This week, my 13-year-old son’s verbal abuse turned physical for the first time. Needless to say, the incident really shook me up, and I ended up scheduling a call with my Empowering Parents coach for help.
Here’s what happened: My son refused to eat leftovers at home the other night. He wanted to go out for a sit-down dinner instead. I didn’t want to give in to his tantrum. Then again, I worry when he won’t eat. I decided to get us out of the tense situation by bringing him to a church function with me, along with stopping by a fast food place on the way.
Yes, I’m shaking my head at myself, too. I was giving in to that compromise to gain peace at home. My son, like many defiant kids, lives to push limits. He proceeded to sabotage the plan, and I realized my mistake.
At the KFC drive-through, the complaints began. The menu was not exactly what he wanted; he couldn’t see the board clearly; they didn’t answer the bell soon enough.
My patience already thin, I drove around to the door and invited him to go in and place his order while I waited. “Forget it,” he said. “This place sucks anyway.”
We’d left home to break the tension, but now we were confined to a small car and I was ready to unravel! I told him he would have to live with his decision not to eat and tried to end it there.
Mentally, I was kicking myself for going out of my way to give him choices.
As we drove away, I became the target of verbal abuse. Halfway to our destination (only about three blocks from home), I fought the urge to give him a cuff to the noggin with the back of my hand. I held up my hand, but stilled it in the air and managed to keep my cool.
Then he looked me straight in the eye, drew back his right arm, made a fist and punched me in the side. Stunned, I immediately pulled the car into a parking lot.
Related Content: When Kids Get Violent: “There’s No Excuse for Abuse”
“You never hit me or anyone else. That’s abuse and there is no reason for it. Get out of the car now and just walk home,” I said, as calmly as possible.
He dug in his heels. After a brief staring match, he calmly got out and walked home, giving us both time to cool down. I drove home and waited for him, and watched as he went into the house. Then I went to church for an hour.
I assigned consequences when I came home, but by then the entire evening was a blur. I practically needed a video replay to figure out which behavior originally needed correction.
Later, I spoke with my parent coach about the issue of his obstinate refusals.
I explained my biggest challenge to Carole—making consequences stick after rules are broken—and we talked about something important I was skipping in between. I realized that I was neglecting the “disconnect” step.
Carole told me how important it is to take a break and disconnect from an emotional battle before talking about consequences. If you don’t, anger can escalate and confuse the issue.
She also told me that next time my son refuses to go to his room or take a walk, I may need to do so.
This week I’m working on finding effective phrases to use to disconnect. I personally like the phrase, “Let’s not go there.”
Carole also let me know that I’m on the right track in consistently letting my son know it is not okay to speak to others with disrespect or use verbal abuse.
Next, we talked about giving consequences effectively. I’ve often made the mistake of jumping right into threats of additional punishment when my son won’t stop arguing. “Go to your room and get away from us right now, or I will have to take away even more computer time!” Or, “You are just making your situation worse. Do you like being grounded?”
Carole pointed out that this only prolongs the conflict, adding another reason for my son to feel angry rather than letting the anger subside. I agreed that it made more sense to coach him about the benefits of a “time out” rather than shouting about the consequences of refusing.
My job is to teach both of us to make a clean break. Once we calm down, I have a better shot at explaining what his consequences will be for the specific behavior in question. I think there will be less chance of getting tangled in all the drama that happens when emotions boil over. I realize now that those intense feelings will be dumped on each other unless we take a time out.
This week, if he fights the suggestion to cool down, I’m coaching him, rather than escalating the fight out of frustration.
If he refuses to leave the room and continues to verbally abuse us, my mother (who lives with us) and I ignore him or leave the room.
Once the situation is calm, I proceed with immediate consequences. For example, I’m already getting better results with taking away an hour of computer time tonight, rather than all computer time for a week. That way, it’s a short term consequence that gets him to practice better behavior in order to earn his privilege back. And if he resists the cool down time, even after coaching and setting a limit, I discuss how the consequences have to be increased a certain amount because of his decision.
I now see that by prolonging conflicts, my son controls me. As a result, neither of us sees the situation clearly. I know that most of all, it’s up to me to coach my son about the importance of taking a time out to cool down.
I have to admit, I didn’t think that the transition time between experiencing conflict and giving consequences was all that important. Now I realize it is all important. My plan is to continue working on this phase of my parenting journey.
Have you ever faced this situation with your child? What did you do?
Lola Howle is a parent blogger for EP and the mother of one son.
