Tag Archives: When Good Kids Do Bad Things



Parenting a teen whose behavior is unacceptable is like hugging a cactus. Nothing  seems to work to improve things? Not even hugs?  Laugh if you can and then read on.

Parents are told teen angst is a phase, but when it goes too far, parents need to think lots more.  What is too far? Criminal behavior, chemical addictions, physical cruelty to animals, small children and other people, self-destructive behavior.

If you feel this is what you are dealing with, the following tips will help:

Parenting Tip One: Is it as bad as your think?   Use this five point scale to decide just how out of control your teen is.

5  Your child has been arrested for a felony, has run away more than once; drinks or drugs; has no friends; dropped out of school; threatens suicide; harms self with cutting or head banging; beaten up by others or has unexplained bruises.
4  None of the above but has been stealing from you, lying, breaking curfew and out all night; possibly having unsafe sex; travels with peers who have been arrested or are known drug users; diets although not fat; sullen and depressed most of the time.
3  None of the above, but lies: at least one friend doing drugs or arrested; breaks curfew and has been out all night at least once; won’t tell you where going or what doing: appears depressed half the time; school problems.
2  None of the above, may tell white lies; needs nagging to do what needs doing; rude to you; depressed some of the time; some school problems, but passing most things; breaks curfew, but never stays out all night; has only one or two friends.
1  You are worried but after taking the test realize you child is basically okay. This may be a sign you are over worrying. Start working on you. Get my eBook Parents Are People Too.

Parenting Tip Two: Make sure you have done all you can do, then let go. When  you have done all you can do and a child  is continuing to spiral out of control, adults must stop trying to control.  That is what is meant by “Letting go.”  This does not mean letting go of concern or love for the child; it mainly means  holding to house rules, and not rescuing if the child s/he gets in trouble.

Parenting Tip Three: Get support. Letting go is not easy and once you start making the necessary changes, the child will  become even more difficult as a way of testing your resolve. You will need lots of help from people who care for you and the child. Some of these service providers may want to serve on the team and this is acceptable only if you feel they are supportive of you as well as the child.

The best way to garner support is to create a Child and Family Team.  Such a team should be made of family, friends, various service providers, professionals, and any one else who knows the child and will support you.  Any school counselors, therapists, or social workers working with child should know you have formed a team and be kept informed of it’s actions.

You might also want to tell the principal of your child’s school.  Why?  The child may complain and try to get you reported to the child abuse hotline.

If the child appears to be engaging in criminal behavior outside the home, adults should befriend the local community affair’s police officer and tell him/her of the above plan.  It would also be wise to share your concerns that the child is engaging in criminal activity, although some parents and care-givers will be reluctant to do so.

Parenting Tip Four: Be very clear about what matters: safety and respect  tops  the list. An out of control child is not safe, endangers others,, and has no respect for self, others, or reasonable laws.  Worry when these rules are broken, worry lots less about the smaller rules.

Parenting Tip Five: When rules that matter are broken, strip away a  privilege.  No money even for lunch at school;  no use of telephone including cell phones; no house key; no use of no goodies in his/her bedroom—radio, tv, games.

No listening to explanations, which is a privilege to those who respect others.

If you have been doing the above to no avail, move on to the next tip.

Parenting Tip Five:  Write and deliver a Declaration of Emancipation.  Such a document  give the child freedom from your rules, but make the child fully responsible for her or his life. Detail the  responsibilities you will be turning over to your child. Say something like:

”You seem to feel you are old enough to set your own rules.  I am granting you that right, but know that as an adult you will have to take care of your own needs and accept whatever consequences life hands you.”

 “Because you are not yet eighteen, I am obligated by law to provide you food, minimal clothing, and shelter.  I will not do anything more, including bailing you out if you get arrested or caring for your child should you get pregnant or get someone else pregnant.  You also need to know I will contact the police if you bring any criminal activities into the house or engage in criminal behavior while at home.”

 “I will provide you with life’s necessities, not only because it is required, but because I do care about you. I cannot support some of your behaviors, but  I will always work with you when your requests and behavior are responsible.”

 “I do have to lock the door to stay safe, and I will let you in when you come in at my set curfew or if I hear you, but as you know I sleep soundly.  Also know that the neighbors have told me they will call the police if you create too much noise in trying to wake me.  I understand Covenant House has a shelter that will put you up if you can’t get home by my bedtime or you might sleep  out at a friend’s house.  Do keep yourself safe.”

Use you Child and Family Team to plan when and how to deliver this to the child.  Do not do it alone, you  need  team members with you when you deliver the Declaration to your child.

Parenting Tip Six: Whenever the child says s/he will straighten up, do not cave in too quickly. Privileges need to be earned back one by one. Have the  child meet with one of the other adults on your team and draw up a plan for winning and keeping your trust.

