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13yo girl keeps shutting me down

13yo girl keeps shutting me down

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Casual scribe
TimTam78

13yo girl keeps shutting me down

Hi,

My daughter is 13.5 and I'm struggling with her a lot. She spends all her time in her room and only comes out for dinner, and sometimes to grudgingly do chores. She's started refusing to participate in any family activities including weekly movie-night (I've tried letting her choose the movie but she says she just doesn't want to be with us). I've always had a reasonable relationship with her and I thought of myself as quite approachable, I don't go off the deep end over things and tend to try talk things out with her. But she is refusing to talk to me about anything and just walks away and shuts her door in my face when I try to discuss anything.

For example we had parent-teacher meetings last night and she has slipped from an A average to getting Ds and one teacher showed me an assessment where she had drawn pictures all over the sheet, and written things like "I already know this, do you think I'm stupid?" in the answer boxes. When we got home she asked if she was in trouble and I said no, but that I did want to talk to her about why she had behaved like that and what I could do to help. She groaned and said she hated me trying to be involved and didn't want to listen to a lecture, went to her room and refused to let me in. I backed off because I didn't want to force my way and create another issue to deal with before getting calm, and finding some advice!

She is still so young and I really want to try find the best way to deal with things before she gets older and has more dangerous opportunities. 

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Natalie-RO

Re: 13yo girl keeps shutting me down

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Hi @TimTam78 

Welcome to our online community! 

It sounds like the changes in your daughter’s behaviour and your relationships must be a challenging and confusing time for you. I understand how concerned you must be for her and by reaching out for some support shows how much you care about your daughter and want to help her.

I understand your concerns, it sounds like you have been really supportive of her with both school and trying to accommodate family activities so that she will join. It’s also great to hear that you haven’t been pushing it and have been respecting her boundaries. I was wondering if you have you tried speaking to her about your concerns or asked her why she hasn’t wanted to participate in these activities? Have you noticed if your daughter has been more withdrawn with friends and in other situations or mostly at home?

You mentioned that you met with the school yesterday, has her teacher raised any concerns prior to your parent teacher meeting? Is there an opportunity for you to speak with her teacher or the school about your concerns and see if they can provide any ongoing support such as a school counsellor. It might also be helpful to meet with a GP for a general check-up and to see if they can offer any support or referrals if needed.

I have included an article about effective communication with teenagers that provides some information along with things to try and tips to support your daughter. I also wanted to let you know that ReachOut has an online one-on-one support service for parents.

I just wanted to remind you that you’re doing a great job and from what you’ve shared I can tell how supportive you have been for her and how much you care about her. She’s very lucky to have such a caring and supportive mother! 

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Casual scribe
TimTam78

Re: 13yo girl keeps shutting me down

Thanks for the reply and the article!

Yes I've tried to talk to her about her withdrawal from us but she just shrugs and says she wants to do her own thing. This is why I haven't pushed it or tried to force her because I know it's important for her to develop her independence towards friends and away from me. She still seems to be very connected to her friends, she talks about them regularly and they text all the time. She often plays video games with them online too so I don't think she has been withdrawing from them too.

And yes her teacher did raise concerns before the interview, he sent me an email strongly urging me to make sure I could attend the interview as he was worried about her behaviour and wanted to make sure he got to talk to me. He mostly said he knew she had a lot more potential than she was showing and wanted to work with me to make sure she didn't continue as she was. She's apparently been quite rude in class (sounds like a continuation of the stuff she wrote on her assessment) and encouraging other students to join in with her too.

