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I have a 12 year old daughter who is having screaming, door slamming, hour-long rages at the slightest thing.

I also have 2 older daughters, aged 17 and 18, who never did this after they were 2 and grew out of it quickly.

I am at a loss as to how to deal with it. It makes me feel sick and sweaty and I can feel my heart pounding. Some days I dread waking up.

My older 2 children are from a previous relationship which I mention because the father of my 12 year old was verbally abusive throughout my marriage, which I ended 5 years ago, and I don't know if there is a viable genetic link involved or not.

She was always an awkward child who got mixed signals. I tried to discipline but her her dad encouraged her, playing up poor behavior towards me by telling her it is fine to try and kick me if she was angry, etc., hence the reason for the separation after a violent outburst from him. She was much better after we split up.

Now he moved and lives 10 minutes away, and since he moved and she goes there everyday after school to see him she has become so much worse. Yet to him she won't say a word in backchat. He asks her to do something, she does it; she is angry with him, she won't tell him... she screams at me instead.

A typical episode as an example was yesterday when I asked her in a polite tone if she was almost ready to go out as the bus that we had to take to be on time for an appointment was due. The reply I got was "no, I can't find my shoe, get in my room and find it noooooooowww !! I don't care if we miss the bus, it is a doctors appointment. Go make another." Then she slammed the bathroom door and locked herself inside until she knew the bus passed outside and I had to call my dad who looks after my disabled mum to take us instead. She had hidden her shoe in the back of her wardrobe behind a blanket.

I am a carer to my mum who had a stroke, as well as 3 children. I am studying English teaching and Midwifery to try and make a future for my family, as well as selling cosmetics to pay the rent. I don't have much time, and the time I make to spend time with my family is being ruined by tantrum.

My Daughter has things that trouble her; this I know. Her Dad is moving again to a place too far for her to walk and she is upset that she cannot go there everyday. He is moving in with his girlfriend who has a child, so she is of course jealous that she is not part of it and another girl is living with her Dad, but no matter what the reason, I will not have doors slammed in my face, objects thrown at me, or accept a child screaming at me and ordering me around and showing no respect.

I have a lot of patience. When she starts, I usually state my objective and walk away calmly. Most times she follows me and goes on more and more until she gets a reply as to how her behaviour is unacceptable, then it progresses to her screaming, throwing things at me etc..

I have never once hit her. I don't think it would help the situation. I sit with her and talk through her problems, but I cannot fix them all. I am not in charge of what other people do.

Her Dad used to smoke cannabis and it keeps coming into my mind that it has somehow affected her development. Her attitude and actions are very similar to his where the expectation is that the whole household bows down and walks on eggshells to avoid an episode.

I have explained to her that I am her Mum, that I have her best interests at heart, yet I will not tolerate being spoken to in that way and tolerate her behaviour. If she has a problem, I will listen, and try my best to fix it, but she does not listen and carries on with sarcastic remarks.

I don't know the best path to deal with her and learn her that her behaviour is not correct. I have tried taking her phone/ iPad. It doesn't work: she goes worse.

Replies are gratefully received, as is advice and thank you for reading what turned out to be a long post.

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I can't answer this question. However, you might like to know that I was a notoriously surly teenager, especially to my father. When I was a teenager, I said things that I will remember and regret for the rest of my life. However, for me, it turned out to be a phase that I simply grew out of. It must be so confusing to your daughter to be dealing with such mixed signals from her parents right at the same time that she is beginning to become a woman. I am sorry to hear about this. –  Daniel Allen Langdon Jan 29 at 18:32
    
related question: parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/18577/… –  BBM Feb 7 at 11:41

5 Answers 5

Oh wow, what a lousy situation for all of you! It depends on where you live, but one resource I'd suggest is whatever social services you have available. She could probably use the services of a professional to help her unpack all the things going on in her life: father with a history of violence towards family who is also in-and-out of her life, the usual sturm und drang that comes with adolescence, a mom who is stretched to the limit and who she seems to feel she can only interact with in a loud and threatening manner. Poor kid sounds like she's acting out, trying to get someone to fix things in her life.

Talk with your local social services, and see if you can get a recommendation for free or sliding-scale professional help.

Since you say she was better once her Dad lived away, and worse when he moved closer and she could see him every day, I'm cautiously hopeful that once she's not interacting with him on a daily basis she'll feel a bit better too.

Hang in there, remind her frequently that you love her and aren't going anywhere (I'm sure part of her frustration is losing her father again to a new family), and be kind to yourself. And do look into getting some help with the situation; you can't be expected to fix EVERYONE'S problems, and you have a lot on your plate.

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I have no experience with this as a parent, so any advice I give is possibly wrong for your situation or generalized.

What it sounds like to me is a feedback loop, when my daughter - almost 2 - throws a tantrum I noticed that giving negative feedback usually results in the situation worsening.

Rewarding good behaviour rather than punishing bad behaviour is also one of the things they advise when dealing with any person. Rewards are Better than Punishment: Here’s Why puts it better than I do:

But the bottom line seems to be that we now have a better idea why rewards work better than punishment with pre-adolescent children. So if it is an explanation you need for why you should reward good behavior more than punish bad behavior, at least with pre-adolescent children, now you have one. The task that still remains, of course, is regulating one's own irritability, frustration and thus behavior in the face of annoying child behavior so that we can ignore it.

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I have 12 years old son who has same behavior issues. He has much of my attention but he has 200% of me. He is bossy and wants to teach me what I need to do. He doesn't like any of my questions, particularly about his home work or any his responsibilities and even the question about cleaning his teeth makes him mad.

He's been working with a psychiatrist for 2 months (my older son, 28 years old, who is a psychologist and was watching his tantrum and anger recommended me to ask a professional for help). The doctor prescribed him some medication (one at a time): the second one makes him sleepy and he wakes up more relaxed and calm... but if you ask or tell him what he doesn't like it triggers his anger right away.

Today we saw a counselor. My son liked to talk with him and looked very happy going back to home but in 10 minutes being at home he was angry and screamed like crazy. Sometimes I think that he feels better when he screams because he wants to release his extra energy. When he starts screaming, I am sending him out to run - sometimes he does and it helps in a while, sometimes he doesn't want to do it. He always was stubborn but these tantrums started 4 months ago. I am a full time working mother of 2 children - him and his sister who is 10 and she is trying to copy of some his behavior. I only found 2 ways to mitigate this problem: 1. found specialists (my insurance mostly pays for it) and 2. I am taking medication which is helping me to stay calm when he screams.

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I know a lot of time has passed since you wrote your post - can't pinpoint the date as it's not coming up - but I hope things have improved for you. In case they haven't - or even if they have - just a couple of thoughts from both a professional and personal perspective.

1) I don't totally agree with the previous reply. When parents split, so so frequently the child acts out with - and punishes - the parent who is there for them, consistent, and with whom they feel absolutely safe. Think about it a moment - if I scream "I hate you!" at my Dad who has encouraged behaviour I find scary in myself (eg kicking my mum), has a bit of a hair trigger temper and has already left me to form a second family, he might totally reject me, blow his top, stop loving me.... But I'm so angry and upset and I can't contain these feelings. So I am on my best best behaviour with him and I come home and give you hell. And you still love me. So I can safely do it. Also I can't understand - because I'm only 12 - why, when you've always been there for me, you can't just FIX everything, and me. So I'm maybe also punishing you for not being all powerful and perfect.

That is all so very very unfair, but it's also a (nasty but heartfelt!) testament to your positive parenting. Please hold onto that and don't doubt yourself.

2) The fact your daughter can control her temper and behaviour when she needs to with others, means she CAN learn to stop doing it with you whether it has a genetic component or not. I think you do need some support and input, as it's not reasonable to expect superhero perfection from yourself. You can no doubt best find that yourself local to you so I'm not going to teach you to suck eggs. If you can put some hard earned cash into sessions with a counsellor, find one through the accredited professional counselling body and I'd look for someone specialising in life change and children/young people. It's ok to be upfront about your resources so you don't feel under pressure to get pulled in for more than you can afford. Whatever advice you take or don't take, I feel sure from the whole way you write that you are going to be doing great and that some day your daughter will appreciate it. All the best.

