Angry 10 Year Old Daughter - Help!

Updated on May 09, 2015
A.L. asks from Revere, MA
16 answers

My 10 year old daughter, Violet, seems to be very angry and in a bad mood almost all the time. I know being 10 is hard and hormones play a big factor in how she feels. I have had many talks with her trying to find out if something is wrong at school or on the bus, and she swears nothing is going on. She's not being bullied or made fun of, as far as I know. Violet seems to just blurt out things, no matter how hurtful it is. She's especially mean to her little sister (age 8) and sometimes to a few of the younger kids in our neighborhood. An example is this morning I asked my youngest if she could see our neighbor's cat at the back door, and she said she didn't know. Violet says in the nastiest tone, "Of course you don't - you never know anything!!" Little sis will show her a book and Violet will scream "I hate you I don't care go away!" She's constantly insulting her little sister and no punishment seems to have any affect. I know they won't always get along, but Violet is just getting meaner and more hateful to her sister every day. I've told her over and over she needs to control herself and think before she speaks, and Violet just says "she can't help it" and she doesn't know why she is so angry or in a bad mood all the time. I don't remember being this moody at 10, and we don't talk to each other in this way at all, so I am at a loss at how to handle this......

ETA: punishment is taking away her electronics - TV, xbox, ipod, laptop, no play time with friends. I've cancelled trips to the movies, skating ring, mall, etc because of her bad attitude. She'll cry and say she'll try harder, but then it starts right back up again.

What can I do next?

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answers from New York on

If punishment by taking things away doesn't work, try punishment by adding things on instead. Every time she snaps at her sister or anyone else she gets assigned another chore. Every. Time.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My middle son 'forgets' to behave sometimes too.

I take things away, but he has to "buy" them back by behaving.

I have a chart that has a value for each good behavior so that the expectations are clear. The behavior must take place all day.

I could break down more, but my point is it has taken 16 days to earn back the things he wants the least. He does not get everything back at once. He earns them back one item at a time.

It worked for me. AND puts HIM in charge of both thinking about his behavior and getting his stuff back.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Boston on

My 12 year old daughter had a habit of being nasty to my 7 year old son - particularly when we were going to and from school.
My daughter loves her iPhone.
Each morning my daughter has to "earn" her iPhone. If she's pleasant to everyone, she can use her iPhone after school.
The moment she is "unpleasant" to anyone, she loses her iPhone for the day.

This method works brilliantly for our family.
Whether my daughter can use her iPhone each day is entirely within her control - based on her behavior.

T. Y

7 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Try teaching her empathy. The next time she says something mean and hurtful to her sister, make her go to her room and write a paper about how SHE would feel after someone said that to her. Make her write the paper as if she is her little sister and really make her think about how she would feel. If she refuses, then you'll have to show her what it feels like by giving her some of what she's dishing out.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Separate your kids.
It's cruel to your younger child to have her have to put up with your older child being nasty all the time.
Don't buy into the 'it's only hormones' deal.
I don't care if her period IS right around the corner she still has to be civil to people and family.
What Tracy Y. said about good behavior constantly earning perks is spot on.
If your oldest can't be nice (and I don't care how much she cries - she doesn't seem to be learning from her mistakes) then she's not earning her perks.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I would say this is more than a punishment worthy thing. She sounds very unhappy and something real is going on. Sometimes it can be as simple as her chair not being comfortable, or her seat placement in a class, or what someone did or didn't say to her at breakfast or lunch. You have no idea, and my guess, is that she doesn't either. She just knows that she isn't happy and when she goes to school she will have to deal with unpleasantness again.

I work with a lot of tweens and they aren't normally quite this angry. I would talk to a counselor who specializes in girls of this age. There may be a girls' group at school or the local boys and girls club.....she needs help to figure out what is going on and it seems like you and she just aren't able to see it. This is not uncommon as you are too close to the situation. But, I agree this isn't normal and could use some outside help.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

When we've encountered this (I have one slight introvert who needs time alone and can get very cranky if has been surrounded by kids all day) - I've removed them from our presence for a while.

It's not punishment, they just aren't ready to be around people so they have time apart until they aren't so cranky.

If they are bad, they don't get to join in family fun. That means, if we're watching a movie/popcorn night and someone is rude to someone else, out they go.

Same with board games, going out for ice cream ...

For us, it's been much more helpful than removing games, etc.

If you can't be civil, don't expect to be invited to hang with the family.

Personally, I always feel that would happen in the real world with friends or co-workers some day - you insult people, they won't want to be around you. Those are the consequences.

The thing is, kids who lash out (they are bullying in effect) are usually stressed somehow. So if it gets out of hand, I hang out with them and see what's behind it.

Good luck :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Have you asked her how she would feel if you talked to her the way she talks to her sister?

You might take both kids out of doors. Give them a tray and something like shaving cream. Tell them to empty the cans. Then tell them to put it all back in. They can't. The shaving cream represents their words. When they say unthinking things, they can't take it all back. It doesn't work that way. They still leave the hurt that they caused. Maybe that would help her visualize it.

I didn't always get along with my sister, and sometimes I was downright horrible. I don't know what helped other than me growing up and realizing how terrible that was. I was an angry teen. I had life circumstances that were beyond my control. Maybe I lashed out at my sister because she was an easy (if innocent) target. Your DD may not be being bullied but maybe she feels stressed or like something at home is hard to handle. I wouldn't rule that out. Do you spend one on one time with the girls, just enjoying their company? I would see if some bonding time with you would help.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I know this is so painful to watch. There's a difference between siblings being close friends and having them be moderately respectful and polite. It sounds like you are aiming for the second, which is good.

