Kids who are getting high, stealing, shoplifting, and acting out are making bad choices that may affect them for the rest of their lives. If your child is making these bad choices, it needs to change.

But, unless something dramatic happens, people stay on the course they set during adolescence. And if the course of your child’s life is petty criminal behavior (starting with stealing from you), using drugs and alcohol, and intimidating everybody at home, know that this is not going to change on its own.

Make no mistake, this is not a phase. Rather, it’s a sign that your child is developing unhealthy behaviors that may stay with him his entire life.

Related content: Is It an Adolescent Phase—or Out-of-Control Behavior?

Below are my eight practical steps you can take today to manage your acting-out kids.

1. Stop Blaming Yourself for Your Child’s Behavior

I tell parents who blame themselves to cut it out. Remember, it’s not whose fault it is—it’s who’s willing to take responsibility.

So if you’re looking for answers in Empowering Parents articles and otherwise trying to improve your parenting skills, then you’re taking responsibility. Maybe you messed up in the past, but let’s start here, today, with what you are willing to do for your child now.

The next step is to try to get your child in a position where he becomes willing to take responsibility for his behavior.

2. Don’t Get Sucked Into Arguments

I always tell parents that they don’t have to attend every fight they’re invited to. Don’t let children suck you into an argument when they slam their bedroom door loudly or roll their eyes at you. I think the best thing to do is say:

“Hey, don’t slam the door.”

And then leave the room. Give your child a verbal reprimand right there on the spot, and then go.

3. Use “Pull-ups”

I think it’s also a good idea to be very specific with instructions to avoid a fight later. You can say:

“Listen, when you put the dishes in the dishwasher, rinse them off first.”

I call this a “pull-up” because you’re actually just giving your child a boost. It’s like taking them by the hand and helping them get on their feet.

You may need to do ten pull-ups a night, but that’s okay. Do it without any hard feelings. Don’t hold a grudge or cut him off when he’s talking. And don’t say, “I told you so—I warned you about this.” No one likes to hear that, not adults and not kids. It’s annoying.

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Remember that blaming, speeches, and criticism all cut off communication. If you can have a relationship with your adolescent where you’re still communicating 60 or 70 percent of the time, you’re doing pretty well.

4. Don’t Personalize Your Child’s Behavior

If you get angry when your child stomps off to his room or doesn’t want to spend time with you, you’re personalizing his behavior. That gives him power over you.

I understand that this is easy for parents to do, especially if your teen used to enjoy spending time with you and was reasonably compliant when he or she was younger.

But if you take your child’s behavior as a personal attack upon you or your values, you’re overreacting. Your child is in adolescence. It’s his problem, and it’s not an attack on you. Instead, it’s just where he is in his developmental cycle.

Your teen is not striking out at you personally. Believe me, teenagers will strike out at anybody who’s there, whether it’s you or a sibling. My point is that there is so much going on in your adolescent’s head that you shouldn’t take it personally. He is so self-involved at this stage in his life that he doesn’t see things clearly. Adolescence distorts perception.

So, if your teenage daughter comes home late, don’t take it personally. If she told you she wasn’t going to do something and then did it, don’t take it personally. It’s not, “You let me down.” It’s, “You broke the rules, and here are the consequences.” Just reinforce what the rules are and let your child know she’ll be held accountable.

The only time I think you should respond very strongly is when a child is being verbally or physically abusive. If your teenager calls you or others foul names or destroys property, you have to respond.

Related content: When Kids Get Ugly: How to Stop Threats and Verbal Abuse

5. Run Your Home Based on Your Belief System

I believe parents should run their homes based on their own belief system, not on how other people operate, or how it appears families on television do things. It doesn’t matter if “everybody’s doing it” according to your teen. If your child says “everybody’s doing it” then you need to tell him:

“Well, I’m not ‘everybody’s’ parent, I’m yours. And in our family, this is not allowed.”

So if you believe it’s not right for a 16-year-old to drink beer, then that’s what you believe. And you need to run your home accordingly.

If you believe that lying and stealing are wrong, then make that a rule in your house and hold your children accountable for that behavior if they break the rules.

6. Be a Role Model

If you tell your child the rules and then you yourself break those rules, how do you think your adolescent will react? Do you think he’ll respect what you’ve said? Or do you think the message will be, “Dad says that I shouldn’t lie, but he sometimes does, so it’s okay.”

It’s imperative to be a good role model and abide by the rules that you set. Otherwise, you risk having them be broken over and over again by your children.

7. Try Not to Overreact

Believe me, I understand that it’s easy to overreact to typical teenage behavior. Teens can be annoying and are often unaware of or just don’t care about other people’s feelings.

But I think some objectivity on the part of parents is vital. For example, if your child makes a mistake, like coming in past curfew, you don’t want to overreact to it. Don’t forget, the idea is not to punish. The idea is to teach. And we teach through responsibility, accountability, and giving appropriate consequences.

Related content: Watch James Lehman Explain Consequences

I think you should always ask yourself, “What does my child need to learn so that he doesn’t make that same mistake next time? What can I do about that?”

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When a teen fails a test, the question should be, “So what are you going to do differently so that you don’t fail the next test?” You may hold your child accountable, there may be a consequence, but you should always try to have a conversation that solves problems, not a conversation that lays blame. Blame is useless.

So let’s say your child went to the mall without your permission. You hold him accountable and give him consequences for that breach of family rules. Then you should say:

“What can you do differently the next time the other kids say, ‘Let’s go to the mall,’ and you want to be cool and not ask me if it’s okay?”

Then help your child look at the range of options. He could say, “No thanks.” Or better yet, “I have to call my mother, she’s a pain in the neck, but I have to check in.” I used to tell kids to say this. It’s a great way for teens to follow the rules without looking weak or childish. When they say, “My mom is a pain,” all the other kids nod and shake their heads, because their parents are pains in the neck, too.

Sometimes kids just don’t know what to say in a sticky situation. Part of solving that problem with them is coming up with some good responses and even role playing a little until it feels comfortable coming out of your child’s mouth.

8. Don’t Tolerate Abuse and Illegal Behavior

If your child is being physically abusive, destroying property, stealing, or using drugs, you have to hold him accountable, even if it means involving the police.

The bottom line is that if your child is breaking the law or stealing from you, you need to get more help. I know parents who say, “I can’t do that to my son,” and I respect that—it’s a difficult thing to do.

But in my opinion, you’re doing your child a favor by telling him that what he’s doing is unacceptable. If he’s not responding to parental authority or the school’s authority, you have to go to a higher level. Your child has to learn how to respond to authority if he’s going to go anywhere in life. You may worry about your teen getting a record, but I think you should worry more about him not changing his behavior.

Related content: When to Call the Police on Your Child


I think it’s important for parents of acting-out and out-of-control teens to ask themselves this question: if your teenager is abusing you verbally, calling you disgusting names, and punching holes in the walls, what kind of husband or father do you think he’s going to make?

I did service work at a prison, and I would talk to the guys there each week. Do you know what they were doing as teenagers? They were stealing from their parents, staying out all night, getting high, and drinking.

If anybody gave them a hard time at home, they acted out. They intimidated everybody in their family and at school so that everybody would leave them alone.

On visiting day in prison, you can see all the parents going in to visit their kids who are now in their twenties and thirties. That is the harsh reality of ignoring or not dealing with a child’s out-of-control behavior.

As a parent, I think you always have to ask yourself, “Where is this behavior headed? What’s next?” Understand that people—especially adolescents—don’t change if something is working for them and they’re getting away with it.

Related content: Parenting Teens: Parental Authority vs. Peer Pressure

I think that all children, but especially adolescents, have to be held accountable for their behavior. Ideally, we teach them how to behave. We model it ourselves and then hold them accountable by giving consequences and helping them learn problem-solving skills.

Ultimately, accountability creates change. It doesn’t guarantee a complete inner change right away, but it sure forces behavioral change. In the end, nobody ever changed who wasn’t held accountable.

Related content:
How to Create a Culture of Accountability in Your Home

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James Lehman, who dedicated his life to behaviorally troubled youth, created The Total Transformation®, The Complete Guide to Consequences™, Getting Through To Your Child™, and Two Parents One Plan™, from a place of professional and personal experience. Having had severe behavioral problems himself as a child, he was inspired to focus on behavioral management professionally. Together with his wife, Janet Lehman, he developed an approach to managing children and teens that challenges them to solve their own problems without hiding behind disrespectful, obnoxious or abusive behavior. Empowering Parents now brings this insightful and impactful program directly to homes around the globe.

