Q and A with Charlie Taylor, author of 'Divas and Doorslammers - The Guide to better behaved teenagers'

(66 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 13-Sep-10 16:36:38

Untidy? monosyllabic? endless arguments; communication by grunt; Seismic sulking; Lives ruled by FOMO (fear of missing out). Sound like your teenager?

Behavioural expert Charlie Taylor is joining us this week to answer your questions on unruly teenagers. His book Divas and Doorslammers is a practical handbook which is full of simple, effective techniques for improving your teenager's behaviour.

Charlie Taylor has been a behavioural specialist for over 10 years. He has taught every age group, from nursery to 16-year-olds, working in tough inner city primary and comprehensive schools. He is currently the head teacher of a special school for children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties in West London. He also works as a freelance behaviour consultant, coaching teachers in behaviour management techniques, and holds regular workshops for parents. He lives in London and is married with 3 immaculately behaved children.

Send your questions to Charlie on this thread by the end of the day next Monday 20th September and we'll be posting his answers by the end of the week.

mollyroger Mon 13-Sep-10 17:29:20

Would you be at all interested in borrowing my almost 13-yr-old son and returning him to me when he is a more civilised creature??
I just don't even know where to start....

Bonsoir Mon 13-Sep-10 17:43:52

I dream of monosyllabic grin. DSS1 cannot stop talking/screaming like a banshee/crying - he has to make a noise and to draw all attention to himself, even when he has absolutely nothing that interests anyone else to say.

castille Mon 13-Sep-10 19:31:18

I'd like to know how to re-teach 13yo DD1 some basic rules of courtesy and politeness.

She drives me insane, eg pushing past people instead of letting them pass (eg on the stairs, onto a bus), not looking at someone who is talking to her, not greeting people properly. These are all things she once knew how to do...

supersalstrawberry Mon 13-Sep-10 19:51:06

how do I get 16 year old ds to do things like .....his washing, emptying the dishwasher and taking out the rubbish (he gets paid an allowance to do these things) without having to ask a gazillion times, ending in an argument?

what happened to the lovely little boy who always used to turn and wave to me when he was walking off to school in the morning, he's been replaced by this grumpy, moody, sulky person, who doesn't seem to like me very much and thinks I'm mean and unreasonable.
I get occasional glimpses of this funny, lovely bloke, but they are rare and when he's talking to his friends he's a totally different person than who he is with me.

I suppose it could be worse, he doesn't smoke, drink, there is no girlfriend on the scene (although sometimes I think if he had a girlfriend he might be happier) and he loves college and is very focused on the course he is doing and wants to do well so he can go to university.

I tell him I love him and he responds, but I find myself really missing my little boy on times sad

scurryfunge Mon 13-Sep-10 19:59:25

Why do teens seem to accept a squalid lifestyle?

The things I fall out about with my 15 year old son is tidiness and cleanliness. I am a constant nag when it comes to him keeping his bedroom tidy. He is quite happy to have rotting food, smelly socks on the floor and every available surface covered with games and dvds.

He is getting better at showering but seems incapable of hanging up towels, putting toiletries away and the bath mat appears to be for decoration only.

mollyroger Mon 13-Sep-10 20:11:27

castille - yy, us too!

I felt I was actually rather good with toddlers. Teens, however, I am all at sea. I am terrified to think what lies ahead, given he is not 13 for a few months and we are going through scary hormones. He is constantly tearful and surly, and of course Knows It All.

QuickLookBusy Mon 13-Sep-10 20:36:17

How do you approach "encouraging" a teenager with college work?

DD is 16 and just started A levels.

She didnt do as well in GSCEs as she should have done. She only worked hard during the run up to exams, during rest of year, she had a very laid back approach. [thought by teachers as well as me]

She really wants to go to a uni but I know if she doesnt step up a few gears, this wont happen.

Any attempt to ask about work is met with a grunt!!

Should I back off and just let her get on with it, even if it probably means she wont work to full potential??

supersalstrawberry Mon 13-Sep-10 20:43:09

and dh would like to know "why don't their arms work?"

