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Expectations of 13yr old


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#1 Apple14

Posted 12 September 2019 - 09:44 AM

I have a 13yr old and to be honest he is sh*t useless and it’s driving me insane.

I have 6 children (blended) and he’s the oldest. I would love to say he’s useless because we expect too much from him, help with kids etc, but don’t believe that’s true..
He feels hard done by ALL THE TIME. His behaviour has been horrific lately and is on full restrictions and no camp.
He so emotionally all over the place, and is unable to process anything. He cries, he sulks, he is unable to ANYTHING without specific and direct instructions. (He is seeing a psychologist but doesn’t open up enough to get anything out of it)

I want to get him to be more independent, make decisions, start to grow up, and he just seems to slide backwards.
(Last year he was doing so well. He was cooking once a week and had spag bol/tacos down pat. Now he can’t do a damn thing. Burns everything, CBF attitude)

So please tell me, what are your expectations of your 13&1/2 yr old??? Maybe my expectations are just too high??
It feels like he’s an 8yr old not a nearly 14yr old and I don’t know how to push him to grow up and act his age.

#2 doubledelight

Posted 12 September 2019 - 10:19 AM

Sounds pretty typical for this age.  My youngest DS is 14 at the end of this month and we're in this space right now.

I've found that being specific with what, when, how and why but also outlining action and consequences.

I also have his twin sister and their stepsister who is 9 months older.  Yep, I'm in hell right now.

As I tell them, I'm not your friend I'm your mother, it's my job to turn you out into the world as a productive, functioning adult.

#3 Grrrumbles

Posted 12 September 2019 - 10:34 AM

Apple your story is similar to mine except my DS is younger. The feeling hard done by and unable to do things he used to be able to do as well as not opening up to the psychologist are exactly what we are dealing with.

It’s crap. Sorry you are going through it too.

#4 Wahwah

Posted 12 September 2019 - 10:54 AM

I've got a just turned 14 year old and I swear half of his brain has been removed since the start of year 8. He's actually a good kid, but he could not find his way out of a paper bag at the moment.

We expect him to do his daily jobs (dishwasher and recycling are the main ones), other jobs when asked (folding, vacuuming, mowing, etc) and to be nice. I get him to cook about once a fortnight.

He doesn't push back but it can take 3x longer to do something than what it would take anyone else in the family because he has the concentration span of a goldfish. And he doesn't seem to be able to adopt new behaviours (like wiping the kitchen bench if he spills stuff) without being asked 10,000 times.

His 12 year old sister has many, many more life skills but also a double dose attitude to make up for her achievements.

#5 mayahlb

Posted 12 September 2019 - 11:18 AM

Um you are describing my not far off 11 boy. Also very young for his age. And OMG he is sooooooooooooooooo hard done by when you just ask him to do a few simple things. And the sulking, far out.

I blame hormones, he's showing some signs of the beginnings of puberty and is frankly growing like a weed. And EVER single time he hits a growth spurt his brain turns to mush.

ETA: we have never found punishment or removing things helpful. It would take something that threatened his safety for something like camp to be removed. What has helped (and this was also confirmed as useful by a behavioural therapist), it turning the responsibility onto him. Ok this isn't working, what will? You are behaving xyz, it is impacting on the family, what solution do YOU have as to how to fix this? What can we do to help support you through what is going on? Yes, your feelings are important, but we need to look at how you are responding to them in a way that is helpful. It's about reframing the behaviours and taking a collaborative approach. It's described well in Ross Greens's book the explosive child.

Edited by mayahlb, 12 September 2019 - 12:14 PM.


#6 Soontobegran

Posted 12 September 2019 - 11:40 AM

I think I actually expected that from my 13 year old children so I wasn't terribly surprised. I remembered what I was like at the same age.
It is a tough age.....that time when hormones are raging, when the body is emerging faster than the brain........add social media, school, friendship issues and it is all too much.

That being said it would be good to know if there was a trigger to this other than the norm. Is he being bullied ?

Is there a trusted teacher at school who'd have a chat if he is reluctant to offload to the psychologist?
I found the school welfare staff invaluable.

Good luck.....the saying " this too will pass' is generally true but it is really important to delve a bit.

#7 lucky 2

Posted 12 September 2019 - 12:04 PM

Could he go to camp for a few reasons, you get a break, he hangs with kids his own age, the teachers can keep an eye on him, he might have fun and if he's miserable, having fun sounds like a good idea.
If he's sliding backwards it might be counterproductive (and a waste of your time) to put effort into pushing him forward.
Maybe meet him where he is atm, dysfunctional, all over the place etc.
He's still very young, year 7 I presume and he has many years before he needs to fend for himself.
I don't have a boy, I have a 14yo girl. It's a rollercoaster ride for sure.
Does he have any specific mental health or developmental disorders diagnosed?
If he did then general suggestions such as mine should be taken with caution.
Does the psychologist help you help him?