Schedule a time for you to hear the plan within a reasonable time frame. Meanwhile, the child must continue living as an adult.

Parenting Tip Seven:  Show you care with small  “niceties” such as:

  1. Cooking a child’s favorite food once in a while. Saying, “I thought you might like this.”
  2. Putting  on child’s type of music or TV show once in a while.
  3. Leaving small and unexpected presents on his/her room on the bed.
  4. Inviting to movies or other family outings.
  5. Celebrating birthday and other holidays as if the child was behaving.
  6. Considering a very small “love allowance.”  Such allowances are given no matter what the child’s behavior.

Parenting Tip Eight: Consider having the child live somewhere else.  

  1. If you and the child’s other parents are not living together, and the child has been living with you, consider vesting custody with the other parent. This  might work, particularly if that is what the child would like and the other parent agrees and has not been previously found to be a child abuser.  If the child wishes to live with the other parent and the other parent does not agree, don’t get drawn into a fight.  Just tell the child to discuss that idea with the other parent.
  2. A relative who wants the child and the child wants to live with; a friend’s family.
  3. If you are wealthy, try a private school or a good camp or wilderness experience.  Proceed with caution, as many are unregulated and sometimes abuse their residents.
  4. Placement in a private psychiatric facility – insurances including Medicaid often cover the costs.
  5. Consider a drug rehabilitation program if a child drinks or drugs.   Works best when the  child admist to using and is willing to go. However, sometimes works when forced on the child.
  6. Job core has worked in some situations.
  7. Child welfare agencies might provide  placement. The downside? You might be  found to be neglectful, but that is preferable to allowing the child to continue to rule the roost in your home in dangerous and unacceptable ways.
  8. If the child is arrested and in detention, most often Juvenile Justice authorities will want you to take the child back home.  You will need to be in immediate contact with the discharge planning staff.  Make it clear that without lots of support from juvenile justice, you do not feel you can keep him/her out of trouble. With the support of the court and fear of detention, some youth straighten up.
  9. You will do best at brokering for the child to live else where, if a lawyer represents your interests: the courts will provide one  to protect your child’s interests.
  10. Make the probation department part of your Child and Family Team.
  11. Some children want and can be declared emancipated minors. They can seek help from their lawyer if this is their choice.

Parenting Tip Nine: Control your feelings.  Out of control children are comforted if you show upset. Some even want you to blow and get abusive. Why? It lets them rationalize their behavior. If you are crazy or abusive then their bad behavior is excusable.  I call that  Gotcha War. 

Staying calm when a child is defiant is not easy. My eBook Self-soothing to Create Calm is full of quick and easy exercises that properly learned and practiced keep you from blowing your cool.

Remember you can read Amazon eBooks on any of your devices by using this free application.

Parenting Tip Ten: Not sure this is what you need,  but still worried? Remember this is a last resort. You may not need to follow the advice given above.

However, I suggest taking  what might be helpful and keeping the rest for future reference. Hopefully, you won’t need to go the whole ten yards.


Remember sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness is to share this post if you found it helpful.  Share it even if it doesn’t speak to you, it will speak to some. Didn’t like it?  Comment and tell me why and how to improve.


This post was inspired by this WordPress Daily Prompt, Phase


These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.



Please rate this material. Doing so helps me. This is what your stars will mean to me. No stars – Not helpful; One star – Reinforced my knowledge –  Two Stars; New information –  Three stars;  New useful information; Four stars – Very good; Five stars – Excellent.

Thank you and work at staying strong until next time,. I work hard to do the same as life is often difficult but staying strong lets me find the good.



Going with the flow, not letting change throw you around remains an major skill To move ahead on the path to the good life.


Thank you Carl D’Agostino for giving me the privilege of sharing your cartoons

Change starts with birth and ends with death. Before thinking about your child and change, think about you and change. The ability to accept change is partly built into us at birth. Some of us rush to the new and the adventuresome; some wait a bit before joining in, and some would prefer to stay with the old.

This inborn responses to change comes with our genes in the form of temperament traits. Jerome Kagan, retired Harvard researcher and professor, sees  temperament traits as one of the first influences on how we become who we are.

So which are you? Eager Beaver? Careful Cat? Shy Sparrow? Extrovert?  Introvert?  Bigger question? Is your child the same as you or on a totally different wave length. That is what the experts call “fit” as in “goodness of fit.”

Often we pick partners who are our opposite. Eager Beaver? You might pick a Shy Sparrow to hold you back or to make you feel bolder and braver.  A Careful Cat or Shy Sparrow You might pick an Eager Beaver might bring you out a bit.

Two of my grandsons are at the opposite ends of the bold to shy, extravert or introvert ways of being. Guess what? One parent is an Eager Beaver; the other a Shy Sparrow.  And I am more the Shy Sparrow, while my husband is an Eager Beaver.

