My 13 Year Old Is a Nightmare

My 13 year old is a nightmare. She is mouthy, mean, and won’t follow the rules my husband and I have laid down. She used to like me, now she let’s me know everyday I am  “annoying” and hates me. I am beginning to hate her to. What do I do?

Dear Broken hearted,

You are broken hearted, right? The sweet, adoring, darling daughter you used to tuck into bed at night woke up one day and Whoa! you no longer recognize her.  She doesn’t recognize herself either, and that’s a lot of the problem.

The teen years are hard, especially the early teen years. Girls are trying to:

 1. figure out who they are

 2. figure out who they want to be

 3. Seperate from mom

4. fit in with their peers

 Girls shred their mothers in the process of finding their autonomy. Sorry, but that is usually the way it works.  Your daughter is going to roll her eyes at most everything you do, no matter how hip or cool you are.  Learn to not take it personally.

Your daughter’s disdain for you triggers a part of your brain called the limbic system to fire up. The limbic system is responsible for our survival. It’s not the part of the brain that makes logical, life and love affirming decisions. Your 13 year old, BTW, operates from her limbic system most of the time.   When your limbic system is activated, it’s hard to be rational. It’s almost comical to watch a triggered mom and her teen fighting, but it’s also sad, because both lose out on love and respect.

What to do when your daughter is mouthing off to you? Take a deep breath, (really!) and stay as calm as you can. Tell her you’ll talk to her when she isn’t disrespectful and then walk away. Don’t slam the door behind you, or make a dramatic exit. Just calmly go about your business. Let her know you want to hear what she has to communicate, but you can’t hear her when she is disrepectful.  Eventually she will understand that she can’t get your goat, and will cut back on her mouthing off. Just like bullies don’t bother the kids who won’t play the game, she’ll soon tire of yanking your chain if you don’t give her any attention for it.

This doesn’t mean to ignore your daughter! Far from it! Your daughter needs you more than when she was a toddler! I hear that you want to turn from her, but this is the time to turn towards her. (Walking calmly away when she is screaming at you is NOT turning away from her.) Learn to listen to who she is, in the times when she isn’t in your face. That’s the key to helping her get through the teen years without too many scars while helping you survive the turbulent years ahead. It’s all about listening, and finding out who your daughter is. Right now she’s pretty confused about it all.  Be her sounding board. Be a mom she can trust, turn to and confide in.

Learn to play with your daughter. The playground for teens today is the Internet. That’s not a good enough sandbox. Find ways to bond with your daughter doing things that make the two of you laugh. Include her friends in the fun too, if you can.

Create a family tradition that let’s your daughter know she is loved. If you need help, let me know. Email me at [email protected] for a Family Tradition in a Box. It’s 49.95$. Will last a lifetime and help you keep the love alive. More when you email me.

As for breaking the rules, thats a whole blog post in itself. I’ll write it soon. I know parents worry about their teens and boundaries. 

 In a nutshell:

1. Don’t take her outbursts personally

2. Stay calm, let her cool off, don’t engage with her until she is calm

3. Turn towards her in trying to get to know who she is, and what she is going through as a young teen

4. Play together. Let her know you love her, even though it’s a tough time for the two of you

5. Learn to LISTEN. There are rules about listening you need to know. If you aren’t sure you know how to listen with an open mind, heart and spirit, email me. I can help.

6. Take care of yourself. Having a young teen in the house can be draining. Exercise, eat well, connect with your friends, family and spouse. Nourish yourself, so you can nourish your daughter.

Let me know how things go. I’m rooting for the two of you!