27 answers

Pre-teen Daughter with Bad Attitude- Has Anyone Tried the "Total Transformation"

My daughter, who will be 13 in May, is constantly pushing the limits with both me and my husband , her step-father. Whether it is refusing to help around the house or constantly trying to shirk responsibilities (like homework, obligations for her youth group or cutting out on sports pratices) it seems like all we do lately is argue. I keep hearing ads on the radio about the Total Transformation behavior program and am wondering if anyone has tried it.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I bought it for my daughter, because she has 4 daughters but she has not used it. She said she is looking at it now, as her last 2 daughters are 13, and 11 years old.

Maybe she can let you know when she puts it in to practice.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.,
I don't know anything about Total Transformation, but there is a
Teen Love & Logic class that will be starting on March 10th. It
will be held on Monday evenings from 6:30-8:30 pm. The cost is $50 individual & $78 per couple. The phone # is ###-###-####. A woman by the name of Colleen Oshier is giving the classes. It may be worth a try. Good luck.


More Answers

Hi A.,
I am the mother of a 30 year old daughter and a 15 year old daughter. When each of them went through the "bad attitude" stage, it was a time I had to grow and develop myself as a parent. I had to learn how to create more harmony in my home. I took parenting classes and went to counseling with my children and my husband (who was also the step dad). What I learned is that a child with a bad attitude is asking for you to set limits with them. They want you to teach them how to become the best that they can be.
I don't know if the "Total Transformation" can help you in your situation, but here is what I learned:
We had to take time to create a vision for our family. How did we want out family life to be? We had to take time every week and sit down and talk about it and write it down. We got a notebook and each took turns being the "leader" of the meeting (even our children). We talked about all of the important parts of family life- how we spent our time, money, vacations, energy, what our rules were, who did what chores, what the allowances were, what we valued and were committed to and how we wanted to treat one another and we wrote this all down. Once we had this in place, it was easier to create boundaries that made sense. Since the kids had a role in creating this, they were much more willing to listen and understand where we as parents were coming from.
We also wrote down all of the priviledges my children had. There were more than thirty-from the most basic like food and water, shelter, clothing and education (a luxury in many developing nations) to allowance, transportation, telephone, entertainment, shopping, etc. and the list goes on and on... We set up consequences so that if she didn't follow the rules we all set up as a family (for example, speaking respectfully), she would lose a previledge for a certain number of days. It was really difficult at first. One time she lost going Trick or Treating for Halloween. She ended up going out anyways without our OK and lost all but her most basic priveledges and had to slowly earn the rest back. She graduated with honors from her college a few years ago and now is succesful in her career as an educator. She tells us our setting up priveldges and consequences was the best learning experience for her in her whole life. I hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful

hi A.. first let me say that i feel for you, having raised a couple sisters inthe past i'm sure your family must be going thru a very difficult time.
your daughter is going thru a difficult time right now. she is kind of in limbo with her self idenity. she is kind of stuck trying to figure out what her role is in life.... she's not a little girl anymore but she's not a woman and i'm sure there are things that she still likes to do that one would think is still child like. most girls get in their head that there is a point in their life when they must go thhru this change by cutting off all ties with the "little girl" and become a young woman, that as you know is simply not the case.
lot's of kids feel that they need to rebel against any love or affection given by family and feel as though they are not understood so they contribute that to not loved, which definately is not the case,top that with a bad case of body change, hormone that are makng every emotion more intense.
it's a place that pretty much sucks.
i have some questions to you:
what type of friends does she have? do you know them well?
is she dating either with permission or without?
you mentioned that she is in a small group... is that thru your church? and if so does she have a mentor or a adult person that you trust (woman) that can partner with you in helping her thru this time?
how do you respond to her on a daily basis? when you fight and when you are not fighting?

i remember when i was begining to rebel in junior high. even though i was a real tough girl that wouldn't hug anybody not even if you paid me, i think what would have helped me thru it is if i was secure in the fact that i felt loved. and i emphicise on the felt. i know it's very hard because all you want to do is give them shaken baby syndrome and they make it so difficult to show them love but don't allow her to harden your heart towards showing her love. she needs you so desperately right now.
i don't know what type of relationship you and your daughter have but keep showing her love by touch, hug her and say those words every day "i love you" tell her that you appreciate her and especially that you know that she was created with much purpose. that there is nothing she can do to push you away and take her to mom and daughter days.
just you and her to show her how important she is to you.

