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destructive teenager

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destructive teenager

Hi, I am a grandparent, living with one of my children and their partner and only child - a boy aged 16.


This co-living is a relatively new set up but that is not my issue right now.


This teen has been destructive with things all his life - he has not been chastised except for being told to get out of the way. He manipulates both parents who treat him like a demigod.


He has always been given the best and most expensive of presents, especially by his father. 


Now he screams and yells at the computer games. He has broken the controls that are now taped up with sticky tape.  Earlier the TV remotes suffered the same.  This is not new behaviour, it has been going on since he was about 4/5yrs old.


  As a child his bedroom was a total shambles with toys everywhere - always- plus any other junk he just tossed on the floor  ---now his room is just the same.    He also used to dig holes in the gyprock walls beside his bed.


When we moved in together, he continued all this screaming at the computer games even when in the lounge room when it was attached to the large TV screen and so very loud.  


In the past 18months he has now had his matress replaced as he had ripped huge chunks of the foam out of the inner parts and off the top.  The wall beside his bed has huge holes in it the shape and size of his feet which are quite large.  He has conveniently hidden these by draping the curtain across and securing it by his bed and doonas. 


His room stinks - no one cleans it - junk, clothes food empty cartons etc  everywhere.   Yesterday I went in to open the window to let some air through to alleviate the smell, only to discover that the sliding window has been broken and taped over.  It is hard to see from the outside. Again the curtain covers the damage and the scraps of broken glass lying there.


I cried all yesterday morning. 


He is a really good soccer goal keeper but I am afraid for him  - if this behaviour continues he is going to do bigger and worse damage to things - hopefully not people but it could happen. 

He is quite well developed as he trains at a gym and has been training 3 nights a week for the soccer for several years.


I really do not know how to deal with this - ignoring it is not going to help but I cannot see his parents accepting me saying anything.   


  Any Ideas?    


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Re: destructive teenager

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Hi @TooConfused29,


Welcome to ReachOut! I'm very sorry to hear what you are going through in your home- it sounds like you and your grandchild's parents have been dealing with some really difficult behaviours for quite a long time. I can hear from your post how difficult it is as a grandparent to watch this happen and see the amount of destruction occurring around the house. I can imagine it would be pretty scary and upsetting.


It sounds like you are in a difficult position with the parents not wanting you to say anything. Have the parents sought any support before around managing difficult behaviours? Maybe supporting/encouraging them to access support is a good start. ReachOut has a free parents coaching service here which provides one on one support to Australian parents, focusing on facilitated goal setting. This might be something that could help them work through practical steps to address these behaviours.


I really feel for you and what your family are going through Heart Sometimes these behaviours can stem from other issues happening in a young person's life too. Is he currently seeking any mental health support?


We are here for you and I would interested to hear from other parents how they manage difficult behaviours. I'll tag a few active members here Smiley Happy @taokat @sunflowermom @Tulip @Monty777 @Helpful_Mum @Moggy3kids @Bren-G_


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Active scribe

Re: destructive teenager

Hi  Jess1-RO


Finally getting a hang of how this site works --- so I'm here again. 

Thank you for your reply.

Firstly , it is not that the parents do not want me to say anything. I just feel that they may not even be aware of all this damage. If I say something it will look like I am snooping. It would cause a dreadful row. 


I do not know what they know or do not know. No one cleans his room not even the teen himself. The room never gets any air through it. He shuts himself in there all day and night except for coming out to eat and sometimes watch a bit of TV.  He does nothing about the place- no chores of any kind. 


I do not think that they have sought help- I would not know as that would not be discussed with me. 

From what I have observed it looks like they expect this to pass by - eventually stop.......  well


I would no even dare suggest that he has a problem.   I have to consider myself first and foremost but I am really worried about this behaviour escalating.     


I was shocked when I came across the holes in the wall but today this window has really rattled my cage...


next year he will be 17 and considered an adult so......  he will also have a car  - courtesy of his father...... that worries me even more.   


