Ask the Experts—Stress, Deterring Disrepect & Online Stranger Danger - MetroFamily Magazine
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Ask the Experts—Stress, Deterring Disrepect & Online Stranger Danger

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I hate to admit it, but I’m incredibly impatient. When my kids don’t listen, I lose my cool and yell—a lot. Can you help me find my happy place?

We can control our emotions and our reactions, but just like anything, it takes practice. I would tell anyone wanting to stop a bad habit to replace it with a good habit. So choose a new habit, a new reaction when you are irritated by your kids; think about it before it happens, practice it alone in your bedroom, write it down on a 3 x 5 card and look at it daily. Then the next time your kids irritate you, try your new habit. It will take practice, but we are each in control of our emotions, our reactions and the words that come out of our mouths.

Devonne Carter, LCSW is a clinical social worker in private practice in Edmond. 405-326-3923,

This is an issue that it seems all parents deal with at one time or another. Busy schedules, lack of sleep and the technology age have all contributed to irritability and displaced anger. No matter if you are a stay-at-home mom or a mom who works outside the home, you must fully value the contribution you provide to your family and give yourself time to recharge. If you don’t have time to yourself, you will likely experience burnout and fatigue that can lead to depression.

Kevin Tutty is a licensed professional counselor in private practice. Contact him at 405-431-6225.

Slow down and pick the right time to address your kids on key subjects. Sometimes, like adults, they aren’t prepared to listen. Also make sure you are doing your part by speaking clearly, to the point, and insuring eye contact. Lastly, make sure you are taking time for yourself. Often our shortness is a product of our own lack of balance, not necessarily always our kids. 

Donnie Van Curen, M. A., LMFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist with Counseling 1820, LLC. 405-823-4302,

Reader feedback:

  • You will appear much more in control if you dole out logical consequences, such as the loss of a toy if it is being misused, or time outs. Speak to them about why it is important to listen, and show them that you are listening, too.
  • It’s a problem a lot of parents have; it takes a lot to admit it, too. I would put myself in time out, just so I could cool off and then approach them in a calmer manner. It’s also okay to tell your kids that you are sorry for yelling at them.
  • I used to be the same way…I just try talking to them calmly and quietly. The more quietly I am, the more carefully they have to listen. If I can tell I am not in the mood to do this, I’ll send them to their room until I am ready to talk to them. It’s like a “time out” for me.
  • Young children love to please mom/dad and make them happy. Tell them in advance your expectations and emphasize how happy that will make you. And when they do it, make sure to tell them thank you and reiterate that you are happy. It works wonders!
  • Realize that they are children, not adults, and that they are learning and we are going to have to tell them a million times. We as parents have to set a good example!

Thanks to Candace L., Cheryl I., Amy H., Parkers For Christ and Sheryl M. for your feedback!

Deterring Disrespect

My son has become that kid who will do anything for a laugh at school—including picking on other children, disrespecting his teachers and not doing his work. How can I discourage this?

There’s an app for that! I was recently at a conference and learned about an app called “You Can Handle Them All.” It may be the best $2 you ever spend, because it will give you insight and ideas for handling 124 different behaviors. This app is useful to both parents and teachers, which is good because they are the team that can modify the undesirable behavior.

It is important to lay out your family values and rules about how to treat other people, and let your child know that there will be consequences if they break those rules. Make sure any consequences you choose are meaningful to your child. If your child enjoys spending time alone in his room, then sending him there is not a very meaningful consequence. You may want to meet with your son’s teacher to discuss a plan that you can work on together so the connection between what happens at school and what happens at home is strengthened. The teacher will likely want to try some strategies that allow your son to have some time in the spotlight in a positive way. The school and parents working as a cohesive group is key to student success.

Lanet Clark is an elementary school counselor with Moore Public Schools.

Discipline him when he disrespects other people. He will have to decide which attention he likes better, the pay off of being a clown, or the negative consequence. I would encourage a parent to shadow their child for a day at school, then ask for a weekly report from the teacher.  If your son is disrespectful, discipline him by giving him a consequence.  Just telling a child, “stop being rude to your friends and teachers” is most likely not going to change his behavior. In this case, actions speak louder than words and he will remember losing his privileges for a week longer than a lecture.

