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My kids don't respect me or listen to me anymore and I don't know what to do!

trying_hard
Community Member
I am a single mother of 3 kids ages 10, 8 & 5. My problem is mainly with my oldest daughter her behavior and my lack of parenting of it is now affecting my other children who are starting to mimic her. My oldest daughter has always been strong willed but life with her is steadily getting harder and harder and I am miserable and I don't see her being very happy either. My daughter seems to think she can do or say whatever she wants, she speaks to me like dirt. If I try to get her to do her homework she swears at me and won't do it. Anything I try to get her to do she refuses she swears at me which now the other kids are copying. I have over the years tried calmly talking to her, reasoning with her,shouting at her, smacking her I am ashamed to say, I have tried reward schemes, pocket money schemes, I have tried taking things off her as punishment I think I have tried everything I am at my wits end. Every single day is a series of screaming matches. She takes anything she wants in the house regardless if it is hers or not. She has not respect for other people or their belongings I am constantly finding my stuff gone and then discovered she's taken it. She does the same with her siblings stuff or food. It doesn't matter if I tell her she can't touch this it is for their school lunches if she wants it she takes it. I have to hide everything. She is not deprived, we're not rich but we are not poor she has nice things but even her stuff she treats badly. Anytime she is told to do anything she doesn't want she'll scream and swear it's like her default volume is loud, but then she can be so loving so nice but that is mainly when she is getting her own way as awful as that sounds. I have tried to set one on one time with her but it's hard when there are two others kids and I feel like I am showing the other kids bad behavior gets treats. My other two are starting to talk back to me, even swear at me I still have a little sway over them but I see it dying fast. Tonight I discovered that she had gone into my handbag and eaten all of a brand new packet of chewing gum I had bought, I know it doesn't seem much but I broke down, I can't even have a pack of gum. I just cried I asked her why and she just denied it blamed her siblings when I got angry I just got attitude and she stormed off. When she is not around things are so good, so peaceful I feel terrible saying that but it's true. I love her so much but I feel I don't like her.
10 Replies 10

pipsy
Community Member

Hi trying-hard. At 10 years old, your daughter believes she has all the answers. She's also possibly mixing with like-minded peers who are encouraging this inappropriate behaviour. Do you have knowledge who she is friendly with at school? I had similar problems with my daughter at the same age. In my case she was trying desperately to emulate my step-daughter. There are steps you can take to let her know her behaviour is unacceptable, however these are radical steps. Smacking doesn't work and is frowned on. Firstly, unbending firmness. No more Mrs Nice. Let her know firmly, there are boundaries and repercussions for overstepping them. Make sure you can follow through with discipline. In other words don't make idle threats. Don't waste time arguing, she will have an answer ready. I would also try finding out who she's mixing with. Perhaps look at inviting one or two friends to the house and see how they behave. Also if there's a guidance counselor at the school, try speaking to her/him about this. I think, if possible, try to encourage the younger children to be a bit more responsible with their things. She is flouting and she is aware you feel out of your depth. To take back the control, you will have to become stronger and enforce rules that can be followed, with no tolerance for overstepping. She is testing you and winning at this stage. I'm so sorry you are having to deal with this alone. She could be experiencing difficulties at school too. That's why I suggested talking to the counsellor or maybe her teacher.

Lynda

james1
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hey trying_hard,

I'm not a parent, but Lynda's suggestion to not waste time arguing makes perfect sense to me. The more you argue, the more she feels she has control of the situation. As an adult and as her mother, your house rules are the ones that hold. If you argue, it makes your rules seem worthless. You can't control her tantrums, but you can control what you do. To be completely honest, once kids start testing their limits, you only have limited control over what they do and if they really play up, the best you can do is be a role model that they can learn from now and later when reflecting back.

The younger siblings emulate her because they also see that she's in control. It sounds like you just need to sit them down at some point, perhaps after one of those tantrums, and just set the rule there. If she flaunts the rules, ensure she knows she's done the wrong thing, enforce the repercussion and move on. There's no need to argue. E.g. if she breaks something, cut her pocket money until it's paid for. if she breaks her own thing, don't buy her another. I knew a kid who would break his laptop and the parents would just buy a new one because it would be "too embarrasing for him at school". I'm sure you can see how that just leads to reinforcement of the behaviour.

The other two kids are still young - it's a good idea to explain to them why certain privileges for their eldest sister have to be cut. And a chat to the school counsellor does sound helpful!

