There are times when your authority as a parent just isn’t enough. There are times that you may need to call the police on your child.

If your child’s behavior has escalated to the point of physical abuse, assault, and destruction of property, or if he is engaging in risky or dangerous behavior outside the home, then getting the policed involved might be the right thing to do.

But calling the police on your own child is a difficult decision to make. And there are several factors that you need to consider before doing so.

“I’m Afraid of My Child”

I’ve heard many parents say to me: “My teenage son is bigger than me. He threatens me physically. I’m afraid of him. What can I do?”

To parents who tell me “I’m afraid of my teen,” I say, I believe you. Our kids can be scary and threatening. They are often bigger than we are. And we are not quite sure what they are capable of doing to us, to others, or to themselves.

I’ve seen too many parents who live as prisoners in their own home—prisoners of a threatening child. These parents are often the victim of their kids’ acting out issues, not the cause of them.

That is why if your threatening child doesn’t respond to your authority, then you may need to bring in another authority, and that’s the police. But should you really call the police on your own child? Aren’t we supposed to protect our kids from getting into trouble?

(By the way, I use the pronoun “his” in this article, but girls can be just as threatening as boys and this article applies equally to both.)

Ask Yourself: When Would the School Call the Police?

Think about your child’s school for a moment. Does the school tolerate assault, punching holes in the wall, or speaking in a verbally abusive way to others? Of course not.

In fact, all the schools I’ve worked with call the police if a student assaults someone, uses drugs, or destroys property.

Schools take action because they understand something that parents can lose sight of—kids make the choice to do these things, and as a result, they should be held accountable.

Calling the Police Holds Your Child Accountable for His Choices

Kids with behavior problems seem to have no self-control, whether it’s managing anger or acting out. In fact, they’ll say and do things to give you the impression that they’re out of control as a way to avoid responsibility.

But remember, everything they say and do is a choice. And it’s important for parents to understand that your child makes his own choices, even when he seems out of control.

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When you focus on your child’s choices, you begin to realize that it’s your child, through his bad choices, who is responsible for the police involvement.

Your child made the choice to hit you, take drugs, or destroy your neighbor’s property, and he should be held accountable for his choices. And this may mean answering to the police.

Parents Fear Calling the Police for Many Reasons

Most parents, even those who fear their kids, are uneasy with the idea of calling the police on their kids. And believe me, I understand that. You’re getting the law and the government involved in your home. The parent’s I’ve worked with fear many things about police involvement.

Parents fear that if they call the police that they will lose control of the whole process. They fear that the police and courts will now be in charge.

Parents fear the social stigma attached to calling the police. What will the neighbors think if they see the police at their house? No one wants that kind of attention in the neighborhood.

Many parents are embarrassed and ashamed of themselves. They think they are bad parents who can’t handle their own kid.

And parents fear that calling the police will harm their long-term relationship with their child. They worry that their child will never forgive them for calling the police.

Believe me, these are all normal and legitimate fears. I’ve heard these fears from many parents.

Calling the Police is a Personal Decision

I want to be very clear here: whether or not to call the police is a very personal decision. It may not be for everyone. And sometimes you just have to trust your gut.

After all, you have to live with this decision. Twenty years from now, your child’s teachers and counselors will be out of his life, but you will still be his parent. And you want to act in a way that you won’t regret later.

Ultimately, it comes down to this: when you fear your child more than you fear calling the police, then it’s probably time to call the police.

This point is reached when you have a child who willfully violates the rules of your household and threatens you, other family members, or your property.

Tell Your Child That You Will Call the Police

If calling the police is a choice you’re ready and willing to make, then you should tell your child your intentions in a clear and direct manner. In a calm moment, when things are going well, you can say:

“The other night you pushed your mother. If that happens again, I’m calling the police.”

Be matter-of-fact and business-like about it. Just let him know what you will do. And mean it.

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If you don’t mean it, if you don’t follow through, then your words are empty. It’s just another empty threat. And with each empty threat, your child’s contempt for you grows. And your authority shrinks until your authority is gone and your child is in charge.

Related content: How to Stop Threats and Verbal Abuse

Make a Plan if You’re Considering Calling the Police

It’s important to have a plan in place for exactly the circumstances in which you will call the police. A plan helps you make the decision calmly and reduces the likelihood of things spinning out of control.

Your plan may include contacting the police ahead of time to discuss your child and to let them know that you may call them the next time he is abusive. The following related content is an excellent article by Kim Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner, author of The ODD Lifeline, on how to talk to the police about your child.

Related content: How to Talk to the Police When Your Child is Physically Abusive

Let’s say you don’t have a plan and you wind up hitting your child in self-defense. You’re the one who will be arrested and penalized. And not only may you wind up in jail, but the courts are going to blame you for all your kid’s previous problems. I’ve seen this happen. So make a plan.

For Which Behavior Should I Call the Police?

Parents who are willing to get the police involved ask me how to know when it’s actually time to call the police? In other words, what specific behaviors would constitute a good reason for calling the police?

Call the police when safety is an issue or when the behavior crosses the line and becomes criminal. This includes when your child is breaking things (significant property damage) or hurting or threatening to hurt others.

For example, if your child grabs a book and throws it across the room, I don’t think you call the police. Hold him accountable with an appropriate consequence, but minor damage is not worth calling the police.

Related content: How to Give Kids Consequences That Work

But if he punches holes in the wall, smashes furniture, or does more serious damage to your home or property, I think you tell him:

“Next time you lose control like that, I’m going to call the police.”

And if he does it again, you follow through. That’s when you make the call.

To put it another way, I think you should consider calling the police when you see a pattern of behavior that’s unsafe and threatening to others.

Make it clear to your child that calling the police is the consequence for his abusive, destructive, or criminal behavior. Make it clear that his choices determine whether or not the police show up. And, if the police are called, then he has the opportunity to learn from that consequence and to make a better choice next time.

Call the Police to Protect Other Members of the Family

You also need to consider the other members of your family. They need to be protected.

Siblings who grow up with a violent, destructive, or explosive brother or sister can be severely traumatized. These siblings don’t know when they’re going to get hit, pushed, or verbally abused next.

I know from personal experience that many siblings of kids who act out—the brothers and sisters of kids who are violent, abusive, or destructive—develop PTSD-like symptoms. Indeed, it is a traumatic environment.

When I hear from parents in this situation, I think of the terms “domestic violence” and “domestic abuse.” Because that’s what it is. Somebody in your home is taking advantage of weakness and physically assaulting family members.

I think that’s when you have to ask yourself, “What do I have to do keep my family safe here? And what am I going to do to help my child learn that he can’t behave this way anymore?”

For me, calling the police is a legitimate part of the solution.

Call the Police For Criminal Behavior

I think you should call the police for criminal behavior. This would include possession and selling of drugs or stolen property. Say to your child:

“I can’t stop you from using drugs and getting high. But if I find drugs, I’m calling the police. If I find stolen property, I’m calling the police.”

You want your child to know that you’re just not going to sit by and let him throw his life away and that you won’t tolerate criminal behavior in your home.

Won’t My Child End Up With a Permanent Record?

Parents ask me, “Will my child have a record for the rest of his life?” It really depends on where you live and the seriousness of the charges.

But, most states have provisions whereby juvenile records are sealed or expunged when they become adults. There’s no access to it and the public can’t find out about it.

Nevertheless, having a record can affect getting a job, joining the military, or even qualifying for public housing. That’s why I understand that parents don’t want their kid to have a record. That’s one of the reasons this is a hard decision.

So ask yourself, “Is this behavior dangerous enough that it warrants me taking this action? How dangerous is he, really?”

Personally, I’d rather have a child learn to be in control of himself and have a juvenile record than be out of control and have no apparent future.

Be aware that many kids blackmail their parents by saying, “If you call the police, I’ll get a record.” Or “They’re going to send me to juvie.” They manipulate their parents this way.

But I think if the abusive, violent, and destructive behavior doesn’t change then your child is going to have much bigger problems than a juvenile record. Make no bones about it, someday he’s going to get an adult record. Out-of-control juvenile behavior becomes adult criminal behavior the day he turns 18. And if he’s already 18 and his behavior is criminal, then maybe he needs a criminal record.

What If My Kid Ends up in Juvenile Detention?

