He enjoys energy and attention. He seeks energy and attention
from you too (e.g., your being animated, arguing, lecturing,
getting angry, threatening him, etc.). Unfortunately, he has
discovered that you are much more energetic, attentive and
interesting when he misbehaves.

Attention-seeking children are not out to get you as a parent.
They are out to get your energy, intensity and attention
though. They want you to be exciting to them. Unfortunately,
you are much more exciting when things are going wrong.

So, whenever you use a "traditional" parenting strategy (like
arguing, lecturing, getting angry, threatening), it is actually a
reward to your kid -- he gets what he wants -- your energy and
attention!  He is able to push your energy-producing buttons

Therefore, try very hard not to show any emotion when
reacting to the behaviors of your intense, attention-seeking kid
(put on your best "poker face"). The worst thing to do with this
kid is to react strongly and emotionally. This will just make her
push you that same way again. You do not want the kid to
figure out what really bugs you. You want to try to remain as
cool as possible while she is trying to drive you over the edge.
This is not easy. Once you know what you are going to ignore
and what will be addressed, it should be far easier not to let
your feelings get the best of you.

Put On Your Best Poker Face--

Do you like to play cards? How about poker? Have you watched
any of the poker game shows on T.V?  If one of the players has
a terrible hand, he looks no different than when he has a
winning hand. His face is blank and emotionless. Why? Because
if he gives any facial cues at all, he sends a loud and clear, non-
verbal message that he has either a bad, mediocre, or great
hand – and the other players will use that information against

O.K. I know. You’re asking yourself, “What does playing poker
have to do with parenting.”  Keep reading.

As a family therapist who works with frustrated parents of
strong-willed, out-of-control kids, I often hear the following

“I’ve tried everything with this kid, and nothing works.”

“I never treated my parents this way.”

“My other child never treated me this way.”

These parents often feel hurt by -- and even afraid of -- their
child’s behavior. They try their best to come up with solutions
to their child’s emotional and behavior problems, but with little
or no success. It seems that the harder the parent tries, the
more their child “acts out.”

Eventually these parents begin to feel helpless and hopeless
and may even want someone else to take a shot at controlling
their child (e.g., the child’s other parent if divorced, a relative,
the cops, a probation officer).

If you have an out-of-control child, allow me to cut through
the confusion and provide some insight regarding his or her
motivation and resultant behavior:

Your child is not out to get you as the parent, but he is out to
get your energy (e.g., your being animated, arguing, lecturing,
threatening, getting angry, etc.). Unfortunately, he has
discovered that you are much more energetic and intense when
things are “going wrong.”

Another unfortunate phenomenon is that "traditional" or
“conventional” parenting strategies produce the very intensity
these children thrive on.

When parents use a conventional parenting strategy (e.g.,
arguing, lecturing, questioning, threatening, getting angry,
etc.), it is actually a reward to the out-of-control child. He
succeeds, once again, at pushing the parent’s buttons that
never fail to produce desired intensity.

The intensity-seeking child will look to see how the parent
reacts in the middle of conflict in order to ascertain whether or
not he’s going to get a “payoff.”  Thus, to avoid accidentally
rewarding negative behavior, the parent must put on her best
poker face whenever things are “going wrong” (e.g., child does
not take “no” for an answer, refuses to follow a rule, displays
blatant disrespect).  

If, for example, you give your child no clue that you are upset
and angry, he will not know whether he has won or lost the
“intensity-seeking game.”  He will attempt to “call your bluff”
(i.e., to see if you are faking your lack of emotion) by frantically
pushing as many buttons as he can.  But with your continued
blank expression, he will eventually grow tired of the game and
throw in his cards – fold!

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t issue a consequence for
misbehavior. But it is very possible for you to discipline your
child without providing intensity.

Here’s your recipe for success. Over the next several weeks,

1. Provide no intensity (i.e., no expressions of emotion) when
things are going wrong, and

2. Provide a lot of intensity (i.e., compliments, acknowledgement
and praise) when things are “going right” (e.g., child completes
a chore, does not “back-talk,” actually returns home by curfew)

In this way, you will satisfy your out-of-control child’s appetite
for intensity, but in a way that both rewards good behavior and
avoids rewarding bad behavior.
The strong-willed, out-of-control
kid is
100% successful at getting
your attention -- whether it's
positive attention or negative
attention !
Ask The Parent Coach—

Dear Mark,

Are there any medications that help with Oppositional
Defiant Disorder? If so, are there any that you would



Hi J.,

Unfortunately, so many parents today find themselves
struggling with the intensity of an out-of-control child and
wind up being advised to moderate the intensity by using
medications as a first intervention rather than as a very
last resort. I’m not a proponent for medication to “treat”
ODD -- or ADHD. The method outlined in my eBook puts
parents, teachers and professionals in the driver's seat
and gives them the perspective and strategies to shift
children into using their intensity-seeking in constructive,
rather than destructive, ways.

