Pre-Teens: Anger & Negativity
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School-aged Kids > Pre-Teens: Anger & Negativity
My son is ten and a half years old and he is already being
treated for ADHD. I know I don't have to say it but I love
him with all my heart and actually think he is in pain. We
had counseling four years ago when his father and I
divorced, and I remarried and we became a blended family. Over the
last 18 months he sneaks food in the middle of the
night, lies about things he has done. I don't know when he
is telling the truth or lies. He won't brush his teeth or
wear his ortho gear, or do homework without practically
sitting on him. Then there is the anger issues. You can ask him to do
most simple of tasks and he gets mad. Yells, throws, and refuses with
huge gestures. When we slow things down and
talk to him we discover that all the little things he
experienced from when he got up that morning attributed to
his outburst. We are rational parents with education and
have been able to get him to a place to discuss his
outbursts and lying. He says he wants to change. He says he
wants to be a contributing member of the family. I so want
to believe him. I know there are many issues wrapped into
this. But, is there an a youth anger management class here
that would give all of us tools to help him control his
anger? I worry about what kind of an adult he will be if we
don't help him learn how to control it NOW.
Call West Coast Childrens Center. They were a huge help to our family
I was so moved by your post. I have been in a similar position with my 10 year
old son. I am a single mom - I thought I was going to lose my mind. I was
afraid for him as well. There has not been a singular solution. I have tried a
myriad of ''tools'' including creating a support network of family and friends.
We both had ''emergency numbers and used them numerous times. That ''village''
has been a godsend.
I would encourage you to consult with Joanne Yeaton. She is a therapist with
Children's Hospital Oakland. (428-
3359) She also is in private practice (655-5612). She specializes in
bio-feedback therapy. It is not a magic bullet or a quick fix, but we have seen
significant progress over the last six months. I am hopeful and much less afraid
for him. I heart and prayers are with you. Please contact the administrator
for my contact info if you would like to talk. Mom who loves her son
I don't know your son, but the behavior is familiar. My
son, now eleven, was diagnosed with ADHD about four years
ago, not long after his father became severely disabled. We've had anger,
frustration, opposition, lying, sneaking
food, all of it and more. Your child is simultaneously
processing the family situation, his ADHD challenges and his
normal developmental changes. Your email doesn't say if
you've tried therapy; the anger may only be a symptom of his
combined issues. My son is doing much better these days. I
attribute his improvement to a wonderful therapist,
appropriate medication, changing schools (Raskob),
specialized summer camps (Trails to Success, SOAR) and time.
It all takes energy and money. I don't think there are any
magic bullets and you may find a answer or combination of
answers, but I'm sure that you can make it better. Good luck. Ann
Wow - this sounds very, very challenging and heartbreaking. I hope you will get
a response from someone about a truly helpful anger management class that will
help your son. I wanted to reply because of something else I picked up on. You
did say that you believe he's in pain. My sense is he's in a world of pain. It
sounds so so sad to me that he feels like he's failing to be a ''contributing
member of the family.'' Maybe it's just not time for him to ''contribute'' as
he's going through this. He needs something and doesn't know how to ask for it
(maybe the family needs something unspoke?). I agree that some useful tools to
help him with behavior, particularly in his social relationships, could help him
from becoming more alienated (it's not clear how this affects him at school or
in his friendships and in settings outside the home). But my overriding sense is
that judgment about how he's not measuring up only feeds the fire and what seems
like desperation. I really think he needs help. He's still quite young. You
did mention receiving some counseling in the past. There is something that is
very loudly calling for attention now. Something needs to be heard, and it's
beyond what he can consciously communicate. The other thing that struck me as
how he could start to see himself (or be seen by the rest of the family) as a
bad seed or the problem child etc. I think this is so dangerous, as he is
likely acting out something that is more of a family issue, not something wrong
with him. Maybe he's just more fragile or volatile than the others in the
family, so if something is askew in the family as a whole it will manifest in
him. It's easy for me to say from here, not having been lied to etc. but your
son needs as much compassion and attention as you can muster. I don't mean
lulling and enabling. But this needs to be addressed truly, not punished and not
just repressed by behavior modification. Please find an appropriate therapist,
books, something to help you listen and attune to what is at work here. I wish
you well. anon
I recently read a book you may find helpful---Hold on to
Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate. The authors
consider many behavior problems at all ages as attachment
problems that go unrecognized because of our culture's
normalizing of ''independence'' from parents and the way it
skews the parent/child relationship. Kristine
I am concerned about our child who has been challenging for
years, but he (10 years old) gets into very funky moods where
he says ''shut up'' all day long, calls everyone ''stupid'' and
worse things all day long, and refuses to take time away from
people when he does this, and if we can somehow get him up the
stairs for time out for this, he slams doors, etc. He is
seeing a good counselor now, and this may or may not be
helping, but has anyone has any experience with this? He is
also ultra sensitive to pain, too, so even if he has a molar
coming in, he will be really out of sorts. Does this sound
even somewhat familiar to anyone? Thanks for any advise.
