Hope for Parents of Defiant Teens: 6 Ways to Parent More Effectively



“I feel alone,” a mom of an out-of-control teen said to me recently. “I don’t go out much anymore, and to be honest, my family isn’t really invited to things because of my son’s behavior.” If you have an acting-out child or teen, you probably feel isolated. You’ve gotten tired of hearing criticisms from family and friends, and perhaps you’ve pulled back from social functions. I think when you have a child who’s out of control, in many ways it’s like living with an alcoholic family member. After a while, parents give up trying to change anything, and they often don’t talk about it, either—they just keep all their shame, blame and sense of failure inside.

“Parent the child you have, not the child you wish you’d had.”

You’re likely to isolate even more as your child’s behaviors become more extreme. You question your parenting ability, even though your child’s behavior may not have anything to do with what you did or didn’t do. Here’s the simple truth—some kids are just more difficult than others. That is why it’s so important to “parent the child you have, not the child you wished you’d have.”

Related content: A Day in the Mind of Your Defiant Child

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It’s important to stress that anyone can change at any time—even your acting-out child. Part of what kids need when they’re out of control is for parents to make some changes so that the child can feel safer. No matter how they act, kids don’t really want to be that out of control, because it doesn’t feel safe. Here are—6 things I suggest to parents in this situation to help them take back control of their homes and start parenting differently.

1. Know your bottom line. Know your bottom line and stick to it. Developing self-respect helps you set more limits; it also builds on itself. When you set limits, be ready and willing to follow through. Don’t use idle threats because your child may call your bluff. For example, your bottom line might be that your teen won’t be allowed to take the family car out on the weekend if he swears at you or calls you or other family members names during the week. Again, if you’re going to set a limit, stick with it. Don’t let him have those car keys on Friday night if he called his sister a “b—h” on Wednesday. Don’t be surprised if there is a negative reaction from your child. Just remember, he needs to own his behavior and be accountable for it. Things won’t change for your teen if he’s making it your problem as a parent.

2. Teach your child to problem solve. As a parent, you are the teacher, coach and limit setter for your child. Part of your job is to teach her how to solve her problems appropriately. When things are calm, you can say, “This behavior won’t solve your problem. Yelling at me because you’re angry about having to go to bed won’t help you—it will only get you into more trouble. So how can you solve this problem differently next time?” Listen to what she has to say, and suggest ideas if she can’t come up with anything. Some examples might be: “You could walk away. You could write down how you’re feeling on a piece of paper or in a journal. You could listen to music.” This is really powerful because you’re saying, “It’s not about me, it’s about you. And it’s not in your best self-interest to behave this way. How can you change what you’re doing so you don’t get into trouble next time?”

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3. Aim for small victories. Take small steps and look for gradual change. The change could be as small as disengaging from an argument rather than getting drawn into a power struggle with your child. One way to start is to stand up for yourself. Saying something like, “Don’t talk to me that way, I don’t like it” is an immediate victory and it starts to shift your behavior. It helps you to start moving forward as a positive, effective parent. Look for small successes and take a moment to acknowledge them when they happen.

4. Work on one behavior at a time. Choose the behavior that’s the most serious to address first and begin to plan the steps to change this. Work on getting that under control and then move onto the next behavior on the list. Let’s say you’re the parent of a teen who’s engaging in risky teen behavior and breaking curfew, swearing, not doing his homework, and being disrespectful. What can you realistically aim for here? You have to figure out as a parent what you can live with and where to start. You can’t tackle everything at once or you’re going to fail. Look for safety issues first. Ask yourself, “How do I keep the rest of my family safe? How do I keep my teen safe the best I can?” Work on getting your teen home by curfew by setting limits around it and enforcing consequences, and then move on to the next thing on your list.

