Posted by: Sad Mum | 2008/08/04

My son can' t see how he offends others

I have a 15 year old son who is fairly well mannered and decent I would think. I have some concerns which I find alarming and would like your take on how to deal with them perhaps a bit better.

There are instances and many of them when I speak to him, be it to inform him or give him and instruction and it is then totally actioned in the opposite of what was asked/instructed. When challenged or confronted with his error he becomes totally disrespectful by answering back rudely, be it his choice of words, tone or general body language and even though it maybe his fault completely he tends to want to shift the blame all the time - he can' t seem to comprehend that a) he is not taking responsibility b) being disrespectful.

This has shown me why he may be having issues with his teachers as well. As a mother it concerns me and saddens me deeply because it seems that he is not grasping the basics - yes I understand the need to defend himself and stand up for what he possibly sees as right - but he can' t seem to see beyond that and what the person on the other ends'  perception or feelings are - how can I make him see or understand?

He has so much potential but this is a characteristic which is causing him much conflict and seems to create his aggression levels to increase.

Please help.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageTeen expert

Hi there,

is the oppositional behaviour very recent, or does your son have a history of saying no to you throughout his childhood?

Often during the teen years there is a major testing of boundaries to see whether they stand up to pressure or whether he can get his own way by pushing. Whilst he will object externally, one of the most containing things for an adolescent is reasonable boundaries that do not collapse when tested.

It is important to find a time to speak with him - and pick your time wisely - about how you experience him when he becomes oppositional and also within this ask him what are the things that he is unhappy about. What is very different at this stage is the introduction of negotiation into your parenting so that there is a gradual shift over the teen years from parental control to independence. Navigating this is often not easy, but is a necessary process to help your son become an independent individual who can make sound decisions for himself - often based on the boundaries you have been setting over the years.

Choose your battles - what are the most important things you need your son to do and what are the things you can let go so that you are not always arguing? How much time do you spend with each other that is not in the home and task-oriented? Also where necessary consider consequences for behaviour you find unacceptable, but make sure the consequences are reasonable and most important of all that you stick to them once decided upon.

Also if your son seems emotionally unhappy, ask him if he would like to speak with someone outside of the family such as a psychologist where he can speak privately about his thoughts and feelings. Find out from the school also if they are having difficulties with his behaviour, and if so if they have a school counsellor it would be worth speaking with them about your concerns.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

Our users say:
Posted by: sheri | 2008/08/07

I have a 22 year old son with the same behaviour and daughter that is exactly the same 15 years old - i actually don' t have words - i am sorry because i know you write to this forum expecting help but then people just add on about their problems as i am doing now and yes everyone says its teenage problems but my son is 22 and he became worse - i really really really dont know what to say - there is days that i just want to ..not be here on this earth because i cant handle it and dont have money for doctors and even though doctors are free i cant get my kids to go i cant get time off work to go as i am a temp and everything is just going south - i wanna run away - i asked my mom she raised 8 kids and even she feels she doesnt know what it is - she says the devil or something very evil is loose amongst the kids - we must guide them and pray for them -

Reply to sheri
Posted by: Fishy | 2008/08/07

Dear Sad Mum
I too have a 15 year old son whose behaviour sounds much the same! I think it is likely that they are just going through a difficult " teen"  patch, where all that testosterone makes them argumentative, irritable, aggressive and sometimes really nasty! As mother' s we can only hope their upbringing wins out in the end. Give him lots of love, despite the anti-social behaviour as they really need it!!

Reply to Fishy
Posted by: STALLION | 2008/08/06

It may later be difficult to undone the damage that he has done to his image and personality. He may outgrow it, or he might not.

I would recommend that you get assistance from a psycologist regarding an improvement of your son' s social skills. He lives in a world where interaction with others is inevitable. The sooner he grasps the necessity of well developed social skills the better for his future.

Posted by: Maria | 2008/08/05

He sounds like a fairly typical teenager to me... but perhaps you can post to the parenting forum for advice as well.

Reply to Maria

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