30 answers

Help with a 12 Year Old's Attitude...

My oldest daughter turned 12 on St. Patrick's Day and for about the past several months, her attitude is completely horrible. If I get on her for something she screams at me saying that all I do is scream at her and hate her and she gets in trouble for everything, which is completely untrue. Her grades this year are horrible, I have asked for tutoring and yet I cannot get her to committ. I have two younger children and her behavor has started to transfer to them. When I mentioned this situation to some close friends of mine, all they can tell me is that it is her age. Can someone please offer advice on how to deal with "her age?"

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I second the Love and Logic. It's an awesome way to parent and much more fun. It helps the kids own up to their problems and creates more responsible kids. Sometimes, you have to let go in order for them to grown up and take charge. www.loveandlogic.com

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S., First remember that she and the other children are not adults, You are. The only thing I will say is to put down your foot. Demand respect no matter what. That is what's wrong with so many kids now, no respect and it is suppose to start from home. Yes sure she is 12, and at that age, kids do seem quite different as far as behavior goes and attitude. I have a 15 1/2 old son, who I needless to say have to now look up to, but boy o boy he does know better. From time to time he too will try me, not for long he starts to act like a child again, a 10 1/2 daughter, who from time to time looses her mind and I have to check her, and a 9 1/2 old son, who usually likes to mimick his older brother. I am married and in my house they all totally respect my husband, their dad, and me too! No questions asked. I don't play around when it comes to respect!!!!!You should not either. Let me know if this helps. Concerned mom

1 mom found this helpful

S. you are not alone, I have three daughters, 19, 17 and 12 and for some reason I don't remember having screaming matches with my other two daughters...not as bad or as often anyways. It is the age of puberty and learning how to deal with your hormones, but...I have to basically kiss her butt to some extent, I talk calmly to her and I have not let her get me upset to the point where we are yelling at each other just to make a point. I still have her in girls scouts, excellent program, and she is involved in our youth group at church...any idea you can come up with for the two of you to do positives things together helps. I am spending extra time with my daughter and helping her more with her homework and keeping track of what is due. Get in touch with the teachers and set up a form of communication with them that doesn't involve her so they can keep you informed of her homework and test schedule so that you can ask her about whether or not her assignments are completed and offer to help her study for her tests, she may see this as she really does care, At this age it is critical for you to stay involved with her because who she hangs out with makes a big difference. This is the age when they start experimenting...sex, drugs... I don't want to scare you but I have been through it twice and luckily my girls are good but not all of there friends are so talk to her as much as possible and I know all advice so far from experts say don't be your childs friend, but you have to be a friend with boundaries so you can keep her pure and innocent and able to be a successful strong woman with a great future...I hopes this helps!!!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, S.!

I can understand what you're going through. My son turned 12 about a week ago. I started noticing a shift in his attitude several months prior to his birthday, though. His grades aren't the greatest this year, either. My sister has been very helpful to me because I remember when her youngest daughter hit puberty. She told me that it can be a very difficult time, but that it's also very necessary that we keep the doors of communication open. Sometimes you have to get your foot slammed in the door, but do it nonetheless. As far as the screaming is concerned, that shouldn't be tolerated from her at all. My son has a tendency to try to "talk over me" when I'm saying something which drives me bananas. He gets pretty pouty when someone gets on his case for not doing as he's told.

I agree with your friends that yes, it's their age but we need to make sure they (and we) make it through that age as smoothly as possible. Children these days have to deal with so much more than we did at "their age", so we have to try to keep that in mind. If she wants to be quiet and not say anything, give her that from time to time. If her room isn't as tidy as you'd like, close the door so you won't have to see it. But, if it gets way out of control, put your foot down. Don't yell...don't scream...tell her to get it done. If she starts saying things like, "This is my room and it's all right with me," let her know in no uncertain terms (as calmly as possible) that she doesn't own a thing. Everything she has is a result of what you and your husband have paid for. And, that's the truth!

I know this has been long, but I'm so feeling what you're going through. First and foremost though, S., is PRAY, PRAY AND PRAY SOME MORE! You all will make it through. My prayer is that my son will make it out of 6th grade this year. The grades are unlike anything he's ever brought home before, but I know in my heart of hearts it'll all be fine.

Take Care!