How to Talk to the Police When Your Child is Physically Abusive
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Hi Lola - I have faced that exact same thing - being punched in a car - I took weeks to talk about it to anyone including my husband - It hasn't happened again but now I have wall punching and verbal abuse - I'm new to the EP programme and hope I can find some better parenting advice to get me through too - I've been feeling paralysed but trying hard to be more business-like
Thanks for sharing this -Sheryl
You ask a great question. There could be various
consequences for a child who hits a parent, depending upon the age of the child. For a young child,
an effective consequence might be loss of a privilege until the child can go
for a short amount of time without hitting. For an older child, a similar
consequence could be used for a longer period of time. For example, it might be
loss of cell phone or video games until s/he can go for 24 hours without
hitting the parent or other family member. With an older child, calling the
police could also be a possible outcome. For more information on ways of
addressing this distressing behavior, you can check out this article by Kim
Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/signs-of-parental-abuse-what-to-do-when-your-child-or-teen-hits-you/?gui=5162. I hope this
is helpful. Be sure to check back if you have any further questions. Take care.
year-old daughter has always had, and still has, crying/tantrum/beating
episodes every single day. it’s humiliating. Bedtime is so stressful EVERY DAY!
And this is not the only time she is out of control. I have
tried it all; routine, stories, positive reinforcement, games, etc, etc.,
still, nothing works. We can't figure it
out...we would appreciate your input...I'm all ears!!! Thanks!!
As a parent of a toddler myself, I understand how
embarrassing and frustrating these tantrums and episodes can be! I see
that you have tried a lot of different strategies to address this behavior as
well. Something else you might try is to look at how you are responding
to her during these times, so that the tantrum is not getting more attention
than it deserves. Because of your daughter’s age, I would not recommend
walking away as I would with an older child having a tantrum. It could be
more helpful to limit your interaction with her to redirecting her to another
calming activity, such as looking at a favorite book or cuddling with a stuffed
animal. Try your best to remain calm and in control as well, so you can
start modeling how to effectively handle stress and frustration to her.
Dr. Joan Simeo Munson has some additional age-appropriate tips in her article http://www.empoweringparents.com/Stopping-a-temper-tantrum.php. Thank
you for writing in and sharing your experiences. Please let us know if
you have any additional questions.
I can relate to your situation when my son started both verbal and physical abuse toward me. He is now 49 years old and he pulled a verbal abuse rage on me this week that left me feeling sick to my stomach. I am 74 years old and he got mad at me for buying a used car and would not let me see his family and the kids for 18 months. Well, I survived and did things fine without his financial help. He came back into my life wanting to make sure that if I had any financial problems, that he would help me. After two months of help, he came to my apt. and used very abusive language about me and how his friends think I am a gold digger. When he left, he said we would like to bring the kids by... After sleeping on this, and with prayer, I knew that I could not be around him or his family again. I also felt physically ill with a stomach ache. I told him that I was not up to seeing the kids now. Due to his rage, I am electing to move out of my place and into a smaller apt. with half of the rent I am paying now. In this way, my social security and monthly stipend from my mother's trust account will cover all of my expenses.
Having retired from the mental health service as a licensed mental health professional, I can see his mental illness. Once I decided to go my own way again with prayer and God's guidance, I do not plan to see him again. I feel peace in my soul again.
It took me a while to figure out that my husband at the time, was also extremely unsupportable. If I had any difficulties with my son, that was between me and my son. I almost lost my mental faculties trying to dance around this loveless marriage.
After 18 years, I divorced he, left the 2 older boys with my husband and took my late born 4 year old with me to raise.
Nothing had been easy.
I just send my prayers to anyone suffering with this. I have a sense that there has not been a either parents in control for Barb 1.
I so hope my stomach feels better tomorrow.
Today I am in shock as I have read all the other stories who are similar to mine. I am a single mom of two years. My 13 yr old son has gotten worse and I have had 2 busted doors, as well as many bruises. He is bigger than me, gets in trouble at school and needless to say dad isn't much help. He says he doesn't have problems when he has him but he doesn't have him all the time. It's one thing to curse at me and be ugly to me but it's also my mom. He complains every morning and night. I love to cook but it's never what he wants or likes. Dad's is always better but he won't go stay with dad and dad says it's my problem. I barely make ends meet. He is driving me nuts! I oh so enjoy the peace when he IS at his dad and feel guilty about it! I have called the sherrif when he busted the last door. They talked to him about his actions and what could happen to him if he doesn't straighten up. I try to ignore him but all the complaining, and Lord trying to get him up before school! I honestly dread the mornings and coming home. I have asked him to talk to the counsler who I deal with here at work but he refuses. She even said she would come to the house. Any suggestions????
We’re so sorry to hear this happened to you. No one deserves to be physically hurt in a relationship. You didn’t cause this. It didn’t happen because you now have custody of your daughter. And of course, just because you’re her parent does not make hitting you ‘okay’. Since you’re in a very small apartment, you may need to strategize with a domestic violence counselor to develop a plan to keep yourself safe. (National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233). But you can also call this hotline just to talk to someone. They will just listen if that’s all you need when you call. They will not pressure you to make any decisions, or refuse to work with you if the abuse continues. It’s better not to rely on yourself to handle this but to reach out to others who can help. Thank you for sharing your story with us. We wish your family the best.
Great article, but what do you do if when you leave the room, the child starts destroying everything in it - I have an 11 year old, and we live in a 1 bedroom apartment. There's no room to send her to, and if I go to my room, then she destroys things in the room I leave her in. There's no space where we live for there to be a safe room.
