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I'm writing out of fustration of my 11 1/2 year old daughter. She has always been a great respectful child until a few months ago. As we like to say she gives us a lot of lip service. She just doesn't listen anymore, for example we ask that she does not download songs off the computer without asking she says o.k. no problem then she goes upstairs on the computer and downloads. I try to punish her with appriate consequences ( like taking away her ipod for a week ) She apologizes and swears to never do it again 2 weeks later. This is on going of alot of things in the house I am at a loss on how to punish her. We have on several occasions sat down with her to talk she says she understands and is very sorry and that she wont talk to us that way, straighten up her act. At that point we feel good like we got through to her, but then she walks aways and does whatever she wants. We don't ask for very much. Her job is to do well in school, set the table for dinner and make her bed in the morning(not to shabby). If you have any advise I would apperciate it theese are small things now at 11 but soon she'll be 13,14,15 when there will be huge conseqences in life for doing whatever you please.


Beverly Willett Replied: Hi, sorry you're having problems with your 11 1/2 year old. I have two daughters, one just turned 12, the other 17. Part of what you describe, though every household is different, rings a bell. I talk to other moms, hear lots of stories, and can only say that what you describe about going from a "respectful child" to giving some "lip service" seems to be within the normal parameters of what a lot of kids start doing at this age. I tell my kids, though, that "normal" doesn't necessarily mean "acceptable." Whether it's hormones, peer influence or just the natural phase of growing up and starting to pull away, or a combination of all of the above, who knows. Sometimes it seems like kids at this age have poor impulse control, they're narcissistic and really don't mean to intentionally disobey us by doing what they weren't supposed to do just one more time. Still, as parents, we sometimes see the worst, that our kids will run headlong down that slippery slope unless we do something to keep things in check. Trying to find the right balance is always the most difficult challenge for parents. A parenting style that sets strict rules, without giving kids a little leeway to start managing their own impulses, is easy (though not beneficial to kids in the long run); so is a style that just lets kids do whatever they want. To me, these are the easy ways out. Parenting in the middle is so much harder and what it sounds like you're trying to do. Nevertheless, I think it's ultimately the most beneficial thing for your children. What that means essentially is that you've just got to keep sticking with what you're doing. Be consistent and try not to get the fact that it doesn't seem to be working drag you down. Long-term (maybe lifetime) patience is necessary. I do have a few questions, though, that might trigger a few other thoughts about what you can do to help the situation. Does your daughter give any explanation for her actions? It might help if she did. You might even want to consider asking her for suggestions on how the two of you can work together to solve the things that are upsetting you. Does she talk about what's upsetting her? Is there any way to compromise on certain things? I'm not saying that everything should be a negotiation, because I don't think that's wise. To me, certain things need to be hard and fast and are not open to negotiation; otherwise I'd just be giving up my parental judgment. You're right, your daughter does need to learn to be responsible for her actions and as her life grows beyond the shelter of home, there will be consequences outside your four walls. So, there might be areas where you're comfortable being a little less strict or allowing your daughter to try making a few decisions on her own, to see how she does. You're going to have to ease into that as she gets older anyway, before she flies away, and it'll be a good thing because you'll feel better about her ability to stand on her own when that day inevitably comes. Another thought. Ask your daughter what she thinks the ramifications ought to be if she breaks those more important rules you need to enforce. You don't necessarily have to go with what she says but it does give her more involvement in the process. Plus if you feel some of her suggestions are worth trying, if she fails, she has only herself to blame. By the way, I should also point out that if she's doing the 3 jobs you require of her you're way ahead of the game compared with some households! So don't forget to register an occasional thanks to signal your appreciation that she's being so responsible. Life is so hectic we sometimes forget to focus on the positive. Hope this helps. Good luck.
Posted On 2007-03-30 08:41:03
Jim Taylor, Ph.D. Replied: Though on the earlier side, these signs of rebellion are both normal and unsettling. As children enter adolescence, their job is to gain independence by pushing against the strictures of their parents. I have several thoughts on this. First, rebelliousness may be a signal of some other, underlying problem. I can't say what that concern might be, but it often has to do with attention (either at home or in school). I would be curious if this disrespectful behavior only occurs at home or is evident at school and her other activities. Clearly, your daughter is feeling a lot of emotions and experiencing some internal conflict. It's your job to look beyond the manifest behavior and understand what her underlying motivations are. Second, you should definitely continue to establish clear expectations and enforce reasonable consequences. These boundaries are what will limit her poor behavior and prevent her from pushing the limits even farther. In other words, be tough, but loving. At the same time, to encourage her independence, you need to give her some small "victories," that is, give her opportunities to feel like she is getting what she wants over your objections. An example would be to raise her curfew 30 minutes if she wants to stay out a bit later than your comfortable with (what you choose should be based on your values). In general, I suggest that parents raise their comfort level a notch or two to give their children those small victories. By getting these small victories, she won't need to go after those big victories to which you allude as she gets older, namely, alcohol, drugs, and sex.
