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My Teen Believes He is a Grown-Up and Argues with us Continuously

Question:

​My child is suffering from depression, lack of discipline, and is not willing to do his work. We are a good two parent family. We took him to a clinic, counseling and a class for social skills. He is highly intelligent and can be compassionate, but he does not listen and cannot seem to make an in-person friend. He believes he is a grown-up and argues with us continuously. I am exhausted. Caring for him and the stress makes my life unbearable. I have tried all I know. I want a productive citizen. What can you offer to assist?

Answer:

Skateboarding

We know parenting is a tough job. Is your son allowed to use electronics even though his behaviors don't warrant him having that privilege? We find that young people who have unlimited access to social media and electronic devices of their choice, display the behaviors you have described.

Granted, we want children to be involved in "today's world," but many young people do not successfully handle all the pressures involved. Sometimes we have to go back to the basics and work with behavior modification techniques. By this we mean setting clear expectations in every area -- chores, academics, house rules, and social skills. Then we list the privileges our children have available if they meet our expectations. If they do not meet the expectations, then a related privilege is lost. Or, if necessary, all the child's privileges are lost until they are earned back by changing their behaviors. Consequences should not be time-based, but instead behavior-based.

We suggest when there are misbehaviors like you described, at a neutral time when there are few distractions, you and his father present your expectations to him. Then explain the privileges and let him know that from this moment on, this will be enforced. Ask if he understands. You are not asking for an agreement, only for his understanding.

Boys Town's model of care has been adjusted to fit into individual families and to be used by parents. This is outlined in a book called "Common Sense Parenting." You can access this on line at www.boystownpress.org, or by calling 1-800-282-6657. It is a well-researched and theoretically-based version that you will likely appreciate.

Hopefully this will be helpful. Please let us know if we can be of further help.

 

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