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04 Aug 2008

My son can&#39 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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Expert
Teen expert
teen expert

01 Jan 0001

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.
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