29 answers

Is This Behavior Normal for a 13 Year Old Boy?

My request is for my nephew whom I'm quite concerned about. He'll be 13 in a couple months and is going through puberty quite rapidly. He lives with my brother who is a single dad doing the best he can. He sees his mother every other weekend who is a terrible loser -hence why my brother has sole custody. Thankfully, he has my mom who helps him with homework & other day-to-day things every day after school. That being said, he's a nice kid, very handsome but he seems severely depressed to me. He is so withdrawn, joyless and will go out of his way to not have to talk or interact with anyone. He rarely talks & if he does it's usually a negative or cynical comment. If you try to hug him he doesn't respond. We took him to a concert to see his favorite band this weekend. Though he said he had a good time, he never cracked a smile, sang, or anything. He sat with his chin resting on his hand the entire 2 hours. My brother says he is like this all the time. He's almost catatonic. All he cares about is playing video games. My nephew says he has friends but we've never seen them nor do they call or come over & he doesn't go anywhere. My brother has to practically force him to bathe. He’s not doing well in school either. From my experience, it sounds like depression to me. Or is this just typical teenager behavior? I can’t help but be worried. Thanks for any advice you can offer.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I can't thank everyone enough for the wonderful advice I received. I sent each & every response to my mom & brother to read. They both agree something isn't right with my nephew but just didn't know where to begin. Your advice helped and they have made an appointment with the school psychologist. I hope this is the first step in helping such a lost young boy. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Featured Answers

No, this is not normal behavior for a boy this age. Sometimes kids this age go through a stage of not talking much to adults, but this kid sounds seriously depressed to me. Drugs could be involved or other mental illness. I would get him to a psychologist quickly. Good luck!

I'm jumping on the "not normal" bandwagon. I would STRONGLY suggest he gets into counseling ASAP. If medication is ultimately required, get a second opinion and if medicition is eventually given, WATCH HIM CAREFULLY!!! Although medication often works, it can also do harm and very quickly. Don't take his temperment lightly - get him help as soon as possible.

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This is not normal behavior for a 13yr old boy. I don't know anything about his mother, but I have to defend you calling her a horrible loser. I am the non-custodial mother of a soon to be 13yr old boy. I also have 2 younger, and am not a horrible mother. My ex was able to get custody from me by his parents paying for his overly-expensive lawyer and kidnapping my son. Because we were married, he was able to pick him up from daycare after I dropped him off one day, and hide him from me for 2 weeks until the first court hearing. Had we never been married, he couldn't have done that. That first 2 weeks was detrimental to where my son ended up. I'm not trying to reprimand or anything, but this history will make sense with what I am about to say. My son has started having some of these same issues this school year. His dad moved in with his girlfriend of 8 yrs, and he switched schools. My son had attended the same school district that his gr-grandparents and mine all the way down to us had attended. He then was moved to a small town, close knit school where he is an outsider. His grades have gone down. Dad doesn't do homework with him, but had the girlfriend helping. She has a son in the same grade that lives there as well. When she would help my son, who is not as academically advanced as hers, she would belittle him. Before my ex moved in with her, his mom was overly involved in my son's life and spoiled him trying to make up for our divorce. My son has not adjusted well to this. I live about 40 min away, but still drive to pick him up and do homework 3-5 days a week. His grades and happiness have improved. He still is considering staying with me now, because of the school. You, being the aunt, may not know everything that is going on because you only get what your brother and mom tell you. You may not get along with the ex of your brother, but she needs to be informed of what is going on. It is possible she doesn't even know. With how you seem to feel about her, I'm guessing that your mom and brother probably feel the same way. Alot of times, us adults talk about things that we think the kids can't hear, but they do. If the dad or grandma are saying ANYTHING about her lack of parenting skills, he has probably overheard. I have found the best approach with my son is being open and honest. No subject is off limits. He talks to me about everything, but is not like this with his dad. You have already opened up the door with the concert. See if you can reach out to him. A 13yr old boy at my son's school hung himself a couple of weeks ago, and it is beyond scary to me to think that kids so young have such depressing thoughts. He needs someone, and you may be his saving G.. Talk bluntly about some of your experiences, and if you can give him one on one time. Talk to your brother about it. My ex-inlaws and I have been working on this for months with my ex husband. (All has been forgiven and we have moved on!) It has taken him a while to get used to the idea that things have to change, but it is moving along slowly. Good luck, and I'm glad that you were able to pick these signs up. You may just be saving his life.

1 mom found this helpful

No, its not normal to have all of that going on! I would tell his Dad to talk to the schol and see what they say (maybe he's totally different??) But I think Dad wil have to get the help of a professional. Yall don't know what's going on a Mom's house either, so someone needs o talk to this kid and get HIM talking! The best of luck. BTW, I'm an attorney in Ohio and deal with dlendent, neglected, abused children all the time.

No, this is not normal behavior for a boy this age. Sometimes kids this age go through a stage of not talking much to adults, but this kid sounds seriously depressed to me. Drugs could be involved or other mental illness. I would get him to a psychologist quickly. Good luck!

It doesn't sound to me like typical teenage behavior. Depression runs in my family and to me that's what it sounds like. He sounds like he is very depressed and things are hopeless. A possibility would be to get him into an extracurricular activity through school or outside of school. Everybody needs to have something they enjoy to do, children and adults. I also strongly suggest that his dad or someone in the family take him to a counselor. He may just need someone to talk to or it may be biological and may need medication. I also have a nephew that had a mother who abused him and ultimately rejected him and doesn't speak to her son as of age 6. My brother is his father and unfortunately, he wasn't the best father either as he was growing up. My brother had issues with drugs and so my parents, me and my other siblings were there to help my nephew and at the age of 13 went to live with my parents. My very loving and wonderful mother treats him like her child and considers him her son. He is now 21 and he lives down the street from my parents and is extremely close to my mother. That's great that you and your family help your brother and nephew out, try to continue you that, they need it! Good luck!

As the mother of two boys past 13, I have to say a lot of what you describe is normal. For some reason, it suddenly becomes SO uncool to enjoy the company of your family. Showing emotion is taboo, cynical comments the norm, and true excitement can be indicated by a semi-pleased nod. One responder said teenagers are emotional about everything. I've not witnessed this in my sons or their friends, just the neighbors' girls.

That said, I would be concerned about your nephew's immersion in video games, the invisibility of his friends, and his lack of personal hygiene. (Although our boys didn't become shower-hogs until around 14...)

I would recommend that your brother talk to the school counselor to see what his behavior is like compared to others at school, and to get him or her to keep a closer eye on your nephew for a while. Also, force the friends issue by arranging a party or outing with his friends. Laser tag and paintball are popular with most boys this age. It is really important to at least know who your kids friends are.

No this is NOT NORMAL!!! I have a 13 year old and while he withdraws from time to time and is definately going through the "sarcastic" stage he in interactive with the family. I would definately get him in to a counsler to see if you can uncover what is going on.


He could be depressed. Given his situation anyway, your brother would be wise to consult a board certified psychiatrist about treatment and see if he would also benefit from therapy.


I think That He is calling out for help The signs are very apparent you must convince your brother to get him some help to see a therapist that can help him with his deep depression I know I lost my mother at a very young age because of depression. Only because no one reacted fast enough. If you love that child and your brother loves that child Please get him some help Fast!


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