn it off, and then turn it back on.
    • When given the direction “Lower your voice,” the child may speak in a lower tone, but use the same volume.
    • When given the direction “Pull your chair up to the table,” the child may bring the chair up, but then sit on the floor.

    Parent’s Strategy: Teach the difference between the letter and the spirit of the law:

    Generally, when faced with the “loophole finding” child, parents will try to become more precise in their language or to add additional rules. Rather than trying to plug the loopholes, give your defiant child a lesson that teaches the difference between the “letter of the law” and the “spirit of the law.”

    Unless your youngster has a language impairment, he knows what you mean and is merely testing the limits. In your lesson, you can give examples of statements a parent might make, and then ask your child to identify the intent.

    • No yelling. Does that mean: (a) be silent or (b) start whispering?
    • Stop running. Does that mean: (a) walk or (b) start skipping or hopping?
    • Turn around. Does that mean: (a) face me or (b) turn in a circle?

    Not only does this lesson get the point across, it generally is a lot of fun for parents and the kids. Once you are certain that your child understands the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law, one additional rule can be added: “Follow the spirit of the law.”

    Now, when your child tests the limits, you can ask, “Are you following the spirit of the law?” This effectively derails the child who innocently looks at you and smiles, saying, “But I did what you SAID!”

    ==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens

    A Tough Tactic for Parents with "Run Away" Teenagers

    Dear Mark,

    I have recently "joined the program" and have seen an overall improvement. I have 3 daughters aged 18 (now left school & unemployed after going to live with her father several months ago because he does not have any boundaries), 17 (major issues see below) and 10. The children's father consumes alcohol in excess, which contributed to his lack of supervision.

    Separated/divorced 4 yrs ago and my 17yo went to live with her father over 12 months ago where she was basically unsupervised until crisis this April including alcohol & Marijuana use, shoplifting, running away etc. I now have court orders to stop her running back there when I placed boundaries on her.

    She is under care of mental health team (initially depressed now behaviour issues) and she has been attending appts. She keeps saying that she would rather live in a foster home than live with me (in a comfortable home).

    I remove privileges of computer, bedroom door, phone, iPod, groundings etc, but she seems only to be good enough to get them back until the next time! Her logic is she might as well enjoy herself because going to be disciplined when returned.

    Major issue at present is her running away for up to 3 days (I do report her to the police). I have now reached a point where I have had enough. Over 12 months ago she was a scholarship student at a private school, but has deteriorated in public school (multiple suspensions for disrespect, disobedience). Unfortunately school has not handled situation well as refusing to do "in house suspensions" so my daughter sent home. I asked multiple times for meetings with all concerned, but seems easier for them to just wait for her to be suspended again. The only option next year is Boystown residential program monday-friday - but the child has to co-operate!

    I don't know what else to do...she has refused to come home again and I don't know where she is.

    Please help me...

    Thanks, S.


    Hi S.,

    Re: I don't know what else to do...she has refused to come home again and I don't know where she is.

    This will be a difficult task perhaps, but you will need to stop taking responsibility for her "runaway behavior." You can't hog tie her to a bed post ...nor can your keep her locked up in the house.

    The quick answer is this: (a) "act as if" you are not bothered by her running away; (b) let her run; (c) do not attempt to find her and do not attempt to communicate with her (however, if she calls you, then do field that phone call); (d) when she returns, simply re-issue the consequence; (e) when she runs again, start the cycle all over.


    Clearly she knows that "running" pushes your "worry" buttons ...she gets a pay-off in the form of knowing she has control of (a) your emotional state and (b) her freedom to do what she wants. So the more you 'fuss' -- the more power she feels. Paradoxically, the more you are relaxed about her 'running' -- the less power she feels.

    She runs because it keeps her in charge. 'Running' keeps her in charge because it gets a reaction out of you. As soon as you stop reacting -- game over! There's no pay-off anymore. She loses the power to push your worry buttons. As long as she can keep you in a state of anxiety and fussing -- she wins!

