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Rafael M.T.Therapist
Rafael M.T.Therapist, Family Counselor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 3189
Experience:  MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
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My son has been swearing at us , and in order to try and cut

Resolved Question:

My son has been swearing at us , and in order to try and cut this out, we have imposed the following rule: he gets £5 a week pocket money. Each time he swears this is reduced by 50p. He has the opportunity to earn it back by doing chores (50 p a chore).
He swore a lot at the weekend, and now has no money. He just asked for money to go out and buy a subway sandwich at 6pm in the evening (even though I have his dinner in the fridge).
He got furious (even though I calmly stated our rules about the pocket money), and he has screamed and sworn at me before storming off slamming the door. It seems this sanction is not working but I have no other ideas ....
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Rafael M.T.Therapist replied 2 years ago.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Hello, I am Rafael. Thanks for asking your question - I'm here to support you. (Information posted here is not private or confidential but public).

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I am sorry to know about this situation, very frustrating for sure.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

What's your son's age? For how long has he been this way? and has your spouse been handling it the same way you do?

Customer:

He is 13 and 8 months. He has been getting worse over the last few months, displaying anger and defiance, and even getting aggressive when we try and impose any sanctions or rules

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Are you aware of what could have caused or triggered these changes? and has your spouse been coping with it the same way as you do?

Customer:

It could be hormonal I guess. We try and be consistent in the way we deal with him, but I am here most of the time, and am the one who deals with most of the battles.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

People his age do change for sure at different levels but it should not imply parents should tolerate any lack of respect even less abusive behaviors. Being aggressive and defiant shows he does not respect you, and once you implemented enforced the rule you agreed -in your example- he just showed an abusive reaction and total lack of accountability and respect.

Customer:

Yes, I agree, but how do we get him to respect us and stop the swearing. The sanctions just make him even more angry.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

The fact that you are there most of the time should not imply your spouse gets little involvement in educating and setting adequate discipline to your child, it should only mean a different time framing, where your spouse gets updated by you about daily situations for you to get his-her support right there without delay.

Customer:

This isn’t a problem . My husband gives his support and we discuss strategies. It’s just that he works full-time, and doesn’t deal with the situations on a day to day basis.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

He gets more angry because he knows he can do it and there is no further consequence. Once he realizes that his abusive behaviors have concrete and unavoidable consequences, not being exclusive to the swearing issue but to any form of abusive-disrespectful or irresponsible behavior, he would have to think twice before keeping his wrong ways.

Customer:

So are you suggesting we impose a further punishment when he gets home?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Well, that's a core issue about you, one that you need to work on, otherwise you would be perpetuating ad fueling the very setting for your son's further abusive ways.This is even more important considering this is about your male child, and he needs his father to play an active role in his education and upbringing, including the discipline aspect.

Customer:

Sorry I don’t understand.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I do suggest you and your husband taking the time to widely discuss this situation, assess how it has been worsening, what could be fueling it so to identify the ways to better cope with it as a team, where both of you remind him of the rules, boundaries and consequences of his actions, of what is and is not acceptable and where your husband starts taking an active role next to you enforcing consequences. No verbal abuse should be tolerated.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Fathers have a specific impact on sons' personality and behavior, a different influence than mothers do, that's why when a son presents defiance, abusive behaviors, aggressiveness this much, the father must be the first one to confront such behaviors, set boundaries and limits and implement consequences.

Customer:

We discuss it all the time, in fact it is taking over our lives. We tell our son what the rules are and what the consequences are. I agree that verbal abuse should not be tolerated, but what do we do to stop it. What do I say to him when he comes in?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

You and your husband must confront his behaviors and set new consequences consistent with the seriousness of his faults. it is not only about not giving him money but about reducing or eliminating any other privileges he has but does not deserve because of his actions.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

he is 12 years old and apparently has enough power to be that defiant undermining the whole family harmony, and that should not happen, that's why you need more assertive and consistent discipline here.

Customer:

It seems that when we try and do this, it makes him so angry that it becomes quite frightening, or on the other hand he gets quite depressed, saying things like ‘I don’t want to live my life , please let me kill my self. ‘ For example he was having a sleep over on Saturday night. When he misbehaved and was abusive to us on Friday we said he couldn’t have the sleep over. He kept us awake all night crying and being genuinely depressed, threatening to throw himself out of the window.

Customer:

Sorry but I have to pop out for 20 mins . Can we continue later?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

teenager could try to push parents to see how much they could get, and that's normal, they are learning from it, but when things get serious to the point of aggressive behaviors, defiance and other chronic unacceptable behaviors, it is clear parenting and discipline need to be improved and probably the child is undergoing personal issues leading to or fueling these behaviors.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

This would show that he has serious mental health problem related to depression, or that he is truly very manipulative, and the fact that you allowed him to go to friend's house could confirm that hypothesis.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Sure. I will be here.

Customer:

Hello , sorry I am back again.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

No problem.

Customer:

So where do we go from here?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I do recommend you to get family counseling support in order to develop a sound action plan where assertive parenting, coping and discipline setting could be defined. From here you would also identify any core issues leading to or fueling your son's destructive changes.

Customer:

Ok, thanks. In the meantime, what should our reaction be when my son comes in

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Keep your calm approach, that is perfect, but with your husband be very clear and direct about what is and is not acceptable, rules to be respected and consequences to be enforced, and how he is the only one with the power to choose what he gets based on his choices and actions.

Customer:

OK thanks

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Thank you. I have released the question, please feel free to click the Accept button again to close the session.

Rafael M.T.Therapist, Family Counselor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 3189
Experience: MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
Rafael M.T.Therapist and other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you

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