Teen Responsibility

Teen Responsibility


My 14 year old son makes many promises he does not keep. When he is disciplined for not following through, he blames us rather than himself. He does not seem to learn from his mistakes, even though he gets upset when he makes them. When we ask him why he does not follow through or continues to avoid his responsibilities, he always says "I don't know."

We are concerned that he is not learning to be responsible for himself, even though we continue to give him freedom and opportunities to take control. He fights for control, but does not take it when it is given to him. He has no long-term reaction from having things taken away or being denied privileges.

He gets A- and B+ grades, with no effort, which is also a contentious point, because he does not try his best at much of anything except baseball. He could, should, and used to be an A+ student. He lives very much in his own world, concentrating efforts on what he wants to do, alone or with friends, and cares little for what he "has" to do for us and for school.

He also talks incessantly, to the point where we often have to ask for a break. He is not even remotely secretive, but we are resisting seeing him as lazy. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Apr 27, 2010
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MHO ... Part 6/6
by: Phillip Cornejo

Today my son and my friend's son are doing pretty good. If your son is getting A's without trying, maybe you need to look at different schools that might provide better mental stimulation for him or ask if the school can help to make him become more challenged.

If he is getting A's without trying it would then seem to show that the child is definitely doing some work and compliance with the school or it would be more likely that the teen would be getting grades much lower.

In my son's case that was exactly the issue, especially with Math. He would just see the answer and just put it down but show no work nor benefit with any of the critical thinking that Math provides.

I made sure that my son sticks to showing the work and double checking. He gets bored but he has also managed to learn and understand some pretty complex issues form the lessons he is getting out of the effort he is putting in.

He sees the benefits and then he doesn't mind the extra challenges of higher math now. Maybe if the child doesn't like trying like with English or writing maybe you need to make sure there are no dyslexia or dysgraphia issues that might be hampering him as well.

Well I hope I have helped and not confused you more. I am sorry this is long but I don?t think simple cut and dry answers are good for these things and they need to have long, critical thinking productive issues.

Respectfully,

Phillip Cornejo

Apr 27, 2010
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MHO ... Part 5/6
by: Phillip Cornejo

Now psychological assessments for teens are great tools but they are double-edged. So users beware! The assessments can actually make the child feel like oh I have a crutch or that they are crazy.

For the parent, this can be their crutch and you can just chalk it up to it's not us or him so we just use the diagnosis and make their world less of a challenge for them. Also, as a parent if your child gets assessed and they do find a medical diagnosis you need to make sure your ready for that diagnosis. No parent wants to think their child may have a permanent mental issue as it cuts into that "normal" label.

My son is a child with Asperger's. His teachers all said he was "gifted," but that he was ADD. They all said there was no calming him down and he just didn?t pay attention in school and that he was just a mean kid who would lash out at the other children when he was not getting his way. Well I took that and went to a psychiatrist to get help.

My first and steadfast rule was my child would not be medicated unless it was a last resort. My second rule was that they were not going to just put any label on my child without sound and strong evidence to support their diagnosis. My third rule was the schools were going to help whether they wanted to or not and I was going to make that happen as I feel it's a team issue and not just one you can fix at home.

I did a lot of research on local psychiatrists and made sure to speak with them all in advance till I was comfortable with the psychiatrist, their medical style, and their ideals. Well after ruling out all the physical issues like hearing problems, sight problems, and sleep disorder issues that might mask anything, I finally set up that mental assessment.

After the assessment I made sure to go over it with the Psychiatrist and after it was all said and done I was told my son was Asperger's with aspects of ADD. However, because many of the Aspergers issues had showed up starting since the child was 1 year old, they said they could not diagnose him with ADD since the Aspergers was very apparent in him first and not the ADD which had only become an issue when he started school.

Armed with a diagnosis and finally understanding how the pieces fit, we utilize everything I spoke about above and also fought to make the school give my son a 504 plan for a mental health diagnosis as well as a separate one for any behavioral issues.

Most schools will shy away from going this far and even more so with Special Ed. However, special ed is never an option in my mind as the children with Asperger's usually do worse in those classes as their minds are never challenged enough and they do not learn any life coping skills.

