Tween & Puberty & Snarkiness

Updated on June 23, 2018
J.G. asks from Chicago, IL
13 answers

Hello Ladies, my baby is 10, has breast buds and small hips, and she has officially entered the age of the snark. We're doing our best to remain calm and ignore drama, but the last two days have been rough. She lost it at Walgreens and started yelling at me. Then today she got all mad and actually grabbed my hand meanly. I kept my calm, but man, I was so thrown off balance at Walgreen's yesterday.

This is a strong willed, always lawyering, questioning child. Her hormones are starting to kick in, and I'm trying to figure out how to help her to learn how to remain in control of herself, or at least to walk away.

I need your greatest and best advise for handling the tween years.

We do not punish in this house, but I did tell her she couldn't go on her computer yesterday after the Wags incident, and again today, after the way she treated me. She apologized and we discussed how she needs to learn to control herself better. So best advise?

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So What Happened?

Her behavior neither days was lawyering. I mentioned it because at the ripe old age of 19 months a friend told me she should be a lawyer. She spoke in 8 word sentences and cut through the world with a sharp analytical knife -making sure she could get what she wanted. It has only gotten worse with age. Hubby and I are extremely analytical, so I'm not surprised by this, but it is exhausting. She argues about everything, and makes really good arguments. I don't ignore as much of it as I should. I'm working on that. But I don't want to destroy the spirit. She will need it as an adult.

In any case, I believe in discipline and positive reinforcement. I believe in conscious parenting, connection and modeling.

This child has always been impulsive, lacking control. I was the same. Most likely a processing disorder (mine was). In any case, thanks for all the suggestions. She and I will start doing more mother/daughter things, and I will discuss with her again meditation and strategies to calm down (she has a list of things she does at home, but not in public).

We did move recently, so things have been a bit off. I did restart our usual routine in the past week, so I'm hopeful it will mellow. I've also been very clear about how I will be treated, and I think she is testing boundaries (her lawyering nature). I picked out three books today to help manage the teen years and emotional control. I know she will like that. She loves books.

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answers from Dallas on

My strong willed girl is 23 now and in a successful, lucrative job. First and foremost, do NOT squash the strong willed personality. It is an asset long term.

You DO have to guide and model what behavior you expect. Yelling at me in public never happened, if it had, I would have walked away. Only once, when she was 2-3, she pitched a major fit in a grocery store. I calmly walked my cart to the front, asked the manager to keep it for me, and proceeded to leave the store with her. I went back for my cart after hubby got home that day.

As hard as it sometimes is, always be there for her, she wants you there although you may think she hates you. Always be ready to listen. It is nothing right now for daughter and I to be on the phone for a long time or with each other... we are each other's rock.. especially after the sudden death of my husband... we are stronger together.

We did punish as in taking away her favorite possessions. I do believe children need to have consequences for their actions and be held responsible.

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answers from Honolulu on

You don't punish? Then you're not properly preparing your daughter for the world.

Everyone who is employed, regardless of the status of their job, has standards in place, and clearly established punishments. A health care worker (whether she's a neurosurgeon or a medical assistant) must follow sanitation and hygiene practices. And there are protocols in place if the practices aren't followed (demoted, fired, counseled, pay withheld, suspended, arrested - depending on the severity of the violation). Every military member and emergency first responder has to adhere to rules, and punishment will follow if the rules are violated.

Every student, whether in first grade or in a PhD program, has standards to meet and rules to follow, and there are punishments for not following them.

Punishment is a consequence, a removal of some benefit or privilege, and punishment varies according to age and according to the violation. Cheating on the SAT test or plagiarizing on an exam? You fail. Talking in line while waiting to go into the museum on a field trip? You get a reminder from the teacher and the teacher or aide might stand right next to you instead of allowing you to stand freely like the rest of the kids. Punishment is logical. You leave your bike in the driveway after being taught how to put it away properly? You don't lose computer time, you lose bike privileges. You don't do your chores? You lose free time or allowance.

Punishment must be established before any rules are broken, after the rules are clearly taught, explained, and understood. Can you imagine if you were an employee of a business, and you broke an important rule, and the boss said "um, let's see, how about you don't get paid this week"?

You should explain calmly to your daughter about the expectations and the consequences. "We're going to the store. You will behave, you will not raise your voice, you will be polite to other customers and to the store cashiers and clerks". Then you lay out the consequences. "If you can't behave yourself in the store, you will not be able to play with your friends because you can't control yourself. You will stay home and you won't have electronics or tv."

It's not "lawyering". It's rude behavior. She needs clear established logical boundaries, after being quietly and calmly taught what the expectations and rules are.