That’s a legitimate fear. I can’t in good conscience tell you that won’t happen, because it does.

But in my 25 years of working with the juvenile justice system, I’ve found that the wheels of justice turn very slowly. If the police come, they might write a report, but they can’t do anything if you don’t want to press charges. And they’ll usually encourage you not to press charges the first or second time you call them.

Look at it this way: nobody wants to take custody of your son or daughter. Nobody wants to take responsibility for your teenager.

But why are you calling the police in the first place? You’re calling them to send your adolescent a strong message that you’re not going to tolerate his behavior and that you’re not helpless.

And if the behavior continues, the parents should press charges—especially if a parent or another sibling gets hurt. Understand that virtually nobody goes to jail on their first charge. It just doesn’t happen that way. The state doesn’t want to take care of him so they’re going to try all kinds of non-institutional remedies first. They may even set you and your child up with counseling.

What If I Call the Police and the Behavior Continues?

If the abusive, destructive, or criminal behavior continues, the main thing that you want is for your child to be held accountable on another level.

One way the courts do that is by putting your child on probation. Having a probation officer adds another dimension of accountability. Once on probation, if your child punches a hole in the wall, not only do you tell him to stop, but you call his probation officer. When your teen meets with him, the probation officer says, “Your mom told me you punched a hole in the wall. I thought we said you were going to work on that. I thought you promised me you weren’t going to do that anymore.” Think of the probation officer as another level of authority for you.

I’ve seen probation officers and judges work out plans for kids who are aggressive and violent. They’ll put them in juvenile detention for a weekend or two. It can be very effective. They don’t send the child away forever.

After his time is up, they bring him back to court and say, “So what do you think? You think you can stop hurting people?” If the kid smarts off, they send him back for another weekend. They’re trying to teach him to be accountable.

Ideally, a counselor or therapist says to your child:

“I’ve noticed that you’re not punching any holes in the walls in here. That’s because we’re holding you accountable and you know we won’t tolerate your disrespect or abuse. You’re making different choices about how you treat people and property. You can punch a wall here, but you’re choosing not to. Now let’s figure out how you can make those same choices at home.”

That’s how coping skills are developed by professionals. These punishments and consequences are all designed to teach your child to make different choices—choices that are healthier and safer.

Expect Your Child to be Angry If You Call the Police

Expect your child to be angry if you call the police. He’ll say, “You stabbed me in the back.” He’s going to feel a sense of betrayal. He’ll play the victim.

Don’t waver. This is just what abusive people do when you stand up to them. I think when things are going well, you want to say:

“If you make different choices, we never have to call the police again. But if you assault somebody, if you break people’s stuff, if you bring drugs into the house, if we feel intimidated by you, or if I’m afraid somebody’s going to get hurt, I’m calling the police. And I just want you to know that.”

What your child will learn to say is, “So what, they won’t do anything anyway.”

But then just say:

“That may be, but I’m still going to keep calling them.”

By continuing to call the police, you are adding to the paper trail on your child. You need that paper trail as evidence that your child is out of control. The police may not do anything the next time, but they will eventually as long as you have that paper trail.

By continuing to call the police you are also showing your child that you mean what you say.


I understand that it’s just very difficult to raise a child with serious behavior problems. It’s a terrible situation for parents.

But it’s important for parents to remember that these kids make their own choices. Even when they seem overwhelmed by feelings, they’re making conscious choices—but that’s not what they want you to believe.

They want you to believe that they become overwhelmed by anger and so they really can’t control themselves, even if they want to. I think that’s an out-and-out lie. Don’t believe it.

Your child makes choices all the time, and I think one way or another they need to be held accountable for those choices. If they are not held accountable now, then they will be held accountable when they become adults. And the older they get, the more severe the consequences. So, the sooner they are held accountable, the better. And that may mean involving the police.

Related Content:
When Kids Get Violent: “There’s No Excuse for Abuse”
Kids Who are Verbally Abusive: The Creation of a Defiant Child

Empowering Parents Podcast:
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Notes and References


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 (93)
  • Peter concerned parent
    My daughter ran away for a week thank God she's finally home I made a police report and cancel that report however I just discovered that my daughter and her friends like to shoplift what can I do to prevent future incidents or crimes?
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      Thank you for reaching out. I can understand your concern. The truth is, the best way to prevent future instances of poor choices is by holding your daughter accountable for the poor choices she's making now. We have a great article that gives great tips for dealing with stealing/shoplifting. You can find that here: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/kids-stealing-from-parents-what-you-need-to-know-now/

      We appreciate you being part of our Empowering Parents community. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • Liv

    I have an 8 almost 9 year old. He threatens to kill me and has physically assaulted me, hit me and thrown things at me since he was 5 years old. He also has been telling habitual lies since he was about 6-now. Don’t really ever know when he’s being honest or not. He lied to his school about us abusing him because he got his tv time taken away for telling me he wants to kill me. I’ve tried therapy and he still has a therapist and nothing helps. I’ve tried changing the way I speak, it still makes him angry. I’ve tried taking video games/ tv and that makes it even worse. I have severe asthma issues and recently had a collapsed lung and my child told me to “hurry up and die”. I’m at a loss as to what to do since I don’t have any family members that would step in and help.

    Does anyone have suggestions? At this point I’ll Try anything. I’m afraid of him and what he might do when he’s older if it’s this bad now.

    I feel like I’m always walking on eggshells in my own home because even something simple as telling him to brush his teeth can anger him.

    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      Thank you for reaching out to Empowering Parents. I can understand your distress. This is a bit outside the scope of what we are able to offer coaching or advice on due to the extreme behaviors your son is exhibiting. I encourage you to see what types of local supports may be available to help you and your family.

      We wish you and your family al the best moving forward. Take care.

  • Someone save us
    EVERY time the police are called by us, they do NOTHING. Assaults, rage-induced household vandalism, threats of rape, murder, etc - they tell us it's not their job. The school refuses to call the police, even after more than one incident at least where the other child could have beenMore killed. I feel like this child will have to murder someone before the "system" wakes up and sees what a danger there is. The rest of the household just gets to live in fear with nowhere to turn.
  • tom
    I have a 17 yr step daughter who keeps smoking weed in my house. Can I call the police on her for having an illegal drugs in my home?
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach
      That's a great question. Calling the police may be a viable option, but it can help to know ahead of time what their response will be. We suggest calling your local police department on their non-emergency number and asking how they may be able to help in this situation. WeMore have a great article that offers tips for how to talk to the police when your child is being physically abusive or breaking the law. You can find that article here: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-talk-to-police-when-your-child-is-physically-abusive/. Thanks for reaching out. Take care.
  • Camdi
    I've called the cops on my 14yo son so many times I've lost count. The last time he hit me so hard I hit the door frame and then he came up and continously punched me in my injured shoulder knowing I'm having surgery on it soon. The officers toldMore me they would give him a ticket that I would have to pay even though I'm the victim because I'm his parent. The also said it probably won't do any good. I could just give him an eviction notice when he's 18, till then just try to figure something out... are you for real? Ya this is real life. We've been to over 25 counselors and drs ALL of them refused to work with him ALL OF THEM. so ya this is real life.
  • MaryJune
    Child is turning 14. Been admitted 2 times for cutting, and attempted suicide.. destroys property. Ignores all rules. What do I do. Cops won't take him unless they catch him doing something.. I fear for my family.
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      Thank you for reaching out to Empowering Parents. I am so sorry you are going through this with your son. I can only imagine how distressing this must be for you and your family. We have several articles found here that offer tips for dealing with violent and abusive behavior:https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/child-behavior-problems/abusive-violent-behavior/

      There are also a couple of support services available within the US that you may find helpful. The first is the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, which can be accessed by dialing 9-8-8. The second is the National 211 Helpline, which is available in the US and Canada. They can give you information on services in supports in your community, including information on counselors, therapists, crisis response services, and support groups. You can reach this service by dialing 2-1-1 or going online to 211.org (211.ca in Canada).

      We appreciate you reaching out and wish you all the best moving forward. Take care.

