At our wits end... please help with 11 year old son.

(48 Posts)
BG Fri 27-Jul-12 12:55:32

When I asked DH what was wrong last night and he said he was depressed about our sons behaviour, I realized that I am too, so I decided to come here for help.

Three days before the end of term my son stole his teachers phone. He was asked to empty his bag and claimed someone had planted it there. He came home and told me the same story. DH rang the school to be told his teacher saw him take it out of his bag and put it on the floor. He finally confessed and was made to write a letter to his teacher and headmistress which he did. I think we both cannot get over it because about 6 months before that he went onto the Apple website and ordered £5,000 worth of kit. If Apple had not called me to verify such a large order we would be homeless. He said he did it because he was angry that we shouted at him for not doing his homework.

He is becoming increasingly sullen, insolent and obnoxious and tells me that he has human rights and he could call the police or childline should we do anything to him. We are at our wits end...Please can anyone give me some advice on how to deal with this?

Olympia2012 Fri 27-Jul-12 12:59:00

Gosh, he's starting early!

Anymore stealing then I would inform the police! It may scare him into stopping. What could be bothering him?

I would hand him the phone to call childline. But why dies he think you would 'do something to him'?

pictish Fri 27-Jul-12 13:03:49

Yes...hand him the phone and tell him "It's 08001111 son....and just incase you didn't catch that it's give them a bell you thieving little toerag...go on!"

Wee shite. He needs bringing down a peg or three.

Numberlock Fri 27-Jul-12 13:05:59

What punishment did he get for the £5000 Apple incident, BG, and what sanctions have you imposed for stealing the phone?

imnotmymum Fri 27-Jul-12 13:07:02

Agree with pictish and do think something must be bothering him but ordering stuff because you shouted at him> Is there anything you aware of at home or elsewhere he is picking up on?

ANTagony Fri 27-Jul-12 13:09:59

Mine aren't quite as old, eldest is 8, so I'm not really qualified to advise based on experience but my gut instinct was to suggest calling your community policeman and asking if they could pop in for tea and a chat some time, full uniform and talk to your DS about how he's approaching an age of adult responsibility and wouldn't necessarily be treated as a child by the courts.

How did you manage the aftermath of the apple order? How does your DS cope/ react with punishment and reward?

Is he acting out, in a rather extreme way, being one of the big ones in a small pool at junior school and the big fish at secondary will soon be helping put him in his place?

BG Fri 27-Jul-12 13:35:50

Thanks for the quick replies, I am working so just trying to keep an eye on the thread.

He is an only, much wanted child. He has had most of what he wanted from day one, maybe thats the problem. The only punishment that hurts is no internet/no computer and no xbox, so that's what he gets. It kills him more if he doesn't know for how long, so we don't tell him. In his 11 years I have smacked him maybe 5 times, so he has nothing to fear. I try to avoid violence as my mother was violent with me and I don't think it is the answer. But I do get very shouty!

imnotmymum Fri 27-Jul-12 13:38:13

5 times confused, shouty, not telling how long, maybe you all need to sit down as a family and set some rules and regs

TangoSierra Fri 27-Jul-12 13:42:16

Oh I am sorry that you are having difficulties. No real advice, but my ds has just bought himself £50 of microsoft points via my bank account. So you are not alone.
Ds didn't know you had to pay for them hmm
My card has to be linked to the account, and he was fiddling about and thought, this is fun. Thank god I noticed. He is extremely remorseful and we are off to his bank account today to pay me back. Lesson learned. He is a very very young 12.

NoComet Fri 27-Jul-12 13:49:57

I've smacked DD way more than 5 times, shout and send her to her room for random amounts of time.
Often I totally forget she's thereblush

She's 11, neither she nor her 14 y sister would contemplate behaving like that.

Both the OPs DS's actions are attention seeking in a massive way.

They are not a normal reaction to Mummy is a bit bad tempered with me and doesn't let me get my own way.

Something is really upsetting him and she needs to find out what.

BG Fri 27-Jul-12 14:12:35

Yes I have talked quietly to him about the consequences of his actions, about the legal age of criminal responsibility. He generally takes his punishment without too much trouble when he knows how long it will be. If he doesn't know he becomes extra specially nice till he gets what he wants.

I have a 12 year old who I sometimes struggle to understand. When his behaviour deteriorates we take x box phone pc away but always let him know how long for so he understands. The worse the behaviour the longer the ban !! When he has been banned I get him to help me with jobs around the house. This means his time gets filled , I get help, he understands there's more of life than gaming and gives us a chance to just chat and get to the bottom of things. Works sometimes !! HTH.

lastnerve Fri 27-Jul-12 14:28:06

Hmm I agree perhaps their is something more here,

how is he day to day?

imnotmymum Fri 27-Jul-12 14:34:27

Maybe try spending some quality time as a family this Summer . Do you do some activities together I know he gets hat he wants but does he get time sounds a bit attention seeking toddler type ant attention better than none. If he is especially nice he gets what he wants really not teaching him a lesson he is going to be a man one day and this manipulative behaviour needs to be stopped.