it's very important, especially to daughters of divorce to feel secure in love, so we don't continue to seek it where we shouldn't.
love, friends, dating, and her spiritual health makes all the differece in the world.

i host a bible study for young girls from ages 9-12 years old and these girls have created such a tight bond to support eachother thru their adolecent trials and i'm always there to answer those questions that they are struggling with that they don't want to take to their parents. and i have the opportunity to challenge them in stepping out and finding purpose and making their life count. it is really helping them fill that social need as well as a spiritual one and that includes my 10 & 12 year old girls.
i hope something i said helped out in some way. if you do consider the mentor approach, just make sure that it's someone that you really trust and it's someone that she will or can respect. and make sure that it's someone that is fun but will focus more on their wellbeing as oppsed to being their friend. that is very important because if they are trying to just be their friend, the girls set themselves up for heartbreak when it's time to lay down the law and it give them a sense of betrayal.
i'll be praying for you A. and i wish you and you daughter the best.

1 mom found this helpful

A. I too have a pre-teen. She is 14 and it all started around her 13th birthday:I wondered were my sweet little girl went:)It is partly the age,nd partly wants her own way. I try picking my battles and setting boundaries: My pastor even agrees let her have blue hair and wear what she wants but when she disrespects she has a consequence(period)for that action. Raising children now is so different than when I was a teen you did what you were suppose to and that was that...END OF STORY However just like when they were little your "yes" has to be yes and your "No" no. When I do hear great things about total transformation I would try it but like anything you have to stick to it to see results. I have learned to take a moment when things get tough to recall when I was 14 and this helps me to have compassion as well as boundaries. She is learning about herself and the world seems so much harder than when I was her age.I tell her that I love her reguardless of her actions and that no matter what this will never change. With an absent father the fight for her "worth" is a tuff one. Love and abandonment struggles are very hard to shake, I know this from experience and she watched me up until about two years ago. If I could ask God to teach my daughter just one thing it would be "her value and worth" are not as man sees it (Not even me...)But how God views her. She is of great value and far worth more than she knows or can fathom. I guess my advice is to love her and then when you can't seem to get through...Love her some more.

1 mom found this helpful

Have you read Jane Nelson's positive dicipline for teens ? Also it sounds like she isn't that excited about the activities she's in - is there any free choice for her?

How much real time does she get with her mama after new husband and 2 year old ? How often does she get to have real fun with you ? Is the main emphasis on her 'misbehavior'
- are adults engaging her mainly over her duties - it sounds like she feels the extra curiculars are also just duties ?
Where does she feel nurtured and worthy - that has to happen regardless of her attitude - that's our own attitude challenge - no ?

Our country tends to have alot of negitivity towards teens - yes of course they are difficult it's actually their job - but there is real serious negative adult energy directed at this age group of kids - that is constantly backfiring on us all. And I think most of us adults are not immune from absorbing it from our culture.

I don't know anything about Total Transformation - but I question any thing that claims to be some kind of 'silver bullet' for any relationship ? Also what does that mean for a kid " Total Transformation" ?

1 mom found this helpful

I read the book "The Wonder of Girls:". It really explains what daughters need at this sensitive time in BOTH our lives. It helps to explain their behavior and it also gives direction as to how you and your husband can help her through a tough time.
Hang in there..she needs lots of love.

1 mom found this helpful

I haven't tried that myself because my kids are so young still, but I'm curious if it works too.

When I was going through my rebellious teens, my parents sent me to a girls' boarding school. Boy was I a different kid when I came home for school breaks - happy to help my parents, polite, remembered my manners, because I was truly happy to be home with my parents who loved me! Don't get me wrong, I loved being in school too and had lots of friends, liked my teachers and classes, but there is no place like home. Sometimes you just have to get away from it to remember that. Maybe even summer camp would achieve the same result.

Anyhow, good luck to you! The teenage years are tough!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.. I have a 10 year old son. Recently divorced and purchased the Total Transformation last year. He is doing a lot of what it sounds like your daughter is doing. Arguing, not doing homework, talking back...I haven't had a chance to get through the entire program but the parts I have watched have helped. They have some great techniques... It is pricy but so far I think worth it... Hope that helps.


1 mom found this helpful

I bought it for my daughter, because she has 4 daughters but she has not used it. She said she is looking at it now, as her last 2 daughters are 13, and 11 years old.

Maybe she can let you know when she puts it in to practice.

1 mom found this helpful

hello. I am new here but your add caught my attention. When i was the about the same age i did the same things to my parents. Maybe you can try taking things away from her that matter the most. This is the age that we get testy...and find groups of friends that are willing to accept us when we decide that are parents are suppose-ofly non acceptable with our behavior! Keep the reins on tight with her and use positive reinforcement. Hope i helped!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi....I am a grandmother now but was very challenged raising my daughter who was and is very determined. I consider this a good quality, but when she was a teenager it took all I had in order to help her get through those years safely without squashing her pizzaz! Recently I read a terrific book, " The Female Brain". It is the latest in research on the female brain and goes into detail about the teenage years and what is going on with their brains and hormones. I felt like it was written for me as I was reading it. It helped me to understand a lot that had baffled me at the time. It is hard to understand and keep up with the sudden changes during the teen years. Your eager to please, smart but feisty young girl turns into a teenager who is not happy and has plenty to say about it... and will lie and sneak around which shocks you. It happens fast and this book has great concrete information on what is going on for them. It does not answer some questions about how to best deal with a feisty teenager who knows everything and is belligerent and rude. But it helped me lots with understanding and had I known all this then, I would have felt lots better about my parenting (blaming myself less) and would have had a calmer perspective on her off-the-wall behavior and how she would mature. She did become a wonderful young woman and is now a great mother. I am also glad that I read this book as it will help me when my granddaughters get to this age. Good luck! Being a Mom is a tough job. I think you are on the right trail asking for advice. I would be interested to read Total Transformation, Is it a book or a program? I am helping raise one of my granddaughters and am now reading some great books on how to best handle two year olds so that they become happy, healthy preschoolers. I think we all need all the good advice and ideas that we can get! I'd like to hear more about Total Transformation if you get the time to respond. K.

I have a 13 year old son and he tries to push the limits too! The arguing goes on because you keep trying to explain why you want this or that. You don't explain yourself. You are the parent. You let her know what behavior is acceptable and what is not and that's it. Make a list of her chores around the house, everyone has to do their part, and tape the list where she will see it. If she says she has done her chores and you see that she hasn't tell her to go back and read the list again. Be consistent. Have a consequence for every action or non-action. #1 chore not completed = grounding off the phone for one day plus dock in allowance. #2 chores not completed grounding for 2 days off the phone and no tv and go to bed early plus docked allowance. If you are firm and consistent she will get it if she knows you mean business. If she thinks you aren't going to follow through on the consequenses then she will not get any better. When my son tries to argue with me about chores I point to the list end of subject. If he tries to argue about other things well he can't argue with himself, pull yourself out of the arguement and calmly say I have already given you my answer on this subject, when you are ready to talk about something else let me know. I have a good kid he gets good grades and doesn't get into trouble. He's been through a lot (my husband/his father died suddenly 3years ago), but that doesn't mean that he can now say or act any way he pleases. You are her parent not her friend remember that. You are raising a future woman, pilar of society, mother, wife, career women. If you don't stand your ground and show her how she is to present herself then who will? I love all my kids (I have 3) and I want them to know that they mattered so much to me that it was more important to me that they know how to act responsibly (even though that meant they might get mad at me) than it was for me to be their friend. I hope this helps.

I have heard good things about the Total Transformation. But I am currently using the "Love and Logic" program. I also have a 13 year old daughter with a bad attitude and this program seems to be helping. Look them up on the internet. Good luck.