Apr 27, 2010
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MHO ... Part 4/6
by: Phillip Cornejo

Now with all this said there is some caveats to this. For example you may have to tell your teen that every four months you're going to have to sit down with them and reconsider your rules and punishments to keep it a working "living" tool for you both.

Also, in the case of harming others or themselves, you will have to make sure that you handle those situations appropriately. The teens, other peoples, and without question your families, safety has to come first. You know the rule of law ? life before property and so on.

Another alibi to this all is that you said your child likes to talk a lot and you cannot get him to stop. Well, with my son and I we have rules when we talk about serious issues or if we are going to talk at the table about our days, etc.

I let my son choose a favorite topic and tell him he can talk all about it and tell me all his special facts about but that he will have only fifteen minutes to do it in and after that we get to talk and discuss the issues.

I also make sure my son does not speak over me and make sure I don?t do the same to him. We utilize the talking stick rule and sometimes we might set a time limit to the amount of time that each person can hold the stick to talk.

Now with regard to psychological assessments and psychological medications, this too should be talked about as well here. I know it goes through many family's minds that if I can just give them a pill to make them stop talking so much, or fidgeting, or etc. If I could just go to a Psychologist/Psychiatrist they can fix it.

Well, those thoughts are normal. We as people always want that quick, easy fix! However, it is my opinion that medication should always be a very last resort. I do however think counseling and anything the family can participate in together to help build the bonds are great.

I don?t believe in just signing the teen up for counseling though. I think the teen should be allowed their own session but a family session should be used as well to insure everyone is being helped as this will also let your teen feel less like they are the oddball in the family or that you think it?s just the teen and the family has no onus to the problem.

Diet can also do wonders to help a child with their concentration, techniques for meditation or focusing can help as well. I also think that an assessment can be a good tool too. I also think supplements can help as well as some old house wife remedies for hyperactivity like taking some coffee to help balance out the child?s hyperactivity.

Apr 27, 2010
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MHO ... Part 3/6
by: Phillip Cornejo

My ideas for this are simple. I am a Native American, as an Indian we all want our children to grow up to be strong and better than we were. However, in the old days, the tribes took on a community approach to mentoring. They allowed the children to be successful and they also allowed them to fail. There was very little punitive disciplining unless the issue was so extreme the Grandmothers would spank the child, in some tribes they actually had an elder that did the spanking, this was because as parents we are too emotionally invested in the punishments sometimes and this can lead us to be harsh or unwilling to allow the children the chance to fail.

Today in our world, where all children get a prize just for showing up, they are given allowances for daily chores that should be done just because they are living there, and in schools where teachers are so inundated with children, they just want to pass everyone: there is no failure in our system; no winners and no losers. Sometimes they need to be allowed to be lazy and they need to be allowed to fail.

However when they do well, we also need to be right there, ready to praise and award just as quickly. I explain to my son if you work for a company and you do well, they pay you, but if you do really well they give out bonus money and awards. I don?t mind paying my child to learn as that is after all what life is, right? You go to school, get an education and from that get a good job that pays well and you benefit from it.

However, I am very strict on the no pay for chores. Awards could be a new book, a trip to the local ice cream parlor, a dinner for them, a late night up card that they can use, or maybe a new video game or new addition to their hobbies. Don?t go broke rewarding your children.

Also with this there must be a rule that you and your child are going to sit down daily and discuss their day. There is no ifs and or buts about it, period. Dinner is a great time for this as everyone is there and it?s easy to talk in this relaxed setting. However, this time needs to be one of just listening on your part so your child can really be allowed to open up and then trust with you that you are going to be there ready to listen when they need it.

Laura Ramirez says it the best when she said what kind of parent do you want to be to your child, like most of us as adults we refuse to talk with our parents about anything major because we know the riot act is going to get read to us!

There also needs to be a rule that there will be a time later to discuss if the teen broke a rule and then discussion can be had during that time how to punish the teen, or maybe the failure in what they attempted will be a good enough lesson? Kind of like a separate sentencing time after you both have had a little time to think about what has occurred.

Apr 27, 2010
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MHO ... Part 2/6
by: Phillip Cornejo

Basically I told her to set strict boundaries, and adhere to them with no room for negotiation. All punishments and rules had to be outlined and had to have a clear consequence, period.

