How do you deal with difficult preteens?

Sara - posted on 10/29/2009 ( 11 moms have responded )

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My oldest is 10 and he thinks he knows everything. Not only that, he's always been such a respectful boy, but now besides being disrespectful, he's condescending! How do I handle this without wringing his neck?

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Jennifer - posted on 10/30/2009

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My eldest is 17 and the youngest is 12. This is a phase they all go through oddly enough. Male and female, and well it does not get easier with time.. Catching it now will only help curb it a bit later, but wont get rid of it all together. They will continue to test boundaries. Best thing I have found is that you have to set down the basic rules fast and constant. Sometimes sitting down with the child and writing out a contract helps. This makes them see the rules and consequences, and have them and you sign it then post it somewhere in the house able to be seen. When they try and argue with you about it simply point to the Contract and remind them.. We both agreed and now you have to deal with the punishment. They are going to huff and puff as well stomp off, this is normal. But nine out of ten times they will do what is needed in the end. When my children were disrespectful I never send them away, but rather made them stand there in front of me and breath. I would wait patiently until they figured out that I would not listen to them until they calmed down and spoke to me respectfully. I found over time that letting them go into their room is what they wanted, they did not have to deal with me and could play and whatnot. They hate when I stand there looking at them as if they are insane till they calm down.

Once they have calmed down and can speak respectfully handle the situation calmly and firm.. Sometimes turning away from them and counting to ten to yourself helps while they are having the fit.. 30 if you need it.. lol But it wont let them realize that you are frustrated and doing this, it will have them thinking you are not listening to them and they will eventually calm down and speak in normal tones. Yes, it takes time, but after a few times of doing it they catch on. Remember though that you still have to go through with any punishment even if they have straightened up. Once they break the rule it is broken. Calmly explain to them that they handled themselves much better then last time and they are improving, BUT the rules are the rules and so they will have to deal with the consequences. (be that grounding for a shorter time then normal, or taking away of a fav toy, outside time or whatnot.)

The main thing is to simply be very consistent. Never break the routine and never give in. The min they smell weakness they are like sharks in the water. If they know you will let them off for good behavior just because the tantrum lasted 5 mins less then last time, they will simply use a ploy to repeat and still not be punished.

While to me respect is a major offense in my home learn to pick your battles. In time you will find that some things are better not fought about. (Though I agree respect is a fight worth doing) Simply do not fight as I said, wait and then talk when you are level headed (counting and breathing is finished) and they are calm and thinking. No one wants to be yelled at on either side, and well when yelling is going on no one actually listens. I know it is very hard and frustrating sometimes in the end it makes it much easier when they are older and have learned that the tantrum, sarcasm, and mocking gets them absolutely nowhere.

I do hope this helps, and I know that how things work in one home is not universal, I still wish you all the best of luck and patience.

Anna - posted on 03/14/2014

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My son is 12 years old, and is currently failing the sixth grade. Throughout all his years in school I have had to deal with his bad behavior. But this time hes went over the top. I've taken away his play station and computer privileges for the rest of the school year. It is the end of the world for him. I honestly think that my decision was a good one. His world revolves around video games, and I feel like it's my fault. I really need him to understand that school and good grades is very important. Spring break is around the corner, the longest 2weeks ever....He's already stressed out on having nothing to do. I work all day, he'll be spending his time at grandma's. Any suggestions on how I can keep him busy in a way that's satisfying to him? Something he can learn from?

[deleted account]

Quoting Teresa:

I'm the mother of nine children all with different attitudes. I have one rule in my home, RESPECT at this stage in there life what helps the most is listening to them. Even though it seems uninteresting to you, it's their life, to them it's a big deal. You demand respect in your home and really listen to them, it will get better.


 I also agree with this lady. YOU have to say this is the way it is.

Jenny - posted on 10/30/2009

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i know how you feel ,i have an eleven year old daughter who is very much the same,i also find it hard to deal with,but i try to ignore alot of it as i find that easier rarther than getting into confrontation with her as i find that only fuels her more, i think it just is apart of them growing up (i hope)i try to point out to my daughter that the way she speaks to me i am not prepared to listen to .i also ask her to leave the room when she is being disrespectful untill she can come back and speak to me respectfully which i find works as if she does'nt then i am not prepared to listen. i wish you luck

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Michelle - posted on 04/02/2013

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hi my name is michelle i have four grown up children and three children who we adopted the three youngest three children we have had since they were babies . their ages are 11 yrs 10 yrs and 8 yrs . they all came with challenging behaviour most have disapeared within the youngest two . the 11 year old however is very difficult . he has special needs he attends a pupil refreral unit which is for children with behavioural issues this hasnt help in the last three years he has been there he has simply learnt even more bad behaviours , my life is centered around the 11 year old . i cant turn my back not even to go to the toilet . his behaviour and attitudes are terrible . i have tried every form of punishment i have explored many different methods none which seem to worked his genral behaviour day to day { agressive , no sence of danger . cheeky swears fond of trashing throwing when things dont go his way. would love to hear from other mums

[deleted account]

Many people say it is a "phase" that all kids go through. I do not believe that because I have never had any of my DC be disrespectful to me or to each other. There may be a kid that is influencing him or something else going on. Could be many things. We always home educated our children and raised them in a very conservative home so we knew what influences they were exposed to. I think that has a lot to do with it. My DH and I have 15 children (ages 29 down to 12) and they have all been such a blessing. Try to spend some more time with your son if possible and really talk to him and try to feel out what may be going on with him.

Teresa - posted on 10/31/2009

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I'm the mother of nine children all with different attitudes. I have one rule in my home, RESPECT at this stage in there life what helps the most is listening to them. Even though it seems uninteresting to you, it's their life, to them it's a big deal. You demand respect in your home and really listen to them, it will get better.

Michelle - posted on 10/31/2009

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My oldest is 14 and she trys to act like she is the mom and that she knows everything! She gets money just 50cents for each room that she cleans and I found out that she hates it when I take money away for her behavoir. We take a quarter away for each out burts that she has. If the is bossy, yelling at us, has an attitude, disrespects us, its a quarter for each one. And since she wants to buy stuff she finds out that she cant because her money is getting low. I do see some improvement in her. It takes time. Hang in there and let them know that you are the parent and they need to show respect inorder for them to get respect.

Hollie - posted on 10/30/2009

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We would send ours to her room and began taking away privileges. I am sorry to say that it doesn't get any easier. It will get worse before it gets better.

Kerry - posted on 10/29/2009

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I have a 13 year old & i`m sorry to say at the age of 10 it starts! My son is still going & i have sooooo much trouble withn dealing with him it`s not funny. I`ve started to try if he`s been naughty to make him write lines on why he did what he did & what he is going to do to prevent this from happening. Also i`ve made him read a school book out loud to me for an hour. He hates this & is starting to think twice on doing it again. Previously i`ve sent him to his room, taken things that is important to him away,lectured him,grounded him, they have never worked. Good luck as i know exactly how you feel.

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