  • Lost
    Thank you! My 13 year old daughter has ODD. Violent 3 times. Called police after 2nd time. Her counselor put it out there that calling police was basically a bad choice. ED never kept her. 3rd time I didn't call. Then learned I could have insisted inpatient treatment lastMore time. Divorced parents...not coparenting. Dad said no to intensive day treatment last time. This article gave me tools to use now and make better choices for next time. Considering 1 week after her assault on me, I'm nowhere near being healed, I will be calling police next time and will have her committed. Thank you for not victim blaming and giving concrete help!!
  • Frustrated mother
    My juvenile daughter is assaulting everyone in the house. We've been three the legal system she is incompetent. We've been three countless therapies still in therapy. Our hands are tied we are being terrorized in our own home where do I turn all the therapist say is they can't giveMore a recommendation for removal to a facility like residential treatment
  • Not my kid but...
    we have 3 kids living in the house with us. Today the 10 yr old threatened to smack my 7 MONTH old baby if she keeps pulling her hair. She took my child's doll, made the doll pull her own hair and smacked the doll. Showing my child what sheMore intends to do...what should I do
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      I can understand your concern. We have several articles that offer tips for dealing with aggression in children you may find helpful:https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/child-behavior-problems/aggression/.

      Thank you for reaching out. Take care.

  • MomDee
    My son is 13 and gets really upset when he gets consequences. I've called the police many times and pressed charges against him for hitting me. He has a phone that he's not supposed to have. If he gets a consequence he blast explicit music and refuse to leave myMore room. Can I call the police on him for doing this?
  • Nicole
    My daughter assaulted me tonight, not the first time, this time no weapons. My partner and I both called at the same time as I had left the area. They didn’t come. They rang my partner ( not me, the victim) , said she’s only 12. Meanwhile she had triedMore to steal the car, asssulted me., threatened me with knives. I rang back to ask why I, as the victim, was not contacted. Officer said the notes said daughter was asleep in bed. Nope... she was at a friends place telling people I assaulted her. So will I call the police again? No. They made the situation worse. I now am a toothless tiger.
  • Frustrated 2
    I agree with many frustrated posts from parents up here. Calling the police on your child is useless. I believe enlisting help is necessary but most of the time in the form of rehab or counseling. Also, it's so annoying that in articles like these psychologists and counselors will assureMore you it's not your fault and you have to place blame on your child's poor decisions without taking anything they do personal. Police will tell you the opposite. As a single mother, I had a cop tell me maybe I shouldn't work so that I can continually stand over and watch my son. So ummmmm... you going to come feed us and keep a roof over our head while I stay home sir. My son has problems with addiction and leaving the house either when I'm asleep or at work (after being told he has to stay in the house). I wanted him to understand that not listening and doing drugs will lead to him getting in trouble by the police and those are consequences he does not want when he gets older and I don't want him to lead down the path of becoming physically abusive or worse, something bad happening to him, so trying to nip this behavior in the bud early. Long story short, police were no help.
    • Shawna
      My son was very respectful to the police officers. I told officers I was a recovering addict had 4yrs clean First time I called police(son broke window hit me) basically officer told me I was to blame. I own my part ofcorse but never an excuse to destroy home hitMore me or his younger siblings. Made me feel even worse asking for help. Put him in juvey and my son has never forgiven me
  • Heidi
    I had to call the police on my son 2 years ago. I even had to put a restraining order on him so he wouldn't hurt me or come near my school where I taught. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do as a mom, but IMore think he and I both get along better because of it.
  • SQ
    When my daughter was in high school, she battled depression and was verbally abusive at home. She slammed doors and broke her bedroom door frame. So she lived without a bedroom door for several years. She yelled most of the time when she did communicate with us,More yet she was fine, polite and hardworking at her job. One night, she was really mad at me, saying she was going to go live somewhere else and trying to call someone in the family. I told her to give me the phone and she threw it across the room at me, hitting me in the face. There was so much blood that she got scared and called 911. A local officer and a state police officer both responded. I was ok except for a very bloody nose and a purple & black eye. The officers gave my girl a talking to and said if they got called back to our house again, she would be leaving in handcuffs. She was very quiet and I think their talking to her like that made her realize how her behavior would affect her. She had to go to the juvenile justice office and continue with counseling and her psychiatrist. She will soon graduate from college and studied... criminal justice! She’s not sure exactly what she wants to do yet, but she is working still in the food industry at present. I guess my mom was right when she always would say, “This too shall pass.” We all laugh about it now, since my girl actually called the police on herself back then. Thankfully, it helped.
  • Suschrot
    Police don’t do anything. I had to call them several times in the past and many times they didn’t even want to come in the house and just told me it was a family matter and suggested we get counseling. We had every type of counseling there was.
  • Cs
    But you are talking about older kids. What when your 12 yr old daughter displays the worst most violent, verbally abusive behavior, no one could understand and the worst thing is she only does it with me, her mother, the one person in the world that loves her the mostMore and does everything for her . And yet she name calls and bullies me constantly, to the point that now I can't even take her and her friends out anymore, because even they too have learned the art of bullying. I of course am in part responsible because it is a learned behavior, and her father has taught her well. I live every day with the torment of this. There is no solution. I am at the end of the end. Where from here?
    • Shawna
      I'm so sorry. I empathize with you.
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I’m so sorry to hear about the abusive behavior you are experiencing from your daughter. Even though she is young, this kind of behavior is not acceptable. While it’s normal to blame yourself when your child is becoming abusive, this kind of response doesn’t typically lead to change.More Since she tends to target you with her abusive behavior, it’s going to be important to change how you respond to it. You might find some helpful next steps in Kids Who are Verbally Abusive, Part 1: The Creation of a Defiant Child and The Jekyll and Hyde Child: Targeted Behavior Problems. Please be sure to let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.
      • Kristine
        Your daughter sounds like my daughter 4 years ago, last year she ended up going into a inpatient hospital program after attacking and biting and bruising my body because she was grounded and I took away her phone and computer. The police were out 8 times prior to that andMore at least a dozen times since she was released. They do not take her away because she says she has ANXIRTY and doesn't mean to hurt me. I told them I hate locking myself in my bedroom to get away from her and they just ask me what I want them to do.
        • amam
          omg. my daughter does the same thing! except she is now 15 years old, bigger than me and strong. i'm surprised my bdrm door has held up this long! one of these days she will succeed in breaking down my door. then what?! i put my foot against the bottomMore of my door as she kicks and pounds on it otherwise i can see the bottom corner of my door bend. but this also hurts my foot. there are dents, gouges and scratches everywhere. my doorknob is dented and misshapen. she's destroyed kitchen knives trying to break into my room. she even put a hole in my door so she can put her hand through to unlock it when i took her phone away. she'll unplug the landline when i say i'm calling the police or throw the phone and take the batteries out then block me to get into my room if my cellphone is in there. when she refuses to go to her room to calm down and follows me, i tell her i'm giving myself a time out. often the trigger has to do with her phone. it is like a drug. the swearing, namecalling and threats are out of control. in my situation, my safety has become a big concern because of her size and age now. she knows i have a bad shoulder and hand. she will tell me she has leverage because of that! i am all about setting predictable consequences together and consistency. however, now i'm afraid to follow through on those consequences because she gets violent. some officers are helpful and some make things worse. even my daughter has said the police are useless. i guess it depends who shows up. most times they just ask if there's a friend she can stay with to give us space. so she goes for a sleepover, then comes home next day still pissed and more angry. things are still destroyed and the anger hasn't been dealt with. the cycle continues. more recently the same cops showed up and this time took her to the hospital for an assessment. she has ADD for which she refuses to take medication for and ODD diagnosis from when she was in gr 6 and now conduct disorder. then they told me to come pick her up. i said no. my safety was at stake. the ministry of children and families sent a child support worker to get her and bring her home and stay the night and take her to school the next day. (school is an issue as well. she failed almost everything last year). but with the ministry, they are pretty useless and make things worse because all they care about is that she has a place to live and don't look at the big picture.
          • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

            Hi, Okinawan. It sounds like you have been experiencing some fairly extreme behaviors from your daughter. I am sorry you are having to go through this. We have several articles that offer tips for managing abusive and violent behavior you may find helpful. You can find a list of those here: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/child-behavior-problems/abusive-violent-behavior/.

            Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Whitney
    What to do if your kid don't want to go to school and if he don't get to do what he wants like play video games he will hit ,tell,put holes in wall,hurt his brothers,sisters,he will tell help call the cops,or even go as fare as yelling rap to tryMore to get people to call the cops cause he knows most the time he just gets his games back just to shut up cause I have to deal with other thing and other kids to cause I have 8 kids,so what should I do?
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I hear you. It can be challenging enough when you have a child who is defiant and destructive, let alone when his siblings are affected by his behavior as well. Something to keep in mind is that, in general, people do not change unless they are uncomfortable withMore the way things are going, and it sounds like things are working out pretty well from your son’s point of view. From what you described, it sounds like he is able to get what he wants, when he wants, by threatening others in the home, becoming violent or destructive, or by saying he will call the police. In order for this to change, this pattern of behavior needs to stop working for your son. You might find some useful advice on how to do this in “Anger with an Angle”: Is Your Child Using Anger to Control You? I also encourage you to develop a safety plan with your other children during a calm time, which outlines steps they can take when their brother starts to become escalated. I recognize what a tough situation this must be for you, and I wish you all the best moving forward. Take care.
  • Lee
    Currently, my girlfriend is dealing with her son who has been truant, is actively using, and has threatened to kill her on multiple occasions. The police are a JOKE. They have done NOTHING to help her. Said it was her fault and she needed to take careMore of it. She is the parent. Where can she turn?
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I hear your concern for your girlfriend, and I’m glad that you are here reaching out for support for her. Unfortunately, you are right that sometimes the police are not able to offer the level of support which many parents seek. This can be due to a numberMore of factors, such as the age of the child as well as local ordinances and laws. It may be helpful to look into local resources to help you develop a plan for addressing your particular issues. The 211 National Helpline is a referral service available 24 hours a day, nationwide. They can give you information on the types of support services available in your area such as counselors, support groups, crisis services as well as various other resources. You can reach the Helpline by calling 1-800-273-6222. We wish you the best going forward. Take care.
  • Nicole
    I'm at the point now I've done all of this. My son has been through the juvenile court system he's aged out now and has already had his first "adult" arrest he's 17. So what do we do now? Nothing has changed if anything his behavior is worse. He hadMore 15 delinquent acts as a minor. Does there come a point when you just walk away? I don't know anymore
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      Thank you for your questions, and I’m sorry to hear about your son’s ongoing involvement in the legal system. Many parents in your situation have similar questions about what role they should take, and whether they should “walk away” from their child, or respond on the other end ofMore the spectrum and rescue their child from the consequences. As with most situations, the most effective response tends to fall somewhere in the middle. When kids are involved in the legal system, we find that it tends to be most effective when parents exhibit “responsible love”. In other words, loving your son and believing in his ability to change when he’s ready, while still allowing him to experience the natural, legal consequences of his choices. You can find more information about this in Is Your Child Engaging in Delinquent Behavior? 4 Ways to Manage It. I recognize what a difficult situation this must be for you, and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward. Take care.
  • yvonne9903

    Please help. My 17 year old is out of control. I've called the police on her numerous times. She's stolen a neighbors cell phone (she was 6), my mother's jewelry and money (7), shoplifter (7-?), stolen money, jewelry and car keys from,me. She's run away twice, has been expelled in abayance twice, for taking pulls to school ands handing them out. She overdosed herself and another girl on xanax. She filed a false police report against a fellow student for rape. A REAL KID. She destroyed his life, and the detective declined to press charges. He even told me the kid could press charges, but he wasn't going to term the family that. It was a Hispanic family, 1st generation. I asked if I could press charges against her. They said no.

    The police refuse to arrest her. They say unless it's a violent crime, they don't arrest juveniles.

    What do I do? This is not the kid I raised. She's absolutely foreign to me

    • Kim
      I’m so sorry Eyvonne I read your post and I feel for you. Lately I’ve been feeling that exact way, Mine isn’t the kind person I raised her to be, I also feel mine is foreign right now also. It sucks I know…
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      It can be so troubling when you have a child who is not behaving according to the values with which you raised her. I’m sorry to hear about the activities in which your daughter has been involved. I encourage you to continue to work with the police ifMore your daughter continues to engage in illegal activities, such as stealing and substance use. Even if they are only able to file a report, you are doing what you can to create a paper trail. We have a downloadable template available here on our website which you can use to guide your conversation with the police: you can get a copy HERE. I’m so sorry that you are in such a challenging situation with your daughter, and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward. Take care.
  • Respectme711
    This is such a good article as a single parent of 4 kids my youngest was constantly having fits of aggression she would throw things, hit me, spit on me you name it and call me the most terrible names and tell me she was going to kill me inMore my sleep it haunted me that I could have such a beautiful girl and she could not control herself and I could see she hated herself for it too, I tried desperately to handle it on my own, but when I could see my older kids having to come and protect me, what effect it could be having on them and she had damaged so many of my special things by breaking them to get to me I rang the police it was heartbreaking but I knew she was no longer benefiting from my parenting and had not for a long time.  They came and spoke to her and she wasn't very nice to them called them all names under the sun but she calmed down and I could sense a change in her and noticed that she was almost shocked I called them.  The officer gave me details of community help services and said that I will be able to access them and she will report and follow it up for me.  It was the first time I felt like someone was batting for my side!  We went to councilling but it didn't help that much but what did help was when she tried to be aggressive or throw things I would give her a warning and let her know I would ring the police if she didn't stop and this time she knew I wasn't bluffing!  She was 12 at the time and much bigger and stronger than me, hard to believe! I have called the police once again on her when she was 13 and tried to call my bluff after a quite destructive episode! The police followed it up again and hooked me into services and gave me support the officer gave me their name again and phone number/email.  To me it was a number or email to someone that truly understood what I was going through and I have nothing but praise for the police.   When you ring the police be sure to tell the operator to send someone that has experience not just anyone that may be close by tell them you will wait, if you can, it will be worth it and if they have the right information.  I know its hard but my daughter now with lots and lots of work is now much better, she still has episodes but we work on it and constantly are aware of the triggers, once we identified those she started improving and getting knowledgeable about herself and gradually, slowly we have seen an improvement she is now 15 but its a constant battle to keep her from stepping over the line and getting to her before she disrespects me and herself.
  • angiejmann78
    I have a 17 year old son. He has hit,spit in my face, put his knee in my shoulder to which I had surgery on a year prior, broken stuff, etc. Cops get called, I go to jail for defending myself and he sleeps comfortable on someone's couch. The copsMore here constantly say " we can't do anything until he is 18". I constantly walk on egg shells in my home. We have tried counseling,probation...which if they revoke, I pay for. I'm the parent whom follows rules but I'm the one being punished. 213 days til he is 18. Any other suggestions
    • Nicole
      I have the same thing going on except it was my husband he hit his stepfather. My husband won't allow him in our home now which just adds another level of stress into the equation now. I'm sorry for what you're going through.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      angiejmann78 I’m so sorry to hear the abusive behavior you are currently experiencing with your son, and I’m glad that you are here reaching out for support.  Unfortunately, in some communities, police are limited in what they can do in instances where a minor child is being abusive or destructive.More  At this point, it might be more useful to develop a strategy for how you can stay safe and avoid facing your own legal consequences for your son’s actions.  You might find our articles, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/is-your-defiant-child-damaging-or-destroying-property/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/signs-of-parental-abuse-what-to-do-when-your-child-or-teen-hits-you/ useful in making this plan moving forward.  I recognize what a tough situation this must be for you, and I wish you all the best moving forward.  Take care.
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
    JenMullen I’m so sorry to hear about the ongoing issues you have been experiencing with your daughter over the past 9 years, and especially the attack on you yesterday.  I recognize how difficult the decision can be to call the police and press charges on your child, yet you makeMore a great point that at some point, you need to communicate clearly through your words and actions that this type of behavior is unacceptable.  I also understand your concern for your granddaughter’s well-being if she were alone with your daughter during one of these episodes.  Whenever you think a child is at risk of harm of any kind, it’s helpful to find someone to talk about it. We would encourage you to call https://www.childhelp.org/ to talk with a specially trained counselor about your concerns. You can reach them 24/7 at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). The counselors there can help you determine the best way to proceed in this situation. We wish you and your daughter luck with this. Take care.
  • Trevinox6
    I am a mother of four. My oldest son is15 he has been spoiled his whole life. Maybe my fault. In the last few days I decided to change my parenting. I stopped giving him money and told him he has rules. My rules were simple to be respectful, noMore smoking weed or any type of drug, and a curfew at 9pm. He decided to throw a tantrum and for the first time he punched holes in the wall and became very aggressive. Thankfully my brother in law is a cop and my sister is a social worker so they deal with this type of issues on a daily basis. I followed through with their advice and called the cops for the first time. He was arrested for vandalism. I did press charges to teach him a lesson. He will spend about a week in juvenile hall since it was a holiday. I saw him today and he was crying for two hours. Apologizing for everything. Not to mention while he was there he broke a window ended up getting peppered sprayed and got a new vandalism charge. He's had a very tough time. It hurts as a parent to see your child in such a bad place. But it has to be made clear you are the authority and they must respect you. I found this article very helpful, and just know that you are not alone.But do not wait till it's too late, take action asap. I did call the cops about 4 times in a 3 day period till finally I pressed charges. It wasn't easy but parents must stay consistent.
  • lovejohnsons

    I have 5 kids 3 boy's and 2 girls my young sons pushed me down and said that I was died to him and I was worthless and called me out of my name I asked him to live to cool down and said wow sorry you feel that way about me his older brother come and jumps on his side of things so I told both them to live I then had to call police the police asked if I new anyone that they could stay with I send them down to my aunts...this was 6 day from today I called down to talk to both of them and my older son said hay miss could you give me custody of the young one I cried really bad and thought I have field as a mother...I just wish I new what to do I don't want them to hate me and never speak to me aging ... 

    Thank you

    A mother that feels she needs help.

  • Ginger822
    My daughter is 17 pushes her grandmother kicks yells and threatens me (mom) she was just caught leaving out her window to leave with a boy at 11:30pm I have her in counseling and seeing a psychiatrist I don't believe they are helping at all I as had herMore admitted into the children's hospital for psychiatric problems is there anything else I can do can the police put her in juvenile anything I can't handle her and the way she acts and talks to everyone
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Ginger822 I’m so sorry to hear about the challenging behavior you are experiencing with your 17 year old, and I’m glad that you’re here reaching out for support.  You, along with others in your house, have the right to feel safe in your home.  If you are considering calling theMore police for support, it can be helpful to call during a calm time on the non-emergency line, and get some information on how they might be able to support you if you were to call them.  We have a https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-talk-to-police-when-your-child-is-physically-abusive/which can be helpful in guiding this conversation.  You might also find some useful information in our article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/signs-of-parental-abuse-what-to-do-when-your-child-or-teen-hits-you/.  I recognize that this is not an easy situation for you, and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward.  Take care.
  • Lorip
    My oldest daughter is 35. She has attacked me 5 times in the past 8 years. Most recent was 2 nights ago. I have marks on my face, bruised stomach from her kicking me and bruised legs. My other daughter tried to help. And she did this in front ofMore my 9 year old grandson. I can't take anymore. But she keeps my grandkids away from me and I end up forgetting so I can see my grandkids.
    • DawnDerry
      I have a 29 year old daughter who on the 13th for no reason intentionally slammed my arm in the cupboard door. She wasnt even sorry til a day or so later . I think she was afraid she was in trouble .about a year -year andMore a half ago she threatened to kill my younger daughter our dog or me. I called the police . I was trying to get help for her they took us to the hospital er but all they did was send her back home with me . We have been living in fear for this whole time and she could have broken my arm now we are more scared. I have decided to have the courage to speak up about it. I reported it to the doctors i saw at an urgent care. I told her i could have had her arrested and if she does Anything like that to me or any living thing again i will have her arrested. Im also going to check into someone else becoming her legal guardian . Please for your sake and everyone there with you get help for her so no one has to deal with it anymore . Sincerely ,Dawn Derry
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
    KLQ We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and sharing your story. I am sorry to hear about the way that your brother is treating your mom, and I understand your concern for her safety.  Because we are a website aimed at helping people become more effective parents, weMore are limited in the advice and suggestions we can give to those outside of a direct parenting role.  Another resource which might be more useful to you is the https://www.kidshelpphone.ca/Teens/Home.aspx, which you can reach by calling 1-800-668-6868, 24/7. They have trained counselors who talk with kids, 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 live chat which you can find on their website.  We wish you the best going forward. Take care.
  • SingleStruggle
    My son is 16 years old and has been getting worse and worse with violence towards my daughter and I due to the fact that he is bigger and stronger than us. He has been getting into fights since elementary school, but I always hope and thought that as heMore gets older he will mature up and change but sadly, no. He has been talking to me in a very disrespectful tone, calling me names and always threaten to hit me when things do not go his way. My daughter who is 20, always try to help me telling him to stop when he yell and curse at me since it's just the 3 of us at the house, but she is not strong enough. He has pushed me before but never really hit me, he just break things around the house and punch holes in the wall. He does hit his sister when she tries to stand up for herself, and one time he even kicked her down the stairs. I really do not know what to do, as much as I want to call the cop, I always hold it in because he is my son, and most of the time I heard that cops cannot do anything. Plus, I do not want him to come back after his release and do worse things to us. I'm really struggling right now as a single mother. Please help.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      SingleStruggle I’m so sorry to hear about the struggles you are facing with your son, and his aggressive behavior toward you and his sister.  You have the right to be safe in your home, and you do not have to tolerate this behavior because it is your son.  The decisionMore of whether to contact law enforcement is a highly personal one, and I understand your hesitation.  If you are considering calling the police for help when your son starts to become aggressive, it can be helpful to call on the non-emergency line during a calm time to get information on how they might respond.  We have a https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-talk-to-police-when-your-child-is-physically-abusive/ which can help to guide this conversation as well.  Regardless of whether you choose to call the police or not, I encourage you to get some support for yourself during this time, as outlined in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/signs-of-parental-abuse-what-to-do-when-your-child-or-teen-hits-you/.  I can only imagine how difficult this must be for you, and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward.  Take care.
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
    heljam69 I’m sorry to hear about the struggles you have faced with your daughter, and I also hear your concern for your grandson’s well-being.  Whenever you think a child is at risk of harm of any kind, it’s helpful to find someone to talk to about it.  I encourage youMore to call https://www.parentline.com.au/ at 1300 30 1300, 8AM-10PM, 7 days a week.  They also have an option to chat online via their website, if that is more convenient for you.  The counselors there can talk with you about what is going on, look at your options, and help you to come up with a plan moving forward.  I wish you and your family all the best moving forward.  Take care.
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


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

    your daughter, and how the stress is affecting you physically and emotionally. I’m glad that you are reaching out for assistance,

    both in your community as well as here online.It can be quite difficult when you do not feel supported by the

    resources who should be able to assist you, such as the police.Sometimes, it can be more useful to contact

    them during a calm time on the non-emergency line, and talk about how they might

    help you if your daughter runs away, becomes violent or is using substances in

    your home.We also have https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-talk-to-police-when-your-child-is-physically-abusive/ which can help guide this conversation and create a

    plan.In addition, in many communities,

    there are programs which are commonly called PINS/CHINS (person/child in need

    of supervision), or something similar.In these programs, you petition the juvenile courts to help keep your

    daughter safe, as well as hold her accountable if she is engaging in risky or

    unsafe activities.For more information

    about this process, you can contact your local clerk of courts.I can only imagine how scary and difficult

    this situation must be for you, and I wish you and your family all the best

    moving forward.Take care.

  • Debbiebullington
    My 12 year old daughter is bigger than me and she is physical with me, calls me names, mean to her siblings. I have called the cops on her twice and they dont do anything about it. I have her in counciling which isnt helping. I have tried so manyMore resourcies and i feel like no one wants to help me. They feel sympothy but no help. :,(
  • EmilyJ
    Ok. My 11yr old son has had behavioral issues as long as I can remember. We've been in counseling and seeing a psychiatrist since he was 5. Diagnosis ADHD and DMDD. We have been in and out of several schools (6 but whose counting) and he is currentlyfacing 2 assaultMore charges. He has been lucky up to this point that he hasn't been in trouble with the law but his luck has run out. What's next? Is there a point where the state steps in? Will the judge look at his entire history or just the charges? There has to be something more to help him than what we are getting. Any ideas?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It can be so difficult when you have been doing everything

      you can as a parent to help your child, and he still continues to

      escalate.  You have some great questions about the legal process, which

      are unfortunately difficult to answer specifically because the juvenile justice

      system varies among communities.  If you are not already doing so, I

      encourage you to consult with a lawyer about the next steps you can expect at

      this point with the charges your son is facing.  If you need legal

      assistance, one place to start might be contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222.  211 is an

      information and referral service which connects people with resources in their

      community.  I recognize what a challenging situation this must be for you

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

  • Sonny
    I'm not saying you should never call the police, but rather to do it only if you think it's worth losing your son/daughter forever. The creator of this article is clearly biased and trigger happy. I haven't talked to my parents for over 10 years because they called the policeMore on me. So only do it if they are terrible enough that you think losing them forever is worth it.
    • JessieDawn40
      I would rather have my daughter hate me forever if it means she is safe and alive. I understand your statement and I do not know the situation you and your parents had but you should still try to forgive them and not hold on to resentment or anger. ThatMore does not mean you have to talk to them or see them, that is not anyone's place to make that choice for you. I say this for you.
    • Kellie
      So when my 14 year old son threw a full 1 liter bottle of soda at my head and shoved me to the ground I shouldn't of called the police????
      • Kim

        Hell yes you should. Just tonight I called the police on my 28 yr daughter. And my daughter did not go as far as yours did, but I feel for you believe me!! Mine has been very verbally abuse lately and this is NOT how I’ve raised her. So let down, hurt, tired of crying, tired of her verbal abuse today I truly thought I was going to have a stroke. After working 10 hrs I come home to her disrespect smart A— mouth, I reached my point- I called the police. I cried the whole time I explained things to them, she stared at me with a stone cold face, ( then a smirk), that’s when I said she should probably stay at her boyfriends, she said “ I can’t “ ( bull—-/) one officer was a jerk so I asked the other if he had kids, that’s when he stepped in and let her have it just a bit. It was killing her not to talk back ( or over talk him ,( like she does) I don’t regret what I did, if she doesn’t want to listen to me, hopefully “” now she’ll realize “ maybe I should watch my mouth or she can explain it to the police. End of story- completely utterly fed up. 🥲 ( if this ever does happen again, ( hopefully it won’t!🤷‍♀️, I will ask them to have her leave for the night. I have no problem, especially since the kind caring empathetic girl I raised is not who I’m now living with.

        Broken heart ❤️‍🩹

    • April
      I think you sound immature to say thats why you do not speak to your parents. If that is the only reason you do not speak to them you haven't grown up or learned anything yourself. My husbands parent's called thw police on him several times growning up for hisMore behaviour and he eventually learned from it and is very close to his parents as a result from it. He has actually thanked them for helping him get straight and narrow. Become a decent grown up or he would likely be in jail today.
  • Punkinnilla
    Where can I start,since my daughter became a teenager she is very disrespectful, to me and others, siblings scared of her, she always tear my house up, never clean up, don't want to go to school, threatened me and everyone in the house, sneaks boys in and out her window,More my daughter and I sleep with our doors locked. She curses and swears all the time. Can't take her no where without her cursing and being disrespectful, I'm in fear of her hurting her little sister, I have a lot to lose if I put my hands on her.I want control of my life my home. She needs help, she was diagnose pibolar, one minute she nice, terribly mean the next minute. PLEASE HELP,HELP,HELP?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


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

      your daughter, and how her choices are impacting you and her siblings. 

      Although I hear how concerned you are that she might hurt a sibling, I do not

      recommend becoming physical with your daughter.  Instead, I encourage you

      to https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-lost-children-when-behavior-problems-traumatize-siblings/ which you and her siblings can implement if she is acting out

      in an unsafe or abusive way.  In addition, you might consider talking with

      the police during a calm time to talk about how you can work to hold your

      daughter accountable when she is doing things like sneaking out and making

      threats.  We have a downloadable worksheet which can help to guide this

      conversation with the police; you can find a copy https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-talk-to-police-when-your-child-is-physically-abusive/. 

      I recognize how difficult this situation must be for you, and I wish you and

      your family all the best moving forward.  Take care.

  • fustrated911
    My soon to turn 16 yr old is destroying our home through the use of drugs, theft and physical force. I have called the police multiple times who say she can't be arrested until she's 16 but I doubt they will, since they also said if I were willingMore to press charges they would arrest her now, but when I said I wanted to press charges they "assured me" that I didn't. For my own sake, as well as my husbands' and smaller children I need her locked up. But what do I do if they won't allow me to press charges?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


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

      your teen, and I’m glad that you’re reaching out for support.  Something

      that could be helpful is to meet with police during a calm time so you can talk

      about your options, and develop a plan for holding your daughter accountable

      for her actions.  We have a free downloadable worksheet which can help

      guide this conversation; you can get a copy https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-talk-to-police-when-your-child-is-physically-abusive/. 

      You might also consider looking into other local resources which might be able

      to assist you, such as counseling and support groups.  For help locating

      these, and other supports in your community, try contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222.  I

      recognize what a difficult situation this must be for you and your family, and

      I wish you all the best moving forward.  Take care.

  • chergemini

    My 14yr old son is out of control...he has bipolar disorder, ODD, ADD/ADHD. He refuses to go to school, follow ANY rules, listen to anyone, come home when I ask, verbally abusive, can be VERY aggressive, disrespectful and inconsiderate of anything or anyone else, feelings or possessions, he shows no remorse. He took my car while I was gone, I was searching for him at 4am this morning, we were supposed to be going out of town for the weekend but he's refusing to get into car. I'm a single mother


    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It sounds like you

      are dealing with quite a few serious behaviors from your son right now, and I’m

      glad that you are reaching out for support.  It can feel overwhelming to

      try to address so many different issues at the same time.  Something I often

      recommend to parents is to prioritize the behaviors you are seeing, and only https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/in-over-your-head-how-to-improve-your-childs-behavior-and-regain-control-as-a-parent/ at a time.  Based on what you have described, I

      recommend addressing the abusive and unsafe behaviors in which he is

      engaging.  Some articles to help you get started include https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/is-your-child-engaging-in-delinquent-behavior-4-ways-to-manage-it/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/when-kids-get-ugly-how-to-stop-threats-and-verbal-abuse-part-2/.  I

      realize how difficult this must be for you right now, and I wish you all the

      best moving forward.

  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


    No parent ever

    envisions their child struggling with addiction, and I’m sorry to hear about

    the challenges you are facing with your daughter.  At this point, I

    encourage you and your husband to develop a plan of how you can each respond

    appropriately, and in a way which keeps everyone safe, if your daughter becomes

    escalated again.  This might involve https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-talk-to-police-when-your-child-is-physically-abusive/ to see how they might be able to assist you

    if your daughter becomes destructive or decides to run away.  You might

    also talk with her counselor about what you can do to help your daughter stay

    safe and sober.  Kim Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner offer more advice

    on this point in their article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-using-drugs-or-drinking-alcohol-what-should-i-do/  I

    recognize how difficult this must be for you and your family, and I wish you

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

  • Amy37
    I have a 17 year old son who has been out of control for a couple years. But the past couple months have been horrible, he is doing a lot of drugs and selling drugs. He takes off for days at a time. Just this week he smashed windows outMore of our house to break in and steal our money and some belongings. I finally called the police this time and was told there is nothing i can do!!! Cant press charges bcus he lives here and is a minor. So i said he can continue to just break our stuff and steal whatever he wants?? I just can't believe it. Cops brought him home yesterday and he took off again. We have no rights as parents. We can't physically hold him in the house or thats abuse we can't throw him out because that's neglect, what can we do? My 2 daughts are scared all the time someone is gonna come here and rob us or hurt us for a drug deal my son does. Legally we can't make him go to rehab it's completely crazy whoever set the laws up and gives these kids all these rights and us parents have to live in fear and in hell 24/7. Any help???
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      We speak with many parents who are in the same challenging

      position in which you find yourself; you are not alone.  It can be very

      frustrating when you reach out for help, and it doesn’t appear that there is

      anything you can do to address your son’s behavior.  I also understand

      your concerns about possible risks to your family’s safety and well-being as a

      result of your son’s choices.  It could be useful to talk with the police

      during a calm time about your options to keep your family safe.  We have a

      free downloadable worksheet which you can use to guide this conversation which

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

      I recognize how difficult this must be for you, and I wish you and your family

      all the best moving forward.  Take care.