    Her running is her responsibility now... and it has natural consequences associated with it as well.

    So now you decide. Are you going to continue to feed this behavior with your reactions? Or are you going to pull the plug and let her worry about herself?

    You pick. 

    Mark Hutten, M.A.

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

    When Your Teenager is Abusing “Over-the-Counter” Drugs


    I have a question about my 17 year old. With all the issues we have been having with her over this past 1.5 years, I definitely have a hard time trusting her anymore. Things seemed like they were starting to come around and I was letting go a bit of the feelings of mistrust. Then, yesterday I cleaned my daughter's room as she was at work and we are trying to sell our house and had a showing. We only get 2-3 hours notice so there are many times I have to clean her room so it's ready for showing. She knows this and also knows that if she doesn't do it herself, it has to get done so I will be in there cleaning.

    Everything was fine until she got home and went into her room and come out hollering at me and asking me what I did with her Sleep Eze pills. I know she has been purchasing them once in awhile as she has been having problems sleeping. I never touched them nor saw them. She started acting almost panicky and started looking through my things thinking I had hid them – she starting slamming doors and swearing when she couldn't find them. That all made me very suspicious so I looked them up online and found out they are often used to give teens a "buzz". That really upset me as I had naively thought that they were only using them once in awhile for her sleeping issues. Now I totally believe otherwise.

    I never buy these for her, but she is quite able to buy them herself. There are no restrictions on them, plus she works and has her own money which I don't ask her what she is spending it on. I am so concerned now and I don't know how to approach this. She gets so angry if she thinks I am accusing her of using "drugs". She has in the past, so I am always on the lookout for that. I totally never thought she would be doing it again. I don't want to come across as not trusting her again just when things were starting to go better but on the other hand, I need to know if there's a reason to be worrying about this. Are these products actually addictive, and are they used to give kids a buzz? She either uses Sleep Eze or Nytol. I know it's best if I have proof, but I guess I do have proof that she is using them at all because I have seen her buy them. How should I approach this?


    Adolescents do indeed abuse some over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, such as cough and cold remedies, to get high. Many of these products are widely available and can be purchased at supermarkets, drugstores, and convenience stores. Many OTC drugs that are intended to treat headaches, sinus pressure, or cold/flu symptoms contain the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM) and are the ones that adolescents are using to get high. When taken in high doses, DXM can produce a "high" feeling and can be extremely dangerous in excessive amounts.

    OTC drugs are legal and mostly safe when used as directed, which may lead children to believe that these drugs are always safe to take. The truth is: medication abuse can lead to addiction, overdose, and death. It's up to you to keep track of your youngster's use of OTC drugs and to stay alert for signs of abuse.

    Nearly half of OTC drugs, more than 125 products, contain an ingredient called dextromethorphan (or DXM). It is in cough suppressants that can be found in stores in caplet or liquid form. It also can be ordered on the Internet. When taken in very large doses, DXM can produce a high. It also can pose a real danger to the user, including:
    • Brain damage
    • Death
    • Dizziness
    • Hallucinations
    • Hot flashes
    • Impaired judgment and mental functioning
    • Loss of coordination
    • Nausea
    •  Seizure

    Watch for signs that your youngster may be abusing DXM or other OTC drugs:
    • OTC drugs seem to vanish from your medicine cabinet.
    • You find OTC drugs stashed in your youngster's room or backpack.
    • Your youngster takes large amounts of cold or cough remedies or takes a medication even when not ill.
    • Falling grades, mood swings, and changes in normal habits or appearance also can signal a possible drug abuse problem.

    One in 11 adolescents abused OTC medications, such as cough medicine. The problem is more common than you might think. Adolescents take large doses to get high, sometimes mixing these drugs with prescription drugs, street drugs, or alcohol. Some adolescents crush pills and snort them for an intensified effect.

