Need Some Creative Discipline Ideas for 12 Year Old Son

Updated on January 16, 2011
E.T. asks from Farmington, IL
11 answers

I am having a problem with my 12 year old son talking back and giving me attitude. He is a generally well behaved boy; gets good grades, never really gets in trouble at school and I am always getting compliments from other parents on how polite he is. The problem seems to only be with me. He constantly has to have the last word, and I catch him making smart remarks under his breath when he does not get his way. I know that this is normal for this age, especially with the influx of hormones. However, I refuse to let him continue to treat me with disrespect. We have taken what seems like every approach possible to discipline him, but nothing seems to get through to him. I have taken his beloved iPod for a month for his last offense (I gave him a warning that this would happen the last time he treated me this way, and felt I must follow through with my threat this time), taken TV, Playstation, computer, made him write book reports for me, even had him copy long, boring passages out of different books. I always follow through on the punishments I threaten him with, but he continues the behavior. We have had lots of family meetings addressing his behavior, which he promises he will stop, but it eventually always resumes soon after. He never talks to his dad this way - just me. Any ideas will be GREATLY appreciated!!

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So What Happened?

Thank you all so VERY much for your wonderful suggestions! I am absolutely in love with this website - it is great connection will all of you parents that are going through the same things with your kids.

My husband and I sat down with my son Friday night after we put our daughter to bed and set up a board game to play. Once it was all set up and we were all in a calm and happy mood, I brought up the behavior issue. I wanted it to be more of a conversation than a confrontation. It seemed to work really well. We laid out what our expectations were for his behavior and informed him there would be no more warnings. It was simple - if he did not meet the expectations we have with his behavior, than he would have to have a consequence that would not make him happy. I also told him about the "5 second rule." I told him next time he was angry with me and ready to say something mouthy, stop and think for 5 seconds how he thought his words would make me feel. I told him this would give him time to choose better words. When he said that I never listen to him, I explained that I was more than happy to listen to his concerns if he spoke them in a reasonable manner. If he chose to yell and mouth off, I was not going to listen to him. We explained our expectations in a clear, matter of fact manner, and left no "gray" areas. It went really well, we all shook hands and then proceeded with our game and had a great evening. I thought that was a really nice way to have the conversation, and end it on a positive note with some family time.

Thanks again - you all rock!!

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answers from Kalamazoo on

My son is only 8, but every since he was 5, I have been doing "physical" punishments - no, not spanking! Running, push ups and situps. Weather permitting, he runs laps outside. Sometimes he drops and gives me 10 pushups. I normally like a punishment that fits the crime, but for just flat out disrespect, I use this method. Works well for him!
You could also make him write like a 3-4 page paper on what respect means and how to treat people!

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answers from Colorado Springs on

It sounds like you are doing a great job. But, I have two words for you: Manual Labor! Assign chores to him that make him sweat! Difficult things, but also things that will give him a sense of accomplishment. Washing windows, painting the fence, agricultural tasks (planting, replanting, mowing, etc.), anything you can think of. Also, push ups and other physical exercises help with boys, and it has the added bonus of building their bodies. Hang in there!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My husband recently took my 11 yo old son to task for being disrespectful to me by saying "No one talks to my wife that way". This led to a discussion about respect and what it really means.
Your son needs to own the problem and you and your husband should get to the root of the problem. For us, telling him what not to do is less effective than guiding him by leading questions to what to do instead. Involve him in the solution.
My suggestion is that you walk away when he is disrespectful and not say anything else to him. When he wants to do something or speak to you, you can say that you are not interested in talking to someone who is disrespectful or doing things for them (like a ride to wherever).
On a good note, though, I was told that when they are toddlers (and tweens are not much different), they treat mom the worst because they feel the safest.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Have you thought about maybe trying to reward him when he does something really well? It's not to say you can't take things away from him but maybe he needs to "earn" things instead of it just being taken away?

You might look at Nanny 911 books. She's really good with this kind of stuff. I know the show is a little silly and shows more of the "crazier" families but she's pretty good at it.

