11year old daughter going off the rails. Help.(59 Posts)
My daughter is going off the rails and seems to be on a path of self destruction. I am at my wits end with what to do. I am a mother of 2 daughters, my youngest being 7. Earlier this year I found out that my eldest had been telling lies. She had told all of her friends that her dad didn't buy her any Easter eggs for Easter (which was a lie). I confronted her about it and explained that it was wrong to lie and she said that she didn't know why she did it. Then a while after I found out that she had been bullying children at school. I drove her to the children's houses to apologise. It seemed to work for a while. I then found out she was doing it again (to a poor girl who doesn't have the best life anyway). This is something I absolutely will not tolerate so as a shock tactic I took her to the police station so they could explain to her that with actions comes consequences. She left the police station in tears. For about 3 months she was back to the amazing daughter that I knew I had the whole time. Then I had the shock of the century. I found out that her and a friend had been stealing from a local shop. I found out when I found the goods in her bedroom. I confronted her and her friend and told them how disappointed I was. I told the other girls mother and said I wanted them to take everything back and apologise. The mother refused as it was from the shop she works in and was embarrassed. I wasn't about to let my daughter take the blame by herself so I punished her by grounding her and taking away her phone and increased her chores. She was told she wasn't allowed in any shops unless I was with her. She seemed to understand what she had done was wrong. Then this Friday just past I had a phone call. It was from a man who explained that he had just caught her and the same friend in his shop stealing again. He said he checked back over his cctv and over the last 2 weeks they had stole around £20 worth of stock each. I obviously told him I was very sorry, paid the money he was owed and brought her home where I have now told her she isn't to associate with this girl as they cannot be trusted. I also messaged the girls mum and told her that I would be contacting the police myself. She came to my door and told me I had no right. I explained that I had every right and I was doing my best as her mother to teach my daughter right from wrong and that both of them were to blame so they should both be punished. I am waiting for the police to call me back to come out and speak to her. This past few days she is just acting like nothing has happened and is as mouthy and demanding as ever. She is vile to my youngest daughter (who is very sweet natured and kind, they are polar opposites). She shouts when something doesn't go her way, she cries at the drop of a hat. I am at my wits end. The only thing that seems to effect her is the threat of moving out of our local area and changing her schools to remove her from the situation as punishment don't seem to be working. It seems drastic but if that's what it takes for her to know I mean business then I will do it. I just wondered if anyone has any ideas or anything with dealing with a child that seems to set on ruining her own life??? She's only 11, I know that but people that tell me 'kids will be kids'...I was a kid once, I didn't bully people or steal!! I'm just so low right now and seriously disappointed ????
Maybe your life, as well as your writing, requires a few paragraphs. Stopping to breathe and think and having a few boundaries can be very helpful in gaining clarity.
I'm sorry I just had so much to say as its all getting on top of me. I'm doing my very best and I'm doing it alone, to teach my children what's ok and what's not ok. I just seem to be failing miserably.
Don't be disappointed in her, be concerned for her. Deal with the practicalities of the recent events then think about what's going on in her life that is leading her to do these things.
Is she having any kind of counselling? If not, get her some.
Is she busy enough? School, hobbies, time with you and her sister?
Those are the thoughts I have now, as a grandma.
My dd, reading this, will think 'Mum, my feet wouldn't have touched the floor if I'd done that. I wouldn't have been able to sit down for a week and you would still be mentioning it twenty years later.' Probably true.
Not being emotionally attached to the situation makes it so, so different. I hope you can sort it out without adding to her problems (which is probably what I would have done) and I hope that it isn't the start of something big that is hard to deal with.
You need to get to the bottom of why she behaves like this. It sounds as if she has a lot of freedom - phone, trips to shops etc- maybe time to go back to basics , set clear boundaries and stick to it. Your reaction, perhaps out of shock, seems very dramatic. If the bullying was at school it should really have been them that dealt with it. Does she ever get attention for behaving well?
It is really up to the shop owner to notify the police. The other mum may be mortified as it was in her shop, but equally that may be why they targeted it and thought they'd get away with it.
Thank you for taking the time to reply. She has had counselling before. She was having some issues with her dad. He pretty useless. Sees them 2 days a fortnight and just Sunday told me that he had set a date for his wedding and and his new girlfriends children will be bridesmaids and that out children are welcome to the evening do. I haven't told them anything as I don't want them to be even more disappointed. What little girl doesn't wanna be a bridesmaid? And for them to see his step children dressed as bridesmaids and 100% involved and them only invited to the evening do. I'm just speechless about that. I can't tell them. I don't wanna be the one to break their hearts.
Of course I reward good behaviour. During the summer holidays over the course of a Week I took them on 3 day trips because she had been super. I don't want to seem dramatic but I just want her to understand how much making the wrong choices so young can ruin her life. I am so proud of my children every day and I love them without any shadow of a doubt. I just can't pinpoint why she would act out like this when I do my best for them both. They generally get what they want but not when they want it. It's when they earn it. they aren't spoilt or anything. I'm just doing my best to be a responsible parent.
