Dr. Linda Answers Your Questions | Parenting Teens with Attitude

Dr. Linda's School Success Q & ADear Dr. Linda,

I read your blog and enjoy your advice, but I’m having trouble with your advice on respecting your child. I’m having trouble with my 15-year-old daughter.

She’s failing most of her classes, is rude to me, her dad, her sister and her teachers. I’ve taken away all privileges and she’s just become more obstinate.

How do I get through to her that her attitude and behavior are unacceptable?
Respectful Mom

Dear Respectful Mom,

Think back to when your daughter was born. Did she have an attitude? She might have been a fussy baby, or she might have been the perfect baby, but in either case, she didn’t have an attitude.

Then, when did you first see this attitude? In most cases, it develops when a child is struggling in school or feels that no one is listening to her, that nobody is addressing her needs.

Attitude problems tend to begin around 4th or 5th grade because that’s when school becomes more difficult for some kids. If the problem isn’t addressed, and I don’t mean by parental discipline, it usually becomes worse during middle school.

And if not addressed appropriately during middle school, by age 15 it can become a nightmare.

Here are three suggestions to break the stalemate.

  • Be a good role model. You need to exhibit the type of behavior you want your daughter to exhibit. This means you need to respect her and tell her that in turn she needs to respect you.
  • Learn why she’s failing. It could be she’s having problems with her peers and is ignoring school. Maybe her courses are too difficult. Perhaps she’s having other emotional issues that she’s having trouble dealing with.
  • Seek professional help in or out of school. Be sure to find someone you’re both comfortable with.

Once you discover the cause of the problem, you can begin to look for solutions. It’s amazing how quickly attitude problems disappear once the issues that cause the problem are resolved.

Best wishes to you and your daughter,

Dr. Linda

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