This doesn't sound like a psychological problem to me, it sounds like a kid who is
acting out some enormous, mysterious discomfort with the world. I suggest that
you immediately contact a neurodevelopmental pediatrician to get the opinion of
someone who knows what developmental issues might be making your child react
so oddly. Kids who have been traumatized might act out like this, in my experience,
but you don't say anything about that. It's important to rule out that your child
might have some cognitive or sensory issues that are making life really unpleasant.
Hi, I saw your post and wanted to reply. Behavior is a tough
issue and and because you said he has intense pain sensitivity,
I would suggest you read a book called ''hearing equals bahavior
by Dr. Berrard. It is not technical and a easy read. Your sons
anger may be related to a sensory processing issue that can be
corrected fairly easily. Hope all the best, if you have any more
questions on sensory integration, please e-mail.
A homeopath in Emeryville has done good work in treatment/cure
of children with mood and attention problems. She also is a
naturopath and chiropractic doctor. Her name is Dr. Owen Jonice.
Her website is www. owennaturalhealth.com
Mine, now halfway through high school, was like that, too. Turned out
a lot of it was due to his unhappiness/frustration at school or at home.
He found school ''boring'' and ''stupid'' every day of every year he was
not challenged. It was depressing/alarming listening to this turned-off
little kid every day. (He read at middle school level in 2nd grade). In
retrospect, I wish I had taken him out of the good quality (supposedly)
public school district he grew up in and put him into a smaller, more
caring private school that could have nurtured and legitimized his
interests instead of denying them, as it was the case in his public school
experience. At his insistence, we switched to a private school in high
school (he now attends Maybeck HS, in Berkeley and loves it---- does
4-5 hours of homework a night and doesn't complain!----we cannot say
enough fine things about the teachers there). The same may be
happening with your son. At 10 years old, he doesn't have the skills or
life experience to deal with creepy teachers, mean kids, feelings of not
being loved enough, etc. Plus, for my son, not sure about yours, he was
usually ''off'' schedule------his moodiness can be a result of his being out
of synch with food or sleep. Ours needed extra vigilence for making
sure he got proper nutrition. After he eats well, or sometime when he's
in a good mood, sit down and have a nice talk with him. Mine would
open up when he was in the right mood. Also, I took my son to movies
(just the 2 of us) , the zoo, rides, whatever---tried to spend time with him
alone (demanding, needy, or competing siblings can really be a
problem, too). These helped. Good luck.
Waldorf education talks about developmental stages a little
different than traditional schooling does. My son's waldorf
teacher says that emotional outbursts are very typical for the 10
year old, and I have seen my quiet son rage and cry with his
strong feelings. I notice that his feelings can be much stronger
if he has gone too long without eating, especially after school
if he didn't eat all he should have.
another stage to pass thru
How can I deal with my 10 year old daughter: she is a delightful child 95% of
the time - but her explosions of anger (directed at me, her mum) are
enormous, intense and quite alarming considering her usual mature demeanor.
knew how to deal with these overwhelming emotions - although she did not
have many tantrums as a young child : but she will not respond to cuddles or
reason and the smallest thing can spark these tirades off. This is happening
up to twice a week and she will go on for hours (2) crying shouting and full
of tears - she is extremely articulate - but very unreasonable.
