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Re: My 15 year old son constantly yells, belittles his younger brother and basically tries to defy or argue when I ask him to anything.
Please refer to the page in the eBook [online version – session #3] entitled “When You Want Something From Your Kid”. Much of what you are dealing with in this email will be addressed there.
Re: He doesn’t worry about his appearance and I constantly remind him of basic hygiene ...and lack of motivation.
Your child's teenage years can be a difficult time. Teens may feel overwhelmed by the emotional and physical changes they are going through. At the same time, teens may be facing a number of pressures - from friends to fit in and from parents and other adults to do well in school, or activities like sports or part-time jobs.
The teenage years are a time of transition from childhood into adulthood. Teens often struggle with being dependent on their parents while having a strong desire to be independent. They may experiment with new values, ideas, hairstyles and clothing as they try to define who they are. Although this may be uncomfortable for parents, it is a normal part of being a teenager.
Communicating your love for your child is the single most important thing you can do. Children decide how they feel about themselves in large part by how their parents react to them. It is also important to communicate your values and to set expectations and limits, such as insisting on honesty, self-control and respect for others, while still allowing teenagers to have their own space.
Parents of teens often find themselves noticing only the problems, and they may get in the habit of giving mostly negative feedback and criticism. Although teens need feedback, they respond better when it is given positively and spoken with love.
Praising appropriate behavior can help your teen feel a sense of accomplishment and reinforce your family's values.
Teens, especially those with low self-esteem or with family problems, are at risk for a number of self-destructive behaviors such as using drugs or alcohol or having unprotected sex. Depression and eating disorders are also important issues for teens.
The following may be warning signs that your child is having a problem:
· Agitated or restless behavior
· Drop in grades
· Fatigue, loss of energy and lack of interest in activities
· Lack of motivation
· Low self-esteem
· Not caring about people and things
· Ongoing feelings of sadness
· Poor hygiene
· Trouble concentrating
· Trouble falling asleep
· Weight loss or weight gain
If you suspect there is a problem, ask your teen about what is bothering him or her. And then listen.
Don't ignore a problem in the hopes that it will go away. It is easier to cope with problems when they are small. This also gives you and your teen the opportunity to learn how to work through problems together.
Again, please refer to Session #3. I think that session really applies here.
Mark Hutten, M.A.
Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD
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