Comments (95)
  • RAM

    It's easy to say don't tolerate abusive language or taking drugs from the objectivity of your article. I have involved other authorities and he is engaging with them. I was going to ask him to leave but these authorities are trying to work against that. He has ASD and ADHd and rules he thinks are wrong or other points of view are not easy for him to take on or be inculcated with.

    I'm just biding my time.

  • Need hope
    My 13 year old daughter has been acting out, disrespectful to her step father and ignores her 8year old step brother constantly. I’ve been with my partner for 5 years and it’s always been an issue. Recently we found our mirror to our master room completely scratched and and herMore shower curtain with slits like it was cut with a razor blade. It was only us 2 at home at that time. She denied doing it, but it’s impossible anything else happened. My partner has asked me to take her to my moms until she learns to respect us and his home.
  • Mumma needs help very much..
    My son 16years old. He is intelligent,polite,good behaviour boy but now a days he is very rude in his behaviour in home only, other's never think tht these type of behaviour he can do.Now he is lying also.Next year he has JEE entrance exam but he is not giving timeMore to study.I can't understand what should I do.He has a desperate behaviour now,he is informing me to do what he wants to do, not asking, just giving information.
  • Tired mum
    My son is 13 years old. He has had behaviour issues since primary school. It started with just shouting out in class and stealing from me and his dad. We have had support workers and counseling for him but he knows how to tell you what you want to hearMore so no one really believes hes doing all the things we say so we never get much help. Over the past year he has got so bad that he walks out of lessons, refuses to listen to any teachers, runs away after school if he knows school have phoned us and has recently been caught smoking ecigs and bringing small amounts of drugs into the home. A week ago I had a call from school saying a shop keeper had been in and had video evidence of him stealing from them for months. He also completely denies it even with proof infront of him. The school have gotten their police officer involved wich hasn't seemed to work and I was ready to take him to the police my self but was asked not to because the shop keeper and school don't want to give him a criminal record they just want him to stop. But no one seems to listen to me when I say he wont stop. He wont listen to me and I have other children who's lifes it is starting to effect. Any advice would be great. Thankyou.
  • HisMamaNeedsHelp
    Idk what to do! My son has always been a sweet and pleasant person but this past year he has stole from me. Stole from a store. He’s been disrespectful to us and his teacher since day one of 7th grade. He’s failing school and doesn’t seem to care. I’veMore gotten him mental help and he was hospitalized for SI and depression. He’s on medication for depression and just started seeing a therapist. He’s not verbally or physically aggressive but I came home tonight from work and noticed he tried breaking in my room and garage. I’ve had to lock everything up. Medication, WiFi box, his XBox,laptop & keep him home from friends. I feel like crap because idk why or what to do. I wanna say he isn’t bad but he makes it so hard for me. I’m even considering a boot camp situation which makes me feel like I’m abandoning him. I need help and feel devastated
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach
      I can understand your distress. Due to the previous issue with SI, your situation is outside the scope of what we are able to offer coaching or advice on. I encourage you to see what types of local supports are available in your area. The 211 National Helpline is availableMore 24/7 to help people find resources in their community. You can reach this service by calling 2-1-1 or by logging into 211.org. We wish you all the best moving forward.
  • Exhausted & Out of Options
    My son is almost 16 and is completely out of control. His irrational and dangerous behavior started when he was 12. Sneaking out at night, smoking weed, stealing and fighting. I have worked with councilors, psychiatrist, and everything in between. Nothing has worked! A year and a half ago heMore was charged with 14 felonies including, Grand Theft, Minor in Possession of a Stolen Firearm and many more. It took all of that for the authorities to FINALLY help me. He has been out for 4 months and won't come home, won't go to school and is back to smoking weed, drinking and carrying guns. My heart is broken and I am mentally exhausted from trying! Please send help!!!
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach
      I am so sorry to hear your son is continuing to make poor choices. I can hear how distressed you are. We do have several articles that focus on substance abuse and risky behavior you may find helpful: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/child-behavior-problems/substance-abuse-risky-behavior/. We wish you and your family all the best moving forward.More Take care.
  • Worried Mom
    I have a 13 year old daughter, who was the absolute sweetest thing growing up. Till about 2 years ago. Little by little we noticed she was getting angry at every little thing when she heard the word "NO". Last year we really noticed a big change. We foundMore her cutting herself at one point. Then it got so bad she went to throw something at me and started yelling and cussing at me and her step father. We unfortunately called the Police and they came and had to put her in handcuffs to calm her down so they could talk to her. They were very good with her. One of the female officers sat with her in her room talking for a bit. Which seemed to calm her down. We had to call the crisis center out and they came to talk to her as well. Ever since then though we have noticed her anger over more things. Now she is acting out in school and getting in trouble. This all seems to have stemmed over Social Media and the app tiktok. We took this away and she gets upset if she can't respond to her friends when they send a msg. Then the kids respond again on why haven't you responded. It is so different then I remember with my 22 year old. Makes me so sad. We took her phone away and found she was using a phone a friend let her have. We returned the phone to the friend. But it seems like when she gets grounded she doesn't care. She even says it. I received an email from one of her teachers stating she is disruptive in class and talks a lot and gets up and moves around while the teacher is trying to talk. I do not tolerate this behavior but every time I try to talk to her she gets verbally hurtful. I want to get her the help she needs and we are starting to see a counselor coming up. I just really want to help her and have our relationship back.
    • Another worried mom
      My daughter is also 13 and was an angel until 7th grade . She’s in eighth and is vaping, swearing , getting bad grades, refusing to take the bus to or from school. She steals from us, lies, cusses, name calls when she is reprimanded or told no. We talkMore openly and I try to listen to her . She is ruining her life and the tighter I try to hold on to show her how she needs to behave to have freedom and privileges the harder she pushes back. Im terrified she’s going down a bad road .
    • Meaghan
      My daughter is 13 and has had very similar issues. I didn’t see a response to your post ?
  • Worried Dad 1975
    8 weeks ago my son was the most pleasant kid you could meet. He started hanging with a new group of friends who i had never met. He started coming home late a few times to the point where i was driving the streets looking for him. He came homeMore with a black eye and a burst lip one night after being hit but told us it was a random attack. Last week i received a phone call from the police to say he had been arrested for stealing and that i needed to attend the police station. When i arrived at the station i was told he was also carrying a knife. My heart sank. The knife he was arrested for was only 3 inches in total (i know this isn't the point). since the i have learned that he is also drinking smoking pot and has took an ecstacy pill. We have took his phone off him and are keeping him home for a month. he understands what he has done is wrong and seems remorseful, however he still insists he is going to hang out with the same group when he is allowed out again but he insists he wont do what he has done in the past. We keep telling him that it will only lead to him going down the wrong path in the future but he won't listen. I have since learned that someone is forcing money off him and threatening to beat him up which is the reason he was carrying the knife-not to use but to deter the other kid if he tried to beat him up. We (and the police) explained that this wouldn't happen and carrying knives only leads to more trouble. My wife and i are cannot see how we can change his mind about hanging around with these new kids. We are worried sick to the point where i had a breakdown at work a few days ago. Any advice would be greatly received.
  • DonaldDuck
    Yeah this is all great and all, but how do you call the cops on the teens when YOU'RE going to have to pay the HUGE fines? My teens go out even though I say NO, they don't repeat any rules, I've shut off their phones and they don'tMore care. I can't manhandle them and FORCE them to do anything. I'm sure they're drinking at their friends house or smoking pot, but again, I could call the cops but 2 teens with fines and tickets will run me about $1200, I'm laid off and already have to pay the fine for one of their driving tickets. Since she's under 18 I have to pay. Not a darn thing can be done except take it.
  • Ruth
    I'm at the end of my rope. My 16 year old daughter lies about everything. Her bio dad and I divorced when she was very little and she rarely sees her dad. He has been very distant for most of her life and out of state for theMore past 8 years. She got with the wrong crowd this year and tried LSI last month. Myself and another girl's parents worked out a plan to separate the kids, remove some of the influence, take away phones, computers, etc. She is very angry and today I found out that she had a phone I didn't know about - an old phone that a friend gave her, so when I thought for the past 3 weeks that she was on phone restriction, she was online the whole time!!!! Well, I smashed it with a hammer. I changed our family Wi-Fi code to something she'll never guess and had to go nuclear on the internet access. She has losers trying to solicit her for pot on Snap Chat and those other social media apps. She's very mad because I sent screen shots to the principal and the high school resource officer to bust the kids who were soliciting drugs. I wish I had sweet, 13 year old daughter back. This is a nightmare. She's also angry because I did not re-enroll her in her highschool, but switcher her over to private Christian High School for next year. I also made her start counseling this week. She's said about 3 words to me during dinner and she looks away with disgust. Praying someday we have a healthy relationship again. Ugh.
    • Worried Dad 1975
      8 weeks ago my son was the most pleasant kid you could meet. He started hanging with a new group of friends who i had never met. He started coming home late a few times to the point where i was driving the streets looking for him. He came homeMore with a black eye and a burst lip one night after being hit but told us it was a random attack. Last week i received a phone call from the police to say he had been arrested for stealing and that i needed to attend the police station. When i arrived at the station i was told he was also carrying a knife. My heart sank. The knife he was arrested for was only 3 inches in total (i know this isn't the point). since the i have learned that he is also drinking smoking pot and has took an ecstacy pill. We have took his phone off him and are keeping him home for a month. he understands what he has done is wrong and seems remorseful, however he still insists he is going to hang out with the same group when he is allowed out again but he insists he wont do what he has done in the past. We keep telling him that it will only lead to him going down the wrong path in the future but he won't listen. I have since learned that someone is forcing money off him and threatening to beat him up which is the reason he was carrying the knife-not to use but to deter the other kid if he tried to beat him up. We (and the police) explained that this wouldn't happen and carrying knives only leads to more trouble. My wife and i are cannot see how we can change his mind about hanging around with these new kids. We are worried sick to the point where i had a breakdown at work a few days ago.
      • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

