Consequences I need ideas for Consequences!!!


My wife and I are going into our third month of being houseparents for teenage girls. The girls that we have range from ages 14-18 and can be quite difficult. Here where we are we use a level system to hold them accountable for their actions. To give you an example level one girls are not allowed to have any of their own belongings and are required to wear uniforms on all outings, as well as many other consequences. Whereas the other levels (2-4) are allowed certain privileges. Our level ones have recently started to revolt and not care what level they and have no motivation to move up to the next level, and they feel like they can do what they want when they want to. I need some ideas or consequences in dealing with them. Anyone have any interesting things that work.


We use a similar level system it seems, but our level 1 does not seem to be quite a strict and we don’t have uniforms. This is coming from someone who doesn’t work where you are and I don’t know how much you can change things in your own home and what you have to run by your director and get approval for. I sounds as though level 1 seems very suffocating. My director (and I agree with him) feels that a kid has to have a light at the end of the tunnel. I understand that at level 2 you get privileges, but to a teenager (especially if they have ADD/ADHD) it’s hard to see how to get there. If you have no instant rewards for good behavior and they have to wait a week or 2 before moving up to the nest level, then is it really worth it to them? One thing I have learned is that even though they may still be on level 1, if they do something very well, then they need to be rewarded for that. For example, one of my boys got bumped down to level one a few weeks ago, and had no TV, computer, iPod, stereo, etc. However, one day, he had done very well at school and come home and did his homework and I let him play a game on the computer for 10 minutes. It was only 10 minutes, but it wet his tongue and made him want more. Therefore, the next day he worked even harder. However, if he were to slack off just a little, NO WAY.

I’m not in your home, so I don’t know what all is going on, but if a kid feels as though they can’t do anything right or even if they do they don’t get anything for it, then why do the right thing, you know? After all, it is kinda funny to see the hp get upset and frustrated – and I already have nothing, so what’s the big deal.

I would attempt to begin giving a little back and really rewarding the good behaviors (stay up 10 min later than the rest of the girls that night, 5 min of TV, change out of uniform for the night, etc.)

These are just suggestions, but again, I don’t know your campus, director, or how exactly things are done there. I may be way out in left field for you, but it sounds like they need to see a light at the end of the tunnel.


I totally agree with Seamus. It sounds like the girls need to get a little of something to keep them motivated and moving forward.

Hopefully your program and facility is flexible enough to find something that they are interested in achieving in the short term. As crazy as it sounds, some kids could care less about achieving a facilities’ pre-set goals. Especially if the kid never had any say in what it is they would like to achieve.

Personally I would be motivated to get to the next level to get all my stuff back, but for some kids they have a hard time actually seeing themselves achieving a goal beyond the end of the day, let alone next week. It can lead, for some, to a feeling of hopelessness. I think finding out what each individual girl would like to be rewarded with and setting short term goals for them to achieve may work.


I just want to say thanks for the information. We know why we are here and it is not to punish the girls, and sometimes you get caught up in do this. I am glad for the info and that fact that I have never thought about why they didn’t care but it makes sense seeing as how most of our girls do have add adhd. I will surely take this and run with it, as much as I can. We are in a really good program and they allow us to make a lot of the decisions about rules( of course we do have a set book of guidelines). Thanks again for the feedback.

“The Safest Place is in the Center of God’s Will”


Sometimes we have to do something to give the kids hope. If they dig themselves a hole it can be hard to get out of. We have to let them smell a little bit of success from time to time. We have to dangle the carrot in front of them sometimes so they want to go for it. Who knows when it will be the time that they turn their life around and continue to want to be on a higher level.


If you have one or some who are misbehaving find out what they like to do. When they are not on level have the others do what they like to do and do not allow them to participate. This might mean that one of the houseparents stay back. For example we had a girl who really liked this part and to go down trails we made sure that when she was not on level that we went to the park. Another idea is movies. You can have show a movie like on the weekend and have the ones who are not on level to set in another room etc.


I had two young men that did not ‘care’ about rising up thru the ranks. Life’s experiences for them had convinced them that it did no good to advance, because someone or something would always beat them back down. Nothing seemed to motivate them…UNTIL… we discovered their passion. Sometimes it is hard to see a child’s passion when they are conditioned to express nothing, but we were blessed. When we went the extra mile to provide an outlet for their passion (for one it was individual guitar lessons with a really good instructor), we found these two young men responding to us with real emotion (mostly positive). HOWEVER, we could not use these lessons as reward or consequences… that would have just shut the boys down again. For the one child – the lessons cost money, we worked with others to give him opportunities to earn his lessons. We had to use opportunities not connected to our house or regular chores, he worked for other people on the facility grounds. We kept the requirements very low, so that the boys could not fail. Within one month, the boys began to do better in school and at home, and we were able to build some relationship bonds that were healthy…it felt like a miracle.


You just can’t keep giving negative consequences to these kids. Are you changing or modifying the behavior just giving out consequences. If one of your Natural children was in trouble you could give very harsh and long consequences and it would change their behavior. With the children we care for we can’t keep piling it on. They have to have hope. If we take privileges away they usually can earn some back. These kids have been through so much, it makes me laugh when I hear someone say they are going to break them. Most of my guys have been beaten, some with lamp cords and who know what else. Yet we think we can break them by taking stuff from them. Some people are motivated by the positive and some by the negative, you have to know what will work for each child. We use a chip system, some will cry if we take a chip some do no care, yet will respond when they earn chips. We made a modified family teaching model with the chips. Family teaching is 4 to 1 ratio positive to negative we used Family teaching in a DJJ home with teens most gang members, I thought it worked well and they teach don’t pile it on, give them a chance to earn something back. You also need the teaching part, they need to be taught correct behavior and rewarded when the do it.

Our Rad daughter was giving us problems we used love and logic all she had was a mattress on the floor. She said you did everything you can do I’m still going to do what I want. F YOU and walked out the door and we did not see her for weeks. That taught me that you need not only consequence but give positive reinforcement and bait them back.


Every person I have ever known to live by the break-em philosophy is now doing something else for a living. Though the so called breaking of a child may work for the very few, it won’t work for the vast majority of children in placement. They have already been broken by their situation and have learned ways to cope and deal with it. They have to be taught that adults can be dependable, caring and respectful, that not every situation is bad.

I’ll be the first to admit that this is a very hard thing to do. It’s hard to be caring a respectful when you are being cussed at, yelled at, spit on, or disrespected, but it has to be done. Our daughter that we raised in placement and that chose us as her parents, put us through test after test after test to see if we would stick around and continue to care. We did and now she calls us mom and dad. But even if she had never decided to make us her parents, but only learned to be a productive member of society and how to treat others, it is worth it.

Craig Bridges 

The other problem with the break them philosophy (control) is it is usually external and only works while when the kids are in the “break them” environment. It is a combination biblically of truth & grace. How does God deal with us? He tells us what or how we should do things, tells us the consequence of both obedience & disobedience, allows us to make a choice & experience the consequence of our choices. What I love is his blessings, mercy, & grace far outweigh the penalties. Also he is always there with open arms, willing to forgive & give us the support & love we need to get back on track.
We need negative consequences when raising our children but they should not be the focus. We should go out of our way to give grace, build relationships, find hot buttons (blessings) and have open arms. I don’t know about everyone else but I need Jesus because as the webmaster said it is hard when time and time again you are being disrespected, disobeyed and everything else. Thank you heavenly Father for your example on how to be a house parent.

A Valuable Lesson!!!

Most everyone knows that we have birth children to go with all our home children. Our son is about to turn 17 and this last year has been a trying experience. It is one thing when you have to deal with difficult behavior when you are caring for other people’s children, but it adds a whole new dimension when it is your own birth child. (Don’t misunderstand, it’s not get you placed in a group home bad behavior, but it is definitely stuff we hoped we wouldn’t have to deal with)

Anyway my wife takes things very personal sometimes and the other day she was asking me, why I thought he hated us and wanted to make things so difficult on us. I wasn’t sure how to answer it, and really didn’t think there was a good answer for her, but I started thinking about the many conversations we have had with him recently and remembered something he said. He told us something like, ” I know you think I don’t want to be around you at all, but I really just want to hang out with my friends.”

That got me to thinking about his overall behavior in general, and I think that statement can be applied to his entire life at the moment. It’s not that he don’t like us and wants to defy everything we say, it is that THE ONLY THING HE CARES ABOUT IS WHAT HE WANTS!

He doesn’t want to hurt us by hanging out with people we don’t approve of, our feelings are not even a consideration, because it is about what he wants. He doesn’t care that we think he should save some of his paycheck for the future, he only cares about what he can spend it on now. He doesn’t care that we think education is important and that you should put as much effort as you can into, he only cares about the work he doesn’t want to do.

The realization of this is very empowering. It allows you to recognize and deal with bad behavior without taking it personal, because it’s not about you. It’s totally about them; what they want and think is important. This same realization can apply to the work we do as houseparents. There always seems to be this one (or possibly two) kid(s) that seems to be out to get you or drive you nuts with their behavior. But if you realize it’s not about you, it should make it easier to deal with their behavior and to come up with reasonable expectations and consequences.

If only I can remember that the next time I’m dealing with my son, after he’s done something I am not real pleased with.

Dating in your home 

Do you allow your kids to bring their boyfriends or girlfriends into your home? I’ve met many house parents who are proud that a member of the opposite sex has NEVER entered their home.

This puzzles me. Have we never been teenagers before? Have we forgotten what dating was like? The house parents who don’t allow bf/gf to visit in their home always talk about raging hormones and such, but that’s exactly why I do allow my girls boyfriends to visit.

Now don’t get me wrong, I make them stay in a public place. I check on them frequently, and I always get to know the boy, telling them my expectations. I get involved with my girls relationships offering advice and opinion as much as possible.

Look, if you never allow your kids to date, if they can’t bring home this person they THINK they love, what do you think they will do? So often they will end up in the bushes somewhere. What’s more scary still is that you can set up a “Romeo and Juliet” relationship where the kids think “it’s us against the world” and then you’re asking for even bigger trouble.

I suggest the following.

1) Get to know the person your child likes.

2) Invite them over, talk to them, lay down ground rules.

3) Let the bf/gf know that you are involved in your kids lives and that can be good or bad for them, it’s up to them.

4) Talk frequently to your kids about why you do what you do and what you expect from them in return.

5) Supervise, interact, and walk around like a warden when the visits happen. I am very relational with my kids, but when their boyfriends visit I don’t care if I act like a prison guard (lol). I care about my kids too much to allow anything to happen, but I also care to much to ban bf’s from my house because I KNOW the result of that approach.

At least think about it..


This may surprise some people considering the history I have with Adam but I 100% agree with him on this one.

In addition I would like to add that I feel much better when my son’s girlfriend is here than when he is out with her, because when they are here I know nothing inappropriate is happening. Same goes for kids I’ve had in the past and also in the future when our daughter and other children become old enough to be immune to cooties.


I know sooner or later I will be dealing with this issue. At present I have no kids that are at the dating stage, but we are getting close. It’s kinda one of those things Iv’e taken for granted. I really don’t even know our policy on it- but will be finding out shortly after seeing this post.

What are the guidelines set in the house? Sitting on the couch together or different seats?

What are the limits of personal display of affection?

How do you handle (or do you) off campus dates, for example movies?

Just the nature of what we do, supervision has to be a constant. I am very curious as to how to effectively balance the supervision and personal space with teens that are at the next level of developing a healthy relationship with the opposite gender. I believe a lot of facilities choose to not even allow a dating relationship to happen because of the above mentioned concerns and the unmentioned but obvious sexual concerns. 

I let our girls sit with their boyfriends. I must be able to see their head and hands at all times.

I try and make other kids sit in the same room with them when at all possible. I often try and have double dates in the home, not just ONE couple in a room by themselves.

PDA can be no more than one arm around a shoulder or a head (high) on a shoulder. That’s it.

Off campus dates are granted based on trust, level of student (we have levels where I work that kids earn by behavior and attitude), and their willingness to allow me to know about their relationship and talk to me and or my wife about it.



I do like the level achievement systems. It really gives kids something to work towards and a little easier on staff discussions as to which kids qualify to do what without all the drama a treatment team can muster. Kind of makes me long for the ole’ Boys Town Achievement levels.

Cool topic- Looking forward to going back on shift and finding out where we stand on the dating issue.

Called2workwith youth
Have any of you had to deal with the kids that put on a real good facade of being good and trustworthy and all that, just to get on the highest level. Then once they do and get the privilege of going in town on a date, they get caught having sex and get dropped. That seemed to happen a lot at the place we worked at.

I agree teens should be allowed to date, but there should definitely be supervision.



 We caught one of our boys sneaking a dip of snuff in the rest room the other night. Immediately he spit out what he had and went directly to the family couch and had a seat (He is familiar with the drill) while we tossed his room. We found a can in his room and finished up the search. We then went into my office to have a talk and discuss the ramifications of this new discovery.

A few minutes into our discussion, I noticed he was becoming very uncomfortable. Since this was not exactly the first time we had this little talk I figured something was going on. I then saw him swallow VERY hard. I knew then he had another dip in.

Instead of making him spit it out, I decided to have a little fun. I figured he had either a lot of courage to try and sneak a dip into my office or he just plum lost his mind. I started asking him how he was feeling and trying to get him to talk (Every question I asked caused him to swallow more tobacco juice in order to answer). After about ten minutes I noticed he was sweating and not looking very well. I then proceeded to go into how great men can overcome obstacles, the history of tobacco which somehow led into Valentine’s Day (?) and Nazi occupied France. This was a good twenty minute roll. By this time he was wiping tears out of his eyes.

He finally lost it when I grabbed my bible and asked him if he knew what Proverbs had to say on our discussion. He jumped for the trash can coughing and gagging.

He apologized, confessed and told me he had a dip in, and swore never to touch the stuff again (Which I doubt). Needless to say my yard should be looking good by the time he gets done raking next week. He is also very confused about France now.

When You’re off…..


When you’re off duty for respite how does your house run? The same, better or worse. We just took time off with new relief people and our kids ran our house, and not in a good way. Any tips on how you handle this?



I’ve dealt with this too. It makes it almost more stressful to go off-duty than staying on. In our situation, our off-duty apartment is attached to the cottage – so we’re always here.

We’ve made a cottage handbook, specifically for the Relief Houseparents, which includes our rules and practices as well as a handbook on the kids so the Relief knows what to expect from each child. This also includes things like daily cottage routines and generally-used consequences. On our very first meeting with the Relief we reviewed this handbook at length.

If the problems observed don’t pertain to the health and well being of the kids then I wait until our “changeover meeting” to discuss it with the relief Houseparents. Make a list with specifics and review them in your meeting. There may be a need for a “shadowing” period so the Relief can understand what you mean. All in all, it will depend on the attitude and receptiveness of the Relief. I would definitely be prepared to raise the issue with the campus administrator if problems persist. This is another good reason to document specific examples.

Also, I tell the kids that I will continue to hold them responsible for following the well-known rules of the cottage – even though I may be off-duty.




The guys know we hold them accountable, it just seems this time they went wild. I don’t know what it was. The notes from the people covering were not good, which I have taken up with my supervisor. I know I am a control freak, and that does not help, but the house was a wreck, the kids were horrible. Everyone on campus knew what my kids had done and that we were off. I think that coming back on was the most frustrated I had been. Our apartment attaches to the house, but we had made a quick trip out of town. It has been hard just trying to get them back on track.



Awesome tip with the cottage handbook Texpop!

If there has been serious problems with respite I have talked with the respite to find out what’s going on, (Maybe the kids are giving them an extra hard tim) try to resolve the issue and if that does not work, it’s time to take it up the chain with the supervisor for satisfaction.

I’m also a bit of a control freak so I’ve had to learn to just live with some stuff and recognize some people have different expectations. Just cause the cereal bowls ended up in the wrong cabinet does not mean I need to get ugly on the relief.

Kids (even your most trustworthy kid) will hustle any adult that is not with them full time. Kinda like substitute teacher day in school. A cottage handbook like Texpop is talking about should reduce much of the drama.

I use to really hate going on respite because it seemed like we had to start over from scratch every time we came back on. Anytime there is a flux in the schedule it sends a lot of kids into a tail spin. Unfortunately in this setting it is not possible for a facility to keep the same HP’s in the house 24- 7, 365 days a year without a break. So the house spinning up is going to be reality no matter what we do. The only thing we can do is try to minimize the spinning as much as possible. Set rules and very, well defined boundaries that are strictly followed by the respite help a great deal. If the respite is not willing to do that- It will be bad for everyone.

 I have only worked with one lady that was absolutely horrible at being respite. Kids allowance came up missing and groceries would just vanish. She did not last long. Most of the respite couples I worked with were awesome. Glad I don’t live that life!



Relief is a necessary evil of residential childcare, which by the way I am very much enjoying at the moment, and will always cause some disruption with the children and staff when it happens. I used to be really uptight about everything being perfect with the kids and relief staff but have come to realize it’s not going to be.

I do however very much agree with Texpop that holding the children responsible for their behavior whether or not you are there goes a long way in helping the situation. Our kids know that if they try to manipulate the relief staff and do things they are not supposed to we will give them consequences on top of whatever relief staff gave them.

It’s also much better when you have consistent relief staff. Our kids don’t try to get over on regular relief staff near as much as they do, when we have vacation relief staff covering the cottage. I think familiarity with the children is one of the top stabilizing factors with the children. When relief staff knows the children and what the rules are things seem to go better.

You also have to consider the frequency that there seems to be chaos. Even with good relief staff, fair and consistent rules, and great relationships between the kids and staff, there are going to be those times when the kids seem to just flip out and that’s when you hammer them when you get back. Our kids seem to do it about once a year. If it’s happening every relief then there is probably a problem with staff (either you or relief), or the program.



Our kids love testing relief. They will pull stuff that doesn’t even sound like them. It’s pretty sad. I just consistently tell them “we know what you did” and give consequences. I think it will eventually settle down when the relief has been here for awhile.



I know that everyone has complaints about relief – including myself – and how the house is messy when you come back and the kids are a struggle, but think about it from the kids perspective as well. When we are at the home, the kids feel safe, protected, and structured. Each of these is the EXACT OPPOSITE of the life that they have come from. Each of these kids have been abandoned, abused, left, ripped out of homes and thrown into new ones. They finally start letting their defenses down with us because we have provided a safe and structured home environment for them. They can learn to be the “responsible” kids that we see each day. Well, when we up and leave every month or two weeks or whatever our schedule is, it is just like when mom left or dad left or those foster parents they were with for two days that they were never able to trust and build a relationship with. OF COURSE all those old behaviors – that we don’t see anymore – start coming out again. It’s their way to cope – they are putting their defenses back up. This is especially true if the relief is inconsistent or constantly changing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT excusing the behavior AT ALL. We do give consequences when we come back for things that might have happened, but ‘s sometimes good to think of it from the kids perspective as well.



Well I guess I feel mostly for the kids, cause they are the ones that have multiple bosses. They are the ones that have to switch gears if there isn’t consistency. Have you ever worked in the business world and had two bosses who do things differently? I have…and it’s the pits!

 I believe the secret to a wholesome household…be it a regular family or a group family….is unity among those that run the house. It is rare. Just like a wife and husband are one in marriage and better present a united front to the children; houseparents….all of the houseparents…had better be married in purpose and understand each other and come up with a compromise/unified plan that works for the household. The main houseparents should have an outline of each child’s character traits and strengths and weaknesses and a plan for building/redeeming each child with progress reporting. All other houseparents should add to and maintain the outline/plan/progress. Part of the completion of any stay at the house should be an update to the plan and a meeting in the changeover to assure that the plan is still unified and on track. If that takes meeting in the office on the morning of the changeover, then so be it.

Too often, I saw no plan and no unity and no coordination going on. I saw a lot of turf protection and keeping of secrets, though. I saw kids that were being punished for bad behavior with no explanation of how they could repair the confidence of the houseparents. They weren’t given satisfactory encouragement when they demonstrated the type of behavior that would lead to their redemption. As a result, kids that already had little hope of being well thought of would despair quickly. I believe that a clear visible path to redemption with help and encouragement along the way is the only thing that will bring hope and results. In my opinion, duplication of punishment by houseparents just destroys credibility for the other houseparents.

I’ve seen what happens when kids have to make changeover under those circumstances…..after being full of life and joy, …..about an hour before the changeover, ….they would all go quietly into the living room and sit down and become silent. As you would go in to bid them goodbye, they would be as stiff as a board and not even respond. How could you not have compassion for them.



At times we hate to get off. we only ask to have off one weekend out of the month. As we like to stay on duty. and in our home. as that is what it is and every time we leave it is like leaving our home, bed, stuff… etc. The Kids will always try to play the houseparents for the weekend. Getting away with anything and everything. We have just gotten a family who fills in when we are away once a month we have started to trust and enjoy and fill better with leaving and knowing that the house will not be burned down when we get back. We still have a few days when we get back getting the kids back on track but things are getting better.



Sometimes I wish I had not even taken off because it takes DAYS to get the house back to “normal”. Please pray for our new respite; there fruit isn’t producing a good crop.



It’s pretty much a given fact that it’s going to happen. Sometimes the kids do things just to see how we react. Usually after a couple of days things return to normal and then you can start worrying about the next time your going to be off. I’ve worked with good relief and also with the bad. I’ve found that if you try not to make too big of a deal out of it the kids seem to do better. Try to find something good that the relief did and praise them for that. Don’t let the kids know your feelings or they will play them like a cheap banjo! Hang in there and try enjoy your time off. If you’re worrying while you’re gone then you’re not really getting the rest that you need. 



It really isn’t the kids, it’s the house. Everything is moved, including our stuff on the computer being deleted. Our ministry only allows Christian music, which our boys love & our respite is listening to 80’s heavy metal & even told our kids that’s what we had the radio on but, they knew better. 30 minutes after we leave the petty cash is spent on food that they, not the kids, like. They also live close by & I don’t think they even go to church. They have stated they would never be full time houseparents but are respite for 2 homes with 12 + days off a month. Please pray for all of us.

Suicide Watch


Have you ever had a kid in your care on “Suicide watch”? What preventive measures do you take? Any idea on the best way to talk with them? Any help would be appreciated.



In all the facilities that we have worked at, we did not do “Suicide watches.” If they threatened suicide or we suspected it was a possibility, they would be taken to the emergency room and evaluated by a mental health professional. If needed they were admitted and watched by the hospital or mental health facility.

If they were just manipulating they came back and in most cases never tried that again.

I am thankful for having administrators that are aggressive in dealing with that.



I’d have to agree with WM on how we handle suspected suicide “attempters” at our facility too. I HAVE had times when I needed to keep a close watch on kids because of other behavior issues. In these cases, we’d do an intensive room sweep and then remove the bedroom door (they could change cothes in the bathroom).

What kind of measures are you having to take? Is this normal at your facility? Is there training provided?



I don’t think it happens too often, it is just one of those where the ER does not think they need further psych eval, however, the facility is more cautious. I have wonderful support. We keep them line of sight AT ALL TIMES. We often times get “Night Coverage” so that we do not have to be awake all night. I think my facility has some of the best training out there, and luckily our supervisors are available by hand held radio. I have dealt with a lot of abused kids, but it seems that three times in the last three months I have had one with suicidal ideation. Our bedrooms don’t have doors, so that is not an issue. Almost everything is taken away during these times and we do a lot of talking with the resident. It just breaks my heart that this is the thought of a teenager.



The first facility we worked in was a much higher care facility. When/ if the kid made a suicide gesture or statement we would call the therapist or ambulance (Depending on how serious the attempt was). The therapist would make a decision on whether the kid needed to be placed back to the children’s psych ward (Where most came from to our facility).

IF the kid came back- Any objects that could cause harm where taken out, which meant more or less everything. Given enough time to think about it, you can kill yourself with pert near anything. Over night staff would keep watch on the kid.

I have never had to deal with a suicide attempt since I got married and my wife and I moved to another facility. Since then, suicide statements that kids have made would be reported, we would talk to the kid briefly but we also don’t make a big deal about it. Most of the time it is a negative attention seeking thing and the more emotional you get the more adventurous they get.

In the public


I just wanted to know if anyone else deals with their kids in the public, i.e., schools, etc.

Our program is more of a foster home-type setting. These kids go to public school (not a very good public school), are able to go to friend’s houses and spend the night, able to go on outings by themselves, etc. They have A LOT of freedoms. This proves very difficult in keeping outside influences from filtering in. Each day it seems like we have to remind them of their language and their attitude. Each day we argue with them about the privileges “regular” families have (like cell phones, etc.). It is a battle.

One of our kids absolutely does not want to be in this program so he is protesting by not eating anything in the home. He does not eat lunch at school and then does not eat breakfast and maybe only eats a few bites for supper because he does not want ANYTHING from our program. He protests about not being able to have his own money to carry around on him or have cell phones; definitely feels entitlement and thinks he’s better than the others in the program. I feel he needs humbled pretty bad–LOL. The other kids in the home do not like him because of his behaviors toward the houseparents and to peers. He has a bad choice of friends at school and brings home this bad attitude. He is 16 so, you know, he thinks he should have all the freedoms of an adult! LOL. It’s just so frustrating as a houseparent to have this many outside influences.

We will be dropping the bomb to him tonight and his privileges probably over the next week will be null due to his behavior. He does not want to sign forms to be in the program (which require his signature) AND last night we caught him throwing out clothes that our facility bought him (luckily we dug them out of the trash and saved them). Like I said, it will be like jail for him over the next week due to his behavior.

Do you guys have any similar problems?




We work in a residential foster care home and the children we have the most difficulty getting adapted to living in our home are the ones that come when they are older. For the majority of the older kids they have had little or no supervision prior to coming to live with us and find it very difficult adapting to the structure. On top of that they attract to the very same kind of kids at school, so they believe that all kids are just allowed to do whatever they please, to go where they wish, anytime they wish.

They don’t understand that in normal families, there is structure and boundaries, and have a hard time adapting to it. What makes it easier, is having a good sponsor program, where they can spend time with families in the community that are stable so they can see there are families that have structure and boundaries.

My personal feelings are that facilities that are more foster care than they are therapeutic need to make provisions for the kids to be able to earn money, be able to carry money, and use their money even on things like cell phones. In our facility all our older kids are allowed to have money, and once they are in high school can get prepaid cell phones provided they are responsible with them. I think foster care facilities need to provide for the normal things of life as much as possible to include things like Internet access, phones, outings, dates, school sports, etc.

As for your 16 year old, be patient. I think I would use some serious restrictions like you describe. He will eventually get hungry enough to eat, and will run out of other things to wear and start to settle in, or do something bad enough to be sent home or somewhere else or possibly run away, which result in the same thing. Either way it will get easier.

Kids Hurting Animals lying and other stuff


I haven’t posted in awhile but I am always looking at the forums so here is a couple of situations that I would appreciate some feedback on:

1)The new girl, seven years old, in our house threw our dog, a toy poodle, down tonight and now he won’t put any weight on his back left leg. Does anyone have any suggestions on what to do for a consequence? My wife almost went through the roof when it happened.  The new girl refuses to do what we ask of her. She was only here a week and was banned from petting, holding, walking or anything related to the dog because of the way she mistreated him. I can honestly say that she has been in time out and has lost just as many privileges than any other kid in our house, and she has only been here for a month and a half.

2) We have a girl in our house that about 80% of what she says is a lie. We catch her in lie, after lie, after lie. I know she is doing it for attention and she wants us to favor her more than the other girls. But it is getting to where we can’t believe anything she says anymore.

Any thoughts that you guys have I would appreciate. 



Best thing you can do in regards to the dog- don’t freak out. Be very calm when giving consequences and talking about the event with her. This may help to keep her from seeking negative attention.

Sounds like she has some very serious issues and needs therapy- now. Animal abuse is a very big red flag with adolescent behavior.

I have only had two kids that would try to harm our pets. One of them was trying to impress the other boys and the other was deeply disturbed. In any case, working and living in residential child care means you have to expect the worst at all times. I love animals, but I wouldn’t get overly attached to the dog if I were you. Your living in an environment where you may wake up one morning and find the poodle laying in the middle of a chalk outline and three kids standing around playing “CSI”.


2) We have a girl in our house that about 80% of what she says is a lie. We catch her in lie, after lie, after lie. I know she is doing it for attention and she wants us to favor her more than the other girls. But it is getting to where we can’t believe anything she says anymore.

Every fib you catch her on, tell her and give out a consequence. Every time you suspect she is lying, tell her and give a consequence. You don’t need concrete proof to give a child a response cost for suspecting they are lying. It is a tough behavior to correct, but eventually she will get tired of being accused of lying every time she opens her mouth and being given a consequence.

Kids Diet Will only eat deep fried food


I am involved in the mother of all power struggles right now. I have a boy that REFUSES to eat anything that does not get deep fried or has sugar loaded into it. He has more or less sustained himself on whatever he can sneak when we are not looking.

Any suggestions?

He is six years old and obviously overweight. This kid will have a heart attack by the time he is twelve if we can’t break his poor eating habits. 



We had a kid that sounded similar to yours. I took him to the Dr. and told the Dr. that all he wanted was sugar. The Dr. chewed me out and said that the only reason he eats sugar is cause you give it to him. I told the Dr. that he would not eat anything else. She told me to take away the junk food and he would eat when he got hungry. I talked it over with administration and we decided to give it a try. It took a few days but he finally started eating regular food.



We deal with this with many of the children we work with and some of the things we do is. Lock the pantry. If it is OK with your administration, lock the pantry, or at the very least, take everything junky out and lock it up. This way the kids won’t sneak the junk food when you are sleeping, or in the other room dealing with another child. In doing so we don’t limit what the children eat. There is always fruit and vegetable sticks available.

We also have a rule that you must eat a protein and a vegetable with each meal, and we don’t count any type of white potato as a veggie. So French Fries don’t count. Sweet potatoes do count. If you don’t eat a protein and a veggie you can’t have seconds, desert, or anything sweet to drink (i.e. Koolaid, sweet tea, etc.)

We also have a rule that you get one thing that you don’t have to like. My daughter hates fish and has since birth. She is not required to eat fish when it is served and is still able to get desert, seconds etc. Knowing that we live in a children’s home and green beans are served at least 4 times a week, my son picked them. The children seem much more open to eating better foods when they have some say.

Finally we have free days. Those include cook-outs and holidays. They seem to accept the other eating rules when they get a chance to binge.

We have the best eaters on campus, and our new kids that were not eating veggies when they were in other cottages are now eating balanced meals without issues.



I really like the idea of letting the kid choose one thing they don’t like and not having to eat it. We have also started telling him he has to eat one vegetable or fruit with every meal, otherwise he can go hungry until the next meal, at witch time he has to eat a vegetable or fruit. So far he chose not to eat today. A little fasting is good for everyone and I figure even the most stubborn kid won’t go longer than three days.

Thanks for the advice; it definitely helps to get some second, third and fourth opinions.

Lying Compulsive Lying


Does anyone have any tips or recommendations for dealing with compulsive lying? I have a boy that is struggling with communicating honestly on any level. We just can’t seem to get him to progress past this level. He is an older teen and this behavior is in-grained very deeply.

Anyone with any strategies or advice please comment, I am way open and searching on this one. 



