No Clue What To Do NEXT...


Active Member
That's useful stuff, seriously. It also reinforces what I said about keeping a diary. We actually took our diary to the docs to help them see what we were dealing with. And the diary worked very much in difficult child 3's favour when we changed schools and I took the diary with me to show the new school. I saw the principal and prospective class teacher (also the deputy) leaf through it and look at one another - they were horrified at what the school; had written in their responses and were suddenly a lot more supportive of the move. They were marvellous, and in those few moments of leafing through the diary, they 'got' the full situation and also had warning of the mental state of a very traumatised kid.

I would encourage you though - I know seriously said it can take a month of you doing it all exactly right, but in our case, I had not even started doing anything different (I thought), I was just reading "Explosive Child" and was in the early chapters, when I observed difficult child 3's behaviour beginning to improve. I believe it was because my mindset changed, and he responded positively to that.

I do at times talk about the need to change one's mindset. Someone here once got very angry with me for saying that, she interpreted it as me saying she was doing it wrong or had a negative attitude about her child. She had missed my point, sadly. The advice to consider changing mindset applies to everybody, including the best parents. A parent who, for example, is trying to handle a chaotic child by clamping down more strictly and applying tighter controls MIGHT get it right - in which case, they won't come near us, they are doing fine. But often with some kids, it backfires badly. It is a good method, in most cases. But if it isn't working, it is often BECAUSE it is actually triggering problems, making it escalate. Hence - change mindset. Consider that in such a case, the child does not need tighter controls, but (almost paradoxically) instead needs a sense of being back in control, of being given some areas where he can choose for himself. You have to be careful to not let the child reign free, but control handed to the child for areas that don't matter to you, give you more opportunity to apply controls externally, in areas where it IS important to you. "I let you choose X; now I need you to do Y for me. We work as a team, we compromise with one another."

I'm not saying that you need to do this, or that. Just that sometimes we need to step back, re-evaluate and change direction. And when you do this, it does not mean you were doing it wrong before. Just not as right as it could be, for that child at that moment.

A rough example - friends of ours had a little girl recently diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. They were traditional parents, although loving and demonstrative. They held a daily "open house" with neighbourhood kids flooding in. The little girl often found the crowd of kids a concern because if she was knocked over, she could not save herself from falling. But she adapted. However, she was not able to eat enough, she would get too tired form the process of eating. Now with a normal kid, parents often deal with a kid not eating by making them sit there at the table until the food is finished. But tis little girl would be falling asleep in her food and not ever get any vital exercise. So the mother eased back, let the little girl get up from the table even if she had not finished, but instead followed her around with food and when she was distracted, would poke a bit more food in. Mum also served up calorie-rich foods - she was not one for gadgets but she bought a popcorn machine which ran hot every day after school. She put extra butter on it all, and made sure the butteriest went to her daughter. Meanwhile all the visiting kids provided a lot of really valuable social interaction which came in handy when the little girl started school a couple of years later. That little girl is now an adult and doing well, by the way. Much stronger than doctors ever thought she would be, still able to walk.

The thing is - the mother changed how she handled things, in order to adapt to a very different need. Other parents looking on might have disapproved but they would not have understood her reasons. And it paid off.

Sometimes we need to reconsider and change. And sometimes we need to stick to our guns. But always, we are here for you to pick our brains!



Well-Known Member
7. Write down house rules. Go over them with difficult child. Then post them.
But keep it simple. 200 rules doesn't cut it. 20 rules is too much.

Pick your battles, decide what is vital ("no playing with fire" is an obvious safety issue), and what is current (what you want to work on right now). Nothing else should be on the house rules list.

If I'm dealing with safety issues, "messy eating" doesn't hit the list at all.


New Member
Totally agree with short list.

Our list (given that we have 15 year olds) is:

1. No aggressive or violent behavior (with a few specific examples including shouting and spitting) - this is first on the list because it is the highest priority.
2. Complete chores - which includes asking for inspection when finished and doing the chore as asked (always inspect what you expect)
3. Parents are in control of electronics after 7 pm.
4. Quiet time for kids begins at 10 pm and children must be in their rooms, no noises that can be heard outside their room, no phone calls, no showers after 10 pm
5. Exercise 20 minutes all at once every day
6. Keep bedroom clean and tidy
7. Check in/ask permission before leaving house/yard

That's our entire list of rules. Not all are applicable to a home with younger children but you get the idea I think.

But it's only one half of the document. The second half is absolutely necessary in order for the first half to be meaningful:

Privileges must be earned each day by following House Rules

Breaking House Rules may result in losing something or having to do something extra to make up for breaking a rule. For example:
  1. Loss of privileges for part or all of that day
  2. Loss of privileges for longer periods like a week
  3. Making amends to another person or the family by doing something helpful, kind or supportive at the other person's request
  4. Paying for something you broke or damaged
  5. Extra chores
Kids privileges include activities and things they want. For example:
  1. Visits to friend’s houses/overnights
  2. School events like dances
  3. Maximum of 2 hours per day total individual “fun” use of Xbox, Computer, Wii game
  4. Cell and house phone use
  5. Facebook access
  6. Clothes/shoe shopping
  7. Makeup
  8. Netflix
  9. Movie or game rentals
  10. Transportation to places to purchase things like makeup or games


Active Member
There is another important part - what parents will promise to do for the child. It should be self-evident, but sometimes when drawing up a contract (and that is what this amounts to), you need to state the obvious.

Parents will feed, clothe and house the child. That is a legal requirement.

Parents will ensure the child has access to the education they need and will work actively towards equipping their child with the skills they will need for an independent, happy, productive adult life (the goal of all parents, surely?).

Anything else is a bonus, but whatever else you do, write it down as a promise, your list of what you must do. That way setting a list for the child looks a lot more equitable. It is also further indication that we as individuals are also a fragment of a society, we have to learn to cooperate and work together now, so we can continue to do this through life.