Avatar universal

My son is acting out and I'm not sure why

To start I suppose I should say I'm a single mother (husband died after the birth of our son) and I'm absolutely exhausted y'all.

My son just recently turned 16 and up until age 15 it seemed like everything was alright. he's always been a bit shy but he had been talking to good friends at school and we had an okay life at home.

it seems like he suddenly stopped talking to his friends and became withdrawn, and not much after this some very strange behaviour started.

first he wouldn't talk with me about his day like we always do, and the same evening he seemed to look down or away and fidget until he could end the conversation, and that hasn't quite gone away?

we used to have a really close relationship and have deep conversations but now he's very distant.

he's only been in trouble a little bit here and there, and occasionally we would end up having the odd argument, but i've very rarely had to be stern and it seems like he's been mostly well behaved other than his sudden behaviour change.

his grades are even a bit higher since he's stopped talking to his friends.

he absolutely refuses to wear shoes guys..

the first time he decided he didn't want to wear shoes it was a total battle to get him out of the house and to school, and I almost missed work.

he ended up coming back home from school barefoot, and when I questioned him he apparently "forgot" his shoes and socks at school.

I threatened him with taking away his phone for the first time and he seemed to begrudgingly wear shoes for a week before it was a battle again.

Later I ended up trying to take him to school again, and of course, he didn't want to wear shoes, and I couldn't find a pair of his shoes literally anywhere (and there had to be at least like 7 different pairs I had bought him) so i made him wear socks.

I'm pretty sure he ended up throwing them all out.


After talks with a school administrator and several of his teachers I ended up signing a form to waive any kind of injury liability so he could show up at school barefoot and after this I simply gave up on it because I couldn't handle the fighting.

It seemed like things were getting better and he seemed to be very content. I didn't want to take him out in public like that because of the embarrassment, and I ended up wishing on more than one occasion that he'd get kicked out somewhere and I could use that as an excuse to buy him shoes, but it hasn't happened thus far.

he comes home from school and his feet are absolutely visibly filthy but he wipes them off on the doormat so it hasn't really been an issue.

I ended up reaching out to several friends of mine, and most of them told me not to worry about it so he's been going around in bare feet for a year now, and he doesn't really have any pairs of shoes or socks at this point because he hides them or throws them out when I buy him some.

I wouldn't really be writing this post if there wasn't more to this and I hope someone can provide advice because I'm completely at my wit's end.

he has started wearing a pink dog collar from when we used to have a dog, and he wears it at school and in public.

I tried to take it from him and he absolutely threw a fit.

It's an understatement to say I was mortified when he began wearing it.

we immediately went to visit a behavioural specialist, and the behavioural specialist called it "harmless" going as far as to say I should buy him a new one since the old one was worn out and not very clean.

I ended up taking him to the store to get him a new one assuming a clean one would be the lesser of two evils, and he picked out another pink dog collar.

I'm not sure why I didn't immediately get a second opinion or if I had even fully processed what was happening or why, and though It's been a week since the visit to the behavioural specialist I'm still in shock.

I feel like I've somehow made a mistake, and second guessing if I'm doing something wrong here is making me feel sick.

I've feared that this is sexual, and I want my old son back.

I'm very worried for him and I'm not sure what to do now so if you have advice or reassurance please respond to this.

Taking him around in bare feet was bad enough, but the past week of barefoot with a pink collar is absolutely not going to work.
Best Answer
20919326 tn?1651976780
I have been teaching for 10 years and a ton of younger kiddos come to school/into my class barefoot. It is actually really healthy so my kids are encouraged to ditch the shoes when they are indoors.

My two boys have had a ton of different phases growing up so this probably wouldn't be out of the ordinary for them, and 16 is a super akward age.

The collar does seem to be slightly worrying though as people might get the wrong idea. Please make sure that this is really how he wants to express himself and if he is still adamant just let him do his thing. Check his phone/devices to make sure he is not doing anything he isn't supposed to.