Many kids wind up on medications simply because there
has not been an approach that consistently helps them
to use their intensity-seeking successfully. 75% of all
children evaluated for conditions such as ODD and
ADHD receive medication on the very first visit. The
unfortunate underlying message is
“your teachers can't
control you, your parents can't control you, and you
can't control yourself... you need a drug to control
whatever is going on inside you.”

Parents can end up feeling inadequate and blamed,
teachers can feel like failures as educators, treatment
professionals can sometimes be at a loss as to how
best to help, and the result for the kid is being at risk for
both side effects that can rarely be adequately explained
in the course of an evaluation -- and for greater loss of
self than can ever be fully anticipated.

“Traditional” parenting and teaching strategies typically
backfire with intense kids. Despite the best of intentions,
the harder adults attempt normal responses, the worse
the situation becomes.

The culprits are the parenting techniques most people
have at their disposal... not the parents, teacher, or child.
Parenting strategies designed for the “normal” child
simply do not have a “transformative” effect on kids with
behaviors involving opposition, defiance or inability to
manage strong impulses or emotions.

The good news is that the strategies outlined in my
eBook create the “transformation” needed to effect long-
lasting, positive change in the child. Instead of an out-of-
control kid believing that he gets a great deal more from
adults through negativity, the “transformed” kid is moved
to believing that he can fully invest his energies and
intelligence in successful ways.

Do your child a huge favor. Do NOT use medication as
a first intervention. Using the strategies in the eBook,
you – the parent - will do a much better job of getting
your child “back on track” than medication, psychiatrists,
psychologists, counselors, cops, probation officers, and
so on.

Instructional Video #4
Tip From The Parent Coach—

Dear Parents,

You cannot do it alone!

One of the most important things we, as parents, can do
in dealing with an intense, strong-willed kid is admit to
ourselves that we must have outside assistance in some
shape, form, or fashion.  Whether it is your spouse,
relative, friend, pastor, or a counselor, you need to be
able to talk to someone with total frankness, especially
when things are going wrong. You cannot do it yourself --
don't try!

Here are some of the common issues that come up
with the intense, strong-willed child:

·  Arranging alternative schooling for the child because
he/she has been suspended

·  Considering out of home placement

·  Grieving the loss of the child you hoped you would have

·  Having money disappear and suspecting your child

·  Having people blame you for what the child has done

·  Having to tell your child that he has to go live with the
other parent

·  Having to call the police to come out to your house
because of a major temper tantrum

·  Hearing about crimes in the neighborhood and
wondering if it was your child

·  Seeing the system write your child off

·  Sometimes admitting that you just cannot cope with
this child alone

Here are some suggestions that summarize the
management of the intense, strong-willed child—

Intervention should:

·  Address related problems such as depression, drug
and alcohol abuse, and ADHD

·  Be consistent across all environments and across time

·  Be maintained as long as needed (this may be years)

·  Cover as much of the child's day as possible, every day

·  Include all caregivers

·  Include many different types of interventions and not
just focus on one aspect of the problem

·  Take place as early as possible

Intense, strong-willed children need a huge amount of
supervision and involvement from the person who is
responsible for them. They frequently don't form close
relationships easily …they don't do well without structure
…and they need to be watched and watched and
watched. While baby sitters, relatives, and friends are
great help for some supervision -- they are not the same
as the parent / principal caregiver.

Can't see the video? CLICK HERE
Note: Destructiveness and disagreeableness are purposeful in the
intense, out-of-control teenager:

  • They like to see you get mad.
  • Every request can end up as a power struggle.
  • Lying becomes a way of life, and getting a reaction out of
    others is the chief hobby.
  • Perhaps hardest of all to bear, they rarely are truly sorry and
    often believe nothing is their fault.
  • After a huge blow up, the intense, out-of-control child is often
    calm and collected. It is the parents who look as though they
    are going to lose it, not the child. This is understandable. The
    parents have probably just been tricked, bullied, lied to or have
    witnessed temper tantrums which know no limits.

Intense, out-of-control teens produce strong feelings in people.
They are trying to get a reaction out of people, and they are often
Common ones are:

  • Inciting spouses to fight with each other and not focus on the
  • Making outsiders believe that all the fault lies with the parents
  • Making certain susceptible people believe that they can save
    the child by doing everything the child wants
  • Setting parents against grandparents
  • Setting teachers against parents
  • Inciting the parents to abuse the child