Teenagers lashing out at their parents is the most secret domestic violence of all. But it does happen, probably a lot more often than we think. Not that many of us admit to it - most parents don't even tell their closest friends about it, though some posters on Mumsnet have shared their stories.
Mums are more often on the receiving end than dads. Some mums have even ended up in hospital having been punched or kicked by teenagers (girls as well as boys).
And while plenty of us know we'd never tolerate violence in a partner, it's suddenly very different when the male-on-female violence in the house emanates not from your 40-something partner, but from your 15-year-old son.
How to react if your teenager is violent
Sometimes, the troubled teens who hit out are modelling their behaviour on what they've seen around them - perhaps from their parents, perhaps other adults. But it's not something you can ignore - basically, it's one of those moments when you've got to find a way of getting across to your child that this behaviour is totally, completely unacceptable.
You need to find a time when your teenager isn't het up, and when you and he aren't having a row - maybe in a public space, like a park, if you're worried he might get angry - and explain that you can't possibly let this sort of violence happen again.
Point out that it's illegal and it's the sort of thing he can be prosecuted for. Tell him that we all get angry, but hitting isn't the way to deal with anger.
"I have stopped his allowance going in to his account and I told him the next time you lash out I will call the police" Honeytoast
Next, you need to agree a code on what you'll do if a potentially dangerous situation is brewing. The best thing, usually, is to agree to separate.
Often, rows escalate into violence because someone - often the parent - follows their angry child into another part of the house, as this Mumsnetter explains: "Some advice I was given: don't follow him into his room/cave/hovel when you're having an argument. Apparently it provokes them into lashing out. I have the bruises to prove it."
Look after yourself and get outside help
Be aware of your own state of mind, and try to make sure you look after yourself if the going is really tough like this. Try to fit in some time and space for yourself: your needs matter, too.
Don't guilt-trip yourself. If your child's violence continues, you will have to involve other agencies, especially if you have other children who could get hurt.
One Mumsnetter counsels: "If your lovely boy loses his rag to the point of violence on any regular basis, sadly, for your own protection, you will have to call the rozzers, or at least, your local rozzer, for them to have just 'a word' as a shock tactic. Would they be willing to do this? Ring and ask. You are entitled to live in your own home without the threat of violence. If he was a grown man, any violence at any time would be entirely unacceptable but he's a 16-year-old boy and just learning how to deal with it all (life) so, because he's your baby, you make certain allowances - I did. And they, literally, don't know their own strength - it all happens so quickly. And because you're his mother and he lives with you, you're first in the firing line."
- Visit our teenagers homepage
- Talk to other parents about teenagers
- Advice and information on running away from The Railway Children
Last updated: about 3 years ago