“Could you explain to me when I should be taking my son’s threats seriously?”

Good afternoon, welcome to Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint, licensed marriage and
family therapist, founder and clinical director of Teen Therapy Center, and also the executive
director of Child and Teen Counseling, both in Woodland Hills, California. Coming to you live
every Wednesday at noon to answer your parenting questions here on Tips on Teens. I'm going
to jump into this week's question right away. Could you explain to me when I should be taking
my son's threats seriously? He's 11, and anytime he doesn't get what he wants, he'll say some
pretty awful things like, I hate you, I wish I was never born, I'm going to kill myself if you don't
listen to me, or you'll be sorry when I'm gone. It's always when he doesn't get his way. To tell
you the truth, he's desensitizing me to this language and I no longer take it seriously because
I think it's all manipulation. He's doing it in public now, which has caused a few of my girlfriends
to voice their concerns with me. It's quite embarrassing,

and I'd like it to stop." So there's a lot to this question. The first point that you brought up
was when you should take these threats seriously, and I would say you should take them seriously
immediately. Even if you think that this is all just manipulation, if you think that he's not
serious, I would take this seriously for a few different reasons. First, as a therapist, we
are trained to assess suicidality with four different categories. Number one, the fantasy
or the thoughts of suicide, which pretty much everyone on earth has had at one point or another,
and that is not necessarily super dangerous. When you start getting to the other categories,
that's when the danger starts getting up more. So, plans. You know, does he have plans? Does
he plan? Does he voice that he's gonna jump out of the car on the 4 or 5 freeway? Does he have plans
of, you know, taking medication and Odein? Or, you know, getting a rope and hanging himself?
Or getting into the gun locker and shooting himself? Does

he start making those plans? Then we're getting very concerned that we need to take this seriously.
The third part is means. Does he have the means to carry out these plans? You know, can he jump
out of the 4 on the 4 or 5 freeway? Yes, he probably can. You know, can he, does he have access to
the medication. Can he get to that rope? Can he get to that those guns? Any way, you know, any of
those things, that's when the the risk of suicide becomes very severe and we need to take note.
And so we have the plans, means, and now the intent. And the intent is, you know, does he want to
do this? Now intent can happen in a split second. Someone can go from not wanting to kill themselves
to wanting to kill themselves in a moment's notice. And especially if your 11 year old son is,
you know, diagnosed with something that amplifies his impulsiveness like ADHD or on the autism
spectrum, that can happen very quickly. What he wants, the things that he's wanting, I think
are not the important thing to

focus on. The important thing to focus on is why is he doing this? Why is he needing to go to this
extreme to get what he wants? There's an emotional need that is not being met and he is trying
very hard to meet that emotional need albeit not in a healthy way, but we need to find a way for
him to meet that emotional need in a healthier way and My concern is it's not he keeps ratcheting
it up He keeps ratcheting me up and my concern is eventually he's going to do something now It
may not kill himself, but it may cause significant damage to himself and we wanted to try to avoid
that Um, what was the other thought I had on this? I think that we need to find a way to repair this
relationship because he's attacking you with these words. It's definitely an attack and there's
some resentment there. I don't know why that is. It could be a thousand different reasons. Could
be there's a divorce and you're the one stable parent who's still holding him to boundaries
and still holding him to brushing

his teeth and doing his homework and getting up on time and maybe the other parent is not and he's
angry about the divorce and he's lashing out on you because you're the stable one which is entirely
possible. But whatever it is we need to repair this relationship because this will continue
to get worse if we don't address it. Now I encourage you to sit down with him in a loving, compassionate
way and talk to him. If that's not working, it's not good enough, get a therapist who works with
teens and kids and understand teens and kids. If you think that he's in danger, I encourage you
to take him to a hospital. Call 9 -1 -1 if you think he's in real danger. There's a list of suicide
resources in the text below, so make sure you read through those. Websites, phone numbers for
Suicide Prevention Hotlines, and more information, so make sure you read through that. But
again, I think somehow we need to help him cope with his feelings, the anger, the frustration,
the sadness that he's having in

a way that is more healthy than threatening suicide and my concern is if you dismiss it then you're
not really meeting his emotional needs. If you're assuming that he's just manipulating then
he's gonna keep ratcheting things up until he gets your attention. So please take this seriously.
Hopefully it never goes to a suicide attempt. Hopefully you guys get the help and the support
he needs to help him feel like he's getting his emotional needs met and understanding how to
cope disappointment in a more effective way and help the two of you communicate in a more effective
and respectful and compassionate way so you guys do have a cohesive healthy family life. Anyways,
there's a huge topic we could talk for an hour about this and still not exhaust everything but
I just want to give you a tidbit of where I'm coming from. Please contact us if you have more questions
about this topic and if you have new questions you'd like us to every Wednesday at noon here on
Facebook Live. Please email us

at TipsOnTeens at teentherapycenter .com or direct message us right here on Facebook and we
will see you next week. And everyone, happy 4th of July! Bye -bye!

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Most kids at one point or another have lashed out at their parents and said some really hurtful or worrisome things… most of the time it’s when they don’t get what they want! When should you take these comments a little more seriously and when is it just a kid being a kid? This week, we have a parent whose son is threatening self-harm whenever he doesn’t get his way. What advice would you give her? Here’s the #TipsOnTeens question for the week:

“Could you explain to me when I should be taking my son’s threats seriously? He’s 11 and any time he doesn’t get what he wants he’ll say some pretty awful things like “I hate you, I wish I was never born, I’m going to kill myself if you don’t listen to me, or you’ll be sorry when I’m gone.” It’s always when he doesn’t get his way. To tell you the truth he’s desensitizing me to this language and I no longer take it seriously because I think it’s all manipulation. He’s doing it in public now which has caused a few of my girlfriends to voice their concerns with me. It’s quite embarrassing and I’d like it to stop.”

Tips On Teens is a vlog that our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint, hosts every Wednesday at 12:00pm on Facebook Live.  He will be answering parenting questions submitted to us by you to our email at TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com.  Send us any questions you might have about parenting kids and teens and Kent will be answering them every week!

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.