5. Be “planful.” Plan out what you’re going to say to your child ahead of time, before he acts out again. Deliver your message in as matter-of-fact of a way as possible. Besides helping you to remain businesslike and objective, this also helps you to separate from your child’s behavior by not getting drawn into a fight. The conversation can be, “Your behavior isn’t acceptable. I’ve decided it has to change, and this is what the plan is.” Or “We as parents have decided to change to this plan.”

6. Ask for help. Stretch your expectations of your support system. If you stay isolated, things often get worse, making you feel more alone than ever. You might not think there’s anybody out there who will listen or help, but you might be surprised at how people react. A friend might be willing to meet you for coffee once a week and talk, for example, knowing that you’re going through a bad time. As a parent, it’s critical to ask for help and talk about what’s going on, whether you go to a therapist, find a support group, talk to folks at your child’s school or find a trusted family member or friend to confide in. Just put it out there and be open to feedback.

When Kids Push Back After You Make Changes

You can’t always predict what will happen when you start making changes in your parenting style. Some kids will “push back,” but others might not. Your adolescent may say she hates you, but if she’s doing exactly what you wanted her to do, you’ve won a small victory. If your child does push back and act out, respond with consistency.

Understand that once you start saying, “This is the way I need things to be,” and holding firm, you’ve made a decision. You’ve done something that brings respect back. It doesn’t mean the behavior will immediately get better—it may take months or years of ups and downs. But the important thing is, you’ve broken that cycle. Once you make a decision and set a limit, you’ve broken the cycle of being at the mercy of your child and his behavior.

I truly believe that no matter how bad things feel, change is always possible. Remember, as we change, we help our kids change—and even small shifts in behavior are important. When we become stronger, we set an example for our kids in their own lives. There’s no magic to any of this, it’s really about you as a parent altering how you respond. Realize that once you take on the role of a more effective parent, you will likely keep things moving forward, and with each new success, you’ll feed on your ability to parent more effectively.

Related Content: Your Defiant Child’s Behavior: What You Can—and Can’t—Control as a Parent


Janet Lehman, MSW, has worked with troubled children and teens for over 30 years. A veteran social worker, she specializes in child behavior issues — ranging from anger management and oppositional defiance to more serious criminal behavior in teens. She is co-creator of The Total Transformation® Program, The Complete Guide To Consequences™, Getting Through To Your Child™, and Two Parents One Plan™.

Comments (33)
  • Lilli
    My 15 year old autistic daughter has recently started to rebel, despite her always being honest and doing what she is told, along with followed the rules. But recently, she has started to rebel. First it was punching people who decided to harass her. Then it was getting into fights.More Then she stopped listening to us. She didn't care if she got grounded. She started sneaking out. She starting smoking pot. No matter what we do, she just won't listen. Nothing we do works. She doesn't care if we take away her phone or laptop. She doesn't care if we ground her. She doesn't care at all. I don't know what to do. Does anybody have anything, and I mean anything to help me out?
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      We have had many parents of children with Spectrum Disorders use the tools and techniques of our programs and articles with much success. We do recommend working closely with your child's treatment team when determining which tool to use. We are not experts on Spectrum Disorders and we don't know your child. So, we would not be able to make any specific recommendations.

      WE appreciate you reaching out and wish you all the best moving forward.

