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Ask Dr. D. Brown Your Own Question

Dr. D. Brown
Dr. D. Brown, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 17
Experience:  21 Years as Psychotherapist & Successful Parent
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I dont know how to manage my 13 year-olds attitude anymore.

Customer Question

I don't know how to manage my 13 year-old's attitude anymore. It started probably a couple years ago, but I really just can't stand the way she speaks to us. It's as if the world owes her things the way she wants them - she is so reactive/defensive and she often comes across as very demanding of what she wants. She is extremely quiet with others, including some people (both adults and children) that she has known for a long time. So this behavior is primarily reserved for her parents and sister (older).

Tonight I told both my girls that, unfortunately, any shows they had DVR'd would be gone tomorrow since the cable company is swapping out our cable box. Her response was "Nice advance notice, thanks for telling us" (you can envision the face and hear the attitude, I'm sure). Mind you, I just called the cable company about 2 hours prior. Then she went upstairs to do homework and told my husband to go downstairs (he was watching tv) so she could concentrate. She disputes this and says that she asked him to please go downstairs, but I sometimes don't even think she knows what she says.

This is becoming a daily strain on me, my family, sometimes my marriage and almost certainly my daughter's self-esteem. I don't know how to get it under control.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Dr. D. Brown replied 1 year ago.

Dr. D. Brown :

Hello, please give me a moment while I review your question.

Dr. D. Brown :

I can certainly understand your concern about your daughter. The teenage years are very challenging and it may help to know that your daughter, at age 13, is undergoing major changes in her brain that will actually "remodel" 80% of her brain by the time she is 18. This is a process called "pruning" in which much of the brain is "pruned back" naturally and new connections are formed. All teenagers go through it, and truly, a teenager is incapable of "executive functioning", meaning planning ahead and managing projects, timelines, etc. So, when you said your daughter may not know what she is saying, you're absolutely right! Between hormones and the brain, she is not the person she has been and is changing continually every day. So, that is the background on what is happening physically.

Dr. D. Brown :

Psychologically, teenagers test our boundaries all the time as part of separating from the parents and establishing a new identity. The best advice I have is to be consistent and firm and maintain limits as best as you can. If she does not follow the guidelines or gets an attitude, I would create a consequence right away such as taking a phone or limiting TV, etc. It can be very trying, but if you and your husband try to maintain a united front, it will be easier on both of you. Firm and consistent- that is your best bet. But remember, she is still a kid sometimes and make sure you tell her you love her too- teenagers don't act like it sometimes, but they need to hear that, too. They are going through so many changes! I hope that helps. I appreciate a positive rating if you feel I answered your question sufficiently. Thank you for the opportunity to be of service.

Customer :

I am looking for more detail/ concrete guidance on what to say/how to respond to her demanding tone and undesirable commentary. She doesn't have enough things to take away to provide consequences for every infraction! Generally no tv during the week and her phone/iTouch are the only other things she has that matters. And since it has been going on for some time, I am not sure it is totally attributable it to being a teen, though that definitely factors in.

Dr. D. Brown :

Ok, I see. The best thing to do, if she is demanding or has an attitude, is to tell her you would appreciate it if she can be polite and kind in her interactions with the family. If she starts to argue, just tell her that this is not up for discussion and be firm. If she continues, give her one warning of a consequence and if she still does not stop, tell her the conversation is over, give her the consequence and end the discussion. If she is disruptive to your family, tell her to go to her room or another room until she can be civil again. Do not engage

Dr. D. Brown :

Ok, I see. The best thing to do, if she is demanding or has an attitude, is to tell her you would appreciate it if she can be polite and kind in her interactions with the family. If she starts to argue, just tell her that this is not up for discussion and be firm. If she continues, give her one warning of a consequence and if she still does not stop, tell her the conversation is over, give her the consequence and end the discussion. If she is disruptive to your family, tell her to go to her room or another room until she can be civil again. Do not engage in arguments with her. She will probably push the boundaries and want to argue at times, but just refuse to engage by continually saying "This conversation is over" and either leave the room or request that she does. Firm, consistent boundaries again and again. If none of this works, then I would suggest family counseling, perhaps starting with you and your daughter, then bringing in other family members as needed. I hope this is more what you are looking for. I have a 13 year old as well, and this approach has worked very well. Please let me know if there is anything else you need. Thank you

Dr. D. Brown :

I am sorry the previous two paragraphs are repetitions of each other. Just read the second one.

Dr. D. Brown :

I am sorry that you felt my service was poor. Please let me know if there is anything else I can go to assist you. Your personal satisfaction is my main goal. Just email me and I will be happy to help you further.

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