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We are having some trouble with our 12 year old son. I can see how things have progressed and how we haven't quite followed the Rosemond plan. He is very rude with his sisters, he talks back a lot and this is when things escalate. He gets upset when things aren't to his liking. For example, if they are doing something in school he finds boring, he gets really flippant toward the teacher, or when we tell him something he doesn't like. If it I were to focus on one problem it would be handling adversity or bad news or situation he doesn't like. The biggest problem is talking back after the initial reprimand. It has escalated and we don't know how to reel it back in. He has spent days in his room. When he goes to his room he slams things and yells. So, how do we stop the backtalking and deescalate things back to a normal level?
In previous generations, acts of disrespect and temper tantrums used to be solely the property of three to six year olds. I have worked with teens and preteens for decades as a teacher and basketball coach, and I have watched the rise of a total lack of emotional resilience among these older children as well. Your realization that you haven't used consistently the traditional Judeo-Christian discipline methods that Rosemond espouses in your son's life is a major positive step. The downside is that you need to understand that reigning your son back in, will be more difficult at age 12, and will get worse before it gets better--especially if not nipped in the bud.
Suggestion (a version of Rosemond's Strikes method):
Put a list of two target misbehaviors on an index card attached to the fridge. From what I gather the list should consist of:
A. Lack of Emotional Control(temper tantrums)
B. Verbal Disrespect and Attitude
Explain to your son exactly what those mean.
Initially, when he misbehaves in either of those two target areas, give him a strike. Allow him two strikes per day. On the third strike, he's out! Give him a consequence; one that is memorable, and emotionally painful. Two strikes may be given for one offense if the behavior is egregious enough. But first, you and your wife(?) must make a list of possible consequences that you could levy upon your son that would be memorable. These consequences must be big. Examples include no TV, phone or video games for three weeks; early bedtime for two weeks; extra chores for a month; no hanging with friends for 12 days, canceling a birthday party, etc. These should be your strike 3 consequences.
Points to remember: This will hurt for a time; if done right, a short time. Do not cave--especially when the "I hate you"s appear and the tears flow. Never communicate or try to reason with him during one of his emotional conniptions. Just walk away. Stayed poised and calm as you leave, telling him you will let him know what his consequence will be.
I do recommend hiring a Rosemond Parenting Coach. It will be worth the investment. There are a lot of nuances on how to implement this strategy that may help clarify the process. At a minimal cost, some professional support may be necessary
Ask yourself: Just as we fear (awe and respect) God, does your son fear you?? Or are you a bit afraid of your son? Does your son know without a shadow of a doubt that it is HIS job to listen to you? Or does he believe it is YOUR job to listen to him?
During this time of enforcement, show him extra affection and love when the "iron is cold." Those times may be few and far between at first, so take advantage of them. Eventually one day, you will be singing along with a famous 19th-century author:
Thank Heaven! the crises-
The danger is past,
And that lingering illness
Is over at last-
And the fever called "Pre-Teen"
Is conquered at last.
Mike Smart, CLPC