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Pre-teen behaviour, any help?

(7 Posts)
RosieAandO Wed 20-Mar-13 20:23:15

Hi, I hope you don't mind me posting.

I have an 11 year old daughter and am at my wits end with her behaviour. 95% of the time, she is absolutely great and lovely, and good with her younger brother. 5% of the time she is so absolutely horrible and SO defiant and badly behaved. I know that's probably normal for an 11 year old but I don't know how to handle it and I'm worried about how it's going to get worse as she's older.

This eve, I told her to clean out her guineapigs (I had to 'tell' rather than 'ask' because I've been asking all week with no response, and I'm the one who cleans them out and feeds them all the time, so the poor things don't die). I was putting her brother to bed and she screeched up the stairs that it wasn't possible because she couldn't hold the binbag open and do it. I called down something - I don't know what now - and she blew up. That was almost two hours ago and she has been screaming, crying, telling me she hates me, telling me that all I ever do is criticise and nag (I give her lots of praise, and if I nag her about the guineapigs, it's because she never listens!). I tried to calm down and talk to her about how SHE wanted me to do things like get her to feed the animals but all she did ws glare at me and tell me I was horrible and so on. In the end I gave her a warning that she needed to put on her PJs or I'd deactivate her facebook because I was sick of the behaviour (her Dad gave her FB, not me btw), and she did, screaming, and then threw stuff around her room.

I seem to end up in tears about this so often. She has an easy life - my fault I know, but I'm a single parent and feel guilty about it - so no chores really. She can be so lovely but I am incapable of managing her and it's so hard with no support.

She has nothing I can 'take away' from her as a consequence - we only have one TV so if I say she can't watch, nor can her brother; and it's so hard trying to parent two of them that I know I give in, so it's my fault.

I'm really lost, any help would be great. She just refused to go to bed so in the end I just said 'fine' and walked awy, but I can't stop crying.

thank you

tigerzzzz Wed 20-Mar-13 20:53:51

Oh dear Rosie - you have my full sympathy. I can relate to so much of what you have said. I've had nights like that too, and mornings, and weekends etc ...

I am also a single parent of an 11 yr old, but don't have a younger child so it's just me and her. I think it can be quite intense between mothers and daughters.

We went through a very rough phase last autumn, about 3 weeks after DD's 11th birthday. It felt like her hormones were switched on overnight. My first reaction was to scream back, take stuff away from her and punish her. When I'd calmed down though, and read a fair few MN posts about teenagers (which is what they are becoming) I have slightly changed my tactics. The old threats and punishments suddenly stop working at this age.

I have started giving DD a bit more responsibility, a bit more choice and freedom (within reason obviously) and going a bit overboard on the cuddles and telling her I love her. it's easy to slip out the habit when all you get is attitude.

Not saying we don't still scream at each other several times a week (especially at 7.30am) but I think generally we're a bit happier. It's more me that's had to adapt than her tbh. I think I didn't accept for a while that she was changing.

I would say some chores would do her the world of good. Make her feel more like a grown up part of the household, make her realise you're not a doormat, and give her something to feel proud of. I don't have fixed chores for my DD - I tend to ask her to do one thing each day. Sometimes she asks if she can cook tea, so that's her chore. Other times I pick something really little if she's tired or grumpy (eg hang up one load from the washer) or sometimes I pick something big we can do together, like clean out toy cupboard or wash the car. Quite often I give her a choice, and some days I don't ask her to do anything.

You'd probably need to sit her down and talk her through why she was being asked to do more though, and focus on the fact she's getting older, and maybe throw in a sweetener - eg a slightly later bedtime as part of her growing up.

Good luck - and for goodness sake don't feel guilty

RosieAandO Wed 20-Mar-13 20:58:49

Thank you, that's really kind. I like the idea of giving her some chores to make her feel grown up :-) I know I feel guilty that I can't give them a proper family, and it is always SO much easier to do everything myself rather than battling, but rod for my own back and all that...

Bless her, she came down and calmly told me how she'd felt, and that she hatesd arguing, and we had a hug and she cried a bit. We've agreed to make c a chart on Saturday of various things I expect her to do each day, and she even suggested that when she comes in from school, she checks the guineas then rather than later, so she knows it's done and doesn't resent having to do them when she's tired/it's dark.

I hope we can stick to it, I'm rubbish with charts and so on because I'm a pretty crap parent!

I really appreciate knowing that I'm not alone in this though - thank you - I don't know any other parents other than one at work, and she always seems to have things sorted!

Will definitely go overboard on the love too, and also reward things like helping out more with film nights and so on.

Thanks again, I think I'll have a little cry now!

Lilyloo Wed 20-Mar-13 21:05:06

That is lovely that she came back and tried to sort it with you smile I would say that certainly means you are doing a wonderful job with her, definitely not a crap parent.

tigerzzzz Wed 20-Mar-13 21:08:07

Oh Rosie - you sound really down. And you definitely DON'T sound like a crap parent. You sound like you've raised a fantastic young lady who you should be really proud of.

A chart is a great idea - and don't sweat it if you don't stick to it. It's just great to spend a few minutes together putting it down on paper. We've also done this recently, and set up a rule about screen time in return for good behaviour. It doesn't always work for various reasons - eg last week I was ill, so just let her stay on the computer while i had a sleep. It's still there to fall back on though.

I hope it works out for you.

steppemum Wed 20-Mar-13 21:30:05

I would second the responsibility. You could make a list of chores she can choose from.

My ds is 10 and we swing from delightful to monster, real Jekyl and hyde with high emotion. We have found that stepping back and letting him take responsibility works.
So we got tired of nagging him in the morning. Now he gets a time check (he is up, his problem is after breakfast getting dressed and ready for school) It is up to him to get out of the door on time. If he is late for school there is a consequence, but the focus is - this is the time, you have 15 minutes ok? Then leave it to him. He is now never late and we don't have many arguements about it just about everything else

He is very good at looking after his animals though, he is responsible for feeding them, and shutting them up (extra carpet over hutch in the cold) we clean them out together. I would be tempted to make a quiet stand one evening, no food on the table for her, until she has fed her animals.

I would also second the extra love. I have started a Friday night ds night. I put younger girls to bed and we cuddle up on the sofa and watch a recorded program too old for dds. This mummy time has really helped him to feel loved.

We have also learned that once he has gone off in a temper, we step back and ignore. We often send him to his room to be angry there and calm down there. We won't don't discuss it or deal with it until he has calmed down.

I find it sooo hard. This week has been a long haul, issues everyday and I am exhausted. Then tonight he is clam and cuddly!

RosieAandO Wed 20-Mar-13 22:19:30

Thank you everyone, I can't tell you how nice it is to know I'm not alone!

I've written myself a list of things to try from everything you've said, think that Sunday we sit down and agree some rules, and some responsibilities, and some rewards too.

you've all been really helpful - thank you

Oh, and when I went up to my daughter to settle her for the night, she'd put back everything that she'd thrown around her room - which is not only great behaviour wise, but I'm sure it's the first time ever she's voluntarily tidied her room :-) I told her I was really pleased and proud of her for being mature enough to pick up after herself like that <3

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