  • NeedAdvise

    Jiggs007  What advise would you give if it was a 16 year old teenage girl who was doing the same thing. In my case she looks the sweetest girl, she could charm anyone for better or worse. She discovered the likes living that dark/racey lifestyle, we even have her reported running away from home 7 times. She refuses to obey or listen. She isnt the type to punch holes in the wall... shes smart enough to make sure she doesnt bring it into the house. Now she has a gangster BF shes been hiding and refuses to give him up. We feel hopeless and at the same time I'm very worried about out 11 year old who is to nieve to understand anything and not quick enough to catch on. I feel my oldest at some point is going to try and corrupt her sister. We have received threats from her friends, reported to the police with no avail. She is just out of control, but we as parents seem to have no real rights of protection or ability to control our 16 year old. Calling the police doesnt make her flinch..... 

    She has NO remorse... she wont even say sorry just to pretend, to get back in our good graces. She is a ticking timebomb.... I dont know what to do. Even the authorities dont seem to be able to assist much in these matters until something terrible happens. Please advise in any way.

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I am sorry to hear about the troubles you are having with

      your 16 year old.  It can be so difficult when you are dealing with

      behaviors such as running away, and becoming https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/does-your-child-have-toxic-friends-6-ways-to-deal-with-the-wrong-crowd/.  While I understand that involving the authorities

      has not had the effect you might have wanted, I encourage you to continue doing

      so.  After all, the point of consequences is not to make your daughter

      care, as her emotions and perspectives are entirely up to her.  Rather,

      the goal is to hold her accountable for her actions, even if it is simply

      having a written report of her behavior.  Something else you might

      consider is filing a petition through your family court to help you hold your

      daughter accountable for her behavior.  These petitions are often referred

      to as PINS/CHINS (person/child in need of services/supervision), and can

      provide additional levels of accountability through tools such as probation,

      court-ordered counseling and/or treatment programs.  Your local clerk of

      courts can give you more information on what this process might look like in

      your community.  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.

  • Teresahat

    I have been reading various topics on this website for the last year. I have been struggling with my eldest son (16yrs) for the last few years. He has worsened week by week.

    It started off with him arguing with teachers, refusing to do work etc. His behaviour at home was strange, he would make silly noises right in my ear, throw shoes at me, incessantly tap my leg (just annoying things) for hours on end. But in front of anyone else he was charming, intelligent and confident.

    He then started attacking his younger brother for no apparent reason, no argument, no provocation whatsoever. I contacted social services who worked with us to ensure my youngest son's safety. This has now stopped and been sorted.

    Eldest son was on target for straight As in GCSEs (live in UK) over the last two years he has been a nightmare at school and consequently will be lucky to get one A in his exams which he took May/June this year.

    The last 6 months he has got into drugs (weed and not sure what else), he's been dealing weed too. The night before my 40th birthday (April) he jumped out bedroom window at 11pm and was missing over 12 hours. Police searched for him all night. I thought he had killed himself. But when police found him he was very nonchalant and went to school that afternoon!

    He has since been caught shoplifting in local shop half hour before his maths exam. Climbed to top of a very high crane. Punched his best friend of 13 years who has reported him to the police.

    Been awful and abusive to me, intimidating and bullying saying the most wicked things. He's a compulsive liar and seems to have thrown his whole life away.

    Last month his abuse got too much and I asked him to leave and identical to the retired police officers comments he threatened to smash my house up. He left house immediately after. I've since received some nasty text messages from him, demanding money and calling me awful names - I have not replied to any of his messages.

    I can no longer cope with him. I'm heartbroken, feel a total failure, frustrated and hopeless. I've racked my brains and wondered where I went wrong. He never leaves my thoughts. I rarely leave my house and struggle to cope anymore.

    I don't know what to do anymore.

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I’m so sorry to

      hear about your eldest son’s choices and behavior, and it’s quite normal for

      parents in your situation to experience many of the emotions you

      described.  As Debbie Pincus points out in her article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/throwing-it-all-away-when-good-kids-make-bad-choices/, one of the most effective

      things you can do is to identify your own boundaries, and focus on taking care

      of yourself.  Sometimes, it can be beneficial to work with local

      resources, such as a counselor or a support group, to help you work through

      this trying time.  For assistance locating this type of support, try

      contacting http://www.familylives.org.uk/ at 0808

      800 2222.  Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are

      going for you and your family.  Take care.

  • Really

    I have progressed through everyone one of these steps in almost the exact way it is laid out here in this article. I agree with the advise.

    My son was born with a temperament that is opposite of my own. He is angry and aggressive and I am peace loving and joyful. It has been a challenge to parent him.

    Since, I have always recognized in him the potential for self destructive behaviors and future criminal behaviors, he has been in counseling off and on as needed since pre-k. I also surrounded him with mentors and strong men.

    When I reached out to the authorities, as he entered the pre-teen years, I was told repeatedly that "unfortunately" there were no preventative programs available. I would have to wait until he entered the juvenile system and then they could help.

    So here we are, neck deep in the juvenile system, and there is very little help. Of course, my son's behavior is getting worse. As he got more and more violent at home, I started expressing my concerns (verbally and in writing) to police, judges, probation, counsellors, and anyone who would listen. However, every time he was released from juvenile detention or from an arrest, he would be released back to me.

    I am now in fear of my safety and that of my daughter. I worry that when my son couples drugs and his rages that he could take my life. So, the last time he was released from juvenile detention, I refused to pick him up. I was bullied by the juvenile system who only wanted to send him right back to my home. This has been complicated since I am a single parent and his father has chosen to be absentee. My son does not qualify to go to our local youth shelter due to his violence and drug use. I have no relative that qualifies to have him and besides would not want to put their families in danger. The state can not find a foster home for him since no foster family will take someone with his history.

    With out going into detail his history includes multiple arrests, multiple confinement s under the Baker Act, violent acts in my home and upon my person, and kicked out of school for threats of widespread violence.

    I seriously feel a tragedy will happen at my home if he is here. So, I made a stand and absolutely refused to allow him in my home. Now, I am being arraigned on child neglect and abandonment charges. It is a felony punishable up to 5 years in prison. Isn't that ironic!

    • Tired
      I'm dealing with the exact same situation would a restraining order help
      • Really

        In the state of Florida, you can not put a restraining order on a juvenile, so you have to get the order against the juvenile's parent and have it extend to the juvenile.

        You should have seen the faces of the court officials when I said, "So I have to put a order of restraint against myself? Wouldn't I be in constant violation?"

        No, a single parent can not put a restraining order against their own child. Possibly, you could get the order against the other parent if they are involved and agreeable.

    • JCSol
      Hello. I'm in the same situation... No help from the police department or the local authorities. I've called the police on multiple occasions, only to hear that "there's nothing they can do". My 16 year old has even hurt my other 2 kids in a fit of anger, and onMore one occasion I even had to take my 10 year old daughter to the emergency room because he pushed her in such a way that we thought she had broken her foot....but of course, he always claimed it was an accident. And what did the police do? Absolutely nothing. I wonder what they would have done if a parent had done it? Surely they would have ended up arrested and the kids taken away from them. It's a shame that there's no real help or support for parents of dangerous or violent teens. I feel your pain.
  • momwhoneedshelp
    I have a 12 year old son who has bipolar and adhd he sees a psychiatrist and a counselor and is on medication he has a very BIG anger problem when he doesn't get his way he gets verbally and physically abusive to me and my other children he constantlyMore talks back 24/7 I have had called the cops on him several times and he goes to juvy for a couple hours and comes back home i do ground him take things from him or spank him which by doing any type of punishment ment makes him more aggressive and mean I feel like I failed as a parent because I try everything and nothing's working and I'm afraid if I don't find a way to change him soon he will end up in prison like his father ( in prison for murder because he couldn't control his temper) is their anything else I can try to help my son I love him to much to give up on him he is a very smart boy in honor classes at school (if he doesn't get suspended) has an iq of 124 I'll take any advice
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It sounds like you’re experiencing some really challenging

      behavior from your son right now, and I’m glad that you are reaching out for

      support.  I can tell from your comment how worried you are about your son,

      and how much you care about him and want to help him.  Because your son is

      currently working with local professionals, it might be a good idea to work

      with them to develop a plan for how you can respond effectively, and keep

      everyone safe, when your son is becoming abusive towards you and others in the

      house.  We have many articles, blogs and other resources which address https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/child-behavior-problems/anger-defiance/

      and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/child-behavior-problems/abusive-violent-behavior/ here on our site which you might find helpful in developing your

      plan.  We don’t recommend spanking your son when he acts out because it is

      not teaching him how to behave more appropriately, and it also could be

      reinforcing his aggression.  Thank you so much for writing in, and please

      be sure to let us know if you have any additional questions.  Take care.