Posted On 2007-03-26 11:52:55
Brenda Bercun Replied: It seems like your daughter is developing some passive aggressive behaviors. She tells you what you want to hear and then does what she wants to do. Her behavior is destroying your trust in her and that can lead to a very challenging relationship. I think it is wonderful that you are seeking support for this issue so that it can be addressed. Passive aggressive behavior develops when people feel they don't have control of what they want to do. Instead they agree to things they don't want to agree to and then do what they want anyway. I find that children who are a part of creating agreements with their parents as well as the consequences take more ownership to the agreement. First I would have a talk with your daughter and let her know that her behavior is making you develop a lack of trust in her. I would ask her how it would be for her if she couldn't trust you. If you didn't do for her the things you said you were going to do. If you made an agreement with her and then broke it because you didn't feel like doing what you agreed to. Now if by chance she has examples of you breaking agreements with her then you will have to be accountable to that and ask her to forgive you. You then have the bases of both of you committing to rebuilding trust with each other. If this is not your situation then I would talk to her about the importance of having trust in the family. I would ask her what it would be like if the family couldn't trust each other. Family trust is an essential family value. Next I would talk with her about the rules that she is choosing to break. I would ask her to explain her thinking and why she is breaking the rules This information will give you some insight and also allow her to verbalize her thinking and feelings. I would then let her know that although you understand her thinking there are certain rules that must be followed and explain to her why. I would then ask her to explain the reasons for the rules back to you so that you know she understands them. I would then ask her to agree to following the rules. If she does not agree to following the rules then she is letting you know that she does not have the maturity to have the privilege of owning an ipod and that this is a choice that she is making for herself. If she does agree to the rules, then I would talk to her about the consequences if she breaks the rules. As you were doing I would keep the consequences related and fair. If she follows the rules she earns privileges, if she breaks them she loses privileges. Emphasize that she is in control of this. She is accountable for her decisions and behaviors. Make sure when you see her following the household and family rules that you reinforce her behavior with recognition and appreciation. Build on the positive. Create the cycle that good behavior creates closeness and fun. When mistakes happen and things need to be dealt with, see them as learning opportunities and allow for correction of behaviors then reinforce the corrected behavior.
Posted On 2007-03-20 01:58:16
Annie Fox, M. Ed. Replied: When kids reach middle school age their social world expands and their need for peer approval becomes intense. If, for example, your daughter's friends download songs off the Internet without asking permission then she's likely to do that as well unless you can make the consequence for doing it more than she's willing to pay. Same with the "lip service" and the hollow apologies. She's learning how to manipulate and from her perspective, it's working just fine. You say that your daughter's "job" is to "do well in school, set the table for dinner and make her bed in the morning"... It's seems that part of the problem here is that your daughter's "job description" does not also include: being trustworthy, reliable, and honest. Perhaps you have put too much emphasis on which side of the plate the fork goes on and not enough on your expectations for her to be respectful to her parents. That may not be the case, but it seems that your daughter has gotten the mistaken impression that she can do whatever she wants, get caught... get a mild slap on the wrist... and then continue to do exactly what she wants. She's 11 years old. You are the parents. You make the rules. You enforce the rules. I agree with you, your daughter will experience "huge consequences" for thinking that she can do whatever she pleases. That's why it's essential, as her parents, that you and your husband join forces and get on the same page with your parenting priorities. If she breaks this family rule, then take the iPod away from her... not for a week but for a month! You bought it for her, right? Then she has to earn it back by following your rules about downloading. If, when you gave her the iPod you weren't clear with her about the rules, then you owe her an apology. "We're sorry. We made a mistake. We neglected to tell you about the downloading rule and why it is so important to us that you ask permission before you download songs. We're ready to set up a new policy in our family which will be enforced. Here are the rules.... " Spell out ALL the rules to her. Tell her clearly and directly what you expect of her in terms of her behavior with the iPod and with her parents. Make sure she understands why you believe it's important for her to drop her attitude, to listen to you when you talk to her and to be a responsible and trustworthy individual. Let her have her say during this meeting. Listen to her perspective with respect. IN this way you are role modeling RESPECT. Make sure that you also model honesty and that you are trustworthy and reliable (when you say you'll do something she'll be able to count on it.) Tell her that you expect the same behavior in return. Let her know exactly what will be gained if she follows the rules (your trust which will lead to more independence as she proves she's trustworthy). Let her know also what the consequences will be if she chooses not to follow the rules. Then be consistent and do what you say! I hope this helps. In friendship, Annie Fox
Posted On 2007-03-17 12:10:44
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