I also instructed the mother to go to her teen and tell him that she was on board with helping him no matter what. I told her to tell him that she would listen and discuss issues with the teen but to make sure that the Teen was well aware of the no negotiating the rules and consequences. I then told the Mother to let the Teen fail. Being Chinese this was an absolute sin and deal breaker.

Chinese people are very proud and refuse to let their family fail at anything. They must go to college, must be successful, etc. So after I told her the rules and realized the Mother didn?t want to use them I just told her that there wasn?t anything I could do to help her either and that I wasn?t willing to negotiate my rules with her either.

Four weeks later the mother came to my house in tears saying her teen wanted to commit suicide and took a bottle of Tylenol and shoved it down to attempt it. I told her that more than likely he was trying to just get attention. Most people cannot commit suicide with Tylenol. I say most because there is always that A-Type person, right? Anyhow I told her the same thing again and the Mother still wasn?t ready to listen. So this time three months went by.

After a few months, I got a call from the mother. She told me she finally took my advice and said to her teen, "Look I know you have an issue, you have depression and you have some fatigue issues." She went on to tell me that she told me that she allowed herself to take some responsibility for her teen.

She told me that she told him that she was his partner in the issues and that she was no longer going to argue or fight with him, that if he had some failures and stumbled along the way, as long as he wasn?t trying to hurt himself, she would be there for him.

Their lives changed after that.
The teen stayed out of school for a bit more after the talk. He then out of nowhere changed his mind and asked his Mother to help him get a GED. She helped him and he started but then quit. She didn?t get on him, she let him fail.

After another two weeks, the teen said he wanted to try again, and like a good supportive mother she allowed him and helped him, but did not enable him. This time it took!

The teen now is almost done with his GED, it's not the diploma the mother wanted but it?s a step forward. As of this month, I spoke with the mother and he is improving, his moods are becoming stronger and he is now thinking about trying a Junior College and going into science.

Apr 27, 2010
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MHO ... Part 1/6
by: Phillip Cornejo

Hello,

My name is Phillip Cornejo and I am a father to a boy that really sounds a lot like your child. He struggles with many of the issues your teen is going through, but he is only nine, (going on eighteen sometimes).

You know it?s really hard to leave advice when you don?t have all the information or what has tried and failed in the past. However, with that said, since you?re asking, I will try to give you a bit of insight and maybe you will get some help from my humble, layperson, opinion.

First of all, you need to make sure you reinforce that you and your child are in this together. That you?re not just trying to fix the child's issues, but you?re also dedicated to learning how to work with him as a family unit. The teen, needs to know above all your willing to take some responsibility for the issue as well, so they don?t feel like it?s a you-against-them issue.

My good friend who happens to be Chinese has a son that is almost eighteen. He used to say he was going to commit suicide, he would sleep all day, be very lazy to the point of just telling his mother to go away and he would just sit in the house watching TV and get on the computer.

The teen was very intelligent and knew how to work the counselors, how to push his family's buttons, so he could manipulate the outcomes to his advantage, and knew just how to work the school system so he could get out of going to school.

The mother reached out to the schools first for help and they refused to get involved, and because she was Chinese and didn?t know how to make them take some responsibility in the issue; they too were able to just take this teen and push him to the side, so he could do whatever he wanted with regard to school.

She sought out psychiatrists that told her that her son was depressed and other than that, there really wasn?t anything wrong with him. In fact his psychiatrist eventually took a, "mother cried wolf" attitude and just pushed the issues to the side to get them out of his office, so he could get on with his next patients.

They tried medication and that didn?t work because there was no chemical imbalance within the teen, nothing to balance out so it didn?t help at all. Finally, she came to me because we were good friends and she wanted me to mentor her child.

I told her that while I was willing to help her teen I thought the issue might actually be an issue of the parents as well as the child and told her that she really needed to take on responsibility as well as the teen. I also told her that I didn?t feel qualified enough to help the teen and refused to do 1:1 mentoring or ?big brother? style work with the teen.

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Apr 27, 2010
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Children Who Crave Attention
by: Denise Cooper

Children, no matter what their age, need boundaries. My experience with children that talk non stop, is that they crave attention. They are normally very intelligent and need to understand everything that is going on.

Giving a child too much freedom, when they are not ready for it, is not a good idea. This normally creates an insecurity in them. Rather treat him with positive affirmation and be prepared to listen and give him TIME.

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