        Welcome to Empowering Parents. I can hear how distressing this situation is for you and your wife. We have an article that specifically addresses this topic you may find helpful: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/does-your-child-have-toxic-friends-6-ways-to-deal-with-the-wrong-crowd/.

        Thanks for reaching out.

  • Pat
    My daughter was getting out of control and started hitting me. At some point it was getting bad. Also her language was very foul. My daughter had never really acted like this only once before when her grandmother and sister showed up at birthday party years ago drunk which IMore had to ask them to leave. I brought her to the local police department and asked if they could speak to my 13yr daughter. I explained that she was physically and verbally abusing me. I just wanted them to scare her straight and give her a warning. The police not only scared my daughter with jail time the evening they threaten me with CPS that I could not control her behavior. I was really in shock! My daughter lives in fear all the time. What I thought I was doing the right thing to stop bad behavior and they really wanted to lock my daughter up in some detention center. I am afraid to get help. What do I do? We were both threaten that night?
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent CoachEP Coach
      I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter’s abusive behavior, as well as the unexpected response from law enforcement when you tried to reach out for support. In general, using a “scared straight” approach to changing your child’s behavior doesn’t tend to be effective, because it doesn’t teach yourMore child what to do differently the next time she finds herself in a similar situation instead of becoming abusive. You might find some helpful tips on changing this pattern with your daughter in Stop Aggressive Behavior in Kids and Tweens: Is Your Child Screaming, Pushing and Hitting? In addition, if you decide to use local law enforcement to hold your daughter accountable for her abusive behavior moving forward, it’s often helpful to call the non-emergency line during a calm time, and discuss how you can work together. We have a free downloadable worksheet which you can use to guide this conversation HERE. I recognize how difficult this must be for you right now, and I hope that you will write back and let us know how things are going for you and your daughter. Take care.
  • Jocelyn
    My 15 yr old son is totally out of control. Swearing, Yelling, Verbally Abusive towards me. When he can't have want he wants the swearing, yelling,punching walls/doors begin to the point that I feel he dealing with a mental health issue. I have taken him to a Dr in whichMore he was prescibed meds for ADHD which I do not think he has and now he's worst once the medication wears off. The medicine is doing more harm than good. I am at my wits end, I can not take the Verbal Abuse any longer, it is physically and mentally darning me. I need help and support. I really don't know where to turn or what to do.
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent CoachEP Coach
      I’m so sorry to hear about the behavior you are experiencing with your son right now, and I’m glad you are reaching out for support, both with your son’s doctor as well as here on our site. As we often say, there is no excuse for abuse. IMore encourage you to continue to work with your son’s doctor, and share your concerns about the increased aggression you are noticing. I also recommend focusing on developing a plan for how you can effectively respond when your son starts to become verbally abusive and destructive. After all, your response is one aspect you can completely control in this situation. You might find some helpful tips to get you started in our articles Kids Who are Verbally Abusive, Part 1: The Creation of a Defiant Child and Is Your Defiant Child Damaging or Destroying Property? I recognize what a difficult situation this must be for you right now, and I wish you and your family all the best as you continue to move forward. Take care.
  • Christy
    I have a 12 year old that is very fiscally violent towards me and and verbally violent he is out of control I've tried everything even had to get the police involved he's been backer acted multiple times he seems takes medicine for his anger and talks to a therapistMore but nothing is working what should I do
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I hear your concern for your son and the abusive way he has treated you. I’m glad that you are reaching out to available support, both here online as well as in your community. At this point, it could be useful to talk with his therapist and developMore a safety plan you can follow when your son is being abusive and violent toward you. You might find additional tips you can use in Signs of Parental Abuse: What to Do When Your Child or Teen Hits You. I can only imagine how difficult this situation must be for you, and I wish you and your family all the best. Take care.
  • Concerned daughter
    Hi there, I have two younger siblings that still live at home with our parents. Both of whom swear a lot, it doesn't matter who they are swearing at, mum, dad, each other, my nieces and nephews from our older siblings. My sister is almost 17, she tries to takeMore control of everything, belittles my parents, disrespects them, she's a smart girl and when it comes to school work she doesn't do the best she can, she does enough to pass the exam but the teachers are aware that she can do so much more. She has an after school job now, and she tells stories to her friends exaggerating about how much she does around the house. She makes my mum look like a bad mum. My mum takes everything personally and can get quite worked up when they argue. I have suggested that when they argue, it's best to just walk away if she feels like she will yell or say things out of anger. When my mum started to do this, my sister would say things like 'oh yup really mature walking away from your problems' which makes mum feel worse. My dad doesn't like arguments he tries to avoid them as much as possible. He does step in when he thinks my sister is crossing the line and tells her to stop, but then she starts yelling at him. When I go and visit my parents, she makes me feel unwelcome, asking when I'm leaving, why I even bother to go visit them. This makes mum upset because it's her house so she can have whoever she wants there, but my sister makes anyone she doesn't want there feel that they aren't wanted. My brother is 15, he thinks he is very funny, cracks jokes about everything and anything, unfortunately he doesn't know when to stop, he often offends my mum, it doesn't seem like he means to but he does and she gets upset. He gets into trouble at school, he's had a couple fights with students. But he doesn't listen when it comes to learning from his mistakes. He can get quite violent when he is angry, and he likes to push his weight around. With school, he bunks off and then tells my parents that he had a stand in teacher so it might say he wasn't there. With both of my siblings they get angry very quickly, like to have things their own way, and hate doing things like chores, helping with dishes or the laundry. It seems as though they only do things if they can see they benefit from it in a way they want. My parents are fed up,, they have tried sitting down and talking with them because my siblings want to be treated like young adults, they have tried taking things away, grounding, due to the fact that they live in the country they need their phones to let mum and dad know when they get dropped off at the bus so they have to keep their phones during the day. My parents have tried getting them to do extra chores like cook dinner once a week, vacuum the house, hang the laundry out, but they just end up with my siblings yelling at them because they shouldn't have to do it. My mum has been working crazy hours lately due to a lack of staff and when she gets home my siblings tell her she is lazy because she hasn't done anything all day, why should they have to help with dishes if mum hasn't done anything all day. Most days she gets home at 7.30pm eats her dinner, showers, then goes to bed, because my siblings are having a go at her. And on her days off she cleans the house, does the laundry that my dad hasn't managed to do during the week, and cooks dinner. But my siblings do not think this is enough. What can my parents do to get control back? They are at a loss and I hate seeing them like this
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and sharing your story. I am sorry to hear about the way that your siblings are treating your parents. Because we are a website aimed at helping people become more effective parents, we are limited in the advice and suggestions weMore can give to those outside of a direct parenting role. Another resource which might be more useful to you is the Kids Helpline, which you can reach by calling 1800 55 1800, 24/7. They have trained counselors who talk with teens and young adults everyday about issues they are facing, and they can help you to look at your options and come up with a plan. They also have options to communicate via email, and live chat which you can find on their website. We wish you the best going forward. Take care.
  • Brandy
    I have a 11 year old son he has ADHD . Here's the problem we are having I as mother I work 40 hours a week while he stay with my mother in law his dad is around but not always around if you get what I am saying.More At first we saw him being mean doing little stuff like he would hit his cousin and then say it wasn't me ok as he gets older it has went from that to talking back using bad language and trying to fight me and my mother in law just yesterday I was told by my mother in law that he tried to steal a pair of shoes from the school I don't know what to do we have tried everything from letting him talk to someone talking to him grounding him useing time out to taking all of his stuff away.
  • Erica
    Hi, i have a 15 year old daughter that was diagnosed with adhd and mood disorder which she takes medicine for... the problem i have with her is that she dont like to be told no... she works herself up to get angry when she cant get her way justMore to do it anyway.. she has been in and out of the crisis center for threatening to kill me in my sleep. She calls me bad cursing names and calls me stupid.. I put her on punishment for leaving the house without permission. She would do things like ask if she can go outside even though she knows that she is on punishment and i would tell her that she can go outside when she is done with her punishment.. i try to avoid using the word no with not right now or maybe later but all those are still unacceptable to her..so she would say things like well i xont understand why i cant do this or that.. why are you telling me no? What do i do with a child that is trying to gain contol over me.. other than that she is an overall happy funny and full of sense of humor type of kid... please help me.. i am out of solutions
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I hear you. It can be quite difficult to set limits with your child when she typically responds by arguing or having outbursts. Something I often discuss with parents is that inappropriate behavior is often linked to poor problem-solving skills. In other words, it sounds like yourMore daughter is “solving the problem” of hearing “no” or having a limit set by becoming verbally abusive, threatening you or arguing constantly. It could be useful to have a problem-solving conversation with your daughter during a calm time, and discuss more appropriate strategies she can use the next time she becomes angry, frustrated or disappointed. I also encourage you to continue to work with the local crisis center as well as other local support to stay safe if your daughter continues to make these threats against you. You might find additional tips in Angry Kids: 7 Things Not to Do When Your Child is Angry. Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your daughter. Take care.
  • Bella
    Hi, my son is 15 and no consequences seem to help: he stole money from us, went out pretending to go to an athletics club but instead surfed on his IPOD which we had taken off him but he took it secretly…since this the IPOD was sold and a fewMore things improved. He got a small job earning some money but he now went out and secretly bought a smart phone. my husband saw him using it and confronted him after coming home from school, he lied as usual, more and more until he couldn't lie anymore. between the incidents we made it clear: no smartphone and no internet, if he can behave we can talk about it at 16- now he just broke this rule and the phone will be hammered to bits now and no phone no internet no nothing until he is 18 and moves out. I'm at my wits ends as to why he lies that much.
  • Jeaneen
    I have a 20 year old son. I love very much. I started to notice his disruptive behavior age 3 he cut off his teachers ponytail. That was the beginning of his behavior problems. I can't even tell you how many parent teacher principal conference I had starting withMore kindergarten to 10th grade at least 2 times a week I was called to the school. As Andrew got older his giggling not listening behavior turned into much worse behavior it never ended. I had rules in place if broken he lost tv, playing with friends, couldn't leave the house. He drove me absolutely crazy even threatened me he even took my things until I gave him back his tv. Nothing I did worked nothing the school did worked not detention or missed field trips or ice cream parties nothing worked. Now Andrew is 20 drinking useing drugs has been arested for minor dwi on probation. Andrew has been caught several times drinking. He is currently in jail . I have kicked him out of the home and he now lives with my parents my son attacked my father. My parents are done with him too. I'm not sure what to do next or how to help my son.
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I hear you, and how hurt you are by your son’s current choices and the consequences he is now facing as a result. I recognize how much you have tried to help your son over the years, and how much you want to help him now. Something toMore keep in mind is that, in order for people to change, they need to be uncomfortable with the way things are going. In addition, parenting a young adult is more about setting your own boundaries and enforcing your limits, rather than trying to “make” your son act a certain way. Sometimes, the most loving step you can take as a parent is not to rescue your child, and to allow him instead to experience the discomfort and consequences associated with his choices. I recognize that this can be a difficult step to take, and I hope that you have some support available to you locally as well. If you need some additional support, such as a counselor or support group, try contacting the 211 Helpline at 1-800-273-6222. I recognize what a tough situation this must be for you, and I wish you all the best moving forward. Take care.
  • Megan
    I have a step son who has attacked me and calls all of us names except his dad. He tries to manipulate and upset me by telling me innapropriate stories. He steals from us and lies about the weirdest things. He's about to be 21 and still plays with nerfMore guns and toys. It's like he has stunted mental growth. His mom is also bipolar so maybe he has something that was passed down or of course trauma from the divorce. His father my fiance does nothing about it and tries to turn the blame on me by pointing out any mistakes I make. I feel like he doesnt care at all what I go through. He says he wants me to model good behavior and stop freaking out..... really...really. I finally had it when a convo with his son went south really quick and he told me he fantasizes watching someone get killed. I told his father and he said not to worry he just likes to upset me or get a reaction. His mother cant handle him at her house so she wont take him and I wouldnt want to throw him onto anyone else anyways. I hope couples counseling gets his father to see the light otherwise Im gone :(. I think he has BPD mixed with NPD . He is very insecure yet talks like he is better than everyone
  • Betty

    A single Mom with a 10 year old who is completely disrespectful. Swearing, screamong, throwing things, hitting get me and his grandmother

    ...completely out of control. He has ADVD and he's on medication for it from his pediatrician. His father is a drug addiction, doesn't want to be a part of his life so he's completely out of the picture. My son doesn't care about consequences or things being taken away from him. When he is good, he is a joy but those times are very far and few between. Any help seems to be for 13 years and up. By the time he is 13 he will be really hard handle with the strength to seriously hurt me or his Grandma.

  • anoushka
    Hi I have a younger brother he is just 12yrs old I am completing my graduation and my mom works in office so she don't have enough time to spend with me and my brother as she leaves for office at morning and comes at evening after that she triesMore to makes my brother to study I don't know why he is not paying attention to me as well as to mom. He always behave very rudely and misbehaves much. We tried to get to know why but as dad offed he was OK he was behaving like a good boy but approx after 1yr he started behaving like this and we got to know that the childrens with whom he plays are bad boys so she changed are house and came to a good place where he will Bless to concentrate on his studies as well as feel safe and get good fnds but he is still behaving rude what should I do I don't want him to take any wrong action for his life what should I do???? Kindly help me
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and sharing your story. I hear how concerned you are about your brother, and the choices he is making right now. Because we are a website aimed at helping people become more effective parents, we are limited in the advice andMore suggestions we can give to those outside of a direct parenting role. It may be helpful to look into local resources to help you develop a plan for addressing your particular issues. For example, you might talk about your concerns with a counselor or your doctor. We wish you the best going forward. Take care.
  • Beyond_desperate
    Hi... you keep saying "you must have appropriate consequences"... What happens when the consequences you set are completely ignored? When they simply walk out whenever they feel like it. Go wherever they want. Completely and utterly defy everything you say and do?
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

    Stepmomdrama I hear your concern for your stepson’s

    behavior, and your confusion about whether or not you should share what

    happened at his grandparents’ house with your husband.  This behavior is

    quite troubling, and I encourage you to share his actions with his father.

     I also strongly encourage you both to work together with local supports,

    such as a counselor or his doctor, to develop a plan to address your stepson’s

    aggressive sexual behavior, because if it continues, it could lead to more

    serious consequences later on in his life.  For assistance locating

    available supports in your community, try contacting the http://www.211.org at

    1-800-273-6222.  I can only imagine how worrisome this must be for you,

    and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward.  Take care.