#8 suzyr

Posted 12 September 2019 - 12:08 PM

Sounds very typical of a 13 year old girl.  It will get better.  Our 15 year old daughter has just spent 8 weeks - this term on King Island - with her school.  The kids have been staying in houses and have to fend for theirselves.  No mobile, no internet, no tv.  We went over there last weekend to visit her.  She is due home this afternoon.  I can only see that she will have grown so much....wouldn't worry so much about your 13 year old...the hormones are kicking in, etc.  I am the eldest of 5 and it wasn't much fun turning 13.....try and be patient....Im sure he is a good kid...having alll those siblings wouldn't be easy being the oldest...plus being 13 isn't much at times.  Try and chose your battles..hang in there.

#9 Nasty Butterfly

Posted 12 September 2019 - 12:44 PM

The biggest success I have in our house is treating them like I would like to be treated.

I’m really beeping stressed at the moment. Life is not going the way I’d like it to and I feel burnt out all the time. I’m burning dinner, half assing chores and snapping at people when I shouldn’t. If my DH responded by banning Netflix and taking my phone away my response would be loaded with profanity and I might even throw something.

My teens are the same. Usually if they are acting out it’s because they are stressed or overwhelmed by something. When I react by punishing them they don’t fall into line, they push back even harder.

So I talk to them, we discuss why what I’m asking for is unreasonable and if they give me good reasons I go with what they want. So often they end up co-operating with me anyway and we have so much less back talk and yelling.

And I don’t get the not being friends thing. They are old enough to understand complex relationship dynamics now and we discuss that while I’m a parent and will over ride decisions that I think will affect their safety that for everything else I’m also a friend to use as a sounding board for tough decisions and I’ll be here to support them when they **** up. Which they will many many times.

#10 seayork2002

Posted 12 September 2019 - 12:59 PM

View PostNasty Butterfly, on 12 September 2019 - 12:44 PM, said:

The biggest success I have in our house is treating them like I would like to be treated.

I’m really beeping stressed at the moment. Life is not going the way I’d like it to and I feel burnt out all the time. I’m burning dinner, half assing chores and snapping at people when I shouldn’t. If my DH responded by banning Netflix and taking my phone away my response would be loaded with profanity and I might even throw something.

My teens are the same. Usually if they are acting out it’s because they are stressed or overwhelmed by something. When I react by punishing them they don’t fall into line, they push back even harder.

So I talk to them, we discuss why what I’m asking for is unreasonable and if they give me good reasons I go with what they want. So often they end up co-operating with me anyway and we have so much less back talk and yelling.

And I don’t get the not being friends thing. They are old enough to understand complex relationship dynamics now and we discuss that while I’m a parent and will over ride decisions that I think will affect their safety that for everything else I’m also a friend to use as a sounding board for tough decisions and I’ll be here to support them when they **** up. Which they will many many times.

This how we try and be with our soon to be 12 year old, We are his parents so yes sometimes we have to make an 'order' and yes we certainly have had occasions when we have yelled at DS and I only remember us punishing a handful of times (he has lost his Ipad rights twice from memory)

But rarely do we do it, he is lazy but then so am I, DH can be but not as much.

Each of us has our moments but we negotiate or say things in a way that he understands rather than ordering him about.

He is a good kid and once we work out what works it does, yes he whines and has tantrums and can be annoying BUT so can we!

And one thing I pull myself up on is to listen more.

I have had to say 'just because' or 'there are times where you just have to what I say' but 95% of the time when I listen and/or negotiate we get through it

#11 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 12 September 2019 - 12:59 PM

mine: when he’s good he’s very very good but when he’s bad he’s horrid.

he’s still relatively hopeless -  can’t find his sh*t, loses his sh*t....take last piece of chocolate from the fridge, leave the empty wrapper there. not great with homework....bit of attitude.

every now and then we get a glimpse of something - someone - better. would take him now over him as a toddler any day. we just keep chiselling away at his bad habits...


#12 BurningBright

Posted 12 September 2019 - 01:12 PM

I have a 12 yr old. Please keep in mind I have only 1 child ( so not applicable to so many families)
My expectation are lunch box empty and dishwasher, School assignments finished at a reasonable amount of time, 1 sport played weekly and books read. I also ask for a few odd jobs done as and when required.
I am very absent minded so we kind of keep balance together.
Even with the above, my 12 yr gets upset by something or the other and can be snarky . I just ignore, hopefully she will grow out of it as I did.


