What can you do when your defiant child just absolutely refuses to get up and go to school? For many parents of defiant children, this is an every-day event.

Parents who have not experienced this kind of defiance may immediately respond, “I’d make my kid go!”

But without using physical means, how would you do that? If a child outright refuses to comply, other than using physical force—which no parent wants to do or ever should do, for that matter—what options does a parent have?

The good news for parents of defiant kids is that you do have options, but you first need to understand the thought processes of a defiant child.

It’s All About Control

For a defiant child or a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), not being controlled by others is of paramount importance. For this reason, your child or teenager will fight against any attempts made to control him by his parents, teachers, or any authority figure. 

To the parent, the child’s resistance doesn’t seem to make sense. The child does not want to be controlled by others, but, at the same time, the child does not appear to have any control over his own choices, impulses, and behaviors. It’s as if the child needs to be in control and out-of-control at the same time.

The parents of these kids are in a very difficult position. Family life is chaotic and the more you try to control your child, the worse the defiance gets.

And to make matters even worse, society demands that you “get that kid under control,” so parents fight even harder still to control their child. And the parents begin to feel personally responsible for their child’s behavior.

In the end, your child simply digs in his heels. He pushes back and becomes even more defiant, leading him to behave even more impulsively. It becomes more about the power struggle than the behavior itself.

Related content: Passive-Aggressive Child or Teen: 7 Things You Can Do When Your Child Shuts You Out

Offer for FREE Empowering Parents Personal Parenting Plan

Why Do We Fight Our Child for Control?

Let’s face it, our society puts two competing messages out there. On the one hand, there’s a high value placed on individuality and standing out from the crowd. Yet on the other hand, when our young people do make choices that aren’t consistent with the norm, there’s often a backlash and pressure to conform. And when a child or teen refuses to conform, the pressure is put on parents to make the child follow the path others believe is the right one.

As parents, we’re terrified of what will happen if we don’t control our kids. What if she makes bad decisions? What will happen? Will she survive? But think back to your own childhood. We all had to learn some life lessons along the way. Some made us stronger. Some left scars. But we learned and we survived. And our parents weren’t controlling our actions, we were.

But for some reason, we believe our kids will surely meet with disaster.

Sometimes the Battle Isn’t Worth It

Sometimes we find ourselves in a dispute with our child and, before we know it, we’re in a full-blown battle of wills. And we become determined to win.

It’s not something we recognize consciously, but underneath our own actions is the belief that to let go of control is to give in to our child. We continue to act in an effort to gain control over our child’s behavior. And he becomes just as determined to keep that control.

Who’s going to win in the end? We may win a battle, or we may think we’ve won a battle, but our child will have the ultimate control over his behavior. Why? Because he physically has control over his own body, his own actions, and his own thoughts. There is only so much a parent can do.

Recognize When You Are Controlling

Take a day and pay attention to the idea of control as it relates to yourself and those around you. Listen to conversations. How often do you advise people on what they should do? How frequently do others share their suggestions on what you should do? How often do we hear this in the media? Do this. Don’t do that. It’s everywhere.

Most of us know an Aunt Martha who just loves to tell people how things should be. It’s human nature to try and direct things. Often we truly believe we know what’s best for that other person. And maybe we do. But maybe we don’t.

Advertisement for Empowering Parents Total Transformation Online Package

Parents often believe it’s our role—indeed, our responsibility—to control our children. But, unless you use physical force, it’s impossible to control another human being unless they allow you to do so.

You can threaten, bribe, reward, beg, guilt, and shame that other person into doing what you believe is best. However, the only way to influence another person’s behavior is if they allow you to influence it. It doesn’t matter whether they’re eight, eighteen, or eighty years old.

Giving Up the Need to Control Doesn’t Mean You’re Giving In

In reality, once we let go of trying to control our child’s behavior and choices, we actually gain much more power. Fighting every day with someone whose main purpose is to avoid being controlled will leave you feeling exhausted, angry, and frustrated.

In contrast, putting energy into what you can control leaves you feeling empowered, confident, and stronger. And, believe it or not, there’s actually more you can control than can’t. If you feel out of control, you’re probably trying to control the wrong things.

It’s our job as parents to provide an environment that allows our child to learn lessons that will prepare him for the world. To prepare him not only to survive, but to thrive. Everything we do as parents comes back to this guiding principle.

We control providing food, clothing, and shelter to our child. We control whether or not we show our child how to cope and deal with conflict, adversity, and life’s challenges. And we control whether or not we allow him to experience consequences for the choices he makes. Nevertheless, whether or not that child chooses to learn from those life lessons to is up to him, not us.

Below I’ve listed 4 important things that you can control and the 1 important thing that you can’t control as a parent. Understanding these will empower you by putting you in control of the things you can control and relieving you of responsibility for those you can’t.

1. You Can Set Expectations

You can control whether or not your child knows what your expectations are. You can say this to him:

“Johnny, my expectation is that you will handle your anger without physical violence.”

Your child may not like your expectations, but those are your expectations and you can make them known, which is important.

2. You Can Help Them Meet Expectations

You can control whether or not you give your child the opportunity to meet expectations.

“Johnny, if you find you’re getting angry, it’s okay to walk away, go listen to music, talk to your friend on the phone to blow off steam, whatever will help you release some of that anger and we can talk again later.”

Your child may not take advantage of the opportunity—that’s up to him—but you can offer the opportunity and make it available to him.

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

3. You Can Set Consequences

You can decide the consequences of an action and you can control whether or not your child knows what the potential consequences will be if he chooses not to meet your expectation.

“Johnny, you’re fifteen years old. If you hit me when you’re angry, that’s domestic violence. If it happens again, I will call the police. I would hate to see that happen, so I hope you choose to handle your anger without getting physical.”

Again, your child can still behave badly—that’s up to him—but you can implement the consequence and hold him accountable.

Related content: Consequences That Work for Oppositional Defiant Children

4. You Can Control Your Own Behavior

You can control your own behavior. When you get angry, you can model for your child how to cope effectively without using physical violence. You can walk away or practice other effective coping skills when you get angry yourself.

Related content: Calm Parenting: How to Get Control When Your Child is Making You Angry

5. But…You Can’t Control Your Child’s Behavior

Parents of severely defiant kids need to understand that, ultimately, they cannot control their child’s behavior. You can’t control whether or not he behaves in a physically aggressive way when he’s angry. Your power does not lie in the arguing, defending, and power struggles that tend to go hand-in-hand with attempts to control an ODD child.

Instead, your power lies in what you can control—your own behavior. Just as you can’t control your child, he can’t control you either. Some days it may feel like he can. But he can’t.


Parenting a defiant child is hard. We know some people will read this article and think, “Parents should control their children.” It’s tempting to judge parents of ODD children on what they should and shouldn’t do.

But until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, it’s difficult to know the pain and shame that comes from parenting a child who simply will not be controlled.

For ODD children, being controlled feels as if they’re drowning. They will fight tooth and nail to keep control, arguing and outright refusing to comply with an authority figure’s directives.

We can spend time as a society judging that child and talking about how they ought to behave. Or we can accept that our world has always had rebels—those who will take the path less traveled, even if it’s a path filled with bumps and potholes. And we can support the parents of those individuals in their own journey, without blame or shame.

We hope this article will help those parents let go of some of the techniques that should work but don’t, and find strength in focusing on what they can control.

“While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.”
— Angela Schwindt

Related content:
You Are Not to Blame for Your Child’s Behavior

Empowering Parents Podcast:
Apple, Spotify

About and

Kimberly Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner are the co-creators of The ODD Lifeline® for parents of Oppositional, Defiant kids, and Life Over the Influence™, a program that helps families struggling with substance abuse issues (both programs are included in The Total Transformation® Online Package). Kimberly Abraham, LMSW, has worked with children and families for more than 25 years. She specializes in working with teens with behavioral disorders, and has also raised a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Marney Studaker-Cordner, LMSW, is the mother of four and has been a therapist for 15 years. She works with children and families and has in-depth training in the area of substance abuse. Kim and Marney are also the co-creators of their first children's book, Daisy: The True Story of an Amazing 3-Legged Chinchilla, which teaches the value of embracing differences and was the winner of the 2014 National Indie Excellence Children's Storybook Cover Design Award.

Comments (137)
  • Pearl Garcia
    Much needed Article. Beautifully Written 😊
  • Soliver0102
    Hi, I have two kids, my son is 19, my daughter 18, and my ex husband and I are supposed to be sharing 50/50, custody, well a couple years ago I had a boyfriend my daughter did t care for and she started not coming to my house for visitsMore as much, move ward to current times, she is a senior and she hasn't hardly spoken to me she barely responds to my text messages, never visits, I am not longer with that boyfriend and she still wants nothing to do with me, her dad remarried and I am not sure if he or his wife have told my daughter something about me to make her upset , I am not sure but I am very frustrated, I have asked her even to go to just dinner her and I, I have tried all angels, I have cried, I have gotten angry, because it's her senior year and she keeps me totally out of the loop, not only does it make me look bad but it hurts my feelings, I have always been very close with my kids as I was a single mom for the last 10 years, my son text me comes and visits, etc I understand that they have friends and age has her first boyfriend and works alot and goes to school and I try to remind myself I wasn't hanging out with my mom at that age really either but the fact she won't even say i kove you back at night when i text them goodnight, just breaks my heart i feel like she wouldn't even care to know if I am doing okay even, I have had some recent health issues and yet she doesn't even act as if i exist, her step mom doesn't speak to me at all and she doesn't care for me and neither , I as for her since her and my ex husband had an affair, but yet i feel like i have been made out go be the bad guy do to the fact never remarried and focused mainly on my kids but I have always felt to be out to be the parent, with not as much money since i only have income snd dad has a bigger house this and that and my kids arent really materialistic like that but my gut tells me him or her has said something to make my daughter just decide to do this. I dunno any suggestions would be great.. Thank you so much
  • Don't even know anymore
    I have an 11 year old daughter who seems to think and act a little older than she is. She uses foul language and is stuck in her computer and phone. She keeps herself locked in her room, and I have tried everything from talking to her, taking her (ifMore she even comes) to do something or to eat just her and me, but nothing no matter what helps... 2nd week of school she got caught with a vape at school and got sent to alternative school for 10 days and now she is already behind at school and seems she is just getting more behind.. I'm lost and don't know what to do.. I feel like she is going down the wrong path.. especially the way things are going.. I'm not a bad parent, I know that, but maybe I didn't set enough rules when she was younger bc things seemed to be going good, until we moved, at first she was going to church and involved and then out of nowhere she did a complete turn around and I feel like I've lost my little girl.. any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      Thank you for reaching out to us for support. The pre-teen years can be especially challenging as kids start to individuate and push back against limits. I can hear how frustrating and upsetting your child's behaviors are. I often recommend making a prioritized list of all the behaviors you are dealing with, and then focusing on just 1-2 of the most disruptive behaviors at a time. This allows you to be consistent with limit setting and accountability, without becoming overwhelmed. For more helpful tools, please check out this article: How to Create a Culture of Accountability in Your Home (https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-create-a-culture-of-accountability-in-your-home/).

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

  • Martin
    My eldest16 year old of 3 sons who appears to get over anxious over lifes responsibility 2 years ago dug his heels in refusing to go to school without verbal notice retires to his bed sheet over his head not responding to any reason nor expaining why he will notMore go to school or attend a piano lesson. I have given opportunities to cease lessons but not taken. My partner tends to trigger non communcation behavior from him. Its over 2 years he has had 2 NHS counselling sessions non managed to get any thing tangable out of him. Yes he has ODD but non physical. Orginally said he was thinking about suicide but apparently not now. He has achieved control but does not realise what damage he his doing to himself doing nothing as nothing achieves nothing positive. Any suggestions? Now on medication for anxiety.
  • Melissa
    Hi there! Reading these articles on parenting a child with ODD has been comforting. My son is in elementary school and struggled greatly at first but succeeded after we put plans/expectations in place. However, he struggles at home still even after a successful day at school. He will come homeMore and anything will set him off- from not getting to listen to a song in the car to having to leave a place. Often times, he attempts to run away in parking lots (when on an outing)and has attempted to break his windows when at home. I have another child and it makes it miserable for her a lot when any outing results in an explosion. What tips do you recommend for diffusing a situation when in public?
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach
      Thank you for reaching out. James Lehman wrote an excellent article on that topic you may find helpful: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/acting-out-in-public-is-your-childs-behavior-holding-you-hostage/. Thanks for sharing your story. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going.
  • Tanje Jenkins
    I have a soon to be 17-year-old son in the next few months, my son is a 340lbs standing at 6'4 kid, I say he his size because he a big dude, he punches, kicks, throw any and everything. My son has ODD, he has been taking my car ofMore lately, On Saturday, we were taking groceries out of the car when I handed my son the keys to lock up the car, when I looked through the window he was gone, he has been gone going on three days. I'm upset, I told him if this happened again I would call the police and get an emergency hold when he returned back if and when, I really don't know what to do. I'm trying to figure out any suggestions.
  • Helpless
    I have TWO teenage sons one 14 one 13 who both have ODD. My 14 yr old also has ADHD and refuses to take medication. Both of them are now in a school for troubled kids, my 14 yr old has a restraining order on him. It's like they feedMore off each other most of the time. I'm a single mom of 3 and their dad walked out completely 3 years ago, since then my oldest has gotten worse. They have been in counseling for years but refuse to talk and open up. They fight with me on everything and have even threatened me. Both are my size and its physically impossible for me to handle them. My fear is for my daughter she is only 10 and is the subject of my eldest attacks verbally at this point. Police do nothing, they broke into a school and got nothing from it. They have even said the police won't do anything and sadly they are right. All the police do is talk to them. They are in fights all the time, detentions, suspensions , it doesn't phase them. I feel helpless and at a loss. They know what I expect, the only consequences I have are to take things away from them ie their game system and phone, and then they just leave the house without permission. My daughters friends aren't allowed over because of her brothers.
  • KMW
    I would like to answer SGL. We are raising our grandson(12 tomorrow) who has ODD. I have been through it all. And with a daughter who is a drug addict (his mom) and an ODD child, I am, in the eyes of many , at the bottom of the heapMore in terms of parenting. Having raised 4 others who are fine doesn't seem to matter. It's a funny thing, they are given all the credit for turning out fine, while I am given all the credit for the 2 with problems. There is a whole mainstream approach to dealing with 'problem' children. We try these methods for years, and in fact keep on even after we see they do not work. But when someone like James Lehman comes along and says "wait a minute- there's a different approach that is not mainstream but works", we always expect that the alternative approach should work in a week or 2. I have been using the Empowering Parents approach since Feb, 2018. It has taken me a long time because it entails a process of changing oneself. but guess what? it is bearing wonderful fruit . My grandson still has fits, but much less violently, and we do the Alternative Response, sometimes several times a day. I have changed to the point at which I am able to respond to his behavior unemotionally and I think that's the key! Please do not discard your son. The Total Transformation is not a pill or a pose that you take once and 'cure' someone else. It is a complete change of being, and therefor acting, which is life-long. It will even have good effects on one's marriage- please try it. Even if it takes a few years.
  • Andrew Stuart
    My background is in Wilderness-Adventure Therapy & also Youth & Community Development(having worked with young people for nearly 4 decades). Having just read through 'all' of these parent's comments - I am gobsmacked and I feel absolutely overwhelmed. Having 'lived' a similar nightmare myself (10 years) with a stepson, IMore can completely relate to many of these parents' desperate comments. I notice that many of the "Parenting Help" professionals out there (including book authors) and even those that do the guest speaker TALKS and Workshops, that many of these professionals avoid or even at worst, only ever slightly mention this simple fact. That, believe it or not, sociopaths and also psychopaths were "once upon a time" young people. The fact that professionals simply cannot DIAGNOSE a minor with a psychological/personality disorder (until they are an adult), does not preclude that this individual displayed ALL of these same traits when they were younger, continuing on into adult life. Continuing on along their same destructive path. Because they simply DO NOT CARE, about what others think about them (or their behaviours) and how they affect other people around them. It's ALL about themselves. I have worked with fledgling psychopaths in the past - and NOTHING anybody did to support/help them worked. Why? Because these individuals simply DO NOT want to change. Consider 'where' your own child is currently at. Then consider your own options for better self-care, self-protection and also in some cases, your own self-defense. In some cases, parents have HAD to let then go! Some individuals I know - have then had to re-locate the remaining family members - to escape!
  • SGL

    I feel sorry for all these parents looking for a solution. There might simply not be one. We've tried absolutely everything - setting expectations, giving rewards and consequences, accepting his personality, encouraging anything that remotely looks like a path forward... Doesn't matter. He's now 16. The only things coming out of his mouth are lies, insults, and attempts at manipulation. He stopped going to school at 14 and got violent. We got child services involved. Judges. Police. Therapists. Counselors. Psychiatrists.

    He went to a boarding school for trouble kids for a year, then child services placed him back in the home. He started skipping school after 60 days, finally dropped out once he reached 16 (which is legal in our state). We've tried to help him get a job. They're not good enough for him. Placed him in a program to get a GED where he was actually PAID $ 600 / mo to go to class. He stopped going after 1 week. Took everything away from him - he slept on the couch 16 hours per day. I was so mad I threatened to smack him - since then he keeps taunting me with a smile on his face so he can file charges and get me locked up (I've never raised a hand).

    Now we're counting the days until his 18th b-day. It's been hell since he was 2. I want him out of lives and never want to see or hear from him again. Some human beings are simply to be avoided. He might very well become one of those awful people committing heinous crimes in a few years, and people will look at him wondering 'what if that was my kid'? Well, here we are. This monster needs to be avoided. Anyone getting close to him will be used, hurt, and thrown away like garbage once he got what he wanted. Some people are born evil, and there is absolutely NOTHING you can do as a parent.

    • Dee
      Thank you for sharing so much its so hard I read your story twice and cried my son is 6yrs old I love him so much his my baby boy the doctors told I couldn't have a child ,my son has anger and hits and the name calling ,iam soMore scared everyday he may not grow out of this and then what .but reading your story I nolonger feel alone and at fault I can just take day by day .But that you again for sharing a story no one seems to talk about .
  • Bill W

    My 6"1' 340 pound 17 yr old son has DDMD and extreme anxiety. He refuses to go to school several days every week and is currently failing in his Senior year. I have done everything possible to help him with his school work but he just refuses to get it done. I am afraid he is going to fail even though he promises he will graduate. My wife and I have given him all the drs and all the therapist but nothing seems to work! does anyone understand how scary a 340 pound kid is when he is throwing a temper tantrum because he is not getting what he wants?? It is so very scary!!!

    My son loves to argue and fight with his mother about everything which in turn is affecting our relationship. I hate to say it but he will soon turn 18 and although he doesn't have a job we just want him to move out! My problem of course is I am afraid he will be looking for me to give him money all the time to survive outside our home where we have tried to give him everything! some of these posts I would swear everyone is talking about my son and I am reading everything wishing to find the answers to why things are the way they are with him! Thank you!

  • Caroline
    Came across your website, glad to find some helpful information. I have a 16 yr old daughter who practical ly refuses to do her school work..homework etc..unless I sit down with her. She's already been through one court situation last year for missing school. Is there anything IMore can do legally that will make her responsible for her own actions so I will not be held accountable legally. As stated earlier she is 16 and will be 17 in 5 months. We live in Ohio. Ready to let her venture on her road less traveled!!
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      Thank you for your kind words about our site, and we’re glad that you’re here! We hear from many parents who are struggling with similar issues with their child’s refusal to attend school or do homework, so you are not alone in this experience. Something which manyMore parents find useful in this situation is to create a calendar, log or other form of written document which describes your attempts to assist your daughter in meeting her responsibilities. In this way, if you are brought to court as a result of your daughter’s choices, you can demonstrate those efforts to hold your daughter accountable. For more information about your legal rights and responsibilities, it might be helpful to consult with a lawyer in your area who can answer specific questions for you. If you are not currently working with anyone, you might try contacting the 211 Helpline at 1-80-273-6222. 211 is a service which connects people with resources in their community. Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.
  • Sudip Paul
    I want to have more in depth information about managing ODD child.
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      Thank you for your request. Parenting a child with ODD can be quite challenging at times, and getting support and information can help to make it more manageable. I encourage you to check out our selection of articles on ODD, available by clicking HERE. You mightMore find this one helpful to read next: Understanding Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Please let us know if you have any additional questions. Take care.
  • Krista25

    I have a 17 yr old son who lives with my sister. He moved out 9 months ago because he put his hands on me while I was arguing with his sister. He has refused to go to school since freshman year. He did have a job though; until last summer. My sister gave him the okay to quit the job so he could go boating with their family. He absolutely refuses to apply for jobs. He has my sister that puts a roof over his head, food 50% of the time; and his sister pays his cell phone bill. 

    I have a lot of anger; and when I'm around him I bring up; "why don't you apply for jobs." "Why do you think it's okay to live like this?" All with answers of, I don't know. It's so hard for me to even be around my own son. I feel like if I am around him and acting like everything okay; that tells him I accept his lifestyle and attitude. I don't accept it. I don't approve. 

    When I gave up the power struggle of him going to school I did feel a weight lifted. He is on his own journey. But...as he gets older and closer to 18 I know it's my fear of his future that makes me angry. I don't know how to show him love without him taking it as weakness and that I accept his lifestyle. I really struggle when I'm around him; being the true "real," person I am or this fake everything is fine person. Its not in my personality to act like everything is fine when it's not. 

    You say in these articles, if they don't follow the house rules there are consequences. Well, my child's consequence was eventually he could not live in my home. So, he has the ultimate consequence. What now? I still love him. I still want him to succeed. How am I suppose to act or feel?

  • Tryingto
    my son is 13 diagnosed with adhd and ood, he is frequently off task at school, is failing or barely passing most classes, he has a therapist and a psychologist, however the best the school will do is give him a BIP, he is now in an alternative school forMore the 2nd time within a year, his teacher's pretty much blow him off, if he comes unfocused, he can be disrespectful to nearly every adult he can find, I have no idea why , he is currently on focalin 10mg, only for 2 weeks now, not sure if it hasn't kicked in, or what to think , I am so numb, it's been suggested he is depressed, however how do i determine, he has lost his father, grandfather 2 months apart, they both were very active in his life, I do not know where to turn at this point,
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Tryingto I’m so sorry to hear about the challenges you are facing with your son’s behavior, as well as the recent losses he has suffered.  It’s not uncommon for grief and defiance to look very similar in kids and teens, and I hear your concern that he might be depressedMore in addition to his other diagnoses.  At this point, it could be helpful to check in with his therapist and/or doctor to see if this might be a contributing factor to his behavior at school.  Please be sure to check in and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.
  • Monera

    I think it's so true that it is often about the power struggle than the actual behavior after a while. Sometimes, people will do things that you want them to do if it's on their own terms, like they don't feel forced. I'll give a personal example: Once, I wanted to surprise my mom with a birthday cake for her birthday as a gift. However, she told me to make one a day before. Now, I was willing to give up my Friday night to make that cake for her intrinsically, but the minute she told me to, I resented it greatly. The point of it was that when I wanted to do it, it was on my own terms, something I chose to do, but when I had to do it, it only bred great resentment, like she had a lot of nerve demanding I give up my free time for her. Ultimately, I made the cake, but more out of a guilt trip than my own intrinsic desire. When kids, or anyone for that matter, feels they have to do something, it often is looked upon as a chore rather than a pleasure. Think of why we ask for things, as oppose to demand them. Which sounds better, "Can you please go to the store?" or "Go to the store!"?  Which question would you most likely say "yes" to? I feel may parents think that kids should be servile to them, at the total mercy of their will, and are threatened by anything but raising their kids to be "yes-men". Many don't realize that the purpose of setting rules and limits is for the child's benefit, and not their ego. Once ego gets in the way, all bets are off, and the relationship is merely about who's more powerful. I try to avoid power struggles, as they dredge up some of the ugliest feelings I have, but it's so easy to catch oneself slipping into one, if only in my own mind rather than outwardly, since no one wants to feel servile and subjugated. Kids are as human with human wills and motives as anyone. Sure, they're not as mature, but that doesn't invalidate their feelings and motives. Kids ARE entitled to their own interests and feelings as adults. You may not be able to give your kids full adult autonomy, but a little autonomy goes a long way,-believe me.

    In the example about not going to school, my first question is why doesn't she want to go to school? Is she being bullied? Is there a conflict with teachers? Is she afraid of bad grades/ peer pressure/drama...? Most kids don't hate school for no reason whatsoever. Maybe they're not engaged enough, find it boring, or are being bullied. What if it was something much more serious? (Sexual abuse, anyone?) The point is, the original motive was probably not just to spite mom and dad, but it may become partly once a power struggle ensues.  When you merely bark orders, you close off a door to more honest and open communication. Why not think of ways to make school better? Maybe even change schools, or find a different way to get one's education. Often, there are more solutions than meet the eye. It's not just "my way or the highway". Try to dig a little deeper into why your kid may refuse to do things. If you don't get as far as you like, it still sends the message that the parent is truly listening, and not just concerned with their own interests/convenience. In my mind, a power struggle can signal that the kid's behavior, and by extension, their problems are merely inconvenient to the parent, and that's the only reason why the parent wants them stopped, as opposed to the child's best interests. Think of it this way, are you putting your foot down for you, or for them? Maybe it's time to rethink YOUR priorities...

  • Heartbrokem

    Hi,I'm a single parent,of ,an adopted son age 5,he's my world ,but I'm not his I have trouble with daycares because he is so defiant, he wont follow the rules, runs off when told it's time to go in from play,he tells me no,he hits me when I'm not giving him attention.if i tell him to come here he laughs and spits at me and runs off ,he thinks hed being funny, i try to teach him to us a pencil and he throws it.I'm lost and I have yo say I have spanked him,I cryed

    Don't know what to do

    Signed at wire end

    • Dee
      I would like to say you sound like a wonderful mom and J feel the same sometimes lost alone at fault ,But all we can do as moms is love our boys try our hardest to bring them up to be young men .I got my son a big brotherMore at the ymc maybe try that sometimes someone on the outside can help a little .Good luck .
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Heartbrokem It can be very frustrating when you have a young child who is defiant and aggressive.  We hear from many parents who describe similar behaviors and emotions, so you are not alone in experiencing this.  Although I recognize how much your son’s behavior is affecting you emotionally, I encourageMore you to do your best not to take his actions personally.  Chances are that it’s not a reflection of how he feels about you, but rather about his poor problem-solving skills.  You may find some helpful information on addressing this behavior in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/hitting-biting-and-kicking-how-to-stop-aggressive-behavior-in-young-children/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/defiant-young-children-and-toddlers-5-things-not-to-do/.  Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.
  • Frustratedmom74
    Okay so what is a parent to do then when their five year old refuses to get dressed and go to daycare when the parent has to go to work? As a single parent who doesn't receive child support I cannot afford to lose my job simply because said childMore doesn't like the only childcare center open the hours I have to work (weekends and swing shifts). I also cannot leave the child to their own devices in such a situation. For some of us parenting a defiant child seems like a losing battle as we get more and more exhausted trying to cope with the situation. Some days I just dream of being able to afford military school.
    • hirskdubbi
      I see alot of stories but I'm trying to find the damn answer on how I take my defiant teen to court. Does anyone hear me!!!!!!!
      • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
        hirskdubbi I hear your frustration with your teen’s behavior, and I’m glad that you’re here seeking some answers and support.  If your teen is breaking the law, you might consider 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 needed.  Another option which is available in manyMore communities is a program often called PINS/CHINS (Person/Child in need of services) or something along those lines.  In these programs, you can petition the juvenile court to provide an additional level of accountability if your teen is refusing to follow your rules and/or is engaging in unsafe activities.  For more about this, you can contact your local clerk of courts for information on whether this is an option for you in your community.  I wish you and your family all the best moving forward.  Take care.
  • Cshaw
    I don't know the solution but I can understand. I live through this every day.
  • jesssmart877
    My both kids are teens. I was obliged to install a parental control software on their laptops. The Internet can be a very dangerous place and usage of a parental monitoring soft has become a must to block some dangerous sites and protect kids from online bullying.
  • jimi_mcfarlin
    My 17 yr old son has PTSD and extreme anxiety. He was refusing to go to school but soon realized that he may want fix that. A exgirlfriend is expecting a child on December 22 of this year and we aren't sure yet if the baby is his. He isolatesMore in his room everyday and refuses to help around the house by having nervous breakdowns and locking his self in his room. I put him in therapy over three years ago but he barely goes. I've taken all game consoles away and his phone but he finds them and takes them back. He picks on his 14yr old brother to the point that he cries and yells me telling me to put his older brother in a asylum. Just recently 17yr old came to me and said I'm moving out when I'm 18 so I have to deal with your emotional bullshit. I cry myself to sleep as this scares me because I have a 21yr old that has the same issues and is homeless. My heart wrenches so bad that it has effected my health, my emotional health and physical health. Sometimes he can be sweet and caring but when I ask him to do anything he freaks out. On Thanksgiving we went to my partners mother's house for dinner and I asked him to help in the kitchen. He quickly said, ask my little brother he's not doing anything. Then picked a fight with him and took off for an hour. He came back and my mother in-law who is in her sixties raised her voice to him to get up and help. He did but with a nasty attitude. Today I got a call from my partner telling me that if he was going to behave the same way he did on Thanksgiving he couldn't come for Xmas. I seeked advice from a friend of mine and she told me to sit and talk to him that if he wants to go he has to be willing to obey when asked to do something and not fight with his brother. He diverted the conversation and trailed off to his room. My son used to be a straight A student with a heart of gold, the guy that helped everyone and made you smile. I truly feel torn between my child and family. I just don't know what to do. I can't live with myself thinking I failed two kids. I only have two more chances to get this right. Here's the kicker, I was abused severely growing up and was an addict. I have been clean for eight and a half years and go to college full time. I also have a 6yr old daughter from a previous relationship and fear she's going to be traumatized from this chaos. I've promised myself to never be anything like my mother and I devote my entire sober life to my kids. I don't want to lose my son, without him I would die. I'm so afraid that I'm sending a message that he's not as important as the others or my partner. I've been living apart from my partner for six months as she is learning to be a parent to her 15mth old son in a program. So I've given plenty of attention and time and effort to my son but it doesn't seem to be working. I'm really at my wit's end. Please please help
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      jimi_mcfarlin I hear how much you are struggling right now with your son’s behavior, and I’m glad that you are reaching out for support both here and in your community.  I want to point out that https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/parenting-truth-you-are-not-to-blame-for-your-childs-behavior/.  While it is upsetting when our kids struggle, their choices are their own,More and this is even more true when our kids become young adults.  I’m sorry that your 17 year old son is not willing to regularly engage in the therapy sessions you have set up for him.  I’m wondering if you have any kind of support in place for yourself right now?  I hear how much this is upsetting you and affecting your other relationships, and it could be beneficial to use some local resources, such as a counselor or a support group, to help you get through this time.  If you are not currently working with anyone, try contacting the http://www.211.org at 1-800-273-6222.  211 is a service which connects people with resources available in their community.  I recognize how challenging this must be for you, and I wish you all the best moving forward.  Take care.
  • hope1992faith
    My husbands little sister just turned 17 and she is suppost to graduate this year... she is very smart and was also a very holy child and teen... but now she has got a job at sonic and she has started doing drugs and never comes home nor will sheMore go to school... she wants to drop out... and there mother said she would sign for her to... my husband is so sad and wants to help but we dont know what we can do... we hate to see her drop out of school when she is so smart and only has such a short time left... we want her to not work and finish school and stay with us if thats what would b best... but we dont want no conflict with there mother...we want to help this situation but dont know what route to take... my husband and his mother have never had a conflict before and dont argue... nor have we said anything yet... because we dont know the best way to approch the problem... any advice or help would b greatly appreciated...
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      hope1992faith We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and sharing your story.  I hear how concerned you are about your husband’s younger sister. Because we are a website aimed at helping people become more effective parents, we are limited in the advice and suggestions we can give to thoseMore outside of a direct parenting role. It may be helpful to look into local resources to help you develop a plan for addressing your particular issues. The http://www.211.org 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, kinship 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.
  • Jailtime
    Control your kids or you are facing jail time. Yes that's right. I have a 14 year old in the 10th grade. She takes all advanced placement classes and use to love school. Beginning of this year she became distant and sluggish. Her love for schoolMore disappeared. I had no form of transportation so she repeatly missed the bus. Last July I was hauled off to jail for 8 hours. I hung out with a drug addict who threatened to cut some one over 15 dollars. Another questioning what happens in the back. Here I am a licensed nurse locked up because the school can't protect my kid. Granted she successfully passed all classes but that doesn't matter. Last Monday I went to court. I am facing one month jail time for each day missed. 43 months or I have to pay a 4300 dollar fine. My 14 year old was subpoenaed to testify against me. I have to tell you. I sat in court and one man was charged with spousal abuse and drunk driving with his small children in the car. He gets 24 months probation. We gave no right anymore as parents to protect our kids from bullies. We have no right period. Our main job is to make sure we satisfy the state. Who cares about our kids.
  • Cshaw
    My daughter is so angry and defiant and has explosive fits and rages that sometimes think we should take her to the ER. I did everything right, or so I believed but she fights constantly with me every day, her mother, main and only care giver, Carolyn. We are losingMore our minds and can't believe any one understands. My mom says we should be able to control her, but absolutely NOTHING works. Please help!
    • PaulNewsham
      Cshaw my son is the same,ive got the same problem!
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Cshaw I hear you.  It can be very challenging to feel powerless in the face of your child’s explosive behavior and rage.  You are not alone in experiencing this.  If you are concerned for your daughter’s safety, or your own, in the midst of one of these outbursts, it canMore be useful to use local supports to help everyone stay safe.  If you are not currently working with anyone, try contacting the http://www.211.org at 1-800-273-6222.  211 is a service which connects people with resources available in their community, such as counselors, support groups, crisis response services and others.  I recognize how difficult this must be for you, and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward.  Take care.
  • MartinaDonnelly
    My 17 yr old daughter drives me crazy. I have no patience. I also have 6&4 yr old girls. The 17 yr old constantly picks on them to the point of crying sometimes. She only occasionally babysits them cuz she is so mean. She makes her self food and won'tMore share with them or make them any. If I'm gone for an hr or so I come home to a trashed house from the little ones. Yes it's their fault but she doesn't check them. When they make messes, like getting chocolate syrup all over their carpet in their room, she leaves it for me to find or she'll hid it under a towel. Of course when I find it I instantly go mad. And start yelling asking why I have go over the same thing time and time again. I ask her sometimes to help load or unload the dishwasher. Or do HER wash and empty the garbage. And it's like I asked her to cut her arm off. She stays in her room on her phone all the time. She still pees the bed at times saying she sleeps hard. She leaves pads and tampons all over her room. Never washing out stained undies or clothes. She's become sexually active. And went in the pill. She says she takes it every night but I'm not 100% . She's very immature for her age. We barely talk and when we do its usually me yelling at her. We've had issues since she was younger I just can't deal with it any more. I've gone to the dr to get medicine cuz I'm at wit's end. I flip out at every little thing. And the two younger ones don't help the mix. I'm 38 and just have no patience for anything. My husband has alot of health issues so at times can't help as much with the kids. Plus I work full time in health care and do over time.
  • Lee Alexander
    I'm completely frustrated with my 17 1/2 year old daughter.  She graduated early so she's not in school anymore and she had a job but her hours were cut. Now she's leaving whenever she wants, she sneaks out at night, she has snuck a guy in through her window toMore spend the night. Twice over the last 4 days she has left while I wasn't home and come home drunk. She pays for her own phone and that's the only thing that's important to her. She doesn't care about anything else, just going with her friends. I have tried explaining the house rules and expectations which aren't many. No guys in the house when I'm gone or at night. No drinking, No drugs, No just leaving. She's on a very destructive path and it scares me. I know when she's 18 she can go and I am ready to let her go even if she's going to be making crummy decisions. However at 17 1/2 not yet.  What do I do?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      Lee Alexander 

      We hear from many https://www.empoweringparents.com/blog/when-your-teen-says-im-almost-18-you-cant-tell-me-what-to-do/ who describe similar struggles, so you are not alone.As pointed out in the article above, it tends

      to be most effective if you focus on your own actions and responses, since this

      is where you have the most control.I

      hear your limitations around what you are able to use for consequences, since

      your daughter pays for her own phone and ultimately, you cannot stop her from

      leaving or sneaking people in through her window.At this point, you might consider looking at

      what https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/parenting-odd-children-and-teens-how-to-make-consequences-work/ you might be able to use.For example, you could https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-talk-to-police-when-your-child-is-physically-abusive/ during a calm time to see if they might be able to support you

      if your daughter comes home intoxicated or brings people home without your

      permission.I recognize how challenging

      this must be for you right now, and I wish you all the best moving forward.Take care.

  • Lost and frustrated mom
    I need help. I do not allow my child 11year old daughter to have a boyfriend. I have pleaded and begged for her to end this and yet she has only lied about it being over. I am at my wits end and do not know what to do withMore her. Someone have any suggestions?
    • Tonia O

      I have a 19 year old daughter has failed her senior year twice. Her reason was because she didnt want to leave her friends. Side note: my daughter is a major whiner and fusses to get what she wants when she wants, lies and twist things to fit her needs. Always puts herself first. Loves to cause fist fight with her older sister. Smh! These days are horrible. No peace!

      My husband and I are going NUTS! I just can't any more. I'm done trying to lay down rules to her. She throws up in my face all the time that she is 19 and capable of making her own decisions. But let someone ruffle her feathers and she comes crying to me wanting me to fix the problem. And I'm serious real tears. NO! I DONT FIX HER PROBLEMS! She is a hot mess. She cares about nothing but that damn phone and her friends. She trying to act like a bad ass and she is gonna keep that mess up and run into the right person some day and they are gonna her her out with that nasty attitude.

      Question :

      House rules....if I dont know them you can't spend the night. (She has had a horrible choice of friends in the past. She is a follower and not a leader. She snuck boys over and snuck out. Tonight I told her have your friend over here cause we arent comfortable with not knowing who your staying with or where your gonna be.

      She swiftly states I'm 19! And out the door she went.

      I'm sick of this! She graduates in June. I'm sick of her talking advantage of me. I had to quit my job and stay at home because she wouldn't get up and go to school. Both my husband and I left before 5am. The school would call me and tell me she didnt show up again. I would have to drive 45 minutes one way to wake her up make her shower take her to school listen to the fussing like I did something wrong.

      Now every morning I wake her up 3 or 4 times. Force her out the door and she sits on the porch purposely miss the bus and I have to take her to school anyways.

      This person is out of control. She never on time for her job. She just doesn't Care. But when it comes to her friends or something she wants to do....WATCH OUT!

      HELP ME!

      • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
        I’m so sorry to hear about the challenges you are facing with your daughter right now, and I’m glad that you’re here reaching out for support. Your daughter is correct that she is an adult, and so has the right to make her own decisions. With that freedom,More of course, also comes the responsibility to face the consequences of those choices. As Debbie Pincus points out in her article, Adult Children Living at Home? How to Manage without Going Crazy, when your child becomes an adult, your role as a parent changes from a manager to a consultant. In other words, it’s not about trying to “make” your daughter comply with your rules, but more about figuring out your own boundaries and how you will respond to her choices. You might also find it helpful to write up a living agreement with her, which outlines your expectations for her behavior and how she will be held accountable if she’s not following through. I recognize what a tough situation this must be for you right now, and I hope that you will write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      Lost and frustrated mom 

      I hear you.It can be so difficult

      when you have been clear about your rules and expectations with your daughter,

      yet she lies and continues to date.For

      many kids your daughter’s age, forbidding them to do something usually makes the

      desire to do so even stronger, so what you are seeing with your daughter is

      actually pretty common.This doesn’t

      mean that you cannot set limits, though.For example, instead of telling her that she cannot have a boyfriend, it

      might be more effective to limit the amount of time they are able to spend

      one-on-one with each other, and to require supervision when they are spending

      time together.You can find more ideas

      in our article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/i-caught-my-child-lying-how-to-manage-sneaky-behavior-in-kids/.Please be sure to write back and let us know

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

  • Exhausted mum
    My 14 year old daughter is refusing to attend school. There has been bullying and exclusion toward her in the past. She has friends at school but calls them pretend friends, because she doesn't feel that they are trustworthy. Doesn't really know where she stands. She is lacking selfMore confidence. This has been going on for months-maybe attending 1 day per week. School hasn't done much. They know it's happening. Have tried to get her to doctor but she is refusing this also. And now not really talking to me. I can't physically get her to do anything. I need help. I have explained the consequences of not going to school and she doesn't seem to care (she says) I am so embarrassed and I feel helpless. I have left information for her to talk online with counselling services. What can I do? I am exhausted.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      Exhausted mum 

      I hear you.It can be so challenging

      when you see your child struggling socially, and not meeting her

      responsibilities.Unfortunately, exclusion,

      bullying and other peer relationship issues are pretty common among kids your

      daughter’s age.While you cannot “fix”

      this for your daughter, you might find some helpful tips in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-cool-kids-how-to-help-your-child-or-teen-deal-with-peer-pressure-exclusion-and-cliques/.In addition, I’m glad

      that you have been working with the school to address your daughter’s lack of

      attendance, as well as attempting to work with other resources like her doctor

      and counseling.Our article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/i-hate-school-what-can-i-do-when-my-child-refuses-to-go-to-school/,

      outlines some additional steps you might find useful.Please be sure to write back and let us know

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

  • JasonFibish
    I can acknowledge that some people do have a chemical imbalance. I won't believe that a whole subset of society has a "disorder". We (my wife and I) are constantly told how lucky we are to have such a well behaved child. His behavior has absolutely nothing to do withMore luck. Luke, our soon to be 5 year old, does have his moments. I think the difference is that we don't look to place the blame on someone else or something else. We work to correct inappropriate behavior on the spot. There has NEVER been a "wait until your father/mother gets home/hears about this, we do not threaten to take action if a certain behavior happens, and Luke understands that our role as parents is to raise a hard working, law abiding, honest, respectful, God fearing man that will be able to take care of himself and a potential family of his own. Very little about this is easy. Luke was a month premature. He came home with us in a billyrubin (forgive spelling errors) blanket/light, which he had for his first 5-6 weeks, with instructions that he must stay under that light if he was to be healthy. You wouldn't think that would be terribly difficult, but when your son has colic for the first 6 months of his life, its just about unbearable not being able to comfort him. He also had lactose intolerance (he was good with allementum...which tastes like meat milk...and goats milk later on). As soon as his colic was gone, we began socialization. We felt that, like a puppy, the sooner he was exposed to the rest of the world, the sooner he would know how to behave, and we were right. We did get a lot of dirty looks as we refused to let anyone touch or hold him for several months until we and his ped. felt his immune system could handle it.......... On a side note, why does every old person feel it is their right to hold a strangers newborn or pinch their cheeks?.........Even early on, we maintained a schedule for Luke (growth spurts of course are handled differently...if your toddler/infant  is hungry or sleepy, then you fulfill those needs). Since about 13-15 months old, he has slept in his own room on his own bed. We used a balanced method of cry it out, definitely the hardest thing to do. Everyone wants to comfort their child when they are upset. We did it by going 1 minute crying, then 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes. This approach lasted 2-3 weeks, at which point he learned a very important lesson,....self comforting. We let him use a binky for a few months during this time. We stopped when we kept finding his binky on the floor (a few months later). From about 24-32 months (excluding growth spurts and allergies) Luke eats when we eat, and what we eat, which means we had to change what we ate. He was not introduced to processed foods until 3 y/o, and even now we try to limit them. He has yet to try/drink and kind of soda and does not have an option other then water after he brushes his teeth and/or 2 hours before bed (8pm). He now asks for water more then any other liquid because he understands the importance of eating/drinking right. There are always exceptions, but bed time is bed time. Wake up time is wake up time. He spends just as much time outside as most of us did as kids (our t.v. is not his baby sitter). We have watched/screened every show/series we allow him to watch. We have read to him everyday since a few months after conception (he has an amazing vocabulary). We have taught him that actions are a result of choices. YOU (Luke) can CHOOSE to obey and this happens, or you can choose not to obey, and something else will happen (we make it about choices instead of action/reaction). Luke understands that temper tantrums are not acceptable; sharing is good, stealing is not; your stuff stays in your room; dirty dished go in the sink, trash goes in the trash; shoes come off as soon as you enter a house; adults are addressed as Mr. or Mrs. first name if you know them, sir or ma'am if you don't; and most importantly, he knows that we will love him no matter what he says, does, or thinks, our love is unconditional. We are his parents, not random friends or bystanders and he will understand all about personal accountability, something this world has a hard time accepting.
    • Gigi
      Jason, I assume this is your 1st child. My eldest I was able to do exactly what you are saying, with my second it was a different story. The point is not 2 children can be brought the same way, for the simple reason that they are two different individuals.More And that what my 2 kids taught me. God bless your child.
    • Nickoid

      Jason Fibish, I have a child just like yours. He is 11 years old and always does as he is told and with very little fuss. When given responsibility he acts sensibly and regulates himself. We took the same approach as you, and taught him the importance of eating and drinking right, and brushing his teeth. And we provided consequences for his actions. He really is a model child. If he was our only child I would probably be smugly holding forth on parenting forums just like you are, convinced that his agreeable personality was the result of my excellent parenting choices. However I have another boy, raised the same way, who is defiant and has been difficult since the moment he came out of the womb. Now he's hit puberty and is absolutely unbearable. He does not give a fig for consequences and would rather suffer the most heinous consequences than do something he doesn't want to do (or stop doing something he does want to do).

      You are clearly convinced that nurture trumps nature. You are wrong. It's a mixture of both, and in my experience nature is a very powerful force. Not every child will respond to the same parenting techniques. You are simply lucky to have a child who is compliant by nature and who responds to your chosen parenting style. I wish you luck and hope that he remains that way.

      (This was my polite response - had I responded without having gone away and taken a few deep breaths the response would have been unprintable!).

    • Jocmom4
      JasonFibish I wonder why you find yourself on this site? It seems to be a strange choice for someone with such superior parenting skills. My four children have been raised by the same parents and one is very different, with extreme oppositional issues which are organic in nature. There isMore no amount of unconditional love, teachings about responsibility, or accountability that will make him behave like the others. So please, be informed before writing with such ignorance on a website geared towards empowering parents who are living with the daily anguish of raising a child with mental health issues.
    • Cshaw
      I love that you have a child that is controllable and MOLDABBLE but I hate to tell you that sometimes no matter what you do the result you achieve is unachievable.
    • jimi_mcfarlin
      I blame my choices earlier in my kids life, I never used during my pregnancies and definitely never during breast feeding. How do you fix what you did after you screwed them up? My six year old daughter is awesome and my fourteen year old son. I admire you parentsMore that have exceptional kids. It makes me feel awful though because apparently I'm doing something wrong. I set limits and give consequences for bad behaviors. Nothing works for him. He just tells me I can't wait to leave when I'm 18. It truly hurts. I even utilize big brothers/big sisters for my kids but my 17yr olds big brother had a stroke and can't hang out anymore. They can't find a match right now. Please someone help me! Blessings to you
    • Hineata

      JasonFibishI have three children, one now an adult at 20, two still in their teens. They were all, up to the age of thirteen, usually obedient,fairly happy, reasonably responsible and pretty much together kids. The oldest two still are, in spite of some serious medical challenges no. 2 faces. My youngest, a girl of fifteen, was once like your Luke too. Right now she varies between being sweet and loving,and acting like Satan on steroids. It is much too early for you to be claiming that your not-even-five year old will always remain a calm, obedient child. It may happen for you....we have certainly had very few issues with our eldest, a son.It may not, though - you may end up with a 'crazy man' for a while. 

      The one thing I did do 'right' was never claim that my children would always be angels. I hoped, prayed, and taught them as well as I knew how, and I continue to do that now. I still love my daughter, even in her most obnoxious moments. I trust you will do the same with your Luke, should he go off the path a bit down the track. A little humility in parenting goes along way.

      • Allyson
        Well said
    • Acampbell4785

      That is such a great story! I'm very happy for you that you have such an amazing little boy.

      Not all of us were so blessed with a child who just behaves so well.

      I don't blame anyone or anything EVER for my child's behavior but the fact is, not every child, no matter how good of an example you set, how young you start, what rules you set, how much tv you allow or don't, will behave they way you want and understand or even care about consequences or making "good" choices.

      I have a 10 yr old son who sounds much like your Luke, very well behaved and makes great choices. I also have an 8 yr old daughter that no matter what I do doesn't listen, talks back, is disrespectful, down right mean. I love both of my children and have raised them EXACTLY the same. So how is it that they are SO completely opposite???

      Because no matter how well you parent, some children are just different and not so easily controlled or molded into "perfect" little humans.

      I live in complete shame often wondering where I went wrong with her. Assuming I must have done something wrong for her to behave the way she does. But if I raised both of my children the same, why isn't my son so completely defiant? Why does he make such good choices? Why doesn't he disrespect me and other adults? Because they're different!!!

      So while I'm very happy for you, I would challenge your thought process everyday of the week to think that you're parenting is just that flawless and that's why you have such a well behaved child.

      You got lucky! Yes I'm sure your parenting helps, but if you get blessed with a spirited/colorful child, god help your parenting because no matter what you do, you will be singing a different tune!

      Maybe then you will understand what people mean by saying you got lucky!

      • AmyO
        Acampbell4785 Thank you. Your words to @http://www.livefyre.com/profile/114599331/ were so much kinder and gentler than my response would have been. Parents with more than one child, especially when they have an easy child and at least one spirited child, understand that we really have very little control over the choices ourMore children make. We can really only control our own behavior including our reactions to the children's choices. Let go of your shame and stand tall knowing you are being the best parent you can be, regardless of your child's level of spirit/color!
    • Helena

      JasonFibish  So you only have ONE child and you are already so confident

      that his being well-behaved is due to your good parenting, nothing to do with

      luck? LOL. I would suggest you to be a little bit more humble.

      • Nickoid

        What also irks me about Jason Fibish's comment is that he tells us how he teaches his kid that stealing is wrong, that you should be respectful to people, and that eating/drinking properly is good for you.

        As if parents who are having trouble with their kids have been saying "Stealing is fine, son - finders keepers!", "Don't bother being polite to your elders - it's a waste of time" and "Mars Bars and Coca Cola makes a healthy breakfast" :)

    • DanielleBurk1
      Amen! You hit the nail on the head with the "you make your own choices" comment! I wish more people thought this way! I too have a very well behaved responsible teenager. It's exhausting at times to be a good parent but it is SO worth it!
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

    Looking for options 

    I’m so sorry to hear about the challenges you are facing with your 7 year

    old.It’s not uncommon for kids to act

    one way at home, and another way at school.This is actually a good sign, as it shows you that he has the skills to

    manage his behavior appropriately, as pointed out in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/angel-child-or-devil-child-when-kids-save-their-bad-behavior-for-you/.I also hear your concern with his statements

    about self-harm.I encourage you to

    discuss these statements with his therapist, and develop a plan to keep him

    safe.I recognize how difficult this

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

    forward.Take care.

  • Concerned Also
    My 14 year old son was a bit of a problem before his mother and I split. Now he is almost completely uncontrollable especially when he is with his mother. I come to her aid occasionally which his psychologist says could be a way of driving he and his motherMore together. When he is with her he almost completely refuses to take direction. When this happens there is conflict which ends in both of them shouting and she reports that he pushes her or worse. In the end she feels she has no option but to give up and let him do what he wants. This is clearly not acceptable. Because the nature of our relationship, she is unlikely to take my advice. In the past, she has defined this as me trying to control her behavior, just as she/I? are trying to control our son's behavior. Our other kids did not display this behavior nearly as much (just a few things but no abject refusal). This son was allowed to get away with behavior which the others weren't largely I think because he was the youngest and because of the deteriorating relationship of his parents. He hates school and school work, is easily distracted, gets angry easily and has a outlook on life that won't work in the future; i.e. "I don't have to concentrate or work for anything because everything will be alright and I'll get what I want if I could work out what I want." When we try to ask him questions rather than tell him what to do his favorite responses are "I don't know" and "I don't care". When he is with me I am reasonably skilled at allowing him to make choices which benefit both of us but it is not perfect and it is not easy. He does know how to push his parents until they explode which I suppose satisfies some need for control or remorse or whatever.
    • Cjlov
      My son was like that. You didn't say if he's been tested for a mental health problem or if he's into drugs? Mine got into drugs bad at that age well started at 13 but it got progressively worse at 14. These kids usually start to alienate themselves and pickMore friends who are similar. I've been through hell and back with him and got him all kinds of help I could fill a sheet of paper with. He's 16 now and recently stopped taking his medicine, saying he didn't need them. He's an addict so what ever he does is 10 fold. Currently that it's a weed addiction that is taking all his motivation away. his brain is just programmed for weed that he is struggling to make it through the school day. Like this article states, I can't control him and I've realized that. If I do it becomes a power struggle and that leads to arguing, calling the police and him running away (and that's scary for any parents). As we've had some bad situations there already. Parents cannot beat kids into submission as some unaware parents tend to believe. Each kid has their own personality, their own defective genes we gave them, and hormones to really shake up the mix. I've just found it helps to speak to them non harshly, and to try to keep the communication open so maybe they will let us in more to allow us to help them. Many just want a soft place to fall and they don't even understand what's happening in their head. Yelling just makes everyone more angry and resentful. But it is foremost important to find the main underlying cause, as mine was determined to be bipolar and major depression issues. He uses pot to improve his mood but that's just not a life to not remember. Just pray, assist and give an enormous amount of love (they tend to need the most).
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

    @my son  

    I hear how worried you are about your son, and I’m glad that

    you’re reaching out for support.  If you are not already doing so, I

    encourage you to work with a counselor, his doctor, or other local support to

    develop a safety plan you can implement if your son attempts to harm or kill

    himself in the future.  If you need assistance locating support or

    resources in your area, one place to start could be http://www.familylives.org.uk/ at 0808 800 2222. 

    They can talk with you about what is going on with your son, as well as provide

    information on local programs in your community.  I wish you and your son

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

  • HelplessWidow
    My 18 yr old ODD, OCD, & ADD son and I live with my 81 yr old Father who does not believe in these disabilities. He thinks my son is just lazy and stupid. He says one day, "I tell him to do something and he just looks at me."More I told my over controlling father that my son feels like he is picking on him so he doesn't respond .... that way, he doesn't come off as disrespectful. My father then tells me, "I am picking on him." I said  well there you go. You've already lost the battle before it begins! I feel lost and hopeless.  There is more to the story I don't wanna go over online, but my son gets accused of everything and anything that goes wrong here. We have nowhere else to go because I am a widowed and disabled woman. I have OCD, ADD, & BPD. It's all I can do to stay sane through all this stress. I am close to my breaking point. Is there anyone who can truly help? I don't mean counseling. I've been to so many of those with no success. I'm on;y 52 and feel like I'm just existing, not living. I am also staying here to try and help my Father. He is diabetic and his blood sugar was all over th eboard before we started staying. I go tit to stay steady around 150 from over 200. All my other siblings ar emarried and can not stay with him and cook for him like I can.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I’m so sorry to

      hear about the challenges that you are experiencing in your living

      situation.  It can be very difficult to feel as though you have to act as

      a mediator between your father and your son so that you can maintain peace in

      the household.  You might find some helpful information in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/sandwich-generation-stress-6-ways-to-cope-while-raising-kids-and-caring-for-elderly-parents/.  You can also find information on resources available in your

      community by contacting the https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/sandwich-generation-stress-6-ways-to-cope-while-raising-kids-and-caring-for-elderly-parents/ at 1-800-273-6222.  211 is a service which connects people

      with local supports.  I recognize what a difficult situation this must be

      for all of you, and I wish you all the best as you continue to move

      forward.  Take care.

  • AmyO
    So what is the answer to getting them to school without physically carrying them out of their room and into the car? You didn't answer that in the article. We know we can't control their behavior. We know we can set realistic expectations. That part of the article was sweetMore but not very helpful. As a parent, I'm legally responsible for feeding, clothing, housing AND ensuring the children go to school. What's the answer? When my child drags her feet, it is a matter of physically carrying her out the door. Yes, I've let her choose to not go, choose to explain to the principal why she wasn't present, choose to fail on that days assignments, choose to miss the social aspect of school. So my options are continue to allow truancy or use physical force. Any better ideas are welcome.
    • Cshaw
      What can you do when they dont comply
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I hear your

      frustration with your child’s refusal to go to school, and the truth is, there

      are no easy answers if your child continues not to comply with your expectation

      that she attend.  I do not recommend using physical force, mainly because

      that does not tend to be effective, and can cause power struggles to

      escalate.  I’m glad that you have allowed her to experience the natural

      consequences of her actions if she is choosing not to go to school, as these

      natural consequences can sometimes be more effective learning

      experiences.  I encourage you to work with the school to hold her

      accountable for her choices, as outlined in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/i-hate-school-what-can-i-do-when-my-child-refuses-to-go-to-school/  I

      recognize how challenging this must be for you, and I hope that you will

      continue to check back and let us know how things are going for you and your

      daughter.  Take care.

  • Sonya
    My 16 yr old son has enrolled in college and only went 1 day and is now refusing to go or get a job. I've never had any problems with getting him to school before, now he just stays in his room playing and talking to friends on hisMore play station. What should i do? Pls someone help
    • JudyCremone
      I wish I had the answer our son is 15. ODD , DISRESPECTFUL, WON'T DO SCHOOL, ALL WE GET IS HE WILL DO WHATEVER HE WANTS. we adopted him 4 years ago we don't know what to do he needs to go I think to a special school.More Now he's home schooled PA cyber 1/2 day and votevh. For auto technology like that but refuses to do his PA cyber work.
    • Marissa EP


      Hi, thank you for your

      question. It can be frustrating to see your child slack off on their

      responsibilities, or become unmotivated. You might find it helpful to set a

      clear daily expectation around school, work and chores, and have the

      electronics time be earned once those expectations are met. James Lehman, author

      of the https://www.empoweringparents.com/product/total-transformation-program/, has a great article titled https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/motivating-the-unmotivated-child/, that you may find helpful. Best of luck to you as

      you continue to address this issue with your son.

