TL,DR: My son's therapy is taking a break; to help me help him I am contemplating behavioral therapy for myself - as well as combining this with consequential discipline, praise and all the other things a parent needs to give, what else could/should I think about?

  • Son is (almost) 13 years old
  • After repeated concerning behavior as child, has seen behvioural therapist for last 3-4 years
  • Therapist reports behavior is coping strategy to deal with unknown, un-dealt with disturbances in the past
  • Therapist insisted on pause; strong resistance from son and wife made therapy un-workable
  • Son's coping mechanisms still in place, long-term these do him just as much, if not more damage - refuses to want to deal with events in his past


  1. I can't change anyone else, only myself - or better yet, my attitude and way I help my son
  2. Son's issues need professional help which I can't give
  3. If son should get professional help it will only bear fruit if he agrees to ,be helped' which he doesn't

Suggested steps:

  1. Speak to my doc about referral to behavioral therapist for myself - aim: strengthen self-reflection, what can I do to help my son? Entirely possible I "can't see wood for trees" as well as being "too convinced of my own ways"
  2. Undertake behvioral therapy (if possible) to improve communication and parenting
  3. Ditto parenting course
  4. Perserve (harder) with current plan of support and discipline, love and help, good examples
  5. ???
  6. Child develops newer, preferable behavior to when he finds things hard (without giving too many examples, it seems as though he makes his own life hard (sets incredibly high expectations, which he then fails to meet) and also projects a feeling that everyone and everything is out to persecute him - that people only want bad things for him…)

So… What comes at point 5? What have I missed? What have I overseen?

If there are further questions, I will attempt to answer them.

P.s. I live in Germany, land of (near-complete) medical insurance, at none of the above stages or processes would I really need to worry about expense… only that which is good for my son.

P.p.s. I cannot expect the support of my wife for any of the steps I choose to take. We have been separated nearly 2 years, she is convinced any therapist is "only in it for the money". Sadly my son shares this feeling. :(

Edit in response to comments.

As well as taking the decision to undertake behavioral therapy for myself (to improve the er… ,family experience' and better reflect my own behaviour and response to my child), I'm looking for other points of view or ideas about positive steps I can take to make progress on this tricky area of life.

I'm looking forward to exploring the tour and help center; don't agree that my question is about medical steps, more about accompanying things that I perhaps haven't thought of.

For the sake of clarity, I guess my question is the following:

"My son makes his life difficult though his belief that the odds and the world are stacked against him - apart from getting professional help for me as his parent, what other approaches, tips, tricks and strategies are worth looking at?"

  • 2
    Welcome! Just to make sure I get the question right - you want to get therapy for yourself to achieve what exactly? A toolkit to handle your son better? A change in your own behavior and mindset? A way to self-treat your son?
    – Stephie
    Aug 10, 2020 at 8:49
  • And please take the tour and browse through the help center: I am not sure whether this question can remain here. Medical questions are off topic and this post is pretty close to borderline, if not beyond.
    – Stephie
    Aug 10, 2020 at 8:56
  • I don't think this would be medical advice, it's asking for help dealing with behavioral issues and that's well represented in our questions. I'm not sure it's not too broad though... but I think I'd consider it okay for now, just might want a more clear question statement like you say in the first comment and a little more focus.
    – Joe
    Aug 10, 2020 at 15:34
  • Yes, Stephie - as well as taking the decision to undertake behavioral therapy for myself (to improve the er… ,family experience' and better reflect my own behaviour and response to my child), I'm looking for other points of view or ideas about positive steps I can take to make progress on this tricky area of life. I'm looking forward to exploring the tour and help center; don't agree that my question is about medical steps, more about accompanying things that I perhaps haven't thought of. For the sake of clarity, I guess my question is the following: *"My son makes his life difficult though hi
    – JohnT
    Aug 11, 2020 at 9:38
  • What evidence does your son have that the odds and the world are stacked against him? Can you give examples? Sep 18, 2020 at 20:39