  • WorriedMom1981
    I just regained custody of my 16 year old son..... I lost custody when he was 3 ....He has learning disabilities.... He shows me. No Respect what so ever. EVERYTIME I ASKED HIM TO DO SOMETHiNG IT BECOMES A FIGHT, something as simple as Cleaning his room,More it's always the same response of why are you starting..... And there is no trying tO explain to him anything.... HE THINKS HE he don't have to listen to anything. DO anything I ask? He is destroying property, and when I ask him why, it's either it's not yours or I was mad, and don't worry about it.... I. DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO ANYMORE...... I. Am afraid thar that at this rate he will end up in sone very situations since he believes rules doesn't apply to him, and he is above all consequences, and everything is my fault..Communtication is hard since the moment i speak it becomes a fightv...
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      WorriedMom1981 I hear your concern about your son’s behavior, and your relationship with him at this point, and I’m glad that you are reaching out for support.  Sometimes when we are https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/in-over-your-head-how-to-improve-your-childs-behavior-and-regain-control-as-a-parent/ it can be useful to pick one behavior or issue to focus on, rather than trying to addressMore everything at once.  Based on what you have described, it could be helpful to start by addressing his property destruction.  You might find some useful tips in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/is-your-defiant-child-damaging-or-destroying-property/  Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your son.  Take care.
    • Stepmomdrama
      What disability does he have?
  • mary 02

    My son is 15, he no longer likes the fact that my eldest son and his girlfriend still live with us he wants then to move out. It has now come to a head and he has taken himself to leave, I know he is save however this is not a ideal situation.

    I will not choose between my 2 sons.

    When we are all at home at the weekend its like we have to trend on eggshells around him so that not to upset him, he has become very demanding I really dont know what to do, do I just wait it out and see if he sees sense and comes home.

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      mary 02 I hear you.  It can be so difficult when your children do not get along, and I understand not wanting to choose between your two sons.  I also recognize the challenges of feeling as though you are https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/gut-check-do-you-tiptoe-around-your-child/ when your younger son is around, so as not toMore upset him.  At this point, it could be useful to talk with your son about the rules and expectations for his behavior while he is in your home before he comes home on the weekend, as outlined in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/running-away-part-ii-mom-i-want-to-come-home-when-your-child-is-on-the-streets/.  Please be sure to check back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.
  • drosey
    My daughter is 15 has been picked up by the police for drinking and did not care and was so disrespectful when speaking to them. She has been caught shoplifting silly things that she had the money to buy in her wallet. This has happened twice now. She has beenMore suspended from school for drinking in the bathroom. She is verbally abusive to all. What do u do with a kid that listens to nothing. I don't carry on after my initial conversation explaining my disappointment and bewilderedness why she is doing and acting like this. I don't know should I send her to a rehab? Will it help or make it worse? I am so afraid for her future she is on a path of destruction.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      drosey I’m so sorry to hear about the challenges you are facing with your daughter right now, and I’m glad that you are here reaching out for support.  Substance use, stealing and verbal abuse are all troubling behaviors, and I understand your concern for your daughter’s future given her currentMore choices.  The decision of whether to send your daughter to rehab is a very personal one, and is ultimately going to be up to your best judgment.  If this is something you are considering, you might want to talk through the potential benefits and drawbacks with your daughter’s doctor or other local supports.  Regardless of your decision, you can start making changes in your response to her choices.  Some articles you might find helpful as you move forward include https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-using-drugs-or-drinking-alcohol-what-should-i-do/# and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/why-is-my-child-stealing-and-what-can-i-do-advice-for-parents-on-kids-stealing-and-shoplifting/.  I recognize how difficult this must be for you right now, and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward.  Take care.
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
    StressedOutParenting I’m so sorry to hear about the challenges you are facing with your son, and I’m glad to hear that you are working with local supports to help you with your son and to keep him safe.  I hear your concerns about the role that social media might beMore playing in your son’s behavior, as well as his disregard of your rules around appropriate uses of technology.  At this point, it might be useful to share your observations with his psychologist, and to work together as a team to develop a plan which keeps your son safe, as well as enforces the rules around appropriate behavior online.  I recognize how stressful this must be for all of you, and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward.  Take care.
  • Mom_nervous_brake_down
    My teen is 13 years old and she is a straight A student but, very sneaky she's sending nude pictures to older guys on facebook, speaking out just found out she's having sex and asking guys to have a baby with her. She's fabricating stories to different guys about herMore having a child already. She steals students cell phones in order to talk to guys and look at porn. my house was recently robbed I found some of the missing item's in her room. I'm still missing my Gun (registered, in case in place and reported it ) I told the police I think my daughter knows where it is. They did nothing I'm running out of options I'm afraid for my other children's safety. And my own Please any suggestions?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I’m so sorry to hear about the difficulty you are facing

      with your daughter right now, and I’m glad that you are reaching out for

      support.It can be scary and confusing

      when your child is acting out in risky and dangerous ways.I’m sorry to hear about the recent robbery

      you experienced, and I’m glad that you are working with the police.As mentioned in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/why-is-my-child-stealing-and-what-can-i-do-advice-for-parents-on-kids-stealing-and-shoplifting/, we recommend allowing a child to experience the natural

      consequences of their actions, including legal consequences for actions such as

      stealing.I also understand your concern

      for the way your daughter is behaving online. While it is impossible to monitor

      your daughter 24/7, I encourage you to limit the opportunities she has to spend

      online unsupervised.Megan Maas offers

      more strategies in her article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/10-steps-to-set-your-kids-up-with-a-healthy-onlineoffline-balance/.Please be sure to write back and let us know

      how things are going for you and your family. Take care.

  • asia1
    my son is 7 years old at the age of 4 he have witness a terrible fight where his dad hit me and pushed me down stairs he watched me cry he watched me in pain his father and i never once fight and argued in front of him butMore we had our ups and down we have decided to split. Now as a single mom from the age of 4 he is 7 now say after day he have been battling with behaviioural problems and i dont know what to do day after day the schools are calling i took him to a therapist and still nothing i dont know what to do he is always angry always getting in trouble in school what can i do to help my baby as he is so young now.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport



      sorry to hear about the challenges that you have been facing with your son.I’m glad that you are taking steps to address

      his behavior by working with a therapist and reaching out for support here in

      our community.I recommend continuing to

      work with the school to address his behavior there, as outlined in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/young-kids-acting-out-in-school-the-top-3-issues-parents-worry-about-most/.You can also work with your son at home to

      learn appropriate strategies to manage his anger.You might find our article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/8-steps-to-anger-management-for-kids/, helpful to this process.Please be sure to write back and let us know

      how things are going with you and your son.Take care.

  • DestinyMarieLiscomb
    I have a 16 year old that will not stop stealing from me. She had girls stay all night overt the summer who brought liquor and they all got drunk. I won't allow her to have a phone so she steals them from anyone. She's on adhd meds iMore have caught her giving them away at school. Im at a complete loss! I have to watch her take the medicine or she gives it away. He grades are getting bad, she is emotionally, physically, and mentally killing me slowly everyday. Please help!
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I’m so sorry to hear about the challenges you are facing

      with your daughter, and I’m glad that you are here reaching out for

      support.These behaviors can be very

      scary to confront with your adolescent, and many parents feel overwhelmed in

      this type of situation.I find that it’s

      often most effective to focus on one or two behaviors at a time, in order to

      regain a feeling of control and consistency.Based on what you have written, I encourage you to start by addressing

      your daughter’s https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-using-drugs-or-drinking-alcohol-what-should-i-do/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/child-behavior-problems/stealing/.I also hope that you are finding time to take

      care of yourself during this time as well.Self-care is a crucial, yet often overlooked, component of effective

      parenting.Your self-care plan can be

      anything you wish, from engaging in an activity you enjoy, to working with more

      structured supports like a counselor or support group.For more information on these supports in

      your community, try contacting the http://www.211.org/

      at 1-800-273-6222.I recognize how

      difficult this must be for you right now, and I wish you and your family all

      the best moving forward.Take care.