  • Ossie patton
    This article has taught me to know my bottom line and stick to it. Develope and set limits and follow through. Don’t us threaten gestures to the child. When things are calm teach the child how to talk to the parent and listen to the child and their thoughts it’sMore about the child, not the parent. Take small steps and look for small changes for victory. Parents have to disengage from arguments with the child rather than getting into a power struggle, have the child to know you don’t like his behavior and that changes has to be made or a new plan has to be set in place. The most serious behaviors has to be addressed first and proceed with the others. Setting limits and enforcing consequences are important but keep the child safe in doing so. I’ve learned not to be afraid to ask or seek a support system. It could be family members, friends or professional staff. If parents keep themselves isolated, the behavior becomes worsen
  • Cindy
    Please respond! I'm not sure what to do with my teen son I am a single mother trying to raise him his father passed away when he was 4 yrs old he is definalitly a defiant teen he's mouthy, swears, bad grades, disrespects me and try's to turn everything aroundMore and try's to say it's my fault I was thinking military school any suggestions
    • Ossie
      Always present a calm behavior between you and the child have the child to write things down he’s angry about. After which discuss those issues with him. Whenever he becomes compliance, reward him
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I’m so sorry to hear about the issues you are currently facing with your son, and I’m glad that you’re here reaching out for support. As mentioned in the article above, it can be useful to start by addressing one behavior at a time. This helps to preventMore you from becoming overwhelmed, as well as assisting you in being consistent in your responses. You might find some additional tips in It’s Never Too Late: 7 Ways to Start Parenting More Effectively. Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your son. Take care.
  • hfghfhf hhf
    Can you please be less general. Suggestions aren't helpful
  • Jo
    Please respond. My 16-year-old son is demanding to know WHY he has to go to bed at 10:00. The short answer...the day has come to an end, it is time to be off the electronic units, and be in bed (or at least be in his room). There is nothingMore in his room that would keep him awake. We only have one TV that we all watch together downstairs in the living room. Everyone's computers, i.e. desktops, iPad, laptops, are downstairs in the office area right off the kitchen, with french doors that always stay open. He knows he needs to plug in his phone in the office at 10pm so it can charge overnight. He does not have any problem actually falling asleep or getting up in the morning. Sometimes we give a reminder at 9:30 or 9:45 that he needs to wrap up his game or say goodnight to all his friends that he is texting. We just get, "I know...I'm wrapping it up!" But clearly that isn't happening until well after 10pm. "Because I'm the parent" just falls on deaf ears. I WANT him to go to bed for the reasons I mentioned above, but I NEED him to go to bed for me. I have always been the last one to go to bed, usually 11:30-12:30ish. I really need that hour and a half so I can decompress from the day. It is important that I go to sleep stress-free because I have nocturnal epilepsy, and he has always known this. Therefore, it gives me peace to know that my kids are safe and asleep. I wish I could take his phone away as a consequence but he has to use it at school in his classrooms. He doesn't drive, so I can't take the car away. And I can't take the TV away because we all use it. What can I say to appease him when he demands to know why he has to go to bed? I know that if I let him go to bed after me he would only stay up to the wee hours of the morning, and not only would that affect him, but also whoever he is texting. I have tried to set the conditions for success, but I am clearly failing in this area. He is a good kid. Our house is pretty calm and quiet. But this is an every night battle and I am tired of having a great day but knowing that it will end on such an ugly note. Any thoughts?
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I hear you. It can be hard to end the day on a pleasant note when you are anticipating a power struggle with your son about turning off his phone every night. The truth is, your son doesn’t have to agree with your rules about bedtime and whenMore to stop using his phone each night; he simply needs to comply. Something you might find useful is talking with your son during a calm time (not at the end of the day or when you are trying to get him to turn off his phone) about what he will do differently to comply with the electronics curfew. Another aspect you might consider is researching available parental controls on your son’s phone to remove the power struggle altogether. For example, you might turn off your wifi and set the phone to turn off service at 10PM each evening, so that he is unable to use his phone past that time. You can read more about this in 4 Steps to Managing Your Child’s Screen Time. Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.
  • Moms2girls
    I am a divorced mother of two teenage daughters. 16 and 13. Three and a half years ago I was in a critical jet ski accident . I was in the hospital after emergency brain surgery for a month and then rehabilitation for 10 days. When I came homeMore my friends took shifts as we needed round the clock help and care ...more surgeries to come. I could not drive for 6 'months . All of this was very traumatic and hard on my daughters and my 16 year old became very angry with me. Recovery is on going and brain injuries are not easy for loved ones. Their lives changed . Their dad and I have joint custody and split the week but I had to let him have my oldest due to her behavior and how she was treating me. She has started coming around more and I have told her and my youngest that if they are going to be here , they will abide by my rules. Well, both are sassy and are in their phones constantly . it seems as whenever I open my mouth, they are combative and I am letting them hurt my feelings. They only do chores when I harp on them and they are nasty about it when they do. I know I need to be the grown up and don't take things personally , I just have not figured out how to do that all of the time. My ex and I get along well but he lets them get away with a lot and I am feeling a bit out of control. The disrespect is pretty bad and I am becoming unhappy and sad because of it. I feel I am failing as a mom. Up until 3 1/2 years ago , we were all so close and they smiled and laughed a lot. Now, they seem miserable. We put my oldest in therapy ( I am as well), and the therapist told us she has social anxiety and authoritative defiance (something like that). Honestly, I am at a loss. I was told , after my accident I tried to be more like the friend because of everything they went through and was not consistent with the parent part . I fee I lost their respect and I just don't know how to fix it. I pray A LOT but I know action has to go with that.
  • Frustrated parent1
    I have a 13 year old stepson who lives with us. He has always been disrespectful and made it clear he not only hates me but doesn't have to do what I say. He has lived with us since he was 8 years old and I've been in his lifeMore since he was 3. We have ups and downs but he makes me completely uncomfortable because of his past and now present behavior. He has tried to get rid of me on more than one occasion going to the extreme of lying about me to others hoping his dad will kick me and his 2 younger half siblings out (my children with his dad). He has purposely broken dishes to try and get out of doing dishes which is his chore as well as hiding things he knows I use then claim he never seen them. Recently he punched a classmate in the stomach at school in class for no reason and instead of having compassion or felling bad or guilty he gets mad and refuses to take responsibility. He was suspended for 3 days but has yet to receive any punishment from his dad. I had planned on making his birthday dinner that night but after much thought decided he did not deserve it and instead made it but gave him a peanut butter sandwich. His grandparents took him out to dinner just a few nights after the punching incident. Also to top it off my husband was approached after our youngest daughter's program by parents of a kindergartner telling him that stepson had been bullying their kindergartner!!!! I am at a loss. I know that if there are no real consequences for his actions he will only get worse and quite possibly hurt someone badly. But I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle when even the grandparents don't see the importance of him being punished for his actions. I also worry about my younger children's safety and his influence over them.
  • A good kid