She is a great student at school - her teachers think she is wonderful -
an example to all - but these tirades frighten me: what should I do? I
feel bullied. Should I try to walk away (she will follow me and shout). I
have never believed in smacking and never have - but I feel close to it for
the first time too.
I am most disturbed - parenting so far seems to have worked with love and
reason and cuddles - still works for my 7 year old son: what now?
This is advice to the mother of the 10 year old girl
who is sweet 95% of the time and anything but during
the other times. Although boys and girls are very
different, they both undergo enormous hormonal changes
starting around 10 years old, plus or minus a couple
of years. My son's occasional outbursts started at
10. They were miserable for everyone, including
Recognizing it was hormonal, I chose a time when he
was his sweet self and explained to him the physiology
of puberty (emphasizing hormonal changes in language
he could understand) and framed the issue as something
that was happening to him that would eventually
stabilize. I reflected back to him what it was like
for me to go through it (I recall that being 13 years
old was hell!) and empathized that he must really feel
awful inside when he was going through it. In other
words, I didn't just think or talk about it's impact
on me and others in the family, I empathized with, and
brought into his awareness, his internal struggles.
It also helped that around that time there was an "Ask
Beth" article in the Chronicle's Sunday Pink Section
in which a teen had written about her turmoil. Beth's
answer was similar to mine. So by showing him that
others were going through it, it helped to normalize
the whole thing.
Therefore, the next time there was an outburst, we
named the incident for what it was (hormonally induced
anger and frustration), gave each other distance until
the surge passed, and then dealt with the particular
issue at hand when cooler tempers prevailed.
This still happens on occasion (outbursts and
tantrums), but I can count the number of incidents per
year on one hand. Invariably later on after the
outbursts, he apologizes for the tantrum (or we do, if
we provoked them)and then we respectfully address the
real issues at hand.
It's a blessing...
Reply to parent with angry child.
Hearing your story, I would suggest homeopathy. I would recommend
contacting either the store, Birth & Bonding on lower Solano Avenue
for a recommendation, or contacting: Nancy Herrick, who works with her
husband, Roger Morrison, M.D. I recommend either of them. 412-9040 in
Often homeopathy is very effective in providing a remedy for
irrational or excessive or uncontrollable behavior. While I know that
some people will advise counseling, I find that children don't know
why they behave how they behave, and even if at some point they
understand that their behavior is wrong, they are unable to control
it, and counseling is not effective in changing the behavior. I have
seen homeopathy to be very effective in just this type of situation,
especially with children.
Reply re tantrums. There is a book that was of enormous help to us as
parents of a child very much like what you describe. It is called The
Explosive Child by Ross Greene. There is also a website called
Explosivekids.org, founded by parents who have read the book and found it
helpful. Good luck. Anonymous
Greetings - Our daughter is now 10 1/2 and is becoming a
changed person before our very eyes. Up until now, sweet,
grounded, cooperative, flexible. Suddenly obstinate,
inflexible, often running late, a bit sullen and rude,
easily bored, and so on. It's like putting one kid to be
and waking up to another. And there are times when she
says things that actually make me, her mom, feel quite
hurt, which I know she doesn't intend, but they just seem
to have that effect. Is this just the beginning of
adolescence? How do I prepare myself to not be so hurt
and how do I collect enough patience to be gracious about
all of this? I love her madly and actually can remember
far enough back in time to recall that my teens were
fairly torturous, so this could just be part of the
package. Is 10 1/2 on the young side or are we on
Fastening my seat-belt as we speak
To the mom wondering if 10 1/2 is too early for
It goes without saying that every child is different. My
personal experience was that my daughter went
through her most difficult period between 10 and
12--way before I expected it. It felt like almost overnight,
she went from being a great kid to being
non-communicative, demanding, very easily upset
when things did not go her way, and extremely difficult
to reach. I kept thinking, ''Gee , if she's like this now,
what's she going to be like when she's a teenager???''
The (wonderful) surprise was that by the time she
became a teenager all of this was behind us. She's 16
now and I couldn't ask for a better daughter, or friend.
She is highly responsible, considerate, thoughtful,
caring, and makes excellent choices (way better than I
did at that age). I basically don't worry about her at all.
If I had known when she was 11 that her difficult stage
would end as early as it began or that she would end
up being such a lovely young adult, the transition would
have been easier to take. So hang in there!!
Proud (and relieved) mom
Dear ''Fastening my Seatbelt'',
My daughter is 13, and we've been having similar
experiences for about a year. I don't know whether your
daughter is ''early'' or ''on schedule'', but I really
resonate with your comment about getting your feelings
hurt by her. I, too, have struggled with really hurt
feelings from things my daughter has said and how she has
said them. I know, intellectually, that I am the grownup
here, and that she is immature, and I have to rise above.
But emotionally...it can really hurt.
I have clearly seen that when I CAN be less emotionally
vulnerable, everything between us goes better. Even when
she is trying to hurt my feelings, it is an immature
lashing-out that she does not mean in the bigger sense,
and someone has to de-escalate things, and that someone
has to be me.
Here are some of the things I am doing, with some effect
(and I hope others will pitch in with their thoughts):
trying to talk to her less -- shorter answers, listen and
don't volunteer so much, do things together that are not
about talking (movies, ping pong..)
when I have to, ranting in a most unmotherlike way about
how mean she is to me to a trusted friend
trying to care less about what she thinks-- pretending I
am one of the martini-swilling moms of my youth. getting
out more with my husband, so I can remember that I have
other, more stable relationships in my life.
The bottom line is that our adolescents need us to not be
needy. This is about the hardest emotional transition I've
ever made in my life, but it's part of the package. After
a rough year, things in our home are going better.
So good luck to you!
10 1/2 is not too early for this change to occur,
especially with girls. The thing that seems to hurt is the
judgment--implied or stated. When my daughter (now 33) was
12, she hit this stage. Twice in one day she told me I
was ''weird.'' The second time, all I had been doing was
running across a grocery store parking lot with my younger
son--not cool for a mother in her 40's! I realized that I
had been labeled ''weird'' as a teenager. She could not have
picked a harsher judgment. I didn't want to feel hurt like
that for a whole adolesence! So I thought on it for a
while, then told my daughter this: ''I've been thinking
about the fact that you called me 'weird' twice yesterday.
It was very painful for me to hear you call me that. In my
thinking, I realized there is something I need to say to
you. It is 'congratulations, you are growing up!' That's
why you are saying things like this. Up until now, you
have thought I am a pretty nifty person--you've tried to
wear my makeup, my shoes, my clothes. You liked me well
enough to want to be like me. Now, however, you have a
different job. Now you are deciding which parts of me you
want to keep, and which parts don't fit you very well, so
you don't want to keep them. When you call me 'weird,' you
have found a part of me you don't want to keep for
yourself. This is an important part of growing up. I
don't want you to stop deciding what you want to keep, and
what you don't want any part of for yourself. But I do
think it would be easier for me if you would just say
that: 'I don't like this part of you; and I don't want to
keep it to be part of me.' That's a lot less painful than
a judgment or a 'you're weird.' Will you, please, just
tell me when there is a part of me you don't want for
yourself?'' With a few reminders, she just told me. Her
adolesence was a LOT less painful as a result. Remember,
too, no matter how rough things get, teens still need to be
hugged and touched lovingly. Sometimes this is difficult
to do. I sometimes had to remind myself that this ''alien
being'' was my lovely child who desperately still needed the
hugs and touching that was so much easier to give when she
was younger. My best to you!