She hit me tonight for the first time - of all nights - I have a straight neck from how many times her dad hit me and punched me 9 years ago. I have had to spend thousands of dollars on treatment to be able to not be in excruciating pain, and to continue to be able to turn my head. Because he discontinued paying child support the last couple months, I have not had money to see my chiropractor for 3 months. This morning, I woke up with a stiff neck, and it's hurt to use my arms all day. Brushing my teeth was hard. Now, she's hit me on the side of my face, and really knocked my head. She's almost as big as I am. This is over me "taking away her dad" since he was doing hard drugs and I had to get custody. I don't know what to do. I feel like I need help with her and it's out of my control.
I came across this article while up at 4:00 am after another horrible altercation with my now alcoholic 23 year old son. I know it's past the time that any "parenting hotline" can help our family but I hope my experience can help someone.
I also was hit tonight, with fists and shoved back pretty violently. The heartbreak is - we thought he was getting better. He just got out of rehab two weeks ago and he is still going to outpatient therapy for his substance abuse. He seemed to be so much better and it gave us hope. He said he got a good job and he will start next week. He has never really worked before (lived off his college trust and ran it out 40 credits shy of a degree). We were very encouraged. He has about a 160 IQ and in some ways he is brilliant. In others, he is so lost. No common sense. Poor social skills. Terrible anger and impulsivity.
Our lives have been just like those on this board. He was an angry, tantruming child. He was always unhappy. He never kept friends. We had him in so many schools and even homeschooled looking for the right fit for him. Nothing worked. I could write a book about all he has put us through but as you all know the explosions in the house, the turmoil takes its toll on everyone.
We have three other kids. All work and go to school. This is the oldest. We finally got a diagnosis from a psychiatrist in rehab. He has Borderline Personality Disorder. He tried to commit suicide last fall and since then he has told me at least several times a day that he is going to do it again. I live in fear of looking for him in his room, lest I find him dead. Tonight, he was so drunk, slurring his words. He told me he is failure because he didn't succeed last fall. He said he just wants to die. He complains about not having a girlfriend like everybody else. Who could put up with him the way he is?
He wanted a fight real bad. He always comes for me when he drinks and is one of these moods. I don't sleep in my own bed because I am afraid of him - either hurting himself or someone else or all of us. It is a nightmare.
It is getting close to the end because we can't live with him anymore. I am so stressed - my blood pressure can't even be controlled anymore, I have chest pains, dizzy spells etc. He is literally killing me. There is so little help when they are this age - HIPPA laws prevent the hospital and doctors from talking with us or even acknowledging he is a patient (even though we are paying).
The lesson for everyone is: if your child is exhibiting these kinds of rages and is hitting you, acting out etc. DO NOT WAIT. It won't get better on it's own. It's not "just a phase." He won't grow out of it. Get help - well before 18 because the party is over then. Look for BPD because it does affect about 2% of the population and it is so horrible to deal with that a lot of therapists won't even take such patients.
Good luck to everyone and I hope you all get the answers you need and the help for your kids. I now have to throw him out virtually penniless, hope his job is real this time and not a lie, and hope he somehow makes it but I think the chances aren't good anymore.
Dear 'drained mother':
At times, it can seem like the only way to get our kid’s attention is to yell at them or spank them. But we find that spanking is not an effective tool for changing behavior. In fact, we don’t recommend any punishment that causes physical pain. A spanked child sees the parent as “out of control” emotionally. You also don’t want to set up a confusing situation where you are hitting him while telling him not to hit others. You want him to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. You want him to stop hitting his brother because it hurts him—not because he doesn’t want to get punished or spanked.
It’s good you are working with a psychiatrist and therapist to help your son get a handle on managing his behaviors. Make sure you report all incidences like these to his psychiatrist so he can assess whether he wants to make changes in his treatment.
Work closely with the therapist to design a ‘coping skill’ for your son when he begins to get upset so that he can try to prevent his anger from escalating. Coping skills are things like, deep breathing, counting, self-talk, etc. In James Lehman’s program, he discusses recognizing ‘triggers’ and changing ‘faulty thinking’ as key tools to halt the escalation of negative emotions to reduce acting out behaviors. If you own the Total Transformation Program, share it with the therapist you are working with so they are able to let you know what techniques in the Program they would emphasize at this time.
This clearly is a really difficult situation for your family. We wish you the best as you continue to reach out for resources to help your son.
You describe a very challenging situation with your son. He clearly has a really difficult time with school. Sometimes when parents and teachers are unable to get a child to cooperate and a child is very inappropriate with how he treats animals, etc., professional help will be needed in addition to the techniques in the Total Transformation program. Be sure to let that professional know about the Total Transformation so he is able to coordinate his care with the techniques from James Lehman’s program. And it will be important for your child to take any medication his doctor prescribes for him. That’s might be the first thing that needs to change in order to help your son be able to achieve his goals. It’s always important to report to the prescribing physician if the medications are not addressing the symptoms as they should, but to know if there needs to be an adjustment, they must be taken as prescribed. Some parents report that they have been able to get better medication compliance from their child by actually standing next to them as they take their medications.
We wish your family the best as you continue to seek out resources for your son.
Sometimes our family members stay upset at us for long periods of time, but we can’t be intimidated into making discipline decisions on whether or not our kids will be upset with us. Kids usually are unhappy with the consequences or limits we set on their behavior. [See this article by James Lehman, author of the Total Transformation program: Masters of Manipulation: How Kids Control You With Behavior http://www.empoweringparents.com/Manipulative-Child-Behavior-How-Kids-Control-You-With-Behavior.php]
You can influence your grandson by doing exactly what you did do—when he ‘beats his grandparents up’—call the police. You’re stating a very clear limit here—this behavior is NEVER allowed. “There’s no excuse for abuse,” as James Lehman says.
I’m sure you are also letting your grandson know that you still love him and want to see him again. However, you should also say to him that you’d like to talk to him about what he will do the next time he’s upset instead of striking out at you.
We wish your family the best. You can also call the Support Line for more ideas on how to use the techniques in James Lehman’s program.
I have been reading some of these comments. I am not a savy computer person. I do not understand what these blogs are supposed to do. The only thing I know is that my family is not alone in dealing with physical and verbal abuse from a teenager.
What is the punchline? Where is the help? I actually called the police on my grandson. They took him to jail in handcuffs for beating us up. When his Mom picked him up the same day they released him to her and dismissed the charges. This absolutely broke my heart! I had expected her to enforce him to face his consequences and get him some help. Now I feel he will never get any help. She is a single working Mom who has made every excuse in the book for not having the time or the money to work with him. Now he does not want to see me or my husband. Our hearts are broken that he may never want to see us. We love him immensely and want to see him turn into a mature and kind adult.
Dear ‘Just a Mom’:
These kinds of things can happen to parents and kids—getting caught up in the whirlwind of a power struggle. Emotions run high and out of control. When we’re out of control, each person just wants to win at all costs.
James Lehman wrote an article to help parents avoid getting into power struggles. Let me send you that link: Avoiding Power Struggles with Defiant Children: Declaring Victory is Easier than You Think.
When you feel things begin to escalate, take a break and try to think of what lesson you want your son to learn. I think you’re also right that because you allowed the cleaning of the fish tank to go before, you set up an expectation in your son that you would let it slide again. Help role model to your son how to acknowledge your own roles in a power struggle. You might also acknowledge that in the past you have not required him to clean the tank, even though you wanted him to do it. Ask him how he thinks he might get it done during this break and what he needs to accomplish the task.
Contact him. Let him know you’d like to see him and get together over the holidays. You’re teaching him how to reach out. This is a great lesson to learn and you’ll both feel better for it.
I logged on for advice and started reading other problems. Wow. I had no idea there were this many teens that are unruly/defiant/disrespectful/abusive or whatever you want to call it. What a scary time we live in. What a scary generation we have created.
Maybe someone can offer me the best advice so that I can finally teach my son responsibility. It's a long story but I'll try to shorten it. I'm a divorced parent and have been for over 9 years. At the time of my divorce I thought I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Verbal abuse was big for my X. He called me names any time he was angry. I thought he came from a wonderful family. Money, parents together, holiday's together, etc. My mother struggled, stepfather was kind, father was an alcoholic and even though we had family and my mother always had a lot of friends it just never seemed easy for her. Not that she complained. When the name calling began I realized that pictures aren't always what they seem. I never heard my mother call anyone a name, especially her husband or children. It took 8 miscarriages, a bout of depression, no shovel to dig my self esteem out of the ground and a wing and a prayer to finally get the nerve to ask for a divorce. Stupidly I thought I was going to save my boys from being subjected to that verbal abuse and God forbid, learning it. My kids are 19 (the current issue) and 18 (he will be in February). The 19 year old attends college 500 miles from home. He was always a straight A student, never had to study, most homework done on the bus so it never took up much of his time. He knew what he wanted to be at age 3 I think and is currently pursuing that same dream. He really is a wonderful person. He's thoughtful, caring extremely intelligent and also very opinionated and judgemental. There have been a lot of mistakes over the past 19 years but you do the best you can. Although my son has gotten away with things that I've told him his was punished for, I never thought it would be this bad. When I punish him for something, he would go to his father's and stay there for 3 or 4 days then come home. His father has said to me that I cannot impose my punishments on the boys while they're at his house. We have joint custody and he is off work a lot. (2 days, 2 nights, 4 days off). I used to try and start the punishment when they decided to come home but I blinked and they were just older. This week my son flew home to attend a funeral of a friend. He felt guilty for not seeing this sickly friend during Thanksgiving, and then she passed suddenly. He missed a few classes that would have been the last classes before this week (final week). His father and I both expressed our disagreement with him missing classes for this funeral. The friend would not have wanted him to miss classes. I also understood how he felt. He didn't have the money to fly home, his car was here so I wasn't too worried. I thought he'd have to stay at school. Wrong. He actually called his paternal grandfather for the money or that's what he told me. He told his father I gave him the money. I was at work, his father saw my youngest son driving and found out he was going to the airport to pick up his brother. He was so angry he wouldn't let him go pick his brother up. He then texted the oldest, while he was in the air. He cursed him, called him names and told him he wouldn't get picked up. Since I was working I couldn't leave for a few hours. My son found his way home via 2 trains and a bus. I felt sorry him but there was nothing I do except remind him that no matter what, he shouldn't be called names. Although I wasn't happy that he was missing classes or that he borrowed money or that he lied but he's an adult and will do what he wants to do no matter what anyone says.