    I have a 16 year old girl who in the past year is dealing with acute anxiety and depression.She is seeing a therapist. She is giving me the run of my life . Im a single mom of two my son is 14. She is hanging around with kids that home school and many that have troubles of their own. I feel they are all supporting eachothers issues. My problem is I believe she is smoking drugs as well. She will not follow any house guidelines that we negotiate together. If I ask her to be home by 10 she starts texting at 10 with every excuse imaginable. She doesnt care and when she does come home she dismisses her lateness that can be sometimes into the late hours as not wanting to discuss the issue.

    I do not know what to do. I feel she is heading down a dangerous road and I do not know how to help her. I want to cut her cell phone off because this is the only thing she will respond to the however then I cant get in touch with her either. 

    Please help.

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      A good kid 

      I understand your concern for your daughter, and the risky choices she is

      making.It can feel overwhelming when

      you can see your child engaging in potentially dangerous actions.As Janet points out in the article above, it

      tends to be most effective to work on one behavior at a time.Based on what you have written, it could be

      useful to focus first on your daughter’s substance use.You might want to read our article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-using-drugs-or-drinking-alcohol-what-should-i-do/ for strategies

      to address this issue.I recognize what

      a challenging situation this must be for you, and I wish you and your family

      all the best moving forward.Take care.

