Tata asks: I am really worried about my 10-year-old daughter. She does not hear me when I talk to her the first time. And she always answers back to me.
Hi Tata –
Well the easy answer for me to give you is… she’s right on schedule. Your daughter is entering adolescence.
Now you probably entered this stage a bit later than she did. Kids are definitely growing up more quickly than they used to. This is due to everything from media to chemicals in food, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s not a bad thing necessarily, but it can be very frustrating, especially to those who would love to see all humans stop aging at age five, when they’re perfect!!!
The amount of information about how to deal with teenagers (which is another word for what she’s becoming) is way too huge for me to give you in one letter. So I’m going to give you two sorts of advice. First, use the Search box on my website, and look for whatever she’s been doing, and it’s probably there. Second, look at other websites, at books, at movies, all about dealing with teenagers. There’s a ton of stuff out there, and at least some of it is really good! One of my favorite sites is by a good friend of mine (great tummy scratcher!) Kent Toussaint, http://www.kenttoussaint.com/tipsonteens.html. He’s got loads of great advice on how to handle these rebellious wonders.
But in the short term, I’d suggest being lovingly firm. For example, tell her that you’re getting tired of saying things more than once, so you’re going to start only saying them one time. If you tell her dinner’s ready and she doesn’t respond, start eating without her. If you tell her a friend’s on the phone and she doesn’t come to it, tell the friend she can’t talk now. She’ll start listening better to you, I promise! With the answering back, we don’t want to stop all of that, because the job of adolescents is to find their own voice and question authority. But you could charge her for talking back – for example, do you give her an allowance? Well maybe she loses 1% of it every time she talks back. Now sometimes it might be worth it to her, and if so, that’s great. But if she does it five times a day, she’s gonna start losing a lot of income, so she might start thinking it’s better to hold back on some of that retorting, and wait till it’s worth it to her to blurt things out at you!
But through it all, keep loving her. This is an important time, and as much as she fights you, she probably needs you now more than she ever has before.