#13 Prancer is coming

Posted 12 September 2019 - 01:38 PM

I have a 13 year old.  She cooks tea once a week, unloads dishwasher daily and sets the table.  Whilst I do not expect her bedroom to be perfectly clean, I do expect food containers out, clothes off floor ect, but it is not really happening!  Cooking can be hit and miss in terms of quality of meal and being cooked at a reasonable time, but she has sports practice later in the evening and is aware she cannot go if tea is late as there will just not be time.  DH gets a bit cross with some of her kitchen antics, but I figure she made an effort so just eat without too much feedback.

Dishwasher generally involves nagging, but occasionally she just does it.  She has no initiative with it, often exclaiming she does not know, when we run it at the same time every day!  We are making progress with not just putting knives and forks in a noisy pile on the table.

I figure her behaviour is fairly normal.  My day tends to resolve around making sure all jobs are done and needing to be organised to keep the family functioning and I get this is not a priority for her, or something she even thinks about.

Independence is something that can be encouraged, but I think there is a personality aspect to it too.  My miss is all over being independent, but I think my next oldest child will need a bit more work.  

If I am struggling with a child, I really think it is important to try and get a connection back with them.  Find some time to do something you enjoy together.  I chat with mine before bed and try for it just to be about positive stuff rather than complaints about behaviour.  And if they seem a bit disconnected or struggle socially, I would avoid consequences that further isolate them or take them away from an experience that will have them feeling better about themselves, but obviously depends on the circumstances.

#14 Boticelli

Posted 12 September 2019 - 02:19 PM

Camp is somewhere they have to take alot of responsibility for them selves and co-operate with others so it may be a missed opportunity .

#15 Etcetera

Posted 12 September 2019 - 02:43 PM

I have a 13yo ASD son and I'm really thankful for this post. As he's my eldest it's hard to knw what is normal teen stuff and what is ASD a lot of the time. I'm glad to see this is just a kid thing!

Nasty Butterfly - great post! I've been very stressed and snappy lately and this really resonated with me, thank you.

#16 Apple14

Posted 12 September 2019 - 03:12 PM

Thank you all. Makes me thankful it’s not just my kid.
He is yr 8 and no disorders of any kind, and not being bullied.
Camp was not a usual school camp and very much a privilege. One he def did not deserve. He had weeks to sort himself out but when the physical outburst continued, camp was off the table.

Mayahlb-I am going to get a hold of that book and have a read. Thank you.

View Postdoubledelight, on 12 September 2019 - 10:19 AM, said:

As I tell them, I'm not your friend I'm your mother, it's my job to turn you out into the world as a productive, functioning adult.
Def said in my household too

Commiserations to all of you going through the same thing. Good to know I’m not alone tho! Thank you again for sharing.

View PostLucrezia Borgia, on 12 September 2019 - 12:59 PM, said:

mine: when he’s good he’s very very good but when he’s bad he’s horrid.

he’s still relatively hopeless -  can’t find his sh*t, loses his sh*t....take last piece of chocolate from the fridge, leave the empty wrapper there. not great with homework....bit of attitude.

every now and then we get a glimpse of something - someone - better. would take him now over him as a toddler any day. we just keep chiselling away at his bad habits...

All of this!!!!! This is EXACTLY what is happening in my house.

#17 kim11

Posted 12 September 2019 - 03:28 PM

I have no suggestions but my DS was very difficult and useless from 11.5-14.5 He turned human all of a sudden at 14.5. It was strange has continued. He still has issues, likes to argue and can't put dishes away but he is so much nicer to be around. It does end. There is a small light at the end of the tunnel. The only was I got through it was enjoying any tiny scrap of a decent human I saw during that time. And I mean tiny scrap- if he said thank you without prompting, put something away, flushed the toilet! that got me through and there are more and more good things happening with maturity.

#18 Apple14

Posted 12 September 2019 - 06:08 PM

View Postmayahlb, on 12 September 2019 - 11:18 AM, said:

It would take something that threatened his safety for something like camp to be removed. What has helped (and this was also confirmed as useful by a behavioural therapist), it turning the responsibility onto him. Ok this isn't working, what will? You are behaving xyz, it is impacting on the family, what solution do YOU have as to how to fix this? What can we do to help support you through what is going on? Yes, your feelings are important, but we need to look at how you are responding to them in a way that is helpful. It's about reframing the behaviours and taking a collaborative approach. It's described well in Ross Greens's book the explosive child.

He was being physically violent towards his siblings. Thats why camp was taken away.
When asked ANYTHING (what can we do to help, what’s going on, how are you feeling, what would you like us to do, how can we fix this etc) his only answer is ‘I don’t know’ and crying.
It’s the same when asked why did you attack your brother? I don’t know *cry*
Why won’t your speak to *psychologist* and be honest with her? I don’t know *cry*

It’s so frustrating!