  • fed up wheeler
    She does good school and they all love her.with us at home totally different kid
  • fed up wheeler
    Tried going drs,not getting anywhere gave us packet fill out and one for school fill out.been truency court twice,explained it to them but school still harassing us when she don't go school,at moment she's home she won't get ready or go.help who can we call in Florida.
  • fed up wheeler
    WHat we do she's nine ,won't go school and we keep haven go court over it.help can't handle the stress from all this anymore.school lady even comes my door .she smart but hates school.fights sleep all night on top of it.but she's awake just fighting school.who we call for help.liveMore in Florida
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      fed up wheeler 

      I’m so sorry to

      hear about the challenges you have been facing due to your daughter’s refusal

      to go to school.  As Sara Bean points out in her article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/i-hate-school-what-can-i-do-when-my-child-refuses-to-go-to-school/, it can

      be useful to work together with the school to hold your daughter accountable

      for missing school, as well as documenting your efforts to help her meet this

      responsibility if you have further legal action taken against you.  For

      additional resources in your area, you might consider contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1800-273-6222.  211 is a

      service which connects people with supports in their community.  I

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

      family all the best moving forward.

  • Rach1234
    My daughter is a straight A student entering 7 grade she just found out she is not in any classes with her friends they are all together but her. She went to school the first day but I could not get her to go.. She says through her tears andMore screaming she is to sad to go she hates school I told her she will make new friends that did not work
  • Kas14
    I have four children - my first daughter had mental problems and ended up in a mental institution for nine months where she self harmed and was risking her own life, my first son had anger issues and had no concept of rules or authority and would become quite threateningMore and even physical towards people (both secondary age) my second son has now been kicked out of his primary school been sent to a behaviour management school which now has been kicked out of there - he starts secondary school this September and is now being very abusive to both myself, his step dad and teachers and is very rude - don't know what to do with him as can't go through all this again with another child
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport



      can be very disheartening when you witness troublesome behavior patterns

      repeating themselves in each of your children.  When it comes to

      addressing behavior at school, I recommend being proactive and working together

      with the school and his teachers to develop a plan to hold him accountable for

      his actions.  After all, it is likely that both you and his teachers have

      the common goal of your son receiving an education without being abusive. 

      You can also share what has, and has not, worked in addressing this type of

      behavior in the past.  You might find more helpful information in our

      articles, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/problems-at-school-how-to-handle-the-top-4-issues/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/aggressive-child-behavior-part-i-fighting-in-school-and-at-home/.  I realize how

      challenging this can be, and I hope you will write back and let us know how

      things are going.  Take care.

  • Save my son

    My son is now 17 and he has ODD, ADHD, And now is in placement for almost 3 yrs. It all started around 13. But no major trouble until 15. He's broken down doors. Went toe to toe with his father, and I lived in fear he was going to die. At 16. He started getting into trouble with the law. He wasn't going to school, even though I dropped him off everyday. He has stolen our rent money and started hanging out in Southwest Detroit. He was hanging out with a known gang called MONEY GANG most Hated. He started coming home with tattoo's. He was going to school high and I was called almost everyday. I didn't know hoe to control my son

    HE was sneaking out in the middle of the night and finally was arrested for stealing from Sears and assaulting a 77 YR old lady in the parking lot, trying to steal her purse. He was put in detention for a year, came out on tether and was not allowed to go outside and NO SOCIAL MEDIA. DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT WORKED, NO HE BOLTED AND CUT OFF HIS TETHER AND RAN AWAY FOR THREE DAYS. I CRIED MYSELF TO SLEEP EVERY NIGHT. I PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY WAS EXHAUSTED. I WAITED FOR THE WANT TO B ISSUED AND WHEN HE WAS ASLEE I CALLED THE POLICE ON MY OWN SON. I Love my son, but I refuse to b disrespected in my own home. Not to mention hiding anything of value. I asked the judge to save my son, cause I didn't know how. IT WAS THE HARDEST THING I'VE EVER HAD TO DO. I LOVE HIM, SO THAT'S WHY I DID WHAT I DID. I ASKED THE JUDGE TO SEND HIM TO A BOOTCAMP. A secure facility, he didn't listen. My son went when they weren't watching and slipped out with a few other boys and broke all the windows out of one of the cabins. He now at Wolverine secure facility that's where he is today. I thought he was getting better until he called me yesterday, and started talking about when he comes home and his demands. He said since he will be on tether he wants friends in his room including Girls, and I said. ABSOLUTELY NOT. HE SAID MOM I'LL B 18, And I told him. This is my house and you will listen to my rules or you will have to go somewhere else. I told him he needs to focus on himself and not on girls and friends. Just make it off probation. Then you need to get a job. So you can become responsible and buy your own things, but we will help you out. He got real pissed about the girl in his bedroom thing and said he didn't want to talk no more




    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      Save my son 

      I can hear how much you care about your son, and want to

      help him make better choices for his future.  I’m glad that you are

      reaching out for support.  At this point, it’s going to be useful to set

      clear boundaries for your son if he is going to live in your home after his

      release from this facility.  You might consider https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/ground-rules-for-living-with-an-adult-child-plus-free-living-agreement/ with him which outlines your expectations for his

      behavior.  I also hear how overwhelmed and frightened you are that this

      pattern will continue after his release.  I hope that you are taking steps

      to take care of yourself, and process these emotions in an effective way. 

      While parenting is inherently emotional, and I can tell how much you love your

      son, if you are parenting out of pure emotion it can impact how effective you

      are able to be in setting boundaries and enforcing rules.  It could be

      useful to have some support in place for yourself.  For assistance

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

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

      all the best moving forward.  Take care.

  • Emotionally Bankrupt
    OMG this article is a God sent. I've not been able to articulate my feelings about raising a defiant child. Whoopings and restrictions don't work. At one point I was so emotionally overwhelm. I felt like I disliked my child, I felt as thou I was bullying her, I feltMore my attempts to redirect and discipline had become abusive punishment. I started to think I'm opening the door for others to bully & abuse her. My other thoughts was this child is going to hate me if she doesn't already. I have came to the conclusion whooping doesn't work, restrictions ineffective, so I'm like I can't do the power struggle no longer! By the way she's 9 yrs old!
  • Tammy
    My 9 yr old daughter trys to argue about everything, she stopped saying please and thank you, she talks to me like im poop on the bottom of her shoe, tells me no about everything, has no respect for me and its getting worse to were she has startedMore talking to people like they are idiots and people are not wanting her around them because she is so mean a d rude, on the other side she is smart and funny and can be nice (specially if she wants something) . At times i just want to leave, i cant stand being around her, she is mean and rude. Please help. I cant take it anymore.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It can be very

      frustrating when a child engages in disrespectful behavior, not only to you,

      but to others as well.  It’s understandable that you might want to take a

      break at times.  After all, it can be incredibly difficult to be around

      someone who is constantly rude and argumentative.  Something that can be

      helpful is to talk with your daughter about her behavior during a calm time,

      and set limits around what is acceptable.  You might find some additional

      tips for addressing this type of behavior in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-respond-to-disrespectful-children-and-teens/.  I wish you all the

      best as you continue to move forward, and I hope you will check back and let us

      know how things are going.  Take care.

  • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


    This sounds like a tough situation. It can be challenging

    when your teen doesn’t want to follow house rules or expectations. It’s not

    uncommon for kids this age to want more freedom and many teens will push back

    against rules that limit that freedom. I would recommend refraining from

    hitting your daughter or using similar harsh punishments in an attempt to

    control her. In all honesty, corporal punishment doesn’t teach a child better

    behavior. If anything, it can result in worse behavior, with her possibly

    hitting back. This could result in an unsafe environment for everyone involved.

    Considering that your daughter is a minor, there probably would be legal

    ramifications if you were to make her leave your home. In most states, a parent

    is responsible for their child until the age of 18. You can contact your local

    police department or clerk of courts to find out what the laws are in your

    area. Moving forward, you may find it more effective to use task oriented

    consequences, as described by Megan Devine in her article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/using-consequences-to-maintain-your-parental-authority/. I hope this helps to

    answer your questions. Best of luck to you moving forward. Take care.

  • YvetteGoveaGibbs

    My son is 17 almost 18 he goes to school but does not attend his classes I don't know what to do with. I want him to at least finish high school.

    Please Help. Yvette

    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      I understand your concern. Graduating high school is

      something most, if not all, parents want for their child. Unfortunately, if it

      isn’t important to your son as well, it may prove to be a never ending power

      struggle trying to get him to that point. There are going to be natural

      consequences for skipping school and not completing the necessary work. It’s

      going to be important to let those consequences happen, as difficult as that

      may be to do. Something to keep in mind – not graduating from high school isn’t

      a guarantee for a bleak future. There may come a time where your son goes back

      to school on his own because getting a diploma or GED will be important to him.

      Most communities offer adult education classes that help people finish high

      school. In the meantime, you may find this article helpful for your situation: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/afraid-your-child-wont-make-it-in-the-real-world-how-to-help-your-child-transition-to-adulthood/. We appreciate you writing in. Take care.

  • Graskia

    This translates exactly my daily struggle with our son. I would add one layer of difficulty. A defiant child behavior puts a lot of pressure on the mother and father relation, you have to be a strong couple to survive those years. You often disagree on the response to this situation.

    Also, as relieved I felt to realize that obviously I am not the only mother in this situation, as brilliant as this article is -"Finally someone gets my struggles"- what is the solution? What are my options?

    And people, don't tell me physical solution. First, I am a mom of 105 lb, physical threat against my 18 yo son would be a joke. Second teaching my son that the ultimate solution is violence would be against my beliefs: if I want to win an argument or force someone to change his/her behavior, Using violence or loosing my temper will solve the problem.

    Unfortunately, reasoning does not seems to be working either. Again what options do I have?

    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      You’re absolutely right – violence should never be the

      answer. There are a lot of productive ways a parent can respond to defiant

      and/or abusive behaviors. A couple articles that you may find useful are https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/in-over-your-head-how-to-improve-your-childs-behavior-and-regain-control-as-a-parent/ & https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/why-you-cant-really-win-an-argument-with-your-child/. I hope this information

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

  • Certified Family Partner
    I have a child that has  diagnosis of ODD, ADHD, and depression. She will be 16 years old in April. I have also worked with children in psych hospitals, residential facilities, and LMHA  for the past 14 years. I have found both professionally and personally that this article is prettyMore  much right on target. The getting up for school is a daily struggle for my daughter and there have been a days that she has not made it to school due to this. I have also learned that when grades are affected whether it be from missing school, lack of motivation, both, etc.. that there are in fact programs within the school that we as parents can utilize for our children. My daughter is in a 504 program and there is also special education services. Special education, like mental health has a stigma on in our society, when in fact it was developed by moms fighting for their children much like myself. Special education is not just for mentally/ physically handicapped children, but to also accommodate a child that struggles with ADHD, ODD, and much more. There are laws under the Special Education ACT that even protect our children and us, the parents. It is all about utilizing our resources and knowing where to turn for help. Sometimes seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist is not enough. That is why finding your LMHA ( local mental health agency) is so important. There you have more people on her team as support and to advocate for not just the child but for the family. In Texas that consists of a psychiatrist for medication management, case manger/ recovery coach for skills training to child and parent, counseling, and Family Partners, such as myself. My having a child with mental health diagnosis and being involved in everything from legal system, psych hospitals, and my LMHA is what qualifies me for my job. I am able to help teach, guide, and support from a non-judgmental view that no one that has not experience what we have been though could. There is not miracle drug or training for this, but there is support and ways to help not just the child but the whole family. It is all up to us as the parents to ask questions and advocate for children when no one will. In doing that you will find other parents/ families going through their own journey  of mental health, and find the people out their that not only want to help, but are trained to help.
  • Concerned

    Ultimately you did not give us a way to make our child go to school. You are saying that it is not possible. I guess this means that our children will grow up without an education, because they chose that? Anyone who would let an 8 year old choose not to have an education should be arrested. I agree cops need people to arrest, or shoot, but that doesn't mean parents should turn their kids into those people.

    What I am hearing is that you don't want to use physical punishment. Unfortunately society as a whole knows that is the only way to make someone do something they don't want to do. In fact even you know that, which is why you brought up threatening Johnny with the police. That is my favorite parenting style. " I won't spank my child, but I will get them locked in a cage, tazed, or a bullet in the chest from a police officer."

    I am happy my parents forced me to do school when I wouldn't. I would not be a successful engineer, property owner, or human being without it. In fact I would probably be in prison for stealing or doing whatever else I wanted to do. After all when you are too "good hearted" to raise your child correctly the police can do it for you!

    • Nickoid

      I agree. I have to physically force my son to go to school sometimes. I don't see what the alternative is other than let him drop out completely, get no qualifications and have no future.

      I have a big problem with the amount of time he wants to spend on the internet. We are locked in a continual battle. He says that if I give him unrestricted screen time he will behave well. I say that if he behaves well and can demonstrate that he can do so for a reasonable period of time I will consider easing his restritions. We can't agree on what comes first. Okay, we are supposed to avoid 'controlling' but a 13 year old simply doesn't know what is best for his health and success, and my kid in particular denies that there are any negative effects from, for example, spending 14 hours solid playing computer games. I've tried showing him scientific studies but he says he is an anomaly and is not affected in the same way as most people (!).

    • Concerned Also
      @Concerned I don't understand why there hasn't been a response to this post.
  • Tarsha
    Hello my son has been diagnosed with ODD since he was eight, I never studied to understand the disorder and for years the whole family has been haunted by several occurrences. He has been enrolled in the Duval county ESE program more frequently called th excel program, he isMore in high school now and is restricted to one large building for kids with behavior issues. It's very difficult working with my on but we as a family to deal with the outburst, late night curfew fails and even criminal history. Sometimes although there is support most of the blunt of issues comes to me. After reading the causes of the disorder understanding where and what can be done I have no hope that we will when this battle but I do pray that no one has to endure the things we have been through. My so has been institutionalize twice and has two serious legal offenses that we are still going through, one with a weapon and the other drugs. Anyway I can go on, what I would like is some help soon with someone who can work with the entire family and try to move on with our lives as positive as possible. I have made some mistakes with my son some I just can't remember but I'm sure I was the cause and I would like to learn how we can work on a solution.
  • Tonya74
    I guess in some ways I am lucky after reading the struggles that other parents have. I have a 14 year old that has ODD, depression and ADHD. He has been in trouble at school for disrespect, ruining another students artwork, slapping his former friend and hacking his ex-girlfriends online accounts.More He calls me fat pig, low-life, no life, idiot, a cow, says I don't deserve to live, a scrub, a nub, a liar and many other nasty things. He is a middle child with an older brother and younger sister. I am remarried and his dad lives out of state so he only sees him in the summer. He has been on Straterra and had to be taken off because he lost 30 pounds for not eating. He has seen three therapists and we are starting with another one next month.  He recently started with another doctor and is taking Lexapro and Adderrall but we are seeing problems with his eating again. I have tried taking his things away but then he stops doing what minimal schoolwork he is currently doing. He is gifted but is failing all his classes except 1 this year. He has had 8 days of suspension this year and if he receives 2 more days then he faces a school board hearing. I have asked for a 504 plan and provided the proper paperwork but nothing is in place yet and he got another referral today. Not sure what will happen. I am not sure punishment works from the things that I have read about ODD but I am not sure how to help him do better in school. While I am now suffering from depression as a result of these problems and my marriage is crumbling I feel awful for complaining because I see how much worse it is for other parents.  It is a daily struggle to get him to eat, to take showers and to do his schoolwork.
  • Catinacat
    I have a15 yr old who refuses to get up for school. Truancy officers are being called in. Every day it's a battle or argument over homework or chores he is rude to his younger brother who is 3 and he is failing 3classes I do not know what toMore do anymore my partner his step father has givin up on him, I am now doing this on my own I feel helpless
    • beckykb
      I have the same problem my son refuses to do anything i tell him and he tortures his younger brother and sister and he talks to me like im one of his friends. He was suppended this week for 7 days and refuses to come home because we had aMore fight. I am not a perfect parent and i am a young widow i try my best but it is never good enough
    • Eileen harrison
      I understand, my daughter will go to school but does not go to all her classes. It is very frustrating. We have a rule, come home after school. 3 days this week she did not get home until about 10 pm. My husband is ready to kick her outMore but I just can't !!
  • LizaFernandez

    JenniferSmith9 My baby is already 5 years old, but

    I can remember the bath and teeth brushing and bedtime horror like it was

    yesterday. I had some advice from my mother; my favorite was

    time-outs...sparingly. Depending on the child, using a time-out occasionally,

    beginning at about the age of 18 months, may help him manage his feelings

    better when he has a tantrum. A time-out can be helpful when your child's

    tantrum is especially intense and other techniques aren't working.

    Placing your child in a quiet,  or – better yet – boring spot for a brief

    period (about one minute per year of his age) can be a good lesson in

    self-soothing. Also there are videos online on how to talk with your toddler

    correctly. Most of them are rubbish, but few are gold. 

    good luck

  • JenniferSmith9

    Please help;  my 3 year-old daughter has always had, and

    still has, crying/tantrum episodes every single day when it's time for bath and

    teeth brushing. Bedtime is so stressful EVERY DAY! And this is not the only

    time she is out of control. I have tried it all; routine,

    stories, positive reinforcement, games, etc, etc., still, nothing works.  We can't figure it out...we would appreciate

    your input...I'm all ears!!! Thanks!!

    • Darlene EP


      Bedtime can be a very stressful

      and challenging time of day. We hear from families struggling with the same

      types of issues all the time, so you are not alone in your frustration. Because

      you have tried so many things to get your daughter to comply, I am wondering if

      your need for her to get these things done is the reason she is resisting.

      Given your daughter’s age, she has very little control over her life. Most

      everything is decided for her. This may be the thing that she is picking to

      have some control over. Like the article above mentions, when there is a power

      struggle going on over getting her to take a bath and brush her teeth, she is

      going to continue to resist as a way to maintain control. It is great you have

      tried positive reinforcement, that is what we would

      recommend for young children. Each night let the choice be hers. Say something

      like, “Will you be choosing to take a bath and brush your teeth tonight so that

      we can read together or are you going to go right to bed instead?” Give her a

      little bit of control by letting her choose for herself. If she does not take a

      bath or brush her teeth, it is ok. Try again the next night. When you remove

      the power struggle, she will be much more likely to comply. Thank you for

      writing in. Good luck as you continue to work through this. Take care.

  • Dpnt808
    I have recently moved from HI to CA due to a divorce. I have 4 children - 2 in college and a 12 year old daughter and a 16 year old son. I chose CA because we had friends and family close by. My 16 year old, who is normallyMore very social and an outstanding football player is so homesick and wants to move back to HI. He refuses to go to school, not even charter, he has decided not to play football this year which is killing him. ehrn we first got here in June, he was open minded. He went out for the football team and made Varsity as a freshman. After 4 weeks he came home one day and said he was never playing here again and refuses to go to school there. I figured another player may have said something to him...? So now he has stereotyped the whole city as snobby and stuck up. We have had a small culture shock but me and my daughter like it here. So he just lays around and makes us miserable by repeating how much he hates it here and it's all my fault that he's not in school or playing football because I moved him from his friends, etc. he won't budge unless it's back to Hi. And that is not an easy move. Moving is crazy anyway but moving overseas is insane. I have considered it though because I have always been the one to sacrifice everything for my children. They're wants come before mine. As crazy as you may think it sounds, I have one playing Div 1 scholarship football and one at Berkeley....it has worked in the past. I only have 4 more years with him before he goes to college (hopefully) it's a sacrifice but is my considering going back to HI as crazy as it feels? Like this article says, I cannot physically pick him up and take him to school. So what am I to do?
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      I am sorry to hear you are facing these struggles with your

      son. Unfortunately, these types of transitions can be difficult for kids and

      teens. From what you have written, it sounds like your son started out with

      high hopes for the change and then something may have happened to throw him

      off. Have you talked with your son about this sudden change of heart? If not,

      it might be helpful to approach him during a calm time to find out what, if

      anything, might have caused this sudden turn. There is the possibility that it

      is due to missing his previous life in Hawaii. It’s also possible something

      happened at school or during football practice that caused him upset. The only

      way really to find out is to ask him. Something to keep in mind is that

      regardless of what might be the cause, it doesn’t change the expectation that

      he goes to school. I can’t really speak to whether or not you should move back

      to Hawaii; truthfully, that’s a decision only you can make. I would try be

      mindful of not giving your son’s choices so much power, however.  I can

      make a couple suggestions for addressing the issue you are facing now. You

      might consider linking his daily electronics privileges to him going to school

      – when he goes to school, he earns the privilege. If he chooses not to go, then

      he wouldn’t earn the privilege that day. It might also be beneficial to reach

      out to the school counselor about the problems your son is having getting up

      and going to school. S/he may have some  insight into what steps you can

      take to deal with your son’s truancy. I think it’s important to understand that

      you’re not to blame for the choices your son is making. Unfortunately he lacks

      the skills that would enable him to effectively cope with the challenges he is

      facing. So, he uses avoidance instead. We do have other articles that may give you more insight. One in particular you may find helpful is What Can I Do When My Child Refuses to Go to School?.

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

      us know how things are going. Take care.

  • seeking guidance
    My 15-year old has become more irate as we switched her schools.  She refuses to do work, gets verbally and physically aggressive, vows to drop out when 16, etc. We have tried numerous things and honestly I'm losing hope. She's brilliant and it hurts to see her waste her gifts.
  • Octogenarianinoly

    I am a grandparent raising 3 beautiful grandchildren 12, 13 & 14. We have had one heck of a year...their dad was released from prison after 10 years, he came to live with us, got work, got a girlfriend and many times we do not see him for days on end. It is as if he has abandoned them all over again.

    The 14 year old and I used to have a good relationship, but she has a very domineering boyfriend and I cannot reach her any longer.

    During the summer she would get up, do her chores, but leave the house to spend the day with him. When I would tell her she needed to come home, she refused and when I went to get her, it would turn into her arguing and refusing. Short of calling the cops, I don't know what to do.

    We went shopping a few weeks ago and she was upset because he wanted her at his home at a certain time and I told her no!

     My granddaughter has anxiety issues and hates to fly, but her and her uncle used to be close and she wanted to fly to see him. Her bf has family in the same area and he said he was looking forward to seeing them. 

    My son attempted repeatedly to reach family in the area when they did not show up to pick him up (he is 16), so thinking they would be respectful and helpful he took him home....finally reached the family on Weds and they picked him up yesterday.

    In the meantime I get calls everyday, how lazy she is, she won't leave his side, he told her she needed to make sure he stayed with her (he didn't), she needs to do his laundry and he got very angry when her uncle took her for a drive and left him behind.

    We have tried to talk her into counseling, but she refuses and at 13 where we live she can.

    This young man is making her life miserable and she thinks she can't live without him. What can I do?

    I know when she arrives home, we are setting solid rules for school...taking IPOD away at 8:30 everynight, limiting the time she spends with him, getting her into a volunteer program she asked about.

    I think she is afraid to break up with him. However, I have noticed when he gets means, she turns her media off and he comes crawling back.

    When she starts her why, why, why...I walk away without a response.

    One day she got angry and began hitting her head on the wall. I worry she may become physical with me and I will then call the police.

    How do I get this young man out of her life?

    Please help, school starts in 5 days and I am worried he is going to be a real problem!

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      We speak with many parents and grandparents who are

      concerned about their child’s choice of dating partner, so you are not alone in

      this experience.  One bit of advice I usually give in this situation is

      that it’s usually not effective to focus on your granddaughter’s

      boyfriend.  The thing is, if you http://www.empoweringparents.com/blog/adolescent-and-teen-behavior/i-really-dont-like-my-teens-boyfriend-girlfriend/ (or she interprets what you are saying as criticism), it can

      have the effect of romanticizing their relationship, and push them even closer

      together.  Therefore, it’s usually more effective to focus on your

      granddaughter’s behavior and whether she is meeting her responsibilities. 

      After all, she is responsible for her behavior and her choices, regardless of

      whom she is dating.  It’s perfectly acceptable to have expectations that

      chores and homework must be done before she receives any privileges, electronics

      are turned off at a certain time and that she is expected to come home on

      time.  It might be useful to have a http://www.empoweringparents.com/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior.php with her when she returns home about how she will meet these

      expectations.  Of course, safety is the top priority, and if you are

      concerned that your granddaughter might hurt herself or someone else, we

      recommend calling the police, or your local crisis line for help.  You can

      get the number for your local crisis line, along with other community

      resources, by calling the http://www.211.org/ at

      1-800-273-6222.  I recognize how difficult this situation must be for you,

      in addition to the challenges you have faced over the past year.  I hope

      that you will continue to write back and let us know how things are

      going.  Take care.