Two other thoughts before a few suggestions. One thought, people are far more complicated than the above shows; according to Kagan temperament is only one of a hundred things that  explain the way we are. That is good news. With a bit of help, A Shy Sparrow might become if not an Eager Beaver at least a Careful Cat.

I am a Shy Sparrow at heart. Know me in some situations and you’d question that. Look at how I stood up on Oprah. My shy self was in full retreat.  I do not even remember being nervous.  Get me to a party where I know no one, and watch me shudder and try to fade into the woodwork or fly away like the Shy Sparrow I am at heart.

In the Oprah situation, I was sharing knowledge that I was confident I knew. In the second, I didn’t know much about what I could share with socially adept strangers. Context matters.

The second thought related to the above: how our temperament plays out in our lives is not set in stone.  Eager Beavers can be squashed in some situations or by some life events. Think of the Eager Beaver child in a classroom that demands more quiet compliance than the Eager Beaver ordinarily displays.  A Careful Cat will do best in such a class room.

My mother recognized my Shy Sparrow and made things like my appearance on Oprah possible.


Parenting tip number one: Know your child’s temperament traits. Honor them; do not try to force a sparrow to become a beaver.

Parenting tip number two: Know the various temperament traits surrounding your child. Label them as such. That will begin to teach your children how to figure some things out about other people, Figuring people out build’s emotional intelligence. Moreover, it helps the child figure out a bit about him or her self, another building block for emotional intelligence.

Parenting tip number three: Encourage both  the Eager Beaver  and Shy Sparrow to acquire some of the Careful Cat’s ways.  The middle way works best in most situations.

Parenting tip number four: Prod don’t push. The turtle wins more races when trying to teach your child a better way of being. One of my Mom’s mottos was “Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gain.” When I was hesitant about something, she’d repeat that and then add, “Try it, you might like it; if not no great loss.”

Parenting tip number five: Strengthen every family members self-soothing skills.  Buy my eBook Self-soothing: Create Calm in Your Life.  Right now it costs less than an ice cream cone  and lasts longer.

Remember you can read Amazon eBooks on any of your devices by using this free application.


Remember sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness is to share this post if you found it helpful.  Share it even if it doesn’t speak to you, it will speak to some. Didn’t like it?  Comment and tell me why and how to improve.


This post was not inspired by this WordPress Daily Prompt, but by  Facebook Friend Dorian Cole. Thank you Dorian.


These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.


6 Tips to Avoid the Most Common Parenting Mistakes

Blame the parenting gurus if you are confused about about praise,  natural consequences, and the uses and abuses of punishment.  These tips should help.

6 Parenting tips

Parenting tip one: Stop treating children like adults.  Keep the following in mind when teaching children to obey reasonable rules. 

  1. Pre-school kids live very much in the moment. So if you yell “No”  or even spank that moment is bad; but if quickly followed by a hug and the words  “Good going” that moment is good, and so on and so on.
  2. Pre-school kids do not code reality well. Which is why adults have to keep the little one’s safe. Example, a kid wearing a super man cape who thinks s/he can fly down a flight of stairs and not get hurt.  How to help: Start early on to label things as “Make-believe” or “Fun Fantasy.” Do this with Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. The kids will not understand and the fun will go on, but you are at the same time teaching a child to figure our what is real and what is not.
  3. Thomas Phenlan’s One, Two, Three, Magic. works best when rules are being broken.
  4. Once a child can read concrete rewards for good behaviors (token system)  is useful.  Not getting a reward becomes a punishment.  Kids Making Change explains token systems so all can understand.
  5. Teens are designed to question the rules of adults. Moreover, when with peers, the best good kid can be lead astray by those breaking rules.  What helps? Being forced early on to obey reasonable rules. Then as the teen years approach allowing your children to spread their wings and learn from life. This is when the advice of the communication experts starting with Thomas Gordon’s Parent Effective Training works best. 
  6. All kids of all ages and that includes many adults needto beforceably stopped when engaged in behavior that hurts physically or is immediately dangerous.  That is when the STOP Plan works well.

The Stop Plan

Parenting tip two: keep rules simple. That is the purpose of linking all rules to the word “Respect.” The younger the child, the more some things need to be drummed into his or her little head.  To paraphrase the song: “You’ve got to taught before you are six or seven or eight not to do the things your parents hate.”

Parenting tip three: Model what you want. Most parents don’t, but for the big rules you must and you must so consistently.

Parenting tip four: Talk less and act more. The communication experts have made talking and explaining a fetish. You zone out when talked at, and so do your kids.  That is why  1-2-3 Magic  works. Three word and you take action.

