Pre-teens Careless Attitude

Updated on May 19, 2010
L.C. asks from Naples, FL
9 answers

For those with older kids, I want to know how many have a pre-teen/teens with an attitude that they could care less about anything and how do we get through it? Not that my son doesn't have things he cares about: friends, video games, t.v., style, etc. But that list certainly doesn't include school, home responsibility, respect, . . .I accept this will be the case to a point, but he is finishing up 8th grade and his approach to school work has got to change. He doesn't have to like it (who does) but that doesn't mean you boycott it. And the attitude he has towards teachers/staff is embarassing a lot. We only teach and allow high morals and values in my home and respect towards others so he isn't getting this from us. I've tried all kinds of things from one end of the gammet to the other and can't seem to make him understand, if he just tries and acts respectfully, he'll get much farther--he doesn't have to like it but it's a part of life forever--get over it. Am I just not sticking with a certain action myself long enough or am I just not trying the right thing? Or am I just stuck with it because 'he's a teenager"? Aagghh!

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answers from Baton Rouge on

Everyone keeps telling me that it is the age and that is how boys act. I don't think that gives them the right to behave that way. I have a 14 year old and a 12 year old and they are both getting this way. The 14 year old has a bad attitude and his mouth over loads his butt a lot. However, when I spoke to his favorite teacher at the ball field the other night she told us that he is a well behaved kid and that it is just the age and something that boys go through. I told her about his mouth and she said let her know and she would take care of it at school but school is over this week. I am having such a hard time with the whole puberty thing. My parents would never have allowed some of the stuff they are doing and I definetly don't agree and try to discipline but it is difficult.

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answers from Tampa on

I am a man, age 62, with no kids of my own. For over 40 years I have worked with compliant and recalcitrant teens in scouts, Big Brothers, neighbors' kids, Kiwanis Key Club, NYC ghettos, etc. I prefer to work with teens (they can talk back; I can reason with them). Here's my two cents from my experiences.

Familiarity with their parents breeds their contempt for 'the rules'. Parents seldom understand how to be understanding or tough with their own children.

Although it is good for parents to be parents in their own adult language and behavior (no swearing, not flaring their tempers), modeling the citizens they want their kids to be, sometimes it is only the kids' own vernacular that gets through to them, so it's good to have someone else talking straight with the kids.

Emotions on both sides always cloud the real issues. If parents cannot remain calm and consistent, frustrated perspectives rule the moment.

Here's the biggest factor I learned! -- Children in their teen years have yet to learn cause and effect, or how to reason and rationalize. Girls generally learn this before boys. Both need to learn that if I do "A" and get "B", but I want "C" as a result, I must do something different than "A" to get it. It takes time to learn this, trial and error (pushing the envelope, meaning parents' buttons) and experiencing that doing a different behavior is easier, nicer and better for them than the "Asking forgiveness is easier than asking permission" way of going about living.

It's all complicated by wanting to be accepted by peers as something they think peers will respect and peer pressure in general. Someone has to talk turkey and demonstrate a strong example.

There's an officers' observation in the military: "If the troops aren't bitching, there's something wrong." Most young soldiers are teenagers and are going through an advanced stage (more serious consequences) of what I described. When young soldiers and teenagers learn to work the system in ways the system accepts, everything smoothes out.

Final thought: Goals are measurables set within a timeframe. When anyone, adults or children, majors or privates, set goals, they start having clarity. When they team up together and go for the same goals, each one with a clear role, miracles can happen, one right after the other.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Hard work and volunteering, maybe at an animal shelter, nursing home, donation center... Sometimes, all it takes is a project and and a new perspective.

Getting involved in an extracurricular activity helps too. Soccer, guitar lessons, art, track, Boy Scouts, find something he likes. It teaches discipline and respect as well.

Also, don't bend on making him do his homework at the kitchen table every day after school, Make him a snack, set it down, have him finish it and THEN he can go to a friends' house or play video games or whatever. Be sure he is doing his chores around the house and keeps busy.

Also, don't withhold positive reinforcement. Catch him doing good, give him plenty of compliments and show you have faith in him. It works wonders.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Have his hormone levels checked (yours, too) He's horny and "knows everything". It too, shall pass.



answers from Pensacola on

Try taking the things he values like friends, style, etc until he realizes that what we must do in life is priority and treats it as priority. Once this is established, begin to reintroduce each privilledge. He needs to understand that while fun, friends, style is important, so is the work that goes into life for it is this work that creates money, homes, financial security, friends, fun and more fun. Learning to prioritize is key for success in everything in life.



answers from Orlando on

Of course every family dynamic is different and I have no idea what your relationship is with your son and how you normally do things, so I can't tell you what to do-- I can just tell you what has worked for our family and I what I personally would do in your shoes if it were me dealing with my son....