  • Tired But Optimistic
    I feel your pain and anguish.  I've been dealing with this since 2009.  My son is now 16 and he is doing much better.  Life was hell.  I don't know how successful I would be starting treatment at 15+ years of age.  I'm fortunate he was diagnosed at 10 yearsMore old.  He now understands the consequences for his violent outbursts and most of the time he choses to calm down.  The one thing that has help me the most is to not get angry myself...to maintain "a poker face."  My road is still going to be tough and horrible a lot of the time, but my son smiles more and I see confidence in him that I didn't see before.  Stay calm, call the police if needed (I have many times), and sometimes just walk away and ignore the screaming.  When there is no one yelling back the control game is no longer interesting to them.
  • Stressed n tired
    This article was very informative and lets me know that i am not alone.  However, as being the mother of a 17 year old son who is extremely defiant, things are not as cut and dry as made out to be in this article.  I agree with being able toMore control those things that you can but it is not always easy to just walk away and let your teen learn on their own.  From my personal experience, i can actually say that when my son comes in late and he is high, i have learned how to let it go and not scream an holler anymore.  I have gotten to a point where i just don't give a damn and whatever happens to him out there in the street, he has to handle it. When he does things in my home and in front of my eight year old, i have to intervene many times and cannot just walk away.  while i understand the difficulties of trying to control your defiant teen, they should not be allowed to do whatever the hell they want while they are under your roof!!! I tell my son all the time, if since he thinks he is a man and he is older enough not to deal with restrictions than he should be old enough to get a job, get his own place and be on his own period.  Its not just about his defiant behavior, he is also an "enabler" he draws my eight year old into his nonsense and she picks up his negative behavior; as a parent, i need to step in when this happens. He acts like he is in control in my house often making comments about what my daughter and i have eaten, listening to my telephone conversations and not respecting my privacy, searching through my home looking for things, stealing money out of my wallet, etc. There has to be a point when a parent says: "enough is enough" when your child is not respecting boundaries that you have set, a much larger course of action should be taken.  I am at that point of no return. My life is miserable, i am not happy, i am  out of work suffering with depression and anxiety and 90% of it is because of my son. I have done EVERYTHING a parent can do to help him, ranging from therapy, probation, ACS intervention, out patient drug treatment programs, other programs, etc. NOTHING has worked and I am TIRED. I have had to realize that he is my achilles heel, a thorn in my side and i will never move forward in my own personal life until he is removed. I have decided to go to family court to explore my options and more than likely i will have him placed outside of my home in a group home.  Its really sad because i know their are parents going thru this and the help that we need is not there. My ideal help for for my son would be for him to be taken out of his environment, sent upstate and being around trained professionals who can help him get his life together.  Unfortunately, if you are not well off where you can pay for these services, your out of luck. Its really sad and i have cried many a day but its time to wipe my tears away and start thinking about myself and my daughter and doing what's best for us.  If I continue the way that i am going, I will end up in a hospital from stress related illnesses, a possible heart attack or mental breakdown. Its time to STOP and let him go and trust God.
    • val
      I feel your pain!! I am a single mother of 3. 17 year old and 13 year old boys and a 10 year old girl. My 17 year old was diagnosed when he got kicked out of k 4 with ODD and ADHD and very impulsive. He's a senior inMore high school. Made life so miserable with his difiant and rages. It's gotten worse. I use to be able to get thru to him some but now it's like he's a bully. He tears up the house, curses me out, threatens to hit me,  Anything he can do to cause commotion. I ignore him and he will just pace in and out of my room throwing things. I lock the door and he will just stand there and beat on it. I'm a prisoner in my own home. And it affects my other to so bad. They are so hurt and emotional by it. I cry daily. He has a psychiatrist but it don't help.
    • No Where to Turn
      Stressed n tired Unfortunately, I understand your situation so well.  I have a 16 year old son that is very defiant towards his dad and me.  I discovered about a month ago that he was also doing drugs.  It was bad having to deal with his attitude and foul languageMore all these years but to now have to deal with a kid that is doing drugs? I was at a loss for awhile but decided to get him back into counseling and a out patient drug rehab.  Not going so well when I literally have to force him to go.  So far he has yet to test negative and I would not let him go out until a clean test showed up.  He provided a test result to me that said it was negative.  Since it was in the doctors handwriting I accepted it and allowed him to go to a friends house.  When I got on my computer though I found a website about how to erase ink from paper.  I then inspected the results closer and noticed that there was a suspicious outline around the positive like it got wet and dried off.  Plus, the red ink he used did not match the red ink she used.  Well, I took his cell phone away while he was sleeping since that is the only time I can actually get it away from him without the fear of getting hurt. I then called his dad and put him on speaker before I woke the lovely teen up out of his perfectly wonderful and peaceful sleep.  (by they way before all this I had called his drug counselor to confirm my suspicions)  I braced myself for what was coming since I knew full well he would be angry.  I was not disappointed.  I was called all names under the sky (none of which were complimentary).  I was then told I would give his phone back, to which his dad said no, and further more it would be gone for a whole month.  I heard this and literally wanted to crawl into a hole where I would be safe.  You see his dad is a truck driver and he is normally not around to see our son in full action.  I am always having to try to protect our younger son (11 years old) from his older brother.  Well today my husband got to hear everything and he also feared that our son would attack me.  I stood my ground and dealt with all the verbals making sure my youngest was still in his room and that I kept a safe distance away from the lava erupting from my volcanic son. OOPS, another hole in the wall, I am thinking that by the time this child gets out of my house I will be able to go from one room to another without using a single door!  Oh well walls are overrated anyways, right?  I can repair them after the male hurricane becomes 18 and leaves my house.  However, I will not make his life easier while he behaves this way and especially while he is doing drugs.  I am tired, so very tired and many a night I just cry.  I should not have to worry about things getting broken because he is angry or having to lock my bedroom door during the day because he steals everything he can just to sale it.  I mean it is one thing for him to sale off his stuff but another thing when he steals my jewelry, laptop, Nook...anything that he thinks will get him money.  No one in the house keeps cash on them because the next day it will be gone. I have 2 years left before I can be confident that my son and  I will be safe in our own home and believe me I am counting down those months right now. Now the funny part of all this is I had to deal with his dad verbally abusing me though I knew he would never hit me. While at the same time having to deal with a younger version of him that had no problem with physical contact.  I caught his dad doing drugs and kicked him out for a year until he could prove he was and still is clean.  Today, after that little blow up my husband called me back and told me that I was still being verbally abused but now instead of my own husband it is our teen hurricane child. Yup, 19 years of abuse but finally my husband has come around and is doing his best to make up for what he has put me through.  Now I still have to deal with the replica of him except this one child had no remorse and actually laughs when we are hurt by him.  The worse part is when he is in the public eye he is so controlled and polite, everyone compliments me on his good behavior.  Does me no good not knowing if my nightmares will ever become reality.  I love my son and will not give up on him but I am so tired of being afraid.  Now, If I did what this article seems to say then my son would have total control of the house.....there would be no more arguments......I would probably have peace......my younger son would be black and blue......and we would have nothing of value in our house because it would all disappear...not an option.   I will still maintain some sort of control while keeping my younger son and me out of the deadly path of the tornado teen while he is not getting his way.  Sometimes I wish he would just knock hole in the front of the house straight through the outer wall so everyone can see him for what he truly his.  OK rant over.  I fully understand except I am not at the point of giving up on him yet.
    • At a loss in pa
      @ stressed and tired. I relate to all of your stories and feel your pain. I feel like I am at a loss with my 16 yr old son. He is drinking, getting high and God only knows what else. I am stressed to the max. I love him butMore at the same time I don't like him. This has been ongoing for a yr that I am aware of. I have called the police when he cAme into my house High everyday. He packed and moved out for a day. I called the cops and they brought him back home. He hates me for it. His words are, "no parent calls the cops on there kid". I said, "parents that care will do what they have to, to keep there kids safe". He tells me when he turns 18 he's "cutting me off". He has no father figure. His father walked out of his life when he was 7. I also have an 18 yr old senior. Have no problems with him. I know kids have right but what about the parents?? I have my boyfriend of 3 yrs living with us. He provides for me and the kids and would do anything for both of them but now he's to the point that if he can't listen and be respectful then he doesn't give him anything and I don't blame him. The only time my son even talks to me is when he wants something. I stopped that. I have a very sick uncle that lives about 45 miles away that j take care of on the weekends. I found out my son was having parties while I was gone. He doesn't listen to his older brother. I thought the best thing would be to do was up and move and get him out of the hole he is in and start fresh. He refuses to go and says he's staying with his friend. Towards the end of school last yr, he got into a fight and is on probation til December and his po said he absolutely has to go with me, he has no choice in the matter. Its easier said than do. That's for sure. I am at the point where I am ready to wash my hands of him and let him learn the hard way. Whether it's right or wrong, I'm stressed to the max and feel like I am ready to have a breakdown. I have always gave them what they needed and the better I am to him the worse he treats me.
    • At a Lost
      Stressed n tired wow! I know exactly what you are going thru, my son doesn't do drugs but the defiant part and thinking he knows everything in life at the age of 14. The only difference is that his father and I are very hard working people who have alwaysMore been able to provide for him, his father and I are not together anymore for years. But our son has this thinking that he can take care of himself now, he has had attitude issues not following directions from either one of us or the teachers at school, he has a very smart mouth. We have taken him out of the neighborhood he is used too where everyone knows everyone and there are no rules and such (he used to stay with his grandparents) before leaving him their with them his mouth and attitude was never like that he started getting in trouble in school and his grades started dropping and he has gotten lazy about getting up for school, basically on his own time. We took him out from that environment and it has become worse, we have provided everything he needs and yet he wants to go back to the ghetto and doesn't want parents that care so much. I just don't get it? his father and I never had the type of parents he has and we were never handed anything in life. His dad and i worked hard to get out of that type of environment and he wants to stay there. My son refuses to go to school and I have been told to involve the Truancy Officer at school and let them handle it. It's sad to say this because this used to be my little boy but he needs to understand that his father and I mean business about his education and if he wants out of my house he needs to go with a good education. He has four years left until he is 18 years old and he has a rude awakening coming to him at this point if he doesn't get his act together now. These have no idea how hard it is to make things right on their own, at this point they have chosen the path they want for now until they find out on their own they have chosen the incorrect path for themselves and should have listen.
    • chamel
      Stressed n tired I can relate to both of these stories. I have a son who is now 19, and  daughter who is 11. Their father and I separated two years ago. After an altercation with my son, not respecting me or any of the rules in the home andMore finding out their father enabled all the scenarios, I had enough when he finally assaulted me. I kicked my son and my ex out of the house for their abusive behavior. My daughter now is a defiant 11 year old repeating the same pattern. I am guilty of trying to control the situation and be the best parent I can be and give the best guidance, direction that I can. I am afraid now, with the ex husband now enabling my daughter and filling her with hate and defiance towards me, I may lose her as well. I'm exhausted and tired of the fight. I have put us all in counselling, individually and as a family previously, to no avail. I am now faced with a smirk and disrespect that would have resulted in severe punishment from my parents as a child. I have no idea how to turn this situation around, giving up control means condoning the negative disrespectful behaviour to me and I can't wrap my head around that being the right thing to do. I haven't spoken to my son in almost two years. I hand him child support every two weeks which he calls FREE MONEY and soon my daughter will request the move to her fathers house. It's diffiult to know that the good times are so bad and the bad times are beyond devastating. I'm at a loss!
    • counting down the days

      Stressed n tired 

      I am the mom of a 17 year old girl. I am going through some of the same things as you are. my daughter used to be my best friend but within the last three years she has gotten progressively more deviant. it is to the point now that she refuses to do her chores, she has been kicked out of school for cyber bullying and we can't even say hello to her without her huffing and puffing as though she is being interrogated. I am at the point that you have reached of just letting her go, I too have told her that she is welcome to leave at any time. I am just counting down the months until she is 18 when I can legally put her out. which is what brought me to this website, I was trying to see if there is any way that I could have her removed from my home at 17 so that my family can be at peace. I love my child but I certainly do not like her. I wanted to write so that you would know that you are not alone. your case is more extreme than mine but the pain of seeing your once loved and treasured child turn against you is the same. we as parents do all that we can to protect and teach our children, once it gets to this point we have to let go and let life do the teaching.

  • Single Momma for JBoogie

    Selenna from Kansas.

    I have a 5 almost 6 year old that was diagnosed with ODD in addition to ADHD Hyper Active Impulsive type behaviors, sensory processing disorder a year and a half ago. No possible bipolar. He's on medications (originally Concerta and Abilify) now they've added Intuitive to these other two, and the behaviors and emotions have tripled in the last few weeks.

    I'm at my end of the rope. I'm a single parent, with minor support from my mom and Uncle, but the behavior is ALWAYS directed towards me and triggered by me. Perfect angel with other family members most times, minimal behaviors, never meltdowns, but when I enter the room, all hell breaks loose.

    He has now resorted to screaming and yelling how much he hates me, doesn't like me wants me gone, and now has incorporated these sayings in his night terrors. He has always had these terrors, usually only legible wording was no, but now he clearly screams, " I hate you, I don't love my Mom, I hate my mom, No go away, etc". It's heart breaking to hear your child, of any she, say these mean and hateful things to you.

    We've tried Play Therapy with a company called Success by 6, which didn't do much help. We have services with another Mental Health Facility locally. We've tried several different doses and medications before what we are currently on. I've tried No Medication, and that was horrible. He's been on a IEP with school since 4, preschool, and currently is still on one and sent to another school for a program for children with behaviors as such. These behaviors occur at school also, but not like at home. Of course, because it's any and all authority.

    Any one with words of encouragement or advice are gladly welcomed. I'm exhausted mentally and physically. I feel as if I have nothing left to give.

    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      Single Momma for JBoogie

      I can hear what a toll your son’s behavior has taken on you.

      It may be helpful to check in with the prescribing doctor to make him/her aware

      of the changes you are seeing since the med change. It’s possible the behavior

      changes could be related to that and the doctor would be in the best position

      to guide you on what the best course of action would be. It could also be of

      benefit to make members of his mental health treatment team aware of the how

      his night terrors have evolved. One thing many parents in your situation find

      useful is developing a self care plan. Parenting a child with impulsive and

      defiant behaviors can be exhausting. Finding ways of recharging, no matter how

      small, can do much for helping a single parent keep her head above water. One

      of our parent bloggers, http://www.empoweringparents.com/blog/author/renee-brown/,

      is a single parent as well. She has written a few blogs on self care for single

      parents. One in particular you may find helpful is Parenting After Divorce: 9 Ways to Parent on Your Own Terms.

      You might also consider finding out what types of local supports are available

      in your community for helping you. Parent support groups, respite care,

      and counseling are a few of the resources many parents look to for help when

      raising a child. The 211 Helpline, a 24 nationwide referral service, can give

      you information on these and other services. You can reach the Helpline by

      calling 1-800-273-6222 or by visiting them online at 211.org. Hang in there and

      know you don’t have to face these challenges on your own. There is help and

      support out there. Good luck to you and your son as you work through these

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


  • TB
    Our 13 year old extremely intelligent son keeps getting in to trouble at school.  He goes to a private school, is refusing to do his homework, breaking school rules, and being defiant.  He has no privileges left to reward or take away.  He just goes in his room and sleeps,More refuses to get up and help with chores.  He has always been a handful but usually would come around and do what was expected.  People have no idea what it is like when your child refuses to do stuff.  I am embarrassed.  I know that I don't handle this well but we have basically tried everything including counseling.  I am ready to send him to a home for troubled youth.  Any suggestions would help.  He has few outside interests other than his computer.  He did track but got suspended for half of it due to bad grades.  It's as if he is afraid to be good. He likes to be different. And by getting in trouble with bad grades and choices he is able to stand out.
    • Marissa EP


      Thanks for writing in about this very common question we

      hear on our Coaching line. It can be extremely frustrating when our kids refuse

      to do even the most basic of tasks, and the fact of the matter is, we can’t

      physically make them! Holding them accountable with a “Why Don’t Consequences Work for My Teen?” Here’s Why…and How to Fix It

      alone can be effective with some kids, but many still refuse, resulting in the

      loss of even more privileges. When this happens, we call it

      “consequence-stacking”, and it often has the opposite effect of how we

      intended. By taking away everything, you

      essentially lose your leverage, and your son loses his motivation. In his mind,

      there is no reason to do any of the other tasks you ask him to do because he

      has already lost everything that is meaningful to him. We recommend focusing on

      one or 2 tasks, to start, and tying their completion to earning a privilege,

      like his computer time. You can read more about how to get started “My Child’s Behavior Is So Bad, Where Do I Begin?” How to Coach Your Child Forward.

      Once the tasks are done, the computer time is earned. On the flip side, if he

      chooses not to do the required tasks, the computer time for that day would not

      be earned, but he could try again the next day. By allowing him the opportunity

      to earn the computer time each day, you are shifting the responsibility of

      earning that time back to your son, and essentially holding him accountable for

      his own choices. Best of luck to you and your family as you continue to work on

      this with your son.

  • J9

    Thank you to all of you for helping me realize that we are not alone. My son is 17. He has always been a handful. He is very intelligent, likable,and popular. He got kicked out of an excellent private school, that he liked, on purpose, so that he can go to a different school to be free. He suddenly, started hanging with friends that we don't know, and one of them smokes weed. His grades had dropped from. being an A B student, to failing. He says he isn't feeling well and stays home from school. He always seems to be able to convince everyone that he is intelligent, and that he wouldn't do anything stupid, or if he did, he won't get caught. We have to hide our keys so that he doesn't just take one of the vehicles and go do whatever he wants. He ran away because I asked him not to use the computer for a religious holy day. I have 6 younger children that are watching all of this. The stress has affected everyone. Have been keeping tabs on him with contacting all of his teachers. The school is concerned, as well, because of the students that he is hanging with, that I don't know, and that his grades have dropped. He blames all of his "problems" on us and our "stupid" rules. I explained to him that time and time again we trust him to make good decisions. He always seems to make the wrong ones. He is horribly mean to everyone in our home. He is degrading, uncharitable in everyone, unless he wants something. He always seems to have money, even though he doesn't work. He wants his licence, and says he will only get a job if he can his lisence. Our rule is to work, save your money and get your lisence when you are 18, so that you can pay for your vehicle and insurance. He doesn't want to have us drive him anywhere. We didn't go through anything like this, at all , with our three oldest, so it has been hard for us to understand. Any advice would be great.

    Thank you,


    • Darlene EP


      You bring up a challenging

      situation and we are pleased to hear you found comfort in knowing you are not

      alone. Many parents are facing similar struggles with their teenagers and are

      looking for guidance as well. It sounds like there are multiple issues you are

      trying to manage, so the first step would be to decide what behavior you would

      like to focus on first. Choosing one or two things to focus on, like disrespect

      towards family members and school performance, will help you to be more

      effective in changing these behaviors. Trying to manage everything all at once

      can be overwhelming for both the parents and the child. Carole Bank talks more

      about this in her article http://www.empoweringparents.com/My-Childs-Behavior-Is-So-Bad.php. Another important

      thing to keep in mind is you don’t have control over your son’s choices or the

      outcome of those choices. Like who he chooses to hang out with when he is not

      at home or whether or not he does his homework.  What you do have control

      over is establishing clear and consistent boundaries and staying firm with

      them. For instance, you can require that your son spends a set amount of time

      on homework each day to earn a valuable privilege for that day.  If he

      decides not to do his homework there is no way to make him do it, but you can

      withhold the privilege because that is the boundary that you set and what you

      have control over. Debbie Pincus goes into this in more detail in her article http://www.empoweringparents.com/Tough-Love-When-Good-Kids-Make-Bad-Choices.php . We know this is a very

      frustrating situation and we hope that you will continue to reach out to us

      when you need to. Good luck to you and your family as you work through this.