Parenting tip five: Make sure the child knows the punishment for breaking a rule when being punished what rule was broken.  Amazed me as a foster parent that when asked what rule had been broken necessitating a punishment, many teens confessed to a host of other sins, but not the one I was punishing them for.  Enlightening and eventually lead to this  CARE Plan.

The CARE Plan

Parenting tip six: Reward more than punish.  Think for a minute about how often a small child hears “No.” No is important for children to hear,  but children also need to hear what they are doing well.  Why  once the “No” is obeyed, “Thank You” or “Good listening”  needs to follow and  along with a hug for the young ones and a happy face for teens.

There are other ways to make the good times rock more often than the necessary negatives.  Special times, just because I love you gifts, well placed praise, family fun and games are just a few.

More tips from the Parenting Gurus I trust: Jean Tracy  who is a fellow graduate of the Bryn Mawr School of Social Work and Social Research. This link takes you to her videos. I am jealous of her talents, amazed by every post of hers I read,  and grateful she is a friend.

Kenneth Blanchard and his One Minute Manager – meant for the busienss world but excellent advice for parents and a very quick read.

Hiam Ginott –  he started the emphasis on communication, but did not think it solved all problems.

Supper Nanny Jo Frost She does family meetings, rule setting, rule enforcement and time outs  perfectly.

Adam Katz – Dog trainer.  Dog trainers get punishment and reward better than most parenting gurus. Adam Katz is my favority on-line dog trainer. In this link he talked about how the Hippie generation – almost me – has messed up dog training. I cringe everytime I see Dogs pulling their owners around in the park instead of the owners being in control.

I often link my posts to the WordPress Daily Prompt.  Today’s suggested:  Don’t You Forget About Me – Imagine yourself at the end of your life. What sort of legacy will you leave? Describe the lasting effect you want to have on the world, after you’re gone.

I discuss this in my eBook Know Your Mission So You Can Reach Your  Goals. I think every parent’s mission, should be to be remembered as tough and loving.


Remember sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness is to share this post if you found it helpful.  Share it even if it doesn’t speak to you, it will speak to some. Didn’t like it?  Comment and tell me why and how to improve.



These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.

Give Your Child An Emotional Life Saver – A Pet

A WordPress Daily Prompt asked “What was your favorite plaything as a child?” Mine was not a thing, mine was my dog. Lady was her name. Picture of a dog

I was a shy and lonely child with few friends. Then my mother decided the family needed a dog. She found Lady at the local pound. I found a best friend and was never lonely again.

The post also asked how your childhood play thing remained part of your adult life. I have never been without a pet since Lady became mine.  Most recently, as aging has deadened my hearing, I have become an advocate of service dogs.

Here’s mine:punky

As we were exploring getting a service dog I discovered many were scamming people looking for Service Dogs. For example, I was told by one trainer, he would need 50 hours at $50 an hour to train one for us. Nonsense. Not for a Hearing Assisted fog.

I also discovered, I could buy a badge saying my dog was a service dog on the internet for a whole lot less. Many people do that so they can travel free with their non-service dog. Not honest and a threat to those who really need a service dog. .

Here’s the down and dirty. For seeing eye dogs it does take hours of training. The same for Guard Dogs. But all I and most people need to claim their dog is a Service Dog is a Doctor’s note saying one is needed and way.

That did not satisfy me.   A bit too loose. A well-trained service dog starts by being well-trained and then being socialized to be in public with the best of manners. He or she should also be trained to do three things the person cannot do on their own.

There are service dogs do amazing things. Most of you know about Service Dogs for the Blind, but there are numerous others. The ten most common are Hearing Assistant, Diabetic or Seizure Alert Dogs, Mobility Assistant Dogs and that include Large Dogs trained to help a person’s balance. Mental Health Assistant dogs can be trained to soothe and calm panic attacks and to disrupt impulsive agressive behaviors.  Some also speacialize in helping socialize children.

Lady was not certified, but she moved me away from my shyness, and out into the world.

parenting tips

Parenting tip one: Read this Wiki How  to learn more about service dogs and how to train one.

Parenting tip two. Get your dog from a shelter. Some breeders are scamming the public by charging more than is reasonable by claiming their dogs are bred to be service dogs. Going to a shelter rescues a dog and the people at the shelter will help you find a dog with a temperament suitable for Service Dog Training.

An added bonus – Shelter dogs are already trained and often neutered. We got our Punky as a rescue dog and he was house broken, trained to sit, stay, come, fetch, and heel. He also had all his shots and was neutered.

Parenting tip three: Don’t get a puppy.  Look for a dog between nine months and two years.


Remember sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness is to share this post if you found it helpful.  Share it even if it doesn’t speak to you, it will speak to some. Didn’t like it?  Comment and tell me why and how to improve.



These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.