tammyl's picture
tammyl

my 16 year old daughter and I fight constantly

Our daughter is 16 years old. She is a very good kid. She gets excellent grades and is very involved in many leadership clubs in her school. We couldn't ask for a better behaved child. But for some reason no matter what I say to her she turns it into an arguement. Constantly rolling her eyes at me or slamming her door on me when I ask her for help.  It seems like no matter what I say to her she takes it the wrong way yells at me and then slams her bedroom door and we don't see her until the next day.  Is this normal behavior Do we have hope of it ending someday? My husband says that I need to pick my battles.  I feel like I'm the mom and she shouldn't talk to me the way she does. It's driving me crazy and the rest of the family because we are always arguing.



gail's picture
gail

My boy was being disrespectful, it started about 2 years ago, when he was 14.  I kept waiting for my husband to say something like "you don't treat your mother that way," because that's what I remember happening in my own childhood, and I'm pretty sure that disrespect toward my mother-in-law would have been dealt with immediately.  Well, it never happened.  Finally, one day at dinner I calmly picked up the boy's plate (he'd just said something mildly negative about the food,) and said, "when you learn to show respect for me, I will be happy to have you eat in this house."  I dumped his food in the garbage and cleared the rest of the food from the table, put it away.  Then I sat down and finished my dinner.  (I just asked him if he remembered this, he does.)  I continued doing this every time he was rude about my cooking.  At other times in the day, when he showed disrespect, I would "model" appropriate behavior, for example, "excuse me" when he said "MOVE", and I would be obstructive--you know, passive resistance-- until he was respectful in his behavior.   We also had a couple of  discussions in our family meeting (every week) about what things are not acceptable in our family.  Rolling ones' eyes at an authority figure (parent, teacher, police) would be a great example of unacceptable behavior.  As would slamming a door, unless there were a wolf coming through it. 

  Argument?  well, kids do need to develop their reasoning skills.  I picked this up from a Boys' Town manual that I found at the library and we talked about it in our family meeting.  When an authority figure gives you a command, the proper response is "Yes sir," or Yes ma'am".   First say that.  Then, if you believe that the person doesn't have all the information they need in the situation, you say "Excuse me, may I say something?"  If the situation is not urgent, a wise authority figure will agree.  Then you tell the person the additional information, like "I have 20 minutes of research for my homework assignment.  I would like to finish that before I shovel the walk." or "I think I broke my collarbone." 

  This formal dialogue is really useful when you are first addressing the disrespect.  Now, for my and my boy, it is a very informal, mutually respectful dynamic.  We have a lot of fun. 

Kathy1's picture
Kathy1

I have a 17 year old son and can totally relate to everything turning into an argument.  Teenage issues are so dramatic and they don't think clearly or rationally.  And it doesn't seem to matter how smart or successful they are in school or work.  I've learned (finally!) not to argue back.  If I don't bite, the situation gets diffused.  It's very hard to do, but amazingly effective. One other suggestion I have for the door slamming issue is taking the door off the hinges.  The last thing they want is to loose their privacy, but if they can't respect the home they live in or the people in it, they shouldn't get the privlege of privacy.  The door can be off for a week or so and when you put it back on, I bet you won't have a door slammer anymore.  I hope this helps.  Teenagers.... Ahhhh!  :)

bittersweet's picture
bittersweet

LOL, my 13 yo daughter has been without a door for several weeks because when there's an argument she runs in her room and locks the door and then talks crap from behind the locked door. I found it was easier to remove the whole door than the lock. She's not very happy about it. I have told her when things improve that she can have it back. I have also had a problem with disrespect, we are in the south but just moved here a few years ago and my 13 yo has had problems with the custom of saying sir/maam. I find now that when I'm really angry with her I require her to say yes maam and she hates it. Most of the time we have good informal communication but the past few weeks she has been making everything into something and being very resistant.

debbie47's picture
debbie47

My daughter is 13 & she is getting worst & worst . She acts like I am the worst mom around .Me & her Dad always is the taxi for her friends, gives her friends money because she tells them we will pay there way skating.Never does a thing to help out .Treats me awful in front of her friends also.Hits me - pushes me - cusses all the time .Slam doors also I am not sure what to do.Sometimes I feel like just getting my own place & see how she does than , maybe she would like that.Always telling me she hates me
Guess we all have kids like this in some way or another

callie's picture
callie

At some point, you have to let go emotionally. She's being mean to you, then pull back. Don't go further into the fight, just walk away. Don't say anything else. Just walk.

