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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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2 Answers

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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