29 answers

Dealing with 12 Year Old Son's Behavior Problems

Hello, I'm looking for suggestions for disciplining my 12 year old son with ADHD. He's usually a good kid but he's been having problems latly at home and at school. This has never been a problem before, but in the last 3 or 4 months, his attitude has really changed. He's mouthy at home and at school and recently have been getting in trouble at school for this problem. He has never been like this in the past (besides normal kid attitude at home once in a while)We've tried grounding, taking things away, taking privlidges away, everything that we can think of. I'm running out of ideas and losing my cool by this point. We have began seeing a counselor (as of two weeks ago) but we are totally at a loss. Does anyone have any suggestions for me?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

First of all I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for such wonderful idea's and great concern! We are mainly taking things day by day right now. He's is going to continue see the counselor and we have recently seen his other doctor and he increased his meds. We are trying more of the reward system. We are normally very family oriented people, but latly things have just got so off course. I'm very lucky to have such a wonderful family! My husband (my son's father) is wonderful in every way. He has been spending more one on one time with him too. We have always told our son that he can always come to us with anything, no matter what. I like to keep the comunications lines open between us. I know he's just getting to that age. His hormornes are raving, and all this "weird" stuff is happening to him. Hopefully everything will iron out. I just keep praying every day and repeating my serenity prayer. I do have his school and teachers involved. I have to say that they are WONDERFUL!! I couldn't ask for more support from them even if i wanted too! Anyway thanks again to everyone who took the time to repond to my need! Have a wonderful day!!

Featured Answers

My advice is to also see a nutrionist. Processed foods are a big factor in behavior issues. Diet is a hard thing to change so I think a nutrionist to guide you and maybe a supprt group. Best wishes!

1 mom found this helpful

Have you tried a positive reward system with him? As a teacher, I've found this can be helpful at home and at school. You could set up a chart for him - give him a sticker each time he is polite and doing what is expected. You could even make it in time incriments (for instance if he is polite and responsible for 15 minutes he gets a sticker) Then come up with a goal of how many stickers you expect him to earn (let him help decided) in a week and come up with a small prize - he gets to choose what to have for dinner, can watch an extra 30 minute tv show, or gets a small toy. Also, is he on medicine? If so, he may need to see the doctor for a new/different dosage. 12 is a growing age.

Hope this helps

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

Try talking to the child and see what has changed. Drugs and molestation sometimes can cause these changes in a child. Look at who he has as friends, now. Try rewarding good behavior and not just punishments.

1 mom found this helpful

This is perhaps not the whole solution, but talk to him and listen carefully. Tell him you don't understand why this is happening,and how it makes you feel including the sadness you have over not being able to help. Ask him if he could help you understand the problem. Sometimes this happens when some kid says something that's really hurtful and your son has no defense against it so he just expresses his hurt by being nasty. You can't tell unless he has the guts to expose his hurt. But you must talk to him, remind him of the good kid he is and that he is greatly loved. Ask teachers if they know of anyone at school who has been giving him grief. Talking to teachers can also help them have a different ( more understanding) attitude. It's like how can we help and work with this M., instead of what do we have to do to this kid. Blessings on your efforts.
Nelda C.

M. of 5 grown kids and teacher of music.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.,

As your son enters puberty, everything is going to be exacerbated tenfold. I just encourage you to hold steady with your boundaries. Make sure they are something you can consistently enforce. Continue to go to the counselor, but make sure the counselor has a similar set of values as you! Not all counselors are alike! Get ahold of "Boundaries" by John Townsend and Henry Cloud. Best book I ever read for myself and dealing with relationships around me. Read this first and then get the companion book "Boundaries with Kids". If you try to read the kids one first, you won't have benefited from the first book which helps you see why YOU need boundaries and how YOU need to go about setting them. Finally, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY. Seek the Bible's wisdom too.

God Bless!
D. D. - mother of 16 year old son, 13 year old son, 9 year old daughter - I'm trying to practice what I preach! Yikes!

