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Dealing With Your Teen Daughter’s Bad Attitude

My daughter is 15, almost 16 years old. I have been having problems with her for about 2-3 years now. I divorced her dad just prior to this new development and have since re-married to a man who is total the opposite of her dad. Her dad was always soft when it came to his children, he allowed her to disrespect him and he was easily able to be manipulated by her, so that she could do what she wanted when she was with him.

Over this summer we moved across the country from her dad, which she really did not care that much, since she really did not have a relationship with him. I believe the only thing she missing is being able to do what she wanted.

My current husband and I have tried over the past couple of years to make her respect us and be accountable for her actions. My daughter steals from her step-sister, steals batteries out of the remotes and has taken money out of our wallet. What she wants she will get by any means. We have not allowed her to watch TV during the week due to her failing three classes and have not allow any out of school activities until her grades come up.

She states she is tired of us and her teachers nagging her and will not take responsibility for her failing grades..."her teachers are mean". She tries to make deals with us and her teachers so that she can get her way and promises to get better. She has already stayed back one year in fourth grade making her 8th grade right now, she has been told by her teachers if she does not pick her grades up she will have to go to summer school and if she does not pass that she will be retained again, no exceptions.

She keeps making empty promises to shut us up and does not want to hear it from us or her teachers when she shows no improvement. Her teachers are just about ready to give up on her, she is disrespectful in class and only cares about socializing...mostly with boys. She is lazy, has to be constantly reminded to do chores, watches TV when she is not suppose to, doesn’t hand in assignments that we have pretty much forced her to do, doesn't complete class work and has no remorse when she is caught in lies which is often. She will deal with the consequences because it will eventually be over and never learns after her punishment.

We are at a total loss with her; she has been through counseling and currently under counseling...but nothing is getting through to her. Her response is to allow her to do things and she will get better, for us to get off her back and allow her to do more. I refuse to make a deal with her and told her that these things will happen once she shows improvement. She has been told that she needs to make the changes...and she feels we all need to change first.

What else is there to do? I can't afford boarding school, military school...private school won't take her because of her IEP. Help....Please

If you are in the thick of a power struggle with your teenage daughter, you probably want her to listen to your speeches about having an appreciative attitude. Here’s the truth: That is not going to happen! No matter how great your argument is, you can’t force your daughter to think about the world the way that you do. You can’t make her have a “better” attitude.

Adolescents often have an apathetic attitude about anything other than what they want to do. When you focus on trying to change your daughter’s attitude, you are setting yourself up for failure. In order to feel effective and empowered in your role as a mother or father, you need to learn to ignore the apathetic, all-knowing attitude and focus on your daughter’s behavior. Let her know what is expected of her in your home, what your house-rules are, and what the consequences will be if she can’t figure out a way to comply with the house-rules and expectations.

Dealing with Teen Girls and Their Bad Attitude: Tips for Parents

1. Check your own behavior. It’s really not a good idea to run a red light or to do one of those “rolling stops” at the stop sign. Even if you don’t get a ticket from a cop, your daughter may come to believe that there are two sets of rules – one for your family and one for the rest of the world. Remember, she is watching how you follow the rules and will most likely behave in a similar manner as she grows older.

2. Connect consequences to behavior. There is a way for you to get a better attitude from your daughter. But there is only one way to do it. You must make it perfectly, absolutely clear that what she does will determine what happens to her. No amount of nudging, cajoling, or, worst of all, threatening, will do a lick of good until you connect consequences to her behavior.

3. Don’t assume anything! Presuming that your daughter will understand the connection between behavior and consequences just by attending school or talking with her peers is risky business. You may get lucky and have a parent down the street who points out the behavior-consequence connection to your daughter, but most will not. Adults tend to be restrained about disciplining other people’s teenagers. So if you hear that your daughter acted up at her friend’s house or misbehaved in school, do something about it yourself. Sure, it may be double jeopardy, but you would rather have the idea securely instilled in your daughter than take the chance of it not becoming part of her personal value system.

4. Don’t make the mistake of trying to get your daughter to “want” to have good grades, or “want” to get a job. That’s probably not going to happen. You are not going to transform her attitude about the world, or her place in it. Rather, it's your responsibility as a mother or father to help her learn the skills she needs to make her way in the world.

5. Don’t take sassy comments personally. When teenagers sass their parents, they feel powerful and in control, even if it's only for a few minutes. It has little to do with “disrespect” and more to do with “having a sense of power.” The best way for parents to react to a sassy statement is not to get angry but to remind their teenager who they are. You might say something like, "You are really trying to hurt my feelings here. I don't understand it. You are a better person than that."