C. T

1 mom found this helpful

Well, I hate to say it but welcome to the adolescent stage. I have a very strong willed daughter (now 36) and we did survive and she is great (she now has 2 strong willed children and I just sit back and smile!!!). She grew out of this around 18. So pull up your boot straps and hang on for the ride, she is definitely worth the effort.

The only way to help her survive this is communication. I know she doesn't want to talk but try to communicate with her as much as possible. Do give her some freedom but only as much as she can handle responsibly. I used to tell my children that they have a rope around them. I can either loosen it up or draw it back in, depending on how they are handling situations. It is good to let them handle some things on their own. I stayed involved with her and her friends as much as I could. I took them places, I let them stay at my house, in fact I encouraged it. I did the same thing for my boys. I always felt if they were home, I could control what they were doing. They did have a place they could go for privacy but I dropped in occassionally for treats, etc.

Most of all I kept them busy. They all were involved with school clubs or sports, community sports, tutoring (was not an option, had to do it but was traded with a "want to" situation) and most of all the youth group at our church. We had a great youth director and he enjoyed the kids so much. If your church doesn't have a youth group, then I suggest you find one that does. Our prayers and faith kept my husband and I sane during that time.

I let the kids have parties but my husband and I were always there. I was told that the "word" was out by the other kids (not mine) that if you break the rules we will all have to go so don't. They kind of "policed" their own group. (We have had nearly 100 kids at our house before w/o instances==Praise the Lord)

Basically just try to be there for her. Give her some space but protect her and communicate with her. You can be her friend but most of all you have to be her mother. That is our job. Love her, love her friends. you will have to get to know them as well.

Good luck and God bless.

1 mom found this helpful

It sounds like your daughter knows which "buttons to push" with you. I think it's important to ALWAYS speak to your child with respect. If they start yelling or talking with a bad attitude, it's VERY important that you stay calm, mature and respectful. In other words, you have to behave the way you what her to. If she starts down the yelling path, I would say, "It's not OK for you to talk to me like that; let's revisit this conversation when you can speak respectfully to me." If you have yelled in the past, I would apologize to her and tell her that you were wrong to do that. I would explain that it's not OK for her and it's not OK for you. I would link her negative behavior to consequences. In other words, you might consider telling her that if she can't speak and treat you and the other family members with respect, then hanging out with friends on the weekend (or talking on the phone, etc.) will not be an option. It's important that you communicate these new rules without emotion. It's important that she doesn't feel like you are picking a fight, rather, communicate that the new plan is that disrespect will have consequences. And SHE is in control of her choices. But this is the new plan. Allowing this negative behavior to continue and escalate is not "normal" or healthy. I would tell her that you are "on her side" and that your goal is a sweet, intimate, respect-based" relationship. Then you do your part to communicate unconditional love and acceptance of her (not her bad behavior).

1 mom found this helpful

One thing I read that is disturbing is "she won't commit"...YOU are the parent and it is not her choice. The consequences are not enough for her if the screaming continues. do it Dr. Phil's way...take away one major item each time she does it - TV, computer,pillow, bedspread - not just take away privilege but remove the items from her access. Nothing speaks louder than an action taht says " We have talked baout this issue and this is a consequence taht YOU chose." Keep it out for a minimum of one week. and remember tha she might be sleeping on the floor before long but...

1 mom found this helpful

This is a very challenging age, not just for moms, but for the pre-teen as well. I am the mother of two wonderful daughters. They are now ages 22 and the younger turned 18 today. I remember this stage very well. What I can tell you from experience is this....a pre-teen in so many ways go through the same stage as a 2 year old. 2 year olds are trying to explore who they are, their boundaries, the changes internally, etc. The same is true with a 12 year old female. If she has not started her cycle, you may want to check with her Pediatrician to see if she is showing signs of starting soon. My girls' Pediatrician was able to pinpoint an excellent timeline for them which was quite accurate. What you have to do is try to give her some downtime (you decide when) by herself. Even when she does not want to talk, hug her and give her a kiss. She may brush you off, but don't be offended by it. Whatever you do, do not let her get away with saying hateful things to you.....let her know that behavior such as that is unacceptable. When you can, spend time with her seperate from the other 2 children. Most importantly, you have to really try to remember what that age was like for you and try to help her go through it. It lasts for approximately 2-3 YEARS ! ! ! ! ! I'm not kidding. If you allow her to talk to you any kind of way, or get away with being mean to everyone in the home, you will lose her to a lot of mess. Just like a two year old...she wants boundaries, but she does not know that she wants those boundaries (isn't that something). She probably thinks that she's all alone and no one understands. It is vitally important that you let her know that you do understand. The worst thing to do is feel as though she is attacking you, she isn't. Their is an excellent book (very old) written by Dennis and Barbara Rainey (parents of 8 children) entitled "Parenting Today's Adolescent". If you can order a copy, get it and read it. It saved me and my relationship with my daughters.

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A big part of her "attitude" came out when you said, you can't get "her" to commit? WHAT? Who's in charge at your house? It's not her decision to make MOM. Unfortunately, you're going to have a tough time from here on out, because you've allowed this during the most influential time of her life. If you're going to succeed in "breaking" this bad habit, YOU are going to have to be very diligent at becoming the MOM instead of her FRIEND. She's to old for "corporal" punishment. A lot of restriction, taking away extracurricular activities, etc. is going to be in order. Children demand "structure" and eventually it will pay off whether she likes you or not. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

I disagree with your friends that it is "her age." There are plenty of 12 year olds that do not act this way, but there is also no short and easy answer. The best advice I know to give is to read Parenting Teens With Love And Logic (Updated and Expanded Edition): Foster W. Cline,Jim Fay. www.loveandlogic.com. I got it from the library and am almost through reading it. There are other Love and Logic books that are also very good, but I suggest you start with this one. It is a quick and surprisingly fun read. I think this will help you more than you can imagine. Good luck.

I see that you have had a lot of responses but in my opinion the key to solving your problem is CONSISTENCY and BALANCE. When the rules and consequences are consistent then she will know what to expect and she will know that her behavior comes with consequences, every time. I think that you should make some time for the two of you to go off away from the house and spend some time together, without responsibilities and siblings getting in the way. She needs to know that not only are you her mom but at this age you can become a confidant as well. Make sure that she has a say so in what you do together. You need to make it a regular "date night", like the first Saturday night if the month she knows that no matter what she will have two hours of her mom's undivided attention to just hang out and to just be herself. Maybe strike up a conversation about what her friends are up to and ask her opinion on what they are dealing with. You may not have to ask her directly about sex she can tell you about her friends or even other peers at school. Let her know that your time together isn't for a pow wow it is just to be together. I think that after she realizes that you are still the authority and her confidant, her attitude will change. She will respect you again. Dr. Phill says that we teach others how to treat us. Don't teach her that she can walk all over you now, you have invested too much into her for that to go on now. Best wishes.

Hi S.,
You probably have already gotten a ton of responses but I have an almost 12 year-old boy and I have issues with him but I also have a 13 year-old nice that is horrible to her mother. I truly believe that there are hormones going on earlier these days with girls. It's like they are PMsing constantly and it may come and go until she gets her period. It's seems crazy to think of your 12 year-old going through these changes already but it does happen. Set boundaries with her, take away priveledges (sp?), and hopefully she will get through this stage and I'm sure you will make it through! Hang tough and let her know she is the child and you are the adult! Good Luck!

Hi! You are not alone! My 12 year old thinks I do nothing other than pick on her. And, it is worse the closer she gets to her period every month. The massive influx of hormones can really wreak havoc on her attitude, and unfortunately, there is no cure for it. I personally do not think that punishing a child for something that is beyond their control is reasonable, but firm words and a "time out" usually will help let them calm down. Most of us suffer from PMS, and can we control it 100%? How can we expect our daughters to control it at twelve if in our mid thirties we can't? We have no issues outside of home (thankfully), and frankly, if she's going to be difficult, I would rather have it be here at home than at school. I would try working with her teachers and other resources within the school to try to get that aspect of her life back on track, and keep some consistency at home in terms of her attitude towards you. My daughter has gotten good at saying "I'm really angry, I don't know why - can you please leave me alone for a few minutes?" when she is feeling like she is going to be miserable. She is learning to at least recognize it and back away from us for a few minutes. It's almost like she gets "power surges", and it's just the hormones. It's not an EXCUSE, it's a REASON. I hope you can find some help and reign her back in - Good Luck!


