Brenda Breaks Down Consequences for Bad Teen Behavior

Brenda Breaks Down Consequences for Bad Teen Behavior

Hi Brenda!

I’m from India. I’m a single parent (widow) and I have a son who is 12 years old and he is developing a habit of telling lies and stealing money from the home. A couple of times I’ve confronted him but he always blames his younger sister.

Also he doesn’t like to study at all and academically he’s doing extremely poor. He’s becoming very rude and doesn’t care and respect any one; he doesn’t like correction at all. Another thing he keeps his thing untidy and doesn’t like to bathe. He only enjoys playing on the PC or PlayStation. I really don’t understand how I should help him to improve.

I need your help.


Dear Single Parent,

My grandmother would say that your son is acting “mannish.” Meaning that he is testing his boundaries with you, in terms of respect, integrity, academics and hygiene. How far can he go? What are the consequences to his actions? Those are questions that not only you need to answer; they also need to be discussed with him. He can’t continue to steal, bring home poor grades and keep bad hygiene and play on his PC or PlayStation. Here’s the deal:

  • Have a family meeting in which expectations regarding integrity, grades, housework, and respect.
  • There should be an opportunity for the children to self-correct.
  • If they do not self-correct then there should be consequences.
  • If rules are broken, things are taken away. And yes, definitely include the PC and the PlayStation, favorite shoes, posters from the wall, if it means something to him, it can be part of a consequence.

I also wonder if there a man in your life, a brother, an uncle, or cousin that could spend some time with him, one on one. I think he might need that attention right now and that a man that could talk to him about the importance of good hygiene and respect.

That’s all I got for you my love. I hope it helps.

Readers what do you think?

– Brenda


2 Responses to “Brenda Breaks Down Consequences for Bad Teen Behavior”
  1. Peg says:

    There are cultural aspects to this too, with being from India. I have noticed that my older Indian women friends are very strongly culturally conditioned toward taking care of the males in their family. And there is also the desire to have a calm and happy home. So the addition of a teen boy testing the boundaries may be especially challenging. You may not feel at ease with setting boundaries and sticking to them. I have seen mothers, both Indian and American, set boundaries, and then back down when the boy objects, because they want him to be happy, or they cannot cope with his anger at losing the playstation use. And I know it is very difficult to set that boundary and stick to it. And yet, the reason why kids test boundaries is to see it you will keep them and be fair about it. Kids want and need fair, consistent behavior from parents. No matter how much they protest on the surface, underneath the protests, they want you do do the things you say you will do or not do.

    I have a grandson by choice from Bangladesh. He grew up with a woman servant cooking and cleaning for him, and his mother doing his shopping. So there is a cultural difference when American me says, “No, i will not write your application for you. You are becoming an adult, and you must learn to do that for yourself.”
    And so he tries, “Don’t you want me to get into school here?” And I reply, “Yes, I do, and to do that, you have to fill it out yourself.” At the same time, I assure him that, no matter what we disagree or argue about, I still love him. i help him in ways I feel comfortable with, like learning the meanings of words in English that are new to him. Yet once he learns the word, writing with it is up to him. And yes, it’s tough sticking with that. He has procrastinated badly about finishing, and I have cautioned him that if he does not complete it by the deadline, he may have to wait an extra semester. Sometimes, kids insist on learning the hard way. But that’s how they learn to change behavior and do it more functionally next time.

    So i do know that holding fast by the rules and boundaries is tough, when kids challenge them. And yet, we have to do it. I wish you strength and patience, and in time, success.

    All the Best, Peg

  2. Chemita says:

    To Single Parent,

    First of all, my condolence for your loss. It is already tough to rear a child, morese, single-handedly and with a “bad behavior”. The absence/presence of a male figure during his growing up years can be a factor for his current actions. Culture also plays a role. In a male-dominated society, your son might start thinking that as a male, he can make decisions this early and your rules does not matter to him.

    He might also be confused because he starts to get concerned with adult issues but he cannot fully grasp everything yet. Maybe, he also feels misunderstood. He might find your rules too restricting. Or maybe he wants to test whether he can bend them or not.

    This is very challenging and as a single parent, you can get exhausted at times. But do not waver on your resolve to help him. There are various programs and camps that can help you and your child to cope in this situation.

    Above all, continue to love him and show him you care. He will never forget it.