The week before Spring Break, my son made a poor error in judgement and got in trouble for something he did (I won't go into any details). He is usually a VERY good kid and this was his first offense, but my husband wanted to make sure it didn't happen again so he made a really big deal out of it. He told my son that he is grounded until the end of the school year from anything with a screen-- video games (which he was only allowed to use on weekends anyway), TV, and any form of computer (unless it was for school or scouts). We went away for Spring Break and took a cruise. In the weeks following, we noticed a change in my son. Some of it, I think, was due to the incredible amount of freedom he was given on the cruise ship. I'm not saying to go on a cruise, but if there is some way you can think of, give your son a huge amount of rope in a safe environment to show him that you DO trust him and that he IS capable of making good choices and starting to be old enough to have some freedoms he didn't have as a little kid. THEN, make sure he gets it that with freedom and privilages comes responsibilities (in the form of chores as well as school work). The other reason I think we noticed a change in my son was that once he got home from school, what could he do?? He used to rush through homework or say he didn't have any, then hop on the computer or veg in front of the TV-- and now he is grounded from both of those things. He has focused more on schoolwork (and scouts-- he has a ton of merit badges now--haha!) and has time to just be a kid, and it's almost like he's happier now without all of the electronics. We're going to ease him back into them over the summer....

Since it's almost the end of the school year, I'm not sure if you want to do this now, or wait until next school year and have a fresh start, but I suggest having a "family meeting". Our family has them when we have something to discuss, because once you call it that, you have everyone's undivided attention, with no "hurry up and say what you have to say so I can get back to what I was doing", including the adults-- and the kids love to have our undivided attention because in the rush of life they don't get that very often, right? Anyway, we let our children know every now and then that we feel like we would be letting them down as parents if we continued to allow (--insert behavior you want changed--). It's a form of "we are doing this for your own good" that our kids seem to respect. We have used examples of kids we know who are unruly-- we have a family in our neighborhood with a single dad. He has said that he puts a roof over their head and food on the table and beyond that they are on their own.... so his kids are often up to no good around the neighborhood, and his middle schooler is quite often suspended from school. My kids can't stand those kids. We use them as an example of what can happen when the parents don't care enough to discipline their kids, and just let them do whatever they want. We also know a family with a son my son's age-- this boy is very lazy and whinny. My husband has said, "Well, someone has to flip the burgers at McDonalds, so at least we can be assured that there is one person destined to do that." We use that boy as an example because we know he has no motivation and that's what happens when you have no goals or don't try hard at anything you do. On the flip side, one of my son's good friends is a straight A student, so we use him as an example of someone who will more than likely make something of himself-- not because he is handed A's for his report card, but because he works really hard for those A's. We don't push our own son to get straight A's, but he gets it that you have to try the best you can and keep your grades up NOW to form good habits so that when your grades do start to count for college you'll already have it as a habit to work hard. During the family meeting, you can ask your son what he wants to do after high school-- college, trade school, or a job (because sponging off of you will NOT be an option!!) College isn't for everyone and he has time to change his mind, so if he says he just wants to get a job (which he might say that because at his age some kids think "I don't want to go to college so what is the point of keeping my grades up now and learning all this stuff I don't need, like history and algebra)..... anyway, my point is, let him speak and make sure he understands that his goals and what he wants (or thinks he wants for now) is important to you. Make sure his thoughts and feelings are HEARD. Say, for example, he says he wants to just get a job. Without being condiscending and without talking down to him in any way, walk him through what life would be like. "OK, so you want to get a job and move out on your own? You would want a pretty decent job in order to afford to have a decent place to live, especially if you want to be able to eat more than a can of soup each day." Talk with him about how he needs to form good habits now in order for anyone to want to hire him. If he is lazy now about schoolwork, he will get into that habit and be lazy at work and his boss won't keep him for very long, then he's stuck in an apartment where he can no longer pay rent or afford to eat and he'd (gasp!) have to move back in with you! haha! Seriously, though, speak with him about what he wants out of life and help him understand what he needs to start doing NOW in order for his life to go the way he wants it to go.



answers from Tampa on

One word Testosterone. My son is now 22 & made it through this age all be it with a few bumps along the way. Boys dont like to be thought of as smart so when they do good in school & do get good grades their popularity suffers ALOT. They behave this way so they look "cool" & we just cant comprehend this because we are the adult & understand what it is they need to accomplish things in life. Just keep up with his teachers to show then that yes you are involved & do care about his schooling because sadly today too many parents dont care & its nice for teachers to see that you have their back. Good luck.



answers from Tampa on

We turn to Yoka Reeder for this kind of advise, she has never let us down. She'll be in Clearwater the 12&13 of June let me know if you are inerested in her clases, or a one on one meeting.



answers from Pueblo on

I have 3 boys who are 16, 13 and 11. So far I've been lucky with the mouths and disrespectfulness - they aren't too bad! But the school work. My oldest started the same stuff in 8th grade; either not doing homework or just not turning it in when he did do it. I don't get that at all. He is very smart and tests in the top of his class, and is now finishing his sophomore year but it has not gotten any better. Grounding and taking things away don't affect him at all. He actually failed geometry last year and had to do summer school to complete it. He did not care. He is very athletic and plays every sport, so eligibility used to be motivating enough, but even that seems to not work any more. I'm sorry this isn't more positive for you, but I decided they just have to find that motivation themselves. There is nothing you can do to force the issue - believe me, I've tried! Lecturing they just tune out. I think it's boys and the age. Find what motivates him and positively work toward that. Good luck to you.

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