13-Year-Old Brother Has Changed for the Worse

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

He lies, fights with his parents, only wants to either sleep or hang out with friends.
Please help. I would be ever so grateful to you.

My cousin brother recently turned 13. He used to be an observing, caring, sharing, helping little boy from when he was an infant. He was also very brilliant, and though he never liked studies, he showed interest and was skilled in many housewifely (helping mom, tidying his wardrobe) little things from a young age.
But as he reached his 12th birthday he slowly disliked all kinds of work including his interests like drawing and card making.

Last year, he was caught with a thousand rupees in his pocket by his teachers in school. They informed his parents. But he denied everything. He even said that his school teachers are LYING about him, which is impossible. He was questioned innumerable times, we even accused him of stealing. We asked if he was trying to cover up for someone at school but still he said that his teachers were lying. He keeps his own pocket money horded up in mother’s safe and he did not touch that money, we are certain.

He wakes up very late. He wakes up only after being scolded repeatedly by his parents. On 1st May, his mom decided that she won’t call him but he went to bed at 11:30 pm and got out of bed at 12:50 pm. Then after bathing, eating, he went to sleep again at 3:00 pm. Disgusted, his mom told him that he can only sleep with his bedroom door wide open and lights turned on. He fired up and started quarreling with her. My aunt lost her cool and slapped him. Whereupon he punched her in the eye.

He hates studying and ANY kind of work, and whatever work he does is very untidy. He hates story books, he hates reading. He does not want to read even a single line. He hates art or any kind of constructive work. He does not even help with the household chores now as he used to do when he was young.
He does NOT listen to his parents AT ALL.

He was adopted as a baby but he does not know that. His parents are both very learned and hardworking, very honest. Yeah, sometimes they have scolded him too much or too little. But come on, how many of our parents are perfect?

I would be very very, very grateful to you if you can kindly throw some light upon why he started behaving in that way. :(

A: Thank you for writing us. I would find a way to arrange for him to have a physical. There are so many possibilities here — but at the core of this is we want to rule out any physical problems. Part of the physical would be to rule out if he has been using any drugs. Whenever there is a radical change in personality, a loss of interest in activities, excessive sleeping, lying and stealing money, one possibility is drug use is involved. I want to be clear about this. I’m not saying that drugs are the problem, but if I were taking a test in graduate school listing all the possible reasons, that would be one of them, and it would be close to the top of the list. A medical exam is a very good way to begin rulling out all kinds of medical and drug concerns before proceeding.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Jun 2014

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2014). 13-Year-Old Brother Has Changed for the Worse. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/06/03/13-year-old-brother-has-changed-for-the-worse/