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proexpert37, Educator/Life Coach
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1374
Experience:  Teacher 20+ years, Parent, Expert Mentor
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We have an 11 year old daughter who lashes out at my wife and

Customer Question

We have an 11 year old daughter who lashes out at my wife and I and her 2 siblings. Today she threw a notepad at my wife. We feel like we are walking on egg shells in our own house. On some days all it takes for her too lash out at us is just looking at her. Today she said she wanted chocolate milk, when her younger sister said she wanted some too, it turned into a temper tantrum. She threw a brush, kicked the dog's crate, threw a bunch of items on the floor and finally threw a notepad at my wife's head. She told my wife that she hated everyone in the house, especially my wife.

I tried to talk to her about this behavior after school and it turned into yet another fiasco. She hid her head under a pillow, she kept on telling me to shut up, and finally stomped upstairs to her room and slammed the door.

It is just our family she lashes out at. At school she is a quiet, straight A student. Everyone loves her. She has a bunch of friends and the teachers adore her. This behavior is never an issue on the outside. At home, she lets her hair down, and whatever her stress triggers are, our family ends up on the short end of it.
It is very difficult to live this way. We are looking for suggestions to help all of us.

Her stress seems to be whatever is not going her way at the moment. Examples: Homework, her siblings not doing something she likes, looking at her, combing her hair, picking out clothes, deciding what to eat for breakfast, asking her to do something. She seems to stress the most when she has to make a decision. My wife and I fight constantly about her behavior and my other children are miserable because of it. They are normally easy going, but because of the behavior issues with my 11 year old, we find that they can't even stand being in the same room with her.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 5 years ago.
Hello and Thank You for using Just Answer. I am sorry to hear about the problems with your daughter. Has she always behaved in such a manner at home? About how long has she acted this way? Did any major life events set her off to start? Out of curiosity, what did the counselors say? Thank you in advance for responding. I must step out of the office for a bit but when I return, I will give you a detailed answer. Looking forward to assisting you. :)
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your response. My daughter has always had some behavioral issues. She has always found it difficult to make the easiest of decisions. Also, she has always acted this way at home. I have always received stellar reports at school. Teachers used to tell me she was very shy at school until about the third grade when she started making a lot of friends because everyone thought she was the nicest kid.

Thankfully, we haven't had any major life events. We have lived in the same house since before our children were born. She hasn't lost anyone close to her. All of her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are alive and well. My wife and I have been happily married for almost 18 years and we try to spend as much time with our kids because we both work.

Counselors have told us that they see a lot of this behavior. They believe she has a self confidence issue. They gave us some tips on how to handle it, but because she can become so unreasonable, they never really work. For instance, they told us to make the decisions for her so she wouldn't stress over it. But as she gets older, I don't believe that is the way to go. She is very close to puberty, which might be triggering more bad behavior, but because she has always had some issues. I just don't know. She is also a middle child if that helps.

Any kind of advice would help at this point. My wife and I are at our wits end. Thanks.
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 5 years ago.
Hello there. First of all, you and your wife must be united as to how you will discipline your daughter and never argue in front of the children. Argue behind closed doors but make sure that the children cannot hear you.

Since your daughter's misbehavior happens only at home, that is where the problems are. Your daughter is manifesting her behavior to get attention. You just tell her that her behavior is not acceptable. There is no need to yell and scream on your part. That is exactly the type of response that your daughter expects and feeds off of. React to her outbursts in a calm and non threatening manner. Tell her what you expect and how she should behave. When she misbehaves, ask her what does she think an appropriate consequence should be. If she cannot think of anything, start taking away computer time, cell phone, tv time, time with friends, and anything else that she likes. Good behavior will enable her to earn back her material things or special privileges.

There is no need to walk on eggshells in your house because of your daughter. You are the parent. You are the authority figure. You have the control. Do not allow your daughter to manipulate you through her tantrums or outbursts. She knows that if she throws a fit, people will pay attention. If she throws something, grab her hand and firmly tell her that her behavior is not welcome in the house. If she runs to her room and slams the door, take the door off the hinges. If she covers her head with a pillow so as not to hear you, take the pillow out of her room. You must regain control of your daughter before her friends start to influence her and the problems become magnified. Let her know that you are the boss, you are in charge, and you won't stand for her "crap" anymore (excuse my language). Major changes must happen at home to snap your daughter into shape. There is nothing to fear. Your wife must be more assertive as well. She may need to take parenting classes if she struggles with this issue.

Also as long as your daughter is not hurting anybody, you may need to start ignoring some of her fits at home. If she cannot decide what to do, give her a choice. Then intervene if she still has trouble deciding. But wait a while. You do not want her to become dependent upon you.

Your daughter seems to be fine in the self esteem department because she has so many friends at school. Make sure that you try to encourage her and try to say more positive things when she is behaving well. Reward her after a desired number of days of great behavior. Make sure that she knows what her reward will be beforehand. The goal is to pay more attention to her positive behavior to eliminate the negative.

If she is not involved in a team sport outside of school, that may help as well with her social skills and the decision making process

Make sure that you and your wife spend quality time with her daily without the other children being around. If you have to sit with her for a half hour when she does her homework, then do that. She can help mom in the kitchen in making a special l meal. You or your wife can take her to the park. If there is a special hobby that she has at home, do that with her. Maybe even do some research or play educational games on the computer. Nonetheless, if you and your wife are still at odds in trying to get a handle on your daughter, then I would suggest counseling for both of you together to discuss parenting techniques.

You probably feel like you are at the end pf the rope your daughter. There is light at the end of the tunnel. It is hard to change another person. The change must first start with yourself. Then you will see a change in your daughter. It will not happen overnight. Just you and your wife keep a united front up and really make a concentrated effort to see the good in your daughter and praise her even if it is some really small things. You want your daughter to feel valued at home about the good things. She has probably already been hearing so many negative remarks at home. It is your responsibility to redirect your daughter back on the right path. She needs your help. You are her parents. No matter how mean she seems or how angry she gets, let her know that you are saddened that she feels the way she does, and that you will always love her through the good and the bad times.

Also, if she was a hard time talking to you and your wife , maybe start an interactive journal between your daughter and yourselves. But open and honest verbal communication is always best.

I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX this information was most helpful. Please ask for Jordan1314 if you have additional questions or concerns.

Have a blessed evening!
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank You for your response. My wife and I already feel better about ourselves reaching out to you!

Should we talk to our daughter before we start implementing these strategies? If so, how should we go about this?

Expert:  proexpert37 replied 5 years ago.
Yes, you should talk to your daughter first. Tell her that you love her and that you are happy to have her as your daughter. Continue with you are glad that she enjoys school and does well. Then explain to her that you know that she has some problems at home but you want to help her overcome the problems. Tell her that if she can behave, she will be rewarded. If she misbehaves, there will be consequences. Ask her if she has any questions and concerns then take it from there. Keep it rather simple. Much success to you. YOU CAN DO IT!
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 5 years ago.
Hello...Just checking in to see how things are going in your household with your daughter. Let me know. Thank you and have a great day! Jordan1314