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A 15-Year-Old Out of Control

Question:

I need help with my 15-year-old son. I am a single mother with limited income, and I’m out of options. He is a former honor student getting F’s in his four major core classes due to missing homework. He failed two classes last year for the same reason. He took summer school and was kicked out on the last day, losing the credits. He’s now in night school, but he won’t do the work.

He is argumentative, disrespectful and disobedient. He fights with his younger sister, hits, kicks and starts fights. There is never a peaceful day or night in my home. He has struck me in the past, which does not scare me, but he was taught differently. He seems to care about nothing. Counseling has not helped. He is ADHD and is borderline bipolar. I am loosing my son more and more. I love him very much, and I don’t want him falling any deeper. Please help me.

Answer:

Thank you for reaching out for help. Parenting is a tough job and when you are doing it yourself it is even more difficult. Before we begin to address the issues with your son, let’s talk about keeping you and your daughter safe.

Spend some time today developing a safety plan. This is a plan that must be put into place when your son begins to tease, pick on or challenge his sister. She must feel safe in her home, and in order to accomplish that, she must have a plan. Make sure there is somewhere in your home where she can go to be safe. It may be helpful to have a code word between you so you know what her plan is and that she should respond and go there immediately.

You should have a similar plan. Physical confrontation is not good for anyone involved. If your son is at risk of harming someone or is destroying property in your home, then call the police for support.

With those plans in place, his behaviors can be addressed and some solutions can be reached. First of all, with the diagnosis and the behaviors you described, counseling is highly recommended. Perhaps it was not helpful in the past; however, it could have been the counselor. Try to find one who has experience with young people with an ADHD and borderline bipolar diagnosis.

Reset your expectations for your son and his behaviors. Let him know what privileges he can earn if he meets those expectations and what he will not be able to do if he does not meet them. Be consistent and predictable and parent with expectations and consequences.

If all of this is ineffective and you are looking for out-of-home placement, please call us and we will help you explore the options available.

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