James

Zeal
Community Member

Hi trying_hard,

Welcome to the forum!

I just read Lynda's response to you, and think it is excellent. I fully endorse the advice she gives. I also think James' comment that the siblings may emulate your daughter's behaviour because she has 'control' makes sense.

This may not be the case with your daughter, but sometimes children misbehave and answer back to get the attention, even though it's of a negative nature. There could be underlying issues at school too, as Lynda said.

This Beyondblue site is a good resource on family matters: https://healthyfamilies.beyondblue.org.au/

I hope this forum is a helpful space for you! If you want to talk further, feel free to post back anytime.

Best wishes,

Zeal

Thanks for your reply. She has been having problems in school with bullying other kids and I have had a few meetings in school and she has improved there. She respects her school and teachers authority and I have talk to her again and again about being respecful of people and their belongings she says all the right things in response maybe behaves for a day then its back to normal. She doesn't even get pocket money just now she spent $200 of my money on an online game so I'm trying to get her to do chores to pay it off but she refuses. I literally cannot force her to do it and she knows this I have grounded her sent her to her room so many times. Talking doesnt seem to help, getting angry doesnt help, arguing I know doesnt help, punishments dont help. She honestly doesn't seem to care about herself. I hate how it sounds saying all this but I am so worried she is this bad now she is going to be impossible as a teenager I can the road ahead and it is not good. As much as I appreciate all the advice I honestly have tried most of it.

JessF
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Hello trying, how did she get access to $200? Did she steal your credit card?

JessF
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
My next step would be to take the game off her if she won't pay you back for it with chores. If it's on a computer or a phone, then those can be confiscated too. If she respects the school authorities, it's because she knwos there are consequences for straying. From what you are saying, I suspect your daughter thinks, mum is all talk.

Hi trying-hard. I totally agree with JessF on this one. Confiscate phone, games everything she has access to. She is definitely pushing boundaries and she needs to face the consequences. Actually, you are wrong when you say she can't be forced to 'pull her weight'. I would cease all help for her. Give her the responsibility of making her own bed, changing sheets, making her own meals, using her food, no-one else's. Also show her the vacuum cleaner and let her know that cleaning her room is her responsibility. When she takes food or other items that are not hers, tell her she has broken the rules, therefore she must accept punishment. Ask her siblings how they feel about what she has taken. Involve them in the punishment as it's them she's hurt, therefore they have the right to decide suitable punishment. Instruct her to place her laundry in the appropriate place or it won't be done. If she wants to try you on, she has to assume the responsibilities that go with it. Sometimes 'tough love' wins through when all else fails. You could try telling her she's only living there because she's still at school. I realize the above is scary, but as I said she must learnt to accept the consequences of her actions. I guess what I'm trying to say is: pull rank, show her you are the boss.

V17
Community Member
Hello trying-hard,

Oh my gosh I hear you and my heart goes out to you! You are not alone in this and sadly, when my son went off the rails I thought it was only me. It was then I discovered compromise. You see, every child is different and responds to different things, in my case my son rebelled at pretty much everything I had to offer. He even walked outta our home and stayed with a good family for a few days, it was then I thought to myself I had to change my approach because I felt that I was going to lose him. I started to compromise. Slowly but surely our relationship over the years has reached a point where it is one based on respect and open discussion. There was no quick fix.

Having said this though, Trying_hard, I discovered that he was being bullied by my fiance at the time and the penny dropped. Seeing that reason and why he acted out to me gave the opportunity to be more understanding and forgiving towards him. This is not to say it's okay for your daughter - or my son for that matter - to act the way she is/has been acting. I agree with establishing healthy boundaries - it's proven to be instrumental in seeing the changes I have seen in him. By compromising and including him in the choosing of the repercussions, has allowed him to feel not feel forced to do anything. I've learned that bullying, seen through the eyes of a child, is being forced to feel or do things they do not wish to do. Take that initial 'force' away and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised.

Please remember Trying_hard, we weren't given a set of rules for bringing up our kids; It's really good that you have shared your story. There is a lot of helpful info people have given you here; take what works for you and leave the rest.

I used to think that it was a given to have a respectful, loving relationship with my son; he has taught me otherwise. I'm grateful for that, now. There is hope.

Thinking of you.
V.

V17
Community Member
Sorry I forgot to mention the lad is 16 now, so please don't think it's going to take a lifetime!