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Parenting a preteen can be a minefield. Find support here.

Preteens

What to do with my 11 year old

49 replies

Crystaly · 19/12/2022 09:20

I have had a weekend from hell with my 11-year-old. I don’t know what to do with him. The level of rudeness and disrespect has astounded me. He is my eldest so first time dealing with pre teen issues but I am feeling very down.

yesterday morning we were travelling to see Santa for his little sister and we were talking about Santa lists. He said he wanted a treadmill and both me and his dad said that wouldn’t be possible this close to Christmas. We have already bought his Christmas and we were asking about the lists so his little sister knew what to ask Santa for. Not necessarily for him to start adding new things on.

he then asked for an electric Scooter. I said That would also just lie in a garage and actually it was illegal to drive so again would not be possible.

He then started throwing a tantrum saying that we were telling him what he could and couldn’t ask for. He was screaming and shouting and I then just told him to ask Santa for whatever he wanted but it wasn’t guaranteed.

by this stage he was so far gone he was crying and crying. We walked into see Santa and he was crying and screaming all you do is shout at me. It was really embarrassing as the place was packed with families.

he then left and refused to come in and sat in the car.

when we got home he announced he was going out with friends. I said no, your behaviour today means you will be in for the rest of the week.

a screaming tantrum followed. He was slamming doors banging his feet. He then said he was running away. His little sister was so upset but of course he returned after 10 minutes.

when he’s upset like that he says he’s going to kill himself/jump off a bridge etc.

I am at my wits end. It’s a week to Christmas and we have spoiled him as usual with gifts. I feel like not giving him a thing but of course won’t do that.

he has his phone removed for the foreseeable future and grounded for the week.

even this morning getting ready for school - he refuses to wake up, watches tv whilst eating breakfast and won’t go up to get ready until the finial minute. I told him to tidy his room - his answer “ nah I need to get ready”.

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Crystaly · 19/12/2022 12:22

Any advice would be so welcome.

is this normal preteen attitude? Or
is he a spoiled brat?

im struggling 😞

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Dozycuntlaters · 19/12/2022 12:26

I wouldnt say this is normal 11 year old behaviour and yes he does sound like a spoiled brat to be honest.

Things like getting ready for school.....obviously no tv in the mornings unless he is ready to get out the door and has a spare few minutes. Screaming and tantruming at that age because he can't have what he wants for Christmas shows entitled behaviour so you need to cut back on what you are giving him, set him chores etc and make him see that he needs to start earning what he gets. Stuff like that I imagine but if this is typical behaviour from him then take it seriously and nip it in the bud before he gets worse.

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golfwidow88 · 19/12/2022 12:29

I posted something similar last night about my nearly 11 year old. I am drained.

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LettestIn · 19/12/2022 12:32

No, that's not normal behaviour in a 11 year old in my view.

I probably would have replied the same as you when he asked about the treadmill and scooter but maybe it sounded too negative and you could have said something like that's a nice wish, but Santa doesn't bring presents that big, however we could all save for one and get one later in the year. Or if this isn't possible, yes wouldn't it be so cool to have an electric scooter, sadly they don't allow them yet but they sound super fun. Maybe he feels you shut all his ideas down?

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Crystaly · 19/12/2022 12:32

Thank you.

objectively I can see that it’s spoiled behaviour but also it’s nice to hear an outsider agreeing.

he has his birthday 2 weeks ago and asked for clothes. We bought him clothes & a new phone as his old one was broken. He wasn’t expecting this and was very happy.

we are financially comfortable and admit that we do spoil him. It’s hard not to as I just want to make him happy but realise he is becoming a horrible boy.

he won’t do chores and simple tasks and needs reminded over and over to even put his plate at the sink.

we have bought him a tv for his bedroom as his main present for Christmas. He hasn’t asked for it, we have also got him all the clothes, football boots etc he asked for plus football tickets etc.

I need to have a good think about what we should do for Christmas and his gifts. They are all bought and wrapped but I am seriously considering returning some.

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Singleandproud · 19/12/2022 12:37

Lots of children struggle with the transition into holidays and the loss of structure and act out this time of year. Behaviour is communication so you've got to unravel it.

Is he coming to terms with no Santa?
Is he worrying about money from what he has heard at home or else where?
You had a special day out planned for his sister, what were you going to do for him? Perhaps next year one person take him to the cinema whilst his sister sees santa.

Is he last year of Primary or 1st year of Secondary? Year 7s range from still being quite young and innocent to unfortunately running with gangs, smoking and being sexually active which he may well be exposed to even if he isn't involved. Is he falling in with the wrong crowd, being bullied, struggling with the idea of growing up?

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Crystaly · 19/12/2022 12:39

LettestIn · 19/12/2022 12:32

No, that's not normal behaviour in a 11 year old in my view.

I probably would have replied the same as you when he asked about the treadmill and scooter but maybe it sounded too negative and you could have said something like that's a nice wish, but Santa doesn't bring presents that big, however we could all save for one and get one later in the year. Or if this isn't possible, yes wouldn't it be so cool to have an electric scooter, sadly they don't allow them yet but they sound super fun. Maybe he feels you shut all his ideas down?

Yes that was the issue i think. We were shutting him down (as we knew Christmas was already sorted for him). He refused to make his list and then just kept saying he wasn’t sure. He knows Santa isn’t real so it was irritating that a week before Christmas he starts asking for presents which are hundreds of pounds worth when we have already spent hundreds of pounds on him.

I told him privately that his Christmas was sorted, I promised him he wouldn’t be disappointed and just to leave the Santa list for now and come in for the Santa visit.

he refused however and sat in a cold car for over an hour. If I tried to coax him out he would cry and shout “no! all you and dad do is tell me off!!”

I did tell him to shut up whilst driving and that set him off. He was going on and on about his Santa list when the reason I’d asked was for my daughter to remind her when she meets Santa what to ask for.

i did apologise but he was then just shouting “no I’m always told to shut my mouth! You always lie to me! You always scream at me! You hate me!” Ofcourse none of that is true. He is loved and usually such a lovely boy. We have had zero issues with his behaviour until recently.

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Singleandproud · 19/12/2022 12:39

I would keep the TV for now, you don't want him isolating himself in his bedroom even more or could it be set up in a more family oriented place for now for video games?

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golfwidow88 · 19/12/2022 12:41

We are exactly in the same position. Financially comfortable and I feel like I have caused the issues by spoiling or giving in easily etc.

He broke his tele yesterday by throwing something in his room. He's getting a new x box series x for Christmas and he's now disappointed he won't be able to play on it! And has asked we just go get a new tele. We have said no!

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Crystaly · 19/12/2022 12:50

At the moment he plays his PlayStation in the living room but thought giving him his own space with his own tv would be a nice treat for him. He hadn’t asked or even thought about it.

regarding school friends - he seems to straddle between the “cool” kids who have girlfriends, wear all the brands, are not sexually active but do kiss etc.

then the other group, who he is friends with more because I’m friends with their parents. They are much more more reserved, not into football (unlike him) and are much more into gaming. they aren’t allowed out when it’s dark (even if it’s only 5:30, not allowed what’s app) etc.

he definitely wants to be more in with the cool crowd but it’s a constant battle as I don’t want him falling into the wrong crowds.

he announces he’s going out even when it’s pitch dark outside. I have told him no group chats on WhatsApp but I continually find him part of them.

he has a girlfriend which is innocent enough. He wants to buy her a Christmas present etc. he told me that everyone in his class is kissing their girlfriends and seemed horrified. I asked him if he felt pressure but he said no he wouldn’t want to do that yet and I’ve seen messages between friends that confirm that.

he is definitely being exposed to more adult things and might be struggling with that.

even the girlfriend scenario he came to me to ask if he could “date” this girl. I didn’t want to say no but I was of course concerned about what was the right thing to do. I want to give him the trust and freedom to develop and also support to help him navigate situations which he does always come to me for.

