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Twelve-Year-Old Throws Tantrum
Q: Yesterday my almost 12-year-old son became angry with me when I would not let him go alone to deliver flyers door to door. He was being paid by a neighbor to do this, but I thought it would be safer if he paired up with his sister(11 years old). He responded by running into his room and throwing his bike helmet though his window. He has never reacted violently before. I think that he was somewhat surprised when it broke.
I plan to have him do extra chores around the house/yard to work off the cost of replacing the window. What do you think? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
A: I think he was probably shocked and scared when he broke the window. At his age I'm sure he was angry at you that you didn't think he was grown up enough to deliver flyers door to door. After all, here he had gotten a paid job from a neighbor who trusted him to do this grownup job and how does his mother respond? She insists he go out with his younger SISTER to be safer. Although I can understand your point of view, I hope you can understand why he felt humiliated by your suggestion that he couldn't handle this alone.
The natural consequences of his breaking the window are for him to replace it so your discipline is most appropriate and fair. It might help your relationship if you told him you understand now why he got so angry with you. Try to let him assume more responsibilities like his self-initiated flyer delivery, he's trying to grow up and separate from you, get his own adolescent identity. Help him out on occasion.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.