Any advice on what to do wit hmy son?

He’s almost 13 and stubborn as hell. Here’s what I went through last night.

He went outside and threw his sisters swing up over a tree branch a number of times so it wrapped around the branch, making it up too high for her to play on it. This got her upset.

I told him to go and fix the swing back the way it was. He went out there and tried to toss the swing back over exactly one time, came in the house, flopped on the couch and said he couldn’t get it fixed.

I told him that he had no problem getting it up there and he needs to keep trying until it’s fixed. He went back out tried one more time and, again said he couldn’t do it. He said that daddy would have to fix it when he came home.

I said that he should call his father and ask him to do it, instead of assuming that he would. My son called and my husband wasn’t happy, he told my son that he was hot and tired and that the boy shouldn’t have thrown the swing up there in the first place. He also said that if he was going to have to fix the swing, the boy had to help. They got off the phone.

Shortly after, my son decides that he’s going to take a shower and put on his PJs. I told him no, he has to wait and help his father.

At this point, he starts throwing a fit. He says it’s my daughter’s fault that the swing is up there. Don’t ask me how, she wasn’t even outside at the time he did this and she never wanted the swing to be too high for her to use it.

I told him, he did it and he’s going to have to help fix it and that’s all there is to it.

So, he stomps through the house, slams a few doors and runs outside. I go out there and he’s got a big pole saw. He’s yells fine, he’ll fix it himself. I told him no. He can’t be running around with a pole saw to fix it, it’s too dangerous. He says he’s not going to get it down with the saw, he’s going to cut it. I said, no, that won’t be fixing it at all.

I took the pole saw away from him and put it away and told him to come back in the house. He refused. I told him again, and he yelled “NO! YOU CAN’T MAKE ME DO ANYTHING! I DON’T HAVE TO LISTEN TO YOU”

I told him that he has to get himself back inside right now.

What does he do ? He screams that he hates me and starts to run off. I chased him down and grabbed his wrist and told him that he couldn’t be out here raising a stink like this and that he was coming back in the house. The kid throws himself on the ground and screams “MAKE ME!”

So, I did. I started to drag him back in the house. And he’s yelling that I’m hurting him and it’s illegal, it’s abuse. I told him I would let go, if he agreed to get in the house. He did and I let go.

Then he ran off again. I grabbed him again, dragged him back in the house and grounded him.

I took away his TV, video games, CD players and CDs and told him that he was not going to be playing outside for the rest of the week. He spent another hour screaming his head off and saying hateful things to me before he settled down.

This kid is making me crazy. I know he doesn’t have ADD or ADHD, he’s been checked for all that. Is it hormones?

I don’t know what to do with him anymore.

Wow. You definitely have my sympathies. I have a 15-year-old boy, and he can be very difficult to deal with at times, but not that bad. It sounds like your son is testing you, seeing just how much he can get away with, and he really has a flair for the dramatic.

If nothing is working, the only thing I can think of is to get some outside help, such as with a family therapist. We went to a therapist when my son was younger, after he ran away and was brought home by the police. It really helped us to step back and try different approaches. One of the big things was taking things in small steps and avoiding the big blowouts. It takes a lot of effort to maintain positive reinforcement for small successes, but in the long run it helped to eliminate the big fights when things fell apart.

No answers for you, I’m afraid, but if this were my son, we’d definitely be talking about this some more, and I think this is where I’d start. Good luck.

It sounds like this was not an unusual occurrence for your son. It sounds like you’re trying to handle it in what should be the correct way, but your son is not responding to that. You mention that you’ve had him evaluated for ADHD (and he doesn’t have it). What kind of person diagnosed him? Has he seen a psychiatrist? There are many other disorders that could cause this kind of behavior. (I’m not a psychiatrist and I’m not saying your son has any kind of disorder. But my son had similar issues when he was younger and we found a psychiatric evaluation to be very helpful.)

