Children's & Adolescent's Mistaken Beliefs --

Stage 1: Child’s belief – I'm in control only when I am
being noticed or served.

If parent provides opportunities for positive attention, the
problem usually does not grow.

If parent does not provide opportunities for positive attention,
child will get attention by acting-out (negative attention). If
parent gives in to the negative attention OR gets mad and
punishes the child for seeking negative attention, child may
stop for a short time, but soon repeats the acting-out behavior
and moves on to stage 2.

Stage 2: Child’s belief – I'm in control only when I'm the
boss, or when I'm proving that no one can boss me.

If parent withdraws from power struggle, sets firm limits, and
takes action without getting angry, the problem usually doesn’t
get worse.

If parent lets the kid be boss OR fights back in anger,
misbehavior continues and gets worse – and the child
moves on to stage 3.

Stage 3: Child’s belief – I'm in control only by hurting
others as I feel hurt.  

If parent sets firm limits, does not take the attack personally,
the problem does not get much worse.

If parent gives in, gives up, OR lashes out at the child in anger,
misbehavior continues and worsens – and the child may move
on to stage 4.

Stage 4: Child’s belief – I'm in control only by convincing
others not to expect anything from me ...I am unable
...I am helpless.

If parent gives up and goes along with the child’s perception
that he/she is helpless/weak/unable, child’s condition remains.
Session #3
Week Three
Your strong-willed, out-of-control
kid has control issues!
Ask The Parent Coach—


I realize now that I tend to blow-up when I’m at my wits
end. I have been, as you say, putting fires out with a
flame-thrower. Any ideas on how I can stop providing
intensity in the form of anger when my 16-year-old
daughter is on my last nerve?



Hi A.,

Yes… here are some tips for parents who have the
occasional rage-attack:

1. Heal your angry past--

Parenting can be therapeutic. It can show you where your
problems are and motivate you to fix them. If your past is
loaded with unresolved anger, take steps to heal yourself
before you wind up harming your child. Studies have
shown that children whose mothers often express anger
are more likely to be difficult to discipline. Identify
problems in your past that could contribute to present
anger. Were you abused or harshly punished as a child?
Do you have difficulty controlling your temper? Do you
sense a lack of inner peace? Identify present situations
that are making you angry, such as dissatisfaction with
job, spouse, self, child. Remember, you mirror your
emotions. If your child sees a chronically angry face and
hears an angry voice, that's the person he is more likely
to become.

2. Keep your perspective—

Every person has an anger button. Some parents are
so anger prone that when they explode, the family dog
hides. Try this exercise. First, divide your children's
"misbehaviors" into smallies (nuisances and
annoyances), which are not worth the wear and tear of
getting angry about, and biggies (hurting self, others, and
property), which demand a response, for your own sake
and your child's.

Next, condition yourself so that you don't let the smallies
bother you. Here are some "tapes" to play in your mind
the next time you or your child spills something:

·  "Accidents happen."
·  "I'll keep calm, and we'll all learn something."
·  "I'm angry, but I can control myself."
·  "I'm mad at the mess, not the child."
·  "I'm the adult here."

Rehearse this exercise over and over by play-acting. Add
in some lines for you to deliver:

·  "I'll grab a towel."
·  "It's ok! I'll help you clean it up." You may notice a big
contrast between this and what you heard as a child. You
may also notice it won't be as easy as it sounds.
·  "Ooops! I made a mess."

When a real-life smallie occurs, you're more conditioned
to control yourself. You can take a deep breath, walk
away, keep cool, plan your strategy and return to the
scene. For example, a child smears paint on the wall.
You have conditioned yourself not to explode. You are
naturally angry and it's helpful for your child to see your
displeasure. You go through your brief "no" lecture firmly,
but without yelling. Then you call for a time-out. Once you
have calmed down, insist the child (if old enough) help
you clean up the mess. Being in control of your anger
gives your child the message, "Mommy's angry, and she
has a right to be this way. She doesn't like what I did, but
she still likes me and thinks I'm capable enough to help
clean up after myself."

We find going into a rage is often harder on us than the
child. It leaves us feeling drained. Oftentimes, it's our
after-anger feeling that bothers us more than the shoe
thrown into the toilet. Once we realized that we could
control our feelings more easily than our children can
control their behavior, we were able to endure these
annoying stages of childhood, and life with our kids
became much easier. And when we do get mad at a
child, we don't let the anger escalate until we become
furious at ourselves for losing control.

·   Mad at being mad
·   Mad at child
·   Mad at self
·   More mad at child for causing you to get mad at

You can break this cycle at any point to protect yourself
and your child.

3. Make anger your ally—

Emotions serve a purpose. Healthy anger compels you
to fix the problem, first because you're not going to let
your child's behavior go uncorrected, and second
because you don't like how the child's misbehavior
bothers you. This is helpful anger.

Anger becomes harmful when you don't regard it as a
signal to fix the cause. You let it fester until you dislike
your feelings, yourself, and the person who caused you
to feel this way. You spend your life in a tiff over smallies
that you could have ignored or biggies that you could
have fixed. That's harmful anger.