And make sure she's getting rest, good sleep, and healthy nutrition. No energy drinks, no sugary sodas. Plenty of water, real food (not stuff out of the toaster or microwave), vegetables, etc. Get her a physical checkup and have her checked for vitamin deficiencies (B, D, etc and iron). A healthy body can contribute to calm behavior.

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answers from San Francisco on

Okay so you don't punish but do you set boundaries? I sure hope so. And what happens when a boundary is crossed? At ten years old she is not your baby any more and she needs to be held accountable for her behavior. Shoot, she is probably LOOKING for it at this point. I assume she doesn't act like this at school or else there would be a bigger problem. Stop treating her like a toddler and give her ownership of her choices. If she makes a poor choice then she suffers the consequences, in this case either leave her at home or at the front of the store next time and do the shopping on your own.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I agree with TF about nurturing and supporting strength in our daughters, when our society seems to reward weakness and the "being rescued by a man" culture of princess fairy tales. Same with the questioning. We all have to question authority and rules - especially women. However, there are appropriate times and respectful ways to do this. She didn't.

But I also agree with others about not pitching a fit in a public place and certainly about grabbing anyone physically. I used to take my son out of a public place - as TF described with the shopping cart. It didn't matter how inconvenient it was - we left. If that meant he didn't get he lunch he just ordered, too bad. (I paid and maybe took it home if it had already been served/cooked, but he didn't get any of it.) At 10, I'd have walked out of Walgreens and gone to the car, where I would have sat on the phone or working on a crossword puzzle (I always kept a small book of these in my purse, in the days before games on phones). I wouldn't have spoken to her when she came to get in the car, and I'd have canceled any plans that benefited her. If I was within walking distance, I'd have driven off without her. 10 year olds can walk home alone.

I don't know what you mean about "we don't punish in this house" yet you took away the computer. Isn't that punishment? Maybe the word "consequence" is better. She apologized, and that's good, assuming it was sincere and not just words. The proof will be whether she can avoid doing this in the future. I do think there's a correlation between maturity of behavior and the granting of privileges - because trust is important. A child who cannot be trusted to control herself with adults can't be trusted to behave, say, in a movie theater with her friends or shopping at the mall or even riding her bike for fun. I'd tell her that.

And modeling the behavior is essential. Parents can't ridicule, yell or put down if they don't want kids to do it too. She'll need these skills in talking to teachers and the principal, the summer program director, and so on. When she sees that respect and reason bring more freedom, she'll get the message. Staying calm is essential when she loses it, so it's great that you did that. Remind her that you were angry and that you disagreed, but you kept your cool. That's her goal.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

For a long time I tried to ignore it because I thought that was what most people said to do. But it didn’t work and one day I couldn’t take the eye rolling and deep sighs at chore time anymore. I told my kid - knock it off or you will start to lose privileges, starting with 10 min off of electronics time each time my request for help with chores is met with a dramatic sigh. I enforced it once and it stopped. I didn’t do a lot of explaining or get into a long discussion. I just said that it’s rude, knock it off or face consequences. Worked so far.


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answers from San Francisco on

Don't make excuses for her behavior. Yes, girls will be emotional and volatile at this age (and for many years to follow) but there's no reason for a ten year old child to throw a fit in a store, unless of course she's on the spectrum or has some other developmental issues. Wasn't she embarrassed acting like this at her age?! She needs natural consequences. If she can't behave like a ten year old child then she can stay at home. Period. You can call it strong willed or lawyering or whatever you want but a jerk is a jerk. In a calm moment remind her that people do not want to be around people who yell when things don't go their way. Also ask her how she would feel if you lost it and started yelling in public. She is plenty old enough to think about how her actions affect others.

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answers from Atlanta on

Your daughter needs punishment and discipline. If she doesn't get it? She's going to continue on her tirades. Punishment doesn't have to be physical. Don't confuse the two.

When my boys were younger and had hissy fits? I told them their behavior was NOT acceptable and left where ever we were and went to the car and went home. If they could not behave in public like a civilized person? They were going to stay home, no computer, no TV, etc. They could play with the dogs, read a book, clean their room, etc. but outbursts are NOT acceptable.

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answers from New York on

First thing - I would not refer to yelling in Walgreens and hand-grabbing meanly as "lawyering". What is going on with the lawyers you know, lol?!

You mean to say that she is argumentative?

Well one benefit of maturity and "controlled hormones" is ease of walking away from an argument. Do not engage with her that way in public.

Big picture, though, you need to start spending some quality mother-"teen daughter" time together. Walgreens only if it includes buying something fun for her (lipgloss, something like that). Take her for ice cream, manicures, treats that she enjoys.