Oh and since he doesn't talk to his dad this way, Dad needs to re-enforce that he cannot talk to his mother that way.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I was curious if he fights you over the punishments. I'm amazed he does those punishments. He definitly still respects you. He seems to be having trouble expessing his ideas and opinions. Maybe you could have him WRITE what he is wanting to say and how he is feeling . Then you can read it together and help him express what he is having trouble with. Teach him how to use his words without disrespect. Good Luck, but I think he is already heading in the right direction.

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answers from Jacksonville on

I have a 12 yr old too, and I know exactly what you are talking about. I think it is alot of what the previous poster said about "they feel safest with you" and it's like they are 2 yrs old all over again, lol.

When my husband is present, and my normally very well behaved and well mannered and loved by everyone in the world son mutters under his breath at me or says something in a disrespectful manner, my husband gives him the "voice" and says something like "DON'T you talk to your mother like that. " He doesn't even have to tell him before my son is apologizing to me.

But when husband is NOT present... I tend to (as all mothers do I think at one time or another) fall into the trap of arguing with him. Like he's an equal almost. (Don't be so grumpy. I'm not being grumpy. Why else would you be so rude? --- you know.. that whole thing...).... I have to catch MYSELF and get the "dad" tone and say "I'm your MOTHER. DON'T talk to me in that tone." or something. That always seems to work much better.

I also like the idea of the other mom's of push-ups. They do that at his karate school if someone is (blatantly) disrespectful in class sometimes. "Give me 10." and if they back talk that.. "Make it 20." I'm going to start using that myself I think.

Hang in there. <<Hugs>>

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answers from Chicago on

Discipline doesn't have to be about punishments, it can be about teaching. Punishments tend to create distance between parents and children, and the teen years are when you especially want to maintain a connection. Make sure that he understands that you are interested in his feelings and what he has to say, recognize that his feelings are valid even if you don't always understand them. You want him to be able to talk to you, right? Sounds like he just needs to find a better way to express himself, so ask him for some ideas and if he doesn't have any, help him out. How can he tell you that he is upset about a rule or something not going his way? It's OK to be angry, it's not OK to be rude. These are important life skills for all of us; how to express anger and disappointment.

A sense of humor during the teen years is also crucial! My teens always come around when I put my arms around them and tell them that I know it would be so much easier to have a mom who doesn't expect anything or care at all about what they are doing, but I am the mom they are stuck with and I love them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I hope you will get the wonderful book How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Faber and Mazlish. The book is loaded with real-life examples of how parents made a positive, empathetic connection with their children, while making their own needs and requirements clear. By the time you finish each chapter, you'll be equipped to put the lessons to work in your own family. I can't recommend this gem highly enough.

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answers from New York on

Preteen malays perhaps but still not an excuse for poor behavior. How does your husband speak to you? Not that I need to know but this may be a learned thing (just some food for thought). Where I come from we have been known to wash children's mouths out with soap. We have special soap for that tastes aweful but smells great. My grandmother was great for the backhand across the mouth. That would only happen to you once and you would never say whatever again. My mother didn't prescribe to that school but did other things.

Try having a talk with him about the behavior you expect from him when things aren't heated.

I used to make my son stand in the middle of a room with nothing around him and make him hold his arms out so that he looked like the letter T. You would be amazed how much pain this can enflict. It really helped in correcting some of his incorrect behavior. You really need a variety of tools in your Mama tool belt to discipline the kids. Praise works too for when they do it right. Very important to do what works.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

How about talking to him and trying to treat him more like an adult, instead of punishing him and taking things away. He is going through a difficult time and maybe some heart to heart conversations would be helpful.



answers from Chicago on

put a lock on his door, on the OUTSIDE. he gets locked out of his room. if he wants fresh clothes for school the next day then he will be following the rules or he wont be getting into his room to retrieve them. once his punishment is over then he can have room back, but as soon as there is another issue hes locked back out of it!

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