40someMum Mon 13-Sep-10 20:55:24

How can I bring up three teenagers the same way

1. angelic

cherylvole Mon 13-Sep-10 20:56:01

ooh hooray
a proper expert! sounds great.

cherylvole Mon 13-Sep-10 20:56:29

Id like to ask what cHarlie thinks of the HOw to talk " book.
i use it as a parent and teacher ( of generally compliant kids)

GetOrfMoiLand Mon 13-Sep-10 22:18:23

My dd is great. I feel it is the calm before the storm perhaps.

Her room is unspeakable though, if I leave her to it. I tell her to tidy it up, then I go in and inspect it, and have the point out the empty crips packets on the floor, the random socks, the spoons hidden down the back of the headboard.

If I left her to her own devices she would live like the Young Ones.

Also, her lip curls whenever I venture an opinion on music, fashion, make up, hair, anything. I am automatically judged as an old fart and past it.

Imo though teens are FAR more fun and enjoyable to have around than toddlers or young children. And she is a lot better now than when she was a tweenie and into High School Musical.

loler Mon 13-Sep-10 22:42:11

I'm a while off having teenagers but wanted to say - Charlie, I love you. In our house the "you're turning into a lizard" line has had made the family a better thing to live with.

The new book is on the shelf for when I need it. I've bought about 10 copies of the last book for all my friends - it's amazing!

Right - I sound like a stalker so I'd better leave my creeping there!

PS Can you come back to do a Q & A on Divas and dictators please - could do with a few more coping methods when the lizard has arrived!

foofi Tue 14-Sep-10 08:44:26

"He lives in London and is married with 3 immaculately behaved children." hmm

thesecondcoming Tue 14-Sep-10 09:09:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mollyroger Tue 14-Sep-10 13:33:05

foofi, that is a joke, i believe.

redpanda Tue 14-Sep-10 14:09:36

Looks like a book to add to my Amazon wish list!
My dd (15) has just turned to the dark side and I'm struggling to readjust and remind myself to zip it so I don't react and provoke further rudeness/I know best responses/sulks/silences/retorts/tears/etc (delete as appropriate).

My current problem is how not to react to her "boot face" which is becoming an increasingly familiar reaction when she doesn't like what I'm saying.
It drives me mad!!
And then of course when I ask "why the face"? (I know I know I shouldn't rise to the bait), then there's further "nothings" or raised eyebrows to contend with.

But in all seriousness, if I have said “no” to a request which is unreasonable and explained why (e.g. sorry I can’t take you to X event because as you know I am babysitting for your cousins), HOW do I then cope with the inevitable sulks that will ensue (without then winding myself up at her behaviour).

My husband tells me not to take it all so personally, but the problem is that I do!
I want my lovely girl back!

Bonsoir Tue 14-Sep-10 14:26:47

How do you deal with a teenager (DSS1, 15), of whom quite different standards of behaviour are expected in his two homes?

His mother sees him very little and does everything he wishes when she is with him and gives him the run of the apartment (with his younger brother), and makes zero demands.

When he is with us there are five rather than two or three people in a smaller apartment and he has a lot of homework etc to do (because it doesn't get done at his mother's) and we don't spend every evening out in restaurants and all weekend shopping.

He is currently seeing everything in black and white: his father is super demanding (actually, he isn't) and his mother is perfect in every way. DSS1 is wildly unhappy and thinks it grossly unfair that we don't give him the lifestyle his mother does. She will never change. What do we do?

fryalot Tue 14-Sep-10 15:02:57

I have a 16 year old dd and then I had a gap of ten years, before having dd2 (6) and ds(5).

Sometimes they get on really well but at other times they fight and squabble like normal siblings, but how can I get dd1 to realise that the level of violence that she sometimes inflicts on her younger sibs is absolutely not appropriate. If they were similar in age/size/weight etc it would be normal siblings having a bit of a spat, but she is SO much bigger (she's a big girl, taller and broader than me) that she is in danger of doing them some real damage.

And then when I tell her off for hurting them she feels that I've taken their side in whatever argument they've been having. I have tried explaining that I'm not taking their side, but she CANNOT behave that way and get away with it, but she still feels quite put out that I prefer them to her (not true of course)


thank you.

maryz Tue 14-Sep-10 15:41:10

As your child gets older, you try to transfer control from parent to child - the idea being that the child will gradually take over the reponsibility for decision making etc. If you don't do this you become an over-controlling parent.

