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Parenting --Teens/My 12 yr old daughter is disrespectful and out of control! Please help!!


My 12 yr old daughter has finally breached the limit of patience from myself, her father, and our relatives.  She has always been quite defiant and argumentative, but it has reached a point where her school work is also suffering.  I do my best to treat her fairly and always praise her for her things she does well and good behaviors.  However, her father and I, who are recently divorced but still have a strong bond are at a loss of what to do.  She is completely disrespectful both at home and in public. She even talked to me so disrespectfully at my job that my coworker felt the need to help me seek out help, Her grades recently dropped from A's to C's in just one semester and she was suspended from the bus for "stabbing" a boy in the arm with her pencil. Her father and I recently had to go to her school for conferences with all her teachers who all agreed that she simply does not seem to care and she has been quite disrespectful to them as well, rolling her eyes and saying things like "WHAT!!" when they try to stop her disruptive behavior. The teachers also agreed that she does not have an ADD/ADHD issue, it is their feeling that she is making the CHOICE to behave this way. She lies to us so well it's hard for us to know when she's telling the truth.  We have taken away her IPOD and phone,  which are the only things that seem to matter to her.  She doesn't have a computer.  Nothing else seems to bother her.  I try to be the kind of mother that my children know they can talk to about anything.  I have 3 other children of which she is the youngest, and none of them would have EVER behaved or spoken the way she does.  She argues absolutely everything, from taking a shower to eating...anything is a cause for argument. She has made up her mind that she can do whatever she wants. We are trying to be consistent and follow thru with her punishments but she doesn't seem to care anymore.  I'm so afraid that if we don't get her under control that she's going to end up in serious trouble.  Please help me guide her to become the wonderful young woman that I know she CAN BE.

Hello Kim,

You sound like good parents who raised your three oldest children in a very competent way. However, your youngest child has always had a more challenging personality and set of temperamental traits.
I think there are two likely reasons why her behavior has become so much more challenging. Those are her entrance into adolescence and the divorce. At her age, it often doesn't take much for a child with certain traits (such as argumentativeness, stubbornness, impulsivity, and oppositionalism) to become more difficult. In her case, there may be the convergence of the two things I mentioned -- adolescence and divorce.
Because you are both good parents who are trying to set limits, follow through on restrictions, and be consistent, something more is needed. That something more might be a family therapist who has experience working with families in which there is a difficult adolescent. By working with a therapist, it brings a third party into the situation -- someone who can look objectively at what is going on. Furthermore, a therapist can provide opportunities for your daughter to deal with some of her personal issues while at the same offering support to you as parents.
   I hope this helps.

James Windell

Parenting --Teens

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James Windell


I am a parent trainer, psychotherapist, and author specializing in parenting issues.During the past 40 years I`ve worked with parents with discipline problems and challenging children. I give frequent lectures and workshops related to discipline, social skills, and aggressive children. I consult with various agencies and schools where there are child behavior problems. I am listed in the American Psychological Associations` media panel as an expert on parenting and am frequently quoted in leading magazines and newspapers.


I have worked in a juvenile court as a clinical psychologist and as a psychotherapist in private practice. In the Oakland County (MI) Juvenile Court, I developed an award-winning parent training program for parents of adolescent delinquents. In addition I have done group therapy with adolescent delinquents using a social skills-building model. I have consulted with courts, schools, churches, preschools, and domestic violence shelters in areas of parenting.

I received my BA with a major in Psychology in 1963 from Wayne State University. I got my MA in Clinical Psychology from Oakland University in 1972.

I am a member of the American Psychological Association and the Michigan Psychological Association. I have written pamplets, newspaper articles, and professional journal articles. I have been the Coping With Kids columnist for several newspapers for 26 years, and my columns appear weekly in the Staten Island Advance. I have been the author or co-author of 16 books. My books include, 8 WEEKS to A WELL-BEHAVED CHILD, CHILDREN WHO SAY NO WHEN YOU WANT THEM TO SAY YES, 6 STEPS TO AN EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT TEENAGER, and THE FATHERSTYLE ADVANTAGE. My most recent parenting book (2012) is THE EVETYTHING CHILD PSYCHOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENT BOOK. I have appeared on over 180 radio and TV shows related to my books and parenting. For more information about me, my books and columns, go to my website at

I have an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Oakland University.

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