Subject: 12 year old daughter makes bad decisions
Question: I have a 12 year old daughter that has repetitively made bad decisions. She's been getting bad grades in school since she was in 3rd grade (she's now in 7th). We've had her tested for learning disabilities and nothing. We've sent her to tutoring after school only to find out that she wasn't going.
We tell her to study (which she acts as if she is) only to find out that she's scored low on tests. We've set up parent/teacher as well as parent/counselor conferences, and we always get the same response "she's not paying attention in class, she's talking too much, she's daydreaming, she's flirting with boys".
We have grounded her... we've taken privileges away from her but NOTHING seems to help. Now we've realized that she's way too boy crazy. We just don't know how much of it is adolescence and how much of it is just disrespectfulness. Her father has decided to take away ALL privileges so I'm now to take her to school as the bell is going to ring and pick her up right after school is out. Is this going too far or is this just what she needs?
Sorry for such a long letter I'm just feeling a bit frustrated and at a loss here.
Answer: Dear Rachel:
The bad grades have been going on since she was in 3rd grade? Something is happening here and obviously the testing did not pick it up. Was she just tested by the school? Not all testing professionals are created equal. I would have a complete evaluation completed as soon as possible and request a mental health evaluation as well because it includes emotional and cognitive evaluations.
My other concern is that this has been going on for more than 4 years and it is easy and common for parents engagement with a child who is "not doing well," to become very negative with the child. Totally human and yet it too can become part of the problem.
Rather than punishment and withholding I strongly suggest finding information on behavior modification which allows her to earn her privileges. If she does this she gets that, that sort of Behavioral management.
You need to get a handle of this now or the older she gets the worse you and she will feel. This can go really bad really fast. Over reacting and keeping her grounded for the next 4 years will not work.
Get her evaluated and then find a family counselor for the entire family. I suggest this because often a child who is acting out like this needs lots of support to express their feelings and to see how their behavior impacts not only themselves but also the rest of the family.
M Kay Keller