13 year old will NOT abide by house rules...HELP!!!!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by crazymama4, Mar 29, 2012.

  1. crazymama4

    crazymama4 New Member

    I have a 13 yo son who is driving me crazy....no learning disabilities, ADD, ODD, etc, at least none that I am aware of. He just constantly pushes the envelope and everything becomes a battle. Life with him is exhausting! I think he has a pretty good life, privelidges, etc., but he always wants more. Totally disregards our limits on cell phone and ipod use, video games, food choices at school, etc. Everything needs to be policed to the point of going online and setting limits on everything so that the computer shuts down, the phone cannot be used during the night, etc. But how can I expect him to learn to control himself and make good decisions, when right now we are making all of the decisions for him...like turning his cell phone off automatically because he can't regulate his own use of it? We try reasoning with him, but he still does the same things. And he is disrespectful. Whatever consequence we come up with, he seeks to circumnavigate it. For example, once when his ipod was taken away, I found him, in the middle of the night, searching my drawers for it. He is unable to accept limits and consequences. All we require is that he does his chores (walking our dogs is his chore at the moment), keeping his room reasonably clean, not sleeping in his clothes, not wearing the same clothes day after day, do his homework on time and not put off big projects until the night before they are due, and limit his use of video games, cell phone and ipod (this was a problem because he was up all night texting, playing games, etc, and was garbage the next day)...If we take these things away, rather than accepting our consequence and acknowledging he has broken a rule, he will search around the house while we are sleeping and take them back. Therefore, we initiated the blocks that we now have on them. Our latest problem has been his lunch account at school, buying 10 packages of candy instead of lunch, so we have to monitor and block those type of purchases. First we talked to him about it, but he did the same thing again, thinking we wouldnt have the time to check up on him. Homework is always late, and he gets 5 points off each day it is late. The trouble is, he's very smart, so even with 15 points taken off, he still gets an 85, a B, so he thinks its fine. The teachers keep him after school when work is not done, but he continues to do the same thing, there, too. Sorry for the long post. Need to vent and I am hoping with all this info, someone can tell me what I'm doing wrong, or could be doing differently.
  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hello and welcome!

    First - it sounds like you are doing a lot of the right things. Good job!!!

    Second - he is getting older now....don't be afraid to let "natural consequences" take their course. My daughter no longer gets lunch money or a lunch account. She did not act responsibly, so now if she wants a lunch she needs to pack one herself.

    Third - a suggestion for you: give yourself a break! Whenever you catch him lying, or doing the wrong thing - you do not need to PROVE your case as though you are in court. You just need to act. So when you see the lunch account was mis-used, you don't ask "Why did you do this? Why didn't you buy lunch?" - save yourself the headache of the argument and just CLOSE THE ACCOUNT. "I'm sorry - You used the lunch account for candy. You need to make your own lunch next week."

    School, unfortunately, you may need to leave to school. If the teachers are not penalizing him for late work, there's not a lot Mom can do at home. It's a losing battle. The teachers here will actually pad my daughter's grades to make sure she passes...sad, but true.

    Glad you found us! (sorry you had to..)
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there. Welcome to the board, but sorry you have to be here.

    This is hard. I am currently raising two teens and have raised two. My experience has been that the older they get the less control we, as parents, have and the more sneaky even typical teen are about doing what they like to do. For example, my daughter, who was also a drug user, had no cell phone because she'd misuse it, but she would use other people's cell phones to talk to her friends. She did not like videogames, but, if she had, she would have found a way to play them elsewhere. As for monitoring diet, it is almost impossible to do once they get older. They will eat what they like and other kids will help them. Schools do not watch our teens the way they watched our little ones. Basically, you son in my opinion needs to incur natural consequences. You are doing all you can to regulate him, but there comes a time when they have to make their own choices and when our efforts are no longer effective. I learned to let my kids rise and fall on their own and face the music...only one of mine ever got into trouble and we did not bail her out so she actually quit using drugs on her own and is doing well now.

