Having Trouble with My 12 Year Old Boy

Updated on September 22, 2012
T.D. asks from Leicester, MA
9 answers

My youngest is really pushing all my buttons. He has a very big heart but seems content to let everyone else do everything for him. His grades are awful. He's always talking in class. We had the school test him last year because he was doing so badly and all his tests were in the upper percentile. So no ADD, no ADHD-just no motivation. He has lost all his privileges-playstation-TV_computer etc. But he is still lying to my husband and I. We had him in counseling last year to see if he possibly had emotional issues and I don't know whether he snowd the counselor, but he was fine for the first couple of months and now he seems to lapse back to old behavior. I have raised my other children and they had normal issues but nothing has prepared me for this boy. I can't take anything else away. I guess what I would like to know is if anyone else has had this difficulty and if their child eventually grew out of it or should I get him back into counseling? My husband and I both work and my daughter trhat still lives at home is busy with work, school, drivers-ed. Will he ever show signs of growing up???? He will be13 in January.

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answers from Boston on

Hi T.,
I am a new memeber this evening. This story sounds Sooo similar to mine. I have a 14 yr old step son who lives with us full time. We have had issues for 2 yrs now with him getting bad progress reports and them saying he doesn't do his homework, We have signed off on it and so on. He started 9th grade and he is failing 4 classes, insistes he does his work but the proof is in the writing ! I took All video gaes away telephone computer over nights Nothing works. Well the next step is His dad will be walking into every class when he drops him off to hand in all his homework EVERYDAY until he can prove he doesn't need his hand held. Embarrassing but necessary and since hes been told thats next its somewhat improved. We also have him in counseling, he was an A student. I have not got him tested because i don't feel he needs it. My neice was the same way and got left back in 9th grade and since that she has been improving and got all B's and actually cares shes 16 now, so i do believe in part its a phase. But we still need to nip it in the bud!

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answers from Providence on

Just to say, just because he scored in the upper percentiles means nothing when it comes to ADD/ADHD. Quite the opposite. They will test higher. My son had a 136 IQ at 10. ADD. They are bored, not challenged. AN IQ test or school grading type test isn't going to find ADD. Believe me it is a challenge. Mine is 23 now and we are both still alive. Plus as it seems he's the last one home, and only 12...what's the hurry of growing up. My youngest is 10, and I dread every passing year.



answers from Albany on

Hmmm - I don't have kids that big yet, so I may not be qualified to answer this. I've read some good stuff, Dr. Randy Cale, How to Behave so your Kids Will Too, and Children are from Heaven (all different authors taht I cant remember, but the Children are from Heaven is by the Men are from Mars Women are from Venus guy). These all suggest ignoring the behaviour you want to go away and really REALLY nurturing the behaviour you want to grow. So if you want him to put more time into studying (which is different from his school behaviour- I think that might be pretty normal for a kid his age - lots of transitions!) or into being helpful around the house or whatever, set up a system of rewards for that. It can be internal (doesn't have to be bribes), or could be external. Internal re: when you actually see him studying or putting away dishes or taking out the trash, MENTION it, ruffle his hair, sit down and read while he studys so he's not lonely. Whatever works in your family, it sounds like he's going through a typical 7th grade adjustment (a BIG year for adjustments - the expectations have just leaped!) in his own way, which is maybe more about pretending things don't hurt, or that he doesn't care about this or that, when really they DO hurt. He doesn't say it, but the change in friends, the harder work at school, even the expectations at home are leving him feeling like his childhood is slipping away and there's just not a darned thing he can do about it. Which is true...but he doens't have to feel like he's WEIRD or ABNORMAL for feeling this way. For external reward, you could leave him an extra something in his lunchbox, and say this is for being such a great member of the family!, or he can earn his privlidges back over time, or have a date night to the YMCA swimming or ice skating downtown or a movie with just dad or mom and dad or just mom, or a sleepover with a friend, or a special dinner cooked for him. All these would help him feel like 1) he's NORMAL 2) you LOVE him unconditionally ('cause guaranteed even if there's good behaviour, there's still going to be that negative stuff too) and 3) that he'll get through this phase of life and be OK.

I'm SURE it's way hard - I have no IDEA how I'll get through my daughter's adolescent years (already a rather trying child lol), but know that as his mama if you think he's out of character, you know him best. If his behaviour is not out of character FOR HIM, then allow him to grieve the passing of his childhood and move into the teenage years without feeling too freakish. It's already a pretty freaky experience!

