Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

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How To Get Children Up For School In The Mornings

Hi there. I have been working your program for a while now with my now eight-year-old son and while I have had some successes, I am still finding myself not knowing what to do at times. My son has a VERY hard time turning off the Wii, or stopping a game on the Wii before it is over (i.e., football). I give him a set amount of time to play and then I warn him as the ending time approaches, often several times, to prepare him. However, when the time comes (I often set a timer because he argues that the time can't possibly be up), he insists on finishing his game (esp. football - he insists on at least finishing the quarter he is in). Should I let him finish the 2 or 4 minutes or whatever of that quarter (which turns out to be at least double the time because of the clock stopping, as in real football) or should I stick to the time limit? I feel like this may be a place to not pick the battle, but it may be telling him that limits are negotiable and I don't want him carrying it over to school or eventually work. What do you think? I am also having trouble getting him to go to bed on time. I know you say he should suffer the natural consequence of getting up the next morning anyway and going to school tired, but he doesn't get up! He goes back to sleep or stays in bed for another 1/2 hour sometimes. I do tell him that he will go to school with his hair sticking up and uncombed and that he will have to take his toiletries and brush his teeth in the school, or that if he is not ready he will go into the school and tell his teacher why he can't make it to school that day (is that a good thing to say?) but he still procrastinates until he is rushing, rushing, rushing out the door with his sister angry that he is making her late. I drive them 20 minutes to school each day and his sister has to be there 1/2 hour earlier in 2-week intervals because she is on the news team. Any suggestions??? Thanks so much and I do have more questions, but I will spread them out a bit for you!!! Thanks, K.


Re: Should I let him finish the 2 or 4 minutes or whatever of that quarter (which turns out to be at least double the time because of the clock stopping, as in real football) or should I stick to the time limit?

Here are some tips that apply:

Reward your son for not playing a video game for a certain period of time, whether it's per week or per day. This does not mean you should bribe him. However, rewarding him for good behavior every once in awhile might get him a bit more motivated than simply telling them to turn off his favorite game.

Keep the Wii in an area where all members have access to it. If it is in a bedroom - or even your son's room - there is more temptation and availability to your son. If you don't want him playing games on your family PC, make it clear and do not let any other family members play on the computer--including yourself!

Encourage your son to be a bit more active by reminding him of something that he really enjoys. You may also participate with him in an activity other than playing a video game to get him interested in something else. The more you do these things with your kids, the more it will become habit instead of gaming.

Fill the void with something educational and fun. Make it fun for your son when you've taken away an activity that he enjoys, but also incorporate some education into it. There are many different learning tools that are quite similar to video games that would make a great substitute to games.

Cut them off cold turkey. If you simply take away the console or take the game off your computer, there will certainly be some sort of resistance from your son. However, if the temptation is gone, he will be forced to find something else to do. Suggest a few outdoor activities or make plans for him to play with a friend, and soon the other activities will become staples in the house instead of the game.

Re: I am also having trouble getting him to go to bed on time.

Getting your son off his Wii earlier in the evening may help with this problem.

As long as you take responsibility for getting your son out of bed, he will let you do it. It may take a few days for them to get the hint, but once you stop working so hard, he will realize he has to change his behavior, or face certain consequences.

A natural consequence for oversleeping and being late to school is having to make up any schoolwork that was missed. You might also check with the school to see what the policy is for repeated tardiness or missed classes. Don’t protect your son from these consequences by making sure he makes that bus on time. In order to create less dramatic mornings, you have to let your son experience the consequences of not getting himself up and out the door.

You might tell your son: “You seem to have a hard time getting up in the morning, which tells me you aren’t getting enough sleep. You need to be up by 6 am on school days. As of today, we are moving your bedtime back to 9:30 pm on school nights. Once you have shown us that you can get up on time for five days in a row, we’d be happy to move your bedtime back to 11:30 pm.” If your son does not get up on time, simply state: “I know you want a later bedtime. You’ll have to figure out how to get yourself up on time in order to have that privilege.”

It may be hard for your son to go to sleep before 11 p.m. Going to bed by 9:30 PM is going to be a little “uncomfortable” for him. In time, the discomfort and annoyance of having to get into bed with the lights out and no electronics may motivate him to get out of bed on time in the morning. Once he has gotten up on his own for five days in a row, you can change the bedtime to a later hour. If he begins to oversleep again, change it back to 9:30 or 10:00 pm until he improves.

Mark Hutten, M.A.

