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Suggestions for parents seeking help

By Officer Jason Jones, MA
I am not an expert in the fields of parenting and child development. However, from my experiences as a police officer, a former juvenile probation officer and counselor and a parent, I have compiled a list of suggestions which may be helpful to parents and care providers who are experiencing difficulties with their children. If you find yourself in a problematic situation, I encourage you to seek professional help, such as counseling.
Every family and situation is different; there is no uniform model for child rearing. However, we as parents share the same hopes for our children: health, happiness, success and good decision-making in their personal lives and communities.
The suggestions outlined below do not apply to all situations. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.   For more detailed information regarding the assessment of your child’s strengths and needs, please visit
Parental skills:
  • Read parenting books.
  • Join a parent support group and/or attend parent education classes.
  • Participate in family or individual counseling.
  • The problems at home usually don’t develop over night; they generally develop over time.
  • Correcting problems take time.
Household rules:
  • Make sure your house rules are clear and consistent.
  • If necessary, develop a family contract outlining the rules. To get your child to buy-in, include things you will do too.
  • Reward positive behavior and develop natural consequences for the undesired behavior.
  • Give your child options (decision-making) within the scope of what’s acceptable.
  • Don’t threaten, bluff, or give ultimatums – this method rarely works with teens.
  • Never discipline when angry. Wait until you have cooled down because
    • Often parents say things they regret later and/or impose too harsh of discipline only to lessen it later.
  • Make sure your child knows you love her/him no matter what s/he does.
  • Your child’s loyalty to you and your approval of her/him can be powerful motivators – love is the key!
  • Find activities you can do with your child that you both enjoy.
Social life:
  • Help her/him select friends.
  • If too entrenched in the present group of friends, consider removing your child from the current school and enroll her/him elsewhere.
  • Be active in your child’s social life.
  • Know where s/he is going and with whom - check and verify.
  • Encourage your child to participate in extra-curricular activities (sports, drama, art, summer programs) and reward her/him for doing so.
  • Find activities you can do with your child that you both enjoy.
  • Participate in activities with your teen and her/his friend(s).
  • Reward improvements in grades.
  • Establish a homework hour.
  • Check and help with homework when appropriate.
  • Consider getting weekly progress reports from teachers.
  • Consider tutorial programs.
  • Consider a new academic environment.