Sounds like yo have a normal 13 year old on your hands. It also sounds like you've got some great responses so far. That being said, I agree,
1. Try a heart-to-heart first. Let her know you are there to listen and help her, but that there are rules in the house.
2. Set up a rules and consequences list as mentioned.
3. Challenge yourself to concentrate on appreciating your daughter more. Every time she does something right let her know you appreciate it. I'm not saying you should throw a party, you do need to keep it sincere, but this will help her WANT to be more helpful because she will feel appreciated. Always say "Thank You" (even for things she SHOULD be doing anyway such as chores) or "Thanks Sweetheart/Darling/Honey" works even better because it let's them know you are comfortable expressing your love to them. If they do something especially helpful that is out of the ordinary - get a little more excited and see if you can muster a "Wow! Thanks! That was super helpful! I really appreciate that :)"
4. If you want her to do something out of the ordinary - give her some time to accomplish it. Don't demand she do it right away - unless it is REALLY important. For instance "Honey, we need to leave in 30 minutes and I need you to clean up your mess before we do. I don't want your Dad to come home to a messy house. So you've got 30 minutes to get it done." My parents were famous for interrupting me while I was doing something. I remember getting so frustrated because they would always demand I get right up and do it. It felt really disrespectful because they were basically saying their (many times stupid) project was more important that my own. At 13, kids really do have important stuff to do. Seriously - talking on the phone IS important, it helps them develop social skills. Remember, respect goes both ways, if she feels respected, she will most likely act respectful to you.
Hope that helps. Try not to shake her ;)

Do you resent her at all because she is also the daughter of the man you divorced? Perhaps you associate her with him and behave accordingly toward her, which she in turn might resent and then attempt to rebel by rejecting the activities she feels pressured to do. It sounds like you focus a lot on what makes her a "bad kid" and she feels treated differently, maybe unloved. Maybe you could sit her down and ask her in a non-judgemental way what is going on with her and what she needs. People sometimes forget their kids don't exist to do exactly what their parents expect of them. They have their own needs and interests which sometimes conflict with those of their parents. Try talking to her instead of dictating to her, it sounds like you may have to build some trust. Maybe some mother-daughter sessions with a counselor would help. Let her know that she matters for who she is, and not just when she does what you want her to do. Find something positive to focus on instead of all the "shirking" and arguing. I hope this doesn't sound to harsh but I felt a certain tone from your letter that led me to respond so strongly. I think this is a source of conflict for a lot of families which actually has hope for resolution. Good luck to both of you.

The thing you must know & remember at all times is that this behavoir at her age unfortunately, is completely normal. I was that way at her age, my two daughters that have graduated from college were that way. My daughter who is almost 16 & just coming out of that stage thank goodness was that way. She has been the worst but quite frankly thinking back, I was even worst & we all got through it. Be strong & stand up to the test she is giving you & be understanding that it is normal. The only new thing for me this time around is I must keep my eyes on the cell phone, videos & TV, and the computer. Bond with her by sharing some things about you at that age, if you can. Think of fun things to do together she may feel a loss of attention from the new baby & husband.

Hi A.,
I don't know anything about Total Transformation, but there is a
Teen Love & Logic class that will be starting on March 10th. It
will be held on Monday evenings from 6:30-8:30 pm. The cost is $50 individual & $78 per couple. The phone # is ###-###-####. A woman by the name of Colleen Oshier is giving the classes. It may be worth a try. Good luck.


Hi A.,

I have not heard of Total Transformation, however, I worked in the "personal growth" arena that was quite popular in the 90's....and wow what a wonderful experience...my favorite was the "teen training" that was offered...it was amazing to start with this total hard case teens and in three days see that they were actually tender humans...its not just the child...it takes learning on the parents part too...but it is worth your time and your money...My children were 3-10 when I started the process...and using the skills and tools we all learned...they have grown to be wonderful loving adults...I would get information...and check it out...again...it takes parent involvement...I wish you the best...T.

I had the exact same issue (10 years ago). I was able to get some great books and take some ideas that really worked. Go on-line and check it out. I just did and saw quite a few books that looked helpful. I went to Barnes and Nobel and searched "self help for parents with teenagers".
We got through the teen years with a boy and a girl quite painlessly with help from books.

Your daughter is going through transition from one family to another. I briefly looked at the site for transformation behavior programs and it sounds like a wonderful program - if it works. The author only has one son. There is a big age difference between two and thirteen and there is another person in the family. Meet as a family, get their feedback. But, meet as husband and wife first so you can present the program together, as a solid front. I'm going to look into the program myself for my seven and thirteen yr. old grandsons. Their parents are having a difficult time as well. Thirteen is a very difficult transition year, remember your own feelings at that time: who am I? where do I fit in the family, this community, this world? Good luck.