Writing this has made me a lot more calm but It has not yest given me clarity of thought.


See what transpires.


Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: destructive teenager

Hello @TooConfused29

I can see how worried this is making you.  I agree that it would be very concerning to find the destructive way he is keeping his room.  Many teens are really messy and smelly- I have a 27 year old son- I remember.  But as for the holes and broken stuff, it may get worse.  If he is hiding the damage then he is probably afraid of consequences. I would still consider mentioning to his parents, at least one of them that you opened a window and found this damage.  At least then you know you tried your best to bring the situation to light.  Sorry you are going through this.  

Super star contributor

Re: destructive teenager

Hi @TooConfused29, I can only imagine how you are feeling seeing all this and not feeling comfortable to say anything. It must be really tough.


There are many reasons our kids can be destructive and I’ve found with my daughter that it’s usually an outlet for emotions she’s struggling with. I agree with @sunflowermom that he may be covering up the damage if he feels he may get into trouble, so it might be helpful to approach the matter from a place of concern as opposed to punishment. It’d be great to get to the reasons behind the behaviour so they can be dealt with. Not always an easy task with teens!

Grandparents can be such a wonderful support and you clearly love your grandson and are worried about him. Do you and he do any activities together that could provide an opportunity for conversation?




Active scribe

Re: destructive teenager

Hi everyone,  


This teen has been in my life since the day he was born. He was a dear little boy but allowed to just do anything, even as a toddler and 3 or 4 yr old.  I minded him while his parents worked every evening Mon-Fri.  


I took him to soccer training and matches once that started ran him to music lessons supervised homework, picked him up from school.  


He used to call me and grandpa he second parents.  That has all gone. 


This  year I no longer take him anywhere - his mother does. Sometimes when his father can fit it in he goes to the matches as well. ---got to watch his fantastic child.   May be on the soccer field but elsewhere NO.


[That sounds awful - but it is the reality]


I am deaf - very deaf - I have one hearing aid and an 18mths old cochlear implant. Even so it is still hard when people yell at me from behind.  It does not help.   He is just like everyone else - they just do not understand.


He looks at me as though I am a complete idiot as do the other two.  So.......


NO I do not have any time with him to talk about anything.


Perhaps I should just 'turn a blind eye' on it all and let them deal with whatever transpires, after all they are his parents and responsible for him and how he turns out.  


That action is maybe the hardest of all but my only choice.   I do not know why this is upsetting me so much - I am frustrated and angry but helpless - I feel like a snake that has been chopped but not broken. or a rat in a corner.






Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: destructive teenager

Hi @TooConfused29

I can totally understand your frustration and anger over this situation.  My heart goes out to you.  It sounds like you were the main care taker for much of his childhood and now things have changed this year.  I am sorry you feel so helpless and backed into a corner.  Sometimes stepping back from the situation even if it is painful is the best thing until we can figure out the best course of action.  Hugs

Super contributor

Re: destructive teenager

Hi @TooConfused29, the other users have commented some really helpful and supportive things. This situation sounds so difficult and upsetting for you and understandably so. I was wondering what you do to deal with all of this hurt and the way it has been making you feel? It sounds like you have been supporting this young person for some time but it is important to look after yourself too Heart

Active scribe

Re: destructive teenager

Hi Sunflowermoon and Taylor-RO,


thankyou Sunflower moon -  yes it is really upsetting and something which i fell I should try to do soething about, however  i also need to think of myself and how doing anything might impact on my current situation.


Taylor-RO  I was so upset over all this especially the window that I tried to find some one to tell and ask advice.  That was how I found this organization and forum.  About looking after myself, I do have really good back up on that issue only that was not available until yesterday.  A good chat about all this and I have decided that I will just wait and see how it all pans out and try not to get too concerned. My fears may not eventuate  [?]    Eventually the parents will have to do something positive, the blinkers will have to come off - eventually.


Thanks for caring, lots of luck to all, take care