Just Change His Name to "Walker!"
"Well, I am worn out from my son. Please address in the SOWP News how to get a twelve year old boy to be respectful and use appropriate words without swearing when he gets annoyed with me and his dad (which is all the time). My son does not like authority, and is disrespectful to me (mostly), his dad, his 16 year old sister, and even to my mother! I think he is trying to separate the most from me.
If he doesn't get his way, he just "goes off." I have tried punishing him by taking away his privileges, grounding him, restriction, and taking away his TV privaledges. None of these punishments have worked. I have sworn back at him, which really seems to shock him a little, but we just end up screaming at each other. I admit that I lose it at times with him, but he just laughs at me when I do. I see other children who are respectful and I feel bad that I have done such a poor job teaching respect to my son. Help ... please." Sign me as just Worn Out
Dear Worn Out,
By "going off" and being disrespectful when he doesn't get his way, your son is trying to do one of two things: either get you to give in to his demands, or get a rise out of you just because it's fun! Possibly both in your case. Stop allowing yourself to get upset and start screaming at your son. It doesn't work. Screaming at kids is like trying to drive the car by honking the horn. It'll never get you where you want to go! Plus, your son probably likes to see mom out of control. He knows that if he can get you this way, he's in charge. And how many times have you given in to his demands just to get him to calm down or leave you alone? Just remember, it only takes one time of you giving in for kids to learn that this "behavior" works to get what they want.
Stay calm and try the following ...
1. Stay Calm! Parents feed right into their kids ploys by getting upset every time they do something wrong. Just think of how foolish your son would feel if he couldn't make you get upset. He would suddenly be the one with the problem. Our adrenaline is a very precious thing. Keep it hidden, hoard it, stock up on it, don't just pour it out recklessly. Plus, when you remain calm you are modeling the type of behavior you say you want your son to have. Kids learn tons from us by how we act too. So stay very, very caaaallllmmmm. Repeat after me ... I am a calm parent and I will stay calm. Repeat 500 times. No, make that a 1,000 times in your case!
2. Let your son know that respectful behavior will be rewarded in your home. Those children that are respectful will get rides from parents, allowances, can have friends over, can play with the family computer and video games, get to play on their sports teams etc..... When your son decides to be disrespectful just let him know that he has CHOSEN not to have privileges in the house for the next day or two. Keep it short so that you can take it away again soon when he swears again!
Then give it back, so you can take it away again. Then just look at him and say, "Your dad and I have a bet -- he thinks you can last 5 days before you choose to not have your privileges - I think you'll be down and out in only 2 days. Make sure I win, will 'ya?" We only learn with practice, and I'm sure your son will get lots of practice! And if he really is trying hard to separate the most from you, he'll do his best to make sure dad wins. But if dad wins, hey, you all win!
Stay calm, just let him know what the consequences are for his behavior, and follow through. When he yells and screams and acts like a 4 year old just say that you are sad that he chose to lose his privileges, and that you can live with his decision, you just hope he can. Then walk away. Enforce HIS DECISION! He will try and get you upset at this point. Just remember that the problem is his, not yours, and do not engage with him.
If he is on a sports team all the better ... part of losing his privileges is that he has chosen not to play. However, he still needs to go and root his team members on even though he has chosen not to play. He will really be thinking about that decision from this perspective. Oh yea, make sure you have a conversation, with your son right next to you, with the coach and let the coach know that your son chose not to play and what he did to make that decision (disrespectful language -- and be specific with the coach as to the exact words used). The coach might just have a few words for your son too. Remember - it takes the whole village to raise the children. Ohhhh, and don't forget about all the peer pressure your kid's going to get from his team mates about his decision not to play. Just sit back and enjoy the game!
3. If he begins to yell a lot - encourage it! Tell him that his was a wimpy tantrum and that you're sure he can do better than that. Take him outside and have a yelling contest and see who can yell the loudest. Have the rest of the family be judges and let them reward the loudest yeller with a Blizzard from Dairy Queen. My advice is let the kid win, but don't go down easy.
They say that good quality family time brings families closer. Nothing like a good yelling contest amongst family to tighten those parental bonds to their kids. (Kids have tantrums to get what they want because they know parents eventually give in. The trick is to ignore them and they will go away. I just think you can have a lot of fun "ignoring them!") Plus, it's really hard to be mad at a parent who just treated you to a really cool ice cream from Dairy Queen. While he's wolfing it down, and fat and happy with you -- it's probably a great time to talk with him about some of the things he has done that you are proud of. Positive change only comes from positive stuff. Your son very much needs to know there are things about him you are proud of. Inside he feels a lot of pain. You have the power to take that away.
4. Start a new rule in the family - Those that swear are fined one dollar off their allowance for every swear word, parents too! And follow through. Not just for a week or two -- but for as long as he gets an allowance.