She's always been a VERY headstrong kid. And she's been through some stuff too. I'm divorced from her Dad (and we shared custody 70/30 since she was 5) who she has always had a very strained relationship with as he can be quite controlling which doesn't go well with her headstrong personality. Then nearly 2 years ago he told her he didn't know how to make her happy and said she could live with me full-time, and just relinquished his custody of her. She was very angry but also devastated as well, although she wouldn't admit that now. I worry that I have spent years overcompensating for his harsh methods by being quite lax with her myself and that now she thinks she doesn't ever have to listen to me at all. I also worry that she has built this wall up around herself to try protect herself and that she won't even let me in anymore Smiley Sad 

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Taylor-RO

Re: 13yo girl keeps shutting me down

Hi @TimTam78,

I am sorry to hear about the tricky situation that you are in. It is great to hear that your daughter is still connected to her friends and is in contact with them regularly. It must be difficult to notice a change in your daughter's behaviour but not know why or how to help. I wouldn't blame you if you felt rejected or upset, especially as your daughter is wanting more time away from the family. There could be so much happening under the surface so I wanted to echo Natalie's suggestion of talking to a school counsellor or even engaging in family therapy. While it sounds like you are doing all the right things (and everything you can), you might find other alternatives that work better. You mentioned that your daughter wanted to avoid a 'lecture' from you after parent teacher interviews. Have you tried asking your daughter how you can support her to complete her school work? A lot of teens appreciate having a bit more control in a situation, within reason. It might also give you a clearer idea of how to approach the situation in a way that your daughter is more likely to be responsive to.
Active scribe
Bridger1

Re: 13yo girl keeps shutting me down

Hi!
Thanks so much for sharing your story. I had a very similar issue with my son 15 who was going through that phase. It can be scary to feel like you don't have any control and to know how capable your child is and to just want to understand what's going on. I really tried everything with my son and the truth was, no matter how hard I tried he wouldn't listen to me. One, because I was his parent and two because I couldn't relate to him and everything he's going through. I really do think the internet and social media etc. is having kids grow up at a strangely accelerated rate and has contributed to a lot of things (like when you said your daughter wrote "I already know this, do you think I'm stupid). They just want someone who understands them. 
What worked for me was Mentorship with someone who was closer to my son's age. It helped my son be able to talk to someone younger and really tell them what what going on and how he felt infantilized by all his teachers and no one was taking him seriously. But there was no way he would have said that kind of stuff to me. So I'm happy I did it and maybe it can help you!
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Taylor-RO

Re: 13yo girl keeps shutting me down

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Hi @Bridger1

Thanks for sharing your story with us. You raise an interesting point about children wanting to feel understood. You’re exactly right in saying that! A lot of the time people are wanting to be heard and validated by those supporting them. It can be difficult to stop ourselves from jumping into solution mode though, especially when it comes to our own children.

It’s also really great that you found mentorship to be helpful for your son. We don’t allow members to share links to other websites as per our community guidelines, so unfortunately I have removed the link from your post.

You mentioned that this experience was quite a scary situation for you, and understandably so. It is really difficult when you want to help someone but they aren’t listening. Is there anything that helped you navigate this part of the journey as a parent?

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LunaMc

Re: 13yo girl keeps shutting me down

I applauded you for how you delt with that and think you went about it completely the right way by staying calm and wanting to talk instead of shouting at her like most parents would of. well done. My daughter is 12 and is acting in a very similar manor to yours, I’m a single mum and I also have 2 younger daughters who are 2 and 8, I think my behaviour had a lot to do with her attitude changing towards me, She started being naughty and disrespectful because any attention was better than none. So to get my attention she changed, I wasn’t praising her enough for all of the good things she done. And I didn’t tell her enough how proud I was of her. My baby wasn’t well at this point we didn’t sleep atall and she was just attached to me basically., when we went into lockdown I know I relied on her way too much without giving her the gratitude she deserved.
Mod
Taylor-RO

Re: 13yo girl keeps shutting me down

Hi @LunaMc

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Well done on being able to have that insight into your relationship with your child. It can be really difficult to realise how your behaviour might be eliciting a certain response. It sounds like lockdown was particularly hard for you as a single mum with younger ones. It must have put a strain on everyone in the family. How were you able to gain this insight and make these realisations? What tips would you give to other parents?

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