  • parent01
    My freshman daughter has been blowing off assignments in school.  She is capable of A's and B's with the exception of math which is tough for her.  She is failing several classes.  We met with teachers who have been as helpful as they can be but my daughter no longerMore cares.  She was pulled off her fall sport team.  She has claimed to be sick to avoid going to school when she did not complete assignments.   Now for the first time she skipped a class.  We pull her cell phone and she often does not get to be out with friends to stay in and do homework.  She is getting her first detention next week for the first time for skipping the class.  She was not allowed to go to a sleepover because of it.  Should the punishment have only been the detention or should we have followed up with our own  punishment also as we did?   It was with a group of friends who  are not from her school so she had not seen them in months.  Trying to be tough so she learns there are consequences for her actions.  She is disrupting our household as she screams when she does not get what she wants.  She has 2 younger siblings who are having a hard time tolerating what the tension she is creating in our house.
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      You ask a great question. Generally speaking, when the

      school implements a consequence for something that happens at school, it is

      usually not advised to give another consequence at home. Instead, talk with

      your daughter about the choices she is making and help her come up with a plan

      for what she can do differently the next time she’s tempted to skip a class.

      Sara Bean gives some great tips for how to have this type of problem solving

      conversation in her article The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: “I Can’t Solve Problems”.

      I hope you find this information helpful. Be sure to check back if you have any

      further questions. Take care.

  • CC in VA
    Hello I feel my daughter an I are slipping away from eachother. She is disrespectful, defiant, lazy and trifling at times. She wants to do what she wants, its always a excuse why she didn't do something I ask her to do. Today she challenged me and told me sheMore wasn't scared of me and told me to hit her. She was such an adorable little girl up until 11-2yrs old. Now she 13 and it's the worst. I'm thinking of going to juvenile court because I can't live with the disrespect and defiance. She thinks whatever I fuss at her about is small. She doesn't care right now about anything. It's hurting my soul. She is my only child and I have always been there to support her. I just don't know how to handle this situation anymore. She told me today I love my cat more than her. I told her that she sound silly. I told her "if the cat could talk and was derespectful to me he would be in the same boat your in" She has a good home, love and support from me. I just don't know how to deal with her behavior. Thanks CC in VA
  • staystrongmum

    Although I've commented on someone else's post, I am needing guidance. My 15 year old daughter started dating a boy and I don't approve. Mainly because she's treating my house like a drop in center or dormatory. She wakes up in the morning makes herself breakfast, leaves all her dirty dishes for me to clean. She goes out for the day on her long board, misses dinner and then stays up talking to her boyfriend all night. She is nice to me when she needs something. I just feel her slipping away. She doesn't seem to care about anything but her social life and the Internet. She takes no responsibility around the house unless there's something in it for her. She can be a sweet girl but I'm worried about her, I don't understand what's happening with her. How do I get her to start taking responsibility for her actions such as cleaning up after herself, and also she's become very loud - up and down the stairs all night closing doors loudly, slamming doors when she doesn't get her way (which she usually gets her way). She acts like she's living on her own minus paying her own bills. Is this normal? How can I give her a taste of reality?

    Also, she won't do anything that she's asked to do and she leaves her junk all over the place. She gets a temper when I ask for help which is not very often. How long will this go on?

    • Darlene EP


      It is understandable you are

      frustrated by your daughter’s recent behavior. It sounds like she is really

      pulling away and not meeting her responsibilities at home. This is a common

      situation we hear about often, so you not alone in your frustration. Your

      daughter is at the age where she is drawn to her peers more than her family.

      This is very normal and a necessary part of development. She ishttp://www.empoweringparents.com/adolescent-behavior-changes-is-your-child-embarrassed-by-you.php from you and trying to establish her own identity. The best

      thing that you can do is try not to take it personally and focus on whether or

      not she is getting her chores done or keeping you up at night. You can try

      setting up a daily expectation for meeting her responsibilities. Make it clear

      that her dishes need to be cleaned up in order to earn her long board for the

      day or she needs to be

      quite at night in order to earn her cell

      phone privilege for the next day. Then discuss with her what she needs to do to

      remember to meet her responsibilities and earn her privileges. Helping her to

      come up with a plan will set her up for success. We hope this is helpful for

      your situation. Give it try and let us know how it is going. Take care.