    A recent study found that six percent of 12th graders reported past year abuse of cough or cold medicines to get high. That amounts to about one in every 16 high school seniors. Signs and symptoms of abuse may include:
    • Long-term effects— Addiction, restlessness, insomnia, high-blood pressure, coma, or even death.
    • Short-term effects— Impaired judgment, nausea, loss of coordination, headache, vomiting, loss of consciousness, numbness of fingers and toes, abdominal pain, irregular heartbeat, aches, seizures, panic attacks, psychosis, euphoria, cold flashes, dizziness, and diarrhea.

    In many parts of the country, adolescents can easily buy OTC cough and cold remedies at any supermarket, drugstore, or convenience store where these products are sold. They can also get them from home, or order them over the Internet. And even if they do not order OTC drugs online, they can surf the Web to find information and videos on what drugs to try and mix together.

    Where should you look to make sure prescription drugs are not readily available?
    • With Relatives: Grandparents may be another source of prescription drugs for adolescents. In fact, 10 percent of adolescents say they took drugs from friends or relatives without asking.
    • With Friends: Talk with the moms and dads in other households your adolescent has access to about safeguarding medications.
    • At Home: An adolescent may scout his own home first if he's looking to get high from prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

    Your adolescent can overdose on OTC drugs. The point at which adolescents may overdose on OTC drugs varies depending on the amount of the drugs they took, over what time period, and if other drugs were mixed. Some OTC drugs are weak and cause minor distress, while others are very strong and can cause more serious problems or even death. If you suspect your adolescent has overdosed on OTC drugs, take them to the emergency room or call an ambulance immediately for proper care and treatment by a medical doctor.

    Mixing alcohol with certain medications can cause nausea and vomiting, headaches, drowsiness, fainting, and loss of coordination. It can put users at risk for internal bleeding, heart problems, and difficulties in breathing. Alcohol also can decrease the effectiveness of many needed medications or make them totally ineffective.

    Some of these medications can be purchased over the counter - at a drugstore or grocery store - without a prescription, including herbal remedies and others you may never have suspected of reacting negatively with alcohol.

    Before you or your adolescent take any prescription or OTC medication, carefully read the label, and/or consult with your family physician or local pharmacist. And never mix medications with alcohol. Moms and dads should set clear rules and consistently enforce those rules against any underage drinking.

    What Parents Can Do About OTC Drug Abuse—

    Because OTC drugs are easy to get and legal to purchase, teens may not realize how harmful they can be. Moms and dads need to know the facts about OTC drugs and warn their kids. Let them know that OTC products are not "safer" to misuse simply because they are legal, have a legitimate purpose, and are easy to buy.

    Talking with adolescents and staying in touch with their lives are the first steps to keeping them free from abusing consumer products and medications. Following are a few basic preventative steps that you can take to help your youngster understand the importance of using OTC medications responsibly and help discourage abuse of dextromethorphan and other drugs:

    1. Avoid overstocking OTC drugs in your home.

    2. Be mindful of the season. Your youngster can benefit from medicinal relief of cough, cold, and flu symptoms by taking OTC cough and cold preparations according to the instructions on the manufacturer's label. But be aware if your youngster is using cough and cold medications outside of cold and flu season or if he or she continues to self-medicate after symptoms have subsided.

    3. Check your home. Take a quick inventory of all consumer products kept in your home. Be aware of the products in your medicine cabinet, and ask questions if you notice that any products are used frequently or disappear.

    4. Consider having your youngster assessed by a drug and alcohol therapist if you think he/she may be addicted to OTC medication.

    5. Don't allow your youngster to keep OTC drugs in his bedroom, backpack, or school locker.

    6. Monitor your youngster's Internet use. Unfortunately, there are Internet sources that sell dextromethorphan in a bulk powder form or encourage adolescents to share their experiences with abusing dextromethorphan. These websites are not regulated so it becomes increasingly imperative that you be aware of where your youngster is getting information on the Internet, what sites he/she is spending time on, or with whom he/she may be communicating.

    7. Role model responsible use of OTC and prescription medications.

    8. Talk to your youngster. Speak with your kids often about the importance of carefully following directions on the labels of all OTC medications. Help them understand the dangers of abusing OTC cough and cold medications.