Seems on target to me. I have 12 and 14 yr old daughters and I
thought I was ready for the tweens and teens. But all that
processing when my girls were small seems to have done no
good. It does seem that your child changes overnight into
someone you don't know (and wouldn't want to if you had the
choice). In the roughest moments, I revisit my journal (fromm 7th
grade) that my dad sent me (ha ha on me, huh) when he sold the
family home. That is all it takes for me to remember being 12 and
thinking I knew everything too. My only advice is to take it day by
day, keep your ears open because there are sometimes clues as
to what is really going on hidden in the babble of a tween. And
remember, they don't stay this age forever! Also, my mom once
told me that it really helps to have a close friend with a similar
aged child to bond with...
Yes, I think your child is entering adolescence. The
transition was also very sudden for our children: one day
exceptionally happy, apparently well-adjusted, socially
precocious; and the next day angry and critical and acting
out. (The first ''changed'' at age 11, the second right
after the 13th birthday.) What can be especially tough is
if your child is the first in his/her peer group to begin
this transition. In our experience, other parents
suddenly seemed uncomfortable around our child, and less
likely to extend invitations and welcome. Understandable,
under the circumstances, as we all would probably like to
postpone the change as long as possible! (But yes,
somewhat confusing and painful for us and our children.)
Also, parenting an adolescent is so very different from
parenting a child, and advice from those who haven't been
there just isn't that helpful anymore. I suggest that you
start seeking information and reassurance specific to
early adolescence--you will likely need some fresh ideas
and also, it will help you to come to accept this new
stage. It does take a while. Give yourself permission to
grieve, over time, the not-so-gradual/gradual end of your
daughter's childhood. But cultivate an appreciation for
the entirely new developments to come.
Taking it day-by-day
I am despondent over my relationship with my 11-year-old
son. He is a good kid, gifted in many ways, but socially
tone deaf, cruel to his little brother, and doing poorly in
school. I try to accept him for who he is, but I am
constantly disappointed/embarrassed by him. Despite my
efforts to be kind and supportive, he experiences me as
critical and demanding -- which I probably am, especially
when he abuses our little one -- and he is nasty and
hostile. It is affecting my marriage too; my husband is
critical of my parenting, but is not stepping up and
helping our son address his issues. Any suggestions for a
therapist for me/us?
Please don't walk, but run: first to your pediatritian for
a thorough checkup and then to either a psychologist or a
psychiatrist. It could be many things besides emotional
issues: Non Verbal Learning Disabilities, ADD/ADHD, or even
a mental health problem (depression for example). There is
a wonderful MFT in Albany who specializes in kids and
families, and runs social skills groups for kids with
social/emotional issues. I find her empathic, experienced,
and skilled.Her name is Toby Hendon.
Dear Anonymous Mom of angry 11 year old son,
I highly recommend Marlene Millikan, MFCC (510-845-2479).
She is an excellent, highly compassionate therapist who
works extremely well with angry kids. She will often spend
(unbilled!) time on the phone doing check ins with the
parents. She works as the child's advocate, while also
allowing the child to express anger with her. My daughter
was so angry at having to go to therapy, that for a while,
she would leave in the middle of the session or stand
outside the door, passing notes to Marlene. This faze
ended, and over time my daughter came to trust her; in
turn, my daughter came to trust others and began to make
new friends. I can't recommend Marlene enough. She has
restored my faith in early theraputic intervention.
Mom of once very angry 11 year old daughter who is now almost 14 and thriving
Stop blaming yourself! Get your son evaluated by a good
developmental pediatrician and/or a speach pathologist who
is well versed in social communication. The term ''socially
tone deaf'' immeadiately brings to mind Asperger's Syndrome
or Non-verbal Learning Disability (NLD). Both Asperger's
and NLD fall in the realm of the autism spectrum (at the
highly functional end of the spectrum). Because these kids
are highly functional and usually bright and verbal, they
often go undiagnosed. Children who are ''socially tone
deaf'' (I like that description) mispercieve, and often
respond inappropriately to social stimuli. Frequently they
have trouble making friends, and despite being smart they
often do poorly in school. Of course I can't know that
this is what's going on for your son, but it is certainly
worth evaluating. ''Asperger's Syndrome'' on Google will get
you a wealth of information so that you can get a better
sense. Good luck! Oh, and tell your husband to stop
blaming you too!! Blame has never been a good parenting
PLEASE get your child tested for (1)asperger's syndrome, (2)
non-verbal learning disabilities, and (3)ADD. Social
difficulties and the other issues you mentioned are
symptomatic of these issues. If you do nothing, you may
find years later that your relationship has suffered over
something you might have improved. It may not be something
your child can control without assistance of some kind. He
may not even understand why he acts the way he does...so
for both your sakes, please rule out any cognitive or
neurological causes. Even if you discover a ''cause'' it
doesn't always make it easier to deal with day to day, but
it can help keep the love alive.
