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Tackling The Sass

If your son or daughter is sassy, the child might not be the only one who
is at fault. The Saturday Early Show's Mike Riera looks at the possible reasons why some kids are disruptive.

Parenting on the Same Page

Dear Mike,

My 13-year-old daughter is often sassy to the point of refusing to do what she is told. She is very spoiled by both her father and me. I have tried to put my foot down to stop the sass, but I am doing it almost alone. My husband rarely makes her do chores or homework. When I speak to him about it, he agrees with me, but just continues the same way. Any suggestions?


Most 13- to 15-year-old children argue a lot at home, and they usually argue with their moms. Their moms are the ones who are enforcing the mundane rules like to clean and do homework. The different approaches you and your husband are taking is a matter of concern. It sounds like from the letter your husband is being passive-aggressive about this.

Submit a Question
If you have a question for Mike Riera about dealing with your child, send an email to with "Ask Mike" in the subject line. Or write to "Ask Mike" The Saturday Early Show, 514 West 57th St., 6th floor, New York, N.Y. 10019. Your question may be featured on future shows and on our Web site.
You may need to back off a little bit while your husband enforces the rules more stiffly. Until you get on the same page, it's unfair to the daughter because she needs some structure in these formative years. And if you do it now and do it well, then the rest of adolescence will be fairly smooth for you and your daughter. If you can't do it on your own, this is a time to make use of a counselor.

Support for the Single Mom

Dear Mike,

I am a 47-year-old single mom with a 10-year-old son. Now lately, my son has noticed that families with fathers have more than we do. It is difficult for him to understand that we can't have as much as two-income families. Our arguments about this escalate into shouting matches. How do I make him concentrate on things that are important, like being thankful for what we have?


This is a dilemma with which many single moms must cope. It idocumented that on average women make less for doing the same work as their male counterparts. This is a reality. Also, there are not two incomes here. Assuming there is not much you can do about your financial situation, you need to withstand the blows of your son's outbursts. He's 10 years old. He cannot understand things the way adults do. You need to let him vent, not too much that it becomes abusive, but enough so that he can work through his feelings, and he can start the healing process.

Slowly turn the subject to other things. Plan some activities with each other like going for walks or watching local sports events, things you can do free or for little money. Eventually, he will come to accept the situation. At 10 years old, kids want to be like everyone else.

A Diagnosis for the Future

Dear Mike,

My 7-and-a-half-year-old daughter is hyper, stubborn, excitable and defiant. Her teacher believes she has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). How can I help my daughter? I don't want to medicate her.


You need to take a big step back. ADHD is a very real thing and parents need to learn about it. It's an affliction that affects 2 percent to 5 percent of children throughout the world. The National Institute for Mental Health has a wonderful Web site on the subject. Click through to the icon "For the Public."

Roughly 2 million American kids have ADHD, and it is two to three times more likely in boys than girls. If you think your child has it, you should talk to a psychiatrist or a physician who specializes in this, someone who can make the diagnosis. Kids with ADHD often respond well with behavioral interventions. They learn how to come up with coping strategies that will get them through this. And in the long run, even though school will be tougher for them, they will learn perseverance and self-awareness skills that their counterparts aren't getting.

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