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Parents concerned about son’s drastic personality change

Question:

Our 12-year-old son has undergone a drastic change in his personality. He used to earn straight As and was in the gifted and talented program at school. He had plenty of good friends and was responsible. Now he does not care about school, which is reflected in his falling grades. He is openly defiant and challenges authority in a rebellious, disrespectful manner. He still has his old friends, but he is also hanging out with a group of kids that we have deemed to be a bad influence. Now he is stealing from us.  

We have tried every conceivable consequence: removal of privileges, removal of electronic devices and removal of all items in his room except his bed and clothing. We have talked to him frankly about the value of hard work and earning what you have.  

He has basic household chores, and he will work this summer at my husband’s business sweeping floors, etc. We are also placing him in a Bible/mentoring program to reinforce a sense of morals and personal responsibility. We are at a loss about how else to handle this situation.

 

Answer:

You mention many good strategies, but you did not say what your son is doing with the money he is stealing. Is he buying things with it or giving it to other kids?  What is he doing to make up for the stealing? If this behavior continues, he runs the risk of earning jail time. There has to be consequences and restitution.

Do you suspect that he is smoking pot or using any other illegal substances? There are kids all over the country taking advantage of a substance that can be purchased online or possibly at a mall. It is called K-2. It affects each child differently, mostly because it is a manmade chemical that is applied to natural leaves. This may be the cause of your son’s personality change.

Since he is not responding to traditional consequences, have him evaluated by a counselor or someone who works with substance abuse. Sometimes parents are too emotionally close to a situation to see what is really going on.

 

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