1 mom found this helpful

You should ask him why he is having trouble. I am 12 years old. I have adhd and bipolar 2 and more. My father hates me and i met him at ten. he left at ten and a half. And i know that the only person to talk to is not some theripist hired to be nice it's you. My mom started talking to me and i have been with the now and then normal kid attitude as you call it. so go to his room and tell him how u feel about and care about his problems. Then ask about his problem. He will open up edventually

1 mom found this helpful

L.,
I did not have ADHD as a child, but did start acting out at almost the exact same age at school. I did it for one reason, I was being picked on. In 5th grade a boy moved to town and started picking on me, kids that had been my friends since Kindergarten were suddenly his friends and calling me all kinds of names, I was over weight, but it was never an issue until he made it one. I started acting out at school toward the end of 5th grade and continued until 10th grade where I finally met a girl that was the same size as me and we wore each others close, only she had always been popular because she was athletic, and she had confidence, her confidence rubbed off on me and I stood up for myself. Then I was a bit of a bully, which I feel horrible about now, but it was weird being on the opposite side of the table. I was being teased so much I didn't want to go to school in Junior High(Middle School) we had swimming in gym class and this particular boy was in my class, he was a football player as were all the other boys in my gym class, an their Coach was our teacher, I would be sitting there in my swimming suit, minding my own business and this jerk would yell some horrible mean thing at me and the coach would be standing right in front of me and not hear anything, I decided I would rather spend the day in detention than put up with the Teacher ignoring me being picked on, and my Mother and I had so many meetings with the Principal and that stupid Coach, and he always denied hearing anything. My Parents were considering transferring me to a private school, but didn't really have the money. Talk with your son ask him if there is a reason his behavior has changed, I was always honest with my parents and we always talked about stuff, I know that is what the counselor is for, but he might respond better to you just talking with him, kids that age are horrible to one and other, especially if they realize that you are different. Hope this helps, feel free to share my story with your Son,if someone is picking on him it would be best for him to confront them now in a non-physical way to avoid having years of pinned up frustration. I still have very strong feelings about it and can't say that if I saw that coach or that guy I might not just punch them in the gut just for fun, and it started when I was 11 and ended when I was 16, and I am 31 now. So it really is best not to keep it in and not to just stand by and take being teased either, if that is the case. I know you asked for help with discipline, but maybe you should make sure he is the one that needs discipline, because the Coach I told you about was failing me in gym class because I refused to suit out for swim class because his football team was teasing me so much. The F is why we had to meet with the Principal, he made the Coach let me stay after school and make up Gym class but I missed out on one of my favorite things, I have loved to swim since I was 5 years old, still do, but because every day that kid made fun of me and then eventually half the class was making fun of me, I let them get to me and I missed out on the joy of swimming everyday.

1 mom found this helpful

I am a 36 year old mom of two boys 11 and 14 with ADHD and needless to say it can be and is challenging. Both our boys are on meds (which has been a struggle trying to find one that really works and getting insurance to cover it) anyway, I think you are doing your best with the discipline, you just have to be consistant, say it and stick to it. My 11 year old have become very mouthy this past year and we just have to keep reminding him how disrespectful it is. I am very strict and need to be, we have a lot of structure in our home and it helps, routine is good and chores, they do have a few chores and if not done they are punished (usually taking playstation or sports away) that has worked pretty good for us, they won't be perfect, but who is?!
Hang in there!!!

1 mom found this helpful

It sounds like your son is starting puberty. I'm reading a really great book called Raising Boys Why Boys are Different--and How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men. Between six to thirteen is says that the father is the key figure in the boys life. It also has a story about a father who had a son diagnosed with ADHD. When the father started spending more quality time with the boy the ADHD symptoms disappeared and the boys attitude changed. So maybe he needs a little more male guidance in regards to authority figures. I am by no means trying to say that your husband is not an active role model in your child's life. I'm also not saying that spending quality time with his father will make the symptoms disappear but I don't think it would hurt to have him spend time with his dad. You didn't mention the dad so maybe this isn't the case (in your blurb about you though it says that you are happily married) so I'm assuming.

Then it talks about how around 14 boys are starting to become men. They need mentors who are up for the job and that they can trust. You need to trust the mentor as well.

1 mom found this helpful

L., You may want to consider doing some research on how diet can affect ADHD. As an adult who has ADHD I have learned to adjust my diet when I start to have problems. Protein plays a very important role. I think it could make a huge difference in your son's life!