But what do you do if your child doesn't respond positively to this - so if you let them out, they consistently break curfew, if you stop checking homework, they stop doing it.

What do you do when every single thing they do breaks rules? You can't punish them all day every day.

(I'm just trying to work out where I went wrong - it's too late for ds1, but I'm trying to deal with ds2 who is 12 and is beginning to pull away). How can I relax a bit when his older brother was a truanting drug user at the age of 13 sad. I was told I was too strict with him, but every time I gave him a bit of freedom he abused it.

maryz Tue 14-Sep-10 15:43:15

Oh, one more - is there anywhere in the UK or Ireland to send a 16 year old who hasn't been in school for two years, suffers from depression, has a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome, is currently addicted to cannabis (and possibly more) and hasn't spoken to me for two years because it's all my fault?

I don't really expect an answer to that one sad.

PixieOnaLeaf Tue 14-Sep-10 18:06:44

Message withdrawn

thesecondcoming Tue 14-Sep-10 18:42:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

nottirednow Tue 14-Sep-10 19:23:50

Message withdrawn

maryz Tue 14-Sep-10 19:50:59

Good questions, nottired smile. I'd like those answers too.

musicposy Wed 15-Sep-10 00:09:12

I'd like to know how to handle this situation.

My eldest, who is 14, despite being quite difficult when she was little, seems to be generally sailing through the teenage years with only the odd strop. We have a very close bond and get on well together.

My youngest, 11, has up until now been the easiest child to raise you could imagine. But recently, she's stroppy and difficult. Virtually everything I ask her to do is met with "what ya gonna do about it if I don't?" It doesn't matter how reasonable the request.It's not just with me, either. For example, she was told recently to take her feet off of the seat at the theatre. She knows she shouldn't have had her feet there in the first place. But she just said to the lady "why should I?" It's like she has to challenge everything.

I worry that I am getting closer to my eldest because she is easier. I don't want the bond with my youngest to slip away. But spending more time with my youngest just seems to give her more opportunity to be stroppy with me.

How would you handle this?

claricebeansmum Wed 15-Sep-10 11:06:53

How do you ask them to do things without sounding like a naggy fishwife? Obviously asking once does not work and then what...ask again and my head is bitten off.

Also, facing responsibility for your actions/inactions. It is not my fault you leave your bus money at home. It is not the teacher's fault you did not have the right books. Why is it never ever ever ever a teenagers fault when things go wrong? (when it quite clearly is!)

mollyroger Wed 15-Sep-10 13:49:34

''Also, facing responsibility for your actions/inactions. It is not my fault you leave your bus money at home. It is not the teacher's fault you did not have the right books. Why is it never ever ever ever a teenagers fault when things go wrong? (when it quite clearly is!)'' oh yes, any hep with this one PLEASE!

Also, is it 'normal' for kids to start fibbing and exaggerating massively at around 12/13? He has to embellish EVERYTHING or put a spin on stuff to the point where I just don't know when (if) to believe a thing he says.

febel Wed 15-Sep-10 14:45:42

You and me both.....

madmn52 Wed 15-Sep-10 21:33:14

My question is how common is it for all these traits - and I have read whole thread - to spill over into early to mid twenties. Without wishing to move the light at end of tunnel away from parents hanging on in there till the morn of their beloved teenagers twentieth birthday - this is all like reading about my 22 yr old s/son.
He is becoming more of a shitbag teenager if anything and certainly not shed any of the above traits. Been his s/mum for 6yrs.