BG Fri 27-Jul-12 15:29:14

Yes, quality time might be something. We have a business and so its full on for 6 days a week. We will not even get a holiday this year. During the school holidays he has friends around some days but they play computer and xbox games and don't tend to go out even when the weather is nice.

I do try to get him to eat with us in the evening but if he has a choice he would rather eat next to the computer.

We have found that he is getting up after we have gone to bed to play with friends so have resorted to switching the internet off at night to stop him doing it.

Its just a total mess.

imnotmymum Fri 27-Jul-12 15:32:31

Well there your problem. You need to make family time. NEED to. You are drifting away and pull your family back together. It is a cry for help, I know times are difficult and running a business is hard but remember this much wanted boy. It may seem silly but put it in the diary. Family time.

BellaVita Fri 27-Jul-12 15:37:34

BG, I feel your pain.

Whilst DS2 (12) he has not done anything as serious as ordering ££££ of stuff or stealing from a teacher, he has done some pretty horrendous things... And I find it truly exhausting.

DH and I sit here sometimes and ask each other what/where did we go wrong? DS1 (15) has never behaved in such a manner.

What works for us is grounding as Ds2 likes to be out all the time, we then give him extra jobs to do around the house.

I would, certainly reinforce that your son eats with you on an evening and I would limit the Internet access to say 2 hours on a morning and 2 in the evening.

Numberlock Fri 27-Jul-12 15:38:13

I do try to get him to eat with us in the evening but if he has a choice he would rather eat next to the computer

Don't give him the choice. Meals are eaten together; it's not up for discussion.

So I think some give and take on both sides here. You will cut down on work to do some stuff together; in return he will eat with you as a family and stick to the XBox rules (not coming down after bed-time etc)
I would then review the behaviour after you've done this for a few weeks.

By the family, the family stuff doesn't have to always be the 3 of you (mum, dad and son). If work prohibits this, he will benefit equally from time with each parent individually.

ivykaty44 Fri 27-Jul-12 15:39:26

firmly explain that even parents have human rights and if he goes against you again you will the ones calling parent line and the police.

Make it clear his choices will have consequences that are like a pebble being thrown in the water the ripple effect is as great as the actual action.

keep the chat to no more than 5 minutes

(after 5 minutes 11 years olds switch off and therefore you may as well talk to the wall paper)

ivykaty44 Fri 27-Jul-12 15:41:38

BG - does your ds have hobbies outside the house? Does he do any sport? from table tennis to volley ball or swimming etc?

BellaVita Fri 27-Jul-12 15:43:49

Oh and Ds2 once said to me....

"I hate it when you drag me round everywhere, I am going to call Childline" - I told him to go right ahead and inform them that because of his behaviour he has to go everywhere with mum because he can no longer be trusted! That stopped him in his tracks.

Olympicnmix Fri 27-Jul-12 15:49:45

Imo the root of your problem is right there

1) full on business so you don't do stuff together as a family

2) The internet babysitter. Seriously get rid of it. A radical step maybe but racking up a 5k bill and stealing from a teacher are big alarm bells.

fluffiphlox Fri 27-Jul-12 15:57:38

So he was much longed for and now you (and his father?) spend six days a week at work, don't eat as a family, dont have a holiday, have smacked him yet given him all the material things, give undefined punishments, get shouty...
I'm starting to feel a bit sorry for him. If it wasn't for the fact he'd STOLEN something, which is never acceptable and will be something he will be remembered for doing by all his peers, forever.
I think you need to spend time together, he is only 11, after all and you are a family, and what I've read here doesn't sound much like a family I'd like to be part of. I'm not unsympathetic to you, but I think you need to spend less time on the business and more on your son.

dixiechick1975 Fri 27-Jul-12 16:01:55

TBH I am suprised that the sanction from school was so light. Theft is serious and he is over the age of criminal responsibility (10 assuming you are in England).

If he had stolen most peoples phones they would have called the police which could have had serious implications for his future.

BG Fri 27-Jul-12 16:02:41

Yes I think there is something in the time issue but I think its also pure greed. He went on and on for an Iphone so we got him a 2nd hand one off ebay, I think it was a 3G? But he wanted a 4GS and I think that's why he stole from the teacher.

We moved here so that we could run a business part time between us so that he would not be a latchkey kid and there would always be someone home. But about 4 years ago our staff member left and financially we had no choice but to do it all ourselves.

