Our expert says:
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.
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