Author Topic: Really struggling with my adolescent daughter. Any advice would be appreciated.  (Read 22183 times)


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Yes, your daughter is running your household. When you gave the privileges back, was it because she changed her behavior or because she kept at you to give them back?

Have you tried Love & Logic? This system is over 35 years old & it works. I first learned about it because DS' teachers in grade school used it, so I did a class with the parenting version. There are many books & videos available on the website.

In a nutshell, L&L allows parents to allow the child to choose from options you pre-approve & utilizes natural consequences for bad behavior. You cannot reason with an angry child; the child earns the right to speak with you only in calm & kind tones. For example, instead of cancelling your son's birthday dinner, you have a baby sitter on standby so your daughter loses the party instead of your son, & she gets charged for the sitter. No friend. No social events until the room gets cleaned according to your list or directions. In some cases, a child who slammed their bedroom door repeatedly came home to find the door removed. You don't have to come up with a consequence on the spot -- in fact it's often more effective to say you'll deal with it later while expecting her to go to her room while you get your positive energy back.

Love & Logic saved my sanity & helped me be a loving, guiding, & patient parent. DS got to the point where all I had to ask was whether he wanted to choose a consequence if he continued what he was doing, & I only said it once -- he knew I'd always follow through. (We had absolutely no problems in his teen years & he's an amazing person at 23 today.)

L&L does advise that if you are still having anger & defiant issues after 3 months of following its program, then professional counseling for the entire family should be considered.

Love and Logic works well, but only if it's followed through with, as with any other behavior management tool.

I use pieces of Love and Logic in my classroom, but the behavior management tool I really like is from a behavior management program called Capturing Kids Hearts. It's called contact. Every one in the household would sit down and agree on words that describe how they want to be treated, how the adult s want to be treated, how kids and adults should treat each other, and how to solve conflict. Write he words down that everyone agrees with, and make sure to talk about what each word means (for example, what Respec t looks like). Once a contract is agreed upon, everyone signs it, and agrees to the consequences of not following it. In my classroom, one redirect is a warning, a second redirect is loss of a hall pass, third is a lunch detention. They know it's a warning because I have the warning phrases posted (what are you doing? What are you supposed to be doing? Are you doing it? What are you going to do about it? ) There's a different set of questions for disrespectful treatment (who are you talking to? How do you talk to me/adult? Are you talking to me respectfully? What are you going to do?) Make sure everyone agrees to the contract and signs it knowing g there will be consequences for repeated breaches.

For major breaches of contract, I will then turn to Love and Logic. Make sure it's a logical consequence for the crime that won't hurt anyone elses day (especially yours!) For example, I never assign kids to work during lunch for not  doing their homework because then I'd miss lunch! I stead they get 75% the next day or 90% if it has a parent signature.

Most importantly, follow through! If the kids see that they can get away with things and can treat each other or you disrespectfully without being called out, then it was pointless to do in the first place.

Also, do please call the counselor. Lots of kids and adults see them these days, and there's not nearly as much stigma as there used to be. She does need some strategies to help her cope and direct her anger.


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Also, I see that you mentioned that she is going to a horseback riding camp,  As a rider myself and a volunteer for a therapeutic riding center, I can vouch for the healing qualities of being around horses. I'm always amazed at how poised, independent, and confident teenage girls are at the barn.  (Might be true for boys, too -- it just tends to be about 95% female at my barns).  Horses are incredible empathetic while requiring a great deal of respect -- 1000 lb creature won't put up with disrespect.  It also might give her something that is uniquely hers.  If she is having friend issues, she could find new friends in a barn or just simply form a new team with just her and the horse. 

There has been a lot of good advice so far.  I want to echo the parts that she might be picking up on anxiety in the home or harboring fear at her father's anger and feels you are complicit.  I know from experience.

It is apparent you have your daughter's best interest at heart. Cheering for you! 


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I never assign kids to work during lunch for not  doing their homework because then I'd miss lunch! I stead they get 75% the next day or 90% if it has a parent signature.

You obviously know your teaching environment better than I, so this may not apply, but this stick out to me so I wanted to point it out... It seems to me that your policy penalizes students with less involved parents (who would already be at a disadvantage) and gives an advantage to those with more "helicoptery" parents (the ones that would argue with a teacher about a grade or ask for extra credit on their kid's behalf, vs encouraging the kid to negotiate for themselves...through high school).I can see a tougher parent being like "no, I'm not signing your assignment, you can take the full penalty, should have done your work on time!" And another that wouldn't do that no matter how irresponsible their kid had been.

Basically, you're basing 15% of a kid's grade (only on late assignments, but nonetheless...) not on the quality of their work, but on their parents' attitude...

PS I've always appreciated teachers that had a penalty policy for late work vs no late work. I felt like it did a better job conveying that doing the work and learning the material is still a valuable experience, even if it doesn't happen by the deadline.


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That said, I'm a bit triggered by some responses that felt victim-shamey regarding my childhood, which is something I've never felt before.  I think the comments came with good intentions, but it's best for me to step away from this thread at this point.

If this is what you were referring to:

5) Without too much sugarcoating... Your abusive childhood sets you up for being abusive. So you need to learn positive parenting skills on your own and purposefully. See 1) and 3).  Also, it sets you up for marrying someone abusive - not necessarily because that's what you feel comfortable with, but because you are the person that does not see 'red flags' that other women see.  So, you end up with an abuser because other women picked milder-mannered men. Also, women who stand up for themselves are not attractive to such men for long.  If this is your story, you're in a pickle. You need to protect daughter from abuse, or at least give appearance that you're trying, if this is to get better. This is not going to work until your parenting is not abusive, and even then, it's going to be hard. So, a long road ahead of you... Part of how to keep sane is to recognize that this is a difficult situation that may not have good outcomes, only more or less bad ones, and your job is to minimize damage. You can't change the past, but you can work on making the future as good as possible given the circumstances.