We have a young lady that is a somewhat compulsive liar. We just call her on it and give her consequences every time she lies. Other than that I don’t know what else to do. We have had discussion after discussion about how lying makes a situation worse, and we have had several examples with other children in our cottage. She has been able to see how telling the truth by other children has resulted in them not receiving additional consequences, and even receiving grace and how other children that have lied receive additional consequences, but she doesn’t seem to be able to associate any of it to her situation. 

I did receive this in an E-mail today. It is a link to the foster parent college. They are offering, along with many other courses, a course specifically for dealing with lying. I haven’t previewed the course and am unable to offer a review, but the cost is relatively inexpensive, and might be very productive. 



We work with a teen girl with the same issue. It seems to be an almost automatic response – lying. I agree with consistently giving consequences for each incidence – large or small. However the biggest impact has followed her recent profession of faith, when instructed that Jesus has nothing to do with lies. He is the way, the TRUTH…..this has been repeated for her to ponder as it is very important to her. I don’t know if it helps your situation, but I at least wanted to confirm the previous post on consistency of consequence.

Frustration (Taking Behaviors Personally)

Wow, what a week. I thought that I could not become anymore frustrated about some of the girls in my house, and then Friday arrived. My wife and I have been doing this for 3 months, and I was loving it until this week. I am feeling completely squashed by one of the girls, I will call her “Drama Queen”.

 Drama Queen and I have about the same personality, except for the fact that she does not care what she says or when she says it, and I am having a really hard time holding back. Yesterday it seemed as though I was put down so much by her that she just knew that it was getting to me, and it did about 8 o’clock. I let her have it and then felt totally terrible about how I reacted. I am really feeling frustrated about the situation and feel helpless. I have been spending time in God’s Word and trying to seek his guidance. Lately I feel like there is a wall up between me and God, and I know that it is me and my attitude. I just need a way to release the resentment.

They say that you cannot take what they say and do personally, but it is extremely hard for me because I am the person that feels I need everyone to like me. Monday we are planning on going home to see our families and I know that it will help to see some people whom I know love me and care about me “I cannot wait”. I know that there are many of you out there that have been doing this for quite some time, and if you can offer any advice I am all for it. 

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have said something stupid and/ or inappropriate to a kid. I remember one teen boy that told my wife he hoped our unborn daughter would die and fall out. The rest of my interaction with him looked more like a conversation between Tony Soprano and somebody he was getting ready to shoot. That was the last big blow up I had.

We work in a highly emotional environment. Most of these kids could not handle foster placement because of emotional and behavioral issues, so they get placed with us in group homes. In reality almost all group homes are “behavior Modification” facilities, whether they think they are or not. We try to teach and empower these kids to make better decisions and create healthy relationships.

My patience and reactions have gotten better over time. There’s a lot to be said for experience and the fact that after being called a B***h for the millionth time it actually starts to become hysterical and you find yourself teaching to the behaviors, not reacting out of anger or frustration. But it still happens- at least to me.

I think everyone has a certain boundary that is not to be crossed. When you have a 14 year old not only cross that line, but doing with a sneer and taunting you, it’s only natural to imagine you spanking them out by the wood pile. Just don’t do it.

All the rules and regulations that are in place are there because we are only human. The child care industry is in a much better place now than it was as little as 20 years ago when de-escalation at some places consisted of a leather belt or wooden paddle and a good swinging arm.

As for the wall between you and God- I find myself there often. I start feeling like that when I don’t have a solution as to how to deal with a kid or I feel like I’m making no difference at all. I pray, jump on the motorcycle for a few miles and go talk to some of the guys I trust here and unload on them. It helps- at least for me. 

It is one thing to be offended by a resident… is another to watch one undermine your credibility with the other residents and feel powerless. You may be running into a former houseparent’s neglect. For some it is easier to let a strong anti-leader run the house and reward them with special privileges in return for conditional allegiance. That results in losing credibility with the whole house anyway, and leaves a “lord of the flies” survival of the fittest…. game player mentality. That will work ….although pitifully at best…..for “keeping” kids, but it won’t work for redeeming them.

Take the kid aside and get real with them. If putting you down continues…just remember…you probably aren’t the only one being put down. Make her pay consequences for putting anybody down. Find out if you have offended her….if she has a legitimate beef, ask forgiveness and fix it. …..but don’t let it continue. You have to have control of the house…otherwise…the whole house suffers…and the children have no security under your leadership.

You ultimately have to have the support and the confidence of the director. Sometimes kids do better with one houseparent over another. Sometimes they do better in another type of setting. The director can make changes if they are needed. If they don’t want to be bothered when a destructive situation can’t be resolved at the house level….which should be rare…’s time to move on.

Finally starting a home-questions on younger kids

Well, the day has finally come. We are beginning visits with a boy that may become our first kid. We’ve been doing relief while waiting for our house to be finished and now its finally done. We were trained for teenagers and cut our teeth on them too. Now it looks like we will be starting our home with a 5 year old. Although I’m used to little kids, its different when you are hping them. Any advice?

What do you do when a 5 year old tantrums in the store? I assume you take them to the car until they either calm down or you have to leave but what if they are flailing uncontrollably? Its just so different with teens. The worst thing our girls ever did was beg for favorite food! I know I got spoiled doing relief for our relatively stable girls (although it didn’t feel like I was being spoiled at the time) 

What about attachment issues? My little goddaughter started calling me mommy when I kept her for very long so this worries me a little.

Does your facility run TCI, CPI, TFM or another program?

Are there any written guidelines in regard the children’s consequences/ behaviors?

I know a lot of others here will disagree with me, but as far as attachment goes- It’s a good thing. If they want to call you mom and the facility does not mind- I say go for it. Sometimes they need that. The attachment is what makes them feel like there is someone that loves them.

As for tantrums in public places? Get ready for it. I’ve had more dirty looks at the mall from people who thought I should be spanking my six year old who is cursing while I’m leading him out to the van for a time out than I care to think about.

A good program, clear and well established boundaries and lots of patience will help when dealing with the younger kids. Actually I’ve worked mostly with teens, but now that I’m in a elementary cottage I enjoy them more. It’s more work, but it seems like we have more genuine moments with them. I also don’t have to worry about them running an underground tobacco smuggling operation. 

What do you do when a 5 year old tantrums in the store? I assume you take them to the car until they either calm down or you have to leave but what if they are flailing uncontrollably? Its just so different with teens. The worst thing our girls ever did was beg for favorite food! I know I got spoiled doing relief for our relatively stable girls (although it didn’t feel like I was being spoiled at the time)

You are correct about going to the car. Lead them out by the hand if they will let you or pick them up and carry them out. If they are too big to carry and have tantrum issues you don’t take them to the store until you have had sufficient time to work with them in other situations to reduce or hopefully alleviate their tantrums. Make sure that as you lead them or carry them from the store that you don’t strike them, shake them or grab them in a way that can appear abusive (hair, ears, collars, etc.) and remain calm.