  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


    I’m so sorry to hear about the struggles you have faced with

    your son over the years, and I’m glad that you are here reaching out for

    support.It sounds like he is making

    some unsafe and risky choices right now, like drug use, inviting people over

    without your permission and making threats to harm himself.At this point, I encourage you to work with

    local supports to develop a plan to help keep both your son and you safe.Even if your son refuses to participate, it

    will still be useful for you to have some support for yourself.If you are not currently working with anyone,

    one resource might be contacting the http://www.211.org/

    at 1-800-273-6222.211 is a service

    which connects people with available services in their community.I recognize how overwhelming this must be for

    you right now, and I wish you and your son all the best moving forward.Take care.

  • clare43
    I have a 15 year old daughter who is a nightmare at school bunking off and getting herself into trouble but she brings it home she tells me and her step dad that she is moving out when she is 18 and she doesn't like us I tend to takeMore things personally and this is relly getting me down now and causing arguments between me and my husband. She doesn't go out late she does smoke but I have told her till I am blue in the face that she needs to stop.  She is in her last year at school and I am worried that no college will accept her with this behaviour what the hell do I do
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I hear you. 

      It can feel overwhelming when your teen is making poor choices which can

      negatively impact her future, as well as being disrespectful to you. 

      Although I recognize how much it hurts to hear these things from your daughter,

      I encourage you to do your best https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/i-hate-you-mom-i-wish-you-were-dead-when-kids-say-hurtful-things/.  In addition, I encourage you to

      focus more on what your daughter is doing right now, and addressing her current

      behavior, rather than getting into debates with her about what will happen when

      she’s 18 and able to move out.  Megan Devine outlines this in her blog, https://www.empoweringparents.com/blog/when-your-teen-says-im-almost-18-you-cant-tell-me-what-to-do/  Take


  • Mominneed114
    When I tell 11yr old son to get dressed for school and he says no and won't listen, how would I handle those situations . I'll tell him he is to listen or certain things will get taken away and he still says no im not getting dressed . WhatMore do I do? Today we ended up having a really bad fight . I told him to get dressed and ready for school he said no i told him he need to get to school aND he said no im not getting ready. I then told him he will be punished if he doesn't listen he still said no, so at this point he is yelling and i am as well. I tell him im taking his pet snake away from his room for a week because of the way he was treating me and not getting ready for school so I proceeded to take his snake out of his room and he is screaming so loud it is hurting my ears and he hit me a cpl of times. I took the snake and went to calm down in my room , he instantly came to my door and apologize to me, but I am clueless on how to teach him to not to do this again . Not only the hitting but theven fact he just kept saying no when I told him to get ready .
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I hear you.  It can be so frustrating when your child

      is refusing to meet his responsibilities, especially in the mornings when

      things tend to be more stressful in general.  At this point, it could be

      helpful to talk with him during a calm time, and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/ about how he can get dressed and ready to leave for school on time

      each day.  You might also plan out ahead of time in a calm moment how you

      will hold him accountable if he is refusing to get ready.  In general, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/child-discipline-consequences-and-effective-parenting/ doesn’t tend to be

      effective, because it tends to escalate a power struggle rather than motivating

      a child to comply.  I recognize how challenging this can be, and I hope

      you will write back and let us know how things are going for you and your

      family.  Take care.

  • JaiSurf
    I have a 16 and 14 year old daughter. They both are skipping school, smoking pot, having sex, and doing absolutely nothing they are told in addition to telling me and the police to F off repeatedly. The police told them and me that no matter what they do theMore only consequence will be for them to be returned to me. I have no help from their mother at all. I've called every agency I can think of for help/advice and every one of them told me I'm stuck. Even their school said all they could do is suspend them for skipping. I've cut them off of all their privileges and they literally have only beds in their room. They still don't care. I'm in Florida. Do you have any advice?
    • AfraidForAnna
      JaiSurf I feel your pain on this.  I have a 16 year old with a learning disability called Non Verbal Learning disability and ODD.  She is borderline so is not considered "disabled" and eligible for any help.  We were told developmentally she is more like a 9-11 year old.  SheMore has started skipping school, being violent, doing drugs and there is no controlling her.  She is currently in Crisis Management Hospital but they will be releasing here in a few days and I have no idea what to do with her.  I would throw her in Military school but with her disability I don't think it would benefit her and the cost would completly break us.  She can not understand consequences or anything with more than one step.  She also has an intolerance for being touched.  She presents with autistic like symptoms but has not been diagnosed on the spectrum.  However I think we have given her too much allouance for her disability and she has turned into a foul mouthed, compulsive lying, violent troubled kid.  I am afraid to have her at home and afraid to put her in the hands of anyone else who doesn't understand her disability. Also she turns 17 next month and we are deathly afraid of her 18th birthday where we will lose any control legally over her.  She will end up running away and being a prostitute/drug addict and will probably end up dead.  I do not know how to prevent this from happening!
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It’s a very helpless feeling when your children are

      continuing to act out, despite giving them consequences and involving outside

      authorities such as the police and the school.  I hear how much you want

      to help your daughters, and I’m glad that you are reaching out for

      support.  For additional resources in your area, you might consider

      contacting the http://www.211.org/ at

      1-800-273-6222.  211 is an information and referral service which connects

      people with available supports in their community.  Another option for you

      might be a program which is often referred to as CHINS/PINS (child in need of

      services/person in need of services).  This is often run through the

      juvenile justice system, and helps you to have additional options for

      accountability through the courts.  You can get more information on this

      program from your local clerk of courts.  I recognize how difficult and

      lonely this must be for you, and I wish you all the best moving forward. 

      Take care.

      • JaiSurf
        RebeccaW_ParentalSupport JaiSurf I think I might have tried CHINS already but I'll give it a shot again. As a single father of 3 for 10 years, difficult and lonely sums it up. Thank you for your assistance.
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


    I’m so sorry to

    hear about what you are experiencing with your two adult children.  You

    are not alone in going through this.  With your son, his therapist is

    correct that he is an adult, and thus has the right to make his own decisions,

    even those you do not agree with.  While you cannot “make” him follow your

    rules or do anything, where you will have control is how you choose to respond

    to his actions.  I hear you that you do not want to kick him out, and

    that’s OK.  You might consider, though, what other course of action you

    can take to hold him accountable if he is choosing not to follow your

    rules.  James Lehman discusses this more in-depth in his article series on

    adult children, which starts with https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/rules-boundaries-and-older-children-part-i/.  I’m also sorry to hear about

    your daughter’s actions, and I recognize how much it hurts when a child cuts

    off a parent.  You might find some comfort and advice in our article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/estranged-from-your-adult-child-5-things-you-can-do/, as well as in the comments from

    other parents in a similar position.  I recognize how difficult this must

    be for you right now, and I wish you and your family all the best as you

    continue to move forward.  Take care.

  • FeelingFailed
    My daughter broke a rule this past week.  We do not allow anyone in our house when we are not home. She has plans this weekend to spend the night with a friend that has been away for 3 weeks.  She's really looking forward to going with her.  My consequenceMore (which I haven't told her yet) is that she doesn't go this week.  She can go next week IF she shows she can follow rules.  I'm expecting that she's going to get very angry because we agreed she could go since her friend left 3 weeks ago.  Is this a fair consequence for her actions?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Questions about

      consequences are one of the most commonly received on our site, so you are not

      alone.  https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-get-your-child-to-listen-9-secrets-to-giving-effective-consequences/ have three components: they are time-limited, task-oriented,

      and related to the initial offense.  Ideally, the consequence should have

      a learning component so that your daughter is practicing the behavior you want

      to see as well.  It sounds like you want your daughter to be responsible

      and follow your house rules, even when she is unsupervised, and I’m not sure

      that taking away a sleepover will be the most effective way to achieve

      that.  Instead, you might limit the amount of time she is unsupervised until

      she can demonstrate greater responsibility.  Megan Devine offers more tips

      in her article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/is-your-child-responsible-enough-to-be-home-alone-dos-and-donts-for-parents/. 

      Please let us know if you have additional questions.  Take care.

