Discouraged mom states, "I feel I am always nagging... "

"I would like some guidelines on setting up clear rules. My 15 year old son constantly yells, belittles his younger brother and basically tries to defy or argue when I ask him to anything. He certainly sets the mood for the house. I found it harder to stay in control and feel I am at wits end. He doesnt worry about his appearance and I constantly remind him of basic hygiene. He lacks motivation at school, football relationships at school always seem to be a drama. He seems to be closer to girls and does not seem to be able to form close relationships with boys. Has quit his part time job. Doesnt seem to be passionate about anything. He often tells me how he wants to leave and live with anyone but me. My husband has been ill with Leukaemia and suffers with the complications of the treatment. It has impacted our life for the past three years. Upsets me that he is so angry and not happy. I would like him be responsible for the cleanliness of his room, his appearance and speak nicely and want him to contribute to the family in a loving way. I feel I am always nagging but where is the fine line between letting him just do what he wants. I seem to feed off his anger. I just want to understand R___ and my behaviour and what I can do to help to make this situation better? Appreciate any feed back? If anything, writing helps to clarify my thoughts. kind regards ~ J."

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Hi J.,

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.

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