What about attachment issues? My little goddaughter started calling me mommy when I kept her for very long so this worries me a little.

The children I work with are very long term kids that could spend their entire childhood with us. Some of them call us mom and dad and we may be the only mom or dad they ever know. We do however have many discussions with them about birth mom & dad and foster mom & dad; that we are here to care for them and love them because their birth parents are not able to.

Our facility allows us and the children to do this, but I know of several facilities that don’t allow the children to call you mom and dad. When we were foster parents, our state regulations prohibited the children calling us mom and dad. You need to find out what your facility’s policy is and follow it. There are some ways to avoid the mom and dad name issue and still be personal. We have had older couples that had the children call them mamaw and papaw. We have a housemom that goes by Aunt Becky. I have known several housedads that go by pop or pops.

wow, ok. Thanks for the replies, that helps a lot. I was worried about picking them up but that makes the most sense. My director even said to let them tantrum on the floor but I was worried about them destroying things. I think I like the idea of waiting to take them to the store until we’ve spent time together and tested out other outings. We were going to start with an open area such as a park, then work slowly up to grocery stores and restaurants. You know, McDonalds before Lubys kind of a deal.

The first pre-placement visit went well. I’m really confused about the family situation. I can’t tell what is “wrong” with this kid. I’m sure there will be a brief honeymoon period but that doesn’t last as long with little kids as with teens right?

Launchpad, I think I really enjoy working with the little ones too. They are so honest. They just talk to you. Its very obvious what the sensitive issues are…they aren’t afraid to talk (if they are comfortable with you). This kid adored my husband. It was so funny because he wanted to be with both of us at the same time. If dh wandered off to do something, it only took a few minutes before he asked where dh was. I can tell that if we take him, he is going to break my heart. Since we have been doing relief, I’ve been able to keep the relationship on a relational but definitely more of an aunt and uncle level. A little one living with us all the time will definitely change that.

Change of topic- what do y’all think about taking elementary age kids off of meds for add/adhd for the summer? I’ve heard theories that since they don’t have to do schoolwork in summer, they should be off of them.

We almost always take our kids off of ADD medications during the summer, with Doctor’s permission of course. They don’t need to concentrate as much, and hyperness doesn’t bother us that much. School starts in 4 weeks and we have a child that is trying meds for the first time. He is the most hyper child I have ever met, it will interesting to see how they work. We got the Rx today and will start him right away to see how the meds affect him. The first day of school is not the time to try new meds if you don’t have to; there are too many things that can go wrong. 

The first pre-placement visit went well. I’m really confused about the family situation. I can’t tell what is “wrong” with this kid…….. I can tell that if we take him, he is going to break my heart. Since we have been doing relief, I’ve been able to keep the relationship on a relational but definitely more of an aunt and uncle level. A little one living with us all the time will definitely change that.

My wife and I have a house of little boys, now 6yrs – 12yrs old. Prior to taking this cottage, we relieved in teen boy and girls cottages. We’ve found that most of the time what’s “wrong” with the little kids are that those caring for him are totally incapable of doing it (i.e. jail, drugs, health, etc.) These little guys just need love and structure. We’ve traded the self-sufficiency and “attitudes” of teenagers for the hugs and tears of little ones. Yes, it is more physical work – laundry, dressing, baths, cleaning – but they’ve got our hearts and it’s a pleasure and honor to be the ones who get to teach them all the basics of life.

The heartbreaks are different too. Like when they go on “Home visit” and come back to the cottage not understanding why they can’t be with their family and then cry themselves to sleep because they miss their mom. But, I’ve gotten to teach them how to ride bikes, tie their shoes, make their beds, catch a ball, and pray to God. HOW COOL IS THAT?!!

We wouldn’t have it any other way!

Consequences for Smoking

Do you have any special consequences you give for smoking?? We have tried different things but

Is the smoking occurring at school or home, or elsewhere? Is there some person that instigating, condoning, or facilitating the behavior?

I admit, I’ve not had to deal with this particular issue. I’ll be interested in how others have handled it.

Smoking was at home. One person is the leader and the others follow along. The leader is the one who has obtained the contraband (both cigarettes and dip) from someone else on campus. Our consequences have to be respectful, reasonable and related. We have had them in the past make a nice donation to the American Cancer Society, which usually works. I don’t think it will work on this kid though. 

We have a younger cottage now so we don’t deal with it. BEFORE though I felt like the DEA running operations in Columbia.

Some kids the consequences work. I have discovered that there are some kids who will not quit. I don’t care what the consequence or how severe the punishment will be, they will not quit. In the past it has became a power struggle between me and the kid.

What can you do? Nothing. You will not stop them from getting the tobacco. In fact the more you struggle with them and increase the consequences, the worse and more defiant they will become.

IMO- Sit down with your team, come up with what you all believe is an effective response cost for any tobacco use and stick with it. Being consistent and fair with everyone will probably produce more positive results than always increasing consequences, becoming emotionally charged and/ or threatening a kid.

In the past I had a teen that we constantly worked on. Daily room searches, chore consequences and threats. More than once admin threatened to throw the kid out if he did not quit. He only escalated in use, brought more tobacco into the facility and encouraged more kids to use. It became a power struggle between him and the system!!!

I look back on it now and realize we did more to push the kid away than we did to help him. Telling him he had to go if he did not quit was kind of the equivalent of telling your Grandpa he was no longer a part of the family because he smoked a pack of Camels. I wonder how many of us would tell our own Bio kids the same thing? How many of us HP’s are struggling/ have struggled with tobacco? We sometimes need to remember our own journey. Definitely not a shining moment in my HP career.

There are also lots of Tobacco cessation classes in the community and Quit Coaches. I have seen some success with kids that went through some of those classes.

My biggest issue with tobacco was the underground network kids would create. Somewhere on the forum I asked for help with where all they could hide their stash. Very informative! After reading all the suggestions of where to look I found a lot of stuff. I was able to put a crimp in the black market activities.
Good Luck!!!

Launchpad, let me start by saying, “I missed ya MAN!!” I find your topics and replies so insightful. You make my job real easy, because your advice is usually better than mine. You usually say what I want to say, only better. Welcome Back!!!