  • july
    I am battling 2 very disobedient teens they cuss and walk all over me ,Hit me and everyone in the house ,no respect I am defeated and I give up and I'm at my wits end I'm ready to have a nervous breakdown
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      Without a doubt, defiant teens can push a parent to the edge

      of their sanity. Developing a self care plan that includes things you can do

      when you find yourself feeling frustrated and overwhelmed is going to be

      instrumental. As parents we tend to put ourselves on the back burner, to the

      detriment of our well being and effectiveness as a parent. A self care plan can

      be anything you want it to be, from doing an activity you enjoy to spending

      time with a close friend or family member. The focus is on taking care of you.

      Some people also find more structured support in the form of a parent group or

      counselor to also be helpful. The http://www.211.org/

      can give you information on support services in your area. You can reach the http://www.211.org/ 24 hours a day by calling

      1-800-273-6222. You may also find the article How to Stop Fighting with Your Child: Do You Feel Like the Enemy?. We

      appreciate you writing in. Take care.

    • staystrongmum

      I'm dealing with a teen girl also, it's been a slow process and at times I want to give up as well, I mean I've actually thought about packing my bags and just walking away from it all. I only have one, I can't imagine having two teens.They should not be hitting you, if it was my kids I would say in a firm voice "the next time you hit me I'm calling the cops and you can be charged".I would not put up with them hitting me.

      I've been doing a lot of reading about teens and I've learned that the best way of dealing with an emotionally charged teen is to wait until they've cooled down then approach them on their behavior. It's a bit of give and take. Let the little things slide and put your foot down on the big ones. You may need to seek outside help.

      When you find yourself feeling really down from your kids, just try to turn them off in your head and do something nice for yourself, just breathe and think about happy things. You have a few responsibilities to them: to provide food, shelter, a safe environment, and clothing. Everything else is just extra. You don't have to buy them anything extra, especially if they don't deserve it. If they ask you for anything, like money or whatever else just tell them that you don't have any money - even if you do- and if they want you to do anything for them just say no. Your not responsible for their happiness or for the way they turn out. They have a choice to be who they want so don't let them bring you down. I feel for you. When my daughter gets in her moods, I give her the silent treatment. I let her know how she makes me feel and then the next day I offer her her favorite food or something to soften her up then I call her on her behavior. Then I tell her to turn over the page and forgot about what happened that today's a new day and I'll walk away. She sometimes apologizes. She sure is moody tho. People say that this behavior usually lasts until they are 20. I hope my advice helps. Stay strong fellow mommy

  • HELP
    I have a 14 almost 15 year old daughter.  She has no respect for me is constently telling me that I am a bad mother because I do not get her what she WANTS, I only provider her with what she needs.  I took her phone away from her andMore she physically attacked me.  Her dad on the other hand buys her love and gets her whatever she desires.  He does not support me in anyway and only added to the problem by telling me you can do what you need she is not your slave.  I know that my child is not a slave but she has responsibilities just as everyone else does.  She refuses to help me with my 2 year old son and has even told me it not my fault you got pregnant and decided to have another child.  She also refuses to do any chores and when I try to talk to her about it she runs her mouth and disrespects me.  I cannot even discipline her because right away she tells me I will call the cops and you will loss you're nursing license.   I do not know what to do I am very frustrated and I suffer from anxiety attacks because of the stress this child is putting on me.  Does anyone have any suggestions or a number that I can call for HELP?  PLEASE i do not know how much more stress my body could handle.
    • july
      going through the same help
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      It’s understandable you would be frustrated. Trying to

      manage a teen with attitude and a toddler at the same time must not only be

      overwhelming but exhausting as well. There is a service available that may be

      able to give you information on resources in your area. The 211 Helpline is a

      nationwide referral service that is available 24 hours a day. They can give you

      information on support groups, counselors, therapists, and community outreach

      programs. You can find them online at http://www.211.org/.

