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Old 03-11-2008, 08:55 AM   #1
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Default My sweet little boy has become a sarcastic disrespectful 12 year old. plz help me.

I'm writing because I'm concerned about my son. He's 12 years old and I've noticed a change in his behavior in the past few months. He's always been a good kid and a great student. Teacher's used to rave about how "sweet" and "nurturing" he was. However this year I've been called to his school several times about his behavior. He's disrespectful to teachers and doesn't seem sorry for his actions. He's become very sarcastic and doesn't respect authority in school. He has an excuse for everything and does not take responsibility for his actions or he just lies and denies that he did it all.

Its frustrating because I know he is a great kid. I'm feeling very helpless. None of my traditional methods of deprivation punishments are workings. I've noticed at home we have different issues lately. If i correct him for anything, he gets extremely defensive and has to answer back. He will obey me... but he always has to attempt defiance first.

After I left my son's school this morning I cried. I'm completely embarrassed at his behavior. I did not raise him to behave like that. I'm feeling like a failure as a parent. I called my mother for advice and she is suggesting I put him into therapy. She suspects he is acting our because of his absentee father. His dad left 8 years ago and has been in and out of his life ever since and that hasn't caused an issue before. I don't want to assume that and allow my son to use his dad leaving as a crutch for him misbehaving.

I have other family members suggesting I look into military or "specialty" schools, but I'm not sure that is the right choice. If his acting out is a result of feeling abandoned by his dad, then wouldn't my sending him away just tell him that his mom doesn't want him either?

I don't know what to do. How can I get him to change his attitude?
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Old 03-11-2008, 09:12 AM   #2
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Default Re: My sweet little boy has become a sarcastic disrespectful 12 year old. plz help me

It could be a phase of him trying to exercise his independence and rebelling a bit.

Have you and he discussed the father issues throughout the last eight years with a lot of reassuance from you?
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Old 03-11-2008, 09:34 AM   #3
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Default Re: My sweet little boy has become a sarcastic disrespectful 12 year old. plz help me

I haven't been able to assure my son that his Dad does love him. Unfortunately, too many of his father's actions has shut down that assurance completely.

However my son and I have always been close and he's always felt able to talk to me about anything. We've talked about his dad many times, and he's never seemed angry before. We've gone through all the frustrating times when he wouldn't show up or call. My ex is known to go months without any contact at all, and then he'll be "super-dad" for a few weeks... only to disappear again. Through all that my son knows I love him and he's had my dad there for him every step of the way, since his dad left. I know a g-pa can't substitute a father, but he always seemed to fill that role amazingly well.

My dad is my babysitter, so my son spends a lot of time with his g-pa. I asked my dad to talk to him today after school. He thinks this behavior is girl-related though. He told me I don't understand the complex issues of testosterone in a little boy. He's chocking the changes up to puberty and showing off.

If he is right, then wouldn't grounding/deprivation punishments work? I still think its more complex. He's not just showing off for friends... he doesn't seem to care anymore about school, nor does have have any remorse for disrespecting adults.
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:41 PM   #4
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Default Re: My sweet little boy has become a sarcastic disrespectful 12 year old. plz help me

Well, I never did, nor I I know have any respect for the so called "authorities" in institutionalized schools-I rebeled against them with everything I had, and am a much better person for it!
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:59 PM   #5
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Default Re: My sweet little boy has become a sarcastic disrespectful 12 year old. plz help me

Here's the thing. There are times when the military programs, wilderness, and therapeutic boarding schools are useful. They serve a purpose, and for the most part I think kids make good changes while they are there, or they say what they want to get out (who wouldn't say what they needed to say to get out of the wilderness and back into sweet society?), but you always have to come back to the idea that they need to deal with their behavior in the context of home and "the real world".
I'm interested in knowing more about your "deprivation/grounding" punishments. I would say that your consequences should incorporate the following 5 keys:
1. Discuss consequences with him--let him be a part of creating them.
2. Match the intensity of the behavior. Don't go overboard-be calm and let the consequences do the talking.
3. Be natural and logical. Is grounding or taking away "stuff" useful for dealing with disrespect? or is there something else that makes more sense.
4. Have a specific amount of time. Not until your 18 or until I feel like it. They need to know how to pay the price and how long it will take.
5. It has to be realistic for you to be able to follow through with. This is important if you are unable to know if he is really being grounded while he is not at home etc.

I would also say that before things get to crazy get the teacher, your parents, you, friends parents together and have a discussion about what they all see and make a list of behaviors that you would like to see changed and what you would like to see them changed to and enlist their help. Discuss consistent consequences that can be carried accross each area of his life that meet the criteria above. School counselors, favorite teachers, religious leaders, neighbors, family, friends, and parents of friends are all people that help you get a handle on this before it escalates. The last thing you want to happen is for you to become too frustrated, want to give up and he takes over.
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Old 03-11-2008, 02:51 PM   #6
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Default Re: My sweet little boy has become a sarcastic disrespectful 12 year old. plz help me

I have to admit Iím a pretty lenient parent. He and I have always discussed things and we've made compromises. His favorite TV show ends 30 minutes past the bedtime Iíd prefer. I agreed to adjust his bedtime as long as he was still able to awake without giving me any issues. (And that has worked fine) I donít stress over eating your veggies, finishing your milk, or clothing issues. The only subject Iíve always been strict about was school/grades. If he doesnít do homework/study or messes up in school, he looses 1-3 privileges depending on the severity of the crime. Failing test/missed homework is one week no computer/phone/or ps3. He gets to pick which one of the two he canít live without that week. More serious school issues result in longer time periods w/o the item and I choose which I think he should live without.