1 mom found this helpful

Is he on medication? If so maybe you should schedule a visit with your Dr. My daughter has ADD, no hyperactivity, but last year she started having problems paying attention it finally dawned on me that DUH she had grown and needed a higher dose of her medication!

Just a thought! Otherwise he is 12 and as much as 12 year old girls have raging hormones so do the boys, good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi!
I am a special education teacher with a degree in behavior disorders. I work with students who have ADHD. Have you tried rewarding? For example, tell him that if his behaviors are appropriate at school then when he gets home he gets 30 minutes of a certain privilage that he usually doesn't have(computer time, outside time, T.V. show, park, etc.). Then try the same at home. For example, good behavior equals 10 extra minutes before going to bed, etc. Make sure to make the good behaviors a BIG deal.

Also, one of the hardest things in the world...try not to yell. If you talk to him in a calm voice and let him know that he is not getting to you...he will get bored.

Hope this helps! I am not a doctor just work with it daily.
T.

1 mom found this helpful

A friend of mine (this is gonna sound crazy!!) was having so much trouble with her son's meds that someone told her about Mountain Dew. It apparently has the opposite effect on ADHD kids. Anyway she took her son off of his meds (he's 15)and started letting him drink Mountain Dew....She says it is working and he doesn't have any of the side effects of the drugs.
I'm definately not telling you to what to do but you might want to do some research on this and see what you find out. I thought this was interesting and she swears by it.
I don't want to announce her info on here but if you would like to speak or write to her specifically I'm sure she wouldn't mind talking to you about her situation...Contact me and I'll contact her and you two can get together. She was having some of the same problems and was at a total loss as to what to do. He was really worrying them with his behavior.
Good luck hon.

1 mom found this helpful

I have two children with ADHD one of which is 8 (boy) and the other a 10 year old girl. We battled this with both. The only suggestion I have for you is to try rewarding for good behavior to attact good behavior. We tried all the things you did..grounding etc. The behavior just got worse. Then we sat down and explained how everything was going to work. The good behavior would enduce good things for my children but bad behavior would only be "ignored"...when I say ignored I don't mean that literally but I wouldn't make a fuss about it. Simply send them to their room until they can apologize for what they said or did...of course in their room would be no priviledges..ie. tv, computer, phone, etc. You must be consistant and not back down. As far as school you need top go to the school and speak with his teachers he should have some documentation that allows for behavioral minutes through special education..this deters suspension or detention for uncontrollable behavior. My school calls at an IEP..yours may be different. I do hope this helps.
L. C.

1 mom found this helpful

Look into James Lehman's program (they send you CD's and DVD's -- this program really works to turn around a kid who is being disrespectful, disobedient, etc. The program is called Total Transformation. James Lehman is a counselor who used to be one of "these" kids. Good luck, S. Troth

ps: One of the main premises James talks about is how our kids often "teach" us how to parent them. Their bad behavior causes us to respond in negative or unhelpful ways, and then that sets up a pattern, and wallah, the kids have us in their pockets!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.,

I understand the frustration of 12 year old boys. You are on the right path with seeing a counselor.
We found adding a chore for each offence helped. If you mouthoff then you had to clean a 2 foot square of the kitchen floor (tile) with a toothbrush. My boys hate this!!! It helped. I will pray for you. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

My first advice is to think about what is REALLY important to your son...what he likes, enjoys, and wants to do in his down time. Think about using these as rewards/reinforcers for good behavior at home and good behavior at school. Hopefully school staff is communicating behavior (good and bad). Consistency is vital. In extreme cases ALL these things may be removed and earned back. Make it very clear what is expected and put it in writing!
Often times, those with ADHD are not always in control of their actions, acting impulsively, acting and THEN thinking of the consequences of those actions. In some cases, medication can greatly help children function more successfully in school.

M. S.

1 mom found this helpful

Have you tried a positive reward system with him? As a teacher, I've found this can be helpful at home and at school. You could set up a chart for him - give him a sticker each time he is polite and doing what is expected. You could even make it in time incriments (for instance if he is polite and responsible for 15 minutes he gets a sticker) Then come up with a goal of how many stickers you expect him to earn (let him help decided) in a week and come up with a small prize - he gets to choose what to have for dinner, can watch an extra 30 minute tv show, or gets a small toy. Also, is he on medicine? If so, he may need to see the doctor for a new/different dosage. 12 is a growing age.