I think you start with more immediate consequences - as you would with younger kids. Perhaps delaying the consequences such as "no movie this weekend" is too far off for her. She may need to be immediately isolated from you and everyone else - no discussion about how she needs to be more thoughtful or less hurtful. Her room should be bare bones with no exciting things like the laptop. You have to be immediate, and totally consistent. Less engagement, less discussion - she's getting more attention by being mean.

However, if this goes on for a month and there's no improvement, I think you have to look at other things. Is there a serious impulse control problem that comes from something deep? Is she angry or depressed or insecure about something else? I'd get her in with a child psychologist for some short-term therapy to find out what's triggering her and how this all makes her feel. Don't don't DON'T discuss this with her ahead of time! You should meet with the therapist first to discuss the problem and decide together how best to present this to your daughter, that there will be an appointment with a special type of doctor. The therapist will help you work out the wording. It's vital that this not be presented or viewed as punishment but as something as important and legitimate as being seen for strep throat or a broken leg.

Ask your pediatrician for a referral to someone who specializes in "tweens" and anger issues. It's possible that there has been some precipitating event or episode in your daughter's school or social life. If there's a medical cause, that can be worked out and discussed between the pediatrician and the therapist - sign the forms to allow them to consult with each other.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

As far as the little sister goes, the more you punish the older one and lecture her when she's mean to her sister, the more she will dislike her sister.

The best approach to sibling rivalry is to (almost) always blame them both for fighting, and then separate them. Even if the older one is primarily the culprit, you could say something like, "If you two can't get along...(I will put you in separate rooms, not allow you to do X)."

If she's angry apart from dealing with her little sister, I don't have advice without an example. It's a little early to blame it on hormones.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I understand the hormones and all but the dynamics you describe and how you are handling it makes me think she is going to grow up to hate her sister because Violet is the only one being punished.

I would try to find out the root of her anger. Are you divorced? Do you spend any one on one time with her? Maybe due to her age and hormones, she is not understanding what is going on in her body, maybe she is scared to grow up.

It sounds like you talk at her and not with her. I'm a believer in listening a lot. My door to communication was wide open and no topic was off limits with my daughter.

Personally, I would intervene with a counselor for her and possibly a few sessions with the family so that communication skills can be better learned. She needs to know without a doubt that you love her, you have her back and you will help her through this difficult time.

If nothing is done about this, it will get progressively worse. There is something bothering her and if she can't talk to you, get her to someone she can talk to and let it out.

Best wishes

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

So obviously the consequences have nothing to do with her learning but with just punishment.

Please see about taking a Love and Logic Parenting class and then perhaps having an evaluation done on her for some issues. She is way too angry for a child this age and to me she's screaming something is wrong.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

I have a nine year old daughter with several friends that age who act this way. In my humble opinion in their cases, since I saw them grow since preschool, their parents never mashed down hard core on the mean bratty tones starting at age three. They got a little meaner around 6, and they're really mean and out of control at 8, 9, 10. We were extremely firm with disrespectful tones before they got out of control, and to this day my 9 year old can rein it in. She will blow up sometimes, especially at her younger siblings, but she knows it's wrong, and she will respond to my threats. In other people's homes and at school she's an angel, and I always get "Your daughter is so sweet" comments. By nature, she really is. But there would be hell to pay if she wasn't. I was the "mean mom" compared to what is considered in style now for parenting when she was a toddler and attempted mean behavior, but it stuck. I didn't allow tantrums when she was little to set the stage for self-control, but now that she's older with obvious hormonal, desperate moods, I will let her go "cool off" by herself in her room. Which she wants to do, it's not a punishment, it's a comfort. A punishment would be major loss of beloved things plus some sort of hard work to compensate for her behavior. I would absolutely no tolerate it. I see the other moms sort of acting exasperated but letting it go, and their daughters really are getting meaner by the season. I think it's great you're taking it seriously!

My daughter never had an xbox or laptop and she's allowed very limited TV time. I notice when she does watch too many bratty little Disney shows with the snotty attitudes, she starts parroting that, so I have better stuff on deck to watch for rare TV time. I would remove all those distracting electronic luxuries permanently until she earns them back with acceptable, civil behavior over significant time. There are some good examples of discipline for older kids and teens on The Worlds Strictest Parents episodes you can stream for free online. They emphasize gratitude and helpfulness which automatically make kids happier.

My kids had an iPad for a few weeks and they turned into monsters. I took it away forever. They're so much better and happier and back to regular playing outside, drawing, reading-type stuff. Also my daughter loves to read, so books from the A Mighty Girl list have lots of inspirational female characters of good character.

Keep being diligent about what could be upsetting her, but this behavior can be normal.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

wait it out but if she does not show signs of improvement and since shes claiming she can't help it i would talk to her dr. they can help you find the right professional to help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

What does she value most? TV time, computer time, video games, cell phone, shopping adventures??? Find what she values most and take that away as her punishment. Every kid is different so punishments are different for every kid. Sometimes just 1/2 a day will be enough, sometimes you have to go with a week.




answers from Baton Rouge on

Every kid goes through an "I hate the world and wish it would die in a fire" phase.

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