How do I Handle my Daughter's Attitude?
My daughter has just turned 13 and I am finding it very difficult to handle her attitude and rudeness to both myself and her father. She is due to have a sleepover this weekend for her 13th birthday treat and at present I feel like cancelling it. Do you think I should or should I let it go ahead? Please help as she is driving me to distraction at the moment.
Cancelling a birthday treat, particularly one involving others that has already been planned and organised, is a big step. It also sounds like punishment for cumulative rudeness rather than a system of discipline designed to teach your daughter about appropriate interactions. For these reasons it might be best to try to deal with your daughter’s attitude through a more consistent method of discipline rather than a one-off punitive action.
Discipline and punishment are two very different concepts. Discipline is a process by which proper behaviour is taught. It is generally viewed in a positive light such that by teaching a child discipline you teach him or her about good decisions and that positive outcomes are related to positive choices. Punishment, on the other hand, is a negative technique. It teaches children that bad decisions lead to negative, and often unrelated, consequences. For example, parents who smack their children employ punishment. Smacking has little to do with if a child cleaned up his or her toys, but it does teach children to fear the outcome of not tidying the playroom.
In the case of your daughter, if you do choose to take away her birthday treat then you must make sure that she understands the broader subject. Remind her that her social interactions with you and her father have been inappropriate and that until she is able to adjust her attitudes towards others it is best that she limit her social contacts. If you do not make the link between the party and her social interactions clear then taking away the party will simply feel like you’ve ruined her birthday as a punishment.
Regardless of whether or not you choose to cancel the sleepover you will need to confront your daughter’s attitude with an appropriate system of discipline. Speak to your daughter respectfully about the choices she is making when she interacts inappropriately with you and her father but lay down the law when it comes to the future. Make it clear what will happen if she continues with this attitude but be sure that the boundaries you set for her are appropriate and clear. Also be sure to follow these same boundaries. After all, it’s hardly fair to ask a teen to do as you say but not as you do.