  • Failing miserably
    I have a 10 year old boy who in the last 2 weeks has started being disrespectful. Constantly niggling and hurting his little brother. He has started swearing to and at people. He has also started hitting me (his mum) His behaviour escalates very quickly and he breaks things.More I have taken away TV and devices, taken away privileges like going to rugby games etc, time out, the list goes on. I am at the end of my teather and I really don't know where to go from here. He wont talk. He gets lots of one on one time with his parents. But in between these times he can be the most amazing kid. Any advice?
  • Bonfire817
    I have a 17 year old son who is living with his dad in another state and out of control. His dad won't do anything discipline wise and lets him drink. His dad called me tonight yelling at me that he can't handle it anymore. I told him he needsMore to be a dad and start giving him consequences. My son was drunk and broke stuff in his dad's house and was trying to fist fight him. I tried to get my son help for 4 years but he just kept doing programs and promising to stay straight but went back into treatment over and over. It got to the point where he just told me F off constantly and that he just wants to live with his dad. So to save my sanity I sent him. Now I feel horrible and don't know what to do from a distance
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It can be really challenging when you recognize that your

      child is acting inappropriately, yet you feel powerless to address it. 

      The truth is, there may not be a lot that you can do at this point since your

      son is currently living with his dad out of state.  Ultimately, you cannot

      control how his dad chooses to handle this situation, if at all.  If you

      are not already doing so, it could be useful to have some support for yourself

      during this time, such as a counselor or a support group.  For assistance

      locating resources in your community, try contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222.  I

      recognize how difficult this must be for you, and I wish you all the best

      moving forward.  Take care.

      • Bonfire817
        Thanks for taking the time to reply. Yes I guess I have to deal with not being able to do anything about it. It's so frustrating to have to let kids fail! The momma bear wants to fix but logic tells me to just give love when I can andMore back off.
  • michelle1969
    Hi got a 17 year old girl who has only been dumped by her boyfriend . She has taken this badly . They have been in a serious relationshop for a year and a half. shes adiment to try and get him back although we all as a family canMore see she has been treated badly. Next weekend shes been asked to go away for the weekend with him as friends to meet his extended family in england. this had been arranged before the split.Although she has asked our permission and we have said no and explained that we think as the relationshi0 is over and he has nt been nice to her that its a no and why would she need to go. Shes told us that shes going anyway. Please can u give us advice. Can we stop her as it will b a mistake.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It can be so painful to watch your child make decisions

      which have a high probability of turning out poorly for her.  I understand

      your feelings around your daughter going on this trip, and the potential

      negative consequences which could be in store for her as a result.  As a

      teen though, she probably does not yet have the capacity to look that far ahead

      into the future, nor the experience of having a lot of serious relationships

      and then coping with a breakup when they end.  As a parent, you may have

      some legal options of preventing her from leaving without your permission as

      she is a minor.  You can ask your local law enforcement about your rights

      in this situation.  This may also be a time to step back, and let her

      learn from this experience.  While it is difficult to watch a child make

      poor decisions and experience pain and heartbreak as a result, natural

      consequences can be effective teachers as well.  I understand how

      difficult this must be for you, and I hope that you will write back and let us

      know how things are going.  Take care.

  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

    @Needs help  

    I hear your frustration with your son’s defiant behavior

    with you, and at school as well.  It sounds like you have put in a lot of

    work to help your son, and he is refusing to do his part.  I encourage you

    to continue to reach out for help in your community, even if it is to make sure

    that you are getting the support you need so you can help your son. 

    Another step you might consider is filing what is commonly called a CHINS

    (child in need of services) petition.  This is a legal court order in

    which the juvenile/family courts can add another level of authority and

    accountability to your son if he is not following your rules at home or

    behaving appropriately at school.  This action helps you to hold your son

    accountable for his choices, as well as potentially leading to additional

    resources and services being available to you and your son.  You can get

    more information on this by contacting your local clerk of courts.  I can

    only imagine how difficult this must be for you right now, and I wish you all

    the best as you continue to move forward.  Take care.

  • Cloutier
    My partners 18 year son is completely out of line, he abuses her verbally, mentally. He is aggressive and tries to push his weight around.  We are raising our grandchild and the last thing I want is for this 2 year old to see this and learn this behavior, sheMore has tried everything from consequences, to talking to him, to involving his aunt, and nothing seems to get through to him, he is also doing drugs not hard drugs but drugs none the less and does steal our alcohol to the point where I've removed it all from the house. Not sure what to do
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It’s normal to be

      concerned when you are witnessing this type of behavior directed toward your

      partner, especially when you also have a small child in the home. 

      Something I often talk about with parents is that people do not tend to change

      unless they are uncomfortable.  If this current situation is “working” on

      some level for your partner’s son, he is likely to continue to keep doing these

      things.  Another piece to consider is that he is legally an adult, and so

      anything provided to him is considered a privilege, which includes having a

      place to live. It’s going to be important for you and your partner to work

      together to develop a plan for how to move forward.  James Lehman offers

      some advice on addressing these behaviors in his article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/rules-boundaries-and-older-children-part-ii-in-response-to-questions-about-older-children-living-at-home/.  Please let us know if you have any

      additional questions.  Take care.

  • Upset mum
    I have a 15 yr old daughter who constantly stays out all night, constant detentions at school, refuses to speak to me or her father and brother. Her new friends are her new family, we are told. We believe she is being misled but it has been going on forMore so long she has cut herself off from us all. Even when we give a curfew time, it is ignored, turns up the next day or two days later. What can we do?
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      Upset mum

      I imagine you must be both frustrated and worried about the

      choices you daughter is making. It’s unfortunate that some teens become defiant

      and disrespectful when they enter into adolescence. Having clear limits and

      expectations around curfew is a good place to start. It could also be

      beneficial to have a consequence that’s linked to her coming home when she’s

      supposed to. Janet Lehman explains effective ways you can hold her accountable

      in her article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/establishing-curfews-how-to-set-and-stick-with-them/. Another article you may find

      helpful is https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/does-your-child-have-toxic-friends-6-ways-to-deal-with-the-wrong-crowd/. Best

      of luck to you and your family moving forward. Take care.

  • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


    It’s understandable you would be worried. Many parents are

    troubled by the choices their teenaged child is making. The good news is that

    you do know where she is and, while avoidance isn’t a great coping skill, it

    may be one of the few she has at this time. I’m not able to tell you whether or

    not you should go and bring your daughter home. Moving forward, it would be

    beneficial to have clear limits and expectations around this sort of behavior. It

    may be helpful to touch base with her therapist to determine appropriate

    expectations for your daughter. You may find the article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/parenting-rules-and-expectations-but-everyone-else-is-doing-it/ helpful as well.

    Good luck to you and your daughter moving forward. Be sure to check back and

    let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


    I am so sorry to hear you are having to deal with such

    extreme behavior from your son. I can only imagine how distressing it is for

    you and the other members of your family. From what you have written, it sounds

    like you have a lot of qualified professionals working with your family. It’s

    going to be best to continue working with local supports. We would not want to

    recommend something that might run counter to anything they might suggest for

    your son and family. They are also in a much better position to put you in

    contact with resources and supports in your community. One thing that may be

    helpful is to continue making reports whenever your son acts out or threatens

    you or your boyfriend. This will help to establish a paper trail, which will be

    important should this ever require court intervention. Kim Abraham and Marney

    Studaker-Cordner offer more tips for managing this type of situation in their

    article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-talk-to-police-when-your-child-is-physically-abusive/. We wish you the

    best of luck moving forward. Be sure to check back and let us know how things

    are going. Take care.

  • millanyez
    Thank you so much for your advice James. God bless you and your family.
  • Sleepless mom
    I am a single most mom of a 16 yr old daughter. She is verbally abusive, an whom I believe smokes. Her attitude is horrible. We live home with her grandmother and Aunt. Everyone want to be mom. I'm afraid I take things away she will try and hit me.More I'm a distraught mom.
  • Nicola
    Hi im a single mother of 2 and my 9 year son is a bit of a handful he likes to b in control yes i have given him his own way for 7 years right up until i got pregnant with my daughter and now i can't control himMore when he kicks of and becomes out of control please help me gain control back
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      Parenting a strong willed child can be quite overwhelming.

      And, I think most parents look back and see things they wish they could have

      done differently. It’s never too late to

      parent more effectively, though, as James Lehman points out in the article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/its-never-too-late-7-ways-to-start-parenting-more-effectively/. It will be

      most productive to focus on one behavior at a time. It may be difficult to

      decide what behavior to start with, especially if there are a lot of different

      acting out behaviors going on. Carole Banks gives some suggestions for figuring

      out where to start in her article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-childs-behavior-is-so-bad-where-do-i-begin-how-to-coach-your-child-forward/.

