Need help now?

14 year old boy has run off the rails - needing suppport

14 year old boy has run off the rails - needing suppport

Parent Peer Supporter

Re: 14 year old boy has run off the rails - needing suppport

Hey @Orbit64


Good on you for keeping your calm, that must've been really difficult under the circumstances!


It's so common for our teens to treat us differently to others. Whether it's a conscious choice or not I don't know? Their brains really don't work like ours. It really helps to know that what he is displaying to you reflects what is going on inside for him. He's very mixed up, and he'll be acting out harder because his old ways aren't working anymore. He'll escalate to try and get the upper hand again. Which he really doesn't want, which I know sounds really strange to say when he's fighting so hard for it!


Volatile kids are scary in the car! I've had to lock all doors and windows on one occasion with mine. I didn't know whether I should pullover or just get home, and went for the get home option. I was freaking out though!


Please give your wife a hug from me. I'm so sorry she's feeling like that. As a parent, as a mum, it's a really horrible place to be, and for me brought with it loads of guilt. I found looking over photos from when she was little always warmed my heart (and made me cry). It reminded me that I did love her dearly, and gave me the resolve to keep going.  As you say, you've done the best you could. It's all any of us can do. There's been a massive oversight in that kids don't come with manuals. You're seeking help and that shows what great parents you are. Not everyone does, even though none of us have all the answers.


You're both doing a fantastic job and things will settle. 




Re: 14 year old boy has run off the rails - needing suppport

I agree with you @taokat it's a very confronting situation absolutely... And the idea about looking at photos what a great tip for the community Smiley Happy Thank you.

Prolific scribe

Re: 14 year old boy has run off the rails - needing suppport

Intervention: We have had a fairly harrowing time recently. However on Monday morning we had a little win. 


We booked our son on a wilderness therapy program. True North Expeditions in SA. We did our research on what intervention strategies we could apply. The program run by True North is a 2 week camping expedition with qualified counsellors, 2 past student attendees and a small group of 14 to 17 year olds displaying all the kinds of issues we have seen from our son in the last few months. 


My approach to get him to accept he was going was as follows:

1. Got him away from the city a few weeks ago to sit and discuss what was going on with some  family friends, one who could talk from personal experience as he was kicked out of home at 14 in Scotland. At this discussion our son agreed to attend True North. He did however change his mind later that night. We believe it is someone in the background we have not yet identified that is leading him on. 


2. I booked it all ASAP so he knew we were serious. As the time approached, he tried all sorts of strategies to not go. For example a list of terms we had to comply with for him to go, mostly riduculous. We absorbed that for a few days, then met him part way with a list of our requirements. One night 5 days before he was due to go, I cracked it and clearly and concisely gave him a piece of my mind. Part of that was the genuine threat that if he did not go, I would throw him out of the house permanently. Seems harsh but life with his behaviour has become so disruptive it is shattering the fabric of our family. 


3. I then had to seek school support and approval for what we were doing. Otherwise he would simply be marked absent for 2 weeks. I managed to get school approval despite the program not being a "school approved activity". We are in WA.


4. As D day approached, I was convinced he would try something to avoid going. Fortunately he was not successful, despite concerted attempts to derail the plan. 


So currently he is away for another 8 days. The real question now is, will the program have helped him understand better what was going on in his head, and how to not be so destructive and aggressive toward us.   

Super frequent scribe

Re: 14 year old boy has run off the rails - needing suppport

That so made me laugh where you said about the camel etc at the beginning!  Hearing you!  We've had 18months of that too.  You have to fight for help.  Mental health services available?  Uh-huh, no.  Did you know you can put him out on the street legally, but not force him to get therapy?  Wrong.  All wrong.  After 12months of me saying "I think he has ODD" finally we have one psychologist saying "I think he has a personality disorder & needs medication"...instead of the other one who cancelled visits and talked over his head.  My son actually has agreed to go back to the 2nd one.  My advice, get the right help the first time (one strike and they won't go back); don't tell yourself or let anyone else tell you they are just being a teenager; love them to BITS, but stick firm boundaries straight up & consequences as close to bad behaviour as possible (eg breaking property and abuse is illegal - ring the police); and you as a dad have one-on-one time bike riding, hiking, camping, gaming whatever....SONS need their dad's more than ever at this age. Did I mention love? Smiley Wink My son started after a year of extreme grief & bullying when the hormones slammed him...changed in one month flat.  I would be interested knowing how your journey goes Smiley Happy  Btw about kicking them out, we have had police recommend it.  We have put our son into our non-powered unfinished detached extension.  He is not allowed into the house.  I pass out meals.  He has showers at school (when he doesn't go he stays dirty!). We take him to school and any legitimate places.  If he is truant, he stays put. We love him...and tell him and speak kindly to him (the anger wore off long ago!).  We live out of town and that is key...he can't just pop off to do whatever without being exhausted and cold and rained on (we took his bike as he was staying out whenever!).  Took much info probably, but I wish I had known how long this was going to take, and done things differently.  So hopefully this helps you.  Now we aren't being abused, property broken.  He has calmed down, and is a bit more like his old self.  He really can't help a lot (his brain was taken a wrong turn with the wiring with hormones etc.), but we can't keep living with it. Keep loving loving loving...and keep yourselves safe Smiley Happy

Super contributor

Re: 14 year old boy has run off the rails - needing suppport

Message contains a hyperlink

Hey @Designed Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. Sounds like you guys really did it tough. But is it over now? I got the impression you had come out the other side of it.


