Title: What happened to my nice kid?
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Is it normal for what used to be your sweet and adorable child to have grown into an annoying and
obnoxious teenager? Well, we're going to talk about that today on tips on teens. My name is Kent
Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens,
and families live happier lives. I lead two organizations teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit
501 c three organization, child and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California.
Every Wednesday at noon, I jump on the Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions. Let's
answer today's. I have three sons. One is a teenager, and the others are in grade school. Our
teen is 14, and he's just not nice like he used to be. Everything is an argument. He criticizes
everyone, especially his little brothers but me and his dad, too. I hear him with his friends
when we pick him up from football, and I hate the way he talks with them. The only way for him to
talk to others is through finding what they
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do wrong or insulting them. He just laughs or ignores it when I try to talk with him about it. I
love my son, but I don't like who he is sometimes. He's not always horrible. I mean, sometimes
he's sweet and playful, but it seems random. How normal is this? It's not abnormal. Does it apply
to everyone? No, it doesn't, but it's common. And we're going to go into some details of why that
is. Now, we're going to talk in very broad brush strokes here about boys. There are exceptions
all over the place, but we're going to talk in generalizations here, and some of these can apply
to girls, too. Boys in general, as they grow into adolescence, have a harder time exploring
and expressing their more vulnerable feelings than girls do. Again, there are exceptions
all over the place. I'm just talking again in very broad generalizations. So what can happen
is boys will develop this tough exterior and interact with people through kind of combat or
through what's what I'm looking for just instigation and
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antagonizing because it covers up any kind of vulnerable feelings. So that's why when you see
your son and you pick him up from football and they're hazing each other and they're roasting
each other, they're having a great time. This is kind of what they do because they don't really
have the emotional capacity at present to say, hey, you're my good friend. I really care about
you. They can't do that. They don't have that emotional capacity. Girls may have that capacity.
Again, general is generalizing here, but boys often don't. So what they do is they instigate,
they antagonize, they insult, because that's the way of sharing, connection, vulnerability.
If you're a mom or if you're a dad and you just know through this, it's really hard to understand
because it's really counterintuitive and doesn't make sense. But there are some people watching
this and especially some dads who go, oh, yeah, I remember doing that. Or maybe you still do it.
Maybe when you get together with your friends, you
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still kind of roast each other and have a good time and everyone's having a good time and no one's
insulted. Again, everyone has a different approach. So the problem sounds like, is he's roasting
everyone? And it could be, how much of it is it? That's how he's hardwired. How much of it is it
the environment he's in? It depends. And you may say, but I didn't raise him in this kind of environment.
But at school, their environment is there. Sports. That environment may be there. Online,
that environment is definitely there. There's a really horrible, toxic online environment
in the gaming community, and you're not going to change that. And you can't say, we'll only go
to the nice places to play. There are no nice places online. There's always banter and roasting,
and there's no line to go too low. The lower you go, the more street cred you have. So what do you
do about this? First, when he antagonizes his brothers, bullies his brothers, instead of going
to the 14 year old, first, address the
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feelings of the younger boys. Make sure they're feeling heard. Make sure they're feeling supported.
Make sure that you're being there to help them understand that you've got their back once you've
addressed them. Then you can go to your 14 year old and say, hey, that's not cool. And this is why
it's not cool. And he may laugh it off. He may shrug it off. Some part of him knows it. I truly believe
some part of him understands. He just doesn't have the emotional wherewithal to go. Hey, you
know what? Yeah, it's kind of being a jerk. I'm sorry. That maybe grow in the future. How does
that develop when he has those sensitive, more warm, playful times? Capitalize on those and
share those as much as possible. Talk about those experiences. Share how much you really appreciate
and love those experiences with him. Also, apologize when you have the opportunity to apologize
to your son, and you will, because we all as parents, we mess up sometimes. Make sure that you
share a real, sincere apology
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with no expectation back to model for him. This is how you do an apology, because eventually
you want him to recognize, oh, I screwed up. Let me go apologize. You may be the last people who
hear it, but his friends, his teachers, a girlfriend, whoever that is, may eventually hear
it. So that's where I think it's really important that you model. You take the high road and don't
stoop to his level, because stooping to his level, it's on his home turf. He's going to win every
time, and you're just perpetuating that lifestyle. It's a big topic. I do a whole presentation
on this, so I'm trying to squeeze into just five minutes here, but it's not uncommon. And the
way you protest is through empathy, compassion, and some healthy boundaries as well. Anyways,
that's our question for today. Love talking more about this. If you have more follow up questions
on this or you have your own question you like me to answer here on tips on Teens, email us at tipson
email@example.com. My name is
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Kent Toussaint, aunt with Teen therapy center and the nonprofit Child and Teen counseling. And
I'll see you guys next Wednesday. Bye.
Why do teenagers act obnoxious?
If you’ve just about had it with those obnoxious teenagers, we get where you’re coming from. We work with them all the time! What’s with all that annoying, rude and obnoxious behavior anyway? And we know we’re generalizing here, but it’s more often the boys and not the girls we’re talking about, right?
But back to those obnoxious teenagers. The explanation is pretty basic. Boys in general have a harder time exploring and expressing their vulnerable feelings. They don’t have the emotional capacity to tell their friends how they really feel about them. The result is that they develop that rough exterior and interact through jabbing and antagonizing and then they become… obnoxious teenagers.
If You Model, They Will Come
We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but this is a developmental issue that kids need to pass through. The most helpful thing you can do as a parent is to model good examples of vulnerability and emotional maturity.. Apologizing to your kid when the situation presents itself, for example, is a golden opportunity to provide a good example. As always, empathy and compassion will win the day.
There’s more to say about it, and we antagonize the topic in this Tips on Teens:
“I have three sons. One is a teenager and the others are in grade school. Our teen is 14 and he’s just not nice like he used to be. Everything is an argument. He criticizes everyone, especially his little brothers, but me and his dad too. I hear him with his friends when we pick him up from football and I hate the way he talks with them. The only way for him to talk to others is through finding what they do wrong or insulting them. He just laughs or ignores it when I try to talk with him about it. I love my son, but I don’t like who he is sometimes. He’s not always horrible. Sometimes he’s sweet and playful, but it seems random. How normal is this?”
Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. We love to hear from you!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.