In addition to communication, consistency, and love, please give full attention to your daughter's menstrual cycle (even if she hasn't "started"). She needs to be aware of the hormonal changes are definitely affecting her personality. She needs to know what other changes she can expect as well. I didn't get a handle on this until I was in my late 20's... early 30's even, and it has revolutionized my day to day experiences. (My husband (bless him!) pays attention the that number 1" on the calendar! He counts the days and knows how to respond.) My mom refers to how I became someone different when I was 13. Unfortuately she never shared with me the normal and expected changes I was going through which may have led to us being better able to deal with them. That's my hope anyway... I have 3 girls myself, younger than 11!!

C. in SC

I would say you need a mother daughter day to spend some quality time with her and to find out what is reallu going on. This is such a hard time at school and peer pressure, there may be some underlying issue going on. She needs to know that you are there for her and love her NO MATTER WHAT. And that she can come to you NO MATTER WHAT!!! Even with something that you may not approve of (drugs, alcohol, sex etc), she needs to know that she can come to you and be able to talk without being criticized. Otherwise she will find someone else to talk to and that will usually be another teen who will not give sound advise. Anyways, time together to reconnect will probably do you both good. Make sure you both plan it so she feels she has a voice. Maybe make it a ritual event - once a month or so.

On the tutoring and her not committing, you have to be the parent on that and make her go. Find an in home tutor that is at a set time or a Sylvan or Hunnington place where a set time for tutoring that she has to commit to being there. Even have her help with the cost. Then she will learn that if she doesn't improve her grades she will not get to have the things she may want, but rather her money will have to go towards the cost of her education. And stick to it. Being consistant and them knowing you are not going to budge is key. This is such a crucial time with their education, but they can't comprehend that yet. As a former hs teacher, the testing that is coming is a lot. And the amount opf students that come at a remedial level is also high because action was not taken during the middle school years.

Also, her grades may also be a source of her acting out...which just causes a cycle of feeling inadequate.

Good luck! Pray a lot! You can make it through!

My oldest is now 20 and she has grown out of that stage...but only recently. She was 13 when it happened. There is a lot written in child psycology texts about the seperation of children from their parents, the need to assert themselves as individuals. For me it felt like she set up a war zone so that growing up and leaving would be easier. I too had other younger ones at home during her explosive period( which by the way were even worse right before her cycle). I tried to use her behavior and the way it made them feel as an example of how we don't want to communicate with each other. My son who is 12 doesn't seem to be going through quiet the same process but I see it starting with my 10 year old already. The best advice I can give is if you can take time to spend with her alone, without the other children, take her to lunch or just walking it helped me. Make her feel safe that you will love her no matter how ugly things get but that you don't like her behavior. I had to set up respect rules such as if you are ugly to me I will not take you the next time you need a ride.The biggest thing was to stick with it even if it ment she lost out on a great opportunity. I would also tell her that when she could talk civil to me I would listen but until then I will be in another room and I would walk away.
It hurt so much because for 11 years of her life it was just the two of us and she was my best friend... I also learned my lesson about that... my other three are my children not my best friends...When I correct them it is as "your mother who loves you and wants you to grow up to be the strongest best person you can be." Not as a best friend. If nothing else just know that you are not alone and this too will come to pass. Hey, it seems like low expectations but if they survive the teen years without getting arrested, pregnant, hooked on drugs and with a diploma that allows them to follow through on their dreams then count yourself as having done a good job.Oh yeah and if you have any hair left and can still pay the cell phone bill you are very good!


Wow, I can fully understand what your going through. I have an 11 1/2 daughter who is going through emotional changes as well. You know, I believe that being close to her and having open communication is the key.
However I have held a tight leash to make sure she knows I am the mom and she will respect that. Her father and I have made several choices to take away prividleges from her if she continues to have an attitude. Consiquinces (sp) for not following the rules were, taking away outside play time, no cell phone for a week, writing 300 times on a sheet of paper "I will not talk back." and last but not least we moved everything out of her room. She slept on a mattress and I picked out her clothes to wear everyday to school. I am proud to say she is much better and understands why we did what we did.

Tough love is soooooo hard. My daughter is my world and it's up to me to protect her and make her a resp. adult. Say your prayers, it will get better. Stay tough, your the adult and she should know this.


