February 21, 2008,
A.L. asks from Clarksville, TN on February 16, 2008
How Can I Teach My 13 Year Old RESPECT for Adults?
When my son was about 7 years old, his biological father gave up his rights to my husband. Therefor, my husband adopted my son (who is now 13 years old). My son and my husband love each other, but are constantly fighting. At school, our son is very disrespectful and has a tough time doing his work even though he is tested as a GIFTED child. He may be ADHD and/or ODD, but I refuse to have him labelled as so by a doctor. I am currently giving him caffeine to help him concentrate better in school, but that doesn't help with RESPECT. He hangs out (in school) with kids with similar issues. I know this, because I recently went to school with him for one whole day. Our son has been grounded since October, because he keeps getting in trouble and refuses to bring his grades up to A's and B's. BUT, I've currently got him on a daily point system to help him bring his grades up (he's able to earn privileges on a day to day basis). But, if he keeps showing disrespect to the teachers, it hinders him. How do we teach RESPECT for adults? What are we doing wrong??
So What Happened?™
Because of everyone's advice, my husband and I have started showing Jacob respect no matter what comes out of his mouth to us. Our son is still grounded, but due to the point system he EARNS privileges on a day to day basis. And can even earn weekend privileges when he has a good week.
V.N. answers from Parkersburg on February 17, 2008
Some of it is the age, they can have quite an attitude. You must let him know that it is not ok to be disrespectful. If you can, get him involved in Boy Scouts, it is a great program that the whole family can be involved in and definatley teaches respect.
E.M. answers from Louisville on February 17, 2008
It's the age... i was the same way the more my parents demanded respect for them and the teachers the more disrespect i gave. he will grow out of it. until then remember deep breathing helps!
A.B. answers from Jacksonville on February 17, 2008
Hello it might be he is in a power struggle with some one... maybe the teachers need to work harder on earning his respect.. plus there might be other things going on that you are not aware of at school... i know it takes time but also maybe take him to a shelter to volanteer 1 day a week or do some form of community work...but as a marine wife i am a big fan of military school's
S.A. answers from Raleigh on February 16, 2008
I don't understand why you would want to hinder him by refusing to have him evaluated for AD/HD and possibly ODD. Being gifted is one thing- and you say he is - so why limit his potential? Caffeine is a stimulant, and I understand that you are giving him that in place of the medications that a doctor would prescribe - but it's probably not really a healthy alternative. Caffeine affects the kidneys, increasing urination, which can lead to dehydration. This coupled with effects of caffeine withdrawal could actually be hindering your son instead of helping him. There are other therapies besides medicinal ones - diet changes, exercise changes, positive reinforcement, and actual counseling - a psychologist could help you come up with a course of action to help your son, without prescribing meds. I am a bit anti-meds myself, but I think that refusing to have your son tested just to avoid the label is not helping him any.
You can't force anyone to respect someone else. As far as school goes, if he is truely gifted then he is probably bored. If he doesn't understand something (even gifted kids don't always understand everything!) then that could be contributing to his behavioral issues. Being grounded since October tells me that whatever "grounded" means in your family is ineffective - the punishment isn't changing his behavior so you need to change the punishment.
Since AD/HD children tend to be a bit less mature, perhaps you should do for him like you would for a younger child - "catch" him respecting adults and reward him for it. When he speaks in a respectful tone to you and your husband, thank him for it and show him that you appreciate it. Maybe after several times of "catching" him being respectful, you can reward him with something small - a video game rental if he'd into video games, and extra hour to stay up late on the weekend (if you still enforce bedtimes), pizza & soda on friday night, take him to do something together like bowling (or allow him to go without you but with a few friends)if he's respectful all week... you will have to change the rewards to fit his desires and personality... and also change them frequently since children quickly get bored the the same reward.
Also, speak to him and treat him respectfully. Children mimic the behavior they see at home - so if you aren't respectful to him or your husband (or if your husband isn't respectful to you or your son), then your son will mimic that behavior.
