I have a 13 year old boy who is disrespecting both parents and out of control.

He is totally self-absorbed (as I know most kids are) and he can't handle any situation. He hasn't has a clue on how to deal with problems and flies off the handle at the least thing if he doesn't get his own way -- there are holes in his bedroom wall from where he kicked them in temper. He is always in trouble in school, disrespecting teachers, disrupting the class, not taking instructions. My husband knows the principal and vice principal very well and his head teacher - he was down to 2 1/2 days in school but summer broke up and we decided it wasn't a good idea for him to sit his first year summer exams. It is a community school and there would be a lot of difficult children from various backgrounds. My son wants to be liked and is the class clown.

We have had him at a psychologist before secondary school started to see if we could all try and get on better. When school started after three weeks he was suspended and we had to go back to the psychologist again; this man is a professional and he can't work him out at all.

He is smoking and also has been caught smoking weed, which he doesn't think is a problem. We have tried to tell him the dangers etc. but he says we don't have a clue and it is grand. My husband has now given up on him totally and won't bring him to his football training or anything and I am at my wits end as I have to work full-time as I am the main earner and my husband is at home with the kids.

My son also has huge issues with his twin sisters who are 2.5 years younger than him. He is a very bright child and never had to try in school he was very clever and when he went into first year he was put in an A class. He hates been clever and doesn't want to be seen to be clever. He won't listen to anyone and trying to discipline him is a nightmare. We figure he has low-self esteem but trying to deal with this is quite hard and now that I might be doing it on my own and holding down a full-time job to keep paying the mortgage is seriously going to make me ill.

What can I do in this sort of situation to help my son behave in school and respect his family? Help!

  • Do you have a concrete question for us to answer? As it stands, this question has a lot of information but provides no real direction for the kind of answers you're looking for.
    – Erik
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 9:02
  • I don't have a particular solution to offer but in reading your comments I felt like offering some comments or ideas even if only as a show of support. I'll try to write an "answer" as I have two or three concepts in mind.
    – A Smith
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 10:10
  • Hello Pauline, welcome to Parenting.SE! I've added to your original question what I think you're really asking (what can you, as a parent, do to help your son); please let me know if I misread anything.
    – Acire
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 11:51

3 Answers 3


It sounds like your son has reached an age where it is necessary to change from expecting him to accept being told what to do or how to behave and transition to a model of helping him figure out his own path.

It also seems like it would be useful to find a way to connect and have some shared issues that can be used as a base to work from. For example, as others have mentioned here, perhaps find a nice way to invite him to help you volunteer at a soup kitchen or something. It should not take a lecture or a parental discussion (so don't provide one) to drive home that he is or will be making choices that impact his own future.

You could also try to connect on issues and look for your son to come up with ideas or suggestions. For example, as a former smart kid, I entirely understand that you don't want to be seen as a smart kid at times. Ask him if he can think of ways to keep his options open (university, career of choice, etc) while not appearing to be doing so.

Similarly, when I was younger there was a lot of underage drinking going on. No amount of "don't do that it's stupid" would have deterred me. However, if I had been told of consequences that might happen and regrets that I might end up with and then seen those things come to pass for myself or my friends I believe I would have understood that my parents had been there and done that. It's also possible I might have avoided some issues having been forewarned. But, there would be no point in trying to force me not to try it as I would anyway.

I also think you absolutely have to find a way to get your husband on board. Even if it's as simple as having a discussion and saying that he's not sure how to communicate effectively. He can relate how important your son is to him and how he would like to be able to help your son be successful and happy after the tough period of high school is over. That is not an excuse for the past and how things have been going but simply a statement of concern. He could invite your son to offer ideas on how to improve their relationship if/when they come to him.

Also, as it sounds like there may be a few bad eggs in the school environment, how about finding a way to take the family outside of the scope of such influence. What about going camping or something? I'm not sure what your son is into, but he's 13 so there have to be things of interest that everyone could do together outside of the scope of school friends.

While camping, as an example, you don't need to impose a time to get up but you could simply state that "if you are hungry breakfast will be ready soon." Many things can probably be structured as optional invitations that leave the choice in his hands and reduce the chance for conflict. If he asks for additional effort or a different choice perhaps say you will do so but he has to help out or pitch in.

You might even be able to structure some impromptu chores with an incentive. Hey, help us clean up the kitchen/living room and we'll rent a movie and order in a pizza. You may get an opt-out but that just means you need to find a better draw. These things will potentially tie effort to reward and create some shared experiences. Of course, you might have to avoid complaining if the clean up effort is less than perfect -- just look for improvement over time and not perfection.

If your husband is finding it too difficult to relate perhaps he can be in charge of coming up with task/reward pairs that the family can do. Or, similarly, devising option/incentive activities that encourage the right behaviors. You know, get an A on the science exam (show your interest) and we'll take you to the planetarium -- again, you'll need to have things that are actually of interest so maybe a local sporting event or something. I do suggest that the ideas are agreed to in advance and that you take turns using them.

It's difficult to really know what is happening with only a few paragraphs of information. However, as you can see, I guess my advice boils down to the fact that current strategies don't seem to be working -- change things up.


I remember I was somewhat like your son when I was 15 years old. I used to get good grades and all of a sudden I started failing subjects. This continued until I was 23 years old. Then I went back to Uni and completed my graduation.

I realized in the later years, that I wasn't an inch bit interested in studies. and that's why I failed in all the subjects for years. I felt studying it is all meaningless to me. I only continued to study when I beginning to understand how important it is to have degree to do what I want to do with my life.

Should my parents had asked me what do you want to be in your life when they first realised that I was losing the interest in studies, without doubt my answer would be "I want to do business". I don't know what business but I just needed my parents to talk to me about my interests and assured me that they will help me with step by step plan to set up a business. I would have done well in school in the excitement that I know what I was going to after my graduation.

Here is my answer, Try if your son is similar situation like mine, perhaps he doesn't know why he is studying, what he is studying. He may want to do something else with his life. Confirm if he thinks that he it has nothing to do with his formal education.

Who do you think he admires most (you or his dad)?, that person should have a heart to heart talk with him. My attitude towards life changed when my dad spoke out of his heart with me. Workout a step by step plan to help him achieve what he wants to do with his life.

For example, if he wants to become business man, then work out step by step plan to help him build a business.

  • He does admire his dad and his dad him but that's broken now and needs to be mended but don't know if it can but thanks for your comments. Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 8:04

This is only an incomplete answer until I get more time to expand on some thoughts, but it seems he very much lacks discipline and sees that there are no consequences for his actions.

I would start by having him repair the holes in the wall with the guidance of his father.

I would then bring him down to the police station to talk with a police officer about the consequences of underage smoking, the consequences of illegal drug possession and use, and have his doctor how him the consequences of long term smoking are.

I would show him what his job prospects are without a high school and/or post-high school training/education, and what they would be with so he is able to understand why school is necessary.

Require that he attend every day of school in order to be part of any extra curriculars such as football. If he's not in school then he needs a job.

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