Devonne Carter, LCSW is a clinical social worker in private practice in Edmond. 405-326-3923,

Both positive and negative consequences should be considered, and should be specific to your child. I would also encourage a consistent line of communication with each teacher and dialogue with your child on a nightly basis. Let him see your involvement, allow for positive consequences on good days and negative consequences for bad ones. Also remain positive and let him know you believe in him. Often this is just a season in your young child’s life.

Donnie Van Curen, M. A., LMFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist with Counseling 1820, LLC. 405-823-4302,

Attention-seeking behaviors at school are difficult to control. Your best bet is to stay in contact with your child’s teachers at school—the more a child is allowed to deny his behaviors without the parent knowing what is going on at school, the more the negative behaviors will continue. Closing the loophole of information that he is able to deny will allow you to give him consequences for his behaviors at school. He needs to understand that trust is earned and he has not yet earned your trust enough to just take his side of the story at face value.

You can let him know that if he is in fact correct and was punished unjustly, his privileges will be reinstated and restitution can be given as well. The difficult part will likely be your ability to maintain consistency in the face of your child’s negative behaviors while the consequence is put in place. It will be worth it though when he learns that negative behaviors result in negative consequences—something many kids do not understand.

Kevin Tutty is a licensed professional counselor in private practice. Contact him at 405-431-6225.

Reader feedback:

  • Have you sat down and watched the documentary Bully with him? It’s a very good tool to use and hopefully will open his eyes to his actions.
  • How is it addressed at school? You don’t want to make his home life miserable, but you do need to let him you know you have expectations of his behavior at school, at home and in the community.
  • Just remember the power you have as a parent! You can feed him lima beans, choose his clothes, restrict activities. Don’t forget about all the power you have!

Thanks to Debbie K., Lara G. and Ashley K. for your feedback!

Online Stranger Danger

I found my daughter chatting with a stranger on the computer. They met while playing a multi-user game and the stranger disappeared when she made it known that I was in the room. How can I work harder to keep my children safe online? She’s only 11!

At this age, make sure all computers are in a populated area with constant supervision. I would discourage computers in most children’s rooms, especially under the age of 14 and without proper protective software. I would also discourage chat or multi-user programs unless a parent is directly involved and knows the participants. This may seem like a lot of work or being overprotective but letting people into your children’s lives that you don’t know is like letting a stranger into the house when you’re not at home.

Donnie Van Curen, M. A., LMFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist with Counseling 1820, LLC. 405-823-4302,

Have some rules in your house about the computer. Make them clear and remind your kids of them often. Discipline your children if they disobey the rules—such as remove the privilege of computer time for breaking rules. Good family rules to follow:

  • Keep the computer in the living areas—no computers behind closed doors.
  • No befriending someone online whom you don’t know personally, and limit social media
  • Parents should know all passwords and check kids’ electronics frequently so they know they aren’t playing around in an unchecked space.  Our children are just learning and they need to be accountable to their parents.  If they know you are constantly checking on their electronic, they will be more accountable.  

Devonne Carter, LCSW is a clinical social worker in private practice in Edmond. 405-326-3923,

Allowing your child to roam free on the internet can be actually worse than dropping them off at the mall unattended—because, on the internet, you have no idea who that other person really is or what they look like (is that 12 year old girl really a 29 year old man?).

Computers should be kept in a place that can be seen at all times, like in a living area, not in the child’s bedroom. Portable devices such as smartphones and tablets have made it increasingly difficult to monitor children’s online activity. One way to keep tabs on your child’s online activity is to retain access to their passwords. Easier said than done, but they will likely be more forthcoming with the correct password if access to their electronic devices are a condition of the password. Sometimes you can get the password from the social network company.

Kevin Tutty is a licensed professional counselor in private practice. Contact him at 405-431-6225.

Reader feedback:

  • At 11, your daughter should still be supervised while using the computer. You need to sit down with her and have a very real conversation about what could happen as well.
  • Talk to your kids! Predators will always be there. Arm your kids with knowledge.
  • The computer shouldn’t be in a place where your daughter can have privacy. It should be in an open room and you should be able to see the screen.
  • I would buy a MacBook or iMac for her. The parental controls are awesome. I chose a iMac as it is not portable and is kept out in the open living area. That is their ONLY option for a computer, so I can walk by anytime and peek on what they are doing.

Thanks to Danielle D. Linda D., Mikel I., and Dorothy W. for the feedback!

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