I have removed his phone for a while due to his attitude. when I checked his messages I seen there had been messages from another boy in his class (his friend) saying that his girlfriend called him “hot”.

I know this seem so trivial to an adult but this happened on our drive to see Santa, it was breakfast with Santa so I tried to make it appealing for him too by giving him his breakfast etc. maybe that’s a good point about making sure he’s included more.

anyway now I think he has been upset about the drama on the phone and used the Santa’s list as way of airing his frustration.

i don’t know and I hoped this morning when he woke up he was in a better mood but he refused to get out of bed and get ready; then would randomly wind his sister up by saying “you’re a poo poo”. Silly things which just causes silly arguments.

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CheshireSuburbs · 19/12/2022 12:54

I have an 11yo and he is rude at times, but I pull him up on it immediately and the consequences are immediately informed...eg 'there is no need to be that rude/use those words, find a better way to get your point across without being so rude else next time there will be no X for X days' and then follow through with it.
I always work off the principle of 1 warning with their acknowledgment that next time there will be consequences, with the exception if something is wilfully damaged/done out of spite. Then there are immediate consequences.
I have expectations of my 11 year old, they are not babies any more. He does need to be reminded a lot about task, but crucially if he doesn't do it, I don't do it for him, I remind/wait until he has done it for himself...eg if he hasn't put his clothes away and he asks if he can watch something on Netflix, I will say 'yes of course if you could just put your clothes away first so it's one less thing for you to do later'
Ps I'm no saint I do lose it with him when he has had a spectacularly off day.

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Crystaly · 19/12/2022 12:54

golfwidow88 · 19/12/2022 12:41

We are exactly in the same position. Financially comfortable and I feel like I have caused the issues by spoiling or giving in easily etc.

He broke his tele yesterday by throwing something in his room. He's getting a new x box series x for Christmas and he's now disappointed he won't be able to play on it! And has asked we just go get a new tele. We have said no!

Sounds awful, but honestly I’m glad I’m not alone. It feels really lonely having a misbehaving preteen and that it’s all my fault. You have my sympathy.

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CheshireSuburbs · 19/12/2022 13:12

I've told mine not to bother asking for a TV in his room as I would never see him again and I would miss him 🥰. If his friends come over to play on games console, then either we move it to another room that already has a TV or me and DD go to the other room.

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Divebar2021 · 19/12/2022 13:20

I have a DD who is year 6 ( 11 in April). She has no phone and if she gets one for her birthday I’m going to be pretty strict about social media ( not decided yet which ones she can have). She’s also asked for an electric scooter which as you say are illegal pretty much everywhere ( and dangerous) so that’s not happening. She’s already very screen orientated so no way would I be giving a TV for her room - it’s the opposite of what I want. I have actually introduced a screen free day for all of us on Mondays which has really been good. I’m not saying she’s going to get a lump of coal and a walnut for Christmas but all of these things are not compulsory for anyone really let alone 11 year olds. She has friends who have it all and quite frankly their behaviour is not stellar.

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Ijuststoodonlego · 19/12/2022 13:23

golfwidow88 · 19/12/2022 12:41

We are exactly in the same position. Financially comfortable and I feel like I have caused the issues by spoiling or giving in easily etc.

He broke his tele yesterday by throwing something in his room. He's getting a new x box series x for Christmas and he's now disappointed he won't be able to play on it! And has asked we just go get a new tele. We have said no!

Well-done. They need to know there's consequences.

My DD is preteen and sometimes goes into awkward mode. Yesterday we had to sit her down and stern talking to and confiscation of phone, which never had to do before. To be honest she's not terrible but we get "attitude" occasionally.

I'm very clear on what won't be accepted. She's brilliant at getting herself up well before anyone else in a morning but we are still working on her shouting across the house to us. They do need strong boundaries but I make sure I give a lot of praise and the odd spontaneous hug.

She brought me a cup of coffee upstairs dropping the bloody stuff everywhere and said sorry. I told her thank you and didn't tell her off for spilling it because she was trying.

I didn't give the phone back until later when she carried on behaving well and wasn't demanding or expecting the phone back.

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SkankingWombat · 19/12/2022 13:25

If you are already having problems with the TV in the morning, I definitely wouldn't be putting one in his room to allow even easier access. Also, I would prefer my DCs gaming in a communal area so I can keep an ear on the conversations.

The tantrum at the Santa place would have seen him waiting in the car until he could behave himself.

The gifts he requested are unrealistic, but that isn't unusual IMO (although his reaction to you is). As per a PP, I answer reminding them there are no guarantee of getting what they ask for and that it exceeds the present budget - this is the list to us though, not Santa, as Santa only fills stockings (and I'd like to see him try and fit a treadmill into one of those!). I like the idea of working out with him how he could save for it. That would also help towards the spoiled issue.

I would have a family meeting about chores and what is expected from everybody so the 'team' works. Clear chores for both DCs (get them involved in deciding what is reasonable), and maybe some extra optional ones for the 11yo which are paid so he can start saving for the treadmill. The 3yo can help to tidy their toys, make their bed, put dirty laundry in the basket, and their plate on the side after meals. The 11yo should get more as he's older, but I'd start with only a bit more whilst he adjusts. He can be setting the table, loading/unloading the dishwasher, taking out the bins, making his packed lunch etc.

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Singleandproud · 19/12/2022 13:50

@Crystaly it sounds like you got to the root of the problem then. He reacted poorly about something that upset him. By all means keep him off the phone for a while but go and tempt him out of his room. Offer to take him to a drive through Starbucks etc and get him a hot drink and sit and and talk about what's going on.

I teach at a Secondary school, don't worry about the "jumping off a bridge/ killing himself" phrasing it's literally used every second sentence in schools at the moment, last week I had this conversation
"Sebastian, you need to use a ruler for your graph, there's some in that tray" "ugh, Miss have I got to restart it?"
"yes",
"God, I want to kill myself"

Just keep repeating "behaviour is communication" to yourself, don't take it personally or let your own reaction escalate either and at a sensible point unravel what it's all really about as you have today.

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Blahburst · 19/12/2022 13:55

I feel a bit of empathy for your son. You asked him to say what he wanted then kept saying no you can’t want that! That would annoy me too. Can you set a new precedent where he can make a massive list and put anything he likes on it with the understanding that he won’t receive everything on it?

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vvvvb · 19/12/2022 13:59

I would delay giving him a TV in his room as you won't see him downstairs

My DS is much older but we let him have his friends come over and use the large TV with the playstation in the main room and let them have it to themselves without interruption

I think the transition from year 6 in junior school to year 7 at high school is very hard for them to adjust as they are the biggest and with so much confidence then the smallest in a new environment without the same friends around them

Is he year 6 or 7?

How old is his sister?

Is it possible to take him somewhere special over the holidays without his sister?

So a special time with one or both parents while little sister goes to a friends to play - so bowling, rock climbing, trampoline, crazy golf, cinema or a football match so that he sees that he can be treated as a young tween rather than something that is suitable for his sister too

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Winter2020 · 19/12/2022 14:01

What struck me from reading your OP is the punishments you have chosen for poor behaviour at santa. I think it was not going out with friends (for a week) no phone (for the foreseeable) and you feeling like you don't feel like spoiling him at xmas as you are pissed off with him (understandably).

At 11 he is still a little boy (my eldest is 13 and I have been in similar circumstances). I know this is hard/horrid but what you need to achieve is for him to feel shame for his behaviour for disappointing you and his father.