I would love to hear about it as well


I have a friend who does great work with children of all ages. I would check her out before you go with the total transformation program. She can be reached at:

Shera L. Davis, M.Ed.
Flourishing Families
Child Behavior & Parenting Support

Let us know what happens!!!

I haven't tried that, but would sure love to know other's experiences with it. I have a son, 13 and a daughter, 5, by my second marriage. I am experiencing similar issues. Wish I had something more than empathy to offer.


I haven't heard of it, and I am the type of person who believes that any transformation begins from within, so, not sure whether this will be helpful to you, but, here goes. I have a 13 year old son, and while he is a good kid, the teen thing is definately a challenge at times. Last year I went to a Paretn Education talk where I learned 2 things which help. One, they are like 2 year olds in some ways-testing limits-what can they do, what can't they do, what will your response be? The other was that their teen brains are changing. They said (and I don't have the documentation to back this up at my fingertips.)that if you look at the brain scan of a teen it looks like that of a schizophrenic-there are that many changes going on-they are not rational-and it's not their fault-and it goes on for years (oh, joy, I can't wait for my younger one to enter this phase!) Anyhow, love, patience and compassion-as well as clear boundaries and consequences are working for us so far.

Your daughter sounds completely normal. I think it is just a frustrating age. I go through the same thing with my son. It drives us crazy, but sometimes it helps to just take a deep breath and remember that it isn't easy growing up. I have never heard of the Total Transformation, but I know there are many programs out there that basically want to get your money, promising cures for very common problems. Sometimes having a heart to heart talk with our teens and letting them know that we care does wonders. At this age they need a lot of love and especially they need to know that we trust them to make the right decisions. Afterall, they are going to have to leave the nest one day soon and live with the consequences of their decisions. Maybe give her a few "free passes" to no chores or a day off as long as she shows she is getting back on track. We all need a day off sometimes.

I don't have any experience with Total Transformation but I know the ad you're speaking of. I just wanted to offer you some things to consider or look at. When kids or teens act out (or act up) like this: they are really communicating their own frustrations or dislikes or hurt: they just haven't chosen to express it with a calm, sit-down "talking" conversation.

Perhaps, first try yourself to "create" a conversation with her (not at her) asking her about her feelings. Talk with her, try to find out what's bothering her. It could be bad feelings about dad, step dad, other family members, or being a blended family, kids at school, to she's just making bad choices with what the "gansta" kids at school are doing in an effort to belong! You may also want to set up a time with the youth pastor or pastor to talk as a family.

But BE WILLING and ready to respect and address what issues she brings up and do not dismiss them. Sometimes we parents dismiss issues because they're not an issue for us; totally ignoring that it might be a HUGE ISSUE FOR OUR TEENS! Whatever they believe or feel isn't right is very real to them.

My girlfriend's teen son started acting out like you're describing and it got bad: where he became very depressed and withdrawn from his parents and sister. They reached in and saved him! They went to their pastor and youth pastor and worked through it. Turns out that he had a very depressed girlfriend who he couldn't help, so he became depressed WITH her. They started having sexual relationships and that alone really messed him up. Teens are not EMOTIONALLY mature to have sexual relationships and it severely confuses them. If teens are having sex and then break up - it is the EMOTIONAL EQUIVALENT of getting a divorce.

I'm not saying this is the case with your daughter, I'm only citing it as an example that when kids start acting in a way that they weren't: something is driving it and we need to find out what so we can help our precious teens.


A., I am not familiar with Total Transformation, but I can highly recommend The Landmark Forum for Teens. http://landmarkeducation.com/

It presents a complete family dynamic with miraculous results when everyone in the family comes on board with responsibility. Transformation is the key here as well.
C. Scott

There are a lot of clues here. What is her relationship with the stepfather like? Is she included in everything as a family member or made to feel like a leftover child? Why does she have to do sports and youth group? What sorts of things does she like doing? Can she do those things instead? It sounds to me like she has a personality that is different from your expectations but that doesn't necessarily make her a 'bad' kid. You might ask her what she's into and wants to try. What's the relationship like with her biological father?

Blending families often times seems like a seamless transition for the parent doing it (you) but it is extremely difficult for daughters----especially in those 13-15 years. Remember that your decisions and other child play a role in how she feels she is perceived. Have patience with her and if she actually does like things like youth group and sports (I hated both) then see if there is someone there that she's having an issue with.

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