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Help with our 14yo son

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Casual scribe

Help with our 14yo son

Looking for advice.  We have a 14yo son who 2 years ago was confident and did well at school.  During the disaster known as 2020, he started to be completely withdrawn from the family, addicted to gaming and is now failing school.  We thought he was just a troubled teen going through a phase until 2 months ago he self harmed.  We obviously flipped out.  He claims it was nothing and he will never do it again and that we are overreacting.  We got him to the GP then to a councillor who says there are no red flags, while personally I think he is very good at telling adults what they want to hear.


My gut feeling is there are two major issues:

  1. The relationships he has established on discord.  He has a large circle of friends on discord, most of which are older or adults.  While I think discord is toxic, he has no close friends apart from the friends on that platform.  I don't want to ban discord or gaming as I suspect it will make things worse for him.  He has also said that many of the friends on discord helped him through the tough times.
  2. Essentially I think he got bored at school, got distracted while learning from home and now his confidence is shot as he has fallen behind.  Two years ago he used to get up in front of the entire school and read announcments during school assembly.  Now he freaks out if he has to speak 5 words on a video assignment and goes into a fight or flight response.  We really blame ourselves for not monitoring his learning more during this year.

Anyway we are really struggling and worried any changes or bans etc will just break our trust and we do could bring back another self harm (or worse) incident.


We have implemented other strategies but I won't go into yet as I don't want to influence others feedback.


Many Thanks


Re: Help with our 14yo son

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Hi @Brandon 

Good on you taking your son to a GP and counsellor, its great that you took that step and would really show your son how much you care about his wellbeing. It can be so shocking and distressing as a parent when a child engages in self-harm, you have done the right thing by showing him how much you care. We have a content piece here on self-harm that might have some hepful tips and info for you to look at. 

It's can be really tough when teens don't seem to be engaging in friendships outside of online spaces, though it is good that he has found some support there. Do you think he might be interested in checking out our Youth Forum? These forums provide a space for young people to talk about their mental health in a supportive way that is anonymous and safe - the forums are moderated from 9am - 11pm. This could be a way for him to connect with people his age and get some support from peers who may have had similar experiences.

Learning from home has definitely had a huge variety of impacts on students this year, there is no need to blame yourself, I'm sorry you and your family have experienced this. I'm wondering if your son is still engaging in counselling, or other supports, to chat through this shift in confidence?


Given how draining this situation must be for you @Brandon, I'm wondering as well if you wanted to engage in any supports for youself? Parentline offers 1 on 1 counselling for parents to chat through any issues they might be experiencing and could be a good support if you wanted to talk to someone directly.

I hope some other parents are able to offer their support here as well. 

Casual scribe

Re: Help with our 14yo son

Thanks Hannah,


Really appreciate your response.  The youth forum is a good suggestion as he seems to communicate better when not in a face-2-face situation so will offer it to him.   He is still engaged with counselling however it is virtual and doesn't seem to be very effective.


We will also check out Parentline, thanks for the suggestion.


Thanks again,


Casual scribe

Re: Help with our 14yo son

Hi there I'm sorry to hear about your son and the things y'all are going through. I'm pretty upfront but never disrespectful only giving advice sometimes you got to keep it straightforward. If you feel like your son is addicted to in these games first things first is to take the games from him especially if it's interfering with his everyday life and school. Your husband as the man of the house should be the man of the house and not ask his son to do something but tell him. Now as far as harming himself your husband at this point should be the disciplinarian. Honestly ma'am some of us we love our kids way too nice. Which can be harmful to the child because it puts them in a mind frame to think things like harming themselves is okay, which is not. Me as parents I love my kids to death and to teach them a lesson when they do something that can be harmful to themselves I might go overboard or with the discipline because I'm scared to lose them and with that being said, with life or death situations they will only try once out of worrying, every time they think about it they think about what Mom will do. That first time is a blessing only God knows how far or what he will do the next time or what could happen.

Super contributor

Re: Help with our 14yo son

Hi @Brandon, thank you so much for sharing your story. I am so sorry to hear that your family has struggled throughout 2020. It is totally understandable that your son is now struggling with social interaction and confidence due to learning from home. I know some adults who are feeling the same way - it can be such an uneasy feeling settling back into 'normal' life again.

Gaming can be an outlet for a lot of teenagers, especially these days. As you have outlined, it is not necessarily about the game itself but the social interaction involved. Often teenagers may feel comfortable sharing how they are feeling online rather than in a face to face interaction with a friend. Are these friends on Discord also friends with your son in real life? Perhaps he could suggest playing the game together in person, as opposed to online. I am also wondering if therapy is virtual due to COVID restrictions? And is that with a psychologist or a helpline service?