We are constantly harrassed and tired too, which makes it easy to give in if you know what I mean.

He was going to call childline because he didn't eat his lunch and I refused to let him have a cake in the afternoon. I suppose I am starving him too!

imnotmymum Fri 27-Jul-12 16:11:47

And he knows you will give in BG come on do some parenting. Surely you can find time.

Adversecamber Fri 27-Jul-12 16:15:01

Agree about family time. DS is 11 he is playing football with his Dad and some other Dads and kids in the park tomorrow. We will probably all watch a DVD tomorrow afternoon. They get full attention with one parent. my DS has said he loves having one of us to himself.

He loves his x box but it is an hour a day and in the main living area and will not be going in his room. My friends DS ended up dropping out of school because of issues with x box and family, his Dad ran a business and had no time at all. His Mum my lovely friend had issues and spent almost every spare moment cleaning.

All his behaviour points to attention seeking.
Do you eat together or even just watch tv together?

fluffiphlox Fri 27-Jul-12 16:15:31

But is it greed to fill an emotional hole, do you think? To maybe big himself up to his mates? (sorry about the vernacular) he sounds like a not very happy, still quite little, boy to me, wanting to fit in and impress at some level?
And just because someone is there, doesn't mean they're 'there' IYSWIM. (Re not wanting him to be a latchkey kid, I let myself in from age 7, I used to like the half an hour on my own.)

imnotmymum Fri 27-Jul-12 16:26:49

Book some time in you cannot possibly be working 24/7 camping ? swimming? Just playing xbox together (great male bonding IME)

TheCrackFox Fri 27-Jul-12 16:31:16

I would ban all Internet access for the summer holidays fir stealing the teachers phone.

Use the time to do quality stuff with him, giving him proper attention and not material possessions. You are no busier than anyone else so stop making excuses on this front - unless you are doing a 14hr shift down a mine you can't be that tired.

Adversecamber Fri 27-Jul-12 16:32:45

I actually don't have a problem with children beng bought i phones if their parents can afford it and the parents want to. Children should never dictate to their parents like that.

You know you spoil him, you need to stop, though it will be hard as he is used to it.

kmdwestyorks Fri 27-Jul-12 16:34:43

I don't know how much help this will be but we're in the same position, two parents working all hours and an only child, who's only 3 at the moment but i was a secondary school teacher for a long time and used to older kids lacking in parental contact. It always showed in their school behaviour. That's not to say they were bad parents, just busy parents.

It's easy to get lost in putting a roof over his head and food on his plate but he needs your undivided attention too.

I agree with others, you need to set aside a family day where there is only the three of you, internet and games not allowed. You donlt have to go far or spend much, i aim to make sure we just be together. Then i have my time with DD when DH is away and DH has his time with DD when i'm away and we try to emphasise how special it is to have that one to one with each of us. mostly doing things the other prefers not to do

Meals are a non negiotiable, we eat as a family either at the dining table or as a special treat a picnic in the lounge.

best of luck, i wouldn't encourage calling childline ( i know one person who tried that tack and it did backfire)

NapaCab Fri 27-Jul-12 16:39:43

I'm no expert as I'm struggling with my 9 month old at the moment hmm but maybe the bad behavior is attention-seeking? Since you pay him most attention when he's being bad, like stealing the teacher's phone, maybe he is doing things like that deliberately?

It definitely sounds like you need some time as a family to communicate better with him and get some boundaries set. I'm sorry to hear that you won't get a holiday this year. Is there any way you could get some temporary help with the business, even just for a long weekend e.g. to cover the Saturday and Monday? You'd presumably have to be on call over the weekend but even just showing your son he's important enough for you to take time off might help. Maybe sit down, have a chat with him about boundaries and set some rules and then if his behavior improves do a long weekend as a reward?

Numberlock Fri 27-Jul-12 16:40:07

BG - so what is it going to take before you accept you have to make some changes instead of excuses? How far will he have to go to get your attention (and time?)

ivykaty44 Fri 27-Jul-12 16:46:19

I would seeks some sport for him and you all to do

CeliaFate Sat 28-Jul-12 08:47:41

Sometimes you need to make a stand. This is one of those times. Sit down together and tell him
1. You're worried about him
2. You love him
3. This can't go on and things will change

I would ask him
1. What's bothering him
2. What he likes/dislikes about his life
3. What he'd change if he could

Then I would ban internet/xbox privileges for the phone incident, set clear boundaries with regards to eating together, spending time together, earning pocket money to save up for expensive things by doing chores.

He's ruling the roost and you're giving in because you feel guilty that you don't spend much time together, or because it's easy to succumb to pester power.

Be strong, be consistent and be there for him.

DontEatTheVolesKids Sat 28-Jul-12 09:30:51

A lot of that is definitely attention seeking.
I have kind of similar problems with DD (nearly 11). She has a huge greedy streak, and too much pride. It's nice she's feisty & confident, but FFS, she needs to learn a bit of humility, too.

I find a really good time to chat is bedtime: sit in his room at bedtime while he gets ready, or is just lying in bed in the dark, & let him babble. They love adult attention, really. confused

Is he going up to y7 in September? I would be quite open with HoY about the types of issues he's had. Teen-type peer pressure could make things worse.

BG Sun 29-Jul-12 07:02:11

Thanks again for the (mostly) positive and helpful replies.

CeliaFate I did ask him what he likes/dislikes about his life and he has told me before he does not like living where we do (a fairly remote place in Scotland) because there is nothing to do. However it is a very safe place and he goes out with his friends on bikes and builds bike jumps and dens.

He told me that he would like a holiday to New York!

He knows that we love him, we tell him every day and he tells us too! He shows me new songs that he likes on Youtube and asks if I like them. Mostly there is good communication until he does these off the wall things! He is bright and does fairly well at school although he 'lacks concentration' but this has improved a lot recently according to the school.

We absolutely cannot get away even for a long weekend as it is impossible to find cover, we have tried.

However we have plans to totally get out of here and move back to England to retire which could happen within the year if we are lucky and sell the house. He knows nothing about this yet but will be pleased because he says he prefers England and it will also move us much nearer to family. The different education system worries me but I am doing a lot of research into Ofsted reports.

We have a very good community policeman and I think that we will get him to speak to our son (who, unbelievably wants to be a policeman himself!).

So there are plans afoot and they can't come soon enough as far as I'm concerned!

ripsishere Sun 29-Jul-12 07:10:24

IIWY, I would tell him about the probable move to England. He may see that as a good thing and try to ammend his behaviour.
good luck.
On another subject, do you have apprentice schemes in Scotland. Rightly or wrongly, they pay very low wages to young people to train them. Where I work there are two. Both will get a qualification at the end of it.

BG Sun 29-Jul-12 07:46:21

We cannot tell him about the move just yet because he will tell his friends and it will be all around the village.

I know nothing about apprentice schemes anywhere and at 11 isn't he too young?

ripsishere Sun 29-Jul-12 08:00:22

Not an apprenticeship for your DS grin, rather to get some labour into your company.

BG Sun 29-Jul-12 08:04:59

Oh I see!

That is not possible either, it needs specialist training and we couldn't even afford a low wage atm. Anyway it would be pointless training someone and then leaving, which we are planning to do within the next 3-6 months.

ripsishere Sun 29-Jul-12 08:10:52

Ah. I think you should tell your DS about the move then if it is imminent.

BG Sun 29-Jul-12 08:22:08

I cannot tell him because it will be all around the village. It will be very unpopular as we provide a community service.

Numberlock Sun 29-Jul-12 12:43:00

Threads like this depress me. You say you're at your wits end, please help me.

Yet refuse to make any changes at all to accommodate your son and disregard all suggestions without even considering them.

Do I understand right that he's amusing himself for the summer hols or is he at holiday clubs? Will he know anyone his own age in the part of England you're moving to?

BG Sun 29-Jul-12 15:46:55

I'm sorry we depress you Numberlock, and I disagree that we refuse to make changes and disregard suggestions. If you had read the thread properly I had already agreed to speak to the community policemen as I thought that was a good idea.

My son and I have been out today and spent some quality time together. We spent some time driving to and from our destination and I asked him in a very low key way why he had done these things. He said the apple thing was because he was mad. The phone was because he wanted the latest model.

He has had friends to the house for five days running, in fact he asked me not to let anyone in yesterday or today because he was tired!

The job..we cannot change, but will within the next 3-6 months when we will retire and he will have our undivided attention. We will live within an hours drive of family including cousins of a similar age. He is quite a confident child and makes friends easily. I asked him how he would feel if we moved to England and he had to change schools and he was very laid back about it.

We are aware there is a problem and we ARE trying to change things as much as we can given the constraints that we have at present.

ripsishere Mon 30-Jul-12 09:34:50

TBH, and I shouldn't come back to this, I agree with Numberlock, not about the depression, but you do seem to be reluctant to make changes and have drip fed a tiny bit.

idotry Sat 29-Sep-12 19:29:57

Personally, I think your son's behaviour is a result of loving parents feeling guilty because of work commitments and therefore over indulging and creating a spoilt child who is feeling rather invincible.
I don't think you are a bad parent because you haven't had a holiday this year and this certainly doesn't warrant his foul behaviour (stealing from the teacher because he fancies a flashier phone).
I would say keep rules firmly in place and don't back down. In my experience children feel safe and content when they have boundaries in their life.

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