I agree with you about the tobacco. Some kids will never quit, and it will always be a struggle. For some kids, their smoking becomes one of the most important things in their lives, and if they can drive somebody else nuts with it all the better.

The only way to change behavior is to find something they would rather do or something that they value more that can be taken away if they don’t stop. (I realize there is the whole God thing with changing behavior, but in a worldly sense there is really only the two options)

I have a 17 yr old birth son that decided he wanted to smoke like all the kids (which by the way I don’t approve of, but have found it difficult to stop him from seeing) he hangs out with , it wasn’t until I promised to cut him off financially (no vehicle, car insurance, cell phone, lunch money, etc.), unless he quits smoking. I told him if he wanted to smoke, he was going to have to pay for it completely. I wasn’t going to subsidize it by providing a vehicle to drive, an affordable cell phone, and lunch money to buy them with. If he could afford to provide all those things himself and still had money left over to buy cigarettes, I figured it must be a real priority. So far it seems to be working, I haven’t found any cigs in two days.

BTW – I must say I enjoy the look on his face when he sees me crushing an almost full pack of $4 cigarettes.

Consequence for Cell Phone

Hi everyone! Was just wondering what a good consequence would be for an 18-year-old who snuck in a cell phone (cell phones are not allowed at our cottage). The biggest issue we have is that he lied to us about having one. I made him do a few extra chores but as far as a consequence for the lying, I feel there needs to be something more. What is you guys’s take on this?

Well, our level system is based kind of on a “trust” idea. The more we feel that we can trust you – the more privileges and freedoms you will have. Bringing in a cell phone and then lying to me about it is not showing me that I can trust you. It would be a pretty serious issue in my house. I know that in many homes this might not be that big of deal or that uncommon, but based on my boys and my home it would be. I would probably check their bag everyday when they got home before they went to their room. They would be restricted in the privileges they have at the house because in my mind I cannot trust this kid to do the things that they are supposed to. Until they can prove to me that they are not going to lie and they have rebuilt that trust – I’m pulling in the reigns.

Same here—same here! Our system is based on trust, too. We don’t have a point system or anything like that. We try to model a home as close as we can. This boy in particular hates to write and I was reading the book, “Boundaries with Kids” by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend (good Christian book, by the way), and I was reading the chapter on internalizing. My husband and I decided to come up with a good consequence that fit the crime but couldn’t think of any until I had read that chapter. This young man does not internalize mistakes he makes. So, we decided to have him write us a letter (he hates writing, by the way–only loves computer work). So, it had to be written out. We posed three questions to him that needed to be answered by the end of the weekend. These are the three questions and feel free to use them for other things if anyone wants to. I feel this makes kids think internally instead of just externally all of the time:

  1. What did it mean to you to lie to us; did it benefit you in any way?
  2. How do you think it made us feel that you lied?
  3. How does this behavior hurt you?

And you know, he came up with some pretty good answers that also revealed a lot about himself to us through this. He was using the cell phone to call his mom because it’s long distance for all of these kids to call their moms, so we can’t have them call their parents, but their parents are more than welcome to call anytime here they want to talk to their kids. They are also encouraged to write letters. I feel bad about the rule of not being able to call their parents if it’s long distance, but then again, I get upset that the parents don’t call their kids on a regular basis, too. It’s very frustrating.

Cigarettes Need some suggestions

Here’s the deal. I have a kid who has been out foxing me on hiding contraband. He smokes and dips when he gets the chance (mostly at school, I think), and is very, very good at hiding his habit. Most of the time he gets caught at school smoking. Other times we catch other kids and their response is usually they get their stash from him.

I am certain he has a stash very close to the house. His room belongings and person are searched daily at varying times. My wife and I have discussed several Black ops type of scenarios to find his little treasure trove. We know he is smoking at school and at certain times when he manages to disappear for a few minutes around the house, usually while me and my wife are dealing with another kid. He is constantly on restriction and has no access to his allowance, yet he seems to be getting supplied from somewhere at school.

The main thing perplexing me is we never smell smoke on him. Not on his fingers or clothes. Being a former chain smoker in my mis-spent youth I have found this a very difficult thing to accomplish smoking without the smell of cigarettes on your clothing. This kid is good.

What is he using to cover the smell? Any idea how I can put a crimp in his black market activities. He obviously has no desire to change. I do hope to find a way he will not drag some of the other boys down his road. Any suggestions?

Favorite outdoor hiding places I have seen are:

  • Inside the van
  • In the mail box
  • Under a board or cinder block in the yard
  • In the eaves of an outbuilding

Favorite on person hiding places I have seen is:

  • In their socks
  • Hollowed out soles in shoes(under the insoles)
  • In their underwear
  • Pens with insides removed

The sneakiest kids I have known always hide their stash in public places, sometimes right under your nose. Check in the crevices deep inside the couch or a chair. In seldom used cabinets or end tables. We had a boy that hid his cigarettes in a little curio cabinet we had on the wall by the front door. He hid them there for over a year before we discovered them.

If he doesn’t have smoke on his fingers, he is using some sort of holder like a clip or tubing. It is probably hidden with his stash.

It sounds like individual consequences are NOT a big deal with him, so you may try group consequences. Even those that aren’t smoking with him, probably know where his stash is. Some group consequence like cancelling fun activities out of a lack of trust for the group, might encourage others to at least, in confidence, give up his stash and there will be a few less cigarettes in the world.

Always check with your administration before using group consequences and if they don’t produce results fairly quickly stop using them. You don’t want to create a situation that could result in the boy being abused by the other boys.

You also may have to accept that he may never change. He will either get good enough at hiding or abstaining to complete the program, will blow out of the placement, or forever live with the consequences of smoking and getting caught.

Just try to always be fair and to build a relationship with him, it may have a bigger effect than anything else. 

Thank you! I never even considered some of those hiding places (Pen, shoes). My wife and I did a search and came up with nothing. We then decided to go with the group consequence. We sat the boys down and explained if one of them was caught or suspected of smoking or any other tobacco use, all of them would earn a workday for every incident.

Twenty minutes later I had three lighters, 4 cigarettes and an empty can of snuff. Every kid except for the one I have been dealing with gave up all locations of known or suspected hiding places and are watching the other boy like a hawk. Of course the other boy is spitting mad. Nothing beats peer encouragement.

Awesome suggestions! It has already made a difference in the house over the last few days.

Thanks again!