It's About Them

Young People … Our Greatest Resource

3 Ways to Manage Your Unruly Child (Peggy Sealfon)

3 Ways to Manage Your Unruly Child, Peggy SealfonIf your child is continuously combative and disrespectful to you, imagine that same child at the age of 17 driving off in a car. If you do not reign in behaviors from early ages, you are dooming your child’s future and you are destined for a troubled relationship. Would you let your child eat bad foods, drink poisonous substances, or play with dangerous toys? Allowing out-of-control behaviors is toxic to the family and the child.

Always Testing Limits

Children are always testing their boundaries; a parent’s job is to define those limits clearly within the family structure. As a parent, you must be confident, kind and committed to what’s acceptable regardless of a child’s emotional reaction.

Know that crying is not a death sentence, it’s a growing experience. Discipline and accountability are key elements in raising well-balanced, well-adjusted children. If you allow unruly behavior at any age, your kids will assume it’s acceptable. Remember you’re not their friend, you’re their parent and you need to mentor them.

Three Ways …

Here are a few recommendations:

1. Develop family rules and be consistent in adhering to them. For instance, children should have chores around the house appropriate to their age. They should keep their rooms tidy and help with meals, cleanup, etc. When they do these tasks, offer positive reinforcements, such as saying, “I’m so fortunate to have such a thoughtful child who did all the dinner chores tonight without even being asked…Thank you.”

On the other hand, if they fail to perform the requested activities, you need to activate consequences. Be firm without raising your voice. If they misbehave at the dinner table or with their siblings, they lose privileges such as play dates, no TV, no games, no phone. Depending on the severity of the infraction, they may be confined to their room for a period to think about what they’ve done.

Consider a young adult who got fired from his job. Did he understand what would happen when he got caught with drugs on the drug test? It is important to teach children accountability: If you do something wrong, there are penalties. It’s okay if they learn to use an excuse with their peers for avoiding bad choices such as “My Dad will kill me if I do that.”

Escape from Anxiety, Peggy Sealfon2. Teach respectfulness and kindness. Help your child recognize feelings of gratitude. With young children, reinforce positive moments. For instance, if one child shares a toy with another, say aloud how happy and grateful the receiving child appears so it becomes a teachable moment.

Create a gratitude jar. Ask your child to write one thing they are grateful for each week and put the comment in a beautifully decorated jar. At the end of the month, spend time together as a family reviewing the entries. Words and notes of thanks should also be encouraged and can help children explore feelings of gratitude further.

When your child exhibits positive behaviors, take time to give a compliment.

Make volunteering part of your life by donating family time to help a charitable organization. Use such an opportunity to bring awareness about others who are less fortunate.

When Countess Stella Andrassy was growing up in a privileged household in her native Sweden, every Christmas her parents made sure that she and her siblings visited several homeless shelters to distribute gifts before they were permitted to enjoy their own holiday gifts. “It gave me greater appreciation for all that I had,” the Countess once shared with me. There are few things comparable to the feeling one experiences by helping someone else. Selflessness and kindness are important lessons so children aren’t always thinking about just themselves. You can help them expand their awareness so they’ll learn to enjoy doing things for others.

3. Be conscientious about setting a good example. Walk the walk by exhibiting values and integrity. Let them catch you doing the right stuff. For example, a cash machine delivers $120 when you requested $100. Exemplify the behavior you want to encourage by giving back the $20 in front of your children. Hold the door open for others so that you teach them respect and awareness.

Let children witness you taking care of yourself and dealing with life’s challenges in constructive ways. Show them how to relax with what is. Instead of focusing on problems, withdraw from any immediate dramas and pause for a time out to be able to see a clearer, more productive solution.

More than likely, you have all the basics for your survival. You may want more or are improving yourself but in this very moment, you’re okay. Let your children know that they’re okay. Create a sense of safety and security for your child full of love and support. In this parental environment, children thrive and grow to be valuable adults who contribute to a better world!

Give Yourself a Break

If you’re having difficulty getting centered yourself, try my free audio at By taking a brief mental pause, you will refresh your mind and body. It will help you think more clearly, feel more energized, function more effectively, and ultimately reduce stress so that you’ll be more present and available for your children! ###

Peggy Sealfon is a personal development coach and author of the best-selling book, Escape from Anxiety—Supercharge Your Life with Powerful Strategies from A to Z. CLICK HERE for a free consultation with Peggy, or visit her website at



February 6, 2017 Posted by | adversity, anger, Difficult Child, Discipline, family, Healthy living, Stress | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oppositional Defiant Disorder Digest (August, 2010)

ODD Management Digest

(August, 2010)


The August, 2010, issue of the resource for parents, teachers and counselors, the ODD Management Digest, has been published to the web. For a complimentary (free) subscription, CLICK HERE. (If you miss the August, 2010, issue, subscribe anyway. Any current Digest will direct you to archived issues.)

Here’s what in the August, 2010, issue:



Take a Moment: Three things are discussed for bringing back a more hopeful perspective regarding a difficult and defiant child.


“Before I Get Mad” Poster: A teacher in West Virginia shares a fun and effective way to teach students how to control emotional outbursts.


The List:  What do you do if a youngster comes to counseling or therapy with a list of items they want to cover during every session? Interesting.


Finding a Counselor or Therapist (Part One): This is the first of two parts of an answer to a father’s questions about what makes a good counselor or therapist for his child, and where does one find them.


(E-Book) The Behavior Modification Trap: This 18-page e-book is actually the sixth chapter from Dr. Sutton’s latest work-in-progress, The Changing Behavior Book. In this e-book, Dr. Sutton addresses why tangible rewards and incentives often fail with some youngsters, and what can be done to defeat the “trap”.


