Thank you for your response, and yes the information you provided helps me a great deal to understand the nature of the issue you face and perhaps offer some suggestions.
First and foremost, what you have described to me is not alarming, nor raise any warning that you need to seek "immediate" intervention. On the contrary, what you have described to me is very typical adolescent behavior. You seem to be quite aware of your children's needs and perhaps a few sessions with a mental health professional (even a school counselor and/or school psychologist) may help. I want to separate at least three issues you have raised, although it may seem as if it were only one for you. After I comment on each, I will offer some suggestions and strategies for you to consider.
First is you son's behavior at home, and what appears to be defiance and/or belligerence. Young people who enter adolescence (and please forgive me if you already know all this) have certain social, emotional, physical, behavioral, and spiritual tasks to acquire as they move from childhood to adulthood. Although boys and girls have different developmental milestones and tasks, the general developmental issues are common to both...that is they may occur at different ages or periods; and of course the physical issues are gender specific. With that as a background, your son, at the early stages of adolescence is going through tremendous physical, emotional and social changes and as such, challenges. I imagine that he is entering if not already well into puberty, and therein lies a great deal of hormonal imbalance. The stress of body changes, normal joint pain, change in self identity all typically raise stress levels, not to mention rapid changes in mood swings. If you are experiencing this with your son, this is very common, and your exasperation and frustration is also very typical. When I work with families, I often ask parents to recall when they were that age...it brings on yet a different perspective. In terms of defiance and some appearance of disrespect and disregard for direction. Without making excuses for this poor behavior, males at this stage of adolescence often demand independence and need autonomy. What is typically viewed by concerned care givers as belligerence is more an expression of "leave me alone, I'd rather do it my self, my own way. In summary, much of your son's behavior is normal adolescent growth and development.
Bullying is a growing problem world wide, in cities and rural areas. Unfortunately, the internet and digital social networks has aided in the expanse of this problem that has been around for many hundreds of years. There is evidence that bullying even occurred in biblical times. However, it is important that it is not left unbridled. Although, I must say, that I am not too concerned since your son is studying the martial arts and can take care of himself, which is why I suspect he asked you not to got to the school authorities. That along with the adolescent need for independence that I described above. You and your husband need to keep a close watch on this, however.
The anger and verbal aggression is an important issue to also note. while aggression and increased verbal hostility is expected during adolescents, there needs to be counter actions, beyond sanctions and punishment to manage this behavior. Briefly, aggression and violence is learned, and it is reinforced when the aggressor has greater positive reinforcement for his behavior than negative. One of the developmental tasks adolescents must master, especially in their emotional and social domains is angry impulse control. There are programs that help adolescents do that and your school counselors should know of these. Next
Steps and strategies to consider:
You seem to have a good understanding of your son's situation. I believe you stated that you and your husband speak with your children and attempt to help them understand their behaviors and resultant consequences. Yet there are other things that you may wish to consider. In no particular order: 1) Adolescence requires parents to be vigilant, consistent, and constant. Within this general guideline, parents need to keep in mind that adolescents require their own independence and sense of control. What you and your husband can do is provide the condition by allowing your son to take on as much responsibility for which he is capable and willing to be accountable. For example, if you wish him to make his bed and change his linens: rather than tell his he should do that, set an expectation such as "your bed sheets and clothes must be changed once a week. Then allow him to choose the day and time to do that (eg: every Tuesday after I return from school, I shall complete that chore). Then all you need to do is hold him accountable for that. This is but one small example of empowering young people to take responsibility for their own behavior. 2) In terms of bullying, a watchful parental eye is required here. However, you need to be very clear, and consistent. One strategy is again set expectations and clear guidelines. Something like: "Son, we shall respect your wishes not to get involved with the school as you have requested. You are getting old enough to tell us what you need and how you would like us to help you. However, if things seems to be getting out of hand, then we reserve the right to protect you...not to interfere with your life, but to protect you because we love you and because that is our responsibility as parents." 3) The aggressive behavior, while typical of adolescence must also be monitored carefully. If you see and increase in verbal and/or physical aggression, not only must you confront that behavior, but you must be prepared to intervene in at least a few areas. First, appropriate sanctions and punishments according to the severity of the behavior. Second, seeking help from support people such as family members, school and community (church, friends, neighbors). Third professional intervention either through school personnel or mental health professionals.
I hope this has been helpful for you. Please ask follow up questions if I have omitted anything you think I should have answered. Of course contact me with new issues should you need. Be sure to complete the feedback forms and provide a rating so I may be credited for my time with you.