A tough discussion/lecture about how disappointed you were that he ruined his sisters santa visit, that he had nice santa visits at her age and he has ruined it for her blah blah blah. He might be upset at hearing this and he should be. Then you need to tell him what you do expect "if we take sister out for a visit for a younger child I want you to help make it nice for her so she can have the nice experiences you had..."

I would expect the grounding and no phone has no emotional impact at all - maybe just mske him angry and frustrated - he may not even remember why he is banned from the phone and may not connect well any cause and effect beyond "I was naughty, mum's took my phone, I'll wait/nag her till I get it back."

That's not to say you get home and throw him a party tea. Let him know you are angry/upset that day then the next day isa fresh chance - although remind him of your expectations when similar events occur. Don't hold grudges, comfort him if he truly seems upset sorry but with the clear boundary that this behaviour won't be repeated.

When my son was at primary school I took him for fast food one time with his friend and he was running round and round the restaurant and I couldn't stop him even grabbing him. It was really embarrassing and awful. On the drive home I told him:
a) how ashamed I was of him
b) that if this is how he behaves he won't be going out to eat with friends because he can't be trusted
c) that it is OK to make mistakes - he is a child- but that if I tell him to stop a behaviour it is not OKto ignore me - he must listen.

He had no bans/groundings etc.

Result - next time we went for food with his friends he was sitting saying "am I being good mummy" which I did feel a bit bad about! But it did the job.

I do want to say because I am not judging other parents that if the child has special needs this likely won't be suitable at all as no amount of lectures or guilt tripping are going to help them regulate their behaviour and other approaches would be more suitable. I'm only talking about a child that can reflect on their behaviour and it's effect on others.

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NuffSaidSam · 19/12/2022 14:06

It sounds more like he's struggling to cope than he's spoilt tbh.

I would try and avoid getting into the cycle of him acting out, you take stuff from him (no phone, no going out, his presents are hanging in the balance), he then is more upset/angry, you take more from him etc etc. It may seem counter intuitive but I'd try and talk it out rather than dishing out bans in this and that.

I'd replay the events of Santa-list gate and think about where you/DH could have behaved differently to de-escalate the situation (without giving in or letting him think that behaviour is acceptable).

I would take the TV back. There is no way shutting him off to game in his room is going to make this situation better. Get him something else instead.

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Crystaly · 19/12/2022 14:06

Thank you. I appreciate that.

i must say that the punishments escalated and it wasn’t a straight up no phone/ grounded.
when we got home I explained that we were really disappointed that he ruined his sisters Santa trip.

he then said I hate myself, everyone hates me, I don’t want anything for Christmas etc.

then ten minutes later he announces “I’m going out”. It was dark, cold and raining so I said no, after your attitude you’re not. Maybe I should have said no it’s too dark, Cold wet etc.

then this escalated to him slamming doors, banging his feet up the stairs then jumping up and down.

this then escalates the punishment due to my outrage. Probably not great we both keep escalating.

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NuffSaidSam · 19/12/2022 14:10

this then escalates the punishment due to my outrage. Probably not great we both keep escalating.

Exactly. And he's a child. So it's on you to change your behaviour and de-escalate the situation.

And also think about what you're teaching him ...the angrier you get the more you escalate, the more you punish the other person. He's doing exactly what he's seen you do!

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Crystaly · 19/12/2022 14:14

Point taken. Thank you.

it comes from lack of control of his behaviour.

he announces he’s going out. Doesn’t ask. Doesn’t check with us. Just does as he pleases.

this frustrates me on top of his full attitude yesterday. It was extremely trying.

but that’s exactly why I post here. I want feedback. I want to be better. And need outside perspective to help

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Singleandproud · 19/12/2022 14:20

@Crystaly at school students often have a time out card to remove themselves and self regulate. The physical banging around sounds like he needed to get rid of energy and tension. Next time he announces he is going out stick your shoes on and go with him if it's dark and wet (if someone else is there for your daughter) walk in silence until he is ready to open up. Take a football and kick it around a dark park. You'll dry off soon enough when you get home and gives him an exit.

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