      You can also reach them by calling 1-800-273-6222. It may also be helpful to

      develop a self care plan you can implement when you start to feel distressed

      about your current situation. Taking time out of your day to do something you

      enjoy can be a big benefit and can help you be a more effective parent. Here

      are a couple articles you may find helpful: Positive Parenting: 5 Rules to Help You Deal with Negative Child Behavior More Positively & When Parents Disagree: How to Parent as a Team. We appreciate you writing in

      and wish you the best of luck moving forward. Be sure to check back and let us

      know how things are going. Take care.

      • HELP


        Thank You So Much! I will look in to the resources that you have mentioned and appreciate your response.  I also would like to apologize for the inconvenience.

        • DeniseR_ParentalSupport
          @HELP DeniseR_ParentalSupport No inconvenience at all. Happy to help! Feel free to let us know if you have any other questions.
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

    Concerned Grandma 

    It’s understandable that you would be concerned and worried

    about your granddaughter’s current behavior, and the possible impact it could

    have on her future.  I also hear how much you care about her, and want to

    help her change.  Something that we talk about quite frequently with

    parents and other concerned adults is that kids often act out inappropriately

    because they lack http://www.empoweringparents.com/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior.php.  They will then continue acting out because

    the inappropriate behavior is working for them in some way.  It could be

    useful at this point to work with local supports, such as a counselor or

    therapist with experience working with survivors of sexual abuse and their

    families, to come up with a plan for how you can address your granddaughter’s

    behavior while remaining a supportive presence in her life.  Even if you

    have not had much success in the past, or if your granddaughter refuses to

    engage with a new counselor, it could still be useful to go in order to focus

    on how you and the rest of your family can effectively respond to this

    behavior.  If you need assistance locating a counselor in your area, try

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

    1-800-273-6222.  I recognize what a challenging situation this is for you

    and your family, and I wish you all the best as you continue to move

    forward.  Take care.

  • Avis

    I have a 12 year old. He has A and B grades. He has no behaviors at school but at home. He does not want to do his chores, makes me late when I need to go somewhere (intentionally), has to be reminded of picking up his clothing from the floor, waits for the last minute to do school projects, disrespectful, defiant, and careless. I am trying to see what can I change?

    We have done the following:

    Got tested for ADD, ADH, etc.

    Results were normal

    Started seen a psyc every two weeks for the last 2 months. No changes

    At home: taken away games privileges, cel phone, restricted TV

    What else is there to do?

    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      I’m glad to hear you took steps to rule out any possible

      underlying issues that may have been having an adverse affect on his behavior.

      While having a diagnosis isn’t an excuse for lack of motivation or acting out

      behavior, the evaluations do add extra information that could help to address

      the behavior effectively. Now that you know there isn’t any underlying issues,

      you can start to plan ways of attending to the behaviors you are seeing. One

      thing you may find helpful is tackling one behavior at a time. Too often, we

      try to change everything at once, which can leave both the parent and the child

      feeling overwhelmed. Focusing on one behavior at a time is usually a more

      affective approach. It can be difficult to know where to start, as Carole Banks

      explains in her article “My Child’s Behavior Is So Bad, Where Do I Begin?” How to Coach Your Child Forward. Making a list of the behaviors you would like

      to change might help to clarify the changes you would like to make and also

      give you an idea of where to start. Once you decide on a behavior, you can then

      develop an action plan that includes what your expectations are and what

      possible consequences may be incurred if those expectations aren’t met. For

      example, if you decide you’re going to focus on chores, you might give your son

      a specific time frame for completing those chores and then linking one

      of his privileges to completing his chores within that time. If he doesn’t get

      his chores completed, then he wouldn’t earn that one privilege that day.

      He would have another chance to earn the privilege the following day, however.

