Questioner: Greg and Jill
Subject: Moody 11 year old girl
Our Daugher will be 12 in August. She has been on Zoloft for 3 years for anxiety... I, Dad, have been on meds for anxiety for 15 years and she has been lucky enought to inherit that from me. But that's not the problem... She is terribly moody... She has a tone that is disrespectful and flat out mean... if something bothers her... anything... say her 9 yearold brother walks in the room and is breathing too loud.. seriously... she will just yell at him... then if his mother and I speak to her about this... she is rude to us... we are not push overs..and have tried everything from discipline to nice talks... that she is not so nice in... The interesting thing is that she can shift in and out of these moods in a heart beat... It's driving us nuts... Can you help?
Answer: Greg and Jill,
Well first of all welcome to the early teen years. Some mood swings are quite common with pre and teenagers. However I do have a suggestion.
Make sure whenever you catch your daughter being nice or behaving the way you want her to behave that you make a BIGGER deal out of her disirable behavior than you do out of the undesirable behavior. Children have emotional banks and you need to make way more deposits than you do withdrawals.
Also although this is hard for most parents to hear from me it is necessary that we as adults monitor our own behavior as our children tend to model what they see on a daily basis. Are we sometimes moody and irritable with the people around us? Do we sometimes respond in a less than disireable manner? Many of us do then can't figure out what is going on with our children.
Does this mean we are bad parents or have bad children? Certainly not. Remember we all have less than wonderful days our children are no exception to the rule.
Also this is a challenging request to respond to because we need to define what the word "rude" means. For one family rude = not responding at all while another family may consider rude = responding back to what parents say.
So let's define what rude means. It is helpful to include specific comments so we can explore how to best handle these type of situations.
M. Kay Keller