How to discipline a teen?

Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 09:32 pm
I have a 13 year old son who swears, fights, acts like he is the boss, locks his door and shows definence. How can I discipline him for this?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 12 • Views: 7,606 • Replies: 58

Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 09:36 pm
Start by removing the door from the hinges and asking a neighbor to store it for you.

Figure out what your house rules are and write them down on some poster board that you pin up on the family room wall. Along with each rule, post what the consequences will be when they are broken.

Each time he violates your house rules, keep removing things from his room that he values; things such as televisions, stereos, telephones, cell phones, computers, light bulbs, and work your way down to the bed and other furniture in the room. You might have to temporarily rent a small storage room to house all the stuff so he can't get to it and put it back in the bedroom. Be consistent and make sure you follow up each rule violation with a consequence or he'll never take you seriously.

If he still hasn't got the point by then, put the door back up on the hinges and change the lock to prevent him from entering the room. Put up a pup tent in the backyard and give him a sleeping bag.

If he happens to display some good behavior for a period of time, reward it by returning one of the items you removed from the room. Start with the furniture and work your way back up the line to keep rewarding his good behavior. If he violates a rule again, remove the item.
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 09:42 pm
I have tried that. It doesn't affect him that much.
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 09:55 pm
a 13 yr old didn't arrive with those behaviors on his own, he apparently is reacting/learning within a family dynamic. leave his door alone and make an appointment with a family therapist.
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 10:11 pm
Yeah i agree, you shouldn't take his door. That is taking his privacy away and he will only become more hostile. You should treat him like an adult even though he is not acting in a way that is an adult. Talk to him like an adult, don't yell, don't threaten, don't do anything like that. You have to bring him onto your level, and the only way to do that is to not belittle him in any way. You also can't demand that he respect you, this will only back fire and cause further hostility. Best thing to do is just talk and listen without adding anything to the conversation that would be attacking or insulting. That will just fuel him and confirm to him that he is right. You don't have to let him walk all over you though, so if you feel threatened then you should definitely get help for that.

Most of the time, this type of behavior is due to a lack of acceptance. It generally falls down to being accused and talked down to rather than spoken to. So he lashes out as a way to get what he wants. He is trying to assert his dominance even though he actually has no position to. Show him respect even though he might not be respecting you. It might not be effective right away but it will show on him.
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Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 10:12 pm
you gotta find a way to get respect back in your house.

probably on more sides than just his.

the counseling sounds like a plan...
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Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 04:08 am
I agree with butterflynet.
You say you tried all she wrote and I guess he did not comply and then what, you gave him back all his things?
Punish him again and don't give anything back. Take away everything, including the door, phones, computer, take away his hockey privilege. If you do not get drastic and stick, pick your fights, only if you know you will win. You will suffer guilt in your later years. As you already have severe issues with your son.
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Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 04:18 am
Do this, do this now.

Make an appointment with a family therapist psycologist or psyciatrist.
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Bella Dea
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 06:34 am
If you've done all those things already and he still lashes out, this is more than teenage angst. I too suggest a family counselor. Not just for him, for the entire family. You guys are in this together.
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Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 06:37 am
I agree with Dys, Rock and Dad.

If you can't afford a therapist, go to his school counselor or social services. It would be preferable, in my opinion, that all family members be involved since it isn't just your sons problem.

I strongly agree with treating / speaking to him with respect. My daughter was scared to death of children. I would suggest that she help a neighbor out by babysitting and she would flatly refuse. When she was in high school, she came home one day and proudly announced that she had had a revelation... "Children are just little people!", she announced. She had been afraid because she wasn't sure how to talk to them, or if she might say or do something wrong and ruin them for life. She thought they had a whole different psyche, language, and world than adults. When she started viewing them as "little people" that are eventually going to be adults, she was no longer afraid of them.

What I mean, in telling you this, is that if your spouse or co-worker were to swear at you and generally ignore social rules, how would you address them? Treat your child as you would an adult. Talk to him with the understanding that one day he will be raising your grandkids in the same way you have raised him, he will be determining your elder care down the road, and he will eventually be a husband whose wife will have a relationship with you based on how he treats her. You are raising a father, husband, and co-worker or boss, not just a son.

Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 07:09 am
I'm not there yet (my kid is nine) but I did wince at the door-taking thing. What squinney and others say makes a lot of sense to me. (Therapy.)

Good luck...
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 01:26 pm
A relative did the door taking thing to his daughter... with major increase in resentment, acting out, by the daughter. I understand the frustration, but it seems mechanistic, dehumanizing (almost) to me. So, another vote for family therapy.
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Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 01:30 pm
If you've really done all of the things that btrflynet suggested, you've created some of your own problem already.

You've compounded a situation where neither of you can trust or respect the other.