Don't underestimate the importance of spending *relaxed* time with her - that will be the best way to find out what is really on her mind these days.

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answers from Portland on

Yelling at you (in public no less) is not typical. I have a very snarky one, and he's never done that. And he's snarky.

He has lost it (become frustrated) shopping - but that's because he despises it, and always has. So I say "Suck it up buttercup, you need shoes" and tell him to take deep breaths, and remind him that it will go by much more quickly if he just keeps calm and it's all about just me keeping calm.

But I don't get that's what is going on here with you.

Does she respect you? That's key.

Yesterday, mine kind of were misbehaving - they get that way together, egg each other on. I snapped. They know when I snap (I just walk away) that they have gone too far. I have a limit. They both came an apologized. I think you have to have to have a limit, and they have to know when not to cross it.

If you don't have that - I'm not sure what you do. You are the parent. Your kids have to not 'fear' you, but you have to be the adult. They need (want) you to be. You have to be in control.

I walk away when I get upset. That has been key for me. If my kid yelled at me in a store, I think I would probably leave and go get in the car. Wait for them there. I would likely drive home and not talk. Let her come to me and apologize. Then I would listen. I would just let her talk.

That's not typical behavior. Something may be going on. She may be upset about something else.

As another mom said, make yourself available to her to come to you with 'stuff'. Sometimes kids are going through social stuff, emotional tween/teen stuff, etc. If she's that upset able - sounds like she needs to talk and open up. Just listen listen listen - but be the toughie parent, but approachable. However not a punching bag.

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answers from Washington DC on

demonstrate it.

if walking away is what you want her to do, that's what you do she's a little asshat to you in public.

at 10 she's big enough to come find you. if you're worried about walking away from her in a public place, you stop whatever you're doing, ignore the yelling and get her back to the car. then you drive home and ignore her there.

i think curtailing computer time is fine, and i like that she came to you and apologized and discussed it.

at this point i think i'd ask HER what she thinks the consequences should be to her disrespecting you. give her a say in it.

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answers from Miami on

I don't understand you saying you don't punish. You don't take away privileges? How do you expect your daughter to learn that she can't behavior with impunity?

She is selfish and demanding and you cannot allow her to behave this way without paying a price. This is the way the real world works, J.. If you don't show her this, others will and she will never understand, but be miserable and make others around her miserable.

Since you homeschool, she isn't seeing enough examples of behavior having consequences. You must provide them.

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answers from Minneapolis on


My oldest was exactly like this. It is definitely a challenge. I would say you need to remind yourself to stop arguing. You will not win against a teenager because they just are not rational. When she's arguing truly just say "I am not getting into this with you today" and walk away. She will try, probably continuously depending on her mood, to keep you engaged. My daughter did not ever engage in any sort of physical thing and I would most definitely have drawn the line. You need to have your bottom line and never, ever let her cross it. Once they realize you truly are in control some of it stops. My next two were much better or maybe I was just a better mother because of all the experience I had gained from my first. I'm not understanding what "not punishing" is. You have to punish in some way, shape or form or you are living in a dreamworld.

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answers from Norfolk on

Don't accept snark or a lack of manners as normal and something to be expected.
My mom had a way to burn off our energy - she had us mowing the lawn and digging up garden beds and raking leaves and shoveling snow.
Sweating off a bad mood turns it into something positive - it also gives you time to think.
And it's good to be able to feel proud about a job well done.

Switch your thinking about punishment around a bit.
You don't take away for bad behavior so much as perks (tv, recreational computer time, phone, devices, etc) are constantly earned by good behavior.
If the perks aren't earned (homework and chores done well and without argument) then she gets none.
It's totally up to her when to get with the program.
"The quickest way to fun is to get the work done".
Cross stitch that and hang it on your living room wall.
When arguments/stalling pops up - simply point to it - and say nothing.

She's getting older - so she needs more responsibilities.
Soon she needs to start doing her own laundry - our son was doing his own by the time he was 12.
They need to learn life skills.
She's old enough to be able to help prepare meals.
Any 10 yr old can make sandwiches and put a salad together.
Involve her in the shopping for ingredients, planning meals, etc.
I use to take our son to the super market and then ask him which was the better buy - name brand on sale vs house brand - he got good at looking for the unit price or doing the math for a buy one get one free deal.

Babies grow and mature - we help them along best as we can.
If you had/have a processing disorder - have your daughter evaluated/diagnosed and then get the help you need to navigate the difficulties.
Whether that's counseling, therapy, IEP, medication - I don't know, but consider all options.
Puberty happens - and while we always think of them as our babies - if they are acting like babies when puberty hits - then some important maturity is certainly missing and needs to be worked on.
Good luck!

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