Violence towards parents or other family members by young people is more common than many people think. It’s not often talked about because parents can feel embarrassed, scared or alone. They can feel as if they have lost control in their own home.
It is important not to ignore the violence or other types of abuse, and to keep yourself safe. It can help to take action early to prevent or avoid violence.
It’s normal for parents and young people to disagree and have conflict or arguments at times. However, if a young person is abusive or violent, it is more than conflict. It is an attempt to control and have power over you or others in the home. It can happen in families of any culture, religion or situation in life.
A young person may frighten, threaten or hurt you by swearing, calling you names, yelling, pushing, hitting, spitting or kicking. They might throw or break things, or punch holes in walls. Sometimes they steal money, run up debts or demand things you can’t afford. They may hurt pets or damage property.
They can threaten to run away or harm themselves if you don’t give in to them. They might threaten you with knives or other weapons.
Young people can use abuse or violence for a number of reasons. It’s more common for adolescent boys to be violent toward their mother, especially if they are the sole parent, but this isn’t always the case. If a young person has seen violence between parents, or a parent has been violent toward them, they may believe it is normal.
Violence or abuse can be a sign they:
Violence towards parents or other family members is not okay and in some cases can be a crime. Everyone has the right to feel safe and be respected, including parents.
Limits help both children and young people feel safe and secure and to know what is expected of them. As young people mature, limits need to be adjusted to enable them to become more independent. It is important to remember, parents need to be in control but there is a difference between being in control and being controlling.
When you are both calm and relaxed, it helps to:
To become mature, young people need to learn to accept the consequences of their choices. If they haven’t had to face consequences for abuse or violence they might see no reason to stop. They may continue to be violent in future relationships. Consequences send a clear message that you won’t put up with violence. It also helps you feel more confident as you take back your right to be the parent.
It is important to:
However, if they are violent, there is no negotiation. Consequences help young people learn they are the ones choosing to use violence – they can’t blame others.
Know the triggers
Notice what happens before your young person gets aggressive or abusive. They might lash out when they are stressed or frustrated, when under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or when there is conflict.
Help young people find ways to manage their feelings and deal with stress. They might want to talk with a trusted adult or youth counsellor.
Strengthen your relationship
It can help to work out ways to build your relationship. Work together at making the relationship more important than any differences you might have. You could:
Take action to stop the violence
It is important to take control early. It’s also important to plan what you will do in an emergency. You could have:
Look after yourself
Dealing with violence in the home is difficult and stressful. Recognise positive changes, even if they are small steps. Taking early action can help you feel more confident as a parent. It sends a clear message that you won’t put up with violence.
Kings Lynn, Swaffham and West Norfolk
This is an eight-week course for women combining educational and therapeutic sessions for parents of children who are verbally and physically abusive and beyond parental control. The aim of the programme is to reduce parental stress and guilt by providing a supportive environment and it seeks to offer an opportunity for parents to change their own attitudes and behaviours towards abusive children.
Referrals via website only: www.pandoraproject.org.uk
0808 800 2222
Confidential helpline, live online chat, email support service and forum community. Online parenting courses and Parentchannel.tv advice videos.
0808 802 5544
Helpline for parents or carers concerned about the emotional problems, behaviour or mental health of children and young people.