Teen is out of control in school

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-12-2003
Teen is out of control in school
4
Sat, 04-12-2003 - 8:05am
I have a 13 year old boy who is completely out of control when it comes to controlling his anger with others in school He was living with his father since he was 5 years old and since he was 10 years old, he has been having a lot of problems with school and keeping his hands to himself.

I am completely at a loss as far as what to do. He has been expelled a number of times, was kicked out of public schools for 2 years, and had to go to alternative schooling. Now, he's kicked out of that school also for fighting, disruption of class, encouraging others to fight, and being incorrigable.

His father is sending him to live with me and my husband. I don't know if him coming here with us will help him. I love him very much and hope this is the right decision for all of us. What can we do to make this transition from one city to another easier on him, and how can we help him in school? He's very smart with book learning, it's his behavior that I'm worried about.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 04-12-2003 - 8:22am
Boot camp. That's where I'd start. And I'd try to find one with a strong psychological counselling program.

This should do three things.

1) Give him a short, sharp shock to the system - sort of like tugging the leash on a misbehaving dog (sorry for the teen/dog analog, but you know what I mean).

2) Make it clear to him that discipline is not a "parental" thing but a "societal" thing and remove you from the immediate chain of people to act out against.

3) Pretty thoroughly determine if this is a situational reaction to a divorce or single parent environment or some a properly diagnosable and treatable medical or psychiatric problem.

13 is a pivotal age. Let things go on too long and the behaviors that *may* have roots in hormonal, chemical or environmental issues can become habits hard to break even after the causes themselves are "cured". He's got to learn who's boss, and if he can't because of some problem or other, that needs to be found out by professionals who can see him in full context.

TMHO

Firefly

Avatar for yuccabugg
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 04-12-2003 - 3:47pm
I don't know if boot camp is a good way to help the transition from one household to another or not. Counselling is definitely needed though. If he doesn't improve, then maybe along with the counselor you can decide on appropriate action.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 04-12-2003 - 6:20pm
I understand what firefly is saying - the need to sort the issues and find out the cause of the behaviour problems is paramount, but I really don't think that greeting him with, 'you're off to boot camp' is the way to start.

Have you talked to your son at all about his move to your home? What has he said about it? Is he defiant? Mad? Depressed? Acting like, who cares, what's the big deal? Tentatively optimistic, trying to find something positive to say? Giving monosyllabic responses? What has he been like at your home when he is visiting you? have YOU had any problems with him? How have any issues that have come up been dealt with and how has he responded? These are questions that would help a great deal in knowing better how to respond to your post.

So, not knowing any of those answers, I think you need to start talking to him/listening to him, esp to the unspoken words not being said when you are talking to him, on a regular basis before he actually gets to your house. Ask him for input on how he'd like his room, try to find things that give him a voice, things he can have input in and decision-making power in. Not the 'rules' per se as yet. I wouldn't even start these discussions off with "ok, these are the rules". First, I'd try to talk, listen and let him know that you and your dh love him and want him. Be honest. He will have 25 antennae up for less than honest. If he actually were to say something like, 'dad doesn't want me, I'm just a problem', just tell him that you are open to talking about this with him, and listening to what he has to say but these kinds of discussions are better done in person; tell him you're sorry he feels that way - in other words acknowledge his feelings without defending as much as possible.

Does he know what school he's already going to have to go to or is that open for discussion, as it's something you can talk about asking for input, i.e. there's two choices as far as we know; this one offers this; that one offers *whatever*, what's important to you?

Depending on your relationship with him, past experiences and what IS at the root of his anger will determine how best to begin. Begin with love without being a pushover; listening more than talking; being available, make sure you spend a lot of time with him, take him with you on errands or for a bite to eat or a pop and just say you have missed a lot of time with him and WANT to spend time with him.

There's tons more I'd say but it soo depends on the questions I've asked above. And if his behaviour continues at your home, yes, counselling is definitely in order, someone with a special expertise and interest in teens, and in diagnostic skills in case there is an underlying physiological cause for his behaviour.

Good luck. I hope things work out for him. My heart goes out to him. And to you, as you face this new challenge ... nothing worthwhile is ever easly gained. Sacrifices are part of parenting and part of teaching them how to give back in return. It will be tough but I think you will make a good and important difference in his life.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 04-12-2003 - 10:18pm
Sorry, but the "warm fuzzy" approach isn't likely to work here. One parent has obviously already given up and is dumping this wreck on another. Special schooling hasn't helped.

Going 'kinder and gentler' with this kid is risky, at best, and negligent at worst. He needs a swift kick in the balls to get his attention (metaphorically, no one is actually suggesting doing this) and more structure than home-life is going to give him unless the OP is living at Camp Lajune.

That's my opinion, but it's based on having grown up with a kid brother who sounds exactly like this kid. Kinder and gentler "feels" good to the parents, but sometimes the right answer is hard, cold truth explained to the kid in terms that he cannot rationalize away and from someone he dare not back-talk to.

It ain't fun, but if the OP lets this go much longer, it's going to be an irredeemable situation.

Firefly