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Help with 14 Year Old Daughter

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Help with 14 Year Old Daughter

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Help with 14 Year Old Daughter

We've been having trouble with our 14 year old daughter who is in year 9 at school. Over the last couple of months, she's been going out on Friday and Saturday nights and saying she'll be home at a reasonable time and then she's arrived home twice at 2.00am. We didn't end up grounding her because her friend's mother grounded her, and that had the same effect. She has also been very withdrawn in her room and barely speaking to my husband and i. She has also stayed at a friend's place for a period there and it really did seem like she'd sort of moved out, except we were still needed to provide money of course.

I felt reconnecting with our daughter was the priority, even though there was a part of me who wanted to put my foot down. I managed to get her out for a few coffees and there was a dance concert and competition which drew us together and bit by bit the connection really improved anad she was confiding in me a lot more and giving me hugs again. 

However, during this week she ended up getting caught for taking vodka to school and was suspended along with a friend. She'd acquired the vodka from an older student and so he was in trouble too. 

I am finding it very difficult to know how my husband and I are meant to respond to this situation. The suspension seemingly rewards the student and then we're left to work out what to do with them. My feeling would be that if you're suspended you shouldn't be going out. However, they still need to get exercise and she also seems to need her friends. While we're feeling dreadful about what she's done and disappointed., she seems to be feeling regret, remorse and needing support from her friends too. 

BTW I asked her why she took the alcohol to school, and she said to spice things up. She seems to be a bit bored. 

I found a fact sheet on Reach Out talking about risky behaviour and I found this really helpful. I hadn't thought about positive risky behaviours before. She does a lot of dancing particularly acro involves risk and an adrenalin rush. 

We're trying to get her to stop taking alcohol. Ideally zero alcohol intake would be our preference, but reducing risks associated with sharing alcohol at parties is also a concern. 

I am wondering if anyone has any tips or advice please. I also wanted people to know that while I've been responding to others' problems, we also have our own. 

Best wishes,


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Re: Help with 14 Year Old Daughter

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Hi @Birdwings , 


I'm so sorry to hear you've been having a tough time with your daughter. We do often hear from parents that years 9-10 can be particularly tough with some young people, in terms of pushing boundaries and experimenting with risky behaviour. As you probably know , the frontal lobes of our brains (specifcally ,the prefrontal cortex)  which govern executive funcitons like impulse control, risk taking  and the ability to plan and think about the consequences of our actions, is still developing in teenagers- it doesn't fully develop until the age of 25 or so.  I really like this article on Raising Childrens Network on brain development in teens here for a bit more detail... but basically, this means that teens can be more prone to impulsive and risky behaviour, or may act without fully thinking through the consequences of their behaviour. 


It's great to hear that you found the ReachOut article on risky behaviour and positive risk taking helpful, and it's wonderful that you've continued to focus on reconnecting with your daughter. I suppose another side that might be worth considering, is the role of consequences in helping her to understand the effects of making poor decisions. I'm wondering if you've had a chance to look at this article here? I really liked the way it frames using consequences as a way of helping to teach teens about risky behaviour, and the importance of using meaningful consquences: 



Give your child every opportunity to learn this life lesson successfully by considering the following in setting meaningful consequences.

  • What’s important to you? Help your child understand the values that are important to you and that your job is to keep them safe. If they do something that is in conflict with those values, or is a risk to their safety, there are consequences. For teenagers, using privileges can be effective in setting meaningful consequences.
  • Make a list of privileges. What activities or privileges does your child value? Agree on privileges that will be given up as a consequence of poor behaviour. Will there be an expansion of privileges in response to positive behaviour? Privileges may include access to technology, spending time with friends or doing a favourite activity, 
  • Agree on consequences together. By talking through your values, expectations and consequences you are allowing them to take responsibility for their behaviour, the decisions they make and the consequences of not living up to your expectations.
  • Consequences should relate to the behaviour that you want to change. Consider consequences that give your child opportunity to exercise better self-control and judgment. For example, if they stay out past curfew, the consequence may be that they don’t get to go to the next party they are invited to.
  • Consequences should be consistently applied, and fit the issue. There shouldn’t be room for debate, particularly if the consequences were agreed beforehand. They can be scaled up for repeated misbehaviour or the seriousness of their actions, or scaled down following good behaviour. Consequences should also happen soon after the behaviour, and have a limited timeframe that is clear to everyone."


I can completely understand your feelings about a suspension feeling like a bit of a reward for the student (and one that places a burden on parents!). Is there an expectation from the school that she complete work that she's missing while she's away? Or alternatively, are there any jobs that she could help with around the house while she's suspended, so it's clear that the expectation is that she doesn't treat it like a holiday?  I can hear how empathetic and compassionate you are towards your daughter, which is a wonderful thing - and I think you're right, time with friends is definitely incredibly important for teens, so I'm wondering if losing some social time could be a consequence that has currency with her, what do you think? 


How is your husband feeling about the situation? 


Apologies if you've already seen this (I know I've mentioned it in other posts) but we do offer a one to one parents support service which I've heard great things about - sometimes it can help a lot to workshop issues like this. It's a free service, and you can find out more about it here


You give so much wise and generous support on these forums, and you're also deserving of that kind of support. Thinking of you and your family - it sounds like a really challenging time for you and we are always here to listen.