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mommy32
mommy32 asks:
Q:

My 12 year old son seems to be unhappy. He is struggling in school. He cried tonight and didn't know why?

I asked him why he was crying and he said it was because his jacket was taken away from him at school(it did not have the school logo on it). his teacher called one of his classmates a piece of s*^t. He is frustrated and upset and only seems to be happy when he is listening to music or riding his bike.(his bike is his life..lol). It seems as though the school is enforcing all kinds of crazy rules and that compiled with the work load and trying to fit in with peers is overwhelming him ...how can I help him?
In Topics: Teen issues
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
Feb 1, 2011
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What the Expert Says:

We are very sorry to hear that your son is struggling in school. The good thing is that he is able to express his feelings to you and let his emotions out by crying. It also sounds like he has some good coping skills by listening to music and riding his bicycle, which is much better than spending all of his free time on video games.

It is very concerning that he teacher called another student "a piece of s*^t." If these were the exact words the teacher used, she should be disciplined. On the other hand it is possible that your son perceived that she said those words, but in fact she was unhappy with the student and it came across that way.

Middle school is a major transition from elementary school. Encourage your son to invite a friend or two over after school or on a weekend. Also encourage him to join after school clubs and activities where he can meet other kids with similar interests. You might want to talk with your son's school counselor about the concerns you have for your son. You are your child's greatest advocate. It is better to work in partnership with your child's school, rather than be on opposing sides.

If you would like to talk with a counselor about this or any other parenting concern, please call or e-mail our Hotline. Please give your son our website for 'tweens and teens as a resource: www.yourlifeyourvoice.org   He can also e-mail a counselor from the website if he desires.
Thanks again for reaching out. Take care and best wishes to you and your son!

Sincerely,

Cynthia, Counselor
Boys Town National Hotline
1-800-448-3000
hotline@boystown.org
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Additional Answers (1)

DrWSchwartz
DrWSchwartz writes:
First I am sorry to hear that your son is having such a difficult time. It is heartbreaking for us as parents to watch our children be sad and not know how to help. However, this sounds like a situation that may require more help than you can give. While it is perfectly normal for young adolescents to have periods of sadness and even fairly profound mood swings, it is definitely NOT normal for them to experience prolonged periods of unhappiness and chronic difficulty finding joy in activities as you describe. It may be that your son is suffering from depression or another underlying issue causing more severe symptoms that need to be addressed by a professional. School can be difficult, kids often have some problems adjusting to the rules and rigorous work load and fitting in with peers in middle school can be overwhelming. But, again, sudden onset tearfulness, prolonged periods of sadness and difficulty finding joy in previously fun activities are all warning sides of a more serious problem.

It would probably be a good idea to have your son see a professional at least for an evaluation and opinion. A qualified child psychologist, MFT or adolescent psychiatrist should be able to give you an idea about whether your son is struggling with regular preteen issues or if there might be something more serious to investigate.

Also you can learn more about childhood depression and stress by visiting the websites at the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Psychological Association. (www.aacap.org and www.apa.org).

Wendla A. Schwartz, MD
Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
> 60 days ago

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