You say a lot about punishment in your OP - but not about how you show her you love her.
You seem to be doing your best to terrify her of doing wrong - rather than encouraging her to develop her own moral sense.
Yes I'd set boundaries. I woukld also get her more counselling. But I would also make sure hoem was a warm loving place, and that she knew she could talk to me about anything .
Does she feel she has to "earn" your love?
I think the op shows her love by caring that her dd does the right thing. The other parent seems to think stealing is fine. I'd lay money on the future of these two girls being completely different.
Op has your dd just started high school? Often in the first year they can suddenly seem a bit show off-ish, same with last year of primary. They are caught in the no man's land of children and teenagers. While we, as adults, view them as children, hormones tell them a different story.
I think you have a few options.
One is taking a draconian method of taking her to and from school, banning the friend, grounding and removal of phone.
Two is filling her time with activities, chores, homework and clubs. This obviously depends on your finances.
Three is a mix of the two, rewarding good behaviour but consequences for the bad.
Volunteering is something she could do, food bank maybe? Church group or a weekend play club where she helps with younger kids. Shopping for elderly neighbours, dog walking etc.
As a last resort you can call social services and ask for help but they are so stretched. Does school have pastoral care? Or any kind of group for troubled children? (By troubled I mean emotionally rather than being in trouble)
As for their dad, this is grossly unfair and I think you need to ask him why they are only having an invite to the evening. Does he see them much? Is their relationship good?
He needs to know what's going on and the role his behaviour could be impacting on her behaviour. The other option is to stop contact which is a last resort but when it leaves your child disturbed then it's not beneficial.
I would say days out as rewards are just too big- that seems a theme: all big gestures and instant fixes. Life just doesn't work like that.
Scale back, small rewards like: picking a film to watch together, being the one who chooses what you have for dinner, breakfast in bed with her sister. Try and do activities that bond you together as a family and bond your daughters together as sisters.
Does she have any nice friends? Can you arrange things with them to ensure she has positive friendships to encourage good behaviour?
If she could only go to shops with you, how did she manage to shoplift again?
Does she do a sport? I would say she needs her time taken up with more wholesome hobbies.
jude kudos for your amazing efforts to help your daughter. You are doing what every parent should do but doesn't. As another lone parent who tried to do the right thing , life in the end was the best teacher. Keep on doing what you are doing and wait for your daughter to realise that you are right. The trouble with moving schools is what if your dd gravitates to another 'friend' like the one she has now? Good suggestions above= hobbies, sports, volunteering , small rewards. What does she want that she could earn ? Is counselling available in school or elsewhere? The only reason i can think of for her behaviour is she wants status in her peer group and thinks this is the way to get it . I hope you have some personal support as this struggle to bring up your children is going to go on for a few more years. Another thought- is she jealous of her younger sister- the good one? Also i agree re not focusing on punishment altho it's not possible to avoid completely.
All I can do is my best. I already took her phone, banned the friend and grounded her. Her time is taken up with activities in the house. We watch films together, walk the dog and do chores together. I will wash up and she will dry for instance but one things for sure, I love my children more than life itself and my home is always a warm one where they are concerned.
She absolutely doesn't have to earn my love, I love her unconditionally, my children are my world. The days out were during the summer holidays and not just to reward her for her good behaviour but my other daughter too. I certainly don't pay for day trips out every time they behave because that would be me bribing them to behave when good behaviour is something I expect, not all the time as I know kids are kids but the majority of the time.
She has just started her first year in secondary school and did walk to school (about quarter of a mile) with a group of friends and back again as I can't have both my daughters at different schools at the same time and that's when she did it. Stopping at the shop before and after school etc but now I take her to school 10 mins early and pick her up as soon as I can get to her. Normally she walks with friends and by the time I get to her she's half way home. I physically can't be in two places at the same time. They both finish at 3 o clock and their schools are 5 miles apart.
I don't want to terrify her I just want her to know that if this is the path she chooses then she has a lifetime of trouble ahead of her. Not from me but from police etc.
Her relationship with her dad is a difficult one. He has told her several times that he doesn't want to see her any more, he says that she's too naughty for him and he shouldn't have to deal with her attitude when he works all week. He sees them every other weekend. He is very hard on her. She often tells me she doesn't want to go. Up until recently I have always encouraged her to have a Relationship with her dad but now I've told her that if it makes her more unhappy to go than to not see him then that's her choice. I support her decision 100% because that's what parents should do.
Also, I did ask him why they weren't being included in the wedding and he said that its his girlfriends day and she wants her children and he can't get married and watch the girls (who will be 13 and 9 when they get married).
I'm guessing her poor behaviour with her father is potentially behind the choice not to include them . Do they like sm ? Would they be likely to misbehave? This does seem to lurch from one extreme to another - freedom/control, praise/sanction . Do you have the opportunity to spend time with each separately? She may be suffering from an exaggerated form of teenage , hormonal angst and feel inadequate compared to her younger sister. Do try to get school on board, they may be able to access sources of support on your behalf.