Very interesting in the OP statement about 'teenagers' lives ruled 'by fear of missing out'. I honestly had never thought of that as a young person/teenage thing just thought it was one of his traits of plain nosiness or even his way of trying to split us up!! For example if we are curled up on settee looking at laptop or just talking quietly he will come in and shout from kitchen -'What/Who you on about ?? or 'What you looking at?' or 'Is that xyz ?' Find it really intrusive. Worst scenario please for ETA of normal adult ss.

pathfinder Wed 15-Sep-10 21:38:29

Dear Charlie,
I've got 3 teenage sons and I got divorced 2 years ago. I've struggled to establish a relationship as their divorced mother as they only stay with me at weekends. My eldest seems to be burying much of his emotions, energy & time in his online WOW games and MSNing pals. His school work has plumeted. His dad doesn't seem worried & doesn't communicate with me.
I do have some ideas - a friend recently suggested I draw up a contract with my sons for when they stay with me. That'd help me keep my house tidy and raise the topics of what we all consider acceptable and what not.
My eldest can get angry and agressive when I try to set bedtime of internet rules but I know I need to do them - somehow - but how? He is far taller and stronger and angrier and louder than I am. Shouting isn't the answer.
Also for long term help - Can you suggest me any resources -published or online- where I can chat with other divorcees and get some peer support? MANY THANKS

thesecondcoming Thu 16-Sep-10 01:04:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bigTillyMint Thu 16-Sep-10 09:07:20

I know this is on the teenagers thread, but....

How do you desl with a hormonal (budding teenager) new Y7 who is struggling at home to manage the demands of secondary school?

Wanting more independence and self-management, whilst still needing alot of adult support with homework, etc.

What do you do about "teenage" tantrums and rudeness in tone of voice as well as what is said?

nottirednow Thu 16-Sep-10 09:25:06

Message withdrawn

basildonbond Thu 16-Sep-10 12:05:56

how do you make them do things when they refuse? i.e. homework, getting to bed at reasonable time etc?

how to respond to "leave me alone" whenever asked to do anything simple?

what can you use as an incentive when withdrawal of privileges/pocket money is met with a shrug?

Suda Thu 16-Sep-10 12:39:15

Dear Charlie. How do you deal/cope with all this teenage/young adult stuff (I agree its not an exact science that ends the minute they hit twenty !) - when they are not your own ? Thing is its bad enough when theyre your own and you always have that safety net of still loving them however horrid they are. When they arent yours you havent got that 'luxury' of loving them unconditionally {unless been in their lives since very young maybe) so it compounds the bad bits really. Sorry - Am I making sense - if so how do you deal with this and keep a 'lioness with cub' over-defensive natural parent at bay too ? In short in our house it goes something like this:

bad behaviour by stepson = complaint or sanctions by me = leaping to defense of stepson by natural parent/dad = smugness and redoubled bad behaviour by stepson = stronger complaints/sanctions by me = accusation by dad of vendetta against/dislike of stepson = resentment by me against stepson = self prophesying vicious circle = Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh by me.

Regards Frazzled Stepmum

maryz Thu 16-Sep-10 13:16:19

I love that post Suda, I can just see it....... a never-ending circle of frustration grin.

LoveMyGirls Thu 16-Sep-10 13:40:47

My dd is only 11 but has had attitude for a few years now, I can mostly deal with it by saying firmly "I will not be spoken to in that tone" if asked to do something and she doesn't want to I say ok well don't ask me to do things for you either, then she realises how much I do for her and soon changes her tune but I can see these things getting trickier as she gets older.

My dd only started secondary school last week but already she doesn't want to wear the new coat she's got (nothing at all wrong with it) doesn't want ham on her sandwiches and is talking about becoming a veggie and is becoming obsessed with boys. What are you tips on how to deal with her changing quickly as she tries to fit in?

How should you deal with children getting more freedom?

How much should I tell her about sex, up to now I have answered questions as briefly as I can only answering the 1 question she has asked. My dd believes we have only ever had sex when trying to get pregnant but as she gets older surely at some point she will realise we still have sex so should I hide it from her? I want to ask these things before I make mistakes that are hard to back track from.


glitzy Thu 16-Sep-10 14:21:50

Suda... your house sounds soo much like mine its unbelievable.

How do you stop a teenager from shouting at you every time you speak?

Ds3, who is 13, has little or no empathy with others and has real difficulty controlling his temper at home - he has sworn at me, and the only effective sanction seems to be removal of his ipod. He can be so coldly nasty - and yet other times he is loving and cuddly.

Even the dog is scared of him - he says he hates her and wants nothing to do with her, and in the past, when he called her to go for a walk with him (after the stress of getting him to accept that it was his turn to walk her), she has run away and hidden under the desk.

I am looking into dyslexia as a possible cause for this defiant behaviour - can you suggest anything that might help? I am literally at the end of my tether - I suffer from depression, and feel like a total failure as a mother.

FunnysInTheGarden Thu 16-Sep-10 22:27:03

for a moment there I thought you meant Charles Taylor. I know MN is a bit on the edgy side, but a third world dictator? grin

BohoHobo Fri 17-Sep-10 08:29:10

Oh my if I start to ask, I may never stop! Trouble is, I know the answers to most things, its hard putting it into practise though!

Limara Fri 17-Sep-10 09:28:52

Hi, I'm currently reading this book

It explains what is going on in teenagers minds. I NEVER read books but I felt the need to try and change the atmosphere in my home. Some of it's actually working for me although DS (13) did ask me this morning, if he could be expelled from school after his tutor rang last night explaining he's put DS on report for constant lateness hmm

I'm going to follow this thread smile

Just to update - the school have tested ds3 for dyslexia (a basic test) and didn't find any dyslexic tendencies.

JeezyPeeps Fri 17-Sep-10 13:57:05

My son, 13 is becoming more and more withdrawn from 'normal' life, wanting to play on the pc and xbox 24/7, and is apparantly demonstrating having a 'bad attitude' at school.

He has always been very helpful, but is becoming less and less so. He is very stubborn about anything he doesn't want to do (both at home and school).

He has an older sister that has not struggled with school the way he has, and I think this affects how he feels.

What can I do to help him, and by doing so help me?

KatnKankles Sat 18-Sep-10 00:21:59

Firstly a similar question to the above. My son is 14 and generally a nice lad. He spends a LOT of time on the computer and doesn't socialise with his friends outside of school unless they come to our house which happens about once a week.
I'd rather he were here than hanging around the streets but any efforts I make to try and get him into sports/hobbies outside of the computer seem to fall on deaf ears.
He has glowing school reports and seems to have plenty of friends. Is he 'normal'?

Question 2, My daughetr is 12 and has recently become incredibly clingy and teary. She cries pretty much every day and sometimes rings me from school to say she misses me. She often says she doesn't know why she's crying. It got to the point where she was supposed to go away for a weekend with her Dad and she had to let them down because she couldn't bear to be away from me. She follows me around constantly and I have to give her cuddles ALL the time. I don't really mind but I have a 4 month old baby plus a 6 year old to take care of too. I just hug her when she sobs, often I don't even ask questions because I know all she wants is a hug until she calms down.
Am I doing the right thing? I reassured her it's hormones, she hasn't started her period yet but she has boobs and hairs so don't think she'll be long.
It might sound like a trivial problem but she has always been so independent and outgoing, it's quite upsetting for her to feel this way.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 20-Sep-10 12:21:59

Many thanks for all your questions. We've sent them over to Charlie and will be linking to the transcribed Q and A from this thread by the end of the week.

TeenageWildlife Mon 20-Sep-10 13:19:24

Oh I hope I'm not too late - one more, how to motivate a 16 year old boy to give a damn about his school work? He has no idea what he wants to do or even what he likes. Rest of the time fairly normal in terms of previously chatty now grunting etc.

mollyroger Mon 20-Sep-10 20:00:46

Have succombed to the book, having read a little around Charlie Taylor. it arrived today and although there is magic wand, I already feel vastly reassured by some of the case studies and have found myself nodding a lot in empathic agreement!

PixieOnaLeaf Fri 24-Sep-10 21:48:37

Message withdrawn

mumonthenet Sat 25-Sep-10 15:33:47

What happened to Charlie's answers?

maryz Sat 25-Sep-10 23:04:05

Did we frighten him off?

nottirednow Tue 28-Sep-10 09:39:21

Message withdrawn

Suda Tue 28-Sep-10 21:34:26

Hello (getting weaker)

nottirednow Wed 29-Sep-10 08:33:48

Message withdrawn

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 29-Sep-10 12:44:19

Sorry for the delay - Charlie's answers are all back now and you can see the full Q and A here.

nottirednow Thu 30-Sep-10 08:46:08

Message withdrawn

bellaella16 Sun 03-Oct-10 18:45:53

Help 16yr DS has several 100 pics of girls in (mostly) soft porn poses on laptop. Also some hard porn of all sorts on laptop. Found it when installing new printer drivers. Extreme moodiness seems to coincide with when downloads started.

Have not mentioned it out of respect for privacy. Naked girls I understand is natural curiosity. Porn clips worry me as they give false and rather nasty view of sex. He has male and female friends but no gf and not sexually active (as far as I know). What do I do?

sallyspookypoisonberry Sun 24-Oct-10 00:14:48

Oh I'd forgotten about this, just read the reply to my question, made me quite teary tbh smile

cuddlebugs Fri 01-Apr-11 15:12:47

my son is 11 yrs old starts high school this september and both of us fill he is not ready for this change . also he is behaviour is getting bad, which is not normal for him. he,s started to lie ,steal , bully and just realy nasty .please can you help me , need advise on how to deal with this ,i am at my wits end .

Jogonannie Mon 27-Feb-12 13:15:07

Found a huge stain on the hall carpet this morning ( further investigation found it was dried lasagne!). Spider senses kicked in and I knew ds had taken food to his bedroom in the night. When I asked him why he didn't tell me he spilt it and just covered it with a rug, all I got was " well I knew you would shout at me! ". Beige carpet + lasagne = stressed out mum now on hands and knees scrubbing carpet.

Elie12 Thu 12-Apr-12 21:43:48

Dear Charlie,
I am 16 and my mother has a copy of your book as she was asked to get it to help with her job as a special needs coordinator, which I have had a look at. I feel that this book is very discrimanatery about how teenagers behave and it casts a bad image on us. Although I know that not everyone has the best behaviour I think that this book implies that this is how the majority acts rather than just about half or a quater of 11 to 16 year olds. For example it says,
"Most teenagers (as well as most of us) are addicted to mobile phones. If we go out the house without it we feel naked and vunerable, and if, heaven forbid, we leave it somewhere or loose it we are bereft." I personally hardly ever use my phone as It makes me feel like I am tied to people and I can't leave them behind and have my own life. Also I don't see the point in texting people I see all day at school once I get home from school. And others that I don't see that much I don't think I can talk to them properly through a text. I often leave my phone at my house or in my coat pocket for days and not even notice it's missing, that said they are very useful if I am out and and I want to know where someone is. Most other people I know my age don't use them that much, although there are some girls in my class who say they use about 300 texts a day! I can't believe that because whenever I talk to them they seem like the most boring people in the world. After my dad read this book he assumed that I would act the way they said, and I don't like it because it makes him think I am like that and have a low opinion of me when I am really not at all. And this leads him to snap at me when I am and even asking him the most resonable things like please can I have a bit of a break after dinner before I do my revision and this leads to arguments which lead me to feel in a bad mood and is very counter productive as then I can't concentrate!
Thankyou for reading what I have to say, I hope you won't judge all people in future

Brisvegasmum Mon 23-Apr-12 14:09:05

Thesecondcoming how rude of you, coz I blame you for coming into my house whilst dd sleeps deliberately pissing her off for the medusa to rise in the morning like a tsunami, ain't laughed so hard for ages x

Claudia13 Wed 25-Apr-12 11:19:29

Like thesecondcoming said, reading this, I feel a bit better in a way that I'm not alone.

Dappy1 Thu 26-Sep-13 09:35:56

My 18 year old son caught his 15 year old sister in bed with her boyfriend. He is cross with me for not listening to his concerns earlier about the company she is keeping. He is so upset and angry that he punched the floor and has now broken his hand. Whilst stopping her from doing most things I did let her go to her girlfriends to watch a movie and this wasn't acceptable discipline to her father whom I am divorced from and also her brother, but I am also concerned for her and want to nurture her as I worry she will go completely off the rails as she says her friends are the only ones that make her feel good about herself. She has to come home from school and no one is now allowed back at the house. Her dad hit her in the hospital car park whilst I was waiting for her brother to be seen because of the mess she has caused. They feel she should be completely kept away from all friends including her girlfriends and I was too lenient. We are in such a bad place at the moment. Help!

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