Trans4mind Home Page
~ A Journey of Self-Discovery ~

Looking for a better life?

Our online, interactive video workshops present the most effective methods of holistic personal development, combined with personal support from expert life coaches.

How to Control Your Kids Outside of the House

By Megan Devine

Recently, I talked with the mother of a 16-year-old girl on the Parental Support Line about her daughter's behavior outside of the house. This mom had just begun The Total Transformation Program, but had questions about how to use its techniques to make her daughter follow the rules when she was away from home. "In some ways," she said, "I wonder if it's too late for my daughter. She's smart and caring, and she gets good grades. She's not violent or abusive, but she's always been willful. Most of the time, she just does whatever she wants. We don't like her friends very much - none of them want to go to college or work, and she's starting to act and talk like them. How can I make her follow my rules when she's out on her own? I have to find some way of controlling her so she doesn't ruin her life."

Many parents wish they could ensure that their children behave according to their family's values and rules when they are outside the home. While it's a common wish, know that it's not necessarily realistic. Your child will encounter different rules and different levels of acceptable behavior once they leave your home - whether it's at school, or if it happens when they leave the nest for good.

The fact is, it's not possible (or healthy) to have your child under your control at all times. And, although it's difficult for many parents to come to terms with, there is a limit to how much you can enforce - after all, your child will make their own choices, and they are ultimately responsible for their own behavior. This does not mean that you are powerless, however.

What You Should Control: Issues of Safety
You can't always control your child's choices, but that doesn't mean you have to let them do everything they want or that you can't give consequences for rule violations. This is especially true when it comes to issues of your child's safety. If you are concerned that your child is using drugs or alcohol, or is engaging in physically dangerous or illegal acts, you need to do what you have to in order to keep them safe. That may mean requiring drug or alcohol treatment, or enforcing a limited curfew. If your child is trying to date someone before they are old enough, or they want to date someone who is too old for them, make sure you are double checking that any group activity is supervised by a parent you know and do your best to host social events. If you find your child has gone out at night and is participating in very risky behaviors, involve the help of your local police department each and every time you discover your child has left your home during the night. Let your child know that they are unsafe and you will do anything it takes to keep them safe.

In this article, we will be addressing what you can and can't do to control activities that are at odds with your family rules and values, not issues that put your child in physical danger.

Your Child's Choices
Just because your child makes choices that you don't agree with outside the home, doesn't mean you need to tolerate their choices inside your home. You always have the right to control what happens inside your house. Be clear and direct about your household rules. And keep in mind that your family rules can actually have some bearing on the choices your child makes when he or she is away from you. If you want your child to make different choices outside of your home, focus on the behavior you'd like her to change, and relate them to a household rule. For example, if you want your child to have a part-time job, you might tell her:

  • "In order to be allowed use of the family car, you need to maintain a part-time job. I'll help you find one, if you'd like."

  • "You can earn money by doing chores at home, or you can get a job outside of the house. That choice is up to you, but not working is not an option."

If your child quits or loses her job, you can give her a consequence for that, while also helping her learn the skills she needs to be successful in the workforce. Those skills might include being on time, being professional, or finishing assigned tasks.

I Don't Like My Child's Friends
Many parents have concerns about the kids their children spend time with. When you present your expectations or rules to your child, don't make it into an argument about whether she should make her friends her top priority or not. When you try to talk your child out of her friendships, the end result is often a deepening of those friendships - it's not a battle you are likely to win. So stay focused on the rules, and how they relate to your household.

For example, you may require that your child does not go out on school nights and has a curfew on the weekends. Sometimes this alone will end these friendships because the other kids are hanging out on school nights and staying out very late on the weekends.

Differences in House Rules
Parents often talk about the differences in house rules on the Parental Support Line of The Total Transformation Program. If you have a rule in your home of no video games, but your child has access to games at friends' houses, have a frank discussion about the difference in rules. Be sure to let your child know that you're not changing your rules, you'd just like to hear from him about his experience. Don't assume that your child would rather have the games than not. When you keep the lines of communication open, you encourage a dialogue that may help your child - and you - learn. Ask your child what it's like to have the "no-game" rule at home, and access to games elsewhere. You might ask, "Do you notice a difference in how you play with your friends when you're over here, versus at their houses?" Or even: "What's it like playing those games?"

If you are concerned about your child's video game playing at other's houses, you can say, "I know that Tim and Luke play video games after school. In our family, we have a rule against video games, so you don't have my permission to go to their houses anymore. You're welcome to have them over here, though." If you discover your child had managed to get into an R rated movie with a friend, you might tell him he can't spend time with friends outside of your home next weekend. You could use that opportunity to host an appropriate social event with your child, his friends and your family.

Why Does My Child Defy Me?
Parents often wonder how their child can behave so differently outside of the home. Remember that part of being a teen is trying new things. Keep in mind that many times for your child it's actually more about the activity than it is about an attempt to defy you as a parent.

If you find that your child has disobeyed the family rules outside the home, keep the lines of communication open. Rather than give lectures, discuss the choices your child is making, and how they relate--or don't relate-- to family rules and expectations. In this way, you continue to communicate your family's rules and values while realizing your child's need to experience the world for themselves. When they disobey your rules, there may be a natural consequence for their choice, or you can impose one. Kids caught smoking on school grounds receive consequences at school. Those caught smoking in town can receive a citation from the police. Have your child pay any fines themselves and serve school detentions. You can let your child know that any cigarettes found in your home will be thrown away and if you smell cigarettes in your car when they borrow it, they lose access to the car for a specific, short period of time.