      Linking privileges to a task in this

      manner may help to motivate your son to follow through and complete what’s

      expected of him. For more information on ways you can motivate your son, check

      out this article by Janet Lehman: How to Get Kids to Do Chores Without an Argument. I hope

      you will continue to check back if you have any further questions. Take care.

  • Donna
    MDW2 I really feel for you as I have been in similar circumstances with my son when he was 13.  It is a very difficult age, an age of change and your son is changing from one day to the next.  My son at that age, would've preferred to notMore even have a mother--it has to do with the male ego -- having a mother is an embarassment, and being told by a woman what to do is rejected outright. When I grabbed his arm one time, he hit me. Here are some suggestions: 1. realize he is growing up (No more spanking or threatening to spank! those days are over!!  soon he will be bigger and stronger than you; you'd better have developed something else before then) 2. get control of your emotions: this website talks about being calm - even in the face of complete disregard, disrespect, angry outbursts, etc  Welcome to teenage land: there will be a LOT more of the same!  4. be more respectful towards him; ask rather than command and resist the urge to "lose it" when faced with his outrageous behavior.  5. put more choices and CONTROL in your son's hands: for example, since he could not go to the movies, perhaps he would get to choose the TV show, choose what to eat for dinner, what board game to play etc. etc. Consequences are also a choice: You can put your bike in the garage, or you can go to bed 1/2 hr early - your choice. 6. invite him to participate in your family life: ask him for help with the groceries, gardening, etc, then compliment him and express your appreciation--a lot. Hope this helps!
  • My teenage daughter was told not to leave the house late one evening and that the consequences would be losing driving privileges for 1 day.
    She left anyway and the next day I proceeded to take the car keys away.
    I left to run some errands and came home to findMore my work laptop missing. 
    After pleading and yelling (and searching) for 4 hours to no avail, I gave in and handed her the keys.  I realize this was a mistake but at the time, I felt I had no choice as I needed to do work that weekend.  At this point, I feel like I have no control at all.  At any point in time, she now knows she can take something of great importance to get her way.  She has complete control.

  • jcnaples

    I am 73 years old. My husband died in August and I got custody of my 14year old Great Grandson! Help. His Day (my grandson) does not want him back because he is remarried and his new wife has two boys of her own. 1/2 of the time he isMore great but the other half it is really bad. He is in therapy as his dad was very abusive and drank. My great Grandson does not want to go back to his father or his mother who right now is in prison. My son has helped me some and I am really trying. It is not easy. I look at it as a chance for us to help each other. I set some rules this week and took away his cell phone, iPad and xbox until Fri after school. I have set time limits on those items now. He gets good grades but has not been turning i some work. He has the worse memory about all of his things and constantly misplaces or looses clothes and things. He has been doing better the last three days but any comment you may have to help me would be accepted. thanks

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      you for writing in, and my condolences on the loss of your husband.  It
      sounds like both you and your great-grandson have been through quite a bit
      recently.  Your great-grandson is fortunate to have someone like you in
      his life who cares about him so much, and is able to offer him stability,
      consistencyMore and safety in a loving home.  From what you describe, you have
      started to address his behavior by setting some limits, and working with a
      therapist.  This is a great start!  Another piece you might consider
      adding is having a problem-solving conversation with him about changes he can
      make in his behavior for the future.  Sara Bean outlines how to have this
      type of conversation in her article http://www.empoweringparents.com/the-surprising-re....  I also encourage you to ensure that you are
      taking care of yourself during this time, as self-care is an often overlooked
      part of being an effective parent.  Your self-care plan can be anything
      you wish, from calling a supportive friend or engaging in an activity you enjoy
      when you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, to using more formal supports
      such as a support group or a therapist for yourself.  For more information
      about available local supports, try contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222.  I wish you and your
      family all the best as you continue to move forward; please be sure to write
      back if you have additional questions, or just to let us know how things are
      going.  Take care.

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