My 12-year-old daughter has been snarling at me for the last month or so.
Not constantly, thank goodness, but her father and I hear her churlish side
a lot more than we used to: e.g., "I'm bored, I'm not having fun, what
should I DO about it, don't YELL at me [when one of us politely remonstrates
with her], yada, yada." While I understand this is a fairly normal phase, it
is incredibly irritating, and I sometimes have a hard time not slapping her.
My usual response is to keep on quietly talking and ignore the rudeness, or
to take her aside and give her a talking-to if she's getting nasty. She is
doing well in school, has friends, etc., so I don't think anything seriously
wrong is going on.
Any suggestions about keep my cool and defusing the situation?
You are walking the tightrope, how much do you ignore, and when do you
set a limit about how you are willing to be talked to? Good luck!!
My daughter has finally become human again (she is 16). It was rocky.
I am very grateful that I was able to not get too sucked into her
nastiness. I tried to stay focused on my goal of not having every
interaction become an argument despite her frequent goading. The two
most powerful tools I had was my sense of humor (I mean some of what
comes out of their mouths during this phase is so ludicrous it is
funny), and remembering that even though she was pushing me away she
didn't really want me to go far. Again, good luck!! And remember the
fact that she is doing well in school and socially but snarling at you
means she is doing really well and that she trusts you.
(Lucky you :-).
When my daughter started acting mean and nasty, the oft-repeated
advice that "this too shall pass" just didn't help me much.
I highly recommend the two books below; they have helped me to
understand and deal with my daughter's hostility and rudeness.
"Get Out of My Life" explains teenagers and suggests how to live
with them and save your sanity. "Backtalk" takes a very practical
approach . It uses appropriate consequences for bad behavior to
establish a "norm of communication" in your home. The authors'
premise is that "rude behavior needs parental intervention and
being allowed to get away with backtalk is bad for your child."
We still have bouts of bad behavior, but I now feel I have some control
over the situation. It helps me to return to these for advice from time
to time. You can read excerpts from them on amazon.com. If the
links below don't work, just go to www.amazon.com, search for the titles,
and click on the sample pages.
Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall? : A
Parent's Guide to the New Teenager by Anthony E. Wolf
Backtalk : Four Steps to Ending Rude Behavior in Your Kids
by Audrey Ricker, Carolyn Crowder
My 13-year-old step-daughter suggests that the best way to deal with
this is to "learn not to take it personally, as there is no way to
stop it". Diane
I have a 15 and a 13 year old, and when my 15 year old hit 7th
grade, the snarling began. I think it is weird that in America, we
compartmentalize people by their age and thing that abnormal behavior
is "normal". Only in America is there is navel gazing on this
artificial creationn of adolescence. Anyway, I thought my son was
stressed out, and he agreed, and so we became proactive. Regular
exercise, regular sleep, sensitivity to his diet (low sugar or white
flour/refined carbohydrates, incrreasing fruits & vegetables and trace
minerals), quality down time and I threw in 5-HTP (derived from
vanilla seeds, Jarrow has a good formula), and it helped enormously!
(It also helped his skin enormously too) This is not to say my son
never snarls, but he is now recognizing the relationship of stress to
his emotional state and we are working towards him taking more
responsibility for his own health.!