Digest Archives: Dr. Sutton discusses how back issues of the Digest are still being archived, and shows readers how to access them.


How Long? This is Dr. Sutton’s tribute to the late Art Linkletter, who passed away this summer at age 97. Included is “My Best Introduction”, Linkletter’s contribution to the book for grandparents, Grand-Stories.

For a complimentary subscription to the ODD Management Digest, CLICK HERE. The Digest will appear monthly in your email as long as you want, and you can cancel it at any time.

August 11, 2010 Posted by | adversity, Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, Links | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oppositional Defiant Disorder Management Digest (July, 2010)

ODD Management Digest

(July, 2010)


The July, 2010, issue of the resource for parents, teachers and counselors, the ODD Management Digest, has been published to the web. For a complimentary (free) subscription, CLICK HERE. (If you miss the July, 2010, issue, subscribe anyway. Any current Digest will direct you to archived issues.)

Here’s what in the July, 2010, issue:



Discipline Problems at School, Part Two: This is the second part of a two-part series on discipline issues at school. In this issue, a “collaborative” approach to intervention is discussed.


Celebration of Learning Day: A teacher in Kansas shares how her husband encourages achievement in his classroom by getting everyone involved.


Ask! We can learn a lot about a youngster by simply asking. Three suggestions for asking are discussed.


The Kid Who Wants to STAY Angry, Part Two: This is a second part of an answer to a parent’s concern. This part offers ideas for intervention into the four most typical reasons why children and teens elect to remain angry rather than resolve it.


A Special Interview: The “freebie” for this issue is a strikingly candid and informative interview with the author of the bestselling book, The Defiant Child.


Digest Archives: Dr. Sutton discusses how back issues of the Digest have been archived, and shows readers how to access them.


How Long? This is Dr. Sutton’s tribute to the late John Wooden, the legendary coach of the UCLA Bruins. Included is a wonderful great-granddad story Coach Wooden sent to Dr. Sutton for inclusion in the book, Grand-Stories. Don’t miss this one!

For a complimentary subscription to the ODD Management Digest, CLICK HERE. The Digest will appear monthly in your email as long as you want, and you can cancel it at any time.

July 12, 2010 Posted by | Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Healthy living, Parents, Self-esteem, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Praise a Difficult Child

As a parent, have you ever tried to compliment your difficult child, only to have it turn into an argument or fight? (ODD kids especially are good at trying to analyze your motive or drag you into a conflict on their turf: words.) If so, here’s a little strategy that is very effective because … well, because after the compliment you’ll disappear! (It’s quite difficult to argue with someone who isn’t there.)

There are two components to pulling off this intervention. First, you’ll need a pre-planned, quick exit. Second, you’ll need an argument-resistant compliment or expression of thanks, something that can be objectively verified. (“Thank you for being nice today” is not an objective statement and, with some youngsters, it can turn into a noose around your neck. “I noticed you put the lawnmower back in the garage” would be objective and verifiable.)

Here’s an example of a father speaking to his teenage daughter as he is standing at the front door, car keys in hand:

Oh, Terri, I wanted to tell you something. I’m headed to the store to get some whipped cream for dinner, but I didn’t want to neglect to mention this. It’s important. Every day this week you’ve gotten out your homework and attended to it without your mother or I needing to remind you at all. That’s wonderful, Terri. Thanks. Gotta go.

And he leaves quickly, before there’s even an opportunity for Terri to say anything.

Now, if she really wants to say, “Thanks, Dad, thanks for noticing,” she can say it when Dad returns. It’s up to her, but there’s no need for an obligatory response on her part, nor is there an opening for her to whip up an argument or “attitude.” The good stuff happens in the silence as Dad is driving to the store.

The beginnings of positive change don’t make any sound at all.


James Sutton, Psychologist

June 30, 2009 Posted by | Difficult Child, family, Parents | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Defiant Children: Why Some Interventions DON’T Work

This post is taken from my December issue of the ODD Management Digest (click here to subscribe). It poses an interesting question.

It’s happened to all of us, hasn’t it. We implement a new intervention we have learned … and it falls FLAT! It not only fails, it flops miserably. Why?

A 9th-grade teacher tried Karen Ledet’s idea from the November issue of the ODD Management Digest and emailed the following concern (essentially, Karen, a teacher in Vernon, Florida, posed a really simple, but powerful idea: to provide a desk separated from the others for any youngster who just wants more “space” when they do their classwork):

  I tried the “Privacy Desk” technique with one student, but he does not like it because he says I am isolating him. I would appreciate your advice.

Obviously this would not be a strategy to use with a student who considers it a punitive measure. I might isolate a student as a disciplinary measure, but that would be a different intervention entirely.

As I see it, and as Karen explained it, the benefit of the “Privacy Desk” is that it runs mostly on automatic pilot. Students who feel they need a bit more space from others can use the “isolated” desk. There are those times when some youngsters WANT to be alone in a crowded classroom.

This teacher’s concern is both valid and real; I’ve definitely “been there; done that.” The whole issue brings up the importance of the role of perception in determining exactly HOW a student will handle an intervention.

An example. I once provided counseling services in a small school district in southeast Texas. I was only there once a month, but I quickly got to know most of the students. They would come up to me in the hall and ask me if I would sit next to them at lunch. To them, it was a big thing.

But consider the youngster who cannot behave or keep his hands to himself. The teacher tell him he will sit with her at lunch, and will not be going outside with the others for lunch recess. That kid HATES it. The same behavior, sitting with the teacher or counselor at lunch, can be Heaven or Hell to a child depending on how it is “packaged.”

A youngster’s perception of an intervention is a key ingredient to its success. 


James Sutton, Psychologist

December 9, 2008 Posted by | Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment