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Is it possible to instil respect in teenagers?

(12 Posts)
Mamateur Mon 18-Jul-11 15:28:22

We have a 13 year old DN who has been with us since last September. He was previously brought up by DP's mother who is a bit vague when it comes to boundaries or any time of discipline. I do think she personally feels that authority doesn't apply to her (she had a pretty charmed life until she was unlucky enough to marry DP's dad).

We've made a lot of improvement with him and he's now doing quite well at school, but nearly every week and often more than once we get a call from the school telling us he has been rude.

He's not directly rude, there's no swearing, just very disrespectful, putting his head down, refusing to answer, etc. although he's far from shy and is quite disruptive in class (talking).

He seems to feel the rules don't apply to him. We remove his computer and talk to him about it but frankly it's not much use - he has no respect for authority. When I talk to him I can hear myself going blah blah think of your future, blah blah imagine what it would be like to be your teacher blah blah.

We've had meetings with the school, with him, but he just says what he thinks we want to hear and carries on. He has a very effective strategy of deny deny deny.

Has anybody invented a device for getting through to teenagers?

noddyholder Mon 18-Jul-11 15:29:22

They learn eventually but ime you have about 4 years to go !shock

purplepidjincantatem Mon 18-Jul-11 15:39:38

Have you tried a more structured reward scheme? With a disrupted childhood, he might be functioning at a lower emotional age iyswim. Can you afford maybe £1 a day for being polite in class, then he can choose between an itunes voucher or phone top up when he's got enough?

Mamateur Mon 18-Jul-11 16:20:11

Thanks Noddy <kills self> grin

He just got back from school and I bargained the return of the computer cable if he would talk to be reasonably and rationally about his attitude at school without claiming to be the victim of a conspiracy/victim of cruel lies etc. I explained the power of the apology and the eye contact. He said he agrees but who knows.

purple I think I would benefit from a more structured reward scheme but I always tie myself in knots with rewards and punishments. For example today he came home full of beans because he has upped his science mark from a 4a to a 5a, which is great, and I had to give him the news about his computer time because of the phone call home. I once saw something on tv where they had two jars of tokens and they had to get them from one to the other through good behaviour. It's the end of term now so we have a while to rethink

purplepidjincantatem Mon 18-Jul-11 17:54:58

How about setting up a token economy? So for each lesson he behaves well he gets 5 minutes computer time. Then when he does something brilliant, like the science grade or helping round the house, you give him a bonus of however long is appropriate. He then gives you the tokens when ho wants his time. Either 30 mins a day or all at the weekend.

frenchfancy Mon 18-Jul-11 19:47:47

I'm not quite there yet with mine, but close. I really am not suree about the token idea, I wouldn't do it to an Adult, and so I'm not sure what the benifit is of doing it to a teenager.

I am far more inclinded towards the toddler way of doing things, praise the good and ignore the bad where possible.

As long as he is getting good results, is not being directly rude to you, is not being violent or swearing at teachers then I'm not sure that removing computer privilages is appropriate.

I think perhaps some out of school activity where politeness to Adults is important (martial arts perhaps, or some sort of charity work) would be a better way of dealing with it.

Either way I think the behaviour is fairly normal for a teenage boy.

purplepidjincantatem Mon 18-Jul-11 20:32:33

frenchfancy, it's probably more suited to a slightly younger child, but with the disrupted background mamteur's dn has had (i think i've read previous threads?) then it would suit his emotional rather than physical age. Only mamateur can decide if it would work - thought i'd throw the suggestion in just in case.

It's a more mature version of ABA, which is what supernanny does (in a more limited tv friendly way) and I used it a lot when i worked with teenagers with sn. TBH, if you can find a way to control what motivates the teenager - cufew at night, computer time, mobile phone top-ups - you'll get the results.

I can't remember whose hierarchy it is, but child development theory states that motivation changes as we grow up. Starting with the physical and moving on to verbal. So a toddler gets a sweetie (instant reward) where an older chold gets a sticker leading to a toy (short to medium term reward) and a teenager might get money to save for a laptop (long term reward). As we mature, we also go from needing the physical - sweetie, cuddle - to verbal praise - well done, that was really clever of you - to just knowing that we've helped a friend.

That's the simplified filtered-through-my-brain-over-a-couple-of-years version, so might be a bit fuzzy round the edges blush

Mamateur Tue 19-Jul-11 08:18:09

Thanks for your posts! The possible problem with the token thing is I don't think we know enough about what happens during the day - although the teachers contact us with good and bad news and we do have meetings with them when necessary, on a day to day basis I'm not sure we get more than 50% of the picture. The news often takes a week or two to feed back to us when there has been an overall decline.

He's very articulate verbally and emotionally though, which we do have to thank granny for, and I'm also starting to see that he's very intelligent, so there's a lot of scope to talk things through with him and get him to see how situations could have panned out if he'd done things differently. We're just missing the step where he remembers next time grin

The sort of things that work are, up for breakfast before 8, coco rocks! Up after 8 Weetabix. No calls home from school for a week, plus good report card, equals small budget to spend on junk food on the weekly shop etc.

mumsamilitant Tue 19-Jul-11 13:21:10

Totally agree with frenchfancy. Seems he's doing very well considering his past. I think we can all get tied in knotts about all this reward stuff. Praise the good and ignore the bad has always worked for me (so far). Think we have to remember that teenagers are not children anymore! Doing the "supernanny" stuff annoys the hell out of me!

mumsamilitant Tue 19-Jul-11 13:22:12

sorry, should have read "not Little children any more"

Mamateur Wed 20-Jul-11 09:22:40

Thanks mums and ff - while I agree with praising the good, DP in particular struggles with the fact that before coming to us he was praised to the skies for just about anything and he was made to feel special because of his 'circumstances' - he was a bit shocked when we didn't. I would rather give him normality and reasonable expectations so he can build self-esteem, if that makes sense.
Purple you're right he does respond to longer term incentives. He has just got a money reward for improving all his end of term marks. I know others don't agree with using money as a carrot, but we are in a big hurry for him to have some learned experience of doing well.

purplepidjincantatem Wed 20-Jul-11 10:15:26

Tbh it sounds like you've got it right and just need to keep at it. Nowt wrong with money if that's what he wants!

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