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When Parental Authority Is Challenged

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: We have a 12-year-old son who always thinks he's right, regardless of the situation. He's a strong-minded boy who has a problem with controlling his temper. He doesn't show his mother or me any respect. What can we do?

A: Most of the behaviors you describe are typical of any twelve-year-old boy. Your son is approaching puberty - he's going through tremendous hormonal changes while experiencing the desire for independence that all children feel at his age. If you haven't already talked with your son about puberty and the changes he will experience, look for an opening to do that soon. He needs to know that what he's feeling and experiencing is quite normal.

Make sure that your son understands that you expect him to show respect for the adults and friends around him, no matter what changes he is going through. Talk with the school counselor about your son's behaviors. She may be able to give him some individual time or include him in a small group. You may want to pursue family counseling for all of you, and the counselor or your pediatrician can refer you to a therapist in your community.

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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


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