Rosemond works. as with any otehr some it has a reverse tehy hate you more (we're parents if we are doing it right they won't like us all the time)

anyway. midol will help also. My daughter is 9 and she is just starting into this so they are still spread pretty far out. So I give her a midol and tell her to go into her room until she can behave with the rest of us. As for her and all of the rest of us. we havea household rule.... you are allowed to be upset adn angry taht is ok and normal. It's HOW you handle it that we all have to seperate ourselves from the situation, calm down and be civil. we are family and we are all we have. Praying of course being at the top of the list. and remember something maybe going wrong at school on top of all the changes her body is going thru. with the added helping of having to grow up when secretly they all still need mommy and hugs and everybit of attention tehy used to get as babies. its a tuff time she is going thru. patience and prayer. and good luck to ya. I am right behind you with our daughter. remember you are not alone and the aliens will bring your baby back in a few years.

I second the Love and Logic. It's an awesome way to parent and much more fun. It helps the kids own up to their problems and creates more responsible kids. Sometimes, you have to let go in order for them to grown up and take charge. www.loveandlogic.com

Hi S.! In my opinion, it is "the age"! For some the pre-teen years are great, for others they can be horrible! It is different for every family dynamic. I went through it with my son. I am a single parent too, I must mention-that makes a difference.

My advice, is establish some ground rules for how you will treat your daughter as "the parent", and how she will "respect you, as the child". It can be pretty hard to try this manuver if this is new to you. Our children transition in life and you have to transition with it-but you have to be ready. This transition has no room for emotionalism. (Scream in isolation-away from your daughter, if you have too!) Hold your ground. Always make sure she knows who's in control. Do not entertain her tantrums, let her argue alone. Assure her that her positive progression in school will take her a long way in life. Not doing well will end her up with just average results in life.

Love her toughly...yet love her. She will soon come to realize that it is not "you" that she is fighting with...

You may try to get your daughter to open up to another adult..ie friend, teacher, someone from church. She may need to talk with someone about how she is feeling but won't open up to you. If she was a good student and now her grades are horrible, there is something going on. Things that we think are minor are huge to kids at this age.

Ditto everything Cheryl said. I don't have any daughters but I can recall being very difficult with my mother at 12 and 13 yrs old and it was because of changing into a young lady so to speak. So ditto everything Cheryl said. My sister has two daughters and one is 21 the other is 15 they too have been the same age doing the same attitude. I even got my youngest niece some vitamin's hoping that would help her getting ready to start her cycle...it may have helped had she taken them. She is still testing her limits with her parents but by next year she will have figured out the ol' parents aren't as dumb as they look.
My best wishes to you, you can get through this.

Hai S.,

Am not very sure if I can be of any help since I seem to be in the same game. My daughter is 11 and half and she kind of have the same attitude like your daughter. All I know is that at this time we need to be very careful on how we handle these age. Its time when they can be too bad or change to be very good. Try to sit down with her talk to her take her out to a movie or dinner and explain to her that u were in some stage the same and life is very difficult if she is not careful at this time she will loss it all. Just try to put yourself in her position and ask her how she could feel if she was u. I dnt blame u or her we have a tough task ahead with our kids but with prayer and God's mercy we will overcome.

This can be a phase. My 13 year old went through that as well. It was hard because you have to discipline and you have to show grace as well. She must trust that you love her and want the best for. I think the advice on her spending time with someone older is great. This will help her to feel independent. Make sure that she is around teenagers that she admires and trusts, maybe someone from church or one of your close friends. If she is not able to talk to you, then she may talk to them. Also make some time to spend extra time with just her. Now that she is getting older and hormones are changing, she needs to have you as her friend, not her siblings. She may feel that she has to watch them or even discipline them, but give her some space from that. She wants to be her own person and she is figuring that out right now. Be patient and calm with her. Tell her that you love her and just make yourself available to her. Let her sit in your room, watch tv with you, build some special memories with her.

I did that with my daughter (stepdaughter) and it has helped. She may still be going thorugh that phase but it is not as bad as it was last year. You have to trust that and be there for her. Ask questions about her friends and school and boys, but in it's timing.

Hope that helps.

Make her world SMALLER. If she is actiing like a three yr old treat her like a three yr old.