Get professional help for the family.
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Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 01:36 pm
In fairness to Katrina, I think she responded to my post in mid-edit after a glitch. I had only the first lines about removing the door written and I think she responded to that while I was editing it to add the rest.

So, I think she was saying that she's just tried removing the door and not all the other stuff I suggested.
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 02:06 pm
removing the door (and all that other stuff) is the kind of "tough love" power play and can ultimately destroy lives/families. You don't deal suddenly with a 13 yr old out of control with power and authority. The "parent" may very well be the one "out of control" with the kid's current behavior being the result. I opine that without professional intervention plus removing his only integrity (the door and all the stuff) will rapidly escalate into far more serious problems.
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 02:34 pm
I really agree with the "we're in this together" approach. First of all - get your mind right. Remind yourself that you love this kid. Change your priority from controlling his behavior to understanding it. Once you get through this process - he will probably want to change the more isolationist behaviors.

He has a problem. Take him somewhere he likes - a dinner out or something. Show him through your words and tone that you love him. Tell him you can tell he's not feeling very cool about something - and instead of coming up with punishments - you want to be on his side - and help find a solution.

See if you can remember yourself - or a loved one who went through something similar. Start by telling him about that. Tell him you know about hormonal pressures and social crap - and a zillion really heinous things most kids his age suffer. Ask him what he thinks is making him so miserable.


Don't answer defensively. If his answer points a critical finger at you - DON'T RESPOND DEFENSIVELY. Tell him you appreciate him opening up at all - you'll think about what he said - and talk again, once you've processed what he had to say.

Good luck. It's a ******* minefield.
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Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 02:54 pm
I was clarifying that Katrina had responded to the door removal part and not the rest of the post as some people were concluding and commenting about. I don't know whether she's actually done the other stuff or if she's just removed the door. I just thought it fair to say that she responded to the post with just the first sentence before it had been edited and completed. It makes it look like she had read the whole thing before responding, when she had not done so.
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Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 03:17 pm
Yeah--bring in the professionals. It's a mantra. The professionals created it to expand their bureaucratic empire. I heard recently of a chap in his 60s acting up enough to get electroshock treatment and now they are taking him swimming and for days out to some well known tourist attractions. That's expansion.

The silly sod had been nagged to get rid of his lifelong love, his racing pigeons, just because he trod a bit of pigeon **** on to the tiled floor of the kitchen and into the patterns on the hall and lounge carpet and, on pigeon fancier's meeting days in the pub, up and down the stairs and all over the bathroom floor.

So there's an idea Katrina. Take him to see how men go about racing pigeons. He's bored. I can take boredom now. But not at 13. I've had a lot of practice. But I know some kids can't. They need an interest. And there's nothing new that's interesting. All the interesting stuff has been done. Now it's gimmicks. After 50 gimmicks gimmicks become boring. Pigeons are ideal. Take him down there, get him to stroke a pigeon, feed it, get the chap to name it after him, and if it wins a race you'll hardly ever see him after that. A good racing bike is a good idea. Henry Miller had one of them when he was a kid. So did I.

I presume he's allowed to go out unsupervised.

Once they stopped you belting the little monsters the bureaucracy started to expand something like a rubber dinghy does, or a two-seater space hopper, when you are blowing it up and being ordered to puff harder. Respect for men started diminishing after that milestone went by. When the men could no longer belt them they had nothing left to fear because Mom can't belt them because she loves them so much.

And it's the ones with the most life in them who get bored the quickest. So getting them bored is a fine expansion pump for the bureaucracy and the circle is complete.

The professionals, on purpose I suppose, do the entire opposite of what should be done. They make them the centre of attention. I can't think what I would do to avoid sitting in a room with three ******* adults discussing me!! Lord help us. I used to be mortified when the elderly ladies in the shop queue started going on about my little rosy cheeks.

The trouble with everybody advising you to get counselling is that if it goes wrong you will be able to dilute responsibility by saying that's what everybody said to do.

I'm not advising it on that information.
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 03:29 pm
yes spendi, tape over his mouth, cuff his hands/legs and toss him in the cellar. that's trick. Of course you could go biblical and have him stoned outside the village gate.
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 06:00 pm
dyslexia wrote:

a 13 yr old didn't arrive with those behaviors on his own, he apparently is reacting/learning within a family dynamic. leave his door alone and make an appointment with a family therapist.


He's not a circus animal in need of classically conditioning.

The kind of approach that suggests removing his door and so violating his privacy does not address where this behaviour originates. Indeed, a growing and otherwise healthy need to be independant, though horribly expressed at the moment, might even be at the root of his behaviour

Aslo, I might add, yong male humans have a tendancy towards defiant ,shitty behaviour merely as a function of being young and male. Mostly, though by no means always, they tend to grow out of it over time.

Oh, and I would avoid medicalising his behaviour unless absolutely necessary. At the moment, from what you have described, I would suggest you are a long way of that point.

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