I have a 12-year-old son. In the last 2 years, he has shown no interest in doing anything, not listening, not hanging out with friends, etc. He doesn't like cleaning up behind himself, is just not interested in anything. He goes to school most of the day and does his homework. He likes to cook. On weekends, he sits around and is on his phone or just stays in the house.

I would ask him what he would like to do and he would say "I don't know" which is the answer to everything. I took away his phone, but he still acts the same - uninterested in anything. Please Help! What should I do? I try rewarding and taking things away, but that doesn't work. Does he need counseling?

  • What does he do all day?
    – hkBst
    Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 12:49
  • sit around on his phone, he does do his homework and likes to cook but thats it!!!
    – user24375
    Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 12:57
  • So he goes to school most of the day. What about the weekend days?
    – hkBst
    Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 13:11
  • 1
    How does he behave in school? What do his teachers say about him?
    – daraos
    Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 18:52
  • 3
    and don't yell at us, please. Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 14:22

2 Answers 2


In a comment, you mentioned that he likes to cook. I would take advantage of this(not in a "you're cooking all the meals" kind of way). If you haven't already done so, invite him to help with fixing dinner. Show an interest in his cooking. Offer to help watch some cooking videos with him on YouTube. This could be used as an entry point to open up some communication between you both. While you're cooking, you could work in conversation about how he's doing. If he's doing something that he enjoys, he may be more open "in the moment".

Though, with this approach, you'll have to be careful not to push too much cooking, as he may turn away from it. Nothing makes a pre-teen dislike something like it being shoved in their face all the time.

Remember, this is a stepping stone to try and have better communication and involvement from the child. Don't push topics or ideas. Just let things happen. Hopefully, he'll open up and everything will be great for you both.

  • 5
    Also, let him stay in charge of his cooking, rather than just assigning him tasks, unless that's what he likes.
    – Warren Dew
    Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 15:53
  • Yes, good point. Let him be the decision maker. Ask his opinion. Get him engaged and involved.
    – PiousVenom
    Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 16:07

I incentivized my kids to learn to cook with a simple house rule: the one who cooks gets a huge say in setting the menu! Want pancakes for Sunday breakfast? Come on down and measure and stir the batter! You do that and I'll cook them. No? OK, go get yourself a bowl of cereal then. As long as they are going to have to do some work.... why not help out and get the pancakes?

I've got chicken going on the BBQ, you can pick the side dishes if you help prepare them! Otherwise... well, I'm thinking some brussel sprouts would go great with it...

You tried a certain dish at a friend's and want it again? Sounds delicious! What is it called? lets find a recipe and try it (can you get the recipe from your friend?)!

And now I've got two kids who spend time in the kitchen with me, are pretty good cooks, and it has become a time where we talk while cooking - and keeping those lines of communication open is the best part of parenting, and where I often learn some pretty cool things about them as they grow and mature.

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