I think she's a very unhappy little girl, and I'm not excusing her behaviour.
If she knows her dad doesn't want to see her and there's nothing she can do about it that's enough for anyone to cope with. He's replacing your girls with his stepchildren, which is despicable, and he needs to take some responsibility instead of wiping his hands and sailing off into the sunset with a new wife and children.
You've hit the nail on the head with the spending time with them separately. I just said to her one Saturday a month is just ours to go out for lunch and have a girly day, we don't do that very often and I think it's what she needs now more than ever. She goes from one extreme to the other with her step mum. She does say things sometimes that I feel are not ok. For instance she went shopping with her dad and her step mother once and she told her that she couldn't possible be the size clothes that she is so went on what she thought was her size resulting in everything being too small. I told my daughter (who then thought her dad and step mum thought she was too big) that she's beautiful as she is and I replaced all the clothes for her and had a quiet word with her dad that she's at a sensitive age so saying things like that will effect her. Maybe I'm just not the mum I thought I was. I thought that giving freedom within reason as long as she used it responsibly was the way to go, and if she can't do that then punish accordingly. I'm by no means strict, in fact I lean more towards being a push over. My partner often sits open mouthed at how she speaks to me when I'm left crying because I just don't know what else to do. I just wanna be a good mum and do what's right. I didn't for one minute think I was going about it all wrong x
I know that and I filled up when he told me but he's such an arrogant ass hole he accused me of being upset that he's getting married. In actual fact I was heartbroken that he can just disregard his own children like that so easily. He makes out he loves his kids but this to me shows a very different story x
One thing that stuck out to me OP is you saying your children are polar opposites. Are you spending more time and giving more love and affection to your younger child who understandably is probably easier to deal with and more pleasant to be around.
Maybe she is acting out for attention? If you are always loosing your temper with her maybe she is doing it to act out because she doesnt like it??
For example, my brother was very much favoured upon growing up- and I used to act up so id get my parents attention.
Just something to think about.
At secondary there must be after school clubs, does she not have any hobbies or interests? You say her time is all taken up at home- when does she get to be with her friends doing normal, nice, good and (legal!) kid stuff?
Going out for lunch and a girly day sounds nice, but you need to balance that grown up stuff with age appropriate kid stuff too. 11 is so young still, and all this stuff with her dad will be making her feel quite adult complex feelings when she probably isn't emotionally ready to yet.
It's a suggestion that's worth thinking about. Maybe I just expect too much from her? But I think all parents want their children to be respectful Etc. Maybe I do without even realising?
They are polar opposites. I don't have to remind my youngest to behave because she just does. That might be because she's younger. I don't know. I admit we have completely different relationships. My youngest is my shadow and my eldest has always done her own thing. I don't favour one more than the other it's just that when your a busy single mum sometimes it's easy to forget to just sit and appreciate what's right Infront of you,
I will, after reading all of these replies, take more time to just sit and appreciate everything, be that good or bad and try not to be so quick to tell her not to do something but be even quicker to tell her how proud I am of her when she is having a good day.
I must have come across a zero tolerance mum. That's not the case At all. I don't ask for much. Just a happy home and for everyone to love and respect one another under my roof. I don't have a huge list of rules or dos and donts, I just like their room to be kept tidy, for them to tidy away after themselves, we live in a small flat where it's easy to get on top of one another and I think that's half the problem too. X
She does get time with friends, of course. She has lots of friends, nice friends. But at the moment she is grounded for stealing. I can't and won't just stick my head in the sand and excuse that. It's far too extreme for me to just let that go.
Re. The wedding, it's a really shitty thing for the dad to do. Surely, if he's worried about behaviour there are grandparents or friends who could help. But he needs to understand that by rejecting your dd when she acts out he is reinforcing the behaviour and making it worse. It sounds like your dd has low self esteem and that he is making it worse.
Parenting a child with low self esteem that manifests in self destructive behaviour can be very very hard.
On a good note, today she has been a delight: we just made sandwiches together for school tomorrow and she helped me cook the tea (she asked). I've told her how much I love her. we're now gonna sit and watch some to together before bed time X
I do understand that OP, and apologises if I came across as a bit harsh. I think you need to sit her down and have a proper chat with her. I also think a PPs suggestion of counselling is a good one. You need to nip it in the bud now before it spirals out of control. The fact that your coming and asking advice shows you care so i wasnt suggesting you dont if it came across that way.
Im also on the fence on suggesting mentioning the other girls name to the police. While it will cause some hostility no doubt, your DD shouldnt take the full wrap for this
You are a good mum. Children don't come with instruction books and much of the time we wing it and keep our fingers very firmly crossed.
Perhaps your DD was 'daddy's girl'? I think she's trying to attract attention (in definitely the wrong way) and needs reassurance and clear boundaries, perhaps that would help?
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