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What am I doing wrong? 12 year old temper tantrums and arguments.

(24 Posts)
Putty Wed 23-Mar-16 19:33:56

And how can I deal with this better? My talkative 12 year old daughter is very articulate and would be wonderful in a political chamber because she is so persuasive and could talk the hind leg off a donkey, but right now I am at a loss what to do. She has a dreadful temper, she gets whipped up into a crazy frenzy of indignation and hard-done-by that just sparks so quickly and escalates into screaming sobbing rows. She was supposed to be doing something productive this afternoon after school, even if it was going for a run or swim or revising for a science test, but it was one of those battles not worth having partly because my youngest has a temperature and out of sorts today, so I just left her to get on with what she wanted to do and didn't push it. Frustrated because her own iPod is broken, she decided instead to watch netflix on the upstairs computer and shouted down asking for the password. I couldn’t hear her, and with the little one lying on my lap I wasn’t going to go running up to hear better and so it began. Eventually she stomped downstairs audibly huffing that people couldn’t be bothered to move to help her, like EVER. And then threw a major strop when I said I wasn’t going to help her now or give her the password anyhow because of her lousy attitude and that if she treated people like that in the outside world she could expect the same reaction. Cue a total melt down, involving a tirade of abuse and her chucking a spoon (she happened to have it in her hand) at me. This is not the first time she has thrown something at me, a couple of months ago it was a pen, and it hit me in the head. I was furious that she had done it again. She came back in and shouted an apology with a “but you etc. etc. etc.” and then went off and calmed down a bit. Half an hour later and she is expecting everything to be back to normal and asking for a new iPod. I say “Um, not good enough. I need to sit down and have a think about boundaries, acceptable behaviour and just how to prevent this aggressive behaviour happening again.” Cue another meltdown, proper full on screaming sobs about how it takes two people to argue etc. etc. and that SHE understands, but I am just SO unreasonable (she really is a talker, I genuinely wasn’t getting a word in edgeways. And so persuasive at stages I am truly questioning myself.) So I lose it and say if she EVER like EVER throws something at me or anybody else in anger again there would be serious real life consequences. i.e. not simply losing pocket money or screen time, but going to a head teacher or something like that. (Haven’t a clue what the serious consequence would be tbh. Suggestions welcome.) Cue more complete hysterics. Her rages properly terrify me. I’m worried she is going to go and do something stupid just to "show me", or because she is so clearly frustrated and full of her own furious indignation. I have no idea how to control this, and if I reacted appropriately.

BeansMcCready Wed 23-Mar-16 19:37:57

I have no advice at all other than I think that's what teenagers (and pre teens) do, and that is hormonal. And that our house was very much like this when my brother and I were teenagers

BeansMcCready Wed 23-Mar-16 19:38:31

And that you should have a large glass of wine this evening!

andthenthereweretwo Wed 23-Mar-16 19:41:29

Same here with an 11year old boy-no reasoning will work so I ignore, walk away, take away Xbox etc and eventually on his own terms he'll approach me to apologise. It's a nightmare, I'm watching with interest!

ohlittlepea Wed 23-Mar-16 19:45:43

if you havent read this its worth a go xx

IthinkIamsinking Wed 23-Mar-16 19:52:18

Stay calm stay calm stay calm.
Bloody hard to do when their behaviour is off the scale. Once everyone is yelling, nobody is listening.
Repeating what you have said in a non confrontational manner and if she rages on, let her. Do not engage with the anger. If she throws something at you then calmly pick it up and put it away.
Only issue threats you can carry out and start low and work your way up.
I would wait until she is calm (even if this means the next day) and maybe take her out of the house for a walk or something to talk about why she is so angry. Try to avoid direct, accusatory questions like 'Why did you/do you throw that/swear/shout' etc and approach it more along the lines of 'Ive noticed you have been getting very upset lately and I want to help...... can you tell me what is upsetting you/making you so unhappy' and see what she says. Be firm but open to discussion with her. You may need to pick your battles.

Are you usually close to your DD? Is everything ok at school?

It's a bloody minefield.

RockUnit Wed 23-Mar-16 19:58:07

That sounds hard. I wonder if being more specific might help? So instead of "lousy attitude" stick to "We can't hear you from upstairs, so if you want to talk to someone, please go to where they are in the house". Instead of a vague "acceptable behaviour" say exactly what you'd like to happen, and why. Make sure you really are listening to her until she's finished talking. Say you understand and now here's your perspective. Stay calm so you're not fuelling the fire (you're the adult in the situation). Also be clear that you're on her side, and need to teach her about behaviour because you're her mum, not because you want conflict.


Putty Wed 23-Mar-16 20:07:24

Thanks I will look at that book little pea. It gets great reviews.

Sinking, interesting questions. I don’t think there is anything different or challenging at school beyond the usual. She seems to be enjoying high school. This is not particularly new behaviour, DD has always been sparky and temperamental. It is just getting more full on because she is so much more articulate than she used to be. (Thanks, debating society.) and pretty much the same height as me. I remember being at my wits end when she was 8, so it’s partly a character thing.

But it does seem to be escalating. My other mum friends despair of their tween and teenage children’s behaviour, but when we discuss it, it seems to me that my daughter is on another level. I am actually embarrassed to admit to people that she threw something at me that last time. It sounds like she is totally out of my control and seems to have zero respect.

Putty Wed 23-Mar-16 20:08:36

I think I’m close to my daughter, but close is different things to different people. She does withhold some things (e.g. that a boy asked her out etc. and I found out through her instagram, but I was always private about that kind of thing with my mum, so I’m fine with that.) Could this be part of the problem? Are we not close enough?

Imnotaslimjim Wed 23-Mar-16 20:21:28

RockUnit is right, you need to treat her like you would a toddler. Give specific deirections. She's pushing for boundaries and unwittingly you aren't giving them

Putty Wed 23-Mar-16 20:22:40

Rockunit, I hear you. She bamboozles me with her words and she never stops. She seems determined to see my reaction/interpretation as an attempt at conflict rather than trying to help. But yes, being specific when she lets me get a word in edgeways sounds like a good idea. It's hard to think sometimes in such situations.

I just went up and gave her a hug and told her I loved her. A lovely tight reciprocated hug. Five minutes later she is back down asking again if she can have a new IPod. "PLEASE Mummy. But WHY Mummy.?" Honestly, I couldn't make it up! Teenagers! I'm zen enough to laugh it off now and tell her that I'm too tired to even think about it (thanks large glass of wine) but I would love if she could make the connection between behaviour and goodwill! And the way she seems to ping so easily between such scary rages and chilling out on the sofa just bewilders me. I know she is still very young. How do I help her work this out without her thinking I'm some kind of monster?

unlucky83 Wed 23-Mar-16 20:32:15

Has she started her periods yet? My DD (with ADHD but still) went completely off the scale in the few months just before she started hers...we had massive more of less daily tantrums over the tiniest things - and I mean tantrums - like a 2 yo - the worse one she was lying on the bathroom floor screaming...
It was made worse by the fact I kicked her head by accident. She threw herself to the floor screaming and flailing and I was trying to walk out the room to get away, to let her calm down more than anything. She grabbed at my foot as I was trying to step past her and I instinctively shook my leg or something - not really sure exactly what and it was mainly to stop falling but managed to kick her sad and the screaming went up another level sad and I felt like joining her - was fighting back the tears -thinking how the hell did I get here, I can't cope with this. I can't even remember what started that off it was so minor ...but there is hope - she's now 15 - can still be a PIA at times but a lot calmer and nothing like as bad as that... And we do still talk to each other (sometimes!) and I do get hugs etc...

NotMeNotYouNotAnyone Wed 23-Mar-16 20:40:00

In one of her calm moments, talk to her about how she feels when she's in a rage, and how it makes you feel (without being accusing, even if she is), and that of course you will never stop loving her but you want you both to enjoy being together not screaming at each other.

Personally, I HATED the calm approach at her age and older, because it felt like I wasn't being heard or listened to so my rage escalated. If she is like this, could you try engaging in a non confrontational way, like helping her control her breathing or asking her to write everything down because being hit with everything at once is overwhelming for you both.

Putty Wed 23-Mar-16 20:40:07

I find her very hard to talk to in a way. She has always done the talking, nobody else gets a word in. Not just in combative situations, but in conversation generally. It seems impossible to discuss behaviour or her reactions without her building herself up into a big frenzy. On reflection, I have never successfully been able to have a discussion about her behaviour without it descending into tears and wailing. Even when she was quite small.

I love that she is very bright and determined and has always had a very strong sense of self. It is super if you are a full grown woman running a country. But it can cause some issues if you are 12, slightly spoiled and rude to your Mum. I want her to continue having a strong sense of self but to recognise when being strong willed spills over to aggressive inappropriate behaviour towards people who love and want to help.

Putty Wed 23-Mar-16 20:44:06

Unlucky83 she started her periods about two months ago. Yes, I think the escalation of unreasonableness may be connected. There was an incident not unlike yours (the flailing on the floor thing. Then hysterical accusation of somebody stepping on her etc. followed by higher pitched screaming.) It was like something out of the Omen. Really horrible. That's really reassuring that your 15 year old has calmed down a bit. Light at the end of the tunnel and all that! x

junebirthdaygirl Wed 23-Mar-16 21:24:09

With that type of personality it's doubly important to stay calm. And don't engage in debate as they have that barrister mind that makes you doubt yourself. On the other hand don't be afraid to unexpectedly let rip when she least expects it as you don't want to be a pushover. It will pass. I noticed you mentioned a little one. Is there only the two? Could she be jealous? How does she behave with her dad?

unlucky83 Wed 23-Mar-16 21:50:34

putty It will get better ...I still get 'attitude' and she can still argue (or try to at least) that black is white - but I can handle that (usually laugh at).
It is the vast over reactions to everything that have got better...and thinking about the worst teen tantrum stage only lasted 6-9 months...

Foxyloxy1plus1 Wed 23-Mar-16 21:53:12

When I got to the point where I could not communicate verbally with mine, I used to write notes and push them under her bedroom door. They were along the lines of ' I love you, but I don't like this behViour.'

Putty Wed 23-Mar-16 22:14:48

I love the "barrister mind" description! So much truth in that.

She behaves the same with her dad. If anything he is more reactive with her, but she tends to verbally attack me more. Perhaps because I don't feel as equipped to respond. Or perhaps because I'm not as strict? Her Dad is away at the moment, but if around he would have insisted strongly that she needed to burn off some energy physically before things kicked off, whereas I was distracted by the youngest been ill and let it go. Either way, she can't grow up depending on physical exercise to diffuse any emerging awful behaviour.

gandalf456 Wed 23-Mar-16 22:23:39

This could be my eleven year old so this thread is reassuring because I thought it was too early for this. I think a spoon is fairly tame. I've had various things chucked at me and she breaks things too

unlucky83 Wed 23-Mar-16 22:27:25

foxy I find texting works well to keep communication open ...
We can have something like a conversation without the sighs and grunts or feigned deafness making me feel annoyed...or she can 'ignore' me if I remind her of something but then I know she's read them...

Putty Wed 23-Mar-16 22:36:41

Oh Gandalf, I feel your pain.


Mistigri Wed 23-Mar-16 22:37:02

My oldest was like this, although peak pre-teen happened a bit earlier here. She's much better now.

I found that a combination of ignoring and, where possible, defusing situations with humour were helpful. Eventually she did start to realise that she was being ridiculous.

Have simple sanctions like removing electronics for an evening (give one warning, but no more). I prefer simple, short-term sanctions that are easy to enforce and stick to.

And very very occasionally I have totally lost it with her - I find this effective as the "nuclear" option. When this happens she does not get the right to reply!

hookiewookie29 Wed 23-Mar-16 22:46:32

Hormones and gotta love 'em......

Ok.....check her instagram. My Dd is nearly 13 and I've shut it down twice due to inappropriate messages and pictures from people she doesn't know, and online bullying.She is never having it again. There may be something on there that's upsetting her.
It's horrible when they kick off at you like this. I wait for my daughters head to start spinning round when she's on one!
Set good, strong do-able boundaries. I will not get into any conversation with my daughter when she's screeching like a banshee at me. " When you can speak to me properly, THEN I will speak back to you" and walking away works quite well in our house. Screaming and shouting will not get you what you want!

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