Play the Coach
One of your primary roles as a parent is that of a coach. As James Lehman explains in the Total Transformation Program, you are the "trainer" for the skills your child needs to learn to become a responsible, accountable adult. As James says, "It's your job to teach, and your child's job to learn." You can't do all the learning and practicing for your child. You can't legislate what they will do outside of your home, or how well they will use the tools you've given them. For better or for worse, your children will make choices you wish they wouldn't. They will get hurt; they will make mistakes. All the control in the world won't stop that.

You can't always choose for them. But you can use your role as the primary coach and teacher in your child's life to teach them the skills they need to help get back up when they do, inevitably, fall down. By keeping the lines of communication open, you're teaching your child to consider the choices they are making, and the effect those choices will have. By enforcing the rules in your own home, and giving consequences designed to help them practice new behaviors, you're helping your child learn practical, useful skills they will need as they go out into the world. Remember, your child is ultimately responsible for his or her own behavior. Your true empowerment as a parent lies in your ability to teach and coach your child so that they will be able to make the right choices later on.

Megan Devine, LCPC, is a Parental Support Line Specialist, writer, and bonus grown-up to a 16-year-old. She holds a Masters degree in Counseling from Antioch New England, and a Master of Fine Arts from Goddard College. Megan has been in the counseling field for over 10 years. She has a children's career book in pre-publication, and has several other books in the works.
Need more support? If you are a The Total Transformation Program customer, you can access the Parental Support Line for help with these and other challenges you're experiencing with your child. Support Line specialists have helped hundreds of parents develop effective consequences and privileges, and we can help you, too.
"How to Control Your Kids Outside of the House" is reprinted with permission from Empowering Parents magazine. James Lehman is a behavioral therapist and the creator of The Total Transformation Program for parents. This program offers practical, real world solutions for the most challenging problems parents face: defiance, disrespect, back talk, lying, cursing, lack of motivation, acting out in school and more. In this step-by-step program you'll learn the techniques James has used in his private practice to help children take responsibility for their behavior and help parents get back in control of their homes.

child development
More personal development articles at the Counterpoint Article Library

From our extensive site, you'll find good info on many topics using this search:
Visit the INSIDE-OUT Blog
Wallace Huey & Peter Shepherd
Imagine if - with the help of personal development - the values of the heart could be brought into our families, communities and businesses... What kind of a world would this create?
By Wallace Huey & Peter Shepherd, Trans4mind Founders

Support your personal development with these popular and effective hypnosis downloads...

  • Sweet Tooth ~ Train your brain to lose your sweet tooth.
  • Finish What You Start ~ Sprint all the way past the finish line.
  • Do It Now ~ A hypnosis audio to trigger deep, emotionally driven activity.
  • Life Priorities ~ Hypnosis can help you clarify what really matters to you.
  • Stop Thinking About Someone ~ A session to help you move on from thoughts that have been constantly pestering you.
  • Public Speaking Fear ~ Banish speaking anxiety and nerves with hypnosis.
  • Motivate Yourself to Exercise ~ Build a powerful exercise habit that you can't break.
  • Get Rid of Fear & Anxiety ~ Stop worry and apprehension wrecking your life.
  • Self Esteem ~ Break the negative trance of low self esteem and give yourself a chance in life.
  • Create Your Own Reality ~ Use the power of your unconscious mind to transform your life.
  • Deeper Self Respect ~ Use hypnosis to connect with your true inner worth.
  • Detach From Fear ~ Tune out nervousness and anxiety with hypnosis.
  • Improving Concentration and Focus ~ Learn how to discipline, direct and command your mind to improve your performance.
  • Exercise Motivation ~ Give you powerful keys to getting back on track with your exercise - and staying there.
  • Overcoming Shyness ~ Provides an invisible security blanket allowing you to develop social ease and overcome shyness.
  • Quick Confidence Booster ~ An audio hypnosis session that's specifically designed to get you (quickly!) back on track.
  • Stop Negative Thoughts ~ Learn powerful hypnotic techniques to stop negative thoughts before they start.
  • Overcoming Procrastination ~ Let hypnosis help you get on with what you need to do, when you need to do it. Let nothing hold you back.
  • Think Thin ~ Use hypnosis to re-train your brain and lose weight naturally... that's how to get and stay slim.
  • Fall Asleep Fast ~ Relearn how to fall asleep fast and enjoy a good night's sleep.
  • The Next Level ~ Designed to radically boost your performance in any field. It's based on a technique used by top athletes and other successful people to help them make a big stride forward.
This is our selection of favorites, but there's a session for every need! Choose from over 800 Hypnosis Downloads...
Search now on an issue that interests or concerns you...

View all the Hypnosis Downloads here

Get a free Hypnosis Download at Facebook

Welcome to the New Wave in Meditation Technology

Click here to learn more about the iAwake Profound Meditation Program
The iAwake Profound Meditation Program
is a way of enhancing your meditation practice, making meditation not only easier and more enjoyable, but also more efficient and effective.
Profound Meditation provides the smoothest, deepest, richest, most profound meditation experience available anywhere...
Here is a link to a free 20-minute track from iAwake Technologies - a sample of the type of tools that will deepen your meditation immediately and help you quickly become a successful meditator. It's the opening track of iAwake's flagship product, the Profound Meditation Program, called the iAwake Experience...
Learn More and Download the iAwake Experience
I think you'll find this technology a tremendous aid on your transformative journey of becoming your best and most creative self - and you can get started today!
Copyright © 1997-2017 Trans4mind Ltd