How do you manage a seriously out of control child or teen?
What works and what doesn't work?
It depends on why they are out of control and what your relationship to them is.
If they are not into substance abuse such as drugs or alcohol and you are the parent or legal guardian you need to set down with with your spouse if you have one and make s short list of 3 to 7 things you would like to help your child get control of. For teen you could have more than 7 items, but the 7 top items are a good start. Make sure this list makes sense and is behaviors important to the well being of the child. Always evaluate your child's behavior and ask yourself if changing it is really important or just part of a silly power struggle.
Next you need to have a sit down with your child and if possible discuss these items. Listen to your child and hear what they have to say. If you are engaging in behavior that is causing anger in them you may need to modify your own behavior if you really want success. You must never yell, scream or in anyway throw a tantrum of your own.
This meeting should result in a final list of changes you expect in their behavior and the consequences if they violate these expectations. You MUST be prepared to follow through with the consequences or you will end up making the matter worse so make sure your consequences are reasonable and doable. These consequences should never be given in anger or with a raised voice.
The best type of consequences are removal of privileges and non-essential possessions such as cell phones and ipods.
You can make a chart of the expected behaviors and place tokens such as stars or boxes after each one. When there is a violation of that behavior calmly mark of one of the tokens and when there are no more tokens take away a privilege. The amount of time the privilege is removed should also be predetermined.
I have seen parents end up stripping their kids rooms bare except for a mattress on the floor and in the end win the day. This was all done with out yelling or threatening. The only items off limits are items that child has purchased with money they earned themselves.
There is an old saying, physician, heal thyself and this probably is true in the case of most out of control children. The parents often need to heal themselves also because they were at the helm while the child got into this condition.
If the child is into substance abuse or exhibiting sever ODD symptoms you may need to consult a professional for some serious intervention.
I have a seriously out of control child. I have done most of what Christian Walker says and it has not worked. At this moment, I am so angry and so tired, I would just like to let her go. Her sense of what she is entitled to is very distorted. She is not into drugs or alcohol but I fear it is just a matter of time.
I agree with Christian Walker. His description of consequence is fantastic, one of the best I've heard. He's advocating the use of negative or subtractive reinforcement for negative behavioral choices. This allows for positive reinforcement of clear expectations (clarified precisely in the behavioral contract he describes), through gradually earning back access to what's lost through positive choices.
There is no coercive-control process here as the parent(s) stay absolutely neutral emotionally and in their volume and tone of voice during a potential crisis. His recommended use of a charting process and token economy is also a best-practice for effective negative consequencing.
But what about contingent (immediate) positive reinforcement of the desired replacement behavior for each of the negative or problem behaviors? Have these been pre-discussed with teaching and learning around high-leverage self-calming and problem solving skills/steps?
What about a token economy for the pre-practiced replacement behaviors? A point and level system, for example, that links access to high probability behaviors and special rewards to follow through on the pro-social replacement behaviors not to mention the pre-practiced sessions when things are positive and calm?
Anne, I can't respond to another question here, but if I can help in anyway we could discuss your situation in the comments section of my most recent Hub on this very topic..
Let know if I can help,
I don't think you can ever control someone, especially a teen when their hormones are raging out of control. Your relationship with them and the influence you've had on them in life does have a major impact on what they decide to do when this "craziness" does happen. Some parents will try to force their children into behaving in a certain way, but ultimately you can only offer up advice. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Instead of trying to force them onto a different level, come to terms with what they're doing. Tell them about your experiences with sex, dating, drugs, and anything in particular. It might give them insight and possibly a more educated/reasonable approach to what they're dealing with.
Dart gun with tranquillizing darts. Okay, not legal, but I'm sure I'm not the only one that thought of this. LOL
First you have to determine what causes the behavior. You cannot fix what you do not understand.
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