Hope this helps

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L., I certainly don't have the answers and I can imagine how hard this must be - my oldest is 7yrs and I have noticed a link between her diet and her behavior - I'm not sure if you've tried any special diets, but I had read that often the foods kids eat can have a strong effect on their behaviors. I know this to be true for my daughter. You may just watch some of the foods that are typical culprits and see if they have an effect on your son. Also, I live by Love & Logic!! They have great suggestions on raising children, including those with ADHD. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

He's 12! It happens to all 12 year olds, male and female alike. It's part of growing up! All you can do is be patient and continue to show him right from wrong. You can only teach by setting the example. It will take some time, probably a lot of time! With prayer and patience you both will live through it. He's perfectly normal!

1 mom found this helpful

I AM A PRACTICING PSYCHOLOGIST, AND WAS EXCITED WHEN YOU
SAID HE WAS HAVING COUNSELING. THERE IS ALWAYS REASONS
BEHIND THE BEHAVIOR, AND THE CHALLENGE IS TO FIND THESE
REASONS. I HAVE SEVERAL QUESTIONS: HOW MUCH QUALITY TIME
DO YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND SPEND WITH HIM? HAVE YOU ASK HIM
TO TELL YOU WHAT IS HAPPENING IN HIS LIFE, YOU LOVE, YOU
CARE, AND YOU WILL LISTEN IF HE WILL TELL YOU (WITHOUT GIVING HIM A SERMON). WE ALL WANT TO BE LOVED, HEARD AND
UNDERSTOOD, AND SO OFTEN THE FOCUS IS UPON CHANGING THEIR
BEHAVIOR WITHOUT SPENDING THE EFFORT TO KNOW WHAT IS
CAUSING THE BEHAVIOR. GOD BLESS, N. J ANDREW PhD
E MAIL: ____@____.com

1 mom found this helpful

I'm having the same problems with my almost 11-year old. I've been told that during the latter part of 3rd grade through the 5th grade, boys develop an attitude that we don't understand. I've had teachers tell me that they've had kids come back from summer break who were cooperative and easy going when they left and a total different kid when they come back. I know it doesn't help much, but it sounds like a normal development. I've taken TV away until the attitude gets better and eventually it does.

1 mom found this helpful

Have the doctor's check his med levels. It's not uncommon for kids--esp. boys--body chemistry to change as they hit puberty. It can effect the benefits of the medicines. We have had to adjust my son's straterra and depakote levels as he has gained weight and age. Keep in mind, he's still a kid and this age 12-16 is some of the hardest years for any child!
S.

1 mom found this helpful

Something has changed perhaps in school, friends or bully or something is disturbing him. I would sit down with him and calmly ask him to write down on paper what has changed and what as parents you can do to help him. Then be an arbitrator and sit down with the list and discuss what is worth battling and what is not. No, can not be the only answer. Perhaps tell him we can try this however if you take advatage or it does not work out this will stop. tell him you will trust him until he gives reasons not to. This helps with decision making and maturing. Good luck

1 mom found this helpful

My advice is to also see a nutrionist. Processed foods are a big factor in behavior issues. Diet is a hard thing to change so I think a nutrionist to guide you and maybe a supprt group. Best wishes!

1 mom found this helpful

I also have a pre-teen (in fact, when he turned 11, he actually said, "you know, Mom, I'm now a pre-teen...so you better watch out"). Behavior issues pop up now & then, but so far he hasn't really pushed us yet. (unlike our older son who's 20 & just recently learned how to behave like an human...!)
Anyway, what about trying to reward/accentuate the positive? Applaud the "good" moments, don't take them for granted. With my older son, I had a really challenging teenhood. In the end, the only thing that worked was either ignoring the "bad" (he knew what he was doing) OR I treated it with humor...as in "you've got to be kidding me, you did not just say that. Tell me you did not just say that"...or "did that" or whatever the situation called for...sometimes I would even stand with my hands on my hips & say, "oh, my gosh, how old are you?"
This was something that I was able to do, but not my husband nor my parents. They were all appalled & personally-offended by A LOT of his choices/actions/language. While I also was horrified by his behavior, I was able to realize that 95% of the time, he simply fed off of my response. I used to tell him that just because teenagers think that life sucks...it doesn't give him the right to suck the life out of everyone around him. He did not find this funny, nor helpful...but it allowed me to express my feelings without the confrontation escalating.
We also used the school counselor, anger management thru school, & a private counselor. In the end, it was simply time & patience that paid off. I think his teen years were hardest on my husband, because he had never dealt with these issues before. (& yet his Mom had with her younger children). I repeatedly said to my husband..."just think what it was like when your Mom had 6 teens all at the same time". He did not appreciate my comments then or now! Good Luck to you & your family.