It sounds like you're a terrific mama, and one who has a lot of experience. I'm sure there's nothing new here, but my rec would be feed the seeds of behaviour you like and starve the weeds - those you think are not worth his time (or yours). Good luck!!



answers from Buffalo on

As a single mom and a professional social worker I completely relate to what you are going through. I often feel like I will lose my mind with trying to balance home life and my career. The thing that struck me in your letter is that if counseling was working for him during the time he was attending it, why did you stop? Often times people will discontinue counseling because they think it has "cured" the problem. However, if what the person learns in counseling is not followed through and re-inforced in daily life, it won't take long for problem behaivors to resurface. Also, your son might be acting out in school because he is bored. When very intelligent children (especially boys) aren't being challenged by their education they begin acting out behaivorally. Consider having him tested for enterance into some gifted classes to keep him entertained. Also I would suggest finding something within school he is really interested in (science, art, ect) and really encouraging the advancement of that talent. When both parents works and there are multiple children in the family, children often times feel lost in the shuffle. Try to provide special one-on-one time with your son and yourself or your husband each week. Doing things you both enjoy or just talking to one another. It is importnat for your son to realize that he's a special member of yoru family, and not just anohter kid to take care of. Best of luck!



answers from Springfield on

I do have to agree with the test scores NOT being accerate. My son was dx with ADHD first then we had him core tested he scored "gifted". we we're floored!! He is in excellerated classes and pulling a-b's. ( we have behavior issures now instead)If you feel your child may be add/ adhd then bring them toa clinic or councelor that deals with it they will be better at judging.. The other false is people think that add/adhd children are delayed or board, even "stupid" that is Nt the case at all either they are Very smart almost too smart sometimes and it's true they are board but instead schools etc put them inlower classes thinking they can't do the work but they can if you help them to stay focused.

another little add.. I see some of ou are having trouble with punishments.. You don't have to agree with me but what we havecome to do now is make them copy the dicanary. ( depending onthe severity of what it was it could be a page or up to 5) when it is done their punishment is done. So if it takes 1 day it's done if they want to drag it out them it is longer. or we make them write essays on the behavior etc or appology letters. ( we got tired of taking away and they didn't care or they would go to there fathers for the weekend and have thier stuff back anyway) so atleast they now have a punishment that they "don't like and they are learingin while punished lol)



answers from Los Angeles on

My son is what I just read! He's focus is on vidieo games, etc. he got 2Ds and 1F on his progress report , so I too , took away everything. He's never been diagnosed , but all what I am reading is very much like my son. I believe intense therapy works ( with a good therapist). And extra attention and love and hugs and kisses;). But I'm not a doctor!
Good luck. If u want to talk more please email me.
[email protected]____.com
Thank u



answers from New York on

Well I am no expert, but I do have a 14 year old boy, a daughter who is 22 and a step daughter 25 and step son 29. Sounds like your youngest is craving attention. Since your other children are older already, you probably sub-consiously have very high standards for him, but he is 12. He can't be rushed to grow up. Remember he is your last. You mention that everyone in the house works, you didn't mention if he spends a lot of time alone, which I can probably assume he does. Time has to be made for this child, and yes I say child, he is still one. He is probably very confused, not a baby, yet not a teenager nor adult. He needs extra time just for him. Everyone else has grown up and going about their business. He's crying out to you guys. Don't analyze him too much and just love him, talk to him, help him adjust.



answers from New York on

Hi T.,
I have read your story up there and can sympathize with you. My son is 12 too; I am also remarried for about the same time.

It is natural for children to act out in different ways when there is divorce/remarrying involved. Is his paternal father involved with him? He could just be lacking attention from you.

My son did the same thing although his grades and behavior in school were fine; but behavior at home was not so great. I did put him into therapy and did all the things you are doing taking things away. Therapy helped; but, he hated it. So we stopped and I am spending more time with him; My son does not speak with his father and I think a lot had to do with that, he just did not enjoy going there and spending time with his girlfriend and other extended family; But, would rather spend time one on one with his dad alone. That was never an option as his Father picked his girlfriend over him. He has gotten better much better;

So, maybe try and talk with him, take him to the game store spend some time alone with him to see why. I found that talking to my son and understanding his make up helped. They are at funny age as I do not have to tell you; you have older children. If he is the youngest, he might be feeling a little displaced -

I hope this helped but, talk to him one on one without your husband. See what happens, let me know okay?

Good Luck

Roberta J.



answers from Lewiston on

There is alot of good advice in these postings. If an extra voice, saying the same thing will help; here I am.
1)Praise more often than punish
2) love unconditionally
3) one-to-one time is irreplacable
4)ADD/ADHD kids are often VERY intelligent
5)TALK TO him, not AT him;about all of the above, especially about the lieing--
tell him how important it is that you should be able to TRUST him.

That's five things; one for each finger on your hand. It could make a fist OR it could make a hand to shake with him, as partners in raising him to be a fine young man.

Good Luck!

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