He has a giant fish tank. I don't even know how many gallons but it's about 3ft high and 4ft long. Every time he has been home from college, I've asked him to clean it. He never has. He's always had a million things to do, people to see. He makes sure he sees his grandparents every day. My mother is sickly and doesn't leave the house. He's there every day, he shops, has lunch or dinner with her and keeps her company for a while. So I figure, I'm really lucky to have such a wonderful son and should pick my battles carefully. I let the fish tank wait until this visit. I reminded him on his 2nd day home. When nothing happened by Saturday I told him we'd clean it 1st thing Sunday (which was last Sunday). He stayed at his father's Saturday night (surprise). He called me after church on Sunday, approximately 12:30pm and said he was going to help a friend pick up a Christmas tree then would be right home and she would help him take care of the tank. I said ok. 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, nobody showed up or texted me with another excuse or phoned me. At 6:30pm as I was leaving to bring my mother dinner, his friend showed up and said he was behind her. 20 minutes later I arrived home and they were gone. He left me a note. All the plants from the tank were wet and in the cabinet underneath, my carpet was wet, gravel on the dining room table, water on the dining room table and 2 or 3 bath towels were soaked and wet. Of course I called my son, no answer, called again, no answer, called again, no answer, again, no answer. His father called me for him to let me know he was visiting with his other grandmother. I told his father what I wanted and now I just want the tank gone. I've lost all patience, I'm tired of it, don't deserve and feel that I've been more than fair. My son came home with his friend and informed me that he'd clean the mess but wouldn't take the tank out. I explained my position, stood my ground and explained that if he didn't respect my wishes after the 3 months I've been patient with him,he could take responsibility for everything in his life. I told him to give me the money for the car insurance payment or to make sure we put the car and insurance in his name (everything is in my name and I pay his insurance since he quit his job prior to last June). He said he'd be back in 10 minutes with the money. They both left and I didn't see my son again until yesterday when he stopped home to say good-bye. During the week I did call him and tell him not to drive the car until we put it in his name and he told me he was driving it, I could have him arrested if I wanted to. Finally, on Thursday I called him again and told him that if he thought I wasn't serious about what I said and if he thought I would allow him to drive out of the state again (to go back to school), with the car in my name, he was sadly mistaken. If he was adult enough to be disrespectful to me over and over again, he was adult enough to take responsibility for everything in his life.
While he was home, my other son and I were outside putting up the decorations for Christmas. After a few minutes, I took the screwdriver and took the tags off his car. He called his father who replied, "why'd you even go there, you knew she'd take the car. you should have just left." After a few minutes my son went in the house and I asked what he was doing he said he was hoping I'd follow him so he could knock me out. I went in the house, he asked if we could talk civily. He started to talk and in the 3 sentences that came out of his mouth he said I was ridiculous, I was unreasonable and he would have gotten to it sooner or later and something else nasty. I ended the conversation at that point saying "so much for speaking civily. I won't be talked to with disrespect ever again, this conversation is over." He then shocked me and said, go f yourself". At that point I kicked him out but the plates were on the porch. He grabbed them, I grabbed him, he laughed at me, struggled to get loose, cut my hand with the plates and I don't even know how I got them. He got in his car and said he'd drive without them. As I approached the car, he told me to get the f out of his way or he'd run my a over. He made it to his paternal grandmother's house (she left her husband after 45 years because she said she wanted peace in her life and was tired of being called names). I had called the local police because I was afraid he'd get out of our small town without the plates and then get pulled over by a state trooper. The police told him not to drive, they locked the car and brought me the keys. My son phoned me later to say that I'm not his mother and he's not my son. I'm not sure exactly what I said but I said that my son wouldn't have ever done those things in this lifetime and if he saw my son have him give me a call.
I'm heartbroken, confused, angry. Angry at myself for letting my worst fears come true because I didn't move far away. Angry at myself because I've let my boys ignore my discipline so many times in the past that my son didn't believe I meant what I said. I knew though that if I did not do what I said I would do, sometime in his adult life, he would get hurt by someone else.