    I think that if your son is getting good grades, which is huge, and you are regulating to the maximum that you can (because you can not see everything) you are doing your job. I think that teens require a bit of flexibility. This has just been my experience with teens. And my two grown kids are good kids and gainfully employed using the natural consequences method. Now when my daughter used drugs, we DID try to intervene because that was so dangerous, but it really didn't help. She had to realize for herself that drugs were destroying her life.

    Is this your oldest child? Did you ever raise a teen before? They are so much fun...lol :) Some people may suggest very restrictive punishment for these infractions, but we tried that and in my opinion they don't work well with teens. They get around them and in my opinion again just get more rebellious and less apt to listen to us. My two youngest teens have a MUCh better Mom because I learned that compromise and lots of talking is the key to having a good relationship and at least understanding where one another is coming from.
  4. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    It sounds to me like he is very impulsive and unable to control it despite the consequences. Does he have "temper tantrums" or what does he do when limits are placed on him? How does he react? You might want to consider having him evaluated. You might want to also consider reading The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. Even if he isn't explosive, the strategies in this book work wonders if used correctly. All of us highly recommend this book.

    With school, he might be bored. If he's that smart, he might not be challenged enough. That was difficult child 2's problem so we accelerated him in certain classes. A "B" was good enough for him because that's what most kids he knew got anyway. He never let it go below that though.
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Can you give us a bit of background?
    Is this behavior relatively new, or has he "always" been like this? If it's longer term, did the behavior get worse at the typical transition points, like starting school and or about middle-school?

    You said:
    Has he ever been evaluated for anything?
    Any family history of issues and challenges?
    Is he your own child, or adopted?

    Not being nosy... but any info you can provide helps the rest of us understand the picture a bit better...
  6. Tiapet

    Tiapet Old Hand

    I wanted to welcome you aboard and say hi. Can you give us a little background history on your son? Is this new, how long has this been going on, etc.? I'm sure others will have other questions and be along soon to help. The more we know the better we can help. Also if you can create a signature line that would be helpful too.
  7. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi, sorry you are having such struggles right now. I pretty much agree with all of the posts including yours.
    1. you are giving logical consequences, doing what you can but maybe time to back off on the questions and negotiating. Just do as he would have done if he was on his own... mess it up and you lose it.
    2. there could be other things going on and it is good to check it out because more subtle things can be managed by creative kids until they hit really demanding ages like middle school. It is worth checking into in case there is an impulse control issue or adhd-the type where they can hyperfocus on certain repetitive things but procrastinate and lose interest in other areas...or other issues, gifted issues, emotional issues--entitled, depressed, who knows what.... just saying it is an awful feeling to go through years of such things and find out there was an issue that could have been addressed earlier.
    3. check out the book suggested along with parenting with love and logic...that book helps some situations too. You will have to see for yourself. They give a different take on parenting and really do help. It takes a lot of the power struggle out of parenting.

    Does he need a phone? Can you do the cold lunch idea (he is old enough to make his own). You said you are worried about his learning to handle these things responsibly and I get that. 13 is not an adult though, we are still teaching them. Even adults do not just get things handed to them, they earn them. Maybe he needs to not be so entitled (and that is not a criticism, we all want to give our kids things to make their lives fun and easier....but some kids need that extra lesson to learn it really is a privilege, something to be grateful for). If we don't follow through with our basic responsibilities then we can't afford things. then once he earns the right to have those things back they are with your same controls except maybe on Fri and Sat.... once he shows he can do well with that you can add.... But as MWM says, you can try those things, and they do work for many kids...but if they dont, you may have to let it go and let the chips fall where they may. he is still very young though so you can try to work on the building blocks.

    I would let the school thing go too...as I was reading your list of issues I was thinking of how the Explosive Child books helps...you prioritize issues and it really does help relieve overall stress which then allows you to tick away at the lesser issues on your list. But not necessarily all at once.

