Parenting --Teens/my 12 year old daughter


my daughter has been expermenting with a boy. i just found out. she has told me no matter what she was not going to leave him. she is rebeling aginst us and is got an attuded with us. ahe dont listen to nothing i got to say. what should i do? i am trying so hard and nothing is working. please help me.

I can hear the frustration clearly through your email. I know these pre-teen and teen years can be the most trying and confusing to both the child and the family as a whole.   What may be going on with your daughter could be a result of the frontal lobe of her brain not being developed (the part of the brain controls impulse, judgment and reasoning), raging hormones and lack of consistent consequences that have a cost response.

There are a couple things that I can suggest that may help, but it is going to takecommitment on your part. The great thing about these websites is that you can pick a lot of great tools and suggestions, but they only work if you implement them for a long period of time and you are consistent. Remember, while it feels like it, your daughter did not get like this overnight and won't change overnight. So are you ready? Letís get started.

First, I teach parents all the time that we cannot control our children. We can influence them and direct them by three simple components; positive strokes, positive consequences and consequences.  

Positive strokes is where you catch your daughter doing something good, even if it is an expected behavior. During trying times, we as parents often will focus on the negative behaviors and forget to balance it with "catching them being good". This  will break a spirit of a child and cause them to lose hope. So when she has done something right, tell her! Along with this, make sure you are telling your daughter how much she is loved every day. Whether it be through hugs, writing her a note/txt or just saying it. Youth who are acting out and are having difficulties need to hear it more now than ever.

Positive Consequences is away to motivate her. When you get something you want then she should be rewarded by getting something she wants. In the same respect, when you are not getting what you want (ie rules not being followed) then all of her privileges should be withheld. This means t.v., cell phone, computer, free time, etc. This also should include her ability to spend time with her friends. I understand not wanting the boy in the picture, but the more you harp on this issue the more attractive he will becomes to her...just like Romeo and Juliet. So, instead of forbidding them seeing each other try making their contact contingent on her behavior. Make sure all contact is supervised until they can demonstrate appropriate boundaries. This means they are going to be at the house and supervised by the adults. She will tell you that this is dumb and he (the boyfriend) doesn't want to be around you all, explain that if he really cares, he will see her anywhere he can. (This technique may stop the affair more effectively than forbidding it).

Finally, you have to apply negative consequences and apply them consistently. Consequences have to fit with the way your daughter thinks. I believe you will agree with these three observations; your daughter acts on emotion, lives for today and thinks about herself before anyone else. If you do then you must agree long-term grounding is ineffective, anything past a week and she doesn't have hope, then begins to act out more to make the family more miserable. That being said, the family all has to agree that consequences will not be over 1 week and 1 week is for severe offenses like skipping school, sex, drug use, etc. If she acts out during the week, you just start over. This approach to consequences should be explained to her ahead of time and in the absence of her acting out.

With consistency in these three areas you should be able to get her back on track. Remember though, it will probably get worse (as she is testing to see if you are serious and can be consistent) before it gets better.

Check your local area for a parenting class such as Parent Project ( and sign up the family.

I wish you and your family luck. . Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Parenting --Teens

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Penny K


I enjoy assisting parents in parenting atypical teenagers that do not respond well to normal parenting techniques. I am able to provide parents with a straight forward behavioral approach that has proved to be successful.


My husband and I have raised 31 daughters, 29 of our children were foster teens who ranged in age from 11-18. I was a site director for a local group home for adolescent girls, an Executive Director for the Children's Policy Council and the Executive Vice President for a residential treatment facility that specialized in alcohol and drug treatment for adjudicated adolescent males and provided comprehensive assessment to adolescents in the custody of the state. I have been a staff trainer for the Boys Town Model of Care and for the past 10 years I am the lead facilitator for the Parent Project parenting class in my county. In the past 20 years of my career I have assisted over 2000 adolescent youth and their families.

Boys Town Behavioral Management Trainer Parent Project Facilitator

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