      I hope you find the information in these articles helpful for your situation.

      Be sure to check back if you have any further questions. Take care.

  • Boo boos
    I'm a mother of a 15 yr old girl whose on a big downward spiral. Refusing point blank to come home, stayed at her grans then fell out with her , I'm totally discussted by her actions .she refuses to go to school and constantly plays truant and wants toMore roam the streets day and night.she has never done without anything and I'm at my wits end wondering where it's all gone wrong,I really want to involve police but don't want to ruin her future.
  • Vivian wah
    I have a 15 years old son, who doesn't want to go to school anymore, he does drug and he very disrespectful to me, he go out and comes home whenever he want, and this is becoming a big problem in my home, what should I do?
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      @Vivian wah

      I’m sorry your son has been making such poor choices. I can

      hear how distressed you are. There is a lot going on right now so it’s

      understandable you would be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to start.

      For that reason, it’s going to be best to pick one behavior to focus on at a

      time. As Carole Banks explains in her article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-childs-behavior-is-so-bad-where-do-i-begin-how-to-coach-your-child-forward/, looking at everything that

      needs to be addressed can cause a parent to feel defeated before she evens

      begins. Narrowing the focus by picking one behavior to start can help alleviate

      that problem. Once you’ve decided which behavior to focus on, you can develop a

      plan for addressing and managing that behavior. We have articles that address a

      wide range of behaviors. You can find a list of those topics here: https://www.empoweringparents.com/articles/. Good luck to you and your son as you work through these

      challenges. Take care.

  • Gram x
    I am a grandparent of my 15 year old grand daughter I have had temporary custody of her since she was born, she is out of control disrespectful steals lies an is failing her classes. Friday she stormed out the house before I got home from work an never cameMore back home. I called the police did a missing persons report never heard from her since Friday today (Monday ) she showed up at school but never come home on the bus. Now they the police say I need to do another report. This is so frustrating . Her mother is in jail an is not in her life. How can I get some help. I am ready to lose my mind she also stole 260.00 that was a car payment I was making for my dad. Apparently she went on a shopping spree . I found some or most of the things she bought an intercepted them. Donated mostly all of them. I have asked the police can't get a hold of Dcf had her in couciling nothing is helping.
  • Sally

    Please help. My 15 yr old son is out of control. He wasn't allowed out last night he became enraged by this, I didn't attend the argument. So he started being verbally abusive called me an f'ing b'ch. telling me where to go. Knocking things over, punching walls. I removed his phone from him and told him until he spoke with respect he wouldn't have it back. I suggested he stay with my mum to calm down and we wld revisit in the morning. He told me no he was going out and so jumped out the window.

    He went off to his dad's, he's an alcoholic who is verbally abusive to him and me. He's only ever seen disrespect to me from him. He allows him to do whatever he wants. I called the police as at the time didn't know where he'd gone. His dad will never confirm whether he is there or not. What do I do? How can I parent him when the other parent encourages him to be disrespectful? I doubt he will come back from there as he gets to do what he wants when he wants. I'm at the end of my tether? I am living in the UK

    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      It sounds like you are in the middle of a really tough

      situation. It’s not uncommon for kids in divorce situations to gravitate toward

      the parent that parents in a way which the child perceives as being to his own

      advantage. For example, most kids will naturally want to live with the parent

      who has fewer rules, and who can blame them? That’s a natural response.

      It doesn’t help that your ex-husband seems completely

      opposed to you. An effective response in this situation is focusing on what you

      can control. In all honesty, you can’t control your ex nor what he says is OK

      in his home. You can control the rules and expectations you establish within

      your home, though, as well as how you hold your son accountable when those

      rules are broken. Do your best to continue to set limits and hold your son

      accountable in your home with the privileges you provide, like you did with his

      cell phone. I also encourage you to find ways to take care of yourself and cope

      with what is going on. I know this is really hard and wish you luck as you

      continue to work through this. Take care.

  • needguidance11
    I have an 11 year old son who just recently started to get physical. He hasn't cursed when he is mad. But he has the tendency to make noises , punch walls or bang on windows on purpose. I tried grounding, taking away things he likes like xboc or phone,More I've tried spa king him but nothing seems to work. I've heard he is getting bullied at school but he doesn't say nothing to me. I still believe even by that he shouldn't act this way at home. What should I do? He has gotten physical with me but I honestly never thought about getting the police involved until I read this article. What's my next step? Police?
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      I am sorry you are starting to see your son’s behavior

      escalate  to the point of aggression. While calling the police is

      certainly an option, it’s usually one of last resort. It would be more productive

      to develop a response in the moment that focuses on safety while also helping

      your son develop more effective coping skills through problem solving

      conversations. The behavior you are seeing could be linked to the bullying he

      may be experiencing at school. Even though that may not be an excuse for his

      behavior, it is something that needs to be addressed. We have several articles

      that address both how to respond to aggressive behavior and also how to help

      your child if he’s being bullied. You may find the articles  https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-manage-aggressive-child-behavior/ & https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/is-your-child-being-bullied-9-steps-you-can-take-as-a-parent/ useful for your

      situation. Be sure to check back if you have any further questions. Take care.

  • melissa
    I have a 15 year old daughter who won't open up , lies consently and keeps things bottled to her self until she has an explosive episode in while she yells,  screams attempts to run away,  calls her younger siblings names, and currently  is starting get physically  violent with herMore father. I don't know what to do I am not only afraid for her well being but also ours what do I do
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      This sounds like a really tough situation. It can be

      difficult to know how to respond to your teen’s anger and aggression.

      Unfortunately, most adolescents and teens lack the coping skills they need for

      dealing with difficult situations that may come up in their day to day life.

      This lack of skills can result in angry outbursts and aggression. We have several

      articles that offer tips for managing and addressing these behaviors. Two in

      particular you may find helpful are https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/anger-rage-and-explosive-outbursts-how-to-respond-to-your-child-or-teens-anger/ &

       https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-manage-aggressive-child-behavior/. I hope you find this information

      useful. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • laura
    My 14 yr old son is totally out of control.hes verbily abusive towards me.my younger 3 children are petrified of him because he tortures them constanly.he wont go to school,,and im on the verdge of a hefty fine.hes smashed up expensive items such as an xbox i pad i phoneMore tv and totally trashed his room.i cant cope any more what can i do???
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      I am so sorry you are having to face such out of control

      behavior from your teenage son. There is a program available in some areas that

      may offer you the help and support you’re looking for. These programs are often

      called PINS or CHINS (Person/Child In Need of Services or something like that).

      You typically need to petition the court to get your child involved in such a

      program. If you contact your state’s department of juvenile justice they will

      be able to tell you if any such programs exist in your area and what they

      entail. Other parents we have worked with have found these types of programs to

      be helpful in regaining some control in their homes. Second, we recommend

      contacting the 211 National Helpline, an information and referral service. You

      can call them at 1-800-273-6222 or visit them online at http://www.211.org/. The goal of this service is to link

      people with valuable resources and support within their communities. I hope

      these ideas help. Take care and the best of luck to your family.

  • Help mum
    Hi I am a single mother and my daughter is. 15 she has befriended a lady of 42 and at first they were good friends she was her dads friend so I thought it would be okay got her to spend time together and my daughter also like the lady'sMore children but when it's time to come home there's always a problem she comes home with attitude and quite angry if she didn't get her own way . So now I have said that they are not to have any more contact ! And my daughter has just gotten angry saying she hates me slamming doors and no stop texting . Which I am in the other room this goes on often and I told her that a lady of 42 is a bit older than her to be hanging out with a -5 year old !!!! What your thoughts on this help ...
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      Help mum

      I can hear your concern. Ultimately, only you can decide

      whether or not you’re comfortable allowing your daughter to hang out with a

      much older woman. The real issue here is your daughter’s behavior, not who

      she’s hanging out with. Focusing on how your daughter treats you and talks to

      you will probably be more productive than arguing with her about her

      friendship. We have several articles that offer great tips for dealing with

      attitude and disrespect. One article in particular you may find helpful is https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/does-your-child-have-toxic-friends-6-ways-to-deal-with-the-wrong-crowd/. I

      hope you find the information useful. Good luck to you and your daughter moving

      forward. Take care.

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