Just my two cents....
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D.P. answers from Raleigh on February 18, 2008
I was a teacher (K-12) so I have worked with kids of all ages. I can only speak from a teacher's point of view on this. His attitude and behavior toward adults is really not unusual at 13. Most of this acting out is just his way of exploring and establishing his growing independence as he moves into adulthood. Do you know if any adult that he looks up to or enjoys spending time with? Perhaps this person could help mentor your son. Mentoring is such a powerful tool that gets underutilized. It doesn't have to be a mentoring program, just someone that he feels he can relate to and will listen to.
Also, with him being gifted, it is important to find his interests and encourage that. Does he like music, art, sports, martial arts, etc? It will give him an avenue to build self-esteem and vent some frustration. It is not easy being a teenager today, so it is important to focus on his positive qualities and not just the negative things he does.
My husband was also adopted by his stepfather after his dad gave up his legal rights. This is difficult for kids, esp when they can remember or still have a relationship with their biological father. I know it was very confusing for my husband as a kid. I don't think he fully understood what happened back then and I know it hurt him more than he will acknowledge. All I am saying is that a variety of issues affect a teenagers self-esteem- things that you may not even think of. It is important to understand and recognize all aspects of what could be causing some of his behaviors in order to be able to address them.
Good luck and I hope things get better.
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T.R. answers from Clarksville on February 17, 2008
I was a middle / high school teacher for 6 year prior to staying home with my son. Many of the children I taught were ADD or ADHD. This sounds like a very familar situation. However, I can only tell you what I have seen as a teacher because my little one is only 2.
First show him you care. Make sure he knows you are there to love and support him and to help him make the right decisions.
Second, is he involved in anything? Many kids that are diagnosed with ADD are not involved in school sports or clubs because their grades do not meet the requirements. However, there are programs such as ROTC that instill the values of respect and also get other teachers involved if there is a problem at school. I also taught martial arts for many years, there is good and bad in this art, but it does teach focus and respect (given the right school and teacher). A sport that is physical (running, swimming) that does not require team effort allows him to participate without the fear of failing a team. Coaches also keep a close eye on their students grades and attitude at school.
Third, if you are totally opposed to Meds and lables, I would suggest locating a Natural Medicine Dr in your area. Many times Ins will not cover it, but often there are many factors in diet that can effect a childs behavior. He may be allergic to foods, he may be lacking some vitamin that could help him focus better. There are many natural supplements that will help with ADD. If that is really what he has. Often diet will change kids completely.
Help him learn to be in control of his life, rather than him feeling that everything controls him. Help him understand cause and effect. His actions now will effect him later, being it repeting classes or hurting his chances for doing something he would really like because of his attitude. Give him some choices when you can and help him learn to own responsibility for his actions.
Good luck, God Bless
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S.D. answers from Chattanooga on February 18, 2008
Grounded since October?!?!?! Wow, I think I would be showing my behind too! Why not? Always in trouble anyway so whats new? Kids learn respect the same way they tend to learn anything else.. by example. And any attention (even negative) is better in a kids mind, than none soooo, maybe you can try letting up a bit? Start small.. set a goal with your son with a small reward if he complies... say 1 day of respectful behaviour for 1 day of not being grounded for starters. Work with his teachers.. ask them to send you a 'good note' if he is well behaved for example. "Catch" him being respectful towards others (not just adults) Think positive positive positive! Yes, kids this age can be truly rebellious.. Bless you and good luck! I'm sure you will find the right answer for your family on how to deal with this.