Until now,I've never had a verbally disrespectful relationship with him. He's hurt my feeling plenty of times, letting me know how unimportant I am in his life. I only think this way because he spends a large amount of time with other adults my age. He doesn't run out to be with 18 or 19 year olds all the time. He's friendly with their parents. If he thought all parents were nuts, I'd be ok with that. So, my heart is broken and I have to know what the best thing to do is. My son will be home again for the holiday next week. My plan is to do nothing. Wait for him to make the next move but should I put the tags back on the car (I have the keys) and pay the insurance? I know I have to make him put the insurance in his name now. There is no turning back. I just don't know how he can afford it. (oh yeah, his father found me at a local convenience store after all this and pulled up, said I was psychotic, he couldn't believe I took my sons transportation back to college away from him, etc. I just said, "drive him or give him one of your cars or give him money to fly back. He knew what would happen if he didn't listen all week and you not only allowed it, you made him think he was right." I then went into the store.
Just a Mom
In James Lehman’s article, When Kids Get Violent: “There’s No Excuse for Abuse”
(http://www.empoweringparents.com/when-Kids-Get-Violent.php) he writes: “The police should be called when parents do not feel they can manage the violence or property destruction that is occurring in the home. I personally would not hesitate to call the police when the crimes of property destruction and violence are committed in my home.” (Read this article for a complete discussion of handling violence in the home.)
As James says if kids refuse to answer to your authority, they will find that they will be forced to answer to a higher, community-based authority. Your son needs to understand that this behavior is not tolerated anywhere–your home or in the community.
During any emergency situation, be sure to call the police at ‘911’.
Since you have been unable to manage your teen, despite your best efforts, it’s important to reach out for community assistance. You’re not safe in a home where you are being physically assaulted by your teen in this manner. Sometimes trying to make changes can escalate the violence against you so we recommend that you call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE or 800-799-7233. They can help with crisis intervention and referrals to resources, such as women's shelters in your area.
Tell someone about this. It will help you feel better. Tell a friend, your pastor or priest, or your doctor. Don’t ignore this behavior because that sends the message to your son that somehow the use of violence against you was justified and should be tolerated.
No one deserves to be abused. Reach out. Help is available.
I found this website as I am a lone parent with a 14 year old son and a 12 year old, my 14 year old really hurts me not only with using the most filthy and abusive language and insults but he hits me regularly and at times, rather severely .. He's kicked me in the mouth, thrown an iron at me which left a mark on my lower back for weeks, he punches me and chokes me and has broken several of my fingers ... kicked me, beat me with the metal buckle of a belt and a heavy plastic pipe .. pulled my hair and punched me in the head ... all in separate incidents but nevertheless this is a run down of what he has done .. I have nowhere else to go with this and noone else to turn to .. My husband died some years ago and I'm at my wits end and I feel like I cannot hold my head high and be proud of anything anymore, I'm nervous and terrified of leaving the home .. Can anyone please help and advise me as to what to do?
It’s understandable that abusive language makes you feel this strongly. Try to remember however, that your strong reaction is affected by what you had to endure. His remark does not necessarily mean that he will be an abusive adult and it has nothing to do with his feelings regarding what you have experienced.
It’s not okay, of course, but it’s not unusual for kids to lose their tempers and make these remarks. Look at it as his inability to control his temper when he was upset at this teacher. He owes her an apology. Have him write a letter to her and say in essence, “It was wrong for me to lose my temper and call you an ‘Effin B’. I’m very sorry and will not do it again.” Also, have him problem solve with you regarding what he will do next time he feels angry at someone. For example, he could take a few deep breaths when he feels himself getting really upset. Changing his breathing will help ease his tension.
There is an article that you might enjoy reading by James Lehman in Empowering Parents. In it, he talks about taking your child’s behavior personally and writes: “Don’t Take Your Child’s Behavior Personally.
Taking things personally means viewing that child’s behavior as a total reflection of your character, skills, and worthiness as a parent.” You can read the complete article entitled, Temper, Temper: Keeping Your Cool When Kids Push Your Buttons at this web site: http://www.empoweringparents.com/How-to-Keep-Cool-When-the-Kids-Push-Your-Buttons.php
Trust that you have raised a good son who stumbles and falls now and again. Continue to give him your guidance by approaching behavior as problems that need to be solved.
I’m just going to respond to a teen using violence in this comment. There are many articles on this web site that discuss working with kids around doing chores, etc. There’s an important reason I’m going to ignore any kind of examination of what took place before the violence occurred. It’s because it’s very common when someone resorts to violence to blame the person they hit. “You made me so mad.” But, as James Lehman says, “There is NO excuse for abuse.” It’s important for those of you who are hit by your teens to set aside whatever took place to build up to that incident and focus on their use of violence.
In James Lehman’s article, When Kids Get Violent: “There’s No Excuse for Abuse”
(http://www.empoweringparents.com/when-Kids-Get-Violent.php) he writes:
“The police should be called when parents do not feel they can manage the violence or property destruction that is occurring in the home. I personally would not hesitate to call the police when the crimes of property destruction and violence are committed in my home.” (I recommend reading this article for a complete discussion of violence in the home.)
1.) If you have been unable to manage your teen, despite your best efforts, it’s important to reach out for community assistance. As James says if kids refuse to answer to your authority, they will be forced to answer to a higher community based authority. Your son needs to understand that this behavior is not tolerated anywhere--your home or in the community.