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

    Child Biological Factors Involved in Conduct Problems

    “What biological factors (if any) are involved with a child who acts-out frequently?”

    Considerable research has been carried out into the role of child temperament (i.e., the tendency to respond in predictable ways to events) as a predictor of conduct problems.

    Aspects of the personality (e.g., activity levels displayed by a youngster, emotional responsiveness, quality of mood and social adaptability) are part of his or her temperament.

    Studies have found that although there is a relationship between early patterns of temperament, and adjustment during adulthood, the longer the time span the weaker this relationship becomes.

    A more important determinant of whether or not temperamental qualities persist has been shown to be the manner in which moms and dads respond to their kids. "Difficult" infants have been shown to be especially likely to display behavior problems later in life if their parents are impatient, inconsistent, and demanding.

    ==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens 

    On the other hand "difficult" infants, whose parents give them time to adjust to new experiences, learn to master new situations effectively. In a favorable family context, a "difficult" infant is not at risk of displaying disruptive behavior disorder at 4 years old.

    Cognitions may also influence the development of conduct problems. Kids with behavioral issues have been found to misinterpret or distort social cues during interactions with peers (e.g., a neutral situation may be construed as having hostile intent). Also, kids who are aggressive have been shown to seek fewer cues or facts when interpreting the intent of others.

    Kids with conduct problems experience deficits in social problem-solving skills. As a result, they generate fewer alternate solutions to social problems, seek less information, see problems as having a hostile basis, and anticipate fewer consequences than kids who do not have behavioral problems.

    ==> Parenting methods for dealing with conduct problems in teenagers can be found here...

    ==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens

    Does divorce "cause" defiant behavior in kids and teens?

    “My 14 y.o. son’s behavior has taken a major turn for the worse. My husband and I have recently separated and are making plans to divorce. Could there be a connection between my son’s erratic behavior and the fact that his dad has left?”

    The inter-parental conflicts surrounding divorce have been associated with defiant behavior in teenagers affected by the break-up. However, although some single parents and their kids become chronically depressed and report increased stress levels after separation, others do relatively well.

    For some single parents, the events surrounding separation and divorce set off a period of increased depression and irritability which leads to loss of support and friendship, setting in place the risk of more irritability, ineffective discipline, and poor problem-solving outcomes. The ineffective problem solving can result in more depression, while the increase in irritable behavior may simultaneously lead the teen to become rebellious and antisocial.

    Studies into the effects of parental separation and divorce on child-behavior have revealed that the intensity of conflict and discord between the parents - rather than divorce itself - is THE significant factor. Kids and teens of divorced parents whose homes are free from conflict have been found to be less likely to have problems than kids whose parents remained together, but engaged in a great deal of conflict, or those who continued to have conflict after divorce.

    In addition to the effect of marital conflict on the teenager, conflict can also influence parenting behaviors. Marital conflict has been associated with inconsistent parenting, higher levels of punishment with a concurrent reduction in reasoning and rewards, as well as with moms and dads taking a negative perception of their teen’s adjustment.

    As a side note, research has suggested that parents of kids with behavior problems frequently lack several important parenting skills. Parents have been reported to be more critical in their use of discipline, more inconsistent, erratic, and permissive, less likely to monitor their kids, as well as more likely to punish pro-social behaviors and to reinforce negative behaviors.

    A coercive process is set in motion during which the child or teenager escapes or avoids being criticized by his or her parents through producing an increased number of negative behaviors. These behaviors lead to increasingly aversive parental reactions which serve to reinforce the negative behaviors.

    Differences in affect have also been noted in defiant kids. In general, their affect is less positive, they appear to be depressed, and are less reinforcing to their parents. These attributes can set the scene for the cycle of aversive interactions between parents and kids.