    It sounds to me like you are a wonderful parent and willing to make hard choices. He sounds like lots of kids, very strong willed and wanting what he wants... hmmm ... yup lots of kids are like that, those with and without disabilities. The world is all about them and what they want, when they want it. But we can try to teach values and responsibility and much of the time, we just have to let them experience what happens when they don't follow the guidelines. I have a hard time with that since my son is so disabled, I often feel I need to manipulate everything to help teach, guide and protect him....but it doesn't do him any service. I do need to let him experience what happens when he makes poor choices. It is not the fun part of parenting at all! Glad you found us, hope you stick around and can feel the support and care I have found in this forum. Welcome!
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    We didnt have all of these things when mine were teens but...we had to lock down the phone and the computer even if it wasnt a cell phone. They had to share because I had three boys plus me. No one could hog it all and it was my computer and my phone. And we were on dial up...lord those were the olden days...lmao. Dial up! I gave the boys so much time each day to use on the phone. No more. So much time on the computer and only access to certain sites and I had to be watching in the living room. We had no laptops.

    Now I do have to admit I think I am going to be a much more lenient grandma. I will probably give their parents grey hair because I have already given my 5 year old granddaughter a cell phone and I am probably going to be turning my laptop over to my oldest granddaughter when she moves back home in 2 years and I will buy a new one. I gave her a notepad for xmas this year. But she can only get on the internet with it when her mom connects it. She isnt that smart yet. My oldest son is a tech geek and we tend to want to deck out my oldest granddaughter in true geek style...lol.
  9. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I agree with TeDo/IC regarding background. Also, it does sound like he has something going on in regards to impulsivity and oppositional behavior. However, both of those could be due to, in part, privileges...as in he has too many. Thirteen year olds are impulsive and do have a difficult time self monitoring. But he knows the rules/guidelines you've set for him and he blatently disregards them. He searches the house while you sleep to find those privileged items. To me, that sounds very oppositional.

    What are the consequences for him if he breaks the rules? Do you ever take the item away and if so, for how long? What if you took the items away and kept them at your work or a neighbor's house? If he knew there was NO WAY he'd be able to retrieve those items, what would he do? Would he meltdown? Would he give up?

    How many other children are in the house and what are their ages? Sorry for all the questions, but more info would be helpful.
  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    there is a lot going on. I would continue to take the things away and if he is going to search for them, then I would "store" them at a pawn shop and he could WORK for the privilege of EVER getting them back. He would NOT earn cash from me, but instead would earn cash credited into an account that I would then use to pay the pawn shop. I would not accept cash from him to pay the pawn shop because then he could steal it from me and use it to pay me for the things that were taken as a consequence.

    If you don't want the hassle of that, then get some strong locks, the kind for doors to the outside, not the kind for interior doors, that require a key to open the door, and I would lock the doors to my bedroom, study, any area I don't wnat him in. The keys would be on my person at ALL times and that door would NEVER be left unlocked, not even for a moment. There is not need to explain this to him, or tell hm ahead fo time that you are locking the door because he is such a snoop and violates your privacy. I would just do it Then when I took something away, it would go behind the locked door.

    Moslty that would happen because I HATE when people go through my stuff.

    I would work on loosening the strings as he gets older and EARNS it. At 13 he is proving he isn't ready for unlimited use of cell phone, etc.... But I don't know many kids who ARE able to self limit themselves on computer games, cell phone, etc... at age 13.

    WHy not switch him to a tracfone or net10 phone and then when he uses his minutes up, it is HIS problem to buy more or not for the month or however long you think they should last?
  11. keista

    keista New Member


    I'm with those proposing a stricter approach. Obviously, limiting his access hasn't taught him anything. How about taking it all away and he has to earn back the equipment in "timeshare" increments. Walks the dog = one hour computer. Homework done on time = 1 hour cell phone.

    by the way who the heck is he texting at all hours of the night? He's only 13! If it's local friends, I'd get on the phone with their parents ans well and maybe you can all join forces to enact a communal curfew.
  12. Giulia

    Giulia New Member

    Humm, be careful with taking all off. It may end up to a more explosive situation than it is already.

    Set boundaries, yes, we are ok.
    Like he switches off his phone and you lock it at night. He forages to get it ? Then, closet during X days. Whatever he begs for or not.

    For the computer, you give him 1 hour/day, and you monitor him with a timer.
    If he wants to increase his computer time, he has to earn it.

    Also, you can completely shift the system. Instead of using cell phone and computer to motivate him, move towards something he wishes in his best dreams : new sneakers, a new expensive pair of jeans....
    In this system, you make him earn like 30 stars (or whatever you want) for a new pair of sneakers, 70 for a new pair of expensive jeans.....
    The computer and the cell phone is very likely to enhance the conflict.

    When he didn't earn, you don't comment at all, you say absolutely nothing.
    When he earnt a star, congratulate him like if he were a World Cup champion. Exaggerate the congratulations.

    For these kinds of contracts, choose your battles. Avoid at all cost an endless list of chores.
    Choose like 3 chores, among them one chore he likes and does without being begged.
    Then, after he mastered these 3 chores without problem, add 3 more chores. etc etc....

    Same for school. Start with a very limited number of aims. then, increase.

    For his harmless annoying behavior, ignore it. He grumps ? Ignore. He makes peculiar noise, fun for him but annoying for you ? Ignore.

    Also, start low, go slow would be our motto here.
  13. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Giulia, those are good ideas for some kids.... for most of ours here, they are really wired differently and sticker charts and rewards are very limited in their use...often just don't work well. Most of us have done zillions of sticker charts, delayed rewards, used ignoring programs, etc. Just not something that works for a large group of kids. Nearly all of us try that at first, because it is the most common kind of parenting and behavior modification but it simply does not work well for kids on the spectrum, those who are wired differently, those with chemical imbalances etc. Wish it did, life at home and school would be so much easier and we would all not have a need for this kind of a forum probably! (most of our kids dont have the underlying skills or control to earn those rewards....true, reward programs can help in little ways, to get out of a crisis or to get thru a short task...if the reward is easy to earn and quickly accessed, though long term behavioral change typically does not happen from that intervention alone. Many of us have to work on developing underlying skills, remediating deficits, overcoming chemical imbalances, etc. Takes lots of approaches and therapies.)
  14. Giulia

    Giulia New Member

    I understand what you say, I have been also a child like your children, now an adult :) With the soup of diagnosis in the sig line :)
    That's why I also told about be careful about removing all cell phone and computer, because it is a down hill spiral for more problems.

    What I also read about The Explosive Child can also apply in what I say.
    I apply these strategies to my dad when I have to parent him (yuck) and well, it works well. We have much less explosions than we had in the past.
    With his son, I also apply these strategies + the system I advised here.
    I really don't think that TEC and this system are a total mismatch, I believe that they complete each other.
    As someone said elsewhere but I don't remember who and where, a behavior program is not absolutely written in the stone : it provide basic ideas and you personalize it. You can also mix up two behavioral programs, like TEC + charts system and consequences. It is what mom used for me, mainly TEC but she added some of charts (at homeopatic dose, as we say here).
    Also, the problem may be not that much the program, but the way we apply it, like we give a too long list, or list is misunderstood, or we ask him something he cannot absolutely complete because of deficit X or Y etc etc...

    It's not incompatible with therapies.

    It can be also that it's asking too much, too soon because we feel we have to be "perfects". There are a ton of reasons, along with deficits (so deficits + the rest).
    Less rules, and choosing the battles. This is an expression I won't tire myself from using.

    I am not aware of any panacea in this world : otherwise, problems would not exist.