2.) You’re not safe in a home where you are being physically assaulted by your teen.
3.) Repeatedly seeking out services is one of the ways you can become eligible for community programs in your area. These programs need to be aware that you need help in order to assist you.
It’s not a good idea to completely protect your child from the consequences of his actions, such as getting a lawyer to minimize consequences. That’s your family’s decision of course, but make sure your motivation is not to soften the consequences but to get him connected with appropriate needed services. He might do well by working with a juvenile probation officer.
Bottom line is, this is an unsafe situation and because of that calls for definite action on your part. Don’t ignore it because that sends the message that somehow it was justified and should be tolerated.
It’s understandably uncomfortable, but our recommendation is when a teen uses violence to call the police to get the ball rolling in the right direction for your son.
I am so sick of my 14 year old son. He just today hit me and I am 6 months pregnant. It was all over him having to do chores to put it simply. I'm tired of it and cannot live this way anymore. He's 5'9 and 180 pounds, I'm 5'6 and 125 pounds now. I literally hate him and want him out of the home. The only problem is that if I call the police, like I did last time he became out of control with his father, they just take him to jail and then I pay a 5,000 bill for a lawyer and counseling. He is in counseling and taking medication. I called his psychiatrist tonight and instead of him calling me back, the secretary called me back.
I am at my wits end. I have two young children, plus this baby on the way. I don't know what to do anymore.
I read the other ladies stories and all I can do is feel bad and feel angry for you. If anyone has the answer, please let us ladies know.
Dear 7 year up hill struggle:
Although parent abuse can occur in any family, it’s never acceptable. As James Lehman says, “There’s no excuse for abuse.” Abusive kids need parental guidance and authority even though they fight against it. When you are being victimized by your adolescent, you are better off—and he is better off—if you take action, rather than allowing the situation to continue. Get some professional help if the situation is dangerous, such as the one you have described. Try to find a family counselor who understands how to work with parent abuse. Everyone in the family needs help and support from outside the home in these situations. If your son refuses to go to counseling, tell him you’re going with or without him. Talk about it. Don’t keep it quiet. Sometimes it helps to send your adolescent to live with a friend or relative or have another adult come to live with you. When physical abuse occurs, such as what you have described, you need to take decisive action. Taking the right action, however, is important. You want to make sure you are not escalating the situation and keeping yourself safe. It’s important to ‘disconnect’ instead of overreacting physically or emotionally to an adolescent who is starting to lose control. When your child has been abusive, calling the police but then not pressing charges or not having your child arrested when the police come to your house, can make the situation worse--can make it more dangerous for you. Work with a professional to devise a safety plan for yourself to be ready to help yourself and your son with an effective intervention. Contact domestic violence support in your local area for help with that safety plan. Be sure to read this article from James Lehman for more important recommendations: When Kids Get Violent: There's No Excuse for Abuse http://www.empoweringparents.com/when-Kids-Get-Violent.php
I am sorry to hear you are experiencing such difficulties with your son. You may need to establish with your son that even though he has his own laptop, his ability to use it is a privilege that needs to be earned. We don’t recommend getting into a physical altercation over trying to restrict his laptop, yet consequences shouldn’t be avoided -- especially because he’s trying to take control of the situation in aggressive ways. Use whatever means you can to decide what is within your control to restrict and/or put limits on, and how you can go about doing that in a safe and effective way. Your son needs you to take a firm stance, and that stance is: "There is no excuse for abuse, and it won’t be tolerated in our home." He is strongly resisting your rules and structure and his behavior has become violent; James Lehman feels like when behavior has reached that point, it makes sense to involve outside help in the form of therapy, social services, and possibly the police. You have to look at what extent you’re willing to go to make sure he’s held accountable for his actions. Keep in mind that consequences are there to motivate him to practice new skills, but won’t teach him alternatives to how he’s currently managing his anger and frustration. I’ll include several articles that talk about this more in depth. I wish you well.
Raising a teenager is a challenging job and I am sorry to hear about the difficulties you are experiencing with your son. It’s certainly important to have support for yourself while facing stress. James Lehman’s Total Transformation Program is designed to address many of the behaviors you are seeing in your son. The program teaches parents how to be effective limit setters, problem solvers, and trainers—parenting styles that lead to accountability in your home. The Support Line Service is available to people who are utilizing the program in their homes and the phone number is included in the materials.
I agree that many of the behaviors you describe are of real concern. We want to keep safety in the forefront of our minds and it may be necessary to utilize the authorities or other local supports to keep your son (and/or yourself) safe as well as to set limits for him. I would recommend having a conversation with your son at time when things are calm and to be really clear with your house rules and expectations. Remember, you are the parent and you get to establish the rules in your home—your son doesn’t have to like them, but it he needs to follow them. Please continue to touch base with us on Empowering Parents!