6. Don’t try to convince your daughter that you are right and she is wrong. Don’t try to get her to stop resisting and start being “realistic.” Instead, focus on the behavior you would like to see change, and ignore the attitude. The happy byproduct of this approach is that she eventually develops a better attitude (which is what you want). Focus on the behavior now, and the attitude will improve later. Fair enough?

7. Focus on getting your daughter to meet her responsibilities in the here and now (e.g., homework, chores, curfew, etc.). Once she leaves your house, she is free to use the skills you’ve helped her learn—or not.

8. It’s never too soon or too late. If babies can make the connection between what they do and what they get (which they do!), then your 15-year-old daughter can surely understand the concept also. Don’t give up on your daughter – even if she professes to “forget” or to “just not get it,” don’t buy into that. She’ll figure it out quickly if there is something in it for her.

9. Take advantage of teachable moments. Although you don’t need to go on and on about the behavior-consequence connection, if you see an opportunity (and there’s probably at least one each day), bring it to your daughter’s attention. This doesn’t mean that you’re constantly criticizing her. You’re just teaching her that, for example, making fun of her friend may lead to retaliation or at least a lessened friendship, or that getting a speeding ticket on her record will mean higher insurance premiums for years to come.

10. Teen girls may communicate in action rather than word when they are frustrated. If your daughter comes in and throws down her backpack, it might be her way of saying, "I have such a heavy load to carry" (her backpack is a metaphor for her life). If the backpack lands on the ground, mom shouldn't scream: "Don't leave your backpack in the doorway." Instead, she might say in a matter-of-fact voice, "Looks like you have a heavy load. Let's put it in your room."

11. Watch out for feelings of entitlement. Be careful that your daughter does not take everything for granted — make her work for her allowance and privileges so that she sees that effort leads to results! If she complains that it’s unfair that she has to work more than their friends, call a family meeting to discuss why you are making such point about the behavior-consequence connection and why living it is so important to your family.

12. When parents make mistakes (which they do!), they have to be grown-up enough to say "I'm sorry." If a parent shows his teen daughter more kindness, respect and thoughtfulness, his daughter will be a lot less surly …she won’t feel like she has to put up a fence (or brick wall) so often.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents (who are at their wits end)


Anonymous said...

I am at my witts end with my children. I am a single/only parent of 3 beautiful kids. 18, 17 and soon too be 16.
Life was going along ok, got divorced after 22 years because their father got addicted to pain killers, then left their lives,
probably for the better. I brought my kids up in church all their lives, thought I was doing all the right things. the last
2 years things have been falling apart. My oldest son got his first girlfriend, she was 21 and had a child, he totally started
staying out and being someone I didn't know at all. After months of that, he finally woke up. But because of that he ended
up not getting scholarships for college, Cum Laudi in his class but is now struggling to make his goal of going to UF. My
17 yr old son has a learning problem but he always excelss in Football, has been looked at by colleges since 15 yrs old.
BUT he has a bit of a mouth, and eventually this season, coach pushed him off the team. Because of his depression of it all
I changed his school, but he still can't play anywhere. He is a good kid, no self confidence and his friends aren't athletes so
because he can't have that now with football he is following the wrong crowd, nothing serious yet but who knows. I let them
all hang out here and they have been taking advantage of me with food and sleeping over and smoking...not one of them listens
to me. THEN there is my daughter, going on 16 this month, she's already experienced with pot, drinking, and now smoking cig.
She just told me this year that her father used to try to molest her when she was little! She has been sexually active, I have talked
to her taken her for pills adn prayed that what she learned from God will get into her head again, but she just doesn't care.
I am ready to quit, I can't take it anymore and I love them so much, but I can't make them think. Financially, my life is a mess,
but I make sure they always get what they want and need. I am going to school now for a years since I was laid off, but I can't
concentrate on anything with all these problems. Counseling has been tried, but she always ends up quitting. Her father was
diagnosed as bipolar as well as her half sisters, and I am afraid of putting her on medication, for I have seen what it did to
them. How then do I handle this without wanting to run away or even doing something worse.?? Help!

Unknown said...

I am dealing with my LAST teenager…a 16 year old girl. oy vey. No parenting support from her father, hellions as elder siblings (except for a couple of angels), and they encourage/support/reward her bad behavior.

What bad behavior? Daily pot smoking, drinking, posting her 'trips' on Twitter and telling others where she can get it for them, failing multiple classes in her freshman year (after deliberately failing and repeating a grade in middle school, too).

Her passive aggressive father has no backbone, sets no s tankards or behavioral expectations, and has smoked pot with some of his kids in years past. (I do not believe it is something KIDS should do while they are still developing.)

The conflict and rampant disrespect (ghetto mouth mixed with viper venom) has driven me to become a recluse and not even want to be around anyone. She might grow out of it (and have to pay a hefty price for her decisions) but it is not healthy for me.


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