How to Deal with a (Slightly) Rebellious Tween

How can a successful, smart and seemingly put-together woman (with abs to boot!) in her late thirties suddenly become dumb-founded, clueless, and grappling for answers? Although the idea seems unthinkable, that’s just what happened to one of my long-time friends.

Yesterday, I was quite surprised when she sent me a message, asking me about how she can undo something terrible she’s done. She and her 12-year old daughter were having one of their usual mother-daughter spats when my friend inadvertently said something out loud which understandably tore her girl apart. Since then, her 12-year old daughter has built a virtual wall of hostility around her. Now my friend feels she’s the worst (still, with rock-hard abs!) mom on the planet.

So, what advice did I give her?

Talk heart-to-heart. I told my friend to try speaking with her daughter at a time when both of them are in a calm mood. I said that she should try her hardest to explain to her daughter that sometimes, we say things in the heat of the moment, and then regret it later on. She has to assure her daughter that she understands how hurt and angry she feels because of the upsetting thing she has said.

Write her a letter. If talking to her daughter doesn’t work, she can try pouring out her feelings in an old-school letter. Or she can probably chat with her daughter online- since that’s the medium of communication she seems to prefer. She simply has to validate how her daughter feels, and then explain her side.

Seek intervention. If all else fails, she can always ask for professional help. Her daughter may come from a disposition that sometimes our feeble minds fail to comprehend. My friend plans to speak with the school guidance counselor about this. Hopefully they sort this out before things get out of hand.

At the end of the day, all our kids need to feel is that we love them unconditionally, and that we are damn proud of every little thing they do. And more often than not, they gauge that love by the quality of time we spend with them.  Tweens start to assert their independence, but at the same time, they still need and want to be with us.

When they begin to exhibit early signs of rebellion- even to the point of physically harming themselves- that is definitely a cry for help. They’re obviously craving for our attention. Let’s give that to them while we can.

Controlling Teens as Single Parents

Control is a key factor when raising a teen with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Why? Well, to begin with, things seem to feel as if they’re out of control. Then, there’s your attempts to remain in control of your teen and the defiant behavior. And, lastly, your defiant teen is in a power struggle with you at all times, trying to be the one in control.

As a single parent, there are things you can control, and others you simply cannot control. You have control over providing your child with shelter, food and clothing. You also have control over how your actions show your teen ways to deal and cope with life challenges and conflicts, as well as consequences. But, your teen is personally in control over whether or not he/she learns from and applies those life lessons.

5 Things Parents Can and Cannot Control

  1. Parents can control whether their kids know their expectations or not. So, make sure your teen knows what’s expected of him/her, behavior-wise and attitude-wise. “I expect you to handle your anger without becoming violent.”
  2. Parents can control giving their teens opportunities to live up to those expectations. “Son, I’m okay with you walking away when you become angry with me in order to cool down. Turn on some music to calm down. Then, come back and talk to me again later.”
  3. Parents can control whether this children understand what consequences will be for specific actions that don’t meet expectations. “Son, now that you’re a teen, hitting your little sister is actually domestic violence. Do it again, and I’ll can the police on you. Neither of us wants you to go to jail. So, to avoid this, you need to handle your frustrations without resulting to physical attacks.
  4. As a parent, you can control your own behavior. Children tend to model the actions of the adults in their lives most. Therefore, you need to model the right way to deal with anger without becoming physically violent yourself. Practice those expectations you’ve put on your child, like walking away until you calm down.
  5. Parents cannot control the behavior of their teens. This is a major misconception for many people. In spite of what folks tend to think, you have no control over whether or not your child turns to physical abuse when he/she gets angry. You have no power when it comes to the arguments or the power struggles that comes with attempting to control your ODD teen. What you can control is the way you respond or react to your child’s behavior. So, stay in control. That’s the best way to handle the situation, as well as teach your teen the right way to handle frustration.

Judgment Does Not Help… Therapy Does

People whose kids don’t suffer from ODD tend to believe that you can control your ODD teen. They may even judge you, telling what you need to do to gain control. But, they have no idea how hard it is to manage an ODD child and his/her behavior. They have no idea how much shame and pain you suffer because of your child’s bad attitude and violent tendencies.

So, what’s the answer? You and your child need therapy. And, in many cases, especially for single parents, therapeutic programs work best. That way, the child is removed from the home, giving both the teen and the parent a “break” from each other. In the meantime, the child gets a quality education, along with 24-hour therapeutic care, including individualized therapy, group sessions, anger management programs, and much more. Single parents and teens with ODD heal better with professional therapeutic programs.