1 mom found this helpful

ADHD aside, he is changing inside and out like you don't know! And he doesn't get it either. Be sure and tell him that he is slowly becoming a man and that A LOT will be changing. The next couple of years are going to be tough but you hold steadfast to simple facts, such as:
He has choices to make and his behavior, for the most part, is a choice. My son did very well when given choices as well. Let your son know that with this behavior choice comes "this" consequence and with a different (better) choice comes "this" consequence, and ask him which one he wants. Make him verbally responsible for his own actions before they happen and carry through, quite simply, if he chooses wrong. Continue to let him know what is acceptable and what is not. Your frustration is not in vain! Don't give in, take one day at a time, when you feel like crying...there is nothing wrong with that!

1 mom found this helpful

Does your son seem to be having any problems with any of his school work or possibly any of his classmates or teachers?Has anything changed for him as far as his daily routine at home or at school since you have noticed this change?I have two girls that also have adhd.I always seemed to notice a change in their behavior during the second semester of the school year because the work was starting to get harder for them and needed additional help.It was very frustrating for them.I also had to keep their daily routine the same.If we was to change babysitters or my hours were to change at work etc.We would always see a change in their behavior at home and at school.If I didn't let the school know as soon as a change in their routine took place then someone at school would be calling me within a weeks time from the routine change. They could always tell.If he takes medication for this it may also need to to be regulated.I took my girls to a speciality clinic that specialized in adhd and other disabilities and the would forward their results to a pediatrician so they worked together on my girls care plan.I know it is not easy being a parent of children with adhd.I hope whatever is causing your sons behavior problems is resolved soon for your sake as well as his.

L.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi,
Having the same exact problem we can call it textbook that's how exact the problem is.

We've started social skills classes for out son. Usually kids with adhd have social issues especially entering thier teens. The Social skills class director does roll playing and hands on examples on how to act with thier peers,or parents, this way the child truly understands the negative he/she is doing and it connects.
We've been told that the child is not acting out on purpose, they just don't connect or understand what we mean when we "tell" them thier behavior is inappropriate, they have to be taught by hands on example's and roll playing in order for them to get it.... Look in your area for social skills classes or call around to your local mental health agencies, they usually run classes periodically.

Hope this Helps!
Ms.B

Wow Loved all your responses. I am raising a 12 year old stepson with my husband. He is with us 50% of the time. I have to say therapy has been a real help with him. He actually has been the best ever since he turned 12, I don't know if some lightbulb turned on for him or something but all of sudden he's become this really nice young boy. He does take meds for ADHD as well as his OCD(they can come hand in hand) Lots of rest, good nutrition, structure/routine is SOO important as well and rewards base and lots lots of compliments. ADHD kids need more compliments and patting on the back than most normal people and also don't tell him something unless you mean it, they take everything very literal!

My Son also is very close with his dad, he is the first born (we have a stepdaughter and a son also together) but he is at that age he can do things w/ his dad and hang and he seems to enjoy that and feels important helping dad out.. but therapy is a great outlet to learn how to manage when he's angry or having his outbursts at night from ADHD. monitor his friendships as well make sure he's hanging out w/ good friends.

Being 12 is rough nowadays. Try sitting down with him and figuring out the underlying problem. If it just started, you can get a jump on it. A counselor is a great idea, but you want to be the one who can talk to your kid.

Try remembering back when you were 12 and all the changes you had to go through. He is experiencing puberty, voice change, hair growth, excessive teasing from other kids just becuase they like to tease, he may have gotten clutzier due to rapid growth, etc.... 12 years old is when a lot of kids are getting introduced to drugs and alcohol and sex. Take the time to really get to know what is going on in his life, it may shock you.

Good luck and God bless!

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