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Okay well there is a lot going on here and I'm not really sure what the question is and how to approach this answer. But I'll start off with the behavior she exhibits. Given your example of a typical episode:

A typical episode as an example was yesterday when I asked her in a polite tone if she was almost ready to go out as the bus that we had to take to be on time for an appointment was due. The reply I got was "no, I can't find my shoe, get in my room and find it noooooooowww !! I don't care if we miss the bus, it is a doctors appointment. Go make another." Then she slammed the bathroom door and locked herself inside until she knew the bus passed outside

Okay see right there you can spot the problem. I don't think the part you are getting is that by allowing that to happen and allowing that type of attitude and behavior occur, it just reinforces in her mind that she can do it again. It doesn't seem as if you did anything to stop it. As soon as the word "No....." came out of her mouth, you need to step in and let her know that "Actually NO you aren't going to speak to me like that". So she got all the way through that, and even slammed the door, which you allowed to happen without incident. Now she knows that slamming doors in her mothers face is okay. Then you allowed her to stay in the bathroom with enough time for the bus to pass, and allowed her to play little games with you. Whether you realize it or not, you allow these things to happen without incident and it just (in her mind) makes it okay to do again.

But according to you (in your mind):

but no matter what the reason, I will not have doors slammed in my face, objects thrown at me, or accept a child screaming at me and ordering me around and showing no respect.

Actually you do have these things happen to you. In your mind your thinking those words but you should of actually wrote "I do not want doors slammed on me, objects thrown at me, etc etc". She probably was getting away with these type of behavior for years with you, but on a more managable level because she was younger. Quite frankly it seems to me she is completely taking advantage of your levelheadedness and even temper. You seem like the type of person that doesn't like confrontation and will try to avoid it if you can.

See things like this are more than what you describe. It's a result of everyday interaction. Take the example of Jessica a mother of a 10 year old daughter named Katie (I'm making these two people up). Jessica comes home from work really tired and sees her daughter Katie on Facebook instead of doing her homework. This happens every god damn day it seems. Jessica is sick of dealing with it as Katie never seems to listen. Katie looks up and sees her mother looking at her. Katie goes "WHAT? I'll get off when I'm done, okay?". Jessica is tired and goes "I want you off in 20 mins" and walks away. Now right there Jessica may seem like she won, she gave her a time limit and feels like she put her foot down. But did she? NO! As soon as the word "WHAT?...." came out of her mouth, she should of let her know "YOU DON'T TALK TO YOUR MOTHER LIKE THAT". That isn't an acceptable form of behavior to expect from someone like your child. But it's commonplace in America today. And it becomes the norm, especially in single parent relationships such as yours because there is no father around to fall back on. In this case Jessica has already slowly over time become accustomed to this lack of respect and backtalk and doesn't feel it's worth the fight anymore to even say anything about it. I feel you may able to relate to this a little bit if you understand what I mean.

I think another problem is the whole dad situation.

Now he moved and lives 10 minutes away, and since he moved and she goes there everyday after school to see him she has become so much worse. Yet to him she won't say a word in backchat. He asks her to do something, she does it; she is angry with him, she won't tell him... she screams at me instead

Okay well without hearing his side of the story, this right here tells me a lot. What does it tell you if she better behaves with them than with you? This may or may not be true it's only your perspective and your side of the entire story at that. But for the sake of this comment let's say it is true. Doesn't that tell you something right there if she is better behaved with him? Maybe he is doing something right. Maybe you should ask him for advice rather than us. If you two simply don't get along and aren't willing to put away your differences for the sake of your daughter, then I guess that isn't an option. But I get a sense that you are very level headed and probably a nice woman. He probably doesn't take any shit. She might love you both the same but she may actually respect him more because she disciplines her more effectively than you? Again not trying to be judgmental I'm just trying to help you and figure this out with you.

See traditionally in families where you had a mom, dad, and kids, the mother did mostly all of the parenting. The dads had very little to do with it, not much at all really, especially with daughters. But the one part where Dad was always known to be is the discipline. That was the one area where Dad stepped in and restored law and order to the chaos in families. Whatever methods or means you or I may or may not agree with is neither here nor there. But fact remains discipline was Dad's cup of tea and Mom handled all the other stuff. It sounds to me like you are a wonderful Mom and do a lot of great things, but really the authoritarian discipline role isn't what your good at, and it's having its toll on you with a girl entering teen years. You did not mention the two two children anything about their father. Where is he at and how is their relationship with him?

Lastly if you take anything away from this I'd ask you to reflect upon the type of behavior you had begun to accept over the years from her as acceptable behavior, and start to make a stance. The minute she starts all this door slamming, then you take the door off the hinges with a screwdriver and now she has no door. The minute she starts to say "NO ...." to you, put a bar of soap in her mouth. She shouldn't take to you like that and do these things you're right. So you nip it in the ass right when it happens. I just hope you have it in you to take it to those lengths because I think that is the only thing that will stop it.

Good luck, hang in there Mom!

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