Single Parenting and Defiance in Teens

Oftentimes, teens tend to be a bit defiant by nature. But, there are those who seem to be more rebellious than usual. If this is your teen, he/she may be suffering from Oppositional Defiant Disorder, also known as ODD. These teens often thrive on pushing your buttons and creating conflict. Why? Well, it makes them feel powerful and in control.

Criteria for ODD

What’s the difference between a rebellious teenager and a teen with ODD? Well, the general rules are:

  1. Four or more of the following behaviors must exist
  2. Those behaviors must be present for six months or more

Common ODD Behaviors

  • Loses temper often
  • Argues with authority figures often
  • Defies rules on purpose, often
  • Annoys others on purpose, often
  • Blames others for bad behavior or mistakes often
  • Becomes annoyed easily be others often
  • Expresses resentment and anger often
  • Is vindictive and spiteful often

How to Handle Defiant Teens as Single Parents

It’s very common for parents of teens with ODD to explore professional help for their children. Parents can also benefit from therapeutic measure to help them handle the frustration and challenges created by their teens’ defiant behaviors.

The good news for parents is that most children grow out of ODD as they go into adulthood. But, until then, one of the biggest frustrations you’ll suffer as a single parent will be getting your teen to follow rules. This requires getting your teen to care about consequences. Here are three tips to help you accomplish this as a parent of an ODD teen:

  1. Rules must be clear and consistent. The rules need to be very clear and unquestionable. You must always be consistent with the rules, too. That means that no matter how tired or frustrated you become, the rules must remain the same. Some child behavioral specialists recommend writing down the rules. Then, you and your teen should sign them. That makes it much more difficult for your teen to manipulate or challenge the rules. The last thing you want to hear is, “I didn’t know.”
  2. Enforce rules and consequences consistently. Every single rule should be following at ALL times. And, you need to be consistent when it comes to enforcing the rules, as well as the consequences of not following them. Wiggle room has a way of causing any teen to push the limits. However, when a teen has ODD, they’ll continuously badger or attempt to bully you into altering the rules. After being challenged over and over, single parents can start to feel drained. So, put your foot down. Don’t compromise when it comes to the rules. In time, your teen will come to realize that the rules are set in stone.
  3. Only issue out 100% enforceable consequences. Take heed to this very important rule of thumb. Teens with ODD are extremely defiant and very sneaky. They’re the teens who will sneak out the window if you try to ground them. They thrive on taking control away from parents and using it for themselves. Keep this in mind when issuing out consequences you can’t enforce 100%. If not, you will most definitely lose power. In other words, telling your teen, “You can’t go outside for a week”, is probably unenforceable. So, every time he goes outside to head to school or Grandma’s house, he’ll feel powerful, as if he got over on that rule. So, choose your consequences, and your words, wisely when dealing with teens with ODD.

Teens with ODD have strengths, just like other teens. They’re often bright children filled with determination and creativity. Yet, they can be very rebellious, challenging you at every turn. This can be very tiring and frustrating for parents of ODD teens, who struggle to manage the negative behaviors.


Liahona Academy – A Therapeutic Boarding School for Boys

From the Liahona Academy:

Make A Difference: Parenting Tips

Of Motherhood and Bad Haircuts

Rain does have its way of washing away sorrow and ill feelings.  Heavy downpour dominated yesterday, flushing out negativity from my system, reassuring me of good things to come.  Ginormous raindrops virtually bathed my soul, leaving me with a sense of calm and overall order.

That sense of peace was suddenly jolted by an email from an old friend.  She felt like she was the worst mother on the face of the earth because of her daughter’s bad haircut.  While at the salon, my friend was so engrossed in the pages of a magazine, that she didn’t notice the hairstylist snipping away at her daughter’s hair, cutting it way too short.

What transpired next was a series of tears, blame and a remote control flying across the living room. Suffice it to say, my friend’s daughter wasn’t the least bit pleased at her haircut.  And she blamed her mom for it.  My friend tried her hardest to reassure her daughter that her hair will grow back, but that didn’t appease the furious 10-year old.   My friend sucked it all in, believing that she the lousiest mother ever.

I felt both of their pain.  I knew how horrible it felt to have a bad haircut, and I knew how even more horrible it felt to let your daughter down.

I just told my friend to let her daughter vent and express her anger.  Her feelings aren’t to be trivialized, because she has every right to feel that way.  But maybe her anger should be redirected elsewhere, and not at my friend.  Moms only want the best for their kids, and that hair disaster was anything but her fault.

I told her to tell her daughter about a similar hair catastrophe she may have had when she was in high school.  That way, the kid would know that that thing too shall pass, and they could just laugh at the situation.

And then I comforted my friend, reminding her that she was only human- that I’m only human.  Whatever mistake she felt she committed didn’t earn her the title “Worst Mom Ever”.  It’s these minor mishaps which make us wiser and add dimension to our personalities.  We stumble, shake it off, and go on with life.

At least now I know better not to take my daughter to THAT hairstylist from hell.

How to Get Your Child to Take Vitamins

It can be difficult for parents to know if their babies and toddlers are getting enough of the right nutrients to help them grow big and healthy. Seeking for vitamins to supplement their meals reveals that there are a lot of choices. How can parents be certain that their children are getting enough of the right kinds of vitamins?

A good place to begin the search is at Nature’s Plus Animal Parade children’s vitamins. Nature’s Plus offers a variety of vitamins for parents to choose from for their children. From liquid drops for the youngest kids to chewable vitamins in animal shapes and fruit flavors, they will be a hit with the children as well as parents.

Some of the products are available in more than one form. There will be no more fussing about taking their vitamins with this assortment of options! Whole food supplements ensure that your child has balance in her diet. They come in both chewable vitamins and liquids. Enriched by super foods and extracts, you can feel confident in giving them to your children. Included are naturally occurring minerals, amino acids and more.

For those children who simply will not eat their vegetables, check the nutritional shake formulated for children. While they are drinking their delicious milkshake, they are also ingesting five servings of fruit and vegetables. The liquid drops for babies comes sugar free. That is important during this time when they are developing their permanent teeth.

Stop by the web site for more information.

Why I Shouldn’t Be Friends With My Daughter (Not Too Much!)

In Geometry, lines are important.  They serve a purpose in marking boundaries, setting limits.  The same holds true in life.  Lines have to be drawn in order to delineate one’s space and borders.  When those lines are crossed one way or another, conflict arises.

A lot of parents aim to be “cool”.  They want their kids to like them, because they want their kids to open up to them about things.  So they do everything they can- notwithstanding rules- to be friends with them.  But what does this mean?  Does this mean letting them go on Facebook unsupervised, or making their curfew hours flexible?

I’m not one to rule with an iron hand, but I believe that we parents should be that to our kids: parents.  That’s why we were put in this position.  Our kids have their sets of friends, but there will only be one set of parents for him.  If we don’t fulfill our duties as guardians to them, who else will?  There’s an unwritten contract that it is our obligation to nurture them, and guide them.

That doesn’t mean that we should totally scrap “having fun with the kids” from our to-do list.  The key is in striking a balance between chilling with them and commanding respect.   Is it at all possible?  It may be a struggle, yes, but it is possible.  So, how can you not be a dictator and neither a too-cool mom or dad?

In order to foster a certain degree of friendship while still keeping within the bounds of respect, we parents should initially let our kids know what type of respect we want from them.  In a loving yet firm way, we can lay down the rules when it comes to their curfew, for example.

Once your kid is aware of the rules you’ve set, you can then try to be involved in his or her life, without over-imposing.  Make it a habit to ask him about how his school day went, ask him about his friends.  Take a keen and sincere interest in his hobbies and the people he hangs out with.  Spend time watching his favorite TV show with him and talk about it.

Don’t try too hard to be your kid’s friend.  Smothering invites disrespect.  Just give your kid a steady supply of warm love, and he’ll reciprocate while still upholding respect for you.

When Timeouts Don’t Work

Show me a parent who has never pulled his or her hair out of sheer frustration with disciplining the kids, and I’ll show you a towering T-rex in a tuxedo.  We’ve all racked our brains out in trying to come up with an effective way to get our kids to behave.  Our parenting skills are put to the test as we devise ways to discipline our children.   These tactics vary from punishment, to taking privileges away, to using timeouts.


Most, if not all, of us have probably employed the time-honored tradition of the timeout as a method to instill discipline in our kids.  Sometimes though, this strategy of steering our kids away from his erring ways just doesn’t work.  The timeout suddenly turns into a major battle, as the kid acts out and forcefully rejects being made to sit quietly in a corner.  Instead of seeing an improved change in behavior, the parent ends up only more frustrated.

Why does this method fail, then?  During a timeout, the kid feels isolated and afraid.  Timeouts teeter on the effectiveness scale when we yell at them as we send the kid to timeout.  He reacts instead of listens.  Timeouts seemingly do nothing to nurture a kid’s compassionate and confident nature.

Being too angry at that moment does cloud our better judgment, so we end up somewhat failing in our efforts at disciplining our kids.  Instead of a timeout, we can have the kid go sit in his room, and ask him to think about what he’s done.   He can write or draw what he thinks happened, and what he should do to make things right.  When you’ve calmed down, you can then enter his room and talk to him.  If he prefers to keep quiet, you can just sit there beside him, as you occasionally give him reassuring hugs.

There is not one method to correct a child’s behavior.  We as parents need to assess how our methods emotionally affect our kids, making sure that these tactics do not compromise our relationship with them.

High-Kicking Kids: The Benefits of Martial Arts

Here in my neck of the woods, it’s that time of year again when all you could possibly crave for is a tall glass of icy lemonade and a dip in the pool.  Yes, it’s summertime… when all little kids can be naughty again (I’m quoting from Looney Tunes, as you may have noticed).

To keep restless kids from being naughty during the summer, it’s always helpful to get them involved in a summer activity.  Signing them up for summer sports clinics, for example, keeps them busy, and at the same time gives them a sound mind and body.  One of those worthwhile sports for kids to do is martial arts.

Some moms may shun the idea of their kids in full body contact with other kids, but martial arts are not about teaching them violence.  Karate and taekwondo, for instance, aren’t all about body slamming, and getting into fights a la Bruce Lee or Ralph Macchio (don’t even get me started on how he looks today… he’s OLD, that much I can say!).  Martial arts teach the following skills to kids:

Self-discipline and respect.  A class which normally lasts for an hour begins and ends with the students bowing to the teacher or master.  This, along with standing still and waiting for the next command helps to develop in them the important skill of knowing how to control their bodies and to keep still when needed.  This is especially beneficial to kids with ADHD, as self-discipline is one skill they must learn.

Concentration.  After doing warm up exercises, the kids then practice the various forms, kicks, punches and blocks which are distinct to his martial art of choice.  This requires much concentration and careful attention.  These skills carry over into school, helping kids improve on their behavior and even grades.

Setting and achieving goals.  As one progresses over the course of a martial art, he is promoted to the next higher level, marked by a different-colored belt.  So, as your kid moves from a white belt to a black belt, he learns to set goals for himself and feels a sense of accomplishment when he works hard to achieve them.

So, as my daughter kicks some serious ass in taekwondo class, I’m just going to keep myself busy, thinking of forecast lighting options for the house.  I’m now going to return to my summer task of ordering fixtures from Golden Lighting as my daughter rejoices at the fact that there are “no more classes, no more books, and teachers’ dirty looks…”  I sure hope she gets a kick out of martial arts.


Coping Strategies for the Pushover Parent

Hi! I’m Pepper, and I’m a pushover parent.  Yes, I’m starting to practice my spiel for when I begin attending one of those support groups- which will hopefully culminate in a night of unabashed alcoholic frenzy. 

I used to be in denial, thinking that my daughter’s behavior was acceptable, but eventually I realized that, without a doubt, I am a pushover mom.  My little girl is precocious, adorable, sweet, but at times she does treat me like a doormat.  And I oblige.  I tumble and fall just to give her what her heart desires.  When she gets fussy, I cave in. 

All hope is not lost, though.  There may not be any support group- yet- for this problem, but there are some things you can do, if you happen to be a fellow pushover parent.

Stay calm.  I know that’s easier said than done when your kid is having one of his or her episodes, but you really must try to be calm.  When children sense anger or anxiety in your voice, facial expressions, or body language, they turn a deaf ear to what you say.  Instead of listening, they end up feeling scared or angry.  You have to calmly and firmly state what they are doing wrong.  When you yell at the top of your voice, it distracts your kid from the actual misconduct.

Be consistent.  Whoever said that rules were made to be broken definitely has a screw loose- or just wants to be on the cover of the January 2012 issue of Playboy.   Any child would be confused if one day, it’s not okay to watch TV while having dinner, and the next day it’s perfectly alright.  Stick to your rules, however difficult it may seem. 

Enforce consequences.  As a parent, your job is to reward your kids when they obey you and punish them when they don’t.  Instead of making idle threats, try sticking to more reasonable consequences that are fair enough.  You can give you kid an additional chore as “punishment”, or probably cut down his TV-viewing time by an hour.  Try not to bribe your kid into obeying you, but be sure to praise him when he does.

Remember that each time you give in to your kid’s demands, you make the work much harder for yourself.  You’re only digging a deeper hole to bury yourself in.  Just stay calm and consistent, and sooner or later, your child will respond in the way you want him to.