My 11-year-old, quite academic son, is very respectful outside the home and is loved by his teachers. In past few years, he has struggled with anger management and is disrespectful - especially with mom - when he doesn't get what he wants right away. He screams, bangs the door, and says bad words. Recently, in a moment of anger, he said that he hates me and wishes I was not his mother, which was the most extreme of his outbursts. I've tried taking away privileges, but he is becoming more angry and disrespectful to me. Please HELP!
Hello, and thank you for your question. Isn't it interesting how our children save their worst selves for their parents to witness? My theory is they do that because they know we will love them anyway, and we are a safe place for them to unload and unleash their anger.
However, understanding why they do it doesn't make the behavior okay. Disrespect and toddler tantrums from a bright 11-year-old boy are unacceptable. Sit him down and explain that you will not tolerate his disobedience and disrespect another minute, because to do so would make you complicit in his outbursts. Explain clearly exactly what you're talking about and give examples. Begin using the ticket system tomorrow. Show him the three tickets and tell him that he will lose one each time he uses bad language, throws a toddler tantrum, ignores your instructions, or is blatantly disrespectful. Once all three tickets are gone, he's sequestered in his very boring room for the rest of the day, allowed out only for bathroom breaks and meals. Give him a goal of ten consecutive days of not losing all three tickets before you put them away and return his privileges and freedoms.
As for the hurtful comment directed at you, please understand that if your child doesn't hate you at some point, you're probably doing it wrong. Our daughter was 7 when she declared her hate for me. I told her that I would probably feel the same way if I were her, and I walked away. She's 29 now and if she told me today that she hated me I would be devastated. The season you're in with your son now doesn't require his approval, nor does his opinion of you matter as long as you're doing right by him. Look forward to the season of friendship when he's an adult. I promise you that it's worth working and waiting for.
With calm consistency, you can give your son the gift of learning how to control his emotions.
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach