a 90 pound 13 yr old with a ten ton attitude
I was looking for some advice on a situation with my 13 year old daughter. I received a call from her on Thursday from school. She said she was at the principal's office and that one of her friends was drinking alcohol in the bathroom during lunch. (she was there with other girls in their "group" as well) All of them were sent to the office and she refused to tell which of her friends was doing it. The principal hoped I would convince her to tell. This isn't the problem. I fully understood my daughter not wanting to tell. I didn't know what to say to her! I already knew which friend was guilty and wasn't sure what the principal wanted me to do?
I spoke with the principal and he said he had no choice but to suspend her because it could've been her for all he knew. So I asked to speak with her again and told her that under no circumstances was suspension acceptable and she laughed and said, "The principal always says he's going to suspend people. He never does." I paused and asked her if she was still in the same room with him and she said yes!! He grabbed the phone back, said she was being most difficult with him and told me to come get her.
I ended up going down there and witnessed her treating this 60 year old man like he was something she'd just scraped off her shoe. I was shocked and made her apologize but in her eyes I could see humor and excitement for being at the center of attention. (she loves all attention..good and bad...has always been this way)
She doesn't talk to us at home like that but she's often mean and snappy to friends and adults alike. We tell her that her behavior is going to ruin her relationships in life but every discussion we have I can see her staring at us like it's all mildly amusing. Whereas if I'd been called to the principal's office at 13, I'd have cried, she seemed to enjoy it????
I have no idea what to do. We grounded her for the weekend to her room...no tv, no phone. I've read your book and I know this is not the right course of action. Help!!
Trade off the pointless grounding for some potentially helpful counseling for this girl. She needs to quickly get a grip on why she enjoys "slapping the bears around" before they start to slap back hard. Tell her that "cops and teachers" (non-parental authority figures) will ruin her life if she is unable to learn how to cope better. Hopefully, this is just a passing phase, but it could become damaging a cycle of behavior if "the bears" start a game of chicken with her, seeing who is willing to get more crazy. In that game, teens win (and thus lose) almost every time.
Dr. Mike Bradley