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11 year old acting up

My husband and I have 3 boys 11, 15 and 16.  We have been married for 9 years so you can see our children are his and mine.  The 15 and 16 year olds are mine from a previous marriage and the 11 year old is his from a previous marriage.  He has custody of the 11 year old so i have been his mom.  The problem we have had and still are having is that he lies, cheats and steals when ever he can.  He has done this since he was just a toddler.  We have had repeated problems with school that has started in Pre School.  He will not listen, acts out, doesnt do his work and shows lack of respect for his teachers.  He is not a mean child or causes problems in an abusive manner just is very strong willed and difficult to keep on task.  He often acts as though his recreation is far more important to him than anything else.  At home he has chores but fails to complete all of them for fear he will miss something on TV or not beable to play video games.

    We have tried everything from a simple talking to, standing in the corner, writing sentences, additional chores and even spankings. He is currently grounded from television and any XBOX and spends a majority of his time reading. We do not want his childhood spent as a painful memory however we are at a loss for what to do. The spanking thing only works so far and really isn't effective or feels like the right thing to do.  He only half way listens to me and I have very little effect on his actions. When his father disciplines him he has a much different effect even with the same words. He recently came home with an F in Consumer Science and thinks nothing of it.  He is a brilliant child and is more then cappable of getting straight A's.  We are at a loss as to how we should handle his misbehaviour.  We love him to death and he is a wonderful bright and brilliant child but he just doesnt listen and lies.  How can we get through to him?
1 Responses
521840 tn?1348844371
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Hello,
   it can be tough to change behavior that has been so long standing, as it has often become part of the child's self-concept (e.g. 'I'm the bad one'). You will have your work cut out for you, but the good news is that if you and your husband can work well as a team, you should be able to make some positive changes in a couple of weeks. I am glad to hear that he is not mean or aggressive, as that will make thing easier.

It sounds like you and your husband could use some help. I would seek a referral from your pediatrician to find a psychologist who has lots of experience working with parents in similar situations. The psychologist may recommend a formal assessment to rule-out ADHD or emotional problems (depression and anxiety can manifest as behavior problems). An assessment at his age can provide you with very helpful information before the upheaval of middle school really begins. While you are waiting to find a therapist, I strongly recommend you pick up two books: The Kazdin Method by Alan Kazdin and How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk by Adele Faber.

Whether or not you have psychological testing, therapy will be important. I would seek psychotherapy that includes lots of parent work to help you learn to manage his behavior in positive ways (you are so right about spanking, the research has shown for decades that it is a very ineffective way of changing behavior in any positive way). Find a therapist who can provide Parent Management Training, Parent Effectiveness Training or Parent guidance--all include learning to manage behavior) as well as individual therapy for your son.  Boys this age often have trouble coping with anger, and your son can learn better ways of dealing with his emotions.

Best Wishes
Rebecca Resnik

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