2 Answers 2


One of the most important issues I think to talk about from 2020 in 2021 is the ongoing problem of COVID-19 with home remote school learning. This has become a major problem for my 12-year-old 14-year-old and 21-year-old they decide to leave college. Mostly with my 14-year-old and 12-year-old I am a single father of three boys recently separated from my wife I have custody of all three. At the beginning I thought the school may have had this under control but boy was I wrong. I’ve learned that remote schooling has basically not really Not really been thought through too much and was put into place very quickly because of the pandemic that came up so quick. There are thousands of kids across America they are not doing well with us they are failing and when this is all said and done the teachers are mean when the Covid calms down and the kids start all going back to school will be the ones that fell between the cracks and unfortunately it will be the children that pay the price. It’s lead to bad teaching habits and bad student habits. When I found is if you have a child that is struggling with focusing or doing his work you need to set up a station for him outside of his wrong way from all Wi-Fi and no telephone near him it’s simply too much of a distraction. The remote learning has taken out the 101 human contact with teachers and students they get the theorizing into the students of learning we all had those good teachers growing up that we all remember the special ones that will get you involved in case you’re interested well. When you’re watching these teachers online it’s not like these kids can raise our hand stop in and talk to them ask a question it’s simply like watching a robot on the screen . So after the first half of the school year with one of my sons failing miserably with us I decided to set up a workstation take away the phones during school time and make sure he gets the normal sleep he needs as if he is going to school.

Right now we do not realize just how much of a fact this is going to have a nice 10 years down the road with all College students that have dropped out this past year and all the high school students that are on the verge of failing I am going to label this generation the Covid generation. Mark my words there will be a humongous lack in the highly educated fields such as doctors engineers etc. that we need . At age 14 and 15 these teenagers simply do not realize that they have their whole future in their hands it’s at that point they learn to take a right or a left and the right is not a good road it didn’t make it to Fargo on that road it is very hard to turn around come back take a left and start going down the correct road nobody wants to see their child feel simple fact is I am not a quality care teacher but I feel like a lot of this responsibility Has been put on me to teach my child keep her enthused keep him focused. I think this is a major issue with that is not being talked about enough and I think if we took a percentage of the kids failing right now across America it would be astounding Astounding to the failure rate a few years ago. So my advice to your parents is set up a workstation get your child and few involved with the work sit down with them for a few minutes try to get them infused talk to them about each topic do you know what your child likes what they enjoy try to compare their topic to some Relayed it somewhere. Nobody says when they have a child with a wife or another they want to do this on their own but I found myself doing this on my own this year and last so I think that As a single father of three I have a good idea of what I’m talking about and for you parents that have children going into school high school next year when they still may be going on make sure you stay on them very closely because they tend to let them just slide in junior high and pass them. You got a trust in them from the junior high years and their grammar school years because they’ve always past and have done not bad in school. But it has been absolutely amazing to me just to see how many of these children or teenagers are failing their freshman year I would say a good 75% of my children’s friends while my 14-year-old friends are failing their freshman year they will have to complete a whole year over. In about a good 95% of my sons friends and him have all left college gotten jobs require new vehicles and we all know what happens during this time do you get bills going back to school almost as me coming option or you end up getting a girl pregnant this a few years down the road like I said before He’s going to wreak havoc across America. So parents please take my advice set up a learning Station get them up on time get them enthused in their work make sure they’re doing it do not let them sit in the room while they’re doing the work and TheSuccess rate you have with using this approach will be much greater.


A couple points:

First point: You say your son believes the world is against him, the odds are stacked against him....Probably the most important thing to do in response to that is to empathize. Use what they call empathetic listening. Validate his feelings.....He is probably wrong, the world is probably not stacked against him but telling him that the world is not stacked against him is likely to increase his resistance towards you.

Second point: You mentioned seeking behavioral therapy. Is there any reason your focus strictly on behavioral therapy? There are lots of kinds of therapy and you might want to consider: cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy , psychodynamic therapy, family systems therapy the list goes on and on. I would think that something other than behavioral therapy would be more appropriate for the kind of issues you are dealing with.

Third Point: But would probably matters more than the orientation of the therapist is the quality of your therapeutic alliance. Basically use your gut to decide if therapy is working with this particular therapist - if it isn’t working switch. If you are new to therapy it might make sense to try a few sessions with one therapist and then a few with another and yet a few with another still....That way you can get a sense for what kind of variability there is and then you can make a more informed decision about who is the best for you or your son at the present moment.....In fact there’s a decent chance that your son didn’t like the therapy because he was with the wrong therapist.

I suppose the fact that you are doing therapy Will not only be good for you but you are leading by example and this may reduce your sons resistance a tiny bit (Likely imperceptible to you).

Some other ideas for softening your sons resistance. You could have him try and group therapy. With other kids his own age possibly with similar issues it might make it attractive for him. One group might randomly have someone in it that makes him very motivated to be in that group. So again shopping around might be worth it.

Other ideas would be to give him a reward for trying it. Video games and dinner out a gift card you know what he’ll like the best.

I would also interview the therapist before hand and tell them that you are dealing with a kid who doesn’t really want to be in therapy ask them what they would do to draw the kid in. Pick the therapist who has the best answer.

As you already seem to know, There’s only so much you can do. And related to that, I find the Headspace app to be very helpful in mindfulness training.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.