I think he’s just being a normalish 13-year-old boy. I was mostly a very laid back, easy going kid, but that went out the window in my early teenage years. I went a bit crazy and yelled at my parents and stopped around and slam things and broke things. I was impatient and angry, and once overheard my parents talking about counseling. I didn’t really stop the behavior, but by the time I was 15 or 16, I’d re-mellowed back out. The troubles I was having are a distant memory and I don’t think I left any hard feelings in my wake.

Being a kid is a hard time, and different teens deal with it in different ways. You dealt with it about the way my mom used to, and I turned out to be a well adjusted adult without psychiatric help. Give it some time.

You did the right thing. Getting into a battle of wits with him and trying to get him to see things your way won’t be much help I’m afraid. *There is nothing wrong with a teenager that some parental logic won’t aggravate. * Establish rules of the house (as I’m sure you have). Make sure he understands what’s expected of him. Follow through with ruthless efficiency and fanatical devotion to the rules. :slight_smile:

But most importantly, never forget to praise him privately and publicly when he does things right or has gone above and beyond what’s expected. Make sure he overhears you talk about him kindly to others. It will give him an enourmous sense of pride and desire to be good rather than act out for attention.

He’s thirteen.

You have power and he does not. This is displeasing to him.
He’s got NO way to rectify this situation, so he acts out.
Don’t give in. Establish rules and stick to them. Be honest and fair about them, and never forget that YOU are in charge.

It passes.

When he is back in the house and continues pitching his fit. Stand there, look faintly amused [it helps if there is another person there to go along with it] and calmly discuss him if he wasnt there and rate his drama queen potential, critique his fit in the terms of a really badly done cheesy movie.

Worked like a charm on a friends 13 year old.

Of course he was still grounded, but he knew that his fake fit was seen through and that the parents wouldnt knuckle under.

I agree with wasson. This is very normal behavior at that age. They can’t help some of it. It helps for you to start noticing where things get out of control and stop before then until things calm down. At that age you’re not getting anywhere once the crazy starts. I have two boys, 12 and 16 and middle school age is the worst time. A lot of times I would just send them to their room, they would fall asleep and wake up all cheerful and obedient.

In this case the “point of no return” was when he wanted to put his pj’s on. What do you care what he wears until his father gets home? (I’m not criticizing you, this is your attitude to your son… “what do I care”) Once dad walks in the door you could have just said “put your clothes back on to help your dad”. By this time he’s probably calm enough to just do it and he doesn’t really want to act like a big baby in front of dad.

If for some reason you had to do the swing yourself make sure, when things calm down, you give him some chore that’s worse than getting the swing down. You could say that he has to take the garbage out since you forgot because you had to do the swing.

I recommend John Rosemond’s book Teen Proofing. I don’t agree with everything he says but his way of handling teens really helps keep things calm in this kind of situation.

dragongirl, it sounds like your son is - well - how can I say this - pretty typical for a 13 year old boy. At least Kid2U was like that at that age, as were all his friends. It passed. Now, he’s back to being my wonderful son. Usually. When sleeping. :wink:

One thing that DID help me, though, was a book my sister in law gave me - Yes, Your Teen is Crazy! : Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind, by Michael J. Bradley, Jay N. Giedd - if I can FIND it, I’ll email you tomorrow for your address and then mail it to you if you’d like.

Sending you warm thoughts…

When he throws a fit, throw cold water on him…it will shock him out of his tantrum. At least that’s what’s worked with a couple of my friends kids, anyway.

I agree with SP2263, and I would take that advice one step further. Sometimes, when you find yourself in a power struggle with your son, its best to just stop struggling and address the issue when he’s cool-headed again. I think there’s a perception out there that if you don’t follow through to the letter of everything you say that next time your kid won’t listen, but in my experience that just isn’t true. Sometimes it just isn’t worth getting everyone all upset.
When a teen is acting out, tightening up on the rules only makes things worse. Often they are acting out for the very purpose of testing your limits and their power; so your options are to escalate it to the point of your last encounter, and eventually further, or defuse it at the beginning (say, by fixing the swing yourself and expressing your dissappointment with him). Of course, you don’t want to get rid of the rules or stop enforcing them, but you absolutely have to pick your battles.