Erin O'Brien, Parental Support Line Advisor
Hi, i am the single parent ( mother) of a lovely 14 year old boy. only the last few months he has begun to exhibit huge anger toward me , mostly disgusting language, hurtful barbs, but on a few occasions now he has pushed me, hit me with pillows and once punched my arm.
how can i place consequences - he has his own laptop which is with him, and he locks with a password, i could remove the tv i guess although he doesnt watch a lot and i enjoy it, i do dock pocket mney, its difficult to ground him, he is home schooled now by his choice which is going fine ( i dont teach he has tutors), we live in asia yet are caucasian... how to put in consequences so the awful aggressive behaviour stops.
My 13 year old son wanted to punch his father at midnight on new years eve. The family was waiting for the midnight fireworks show on a beach. He had purchased some fierworks himself that he had placed on the sand near us. I picked up the box and gave one to a boy who did not have any. Apparently in picking up the box "I lost other fireworks that he had placed on the lid". He was verbally abusive and blamed me for ruining the moment. His father immediately told him he was out of place and my son attacked him. They rolled in the sand, and my husband held his fists so he could not hit any more. My son tried to buck him with his head and shouted how much he hated him. My husband very consistent in his child rearing techniques and my son is very defiant. Unfortunately I tend to be the permissive parent giving in to their whims...
We have been working hard these past months to repair the damage done. My husband has been talking more one on one with my son. I have been working on my parenting skills and my son lost his going out with friends for one month. I would like to know if such and incident will leave permanent damage. I know my husband will never forget it, and in a way I feel my son was empowered by it.
Your situation sounds like it is beyond the scope of a parent or parent-figure and it has moved to the law enforcement realm. The toll it is taking on you and the other children sounds overwhelming. I went through a similar situation with my oldest until I realized that my obligation was first and foremost to protect everyone in our house and that included protecting them from threats and bullying as well as physical violence. I made it clear, both in writing and verbally, to my oldest that certain behaviors would be an immediate call to the police. I also then made it clear that the stuation would be out of my hands and in their hands. He tested that and I followed through. We had a few calls at first and then no more. I think it is so important that if you have a child who is bullying physically and emotionally it needs to be treated very seriously and decisively. The other children in your life need to know, without a doubt, that you will protect them from verbal and physical abuse. And the abusive child needs to know that as well. I hope things work out for your family.
My 15 year old son is a computer guy as well and would stay on the lap top and internet all day if I would let him. Obviously, that is not going to happen. I used to have fights similar to yours until I installed some parenting control software. I have tried a few, and Parental Control seems to work the best. I picked up my copy at Best Buy for about $30. It limits time, websites, days and even will send your email a daily report as to the times and websites your child has visited. I like getting a daily report so I can tie consequences more directly to the computer infraction. It also removes the face to face interaction when the amount of computer time is exhausted. That in itself is worth the cost!
Yes indeed, the car! 13 yer old twins misbehaving in the back of the car, I almost got in a wreck one day too!
Audrey, I hear you! I have step daughter of 15 now and I made the mistake of allowing her to manipulate me...she's smart, even the juvenile judge said so! I do not feel so ashamed after that. I forgive her but I do not forget though, the times of physical violence are horrendous. At the moment she is in a facility to deal with her behaviors and get her back on track. We are recouping our energies too! I urge you to still remain positive your own self though...good comes out of all situations Audrey x
My son is 12 with ADHD/ODD. Many times when he gets on the computer for a pre-determined amount of time, he simply refuses to get off when his time is up. I'm flexible because he's taught himself some complicated scripting that can't be saved and has trouble with time management. Even so, he will cuss at me and hit me if I try to physically remove him from the computer (no dad in the house). I've had bruises and there are holes in the wall from his uncontrolled anger. Six weeks ago he had a black eye from a school fight. (The next day, my son became sarcastic defiant,and finally enraged when I told him his computer time was up.Trying to be consistant,yet flexible,I asked him to tell me WHEN he could get off. This usually works.He stated he could complete his project in half an hour.When the timer went off, he refused to budge and again became sarcastic and cussed me out. I told him I was going to remove him bodily from the computer. When I did so, he became enraged and began hitting and kicking me. I got him in a safe restraining hold on the carpet until he calmed down, though his flailing did make his hurt eye more puffy. Afterwards, he was fine and declared he was ready for bed.
How does a single mom enforce rules when the child refuses to budge, w/out touching her child? How can I create meaningful consequences when he knows he'll be at his dad's house the next week where the consequences won't be enforced?
I ordered and have viewed the Total Consequences DVD and the ideas were helpful; but toward the end of the week, my son's behavior worsens, as I become a "lame duck" mom.
Any ideas? Can the Hot Line stay open weekends?
Worried Mom: you are right about the car being a danger zone. I almost had 2 wrecks just trying to pull over and get control of the situation inside the vehicle.
Lori: Ditto for me being raised similar to your description. Not abused, but tempers flared and my dad could whip off his belt in a split second. I learned to go along with whatever was asked of me, but not to solve problems by being calm and working things out. Now I'm climbing out of a hole I dug myself with my son's temper. It doesn't help when my mother is also in the home, repeating the same pattern I've seen for 46 years. All the more reason for a clean disconnect.