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Jen Helant
Jen Helant, Child Care
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1386
Experience:  I have my bachelors degree in psychology. I worked with children. Since then I have raised and still raising 3 wonderful boys.
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hi there, Im a mom with a 12 year old son. We had an argument

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hi there, I'm a mom with a 12 year old son. We had an argument yesterday and I wanted to get some expert advices..

I am sorry to hear what you are going through and have a few questions so I can better help you.

How long has this been going on?

Have you tried any type of discipline or punishment so far?

What happens prior to this behavior?

Does he have siblings and is his father involved?


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I don't really recall when my son first hit me. I would say he has hit me a couple of times for the past two years. He's normally a good kid, very sweet and caring about me in normal days. He never has any behavior issues at school, rather the teacher and his friends like him a lot. However as his mom, I know he could get into very emotional once in a while. When he's younger (3-10), when that time comes, he would keep crying and screaming for hours, and also slamming the door. It usually happens during the night. He can't calm down during those times. I used to be so afraid that we were going to disturb our neighbors and I used to cover his mouth and try not let him scream and we would end up in a fight. I always think about how we ended up like that every time and would talk to him and apologize to him and ask him what I can do next time to avoid such fight. He would do the same too, apologize to me as well. I always hope he would outgrow this some day. As he grow older, he no longer keeps crying and screaming for hours any more. he would jump into angry really quick and throw pens, books or pillows and then rush to his room and slam the door behind. I thought he's getting better, because afterall, he no longer throw tantrum for hours. In a few times, happened mostly in recently 2 years, he shot at me and hit me. Yesterday we had a fight about his homework. I told him two week's back and he has to finish it during the Thanksgiving break weekend. He didn't. So yesterday I told him again that he has to finish it before the end of day otherwise I'm not going to let him go to his basketball practice. He loves basketball by the way. I thought I could use that to push him to get the homework done. The homework is due this Tues. At night, I noticed my son was not concentrating on his work, so I moved my laptop to his side and said I will work at his side so if he has questions, I can answer. My son was angry and said I told him that he can finish the work by this Sunday before. There's so many left and he can't finish today. I then told him that it's fine if he can't finish today. The only thing is I'm not sending him to his basketball practise this week. He then said well.. i'm going to play then. He grabbed the iPad on the table and started to play. I grabed the iPad away and told him he's banned to play iPad this weekend (I told him this before). He jumped to anger and tore his homework page to half. I was mad too and tore his homework into pieces and throw it to the trash can. I told him, "that's it. i'm tried of asking you to do this and do that again and again. you are on your own from now on. " He rushed back and started to hit me, punch my back hard. I took take his hit at first. then I tried to stop him but I can't. I hit him back a few times too. My husband is in his study room the whole time. He came out at this time and moved my son away and told him, "she's your mom. You can't do this. ".


He's my only son. We don't have any other kids. His father normally stays in his study room. He does not involve in much of my son's activities. Everytime when the fight starts, he normally keeps quiet in his place. I have asked him many times to get involved in earlier to calm down either me or my son, but he seems just let it happend.


I don't really know how to discipline my son when things like this happen. He will always say sorry to me afterwards. I would always be heart broken at first few days, not talk to him, not cook (his dad will take him out to eat) and then start to forgive him. I checked up some psychatists (even called for appointment) specializing in anger management, but didn't end up visiting any of them. I also think of talking to his school consulor, but afraid this might bring bad image on him. He's a pretty good student at school. So I didn't do anything so far.

Thanks for explaining. I understand how difficult this must be for you. It seems as though he may be doing this because he is getting older and his behavior is staying the same, but showing in different ways. Before he did the tantrums and now he wants to do what he wants and when as well as hit you. I do not think he has an mental issues that would cause you to bring him to a psychiatrist because most of the time their goal is to give them medicine. If I did bring him somewhere I would try therapy, since you did not want the school to get involved, but before he gets involved in all of that I would try some things yourself first. It seems as though you have been pretty much "raising" him yourself since your husband does not really get involved. This must cause you a lot of stress and pressure. It seems to me that he may see you as his equal and does not respect you. This is what causes him to act like this. Children are very smart and they know what they can and can not get away with. By him saying sorry he knows you will forgive him. You need to show him that he needs to change his actions because saying sorry afterward and repeating the behavior is no longer acceptable. I would not advise you to say sorry for discipling him or taking action when he does not listen. This is just showing him that your behavior is wrong and he feels he can play on it. The tantrums turned into the hitting and it can only get worse from here. The key here is for him to see that he needs to respect you. Show him you are the mom and you are the boss. In this case do not show him your weakness, do not show hurt, pain, or guilty about the way you disciplined, do not apologize for discipling, when you say something always back it up with actions or he will not take it serious, and demand respect. He may not take you serious at first, but if he sees your changes over time then he will start to see that you are serious. Its not one big thing that is going to help him change its a lot of little things over a long period of time.

I would continue to try and get your husband involved in this because the two of you need to be on the same page. Also, it would be good if he can spend sometime with him in order to be a positive male role model for him.

When your son is in a good mood I would try to get into his mind to understand what he feels when he does this and why. Getting to his level can help you understand if there is anything bothering him or etc in order for you to better help him as well as strengthen your bond. By getting closer to him on his level and seeing what he enjoys and etc may cause him to think twice before acting as he does.

In any case it seems here the biggest issue is his lack of respect for you and him thinking there will be no consequences. Try and make fair consequences and goals for him and if he does not do it then follow through. However, make sure they are not to rigid nor to lenient because you do not want to change what you say as you did with the hw when he could not get it done. Analyze a good plan and stick to it. Changing it in the middle will just show him that you are confused or unsure. This shows weakness to him thinking he can take advantage. Children play on our feelings and compassion even when we do not realize it, so when you think you are being a good mom he may be taking advantage. Be the adult and do not play his games. Do your part and continue it then you should see results, but don't give up.

Also, make sure you are taking good care of yourself, so you are able to have the energy and patience to do this. I would also recommend not yelling or hitting instead tell him what he needs to do and if it does not get done then take his privileges away and leave him with none for a certain amount of time based on the action. If he hits you I would try and stop him, ask your husband for help with this, and let him know that this is against the law and if he does it again you will call the police and they will take him to another home. Ask him if that is what he wants to be separated from you. Explain to him where children who do this go and what it is like. Sometimes showing them the real consequences can "wake" them up and make them realize they need to change their behavior.

I wish you all well, but please let me know if you have more questions or need clarification.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for all the advices. I'm feeling much better now. What kind of punishment you would recommend that I should give to my son?

It is my pleasure to help. I would recommend being consistent and taking away privileges as necessary depending on his actions. It could be taking away something he enjoys, but at the same time not letting him have other things he enjoys. Sometimes parents may take away one privilege, but the child has other things, so they do not even miss what was taken away. This is why it needs to be all around, so he can feel the loss. Also, teaching him and talking to him about whatever he did as well as the consequences at the right time. Most of the time the talking needs to be after the fact and not in the moment.

I hope that helped, but I am here for you if need.
Jen Helant and other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Sorry for the delayed response, but thank you very much for your help!

It is my pleasure! Anytime, Thanks!