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Ask a Professional: Swearing Teenager

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Ask a Professional: Swearing Teenager

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Ask a Professional: Swearing Teenager

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Hi Everyone,

I have a 14 going on 15 year old son. He has lately started expressing some rage with swearing..lots of f's and best. He has unfortunately used this at school and has now been suspended.

I have spoken to him several times to understand him and he says he gets frustrated and angry.

The school tends to pick on him for almost every little thing, he attends this particular school for a specialist program which he was removed from because he get into trouble all the time. (Talking in class, disruptive, not handing work in) he has since then tried very hard to redeem himself by not getting into any trouble.

Recently he was with his group of friends who were involved in dacking another child however this was not my son, but because he was present at the time he was questioned and did not want to answer to the school liking. They kept him for several periods until he got frustrated and upset and started to swear.

I'm at a loss. Do I change his school to change the company he is hanging around or do I continue to pay $9000 a year to hear how **bleep** my child is.


Dear @Workinclassmum,

How frustrating it must be that your son is experiencing these difficulties at his current school, it sounds like you feel that they really aren’t providing the support you’d expect.

The difficulties he is experiencing at the moment - getting frustrated; swearing; talking in class; sometimes not handing in work - are all relatively common issues that teens may experience occasionally. However, it sounds like this is happening more often for your son than his peers, and getting in the way of his overall progress at school, so it’s great that you have spoken with him to try to understand it.

The recent incident - where he was kept for several periods and it sounds like he was questioned repeatedly - is something that’s likely to result in frustration even for someone who is usually pretty calm. If this were the only instance of him losing his temper and swearing, I’d consider this a result of the situation rather than indicating an ongoing issue. However, it sounds like you’ve been concerned about his swearing and difficulties with managing anger for a while, given that you mention having spoken to him several times.
Since you mention that your son has been putting in a lot of effort lately to not get in trouble, and that the school is picking on him for small things, I am not sure if you feel like he needs more ongoing support for his behaviour, or if it is more a problem of the school not recognising his progress.

It takes time for teens to learn how to deal with frustration in ways which won’t get them into trouble. If it does feel like skills to manage anger and frustration would be helpful, you might like these resources.

Sometimes frustration can also be a result of other issues, which can contribute to someone not getting work done on time, and having difficulties concentrating in class. If your son is finding it difficult to focus, or finding that it’s hard to get work done, seeing a professional to explore things in more depth could be useful. Your GP can help you find someone local.

I also want to acknowledge that it’s really normal for teens to behave similarly to their friends (including things like talking in class and being disruptive when this is something their friend group encourages) - and it sounds like this is a concern for you as well. If you haven’t already, it could be helpful to talk to your son about his friends and get his perspective on things. This can help you understand whether your son’s friends might be influencing his behaviour in a negative way, and also if he is facing peer pressure.

With regards to the school, since you say that you are considering a change of school, but feel uncertain, it could be helpful to arrange a meeting with the school to discuss your concerns with them, and to explore whether there is a way that they could provide better support to your son moving forward. Before the meeting, if you take some time to think about questions you have for the school, make a list of your concerns, as well as give some thought to what a helpful response from them would look like, this can make the conversation go smoother. This conversation won’t necessarily resolve the issues you are experiencing with the school, but it can help give you a sense of how willing the school will be to work with you moving forward, which can help inform any decision for your son to stay or change schools.

Lastly, I just want to say you sound like a really caring parent, doing your best to provide support to your son in a challenging situation.

Best wishes,

Linda is a psychologist experienced in working with people across the lifespan, including teenagers and their families, in a variety of settings, and is ReachOut's Clinical Lead.