Kid breaks something. Mom says “fix it”. Kid throws a temper tantrum. Mom buckles in and fixes it herself. Kid learns temper tantrum = I get my way and make mom do what I want.
Ah yes, that seems like a wonderful lesson, I would have LOVED for someone to tell my parents that when I was a nutball teenager.

I fully agree with the concept of picking your battles wisely, and I wouldn’t get into power struggles over little things, but a kid deliberately doing something mean to his sister and damaging something that does not belong to him, being told to fix it, and pitching a fit about it seems like a battle I’m willing to fight… I think I’d revisit the issue with him later by having a calm discussion over why he threw such a fit over such an easily fixed problem (toss the swing over the branch a couple times).

Is there something to the above that I’m missing?

I was like this when I was 13. It’s a power thing, but it isn’t necessarily conscious. He’s not scheming to get his way, he’s acting in the heat of the moment, and he’ll realize later when his blood isn’t boiling that he was being irrational.

That was the worst part of it for me… that I could tell afterwards that I was being irrational and childish, but while it was happening I had no control. Hormones are a horrible thing.

You’re missing that he didn’t break the swing… he wrapped the ropes of the swing around the tree branch. No one said he shouldn’t have consequences, but sometimes it’s better to be a little more creative than just “do it now, or else”.

He could have unwound the swing later, but if that made it so the sister couldn’t swing then she was punished. He already was not going to fix the swing no matter what. There are things he could do later that would be more of a pain than doing the swing so that he realizes next time it’s easier to do what mom says right away. The situation already was that he was refusing to do anything. A minor disobedience escalated to the point where there was screaming and people being physically dragged through the neighborhood.

Sorry, double post but here’s an example of dealing with 12 year olds.

I told my son to do something and he didn’t. I told him every day for a week and he didn’t do it. I had said we would go bowling on Sunday and Sunday morning I asked him to do the thing again, he didn’t. Late afternoon rolls around and he wanted to know when we were bowling. I said “open bowling is over, I was waiting for you to do your chore so we could go, I got my work done”.

Now when I ask him to do something he does it right away. No yelling, just do what I ask or there will be consequences. Sometimes now, sometimes later.

That was just an example, it will not apply to all situations…it’s just an example.

That sounds fair, SP2263. There’s also a good adult lesson in there for your son - his boss isn’t going to ask him every day to pretty please to get his work done. Actions have consequences.

dragongirl, I don’t have much to offer in the way of advice; just some memories of what I was like around 13. I was a happy, friendly kid, then a complete pain in the ass for a couple years, then a pretty normal young adult. I just hated everything for a couple of years, then like flipping a switch, it occurred to me to not be that way, and it was over just like that.

I have also read that a human’s brain doesn’t mature until 25. Your son is starting to develop into a physically mature man, but his brain will lag behind for quite a while yet.

I have a cousin with seven boys.

Seven boys. Yes indeedy.

The oldest is about 13 or 14 now, I think. When the hormornes started to flare up and this extremely good natured, mild mannered child suddenly started balking and putting up a fit at things, the parents had a united front ( the parents are each from large families themselves.One of six kids and one of 11.) the more crap their son gave them, the more chores he got. If he didn’t do the chores by a certain time, more chores were added on to that. Etc, etc, etc.

It worked for them.

Good luck!

I thought of something you might try for a change-up - mid-tantrum, quietly tell him something like, “You must be very frustrated. Can you tell me what’s bothering you?” Not to coddle him or let him think tantrums are okay, but to remind him that you’re his mother, and you are on his side, even if he doesn’t feel that right now (and won’t for years to come yet).

We noticed an improvement with some behavior after we talked to him about anger. We explained that everyone has angry feelings and that we just don’t usually act on them.

featherlou, it’s good you mentioned talking. Sometimes as parents we do get stuck in thinking everything needs a punishment. Our job is to also help them deal with their feelings and teach them skills to grow up.

Teen years are nature’s way of making us ready to see them move out!