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Ask Lori Gephart Your Own Question
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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My pre-teenage (only 12) son wants to hang with his buddies

Customer Question

My pre-teenage (only 12) son wants to hang with his buddies all the time, so I have a group over to my house. They are occasionally (one or more of the following at a time): disrespectful, disobedient, destructive, untruthful, and other things. I don't handle this experience very well; I get a headache, anxiety, and general dysphoria. I inform them when they arrive what the rules are, but it's so hard to anticipate everything these "wild cards" will do that I end up nagging the whole time they're here as new situations require new rules. My nagging and my rules are often disregarded. I want to have a healthy, positive influence on and relationship with my son. How can I use my own behavior in these situations to limit their negative behaviors?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Lori Gephart replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for contacting JustAnswer.


I am sorry to hear about the problems you are experiencing. It is not out of the ordinary for pre-teens and teens to test limits. Remember that any behavior that gets attention is likely to keep repeating. Therefore, yelling, lecturing, and getting upset all reinforce the negative behaviors that you don't want to see happening. Instead, when they break the rules you can calmly give one warning, then if the behaviors continue enforce the consequence immediately. This might mean calling the child's parent to pick them up, or taking the whole group to their respective homes. This means no discussion or yelling, just a one sentence statement of what they have done wrong. During each visit, simply repeat this process as many times as it takes for them to understand that their actions have consequence. Don't expect them to care about your feelings, but they will most likely care about the fun coming to an end with consequences. Remember though to be calm, or at least act calm, throughout this process.


In the meantime, make sure that you catch them when they are behaving the way you want them to and give praise, perhaps an extra privilege and attention. The more you are consistent with this method the more you will build credibility and the boys will begin to realize that the rules must be followed and that you must be respected. I hope this answer is helpful. Please let me know if I can clarify further.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for your thoughtful answer. However, when I didn't get a reply by the time I went to bed (I waited about an hour or two,) I decided to seek personal counseling on this matter. I really didn't want to pay for advice, and I don't have extra money for things, especially when I can obtain a personal counselor on my insurance with no pay required. Hopefully Just Answer has not already billed my credit card; I clicked on off like the system instructed.