When Disciplining Your Teenager Results In Physical Conflict

Hi Mark, We are into week 2 of what is supposed to have been a 3 day grounding with my 16 year old. He is still skipping school regularly and although he is generally pleasant enough when he is home, he is non-compliant with his grounding. We have taken away his cell phone, i-pod, computer time and tv. He just simply goes out whenever he wants and stays out as late as he wants to. The only thing that he currently does as a privilege is when he gets home he takes food to his room to eat. He is 6'3" and there is no way of taking away this privilege without a physical conflict, so we don't know what else to do except to try and wait out his defiance until he complies with grounding. If you have a specific suggestion in this regard it would be appreciated. It seems to us that the point of your program is to decrease the intensity of the interactions with him, so again, we are searching for ways to reduce this privilege without a physical interaction.

Also, on June 22 he is going to his Dad's for 1 month. If he hasn't complied with his grounding with us before that date, does he go away for a month without his phone and i-pod? If so, when he gets back do we try and start the 3 day grounding again or wait until he makes a mistake?

We certainly appreciate that you are a very busy man, however, we really need some expert personal input from you, beyond what we have seen in the e-book and reference material. We take parenting extremely seriously and have searched again, and again through the material but cannot find answers to our particular questions. Thank you. T. & D.

Hi T.,

The program’s main goal is to “foster the development of self-reliance” in your child – not to avoid conflict. Conflict is inevitable. Please continue with sessions #3 and #4.

There is no refusing grounding without serious consequences. If your son leaves, call the police and let them know that you have a runaway. If he gets physically abusive, call the police and file charges. Give him a heads-up that you will do this if he chooses to run off our get abusive. Then it's his choice to avoid - or receive- the consequence.

Meanwhile remove every single form of entertainment in his room. Tell him that since he left, he is now on lock-down for twice as long as before. Take his phone, and call all of his friend’s parents and let them know that he is grounded, so if he shows up at their house, they should call you immediately.

It sounds like you are afraid of your son. Let him know that if he engages in violence towards you, you WILL call the police and file battery charges.

This is no joke! And these strategies will separate the girls from the women.

I know this is a very tough assignment for you! Can you handle these “tough love” measures? If not, I (unfortunately) may not be able to help you.

Children will still be in charge of the household if parents continue with a passive style of parenting based on fear of the child. Where does that leave the child? It sets him up for failure, because quite honestly, the world will kick his ass if he acts this way later in life.

In the real world, you cannot do whatever you want to – and then threaten people when you don’t get your way. Is this the message you want to send your son? I doubt it.

No half measures,

Mark Hutten, M.A.

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