5. When he swears in front of a relative, friend (his or yours), walk into your room and put a mask on and walk back out. When someone asks you why you are wearing that silly mask just say ... "I'm just so embarrassed by my son's vocabulary that I can't bear to show my face." Wear it all day! SOWP's do strange and woolly things at times! Oh, and wear it to school if you pick him up too - because you are so embarrassed by him and you just can't stand to show your face. Humor does wonders. And who knows, you might find that you are not the only parent who is embarrassed by what their kid does.
6. Notice when your son has respectful behavior. Tell him! Say to him, "Wow, it's really great to see how polite you were to your sister." There is much power in the positive and you can build on this.
7. Put up a chart at your house and begin to list all the times your son is polite and uses nice and kind words with others. Make a big deal about adding new stuff (I love the word stuff!) to the list and let him know that this means a lot to you that he is improving his behavior.
Read the list out loud to the entire family at supper time. When friends or relatives come over, show them the chart and let your son hear you compliment him to your visitors. This is a good time to use your loud voice as a parent so that he can hear you all the way back in his bedroom! Tell them how PROUD you are of your son's respectful behavior and that you are glad that he is "growing up" and "maturing." Every kid wants to grow up and have the privileges of a teenager rather than the privileges of a child.
8. If he continues in his disrespectful ways start calling him by his new name - "Walker." You see, only respectful and responsible teenagers get to have their drivers license and drive. And 12 and 13 year olds are already thinking about driving. Since your son is CHOOSING to be disrespectful, he is CHOOSING not to have his drivers license.
Therefore, you have changed his name to "Walker" - because he's the Walkin' Man (rather than the driv'in man)! Pull out your old James Taylor CD's and play the "Walkin' Man" song really loud every now and then. Tell him you're playing "his song!" And tell your son how grateful you are that he has chosen NOT to drive and save you thousands of dollars on insurance costs.
Tell him to keep swearing so you and your husband can afford that much needed trip without the kids to Hawaii or Tahiti. Worn out parents need to get away! Especially you. You sound very much in need of a good long vacation to a far, FAR away from the kids, tropical paradise. Ain't this a change -- now YOU are telling HIM to keep swearing. I just love this reverse psychology stuff!!! Somebody stop me!!!!
9. Ask your husband this question in front of your son: "Honey, I've got an important question for you. What does the Walkin' Man do?" and have him reply:
"Why, my incredibly beautiful sweet honey lamb of a goddess wife, the Walkin' Man walks! And the more he walks the quicker we're going on that dream vacation to the beautiful South Pacific. Keep walkin' Walkin' Man!"
And you finish with: "Oh, I can hardly wait! I can just see those palm trees, coconuts, Don Ho and the whole band now!"
10. Smile when he swears and say -- "Oh, bless you my son - there goes more money into my Tahiti Fund! (One dollar for every word and all the money you are saving on car insurance!) We're almost there now! Promise me you'll keep swearing, I just have to go. You wouldn't want your poor mother to miss out would you?"
11. Start the Tahiti fund! Let your son know that you will be putting $100 a month into your Tahiti Fund for each month that he swears. On months that he doesn't swear you'll put $100 into his car fund for insurance / car for him when he begins driving.
If he's 12 you'll have roughly $4,000 by the time he's 16 in your Tahiti Fund. That'll get you a great vacation! Keep encouraging him to swear! Show him the bank statements and let him see how much he is earning toward driving (tell him you're hoping none, so you get to go on your great vacation!). Also, let him see how much you are earning toward your dream vacation. He can choose where the money goes. Let him choose by his behavior. He can weigh the choices -- swearing or dollars for him. Hmmmmm - could be a tough choice.....
p.s. For those of you who think I'm suggesting you bribe the kid - just remember that car insurance for teens is VERY expensive and it's better to just start putting a little away now than come up with all of it at once. And, you can use it to help your kid get it together. And if he doesn't, you'll get an incredible vacation our of the deal.
12. When your son finally says to you that he hates how sarcastic you've become, and that he wants you to quit calling him Walker, and he also wants you to quit wearing that stupid mask in front of his friends and embarrassing him, and he wants you to guit talking about going to Gilligan's Island - you say this:
"You're right son, we need to treat you with more respect. And AS SOON AS you start using respectable language we'll stop. Promise! And, I just want you to know that I KNOW you are better than the behavior you have shown. And I KNOW that you can treat others with respect and work on being able to drive someday. But, until then - it's "Walker" for you bud!
****** There you are ... a dozen great ideas to get this thing under control! Have fun!!!
I have a deep belief that as parents you are Master, Ruler, and Czar of your home. You have the ability to create anything you want there. You cannot change your children's behavior. But, you can change how you respond to them. And this is what makes all the difference.
You may feel as though you have no power -- you have TONS of power to make changes! From my experience -- humor, and love, and wackiness will get you a long way. If nothing else, at least you will be having a good time. The kids will too, because you will be teaching them how to be powerful adults by your creative discipline. Hey, at least they'll have wild stories about you to tell their friends ... Each week it'll be "You won't believe what my mom/dad did last night!"
I received a card once that said on the outside cover, "Good things come to those that wait." When I opened it up it said on the inside, "Great things come to those who get off their butts and go for it!"
This is your challenge: GO FOR IT!!!