  • Asullo
    My 13 year old son doesn't listen to me, I take away his bike and TV cell phone and still doesn't work. When I do these things in the morning when I go to work he leaves, it takes me days to track More him down. Again. What can I do?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It can be

      incredibly frustrating when your child does not listen to you. 

      Furthermore, it is quite concerning that he responds by running away for days

      at a time, and putting himself in potentially unsafe situations.  During a

      calm time, I recommend talking with your son about what he can do differently

      the next time he is upset or frustrated instead of leaving the house. 

      James Lehman outlines how to have this conversation in his article series https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/running-away-part-i-why-kids-do-it-and-how-to-stop-them/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/running-away-part-ii-mom-i-want-to-come-home-when-your-child-is-on-the-streets/. 

      In addition, you might consider contacting your local law enforcement during a

      calm time on the non-emergency line to get information on how they might assist

      you if your son continues to leave the house without permission.  Please

      be sure to write back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • grandmother in fear
    I have a grandson who is constantly hitting,threatening my daughter and his father. They live in fear of their son..who is brilliant and seems to charm school officials..He will no longer go to school but has taken sat test and aced them.He is a tyrant to his mother and threatensMore her every day..I can't stand sitting by waiting for a phone call he's killed her..He is totally out of control and won't listen to anyone, or go to therapist or commit to any reform.. My daughter shakes uncontrollably and is afraid to set this 16 yr old boy off..Should I,or could I, file a report ? My daughter keeps thinking he will change..It's been 2 years and it's just so scarey to me..
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      grandmother in fear 

      Thank you for reaching out for support.  I can hear how

      worried you are about this living situation, and especially for the safety of

      your daughter.  This type of behavior can leave many feeling scared,

      helpless, and unsure of what to do next.  You are not alone.  At this

      point, it could be useful to talk with your daughter about how you can best

      support her during this time in order to keep everyone safe.  You might

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

      1-800-273-6222.  211 is a service which connects people with local

      resources, such as counselors, support groups, domestic violence services as

      well as many others.  I recognize how difficult this must be for you right

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

  • Help a mom
    My daughter has a 8 year old son, a 15 year old step daughter and an 18 year old step son. Her step daughter and step son are out of control, they use meth, smoke K2 and who knows what else. They both have been verbally abusive to my daughter and son inMore law and the 15 year old step daughter has physically abused my daughter and son in law. My daughter has raised them since they were 4 and 6 years old but was never allowed to discipline either of the step children because their biological mother said she had no say so and they didn't have to mind my daughter. Their mother has never supported them financially but when the 2 kids stay with her, my son in law and daughter have to give her plenty money. My daughter has pleaded with my son in law to get both children counseling; he did take the girl one time but wouldn't take her for follow-ups. My daughter has called the police to get a paper trail but the abusive behavior continues to happen. She, the 15 year old, is now pregnant and attacked my daughter a couple of weeks ago, she called the police again. They told my daughter that she had every right to protect herself. My daughter has never fought back because she is afraid she will be arrested. I am fearful for her and my 8 year old grandsons lives. If I say anything to my son in law, he thinks I'm sticking my nose where it doesn't belong because the older kids are not my grand children. I think I have every right to be concerned for my daughter and grandson. I have spoke to my son in laws, mother and father but they tell him what I say and it is causing conflicts with my son in law and myself. Does anyone have any advice for me and my daughter
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      Help a mom 

      Thank you for reaching out for support.  I can hear how

      worried you are about this living situation, and especially for the safety of

      your daughter and your 8 year old grandson.  I’m glad to hear that your

      daughter has contacted the police, although that has not stopped the abuse

      directed towards her.  At this point, it could be useful to talk with your

      daughter about how you can best support her during this time in order to keep

      everyone safe.  You might also consider contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222.  211 is a

      service which connects people with local resources, such as counselors, support

      groups, domestic violence services as well as many others.  I recognize

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

      moving forward.  Take care.

  • wayne smith1957
    My ex wife of 8 years calls the police to me and my 3 children who we share 50%:50% all the time.  She is a dysfunctional mum and has started using the 'intimidation' of police involvement to seek control of her environment and as a means to hurt and intimidateMore me....even with lies to police that are then retracted once police seek action. Recently, she called police to my 15 yo son because he kicked a soccer ball along the ground inside house to hit sibling on the foot. This is the third incident where he has had police called. It is abuse of him. Sure, unacceptable behaviors need to be addressed, but you create control by positive parenting/ counselling and consistency NOT through intimidating acts involving police for minor incidents like the soccer ball matter. My son now refuses to go there. I do not feel that intimidation by using police involvement has a high likelihood of success as a parental strategy
  • Sfy
    I took my 16 year old daughters skateboard away from her because of her constant disrespect and mocking of me in front of her siblings. My wife was very much against it. We have been having marital problems for a half year now, which was when my daughters attitude started.More The day I took her skateboard my 350 dollar Apple Airport disappeared from my desk. I put the skateboard in my car, but it was removed by my wife or daughter after 5 days (don't know which). My computer equipment didn't return. Should I call the police?
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      You ask a great question. Whenever a large ticket item is

      stolen or goes missing, we would generally recommend putting in a police

      report. This can help to create a paper trail should there ever be a need in

      the future for further legal action. It would be beneficial to talk this over

      with your wife beforehand as it’s usually more effective if both parents are on

      the same page when involving the police. Even though your situation doesn’t

      involve physical abuse, the article  https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-talk-to-police-when-your-child-is-physically-abusive/ offers some great

      tips for talking to the police. It may offer you some ideas. I hope this helps

      to answer your question. Best of luck moving forward. Take care.

  • Jennyrangel133
    I have a son in he is 5 yeara old he dose not lession to me and wooping his butt aint helping he is sstarting to mesa with his brothers in saying wiers things i need helpp in idk what ro do wirh him anymore hes bad at school hitsMore kids and trys to hurt them bas i just need help please
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      Dealing with anger and aggression in a young child can be

      very challenging. Dr. Joan Simeo Munson offers some useful tips in her article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/hitting-biting-and-kicking-how-to-stop-aggressive-behavior-in-young-children/.

      Spanking isn’t an effective way of addressing this behavior as it doesn’t help

      a child learn more appropriate ways of handling their anger. Instead, you could

      help your son develop more effective problem solving skills as explained in the

      article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/. We

      appreciate you writing in. Take care.

  • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

    Stacey tulloch

    I can hear how overwhelmed you are trying to deal with your

    son’s aggressive and belligerent behaviors. It can be tough to have to

    experience this from someone you love and many parents would be wondering how

    much more they can take. It is concerning though that you’re beginning to think

    about harming your son and are having very specific ideas about how to do so.

    It may be time to reach out to services within your community that may be able

    to offer you support and guidance through this very troubling time. The 211

    Helpline would be able to give you information on resources such as parent

    support groups, transitional housing for young adults, counseling and other

    mental health services. You can reach the Helpline 24 hours a day by calling

    1-800-273-6222. You can also visit them online at http://www.211.org/.

    I understand how much of a struggle this has been for you. You don’t have to

    struggle alone. There are people willing to help you and your family. Good luck

    to you and your family moving forward. Be sure to check back and let us know

    how things are going. Take care.

  • BR
    What are the rights of parents in these situations? I work with a family where the child is constantly assaulting mother and police refuse to take any action. Do parents have any rights? Are the police liable for any of this continued abuse?
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      You ask an interesting question, one best answered by

      someone familiar with the specific laws and policies in your area. The 211

      Helpline would be able to give you information on legal services that may

      better be able to answer your question. You can reach the Helpline 24 hours a

      day by calling 1-800-273-6222. You can also visit them online at http://www.211.org/. I hope this helps. Take care.

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