      • a1Daniel

        One advice, becareful with providing rewards for overcoming bad behaviors. Children, believe it or not, will catch on and learn that the worse they can behave one day will grant them a more valueable reward the next day. Keep consequences in line with behavior and watch out for oxi-moron consequences. One such would be grounding them from the computer for not doing homework when teenager may need computer to do homework, can use computers at library etc. If you do let them use it for homework, or they use the computer else where they will feel they got one over on you and it becomes a game to them. its not like your going to sit and monitor them every minute they are going to do there homework. I have two teenage daughters. One has ODD (oppositional defiance disorder) the only thing i have found that works with her is never to take anything away, but delay the activity for a bit. such as she continues to argue i'll grab my book "the quick and easy way to effective speaking" , if she is having troubles in school, then before she can watch her favorite show "teen wolf" she has to listen to me read for about 30 min from my book "how to stop worrying & start living" or "how to win friends & influence people." She hates it but sometimes something sinks in, and I havent provided any consequece that cant be enforced or proned to being bent. I will also write her letters ensuring her i want to help her accomplish things in life that "she wants" to accomplish and always ask her to reflect and ask herself these questions:

        Q. how would you describe your charachter to someone else?

        Q. What are your personal values?

        Q. What do you want others to remember the most about you?

        And I remind her the answers are for her only and not to be shared with me or anyone else.

        This isn't by any means perfect, all children are different; and i've tried many things in the past as she was growing up and this has worked the best for me with her. When using this approach she has even accused me of not being a real parent; at which time I told her I didn't care much for my parents growing up either so thank you for the compliment.

  • mt9999

    Thank you for this article, it is helpful to know that I am not the only one dealing with this.  We have come a long way with our 9 year old son who has ADHD and ODD and overcoming expressing his anger.  This is currently one of our biggest problems - going to school.  I cannot physically force him to go, but he chooses not to go.  I have to get to work, but he is not old enough or responsible enough to spend the day at home alone and I end up not being able to go to work.  He will often go an hour or two into the day - when he decides to go.  We take away electronics for being late to school with the understanding that he can earn them back when he goes on time - this only works sometimes, it all depends on his mood.  If he misses the day altogether, he is not allowed to do anything - no friends, no electronics, no sports that night - we treat it as if it is a sick day because we say that is the only reason that he shouldn't be going to school.

    The school is super supportive and has said that they will let him do what he wants (within reason) in the mornings before starting school work to encourage him to get there, but when I ask him what it would take to get him to school, he says "nothing".  The school does not have a "consequence" if he does not go on time.

    Any other suggestions on how to get him to go to school, on time every day?

    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      What a frustrating situation. From what you have written, it

      sounds like you are doing what you can to try to motivate your son to go to

      school. Unfortunately, it really isn’t something you can actually “make” him

      do. It is regrettable that this behavior not only affects his schooling but

      also impacts your work. I’m not sure there is much I can offer you that will be

      helpful for that particular issue. One thing to keep in mind is that, for most

      kids, acting out behavior including refusing to go to school, is actually due

      to poor problem solving or coping skills. So, it could be beneficial to talk

      with your son at a calm time to figure out what problem he’s trying to solve by

      staying home. Once you have an idea of what that might be, you can then help

      him develop more effective ways of dealing with the issue other than avoidance,

      as Sara Bean discusses in her article What Can I Do When My Child Refuses to Go to School?

      You might also take a slightly different approach to motivating him by setting

      up something that is more rewards based than consequence based. It will look

      very similar; it’s just presented using positive language. You can lump all of

      his different electronic devices into “screen time” and he would have a set

      amount of time that can be used on all of his electronic devices. He would

      decide which devices to use that time on. This could help to cut down on him

      simply using a different device if he loses access to one or the other.

       In the example you shared where your son loses all of his electronics if

      he is late, you might consider instead allowing him to earn extra time

      screen time if he gets up and goes to school on time. If he goes in late, he

      would only earn a small amount of screen time, like maybe 15 minutes. This may

      help motivate him to go in even if he had already made the choice at the start

      of the day not to go. If he doesn’t go at all, you could still treat it like a

      sick day where he wouldn’t be able to access any of his privileges. I hope this

      helps to give you some more ideas for what you can do to help your son start

      making a better choice about going to school. Be sure to check back and let us

      know how things are going. Take care.

  • Kim8903
    I have a 16yo daughter that I recently had to call the police on her 2 times in a day because her behavior is getting so bad with her cursing at me, fighting with me over everything I say, The police actually had a conversation with her and we workedMore on a curfew which she has been following these past 3 days but now that the weekend is coming up and she wants to be able to roam the streets from morning to night I don't feel that is appropriate. I am stuck because the police said to call mobile crisis and also call EMH but I don't want her locked away somewhere. It all started about 9 months ago when she started dating this 18yo. He is not allowed to come on my property so they have to see each other else where. But she thinks she is an adult and don't have to listen to me at all. I cant do this with her any more all this fighting and her cursing at me she even threatened me all because of the boyfriend. Any suggestions????
    • Connie
      Kim8903 What is the problem with a 16 year old dating an 18 year old? If the boy is bad news, it would be best for her to learn that herself. You cannot control everything she does. She needs to learn life experiences at this point. Be supportive of her,More tell her to try to make good choices and let it go. You might be trying to control something that isn't possible to control. I support the curfew but it should be eased on the weekend and she should keep in touch with you about where she is. The more you try to keep her from this boy the more she will fight you.
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      I can understand your reluctance at calling your local crisis

      response for fear your daughter may be admitted into a facility. I think it’s a

      concern shared by numerous parents in similar situations, so, you’re not alone.

      Keep in mind, however, that safety is the primary worry when a child is

      threatening harm or being physically aggressive towards others. You may find it

      helpful to contact your

      local crisis response during a calm time to talk with someone about a safety

      plan for the next time your daughter escalates. You could also ask them how

      they would respond if you were to call them in the middle of a crisis.

      Sometimes knowing what may happen when you call can take some of the fear out

      of using them as a resource in urgent situations. Another thing to bear in mind

      is that as distressing as it may be to consider your daughter being admitted to

      hospital or other facility, it may also offer both of you the opportunity to

      get the services that could assist you in dealing with these troubling

      circumstances. It may be of benefit as well to find out what other types of

      resource are available in your community to help support you and your family

      through these challenges. The 211 Helpline can give you information on services

      such as parent support groups, respite care for exhausted parents, and other

      programs. You can reach the Helpline 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-6222.

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

      don’t have to go through this alone. There are resources available for your

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

      back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • DonnaBee
    What to about a 15yrs who won't come home? Left for school Friday morning, won't call or come home. It's Sunday afternoon & nothing. His father doesn't seem to be as concerned as I am. (Girlfriend) This boy is headed to Juvenile detention for grand larceny greater than $2000 already.More Isn't the father responsible for the minor child?
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      You bring up a situation that’s not uncommon for parents of

      teens, that of a minor running away. The age of majority, or, the age when someone is considered an

      adult and no longer the responsibility of the parent, differs from state to

      state, with 18 being the average age. As for what steps you can take in this

      situation, it’s probably going to be best to defer to his father, as it is he

      who is ultimately responsible for his son. This doesn’t mean you can’t share

      you concerns with his father. But, when it comes to disciplining behavior, it’s

      is usually more effective if the bio parent takes the lead. We have several

      articles on blended families you may find helpful. One in particular is “My Blended Family Won’t Blend—Help!” Part I: How You and Your Spouse Can Get on the Same Page. I’m sorry you are having to deal with such a troubling

      situation and wish you the best of luck moving forward. Take care.

  • alicia12
    my son is 16 he refuses to go to school. he has issues with his looks we have been fined by the education  he is in his gcse year so has literaly a few weeks to do before exams start he hasn't been in for 3 months  hes upset overMore the whole situation but he just feels he cant go in he also hasn't been out of the house in that length of time aswell  what can I do he needs to do his exams please help
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      We speak with many parents who describe feeling stressed

      and anxious as their child is very close to finishing school, yet seems to be http://www.empoweringparents.com/Tough-Love-When-Good-Kids-Make-Bad-Choices.php and appears unmotivated to complete their education at the last

      moment.  You are not alone in dealing with this type of situation. 

      Something that might be helpful for you is to have a problem-solving

      conversation with your son, and develop a plan together on specific steps he

      will take to complete his education, including taking his exams, making up any

      missed work and attending school.  You can find more information in our

      article http://www.empoweringparents.com/what-can-i-do-when-my-child-refuses-to-go-to-school.php 

      In addition, while it is extremely common for most teens to feel self-conscious

      about the way they look, it sounds like your son’s preoccupation with his

      appearance is creating some obstacles to being able to meet expectations, such

      as attending school or leaving the house.  It might be beneficial to check

      in with his doctor as well about this situation.  S/he might have some

      additional insight about how to address this with your son, as well as having

      the ability to rule out any underlying issues.  Thank you for writing in;

      please write back and let us know how things are going!

  • Sharon
    Thank you for this article. I am working on my own issues around control with a very independent, determined preschooler and your article was very helpful. I thought it was important information to share. Thank you for all you do for children and parents!
  • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


    I am sorry you are going through such a stressful time. It can

    be quite upsetting and worrisome  when outside agencies become involved in

    your family due to allegations made by your child. We wouldn’t want to make any

    suggestions of recommendations that would interfere with your case. For that

    reason, it’s going to be best to work closely with the people involved in your

    case, such as the case worker or case manager. As distressing as the situation

    is, it may also be an opportunity for your son, and family, to get the services

    and supports you may need, such as counselors or in home supports. We wish you

    and your family the best of luck as you

    work through this difficult situation. Be sure to check back and let us know

    how things are going. Take care.

  • Rachel, I really feel for you.  My daughter is 13 and I have a 16 year old son, thankfully we have never had any issues with our son however our daughter is proving to be trickier work.  Most people would consider her behaviour as attention seeking but I feel thatMore only children who feel they're missing out on attention would behave that way.  We've always showered our daughter with love and affection and been there for her through any difficult times.  I actually believe that is the problem.  I've molly coddled so much because she's my 'little princess' that now she doesn't know how to cope with day to day blips.  Sadly though a massive turning point in her behaviour came last year when her best friends mum took her own life.  My daughter has really struggled to come to terms with why someone would do it, and its made her think of death a lot.  Any arguments or fallings out at school turn into massive dramas and leaves her in hysterics thinking no-one likes her.  When she falls out with her boyfriend this leads to mass hysteria and her shouting that she's a terrible girlfriend.  If I get upset (which I try not to in front of the children but sometimes it gets a bit much) she then feels she's a terrible daughter and thinks we all hate her.  To anyone reading this I imagine you would be thinking my daughters self esteem must be really low, but why? She's pretty and got a good group of friends, we have a fantastic large family and are all close, me and my husband rarely argue and have a really strong relationship but I can't see what's going on in her head.  We've been to the doctors but she was considered low risk so counselling isn't now an option unless we pay privately.  Don't get me wrong, some days are great but I'm always a bit anxious waking her up in the morning for school because I don't know what mood she will be in, and the last couple of weeks she's asked for nearly everyday off school because she says she doesn't feel well but can't really say whats wrong.  I have been into school and they are a good support but if it gets to the point where she refuses to go, I'm not sure what we'll do then.  I do feel that a lot of her behaviour is for my benefit because when she's with friends or on the phone with them she's fine and laughing & joking. 

    I'm sorry Rachel that I can't give you any advice but please don't feel alone.  Walk away from confrontation.  You may have gone down this route already but ask her if she'd like someone else to talk to about why she feels angry.  Tell her that although you're a parent and you'll support her through everything, unfortunately you don't know the answers to everything and a little outside help for both of you may help.  Good Luck!

    • a1Daniel

      I had a daughter that had not quite the same but similiar behavior. An example was we would all be at the dinner table and if there was something she didnt like she would complain, when she was told to eat it anyways then she would start saying how she was scared that a neighbors dog was going to be put to the ground cause she over heard them talking about having to get rid of her, then she would start crying cause she was scared that another dog she saw earlier in the day roaming around might have gotten hit by a car.

      She did this to try and gain control through sympathy over a situation she wanted to have more control over. My Wife does this alot and my Daughter tends to mimic mommy from time to time. I often have to remind them both to stop and listen to themselves, their tone and what they are saying, and remind them to stay focused on the actual issue or topic. My wife normally tells me a few choice words and will walk away. My daughter will pause and with almost embarrasment she will bury her head into my arm and say i'm sorry Daddy.

      I'm not a church going person myself by any means; but have you considered looking into attending a church more frequently with your daughter, or something along those lines? If she is having troubles relating to death and discouragement then it might help by building her a foundation to relate to or believe in.

  • My daughter is 16 and we have had some not so good years simply because she thinks she is an adult and refuses to obey any rules, curfews that I give her. She lies about what she is doing when she is out has participated in risky behavior, refuses toMore go to school and is now truant. Which in turn is enabling DHR to look at our home life and I also have a son who is 7 and is completely miserable. the fighting, tantrums my daughter throws are outrageous and embarrassing. I feel I have failed completely, myself ,her and my son. Help!
    Lost In Alabama

    • Momofthreegirls

      @Rachel I am in a very similar situation as you are right now with my 16 year old daughter.  She too thinks she is an adult, can make her own decisions, she does obey curfew but then has been known to sneak out every now and then, lies and makes excuses for EVERYTHING and puts blame on everyone else.  I have been reading no stop about her type of behavior.. have learned some things.  Some things are normal teen behavior some are not.  My daughter is also truant but i've been talking with her counselor, attendance and her teachers in hopes they understand i as a parent cannot physically 'make" her go to school!  I am not sure if its hormones or what but recently i feel like i have lost all control.  Right now she is "grounded" for the first time in her life but i cannot for the life of me figure out a way to tell her the reasons for being grounded other than she disobeyed the rules in the house.  I read that grounding isn't always the answer etc.  I am seeking counseling for her even though she thinks I need it!  I told her I do! lol not funny but really, i could use counseling on how to deal with things.  She is now begging for her car back and to go out with friends because it is Spring Break.  ugh.  I just tell her no she is grounded.  I know that is not the right answer.  But she also has younger sisters who see how she gets "away" with everything so that is not a good thing to teach them.  I tell her that too.  Because i know she cares about them.  Anyway, i feel your pain.  Hope things are getting better for you.

      Mom of Teens and Tweens

  • Momof2
    I am so glad to find this website!  I have felt so alone in this battle.  It is a good feeling to find support.
Advertisement for Empowering Parents Total Transformation Online Package
Like What You're Reading?
Sign up for our newsletter and get immediate access to a FREE eBook, 5 Ways to Fix Disrespectful Behavior Now
We will not share your information with anyone. Terms of Use