In a way, we condition ourselves and others to fight with us. You go up the stairs, knock on door and she knows it's going to be bad. In other words, she's prejudged the situation and hasn't given it a chance.

So try this. Don't say anything to her except hi and bye when she's in a snit. Don't let her think she can be rude to you and still get her way.

When my son gets impossible, I've learned to walk away. I've even went out the door calmy, walked up the street and believe me... he got the message. You can't be rude to me and expect me to give you what you want. This translates into adulthood too: you can't be rude to others and expect them to hire you, befriend you, give you responsibilities.

MelissaV's picture
MelissaV

I guess I was raised differently, but if I talked back to either of my parents in the tone my 16 yr old daughter uses or said some of the things that she says I would've picked myself up off the floor. I just have a problem with the whole "walking away and not speaking to her" idea because in a way that's letting her get away with this awful behavior. We do not,however,use force or hit our children or spank as was done to us, had we done this, but I think there's got to be immediate consequences or at least a halt in conversation or the argument or whatever, and she needs to be repremanded. I must now follow this with an admission. This doesn't work or eleviate the problem either but I feel a little better verbalizing my feelings to her. Her and I used to be best friends. We went everywhere together and could talk about anything and I just don't know or understand what or when it all went so wrong but I'm very grateful to know I am not alone out here on this. I was starting to think she had morphed into an alien. She too makes almost all A's, is in sports, is very social and doesn't drink or smoke (no,really) and so i guess I just need to thank God for this but don't we all want a perfect child? LOL

karenwlod's picture
karenwlod

i have six daughters 2 are living with there boyfriends.the other 4 are always fighting there 16,13,11,and 4.the 11 year old is always hitting us .she was the sweetest until 5 years ago her granddad died suddenly.he took them to school that morning and said he would be there to pick them up but wasnt he feel asleep and didnt wake up .was the worst thing in all our lifes .has they are getting older it hurts me to see them hurting each other .

Carebear5's picture
Carebear5

Let me give you some practical things to try:

(1) Do not whine, ask, or request for appropriate behavior. Tell them strongly the correct behavior. If she starts slamming doors, TELL HER expected behavior and leave off a consequence. Instead of "If you do that again...." say "YOU WILL NOT slam that door again!" I found that saying a consequence outright tells them you expect them to do it again.

(2) If she does a behavior you directly said for her not to do - react very calmly and as rationally as possible with a very directly relational "punishment." For instance - if she slams the door again, walk off calmly, go grab a hammer and a screw driver and take the door off the hinge. Then, tell her if she can go 3 days without slamming another door, she can put the door back. (Sometimes, this will escalate with her doing something else, just keep repeating with calm and very small directly relational punishments. She will eventually figure out she better stop because you will react and you don't even care.)

(3) Keep punishments VERY small and short-term. Grounding for a week makes it hard for you to enforce. Grounding from EVERYTHING for one evening is easier and just as effective.

(4) Welcome her arguments and encourage them. Just give her the guidelines. Say - "I'm more willing to listen to your points and if you want to express them to change my mind, you need to come to me rationally and equipped to argue your point." She'll likely retort "yeah,right... like you'll change your mind." Remember, you have your history of arguing. Then - if she makes any attempt to be rational, reward it -- unless it's something harmful or totally immoral, trust her and reward her and then hold your breath for her to not to have something majorly negative happen.

(5) Remember - you are another human being and a strong woman. Do not always think of yourself as "Mom" What kind of behavior do you expect as a strong woman? -- usually far better than a teenage child often gives you. Don't hesitate to remind your child of your strength instead of letting them take advantage of your questioning yourself. I remember my daughter yelling at me once. I looked at her and started laughing and said, "Oh, Please! Hon, I have 25 years on you and could outwit, outyell, and outb*tch you any day of the week. You so don't want to go there with me!" You should have seen her look. I won't say she never yelled at me again, but honestly, at this moment, I can't remember her attempting to do it again. In a nutshell, empower yourself and empower her.