    ==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens

    How to Tell the Difference Between Normal Rebellion Versus a Psychological Problem

    "My seventeen year old daughter is so very angry. She is involved with drugs and has gotten in some legal trouble as well. She is verbally abusive to me and to my husband who is her stepfather. The problem is that other times she is a joy to be around. She is funny, and very bright and creative. I wonder if she may have a psychological problem or may be an opposition defiant child. Not sure what to think right now."

    How can a parent tell the difference between normal rebellion and the signal that an adolescent is troubled? Ask yourself these two questions:

    1. Is this behavior change drastic for my adolescent? Normal rebellious behavior develops over time, beginning with an adolescent wanting to be with friends more and disagreeing with moms and dads more frequently. Problem rebellion is sudden and drastically out of character. For example, a normally rebellious "A" student may get a few "Bs" and cut a class or two, but if he suddenly starts failing or refuses to go to school, this can be a sign that your adolescent is experiencing an emotional crisis.

    2. How frequent and intense is the rebellion? Normal rebellion is sporadic. There are moments of sweetness, calm and cooperation between outbursts. If on the other hand, rebellion is constant and intense, this can be a sign of underlying emotional problems.

    Dealing with Normal Rebellion—

    The main task of adolescents in our culture is to become psychologically emancipated from their moms and dads. The teenager must cast aside the dependent relationship of childhood. Before she can develop an adult relationship with her moms and dads, the adolescent must first distance herself from the way she related to them in the past. This process is characterized by a certain amount of intermittent normal rebellion, defiance, discontent, turmoil, restlessness, and ambivalence. Emotions usually run high. Mood swings are common. Under the best of circumstances, this adolescent rebellion continues for approximately 2 years; not uncommonly it lasts for 4 to 6 years.

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

    How do I deal with my teenager's rebellion?

    The following guidelines may help you and your teenager through this difficult period:

    1. Treat your teenager as an adult friend— By the time your youngster is 12 years old, start working on developing the kind of relationship you would like to have with your youngster when she is an adult. Treat your youngster the way you would like her to treat you when she is an adult. Your goal is mutual respect, support, and the ability to have fun together.

    Strive for relaxed, casual conversations during bicycling, hiking, shopping, playing catch, driving, cooking, mealtime, working, and other times together. Use praise and trust to help build her self-esteem. Recognize and validate your youngster's feelings by listening sympathetically and making nonjudgmental comments. Remember that listening doesn't mean you have to solve your adolescent's problems. The friendship model is the best basis for family functioning.

    2. Avoid criticism about "no-win" topics— Most negative parent-adolescent relationships develop because the moms and dads criticize their teenager too much. Much of the adolescent's objectionable behavior merely reflects conformity with the current tastes of her peer group. Peer-group immersion is one of the essential stages of adolescent development. Dressing, talking, and acting differently than adults helps your youngster feel independent from you. Try not to attack your teen's clothing, hairstyle, makeup, music, dance steps, friends, recreational interests, and room decorations, use of free time, use of money, speech, posture, religion, or philosophy.

    This doesn't mean withholding your personal views about these subjects. But allowing your adolescent to rebel in these harmless areas often prevents testing in major areas, such as experimentation with drugs, truancy, or stealing. Intervene and try to make a change only if your teen's behavior is harmful, illegal, or infringes on your rights (see the sections on house rules). Another common error is to criticize your adolescent's mood or attitude. A negative or lazy attitude can only be changed through good example and praise. The more you dwell on nontraditional (even strange) behaviors, the longer they will last.

    3. Let society's rules and consequences teach responsibility outside the home— Your teen must learn from trial and error. As she experiments, she will learn to take responsibility for her decisions and actions. Speak up only if the adolescent is going to do something dangerous or illegal. Otherwise, you must rely on the adolescent's own self-discipline, pressure from her peers to behave responsibly, and the lessons learned from the consequences of her actions. A school's requirement for punctual school attendance will influence when your adolescent goes to bed at night. School grades will hold your teen accountable for homework and other aspects of school performance. If your adolescent has bad work habits, she will lose her job.

