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21 Sep 2009

12 year old daughter
I have a 12 year old daughter. Her father and I have been divorced for almost 3 years now. She lives with her father, although initially she lived with me, until about 3 months ago.

My problem is that she is really acting out lately, especially towards me. She shows absolutely no respect for me, nothing I do is good enough or right in her eyes. She spent this weekend with me, and there were once again some discipline issues and she told me that she does not live with me anymore so I cannot punish her. This morning when I dropped her off at school she got out of the car and left without greeting me.

When I try and tell her why I feel that something she has done or said is wrong she shakes her head and rolls her eyes. And then I get the silent treatment. It is driving me to distraction.

When I take up issues with her, it is either too late in the day or too early for her liking. Then she gets angry about that, about my lack of good timing to discuss these things. I cannot tell her anything, give her any advice, she is just so clever at the moment and knows it all.

I am just at my wits end. I do not know how to deal with this anymore. It is incredibly hurtful. It is almost as if she has changed overnight from this lovely, well mannered little girl to this disrespectful selfish child. Any advice would be welcome, please.
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Teen expert
teen expert

01 Jan 0001


it sounds as if your daughter is entering the early stages of adolescence and a lot of the behaviours you describe typify this period.

However, parental authority needs to be maintained and your boundaries decided upon and stuck to. Be aware that there is a need for these boundaries to shift over time as your daughter matures - but here comes that old phrase - freedom comes with responsibility, so there is very much the need for your daughter to respect the authority of you as her parent. You do not say why your daughter moved to live with her father, but beware of her wanting to switch parents each time she doesnt getr her own way. Also, as much as possible you and her father need to work together and have common goals in terms of discipline, otherwise she will most definitely take the gap and split you.

Suitable consequences for unacceptable behaviours also need to be considered - but ensure these are realistic and that they can be sen through to the end - otherwise they become empty threats which your daughter will disregard. If the problems persist, you should also consider her seeing a child therapist as these acting out behaviours could also indicate emotional difficulties. The presentation of anger on the surface often relates to sadness underneath.
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