(6) Get with the electronics. I started e-mailing my children and texting them. It gives great space. When I saw a missed assignment, I'd e-mail them letting them know I know about it, asking them what was up, and telling them that missed assignments are not acceptable. It gave them enough space to think about a response and sanely respond. Yes - I hate communicating via electronics, but good communication ANY WAY helps verbal communication later. (Remember, that's how they communicate with friends. So, it's not trying to be disrespectful to oyou. It's their norm.)

(7) YES - It will end, to a point. I was the teenage daughter from heck. It eventually stopped, but I can say that I really never developed much respect for my mother. It was almost just the norm and comfort for me. I can remember walking into a room mentally preparing myself to argue with her. If you want it to change. I'd suggest you stopping.

(8) Argumentative teens who are "perfect" in everything else (school, leadership, etc.) are often just doggone tired of being perfect. Sometimes they are just so tired and want one area of their life to be totally relaxed, imperfect, and not something to have to work with. My guess, is your daughter picked you to be her verbal punching box for everything else in her life that she can't complain about. When it gets really bad - do something out of the ordinary for stress relief. (I was known to "kidnap" my kids for long lunches or tell them when their alarm clock went off to turn it off and I'd take them to school 2 hours later.)

(9) Be on their side ALWAYS. Start letting her know she can trust you in unusual ways. Back her up with her peers. (I let my kids know that if they didn't want to do something to blame it on me not letting them do it.) Teach her "mom-daughter" only stuff and have some inside jokes. (Hate to say it, but this usually involves sex talks. The more you have, the more they will come to you in trust -- and usually stick with your morals.) Back her up in school. (Sometimes there is no physical way my kids could complete all their assignments. There were days of 4 hours of homework -- yes, sometimes it was due to my teenager letting her irresponsible child come out and procrastinate. In these times, I'd offer help. They knew they could count on me. I'd type up things and do the homework that I saw as no learning value -- such as gluing stuff onto a presentation board or looking up definitions for her to study late. She started trusting me so much, she'd call me in a panic in the school bathroom "Mom! I totally forgot about a major project. Help!" I'd come get her and we'd figure out a solution. She wasn't bad -- she would get overwhelmed, as we all do. When she learned I was there for her in crunch times, she started respecting me so much more. And - no it didn't turn her out to depend upon me or abuse my help/support. These are still children learning how to balance it all. I taught her how to reach out and get help instead of taking it out on those you love.

gardenguru's picture
gardenguru

About age 14, my very jovial son started yelling at me or calling me names when he didn't get what he wanted. I fell into yelling back, but that only made matters worse and upsets the whole family. I started using the 'say it once and walk away' tactic. Basically I say, "You've earned yourself a chore." Beforehand, I had explained to my children that if they "loudly" talk back to me and especially if they use choice names, they earn a chore. Not a simple chore, but one that takes at least 20 minutes. Think washing the car, weeding, sweeping out the garage... Something that helps out the family since they upset the smooth rhythm of the family. You have to be tough and not allow them privileges (internet, car, friends) until they get the chore done.

Don't give your kids everything they want. Once our kids turned about 11-12, if they wanted something extra, we started having them pay half. Once they had jobs (paper routes, babysitting, lawn mowing), they paid for all their toiletries, makeup, friend's birthday gifts...

Beck-ie's picture
Beck-ie

Your husband is right. Pick your battles carefully.

Sometimes these problems are caused by drugs. It is always good to really know what is going on with your kid. Find out how to track her computer history. Find out her social web sites-is she on facebook. If she is you can start following her there and you will get a good idea if there are other issues going on. If things worry you, go further. You can hire help finding out what she is up to on the computer.

If this is just normal teenage angst then...
Quietly keep track of her menses, that likely will make both of you more argumentative. Women living together get on the same schedule.

Do something fun with your daughter. Does she have a favorite restaurant? Is there a sale at a store she likes- invite her to shop with a set budget, or for a specific item you know she needs. Or invite her to do a favorite activity.

After you have had a few 'dates' talk to her when you are out at dinner somewhere. She is much less likely to make a scene in public and she can't lock herself in her room.

Good luck.