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A.R. answers from Louisville on February 17, 2008
A. understand that this is something 13 year olds go through. Respect starts at home and it is our job as parents to give respect in order to get respect. Right now it sounds like your son is testing his boundaries. I went through the same thing with my son and instead of taking things away all the time (which by the way didnt work) I started spending more time with him doing things he liked to do. Not to take the place of his friends but to understand him more. Something else I learned about my son was that he was upset that after 7 years he was not the baby any longer. I also had a little girl after I thought I was finished having children. Another thing I learned was it was hard seeing my son become a pre-teen. I was so used to doing everything for him but now he wants to do it himself. With a little rope and trust and respect that your son will make the right decisions things will turn around. Just dont give up, raising children is hard work and if we want them to grow up to be productive people, we have to stay on them. Believe me it will pay off. Invite his friends over also, if they are disrespectful at your home then they are are disrespectful at their home. Point that out to your son and he will be able to see that is not how you are to treat adults. Good luck A.
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S.N. answers from Wilmington on February 18, 2008
every child id so very different. I have a 20 year old and 11 year old step children...i also have a 4 year old and a 9 month old. I'm only a secondary parent to the older two but i council my husband. We found with the two older ones that finding their buttons(older one-his car, younger one-her phone...and consistently removing these things for consistant bad behavor worked. we told them disrespecting us 3 times and it would be removed...then when it happened-you just say 1 or 2 or 3...at first it was horrible-they whined but we just said"we don't talk to you that way-therefore we don't expect you to address us that way"it's not a perfect system and it may not work for yours but it also works on my 4 year old...we put his favorite toys in time out and he has to earn them back...hope this helps
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C.D. answers from Chattanooga on February 17, 2008
I was a middle school teacher until I decided to be a stay at home mom, so I have seen cases like this time and time again. It's hard to know how to offer specific advice without knowing exactly how he's being disrespectful. I think that generally, a child at that age has to see an end in site. If he's been grounded since October then he probably feels like he might as well do whatever he wants since he's always grounded anyway. I'm sure you've told him that you think he needs to be more respectful, but it sounds like you might need a good old fashioned intervention. Sit him down and tell him exactly what he's doing that is disrespectful. Explain to him that it's unacceptable and that it simply can't continue. Give him a goal...maybe he needs short term goals if you suspect he has ADHD. Have his teachers fill out a DAILY progress report, something very easy and non-time consuming, possibly a form you create that the teachers can circle his performance for the day. If he gets a good report for that day, then lift his grounding status. If he gets a bad report the next day, then back to being grounded. This is what some kids need. For some kids, saying "If you do well for this entire quarter, then we'll reward you" is not enough...it's too long a period of time, especially for a kid who is easily distracted. For many kids, especially during adolescence (which is a very self centered age) they need to be forced to show respect. Make sure that you and your husband are always respectful of one another. Make sure that you're always respectful of your children, even when they are doing wrong. Leading by example is so important. Force him to treat you the way you treat him. If he can't do that, then he needs to be shown that it's not acceptable. Taking away friends or television may not be enough. Make him write a letter of apology explaining why what he did was not acceptable. There are just so many ways you could work this. Of course, I would pray for him daily...eventually, he'll probably come around.
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C.S. answers from Asheville on February 17, 2008
Unfortunately, it is hard to teach kids that are very people savvy to give respect to people who do not deserve it, like adults that are phony or contrived. Kids HATE phoniness and do not understand it. And the more confident ones will challenge the adults on it. As you can imagine, this never goes over well in the schools.
We teach that kids must give respect to ALL grown ups, even if that person is a loser and shouldn't be teaching. The public schools are full of 'em.
Instead of teaching to absolutely give respect to adults, (which should be earned and not given freely), perhaps you could go along the lines of, "yeah, this teacher is probably ...[lacking in some way]...but if you act this way to them, yer gonna get SNUFFED out by the school, because THEY DON'T CARE. Hide yourself and let yr true Self come out, when it's SAFE [that teacher is not around]..."
FORCING people never works. EVER. They need to decide for themselves. If you, with all your smarts, can come up with a good "game" plan for this person to "play", then you'll be rockin' and rollin'.
LIFE IS A GAME, never forget that.