    If your teen makes a poor choice of friends, she may find her confidences broken or that she gets into trouble. If she doesn't practice hard for a sport, she will be pressured by the team and coach to do better. If she misspends her allowance or earnings, she will run out of money before the end of the month. If by chance your teen asks you for advice about these problem areas, try to describe the pros and cons in a brief, impartial way. Ask some questions to help her think about the main risks. Then conclude your remarks with a comment such as, "Do what you think is best." Teens need plenty of opportunity to learn from their own mistakes before they leave home and have to solve problems without an ever-present support system.

    4. Clarify the house rules and consequences— You have the right and the responsibility to make rules regarding your house and other possessions. A teen's preferences can be tolerated within her own room, but they need not be imposed on the rest of the house. You can forbid loud music that interferes with other people's activities or incoming telephone calls after 10 p.m.

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

    While you should make your adolescent's friends feel welcome in your home, clarify the ground rules about parties or where snacks can be eaten. Your adolescent can be placed in charge of cleaning her room, washing his clothes, and ironing his clothes. You can insist upon clean clothes and enough showers to prevent or overcome body odor. You must decide whether you will loan her your car, bicycle, camera, radio, TV, clothes, and so forth. Reasonable consequences for breaking house rules include loss of telephone, TV, stereo, and car privileges. (Time-out is rarely useful in this age group, and physical punishment can escalate to a serious breakdown in your relationship.)

    If your teen breaks something, she should repair it or pay for its repair or replacement. If she makes a mess, she should clean it up. If your adolescent is doing poorly in school, you can restrict TV time. You can also put a limit on telephone privileges and weeknights out. If your adolescent stays out too late or doesn't call you when she's delayed, you can ground her for a day or a weekend. In general, grounding for more than a few days is looked upon as unfair and is hard to enforce.

    5. Use family conferences for negotiating house rules— Some families find it helpful to have a brief meeting after dinner once a week. At this time your teen can ask for changes in the house rules or bring up family issues that are causing problems. You can also bring up issues (such as your adolescent's demand to drive her to too many places and your need for her help in arranging carpools). The family unit often functions better if the decision-making is democratic. The objective of negotiation should be that both parties win. The atmosphere can be one of: "Nobody is at fault, but we have a problem. How can we solve it?"

    6. Give space to a teen who is in a bad mood— Generally when your teen is in a bad mood, she won't want to talk about it with you. If teens want to discuss a problem with anybody, it is usually with a close friend. In general, it is advisable at such times to give your adolescent lots of space and privacy. This is a poor time to talk to your teen about anything, pleasant or otherwise.

    7. Use "I" messages for rudeness— Some talking back is normal. We want our teens to express their anger through talking and to challenge our opinions in a logical way. We need to listen. Expect your teen to present her case passionately, even unreasonably. Let the small stuff go — it's only words. But don't accept disrespectful remarks such as calling you a "jerk." Unlike a negative attitude, these mean remarks should not be ignored. You can respond with a comment like, "It really hurts me when you put me down or don't answer my question."

    Make your statement without anger if possible. If your adolescent continues to make angry, unpleasant remarks, leave the room. Don't get into a shouting match with your teen because this is not a type of behavior that is acceptable in outside relationships. What you are trying to teach is that everyone has the right to disagree and even to express anger, but that screaming and rude conversation are not allowed in your house. You can prevent some rude behavior by being a role model of politeness, constructive disagreement, and the willingness to apologize.

    When should you seek outside assistance?

    Get help if:
    • you feel your teen's rebellion is excessive
    • you find yourself escalating the criticism and punishment
    • you have other questions or concerns
    • you think your teen is depressed, suicidal, drinking or using drugs, or going to run away
    • your family life is seriously disrupted by your teen
    • your relationship with your teen does not improve within 3 months after you begin using these approaches
    • your teen has no close friends
    • your teen is skipping school frequently
    • your teen is taking undue risks (for example, reckless driving)
    • your teen's outbursts of temper are destructive or violent
    • your teen's school performance is declining markedly

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

    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...