If she is yelling a screaming to you, make her sit in time out. That is what a mom of a three yr old would do.

Cut out her privilages and shrink her world... any thing extra besides clothes, food and a warm place to sleep is extras. No sleep overs, friends, tv time, stereos, or fun things.

Chores, chores, chores. and early bed time help my daughter when she gets her "in your face" attitude! Part of this behavior is she is testing again her boundaries... and hormones are raging.

But don't deprive your other two children, this is the balance that can drive a mom nuts. Hire a baby sitter and Daughter pays thru chores if she doesn't have an allowance... and continue on with the fun activities for your younger children.

Hope this helps.


I went through the same thing with my youngest daughter (I have 2 that are 2 years apart)... turns out as soon as she started her menstrual period, which by the way was at the age of 13, she got ALOT better. Anyway, you might consider at what age you started and it might give you some in sight if that is a possibility. Good luck

I get so sick of hearing "it's her age" as an excuse for disrepectful children. When I was 12 I KNEW not to be disrespectful to ANYONE that was older than me especially my parents. We were taught to be respectful of our elders and we knew what would happen if we weren't. First of all you should not tolerate the screaming from a 12 year old!! PERIOD! If you allow this disrespectfulness to continue then the younger ones will think this type of behavior is ok and they will all be disrespecting you. Stop it now! The next time it happens, get onto her level, look her in the eye and tell her firmly that that the screaming will NOT be tolerated! You are her mother and she will treat you with respect. Inform her that each and every time she screams at you something she enjoys will be taken away for a week. Wether it be her phone privileges, watching TV, cell phone, video games, make up, straightening iron, dessert, etc. anything that she feels that she can't live without will get her attention. At last resort, a good old fashioned "trip behind the barn" may not be a bad idea either. The children today aren't scared of their parents like we were growing up and they are running all over us.
Also, try talking with her when none of the other children are around and when she isn't in a foul mood and ask her why she feels the need to scream and disrespect you. Is it because she is trying to get your attention and this is how she is going about it? I know that at that age their bodies are changing and their hormones are racing and they are on an emotional roller coaster but that should never be a reason to disrespect you. EVER!! Pray a lot, demand respect, and good luck!!

First of all I need more information but with the information giving me it seems that she wants to be the boos and that can not be posible I will recomend that you go to family conseling if siting down and talking does not help Also you can try taking away some privelegs to see if she starts behaving again

I have to chuckle. My daughter is now 25, and she apologized to me the other day for being such a pain as a teen! Girls do that! As my mother told me (I am 66 and mother has been gone for 8 years) when I yelled at her 50 years ago "Just you wait until you have a daughter of your own!"

Best thing to do is ignore it and let it pass. Remember "This, too, shall pass?" Well, it will. And the harder you work against it, the harder she will cling to the behavior you want changed! Turn your attention to the other two children. Make her feel like a grown up (ignore her) and shower the others with attention, affection, approval and hugs.

She may blossom in the shadow! My daughter explained to me that she had to push her way out of the spotlight which was (she felt) trained on me! A girl has to find out who she is, and who she is not. She is NOT like her mother! She hopes! She is.........well, to find that out, she has to push away!

S., I am glad you ask this question. My daughter just turned 12 as well and it does appear to be a difficult age were the girls are trying to find themselves. I am going to listen to the adviceof the ladies give you:). If your ever want to get them together for a movie, skating or bowling let me know. I stay in the Snellville area. I am praying that God will just strengthen us to endure this period of time while we are gratful for having them.

My daughter went through the same thing with her now 17 year old. She followed Dr Rosemond's advice and had very good results. She would start a screameing fit if they would not go to the restaurant she preferred and with this one they would return her to the house, leave her there and go to eat with the younger daughter. She was pitching her fits about many other things too. They removed everything from her room except for very basic clothes to wear to school and her furniture. From this point on she had to earn everything else. All the parents owe to their children is a basic roof over their heads, food to eath and basic clothing. Within a week she started to improve. I'm not saying she never pitched another fit but they became far less and much shorter when it did happen. Screaming at parents is not acceptable behaviour. She also had the low grades. She had an entire behaviour plan to follow to get any priviledges other than going to school and church. You can go to Dr Rosemonds website and order some of his material and there is a wealth of info there. I think it's www.rosemond.com. V. Ellis

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