Teen Parent Support Groups is one solution.....meeting for coffee/tea to
discuss whatever is frustrating you. Getting a chance to vent.
Several years ago I was involved with Scouts. Of course this wasn't going to
be a traditional scout group. There were 4 boys and 4 mothers. No one wanted
to be the scout leader but everyone wanted their sons to participate. We
worked out this arrangement. We took turns leading an activity for the boys.
Better yet we decided to eat dinner (meals made by nonleaders for the night)
before our meetings. The boys sat at one table and the mothers sat at
another. During this time the mothers had a chance to meet and discussed
issues. What was great was hearing that we were all going through somewhat
the same issues. We shared "solutions". We were able to release some stress
My daughter has been a spirited child, demanding and
difficult since infancy. Now at twelve, it seems our
authority does not matter anymore. We can go through some
good days, but she mostly makes fun and teases her sister,
hits and mocks everyone in the family. When we threaten
with punishment, she is indifferent. Yesterday it seemed
she would not be getting out of bed for school and I felt
helpless in making her move. It seems she thrives on
negative attention. I have tried to use a rewarding system
(works on and off) and humor, but with short term success.
I am considering group therapy or a social group for her.
Does any one else have an impossible teenager? Any
suggestions of books, therapists or advice on dealing with
Does my daughter live at your house?
I don't have advice, really, just more of a vote of support! Our 12
year old has always been a handful and now that she is 12, she
can border on being abusive some days. Mostly directed at me
(mom). Most days she is a loving child, a mommy's girl. But the
days when she is in a funk, it is very discouraging and
disconcerting. I am watching carefully and going to therapy for
ME. We will see how things go over the next year or so.
I just wanted to say, hang in there and get support for yourself! We
want to fix our kids, but I know it has helped me tremendously to let
go of guilt and not take everything she does personally.
Best of luck to you! Email me if you'd like.
It's pretty late to start setting limits and asserting
your authority over a 12 year old. But you seem to be
aware that you don't want to live with her in charge, and
that your own behavior needs to change too.
No matter how bad the behavior is, make it clear that you
love your child. Your emotional connection with her has to
be strong to get you through the next 6 years together.
Please try family therapy. Every relationship in the
family is strained by such misbehavior-- you and your
spouse may feel tension as partners, the younger sibling
may feel unprotected and ignored. And other issues may be
contributing or being ignored. It will be a good reality
check for all of you to have an experienced and neutral
third party involved.
We have two very spirited and challenging but rewarding
children, a teen and a tween. In the interests of living
together peacefully, we have recently been clarifying
family rules. Here are some ideas:
Be Safe. Be Kind. Be Respectful (be polite, accept that
some people have more power than you). Be Responsible
(clean up your messes, keep your promises). Misbehavior is
anything that breaks one of these four rules.
Loss of privileges. This can mean TV time, computer time,
time with friends, time outside -- or inside-- her room,
time on phone, rides to activities, music lessons, sports,
Having to do something nice for the other person.
''Do overs'' ---''Try that again, there's a more
tactful/pleasant/polite way to say that.''
Monetary fines-- we're considering this to curb the
We are fully prepared to embarrass a disobedient child by
showing up at afterschool events (''Sweetie Pie, you have
to come home and do your chores right now'') or calling
other parents (''We just wanted you to know that Sweetie
Pie is grounded for a week and not allowed to go to
friends' houses until next Saturday''). This is a powerful
The next time your child refuses to get out of bed to go
to school, can you leave her there and let the school
administer the consequence?
Go to the library or the parenting section of any
bookstore and check out books like Laying Down the Law
(Peters), Backtalk: 4 Steps to Ending Rude Behavior in
Your Kids (Ricker), How to Make Your Children Mind Without
Losing Yours, or Our Last Best Chance (on early
adolescence). One of my favorites on parenting teens is a
tiny book called Helicopters, Drill Sergeants and
One thing that helps us is to control our own tempers and
always speak calmly. You can express disappointment and
disapproval, and then claim time to calm down and think of
an appropriate consequence, and then walk away.
Good luck. Things can get better!
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