We can (and did) let some minor things slide, but when unprovoked physical violence, no way.

#19 Apple14

Posted 12 September 2019 - 06:20 PM

Now that I have time I’ll respond more.
These behaviours have been since he turned 13 at the beginning of the year.
Like Lucrezia Borgia said, we get rare glimpses of the old DS, but they are few and far between.
We have tried sooooooo many things before restrictions. And at the moment it’s at least getting some sort of reaction, where everything else we tried resulted in nothing.

If he was a sh*t useless 12yr old, that would be fine. It’s the fact we know he’s more than capable of doing things, he just chooses not to.
He was making fab dinners. Really lovely food. Was getting passionate about maybe being a chef and wanting to try different things (which was great!). And now can’t cook pasta or rice, needs step by step instructions for spag bol even though he’s made it a million times, and more than once we’ve ended up having to throw the whole dinner out and having toasties.
A basic please wash the dishes, is then yes you have to wash the pot,yes that pan too, yes you need to wipe the bench, yes pull the plug when you’re done, don’t leave the dishcloth sitting in dirty dishwater, why is there water all over the floor, if you spilled it washing the pot, please dry it so no one slips.
It’s tedious.

#20 Veritas Vinum Arte

Posted 12 September 2019 - 06:38 PM

I have a nearly 14 and a 12yo boy. They are both doing puberty early (voice broke grade 6 at 11yrs). So I think generally we had the bad surly stuff earlier. 95% of the time my 14yo is actually a lovely young man... then the other 5% of the time he is a right little shirt annoying his siblings. His 9yo sister is a prime target.

At 13yrs Endocrinologist said I had 16yo developmentally in 13yo chronological age..... so perhaps I am past the worst.


Just one things I remember when I was young I was very good at self sabotage and not liking myself. I also felt hard done by and under pressure to look after sibling 7yrs younger. If you have a recently blended family that could be hard too. Sometimes you are just angry but don’t really know why.



#21 Apple14

Posted 12 September 2019 - 07:07 PM

View PostVeritas Vinum Arte, on 12 September 2019 - 06:38 PM, said:

I have a nearly 14 and a 12yo boy. They are both doing puberty early (voice broke grade 6 at 11yrs). So I think generally we had the bad surly stuff earlier. 95% of the time my 14yo is actually a lovely young man... then the other 5% of the time he is a right little shirt annoying his siblings. His 9yo sister is a prime target.

At 13yrs Endocrinologist said I had 16yo developmentally in 13yo chronological age..... so perhaps I am past the worst.


Just one things I remember when I was young I was very good at self sabotage and not liking myself. I also felt hard done by and under pressure to look after sibling 7yrs younger. If you have a recently blended family that could be hard too. Sometimes you are just angry but don’t really know why.

Wow interesting! We have the 95/5% but unfortunately the other way around.
Thanks you for insights into your experience. We don’t let him look after any of the other children (as he’s been violent so at present don’t trust him with them), and this is our 4th year as a blended family.
It’s just so out of his previous character.
I guess we just ride the ride.

#22 Lifesgood

Posted 12 September 2019 - 08:18 PM

Its a relief to know my 13 y/o DD seems fairly typical for her age!

Re the crying and not knowing how he feels, DD gets like this regularly too. I ask her if she needs a hug and she always says yes. That usually calms things down and eventually we can talk through the issue a bit.

I don't expect her to have her sh*t together at 13, I figure her brain is a bit scrambled and her hormones are all over the place. 13 is a tough age. We still expect her to do her chores, homework, obey the rules of the house and be a respectful family member (and all of this takes endless nagging and constant work from DH and I which leaves us exhausted) but its just a case of understanding where she is at mentally and emotionally.

#23 Freddie'sMum

Posted 12 September 2019 - 08:47 PM

In our house it's the youngest who is going to send DH and I to an early grave.  She just pushes us and pushes us and then when we snap and push back she will say "oh you don't love me" bollocks.

She's just about to turn 12 and I have noticed that her body is changing - she is definitely pre-puberty and I think that is really driving the change.

I will say she can be lovely - but the tone of voice when she has spoken to us - I just will pull her up on it time and time again "would you speak to the teacher using that tone of voice: and (of course) the answer is "no".  She gets freaking merit awards at school for her good behaviour !!

I would like to say "pick your battles" or "this too shall pass" but I don't know if DH and I will survive until she turns 18 and finishes high school.

#24 DM. 2012

Posted 12 September 2019 - 09:12 PM

My 16 year old step son is still like this, he has never even had any years of being even remotely useful.  The phrase “he’d forget his head if it wasn’t screwed on” would literally apply to him.  I am hoping for a change one day.




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