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Old 03-14-2009, 10:49 PM   #1
LadyFirelyght
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Serious help needed re: my 13 year old nephew
What advice can you give on my 13 year old nephew who doesn't care about anything? He thinks everything is a game (even more so than most kids), nothing is important and no matter what his mom has tried, she can't get him straight. He doesn't do his schoolwork, he got his phone taken away and today his phone got a message talking about all the different sexual things that people can do "Lick this, suck that" was the basic gist. He just said "There's nothing wrong with it. Why would there be anything wrong with that message?" His mom's tried counseling, all sorts of different punishments, and his behavior keeps getting worse and worse.

He got his phone taken away, he doesn't get to go skateboarding (one of his favorite things), watch TV, use the computer except for school, play games of any type, hang out with friends. Basically all he can do right now is read and do schoolwork. Today, after the sex message incident, his mom told him she was ashamed of that. His response? "Then why don't you just put me in an orphanage?"

Any ideas? I don't know anyone else with a kid his age, and my brother was a really good kid so my mom has no clue what to do about him either.
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Old 03-14-2009, 11:32 PM   #2
evona
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Counseling!!! I know your SIL has already tried it, but perhaps the counselor wasn't a good match. He sounds like he is depressed. Kids don't show depression the way adults do. They act out, they get angry, they fight, they say they don't care, they get bad grades, they become apathetic. If the behavior is allowed to go on it will get worse though. I think counseling for your SIL and brother would be appropriate too so they can learn how to communicate more effectively and even more important so that they can have someone to talk to about this stressful situation as well. I'm sure it must be so hard on them. I had a very difficult time with my own DD and there were times that I would just cry in frustration because I just didn't know what else to do. Having a person you can tell that too, other than your significant other, is very very helpful.

My heart goes out to you, your brother and your SIL as well as to your nephew who is obviously having a very hard time right now.
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LadyFirelyght (03-15-2009)
Old 03-15-2009, 10:13 AM   #3
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I agree. These are exactly the type of kids I work with, and it can be extraordinarily frustrating for the parents. Many of our students are diagnosed with something or other, and medication helps a lot of them.

He doesn't know that he's not feeling the way he's supposed to feel and that there is a better way to feel about everything.

Taking away stuff won't work because it often gives the child a focus for their anger. It's a lot easier to be angry at mom and dad and act that out than it is to look inside at the jumble of feelings that are making his life miserable.

You know he can't be happy being the recipient of everyone's anger and disappointment. If he gets counselling and possibly a psychiatric evaluation, even if he balks, he will know that he's cared about. He may fight it tooth and nail at first, but that goes back to not knowing that he can feel any different.

When anyone is depressed, they're always sure that nothing will help. That's part of the illness. Add to that the confusion of puberty and you can have a real mess.

Whatever the reason for his behavior, being proactive in a compassionate and helpful way will be more productive than being completely punitive. Thinking of his behavior as a degree of illness rather than just 'being bad' makes this easier. You don't punish a child for being ill--you help him.

If you have a good rapport with him, take him out to lunch one day and tell him that you've noticed that he is having a lot of trouble and ask him "What's up with that?" Be a sounding board, non-judgemental, and see what comes out.

Good luck!
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LadyFirelyght (03-15-2009)
Old 03-15-2009, 10:02 PM   #4
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13 year old problem
Give him something to do, a purpose, a way to contribute to help build his self esteem. You know, I see alot of parents giving kids cell phones, iPods, nintendo - all this electronic stuff, and the kids are so disconnected from people that they don't know how to interact any more. My kids, now 22, 20 and 16 1/2, didn't even get their first cell phones until last year. (why does a 10 y/o need a cell phone??) We never allowed our kids to have any of the electronic devices that now every kid "has to have". Or do they. They are privileges and not rights.
How is his behavior; ie, is he violent, does he pick fights, is he in trouble with the law, with a gang, smoking/drinking/drugs? All of these things should be looked at. Not to say that a good adolescent counselor wouldn't be of benefit.