In short:
Bare feet - Yes.
Collar - Only if you are sure this is an innocent behavior.
I hope you'll be discreet in checking out his phone or computer.  Although it is your "right" as a parent to do so, invading your child's privacy could be a disaster in the making.   Do it as quickly and as stealthily as possible.  If you're caught, don't apologize but simply state that you felt you had no choice since he's not communicating with you.
hangman, I have two boys. One, I've never checked anything on but the other was acting 'off'. I went through his history and found a suicide plan. Parents sometimes know when something is not right and need to check for the safety of their child. I never admitted to the knowledge I had as to where I got it. He never asked.
I hope you found someone with whom he could talk.  I'm sure that both of you will be the better for it.  Be supportive and offer to talk with him about as much as he is willing to talk with you.  I offer you as much support as I can.
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Avatar universal
As long as he is not upset over being teased don't worry about it. He sounds like a typical boy and I am sure he is having fun. :D

As a kid I would have killed to go around as a puppy boy, but bare feet were always forbidden so I have had regrets later in life about how things could have been. Now as an adult I'm almost always barefooted.

Also I am pretty sure that If I had been allowed to do so in childhood I would have grown out of it and i would probably be less interested in it now.
Helpful - 2
If he's been picked on in class he must not be bothered by it much, though he did seem to get very upset with me after I'd asked him if he's trying to embarrass himself.

I hope I'm overreacting and that he will just grow out of this.
13167 tn?1327194124
I wouldn't blow this off without investigating further.  The fact that he's shy but had pursued friendships where now he doesn't,  then he stops wearing shoes and now insists on wearing this dog collar,  something is wrong.  The actual appearance of a barefoot teen wearing a pink collar isn't as big a deal as you're making it - I've seen boys in the grocery store with pink pigtails and gauge earholes you could pass a lemon through,  and in dirty pajamas and no one bats an eye.

What's concerning is these compulsions.  It's not just odd looking accessory choice and bare feet - it's the whole package.

Can you take him for a referral to a psychiatric exam?
Helpful - 1
Thank you for the response RockRose.

He was already given a "comprehensive psychiatric evaluation" when we had visited with the behavioral specialist which took the better part of a day, and we were even referred to have multiple types of lab work done. Supposedly there wasn't a problem.

I expected more than being told he's "fine" given the questions asked. I'm planning on getting a second opinion elsewhere because I've been worried sick.
Avatar universal
I think you're correct to presume that your son's actions are sexually-based.  Although you didn't say if he had any older friends that he's been seeing on a somewhat regular basis outside of school.    
Does he have a social life outside of school - does he go places and not tell you where he's going?  

I happen to think that seeing a professional to get some idea of the reason(s) that might be the cause of your son's behavior is a great idea - especially for your own peace of mind.   The only reaction you should have at this time is to express to him your concerns about his behavior and offer to talk with him about what's actually going on in his life.  Find the proper times to do this - after the school day is over (I presume you work - and you should tell him very casually that you're going to do this); a "good morning" hug in the privacy of your home; casual questions about school and his social life at dinner/supper "because I'm curious and you never tell me what's going on in your life anymore" or "because I love you" -  a casual  "I'm scared about what's going on in you're  life right now" or "I'm afraid that you're hurting yourself" once in a great while wouldn't be out of line.

I really can't give you a "cure-all" regimen - you're at "ground zero" and I'm not, and I'm not a professional so anything I tell you may "blow-up in your face - and he is your son.  Just don't "go draconian"; find some help for the both of you - even if it's just chatting with someone you trust not to tell all to everyone in town - believe me when I say this - the other parents in your social group who children go the same school already know most of what's going on and are watching their own children for their reactions.

I wish you the best of luck!
Helpful - 0
It should read "what's going on in your life right now".
20919326 tn?1651976780
Hey! Did you ensure everything is alrignt? Any updates?
Helpful - 0
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13167 tn?1327194124
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