I have to apologize profusely for not explaining what I meant. I see now that it could easily be taken the wrong way.

I put it in for exactly the opposite reason... I struggled mightily with the questions of "why is this happening to me?", "what did I do to bring this about?", and "what is wrong with me, to end up in a situation like this?" The shame is a common reaction to being abused, and I dealt with that for a long time. Eventually, through studying, I learned of the dynamic of perpetuating the abuse cycle. I realized that it's not my fault at all. It is not my (or your) fault at all, this is just how the universe revolves, this is the default outcome, and this is the expected outcome from an abusive childhood history. This is the norm. We can only hope to improve on it, and if we can, we should pat ourselves on the back. If we can't, we're no worse than the average. This lifted a big heavy weight off my shoulders, as I didn't have to look for any deficiency in myself any more. I was trying to communicate that, and it seems that I failed miserably and achieved the opposite effect.

I apologize again. I should have put more context and more effort into writing that paragraph.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2017, 10:26:14 AM by milliemchi »


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Also, I see you said she is 12 -- OMG, yes, THE worst age with us.  With my own DD, the 6 months before she had her first period were sheer hell, and we can still tell when it's coming on by the pretty dramatic change in volatility.  So if this is a recent uptick, it is very likely hormonally-driven.  Not that it excuses it -- as I've said to my own DD, yes, it totally sucks and it's not fair, but you are going to have these intense feelings and mood swings for probably 40 years or so, so you need to learn ways to recognize and deal with them.  But have a little empathy and treat her like you used to when she was a toddler -- expecting her to be calm and pleasant when she has PMS is like taking a hungry toddler to the mall during nap time.  :-)  So if/when you can identify a pattern, try to set her up for success during those periods, with lower expectations, fewer plans, some nice calm reading time alone, or family movie time, etc.

I agree with Laura33 that period onset can well play a part in your daughter's anger issues. I put the emphasis on the sentence above because you can't always overcome PMS symptoms out of pure willpower and you'd need external help. I've watched an interesting report about women experiencing extreme PMS and it was truly scary how angry these women were at the height of PMS.

Women tend to suffer period symptoms in silence and that can lead to sexual and fertility problems down the road (late diagnostics for endometriosis for example). So I think it is a good idea to assess that what shes's experiencing on that front is not out of the ordinary.

This is not an excuse for your daughter's behavior but that could at least provide a piece of explanation. Most women are unlucky enough to know how PMS sucks.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2017, 01:05:49 AM by Polaria »


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I agree about the yelling.  I don't yell frequently. The last time I yelled was February.  I had started birth control pills for endometriosis and they made me ragey for a few months. 

My husband yells more.  And I agree, it's scary when he yells.  I can see he's trying to control it. He was very calm yesterday while this was all going on.  But the kids have told me that he yells a lot while I'm at work.  I can't control him though, so I'm not sure what to do about that.  He is open to family counseling so maybe the counselor will get through to him.  He is also open to reading the parenting books I got from the library today.  He has never read a book in all the years I've known him or been open to any self improvement, so this is a positive step.

Haven't seen the rest of the thread since this, but is there at least a decent chance that your daughter's hormones are making her feel exactly this right now?  Except without the years of experience of handling them, and without full frontal lobe development to, you know, help decide to make good choices.

Yay husband reading parenting books/maybe counseling!  Those are good things!  Yelling will either scare them, or will become ineffective.  My mom's yelling no longer bothered me by 14 or 15 because I was used to it.  So not a great long term parenting tactic either way.

ETA:  Also, around this age I found a few adults that I developed better relationships with.  A great aunt in particular, and some cousins in their 20's who were fairly responsible adults.  That allowed me to feel more adult-ish, and it was a place for me to talk about how I felt about school, friends, siblings, and parents without judgement.  I'm sure, looking back, that what I said made it back to my parents, but it was important for me to get my thoughts out there and also be taken (somewhat) seriously.  That I knew best about my friendships, how my parents were annoying, etc.  The older people could agree with me, which made me feel better, and also point out a few things like "maybe your mom just gets tired when you guys bicker all day, so that's why she snaps - maybe you could cut back a bit?" or "that friend really doesn't sound like a good friend to me, why are you friends?"  that kind of thing.  My parents or other close adults could have said the same thing and I wouldn't have listened.  These other people were wonderful.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2017, 02:37:24 PM by Apples »


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Another +1 to love and logic. 

I'm a high school teacher and my wife taught middle school for 10 years.  The best managed classrooms generally have teachers who use it or who basically use the principals, even if they aren't doing it consciously. 

the main ideas:
-you always stay calm.
- you only set rules if you plan to enforce them.
- give choices whenever possible, but choices that you will be happy with either way. 
- When your expectations are not met, then you will give a consequence.  The consequence will depend on the unique situation. 

It's kinda like finance and exercise, right?  Success is simple, but simple does not mean easy.  Staying calm is a really simple thing, but we all know as parents or teachers that it's often very difficult to do. 

And Lskistach is right, Capturing Kids Hearts is another very closely related program that is often met with success. 

Good luck, you can do this!!!!