Behavior Advice

I’m getting so much attitude from my 6th grader that I feel like I’m a kid and each morning I’m thinking “I don’t want to do school today!” My mother works with kids my daughter’s age and says that all the kids age 10-14 at her school act the same way. Ex. mouthy, eye rolling, arguing, not listening, talking back. I hate to sound cliche, but truly, I never acted to this extent when I was this age. I told my husband last night that I feel like I’m at the point of putting her back into school because I need that break from her; and I feel so bad saying that because I feel like I shouldn’t feel that way. I’ve had a few serious sit down talks with her asking if there is something in particular that is wrong, is there anything she needs to discuss with me etc. I’ve also had two serious sit downs where I let her know what behavior is not okay with me and what the consequences will be. Well, the consequences have not changed her rotten attitude and the result has just been her tainting every school day for me and the rest of the kids, arguing, and I just feel really stressed out and sad about our relationship. My mom says that its normal and we’ll be civil again when she moves out! Whaaat!!! :slight_smile: My husband says that I’m too soft on all the kids and they walk all over me. I don’t know if this makes sense I just am sick of the daily battles that my 12 year old is giving me and I’m very stressed over it. Any kind of advice would be appreciated.

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I wish I had a magic answer for you, but I don’t. I do have a 14 year old daughter though. I pulled her out of ps when she was 13 for several reasons, attitude being near the top of the list. This is our second year of hs and things are smoothing out. A couple of things that worked for us: I took her kindle away permanently (too many native apps), threw her phone away, same thing. She now has a dumb phone. I also have the tv restricted, I would get rid of it but I want to stay married. I make sure I know what she is watching. If the characters are loud and obnoxious she doesn’t get to watch it. Something positive that I have done is nature walks, for some reason she really enjoys doing that with her brother and I.
I tried to do some “character training” but just reading out of the Bible every day at the beginning of school seems to benefit all of us.
There have been a few days that she had a pretty negative attitude, so she had to do her work by herself.
She is not an angel, but things have improved. I do not tolerate any disrespect, and try to remember she needs my respect as well. She still argues with her 9yr old brother, but one thing at a time :wink:


Thank you very much for your reply. My daughter went to public school until last year and attitude was a big factor for me too! One change that I have noticed for good, was that during Christmas time she asked for simple toys. When she was in school the year before she wanted clothes and a phone and an ipad. (We didn’t buy her those things!) But it shows a change in influence for sure. I do think I need to restrict TV more, I’m glad you pointed that out because even the Disney channel has some shows with obnoxious girls. I will try on bad days having her take her things to the table to work out of the classroom. Definitely better than letting her stay in the room and ruin the atmosphere for everyone. I’ve been trying to compliment her on good behavior because it seems like all the attention she gets lately is negative, but it is really hard! Thank you for your reply!

One thing that can help sometimes is to give kids a do-over. Ever say something or have a reaction and then wish you could take it back? Kids do that more, and sometimes we can diffuse a situation instead of letting it escalate to a power struggle.

“Would you like to try saying that again?” (kids sometimes don’t realize they have a “tone.”)
or sometimes, "Let’s take a 5 minute break, and then we can try this conversation again."
or just “do-over!” said cheerfully. (You may want to explain ahead of time what you’re doing.)

Encourage when she does right–when she does respond well, when she doesn’t have a tone or eye rolling etc… Especially since she was in PS until last year–eye-rolling is really ingrained in the culture for this age group, and it’s such a knee-jerk reaction that it will take time to stop.

Ask your husband for examples of when he thinks you are too soft, and consider whether that’s the case. Then, if you do decide to change some things, let the kids know.

Do recognize that she’s not “little” any more. A lot of what pre-teens and young teens want is respect as persons who are changing and becoming young adults. If you parent the same way that you did when they were little, it tends to backfire big time. So, some of what we do, how we approach them, needs to change as well. Think about the times lately that she has eye-rolled or given attitude, and consider whether there was anything legitimate in her being upset, and whether an approach that was slightly different might have elicited a different response.

As an example, around this age I started changing how I told my kids to clean their rooms. Instead of saying, “Time to clean your room” like I would to a little one, I might say, “Come up with a plan for taking care of your room this week, and then let me know what your plan is.” If the plan won’t work for some reason, we would discuss that and I might send them to make a new plan. But kids start to appreciate the recognition that while they still need guidance, they are ready for a bit more responsibility and can make some of their own decisions–it respects how they are changing. Does that make sense?


@Merry I especially like your tip of a do-over. My children are still pretty little (all under 8 years old) and yes, I do sometimes forget that they, like all of us, act in haste and then probably wish they could take it back. And more often than the rest of us because of their young age. You gave some great suggestions and a great reminder that they don’t always realize they have a “tone.” Thanks for your insight and suggestions!

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This makes a lot of sense. I’m glad you replied Merry! I’m going to copy and print this out. It will be good for me and my husband to look over and talk about. You make a great point about needing a do over and extending some grace. Honestly, my frustrated responses to her could have used a do over this week. I think you’re right about her not being little anymore and needed a better approach. My daughter is quite a bit older than my little guys and I tend to respond and treat them the same. I think part of how we got to this “bad” place of being disrespectful is because I let it go too long and now it feels normal/acceptable to her. I grew up in a pretty dysfunctional home and sometimes I truly feel at a loss/challenged when it comes to trying to create a “normal” home.

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