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Is This Normal?

Question:

We are grandparents that have raised our 11 yr old since birth. She has just started the 6th grade and the level of rudeness and the disrespect has increased to the point of not even enjoying being around her anymore. The smallest thing will set her off and I’m tired of always biting my lip to keep from screaming at her and I feel like I’m always walking on egg shells. Whenever she talks to me her tone is hateful. She has an attitude with my hubsband but it is nothing like what I go through. 

Is this normal? Am I doing something wrong? How can I improve my steadily declining relationship with my 11 yr old. I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse.

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Answer:

At 11 years of age many girls are beginning to enter into early adolescence. Some begin to menstruate, develop breasts and show all the signs of womanhood. For some of these girls, these developments are accompanied by rebelliousness and just the kinds of things you are discussing. At the same time, many girls who are developing do not express so much hostility. The question is what was her behavior like up until now?

If she was rude and hostile prior to 11 years old then it might point to some psychological problems. There are those kids who are constantly defiant and conduct disordered. Others run into trouble if they have a learning disability. Sometimes bad behavior resulting from a learning disability does not show up until this age because school is getting harder. She may have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Then too, early onset adolescence can translate into kids getting exposed to other children at school who have a negative influence on behavior. I am referring to those youngsters who may be experimenting with marijuana and other drugs and alcohol at an early age.

Given the fact that there are countless numbers of unfortunate negative influences on our kids today and that you are upset and want her to have a normal life, I suggest you have her psychologically evaluated. You can start with the school by speaking to the school guidance counselor and asking to see the school psychologist. Another option is to speak to her pediatrician or primary care physician and get a referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist.

In the end, all of you will attend psychotherapy as a family since these things are rarely limited to only the child.

Don’t scream at her but do not wait. Get help for her and all of you now. You want to get her and all of you help before she enters fully into the adolescent stage when things can get worse.

Best of Luck

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