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Lori Gephart
Lori Gephart, Licensed Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 259
Experience:  20 years of experience as a Psychologist and Parenting Coach. Parent of 2 grown children.
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I would like to talk to someone about my 12 year old son who

Customer Question

I would like to talk to someone about my 12 year old son who I am very concerned about. My concerns are about his social behaviour. If i am honest the problems have been around for some time, they are not new but i think I have been burying my head in the sand thinking they will go away and the issues will just resolve themselves. I have got to the point where i do not know what to do anymore and I need to know whether it is my parenting skills which are at fault or whether he has a specific problem that I alone cannot resolve.

I find it very difficult to talk to him about anything serious. He will not open up about feelings. He is negative about just about everything and everyone.
He detests school. he is dyslexic and dislikes all teachers. He struggles in most subjects because he finds it hard to follow what is being taught. I recently had an end of term parents evening and every teacher had nothing good to say about him. They all told me he has an awful attitude, is rude and is very close to becoming one of those children who is past help e.g likely to have a school future of being excluded and suspended.

He does not like being told what to do by any adult and does not possess that deference to adults that children usually have.

He says inappropriate things in company, takes over conversations and argues constantly about everything with everybody. He will not accept anybody's opinion on any subject.

He will ask a question and before you answer it he will ask another and will not listen to the reply. Whatever the reply is you give him he will argue that you are wrong. At dinner he will talk incessantly over everybody else and loudly.

His friends seem to be disappearing because he is just impossible to get on with. He says the most hurtful things and flies off the handle.

I talk to him about all of the above constantly. I try very hard not to get angry but inevitably I end up raising my voice probably at least 50% of the time. He gets very angry very quickly.

He joined Facebook last year and I sometimes dip into it to keep an eye on whats happening. It is full of negative comments from other kids berating him for his behaviour and inappropriate things he has said.

Whenever i try to talk to him about things he just brushes it off saying there is no problem he is fine and everything is great. I feel he is developing a strategy of pretending things arent happening and I feel that he is too scared of admitting things are awful for him because he seems to have built up quite a defensive wall around him.

His father and I separated when he was six. It has been amicable because I have made sure it is.

There have been many periods when his dad did not turn up to see him as arranged because he was out partying and drinking. When the children (i have a daughter of 15 who is also his) were young i would lie to protect them. I would tell them their dad was ill.

I stopped lying about their dad about two years ago because my daughter had worked out for herself what was going on. (neither of the children have ever been told anything detrimental about their dad by me). My daughter asked other people about her dad and they were honest. My daughters relationship with her dad is now non existent. My son however will not hear a word against his father and is horrible to his sister about the fact that she wont see him. He is hugely unaware, however, of most of the things my daughter and I are aware of about his dad.

My son sees his dad every other weekend.

When he is with his dad he is allowed to do what he likes - go to bed when he pleases, get up when he likes, watch 18 certificate films, talk to his dad like dirt etc.

I have absolutely no idea how to proceed and am desperately worried about his future.

Anything anyone can say about what I should do would be greatly appreciated.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Lori Gephart replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for contacting JustAnswer.

 

I am sorry to hear about the problems you are experiencing with your son. It can be a very difficult job to parent a child who is exhibiting these symptoms, despite how much you care for him. I would certainly encourage you to seek an accurate diagnosis of your son's problems, particularly since they are interfering with his functioning at school, with peers and at home. Focusing on catching your son when he does something positive and paying particular attention to this, acknowledging his feelings and his right to his feelings, and finding positive activities that he may be interested in could be somewhat helpful. However, it sounds as if this young man may be experiencing a great deal of anger without knowing how to express it appropriately. It is common for depression to be experienced in teens as anger. Often we see such symptoms when the individual is not comfortable feeling their feelings in a safe way. Learning to feel more comfortable feeling your feelings, perhaps through the use of deep breathing or relaxation techniques could be helpful. Therapy would be a very good idea since the therapy will provide a safe place to express feelings and learn tools to use to cope with these uncomfortable feelings. Medication may or may not be needed and a qualified psychologist should be able to help to assess whether medication may be needed or not. Exercise may be helpful to allow a healthy outlet for your son's anger. It is important to consider help for this issue before it may escalate to risk even more interference with his functioning. This points to the need for professionals to be involved. Ideally treatment should involve a combination of a psychiatrist to evaluate for the appropriate medication and a psychologist to help him to learn to feel his feelings in a safe way and learn to cope with them. It might be helpful for you to seek out a psychologist that you could talk to for yourself for help in coping with this difficult situation. Sometimes it can take several tries to find the right psychiatrist and psychologist for each individual. Good luck with this difficult situation and in the meantime remember to take good care of yourself as well so that you have the energy to deal with him.

 

I hope this answer is helpful. Please let me know if I can clarify further.

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