If you're comfortable sharing your story, it would be wonderful to hear what you guys went through, what worked and what didn't. For example, how did your son respond to getting a diagnosis? And when you talk about firm boundaries, what kinds of things did you implement?


If you click here you can start a new post. 


So great to have you here! Thanks for joining us. Smiley Happy

Super frequent scribe

Re: 14 year old boy has run off the rails - needing suppport

Hey Smiley Happy  Noooooo far from out the other side.  In fact last 6 months have been worse.  But has been key to get the right help that we wish we had had 18 months ago.  And who wants to put their 14yr old out of the house in winter with no heating but a huge pile of wool and down?  But it is the last step before he is off the property and into a shelter... I think this has sobered him a "little".  And I think Orbit's son sounds like he has Oppositional Defiance Disorder as well, so can totally relate.  Personality Disorders are not often spoken about, but are very real.  Totally illogical, immature, random, up and down, attention seeking behaviour...almost looks bipolar/ADHD/2year old.  I so could relate to the drive in the car Orbit was talking about. Shouldn't make me laugh all the posts, but couldn't help cracking up. Such a funny sense of humour.  Laughing to share the common pain and the "You too???".  Happy to start a new post if you wish...but I do write too much Smiley Happy

Super contributor

Re: 14 year old boy has run off the rails - needing suppport

Not at all, @Designed!! There is no 'too much' here.  Please, if you're up for it, start a new post.

I have a feeling your story is gonna be an interesting one. Smiley Happy 

Prolific scribe

Re: 14 year old boy has run off the rails - needing suppport

I'm happy to keep it to this post. It may help fill in gaps and ideas we do understand yet. I do not even know what ODD is, other than odd. But the little I read, is a dead ringer for our son. 


I am preparing for his return. Trying to work out a strategy if he thinks he can go away for 2 weeks, participate fully, then come back and set off with the same approach. 


Ideas are forming. The first one being a back pack, sleeping back and a small amount of food in the back of the car when I pick him up at the airport. If he is horrible for the outset, I can turn right, head for the hills and drop him off in the bush somewhere. 


If he is okay and respectful, I'll take him home. I have concluded that I will take away all the problem issues. I am about to buy a special device that controls access time to internet in the house to any connected device and what they can access. I'm going to meet with the school psychologist before he gets back. We provided him with a chart of jobs around the house and how much he would earn monthly. I'll keep adding to my list this week. 


Also, I have found being very frank with friends and family a better approach for us than hiding what is going on. Humour makes an intolerable situation just tolerable for me. There are lots of people out there doing it tougher than us. 

Super frequent scribe

Re: 14 year old boy has run off the rails - needing suppport

We tried the money thing too...didn't work.  Now our son has his own job..casual, but his pay goes into an account he can't touch, so gets a descent amount each fortnight (more than double his older siblings used to get!) to spend on whatever.  If you want to read what we've gone through the last couple of years @Orbit64, go to the newest post in the forums ("Our 18mon story (so far)..")'s a long read though I warn you.  Lol, yeah odd is sure what ODD should read some more up on it and take that to the school psychologist and ask if they think your son has that.  If you aren't happy with the psychologist you have PLEASE look for one that your son relates to, and knows what they are doing.  Do not waste any time on someone you aren't happy with.  Well your humour makes me laugh...which I appreciate, as there is so little to find joy in these in seeking help, you have helped me Smiley Happy  Guys have such a straight forward way of writing!  Do you live in the city?  Is there someone/somewhere you know that he can reasonably "camp out"?  I assume if you tried that in your backyard (not allowing him inside) he would have a lot of places he could easily walk to/take off with friends instead and get what he wants (food, technology etc.)?  IF he does have Oppositional Defiance Disorder, he needs a proper diagnosis, referral to psychiatrist via psychologist/paediatrician, medication & GOOD therapy...and correct behaviour management.  Believe me, consequences alone do not work.  We looked at the Northern Territory program 3months+, but it costs $36,000 for 3 months Smiley Surprised As it takes at least 21 days to change pathways in a HEALTHY brain. Let me know how your son went with the SA one.  We would be interested to know, as hadn't come across that one in our research.  I would be interested to know if they had any ideas of possible diagnoses ideas watching him over that time.  When exactly does he return?  Hope you and your wife are making the most of the break at least Smiley Happy  Your relationship can go downhill pretty quick as the teen consumes everything you have.

Prolific scribe

Re: 14 year old boy has run off the rails - needing suppport

Dear Designed,


i read your long post before I read this.


He comes back on Sunday week. So we have 9 more days to prepare. We live in Perth, within 5 km of the CBD. So getting elsewhere is easy for him. He has left home several times saying we would not see him for days, then he'd be back in 2 hours. However he also has a place he has stayed several times overnight. We do not know who they are or how he is connected to them.  We decided to hold off on this until he got back to see if there are any changes for the positive. 


Once he is back I'll post what has happened with True North. 


Dreaming Super Nova's tonight to the dulcet sounds of a snoring Great Dane!





Moderator Hours

This forum is moderated from

09:00AM to 11:00PM

We are not a counselling or crisis service and we can't guarantee you'll get a reply, so if you need to talk now

Click here for help

The current time is Wed, 8:04 AM
(Australian Eastern time)