How to manage a difficult child?
Q: I have a 12 year old daughter who is a huge problem. When she is at school or if other people are around, she is a sweet young lady. When she is at home with me and her brother, she is rude, disobedient, unruly, etc. She doesn't listen, she fights with her brother constantly just to get him upset. Its almost like she enjoys hurting her brother or myself. If I ask her a question, she just walks away and doesn't answer. When she is told to go to her room, she screams no at me and if she does go, she sneaks into her brothers room to start trouble. She wants to go out for cheerleading but she cant stay out of trouble long enough to prove to me that she should be allowed to. She has a horrible temper. She doesn't know how to talk. She only knows how to scream until her face turns red. She wont talk to me about why she is this way. She lies, she says things to get her brother to act like she does and he is not a disobedient child at all. She wont go to bed at a reasonable hour so she can get up for school. She is out of control and I don't know what to do. She has no respect for me what so ever. She talks to me and treats me like dirt. I have tried grounding her, taking things away from her, talking to her like an adult (which is what she thinks she is). I don't know what else to do. She is constantly slamming doors when she doesn't get her way. Shes a brat. Its gotten to the point where I want to send her to military school or something. What should I do?
A:Your daughter is showing symptoms of excessive attention seeking, which is quite common in this pre-adolescent period. She craves autonomy and privacy and maybe feels threatened by her brother who seems to be an ideal child for you. This is an especially difficult for both parents and their children but mostly sorts out as the child grows older. However, with some of the things that you've mentioned (like frequent outbursts of temper, screaming till she is red, defiance at everything you say, verbally or physically harming her brother, non-adherence to curfews) could also be symptoms of an Oppositional defiance disorder when the child simply refuses to obey her parents. It would be prudent to get her assessed by a child psychologist to rule that out. In case that is ruled out be sure to shower her with a lot of love and try to give her some freedom all the while keeping a discreet track of her goings-on. Do not make her feel unwanted (by making her go to a military school). Also do not compare her with her brother. It should sort out on its own in a while.