Just my thoughts. I sincerely hope all works out for this young man. 13 is a tough age, lots of transitions- puberty, peer pressure, etc.
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Old 03-15-2009, 10:40 PM   #5
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All I can say is that with my 13 yr old girl, giving her more positive reinforcement works better than taking things away. At one point- my daughter was grounded like that (for not doing schoolwork and being the mouth of the south backtalking) Earning back his phone/skateboard time while by doing his schoolwork & acting human to the family might work somewhat. (mine wasn't doing homework, now she gets tv/game/phone time for bringing home teacher's signatures that she completed her work every Friday- she squeaked at first but now is fine with it.)

ETA- she doesn't have a cell phone or internet access without supervision at this point either anyway. Aren't I a meanie-head?

About the sexual stuff- that's the age where it's pretty normal to be talking about things. I think it's important to realize he's growing up and might have questions/etc about "taboo" subjects. I think reinforcing that it's OK to talk about things while being respectful is good- if his parents are ashamed to do that maybe he can talk to you. You don't want them to speak carelessly about things that are a big deal, but you don't want them to think sex is bad, dirty or shameful either. Those discussions are a great way to reinforce your family's values while realizing that kids need some guidance and honesty.

Sometimes my daughter is so mean and thoughtless it makes me cry! I try to remember that a certain degree of angst is normal and will pass. It's hard to know what's "normal" in the teen years. I wouldn't take the orphanage comment seriously- just would reassure that you love him. I don't know enough about the situation to know if it's necessary to be counseled about it.

You may be able to talk to him some where his parents are not. You could find out more just by being cool and non-judgemental.

Curling into a ball while alternating chants of "Just love them anyway!" and "This too shall pass" also helps.
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Old 03-18-2009, 04:28 AM   #6
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Get him some knitting needles and explane that if he lerns to knit he will get to talk to girls... *shrugs* He sounds depressed and trust me I have been there. Counsling helps some... Having people back of and stop punishing you for the way you feel helps more. Having some one who will just listen even if what you are talking about if not what is hurting helps a lot more.

Take him to lunch inform him he has been drafted to go shopping with you... Go plases you like and just talk more inportenly listen to any thing he has to say even negitive stuff. For get he if your nephew and remember he is a friend.
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Old 03-18-2009, 11:01 AM   #7
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I had a similar conversation with my neighbor about his son. He said he took away his dirt bike, and he loves his dirt bike, and he thought the kid would care, but after a few days he didn't.

The thing we have to remember about taking stuff away, is that they have to be able to earn them back. Sometimes we take stuff away indefinitely, and we don't give the child a framework or help them understand the expectations. They won't do any better, because they feel like, oh well, not getting that back, so nothing to work for. Also, taking something away for a long period of time won't help, because eventually the child learns to do without the item or forgets.

Not saying your sister did this- but as a parent, I know it can be easy to do so.

Did she outline a way the child can earn them back? Like, for every grade brought back up, or good test grade, or doing homework?

Also, did she set in place ways to get them back that weren't so in the long term, like getting one thing back at a time in a matter of days, as opposed to the end of the grading period (report card time).
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Old 03-18-2009, 11:41 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by rachael72knitter View Post
I had a similar conversation with my neighbor about his son. He said he took away his dirt bike, and he loves his dirt bike, and he thought the kid would care, but after a few days he didn't.

The thing we have to remember about taking stuff away, is that they have to be able to earn them back. Sometimes we take stuff away indefinitely, and we don't give the child a framework or help them understand the expectations. They won't do any better, because they feel like, oh well, not getting that back, so nothing to work for. Also, taking something away for a long period of time won't help, because eventually the child learns to do without the item or forgets.

Not saying your sister did this- but as a parent, I know it can be easy to do so.

Did she outline a way the child can earn them back? Like, for every grade brought back up, or good test grade, or doing homework?

Also, did she set in place ways to get them back that weren't so in the long term, like getting one thing back at a time in a matter of days, as opposed to the end of the grading period (report card time).
She's told him that once he gets all of his grades up to an acceptable level (at least a C), he will start getting things back. If he can get at least a B in everything, all of his objects and privaleges will be given back. She also rewards him when ANY great gets to an acceptable level. When he brought his F in math up to a B, she let him play video games at our house. The next week, it was back down again and so she had to take it away.

But he simply doesn't care. He's told us that taking things away just makes him angry. He says it's his mom's (my sister's) fault that he's doing poorly because she takes things away and yells when he misbehaves.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that my sister is a major part of the problem. She admits it, then does nothing about it. I think my nephew won't start to shape up until SHE does.
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