4. Quit beating yourself up—

Often anger flares inwardly, as well as outwardly, over
something that you don't like; but upon reflection, after a
lot of energy is spent emoting, you actually realize that the
situation as it stands now is actually better for everyone
concerned. This "hindsight" keeps us humble and helps
us diffuse future flare-ups. Our motto concerning irritating
mistakes has become: "Nobody's perfect. Human nature
strikes again."

5. Beware of high-risk situations that trigger anger—

Are you in a life situation that makes you angry? If so, you
are at risk for venting your anger on your child. Losing a
job or experiencing a similar self-esteem-breaking event
can make you justifiably angry. But realize that this
makes it easier for otherwise tolerable childish
behaviors (smallies) to push you over the edge. When
you're already angry, smallies easily become biggies.

If you are suddenly the victim of an anger-producing
situation, it helps to prepare your family: "I want you all to
understand that daddy may be upset from to time during
the next couple of months. I've just lost my job and I feel
very anxious about it. I will find another job, and we'll all
be okay, but if I have a short fuse and get angry at you
sometimes, it's not because I don't love you, it's because
I'm having trouble liking myself..."

If you do blow your top, it's wise to apologize to your
children (and expect similar apologies from them when
they lose their tempers): "Pardon me, but I'm angry, and
if I don't appear rational or appreciative, it's because I'm
struggling—it's not your fault. I'm not mad at you."

It also helps to be honest with yourself, recognize your
vulnerability and keep your guard up until the anger-
causing problem is resolved. There will always be
problems in your life that you cannot control. As you
become a more experienced parent—and person—you
will come to realize that the only thing in your life that you
can control are your own actions. How you handle anger
can work for you or against you—and your child.

Instructional Video #19
Act "as if" you, the parent, are not angry!

The Parent's Mistake--

When our child is angry (i.e., attempting to get our energy),
and we react with anger toward his anger (in an effort to
control his behavior), the result is anger X 2.  It’s like trying
to put out a fire with a flame thrower rather than a water hose just makes a bad problem worse.  

As hard as it is to do, we have to respond to our child’s anger
with a poker face – show no emotion! Thus, he gets no payoff
for misbehavior.  

When we react (i.e., provide intensity) to our child’s anger
(i.e., button-pushing) with more anger, we may get him to
shape up for that moment, but when the next problem comes
along, his anger will be even more intense.  We are in a
power-struggle then.

For example, on a scale from 1 - 10
(1 being mild frustration and
10 being full-blown rage)
the child's anger is at a level 5  …so in
our attempt to control the situation, we react at a level 5...

…the next time he wants a reaction (since he got a payoff at
level 5), his anger will be at a level 6 …so we respond at a level

…the next time his anger will register a level 7 …so we
respond at a level 7 …and so on.

We are now, unfortunately, in the business of "feeding the
monster" a steady dose of intensity.

The Anger Ladder--

If the parent gives in OR lashes out in anger
- either one -(passive response to kid's behavior
vs. aggressive response), the child progressively
gets angrier and angrier (i.e., literally becomes
addicted to our reaction).

The cycle goes like this:

1st - Kid wants to frustrate you; forgets to do the things
you ask; plays dumb; shows anger by refusing to do what
he is asked to do; whines and complains a lot.  

If you, the parent, respond passively (i.e., provide no
consequence for this misbehavior) or aggressively (i.e.,
rage at the child) he moves to the next anger-phase.

2nd - Kid ignores you; gives you the silent treatment; tries
to get you to feel sorry for him; pouts and cries.

If you respond passively or aggressively, he moves to the
next anger-phase.

3rd - He believes there is something wrong with you -- and
he tells you so; he wants you to feel bad ‘cause he’s mad; he
tells you it’s your fault.   

If you respond passively or aggressively, he moves to the
next anger-phase.

4th - He uses profanity …shouts …yells ...calls you terrible

If you respond passively or aggressively, he moves to the
next anger-phase.

5th - He says things like "It's going to go my way or else
I’m running away" …I’ll tear up the house while you’re at work"
…I’ll go live with my dad" …I’m going to drop out of school"

If you respond passively or aggressively, he moves to the
next anger-phase.

6th - Physical violence enters the picture here. This violence
may be partially controlled because the kid knows what he is
doing, even though later he might claim it was an accident.
The kid plans to stop when he gets his way …if the parent
gives in, he’ll back off.

Some of the things that may occur in this last stage:

  • destruction of property
  • domestic battery
  • shoving, slapping
  • cops are called (sometimes by the child)
  • parent files incorrigibility charge
  • kid may not be conscious of her actions
  • she may physically hurt the parent
  • she may run away for an extended period of time

Therefore, the parent must respond assertively rather than
passively or aggressively ...which brings us to the second
potential area for conflict.

We've already looked at the first potential area for conflict:
When Your Kid Wants Something From You.

The second potential area for conflict is:

==> When You Want Something From Your Kid
Instructional Video #20
WARNING: Some content may be offensive.
Can't see the video? CLICK HERE
Can't see the video? CLICK HERE
NOTE: If you are a single parent, then you are the
designated "bad guy." Your child probably directs most
- if not all - of her anger and rage toward you. But her
anger is displaced. She is upset about many different
things for many different reasons. Thus, as difficult as it
may be, do not take her attacks personally. To get
angry with her for being angry with you is like trying to
put a fire out with a flame-thrower rather than a water