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Question
Posted by: At a Loss... | 2012/03/09

Teenage Daughter

This year my daughter will be 12 and seems to have hit a really bad patch. She is going against all the house rules and against all the school rules. She is disobedient and more concerning is that she is dishonest. about a week ago, fighting and constant upset at home was clearly not working for any of us and she felt un-loved we turned the tables - we are letting her take responsibility for her school work with expectations of certain marks i.e. we do not force her to study, she plans her own studies however punishment will be dealt based on results (after I see the test and it is evedent that she did not study). This started off well and now it has come to light that she is bunking extra lessons that have been set up by the school and writing notes with mom''s signature about the fact that she does not have to attend these lessons. I am at a loss as to how to deal with her at this stage. I do not want to end up with a depressed child but cannot carry on like this either. We have taken stuff away, we have stopped TV time, we have grounded, we have tried just about everything including appealing to her to try to improve the way she deals with things etc etc...please help.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

A common mistake is to base such a motivational scheme primarily on Punishments, rather than rewards. One could devise a similar scheme, in which performance markers, at home and school, were set, with her having some freedom to select how to achieve them, and with a baseline of NO privileges - no cell-phone, no internet access, no television, no outings, etc ( depending on whatever she values most ) and with a clearly stated facility for here to earn back each of these, for the month ( she'd need to re-earn them each month ) by achieving a specified set of mileposts and goals.
Misbehaviour, like lying, forging mom's signature, etc, would mean a loss of one or more of the privileges, and needing to re-earn them for the current month.
She might say that if you said she could plan her own studies, that meant she was free to plan not to attend the extra lessons, one reason that particular condition wasn't quite phrased right.
A psychologist who works with young adolescents could help assess her and help you plan a more detailed system to encourage her to come right.
Another major point I often find overlooked is simple and vital - try to catch her doing something right - giving her extra atention and praise for whatever she does right can be surprisingly more effective than nagging and falling into the trap of only giving her attention when she does wrong

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2
Our users say:
Posted by: At a Loss... | 2012/03/09

Thank You for your comments - I do believe that this could work better and I do know that we have fallen into the trap of not noting the praise worthy behaviour any more.

For writing her own letters, I thought of making her own up at school to the impacted teachers who will naturally also give her a talking to or will this break her spirit further. I just dont want a lie like this to be brushed over at school as I believe that she will feel she got away with it (not at home but certainly against her teachers).

Reply to At a Loss...
Posted by: cybershrink | 2012/03/09

A common mistake is to base such a motivational scheme primarily on Punishments, rather than rewards. One could devise a similar scheme, in which performance markers, at home and school, were set, with her having some freedom to select how to achieve them, and with a baseline of NO privileges - no cell-phone, no internet access, no television, no outings, etc ( depending on whatever she values most ) and with a clearly stated facility for here to earn back each of these, for the month ( she'd need to re-earn them each month ) by achieving a specified set of mileposts and goals.
Misbehaviour, like lying, forging mom's signature, etc, would mean a loss of one or more of the privileges, and needing to re-earn them for the current month.
She might say that if you said she could plan her own studies, that meant she was free to plan not to attend the extra lessons, one reason that particular condition wasn't quite phrased right.
A psychologist who works with young adolescents could help assess her and help you plan a more detailed system to encourage her to come right.
Another major point I often find overlooked is simple and vital - try to catch her doing something right - giving her extra atention and praise for whatever she does right can be surprisingly more effective than nagging and falling into the trap of only giving her attention when she does wrong

Reply to cybershrink

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