I have a 16-year-old daughter and recently especially she's been acting out. She dyed her hair red knowing she wasn't allowed to and that she would get in trouble. Five days later she sneaked a boy over at 1am and was loud enough to get caught playing board games in the basement. Less than a week later (today) she asked me if she could go out to eat with her friends and I told her no. She tried to sneak out anyways, even after seeing I set the alarm and left my bedroom door open.

Each time she's gotten caught she's readily accepted any punishment and even suggested ways to punish herself. Today she handed me her phone saying I probably wouldn't give it back for a month, and told me she cancelled a party that I let her schedule for Sunday. She was also going to go to Winter Formal (a school dance) next Saturday but she told me she told her date she couldn't go either.

I started to yell at her she just started rambling off confessions of other things she should get in trouble for, as if daring me to punish her. I don't understand what she's doing and why. I have tried asking her but she just shrugs and says "I don't know," and I truly think she doesn't. Can someone please help?

  • 3
    Did you ever try asking her? Jan 20, 2018 at 12:28
  • Wow, consider putting your daughter in counseling.
    – paparazzo
    Jan 20, 2018 at 13:37
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    Please don't take this like it sounds; I yelled at my kids (but I knew why.) Why are you yelling at your daughter? It sounds like she's very compliant with her disciplines, and doesn't give you a hard time. Do you mean "argue" or "advise" maybe when you say, "yell"? I ask because you say, "Each time she's gotten caught she's readily accepted any punishment and even suggested ways to punish herself." Jan 20, 2018 at 20:01
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    Snuck in a boy in the house just to play boardgames... Im sure you dont see it now but maybe you raised her better than what you realise.
    – Neil Meyer
    Jan 21, 2018 at 9:30
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    This might sound a bit strange, but she sounds like a great kid. Yes, she's acting out to get your attention, but she's doing so within moral confines. She could have been doing more than playing boardgames, and she was loud enough on purpose to get caught. Sit down and talk to her, stop yelling (it's not mature or healthy, be the adult). Maybe you need to schedule more time together like others have said. Sorry if this sounds a bit harsh. Oct 10, 2018 at 12:33

1 Answer 1


It sounds like your daughter is seeking your attention. If she cannot get it in a good way she'll find it in a negative fashion. What do you and your child do together? How much time do you spend together?

Negative attention is better than no attention

If your child wants your attention, he or she knows how to get it. First your child might, just might try a positive behavior to get your attention. If that doesn’t work, your child might try a negative approach next. You have “buttons” and who knows them better than your child? If you don’t notice a positive behavior from your child, surely you’ll notice a negative one, especially if it’s one that pushes your buttons. If your child is repeating negative behaviors in front of you (or making sure that you find out about them) then a good guess is that your child is seeking your attention. Now that’s not exactly a bad thing that your child wants your attention and truly that may or may not be what your child really wants, but the way your child is trying your attention probably isn’t working super well from his end or her end either.


  • +1 ... the “even suggested ways to punish herself” part does seem for reasons I can't quite put into words to back this up. She seems to have got the message that getting your attention requires misbehaviour. Jan 26, 2018 at 18:12

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