That has always worked. He's a smart kid and Iíve rarely had to punish him until this school year. Taking away one object and he's still sassing teachers or trying to skip out on HW assignments. I received a warning notice saying her was failing 5 classes, and immediately he lost all 3 privileges for one month, that seemed to work. His report card came and he managed to bring up the grades to steady C's. I am not happy with that... but from failing to C's is a great improvement.

He was released from punishment 3 weeks ago and I told him that he must bring those C's up and encouraged him to keep up the good work. During these past three weeks Iíve been called to his school twice. While he is maintaining the grades, his attitude isnít improving. He was punished for mocking teachers and lost cpu & phone for two weeks. He just got everything back last week and I was called to school again today.

I am sure I have met the 5 keys your outlined. My punishments are enforced when Iím not there. That is why I feel theyíre loosing their affect.

I won't give up on him. I love him with all my heart, but Iím just feeling very helpless with his changes. I think that is great advice. I'm going to schedule time to talk to my son's teachers without him there and see what their input is. After speaking to them and my parents perhaps I can find a way to get him back on track with their help. I'm going to need it. I really donít feel like I can handle this alone.
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Old 03-11-2008, 05:23 PM   #7
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Default Re: My sweet little boy has become a sarcastic disrespectful 12 year old. plz help me

Good for you for getting teachers and parents involved. Sometimes a little support is the missing ingredient.
I think that it is interesting that he is keeping his grades up (granted C isn' great), but he is following through on that. Isn't it strange that he picked the issue that is most important to you to test you on? He may be seeing other friends getting away with poor grades etc. and this may be his way of saying how unfair it is. Of course it is not unfair, but to a 12 year old it's going to look unfair.
Two suggestions. The first you may already be doing and that is to talk with him about why he is pushing that button, what he wants school to look like and why it's not quite there. A softer conversation may open up other possible school problems like friend issues or bullying that he isn't opening up to.
The second suggestion (and you may be doing this already too) is to spend some good time with him even when he is grounded. Sometimes it's easy to give the cold shoulder and the grumpy eyes when they are in trouble, but this is a good time to build on the relationship. Keeping a strong relationship is important no matter what is going on. I guess I'm saying that even if he is acting poorly still focus on his good side and on your relationship.
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Old 03-11-2008, 08:07 PM   #8
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Default Re: My sweet little boy has become a sarcastic disrespectful 12 year old. plz help me

Quote:
Originally Posted by piercnamethyst View Post
I'm writing because I'm concerned about my son. He's 12 years old and I've noticed a change in his behavior in the past few months. He's always been a good kid and a great student. Teacher's used to rave about how "sweet" and "nurturing" he was. However this year I've been called to his school several times about his behavior. He's disrespectful to teachers and doesn't seem sorry for his actions. He's become very sarcastic and doesn't respect authority in school. He has an excuse for everything and does not take responsibility for his actions or he just lies and denies that he did it all.

Its frustrating because I know he is a great kid. I'm feeling very helpless. None of my traditional methods of deprivation punishments are workings. I've noticed at home we have different issues lately. If i correct him for anything, he gets extremely defensive and has to answer back. He will obey me... but he always has to attempt defiance first.


After I left my son's school this morning I cried. I'm completely embarrassed at his behavior. I did not raise him to behave like that. I'm feeling like a failure as a parent. I called my mother for advice and she is suggesting I put him into therapy. She suspects he is acting our because of his absentee father. His dad left 8 years ago and has been in and out of his life ever since and that hasn't caused an issue before. I don't want to assume that and allow my son to use his dad leaving as a crutch for him misbehaving.

I have other family members suggesting I look into military or "specialty" schools, but I'm not sure that is the right choice. If his acting out is a result of feeling abandoned by his dad, then wouldn't my sending him away just tell him that his mom doesn't want him either?

I don't know what to do. How can I get him to change his attitude?
you said it yourself.

change your tack. if beating your head against a brick wall a little bit doesn't help, why would it help to do it a lot?

angry teenagers don't fall from the sky.

engage with him more. start a project together. don't SEND him to military camp, take him overnight hiking with you. buy pushbikes together and train up for a ride across country.

get him active and get involved with HIS life and stop trying to MAKE him behave the way you want him to.
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Old 03-11-2008, 08:13 PM   #9
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Default Re: My sweet little boy has become a sarcastic disrespectful 12 year old. plz help me

punishment is not the answer. look for the other option.
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Old 03-12-2008, 04:23 AM   #10
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Default Re: My sweet little boy has become a sarcastic disrespectful 12 year old. plz help me

Quote:
Originally Posted by piercnamethyst View Post
I have other family members suggesting I look into military or "specialty" schools, but I'm not sure that is the right choice. If his acting out is a result of feeling abandoned by his dad, then wouldn't my sending him away just tell him that his mom doesn't want him either?

Bingo. If you send him to a school because of this, it'll tell him that you don't care enough to work out the problem and thus are getting rid of it. And I'm sure you don't want that.

I agree with Brent...get involved more in his life, do more things together.
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