    If I had to summarize my opinion in two essential sentences, it would be "focus on the positive and ignore the negative : we don't attract ants with vinegar" and "pick your battles, otherwise you go towards death".
    The rest is only literature, as we say in French.
  15. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I meant to say something about this, sorry I forgot. I think it is really nice to have your insight that way. We have other parents here too who either can relate to chemical use or are Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or bipolar and it really is nice to hear how it feels on the other side of it.
  16. Giulia

    Giulia New Member

    Add the Single Sided Deafness on the top of that, and you can imagine how explosive it can be !! Never tried drugs though, so no idea on what it does, and better not knowing.
    A drop of alcohol and I feel dizzy for at least 1/2 hour, so no thank you !!

    In these situations, what works best is the sentences I said to summarize.
    Also, be careful on the too vague, too long and/or unrealistic lists. The shorter, the better. It obligates you to carefully choose your battles, so you avoid power struggles all day long.
    Focus on the positive and ignore the negative is the very beginning for success.
    It won't solve all the problems, it won't heal ADHD, it won't cure Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). But it makes life at home much more pleasant, even if it won't solve all the issues.

    My message was a reply about "not abiding of rules at home". But it's also a good base to manage the labeled unbearable students, employees, patients etc etc.... Of course, we adapt it to the setting.
    However, it's a must basic knowledge to deal with difficult personalities. I also use it when I had to deal with administrative fights.

    On a funny short story, my dad remained speechless when I could manage his son while having a meltdown because refusing to clean up his toys and refusing to help.
    His wife knew and same, she is such into the power struggle that I can only laugh to imagine her speechless on how did I made him clean up his toy and set the table without fuss, without opposition, without shouting, without defiant behavior and so.
    He was I think five or six years old.
    It's nice to make a "perfect parent or what he thinks so", always criticising other parents for their parenting, become speechless. I am happy to have made her become speechless on my way of doing, that she criticised a lot until she saw the results on her son.
  17. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    For some kids, though, computers and phones (and video games) can be a HUGE problem. Electronics are addicting for these kids. In that instance, NO electronics is more manageable than SOME electronics or limited electronics.

    I would also suggest (in regards to priviledges) that it is unwise to parent with an attitude of "but my child should have...." or "I want my child to have...". Many times as parents we want things SO BADLY for our children: we want them to achieve, to be successful, to be confident, etc. We want to make sure they have the same things their friends have. And sometimes, we provide those priviledges too easily and make them too accessible for our kids who perhaps are not ready for those things or cannot handle them responsibly.

    Instead, we have to make sure that our children are held to a certain standard of behavior - because that is what the real world will expect of them.

    If our kids are lacking skills, it is our job to ensure they develop those skills. And THAT takes precedence over everything else.
  18. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Well said.
  19. Giulia

    Giulia New Member


    What mom did was, instead of removing them or so, directing their use.
    Instead of removing its use, mom used it to tech me what I needed. Like "Once upon a time life", for learning about the human body, or videos for social skills....

    Later, I use computer, cellphone and so to learn how to repair them. It's even another major responsibility at home I take and I enjoy to take it.

    As funny as it seems, it was much more efficient for me to redirect its use than removing it in absolute. Removing it in absolute was always a major meltdown trigger, whereas redirecting its use led and still leads to much more positive outcomes.
    I repair the Internet, tv, telephone appliances in this house, I also deal with the hotlines.

    It's not like with drugs. I think that computer and cellphone can be also very positive teachers, it depends on how do you use it.

    I am not very hot for a "everything or nothing" when it deals with computer and electronics. I think it, more often than not, leads to more trouble than it solves.

    With drugs and alcohol, you can't redirect its use. So there are my very few no no in life.
    The no no is only for what you can't absolutely redirect to more positive use.
    Because be realistic, when you have a food addiction, you can't completely remove food from your life. Same with money (you need money to live/survive), same with clothes shopping.... Since you can't remove them, you have to learn to redirect their use. Much easier said than done, I know.
  20. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    Basically, you are advocating that parents should compromise to avoid a meltdown.

    My position is that difficult children need to be taught coping skills that are more appropriate than "meltdowns". For very young children, that can be difficult. But as children grow into teens and young adults, they need to learn more appropriate ways of dealing with anger and frustration.