Mom Has a Hard Time "Letting Go"

Hi Mark, I am just into my first week of the course and would like your help in what to do at this point. I have emailed you prior to purchasing your manual about the fact that my son D___ (17 years old) has left home and I need to get him back in order to implement your suggestions and bring us back as a family. I don't know how to go about this. If it sounds as a threat, he will not return. Should I ask him to return for his own safety and our love for him, should I give him an option or tell him he must return. It has now been 6 weeks and I feel he is slipping further away from us. I have like many other of your subscribers, been to counselling and she suggested that hard love was the option and that David needs to return on his own accord and on our terms. But I can see that the longer I leave this that there is a less likely chance that he will ever return.

Just to fill you in a little more, D___ ran away back in Jan. and was gone for 8 days. We asked him to return, but once he had it seemed that D___ was set to do anything and everything to make sure that he gets kicked out. So my husband gave him an ultimatum; live in our house with our rules or get out. So he chose the latter, of course. I feel that my husband made a very bad decision at this point and that we will never get D___ back. He is getting too heavily involved into the heavy metal music culture and has started to get body piercing and wants tattoos, all the things that my husband forbid him to do at home. He has given up school even though he was a great student. Please let me know what I should do at this point, as you know I would not be asking if I wasn't so desperate and feeling so lonely and vulnerable in this situation. ~ S.T.


Hi S.,

My first thought is: Your husband did the right thing. If your son were any younger, giving him the “all-or-nothing” ultimatum would not be appropriate. However, he’s an adult now – literally [although not legally recognized as one depending on what country you live in].

This will be no consolation to you at all - I’m sure, but bear in mind that “self-reliance” in key. If your son is out on his own, he is developing self-reliance. He is growing up quickly and learning how the real world operates. Although this is terribly painful and worrisome for you, the mother, this current situation is largely a positive one.

I don’t expect you to be able to shut your emotions off and somehow muster up the ability to see this dilemma through rosy lens. But what I would ask you to do is 3-fold:

1. Trust that this will work out for the best in the long run, and do not make yourself miserable in the meantime.

2. Acknowledge the reality that, even if he were to come home today, you would either have to go through all this parent-child conflict again, or simply let him be in charge.

3. Let him know that he is always welcome to come home to visit – and he is even welcome to return home to live, but only if he is willing to abide by a reasonable set of house rules.

This will be much more difficult for you than your husband. You and I both know that this is in God’s hands now.

My prayer for you today is: God grant S__ the ability to accept the things she cannot change, the courage to change the things she can – and the wisdom to know the difference. - The Serenity Prayer

Mark Hutten, M.A.


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

What To Do When Your Mom Enables Your Defiant Daughter

Hi, I bought your e-book last weekend and found it really helpful. I knew what to do, just didn't know how to go about it. My question to you is about family members. My 13 year old daughter could be the cover girl for your book. So I implemented your plan and had to do the 3 day discipline almost immediately b/c she snuck out of the house. My mother, child's grandmother, feels sorry for her. Helping her clean her room, taking her to the mall, talking to her all the time, etc. I want to get a security system: my mom thinks it is a waste of money. I'm sure you know the whole scenario. Do I let their relationship just be that - their relationship, or do I insist my mom leave her alone? I know my mother means well, but I told her she is rewarding my daughter's behavior just by talking to her about it so much and giving her undeserved attention. I am a single mother with a 5 yr old son as well, and I need my mother’s help at times. I try not to involve her with things, but I don't really have anyone else to bounce things off of. What do?

Another quick question - when you say the child can earn back a day, or get off 3 day discipline - do you mean by doing chores …watching your brother …etc.? Thanks, K.


Re: Do I let their relationship just be that - their relationship, or do I insist my mom leave her alone?

I see this is a bind for you. You need your mother’s help at times, but she is not contributing to the solution with respect to helping correct your daughter’s behavior.

I hope your mother understands that she needs to be on the same page with you; otherwise, you’ll make 2 steps forward and she’ll move you 3 steps back. Plus your daughter will be very successful at playing you against your mother and vice versa.

In this case, the best thing to do is to come up with a set of “discipline rules” that you and mother agree to – make it a contract, write it out, and both of you sign it. In this way, when your daughter does behavior “x” …you and your mother team-up to implement consequence “x” …does this make sense?

If your mother does not abide by the contract, then you may have to be assertive with her and set some firm boundaries (e.g., “when I discipline your granddaughter, you may NOT converse with her, help her with chores, take her to the mall, etc.”).

==> Bottom line: This is serious business, and you cannot afford to waste time spinning your wheels in the mud.

Re: Another quick question - when you say the child can earn back a day, or get off 3 day discipline - do you mean by doing chores …watching your brother …etc.?

Your daughter “earns” her way off discipline simply by not repeating the ‘offense’ (e.g., if she gets a consequence for sneaking out of the house, but does not sneak out during the 3-day-discipline, then she has completed successfully).

Mark Hutten, M.A.


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

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