How do I deal with my thirteen year old daughter's mood swings?

Marsha - posted on 07/15/2012 ( 22 moms have responded )

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She seems to take EVERYTHING I say or do wrong and has even attempted suicide once. She's extremely disrespectful and seems to think that's my fault too. She has 2 younger brothers whom she treats terribly and claims they are treating her badly even when I witness it. She is always solemn or almost manic and if she doesn't get her way immediately will scream and cry like she did when she was three.

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Maggie - posted on 07/17/2012

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Your daughter is very unhappy, sad and angry. Add to that she is in the middle of the confusing teenage years and that should explain the behavior. This behavior will not disappear until you help her find out why she is angry. I would get her to a counselor immediately so they can help you work through the problems she is facing and help her with her depression especially if you want to not have another attempted suicide. You also will need counseling, preferably by the same counselor.

As a mother of 5 (now adult children), parenting author and parenting coach, I must strongly disagree with some of the advice you have been given. You are responsible for your child's behavior. She is your child and looks to you for help and advice. A parent is the most important person in their child's life. I know at times it seems like she does not value your opinion, but I promise she is listening to your advice. (If it is good) Something is going on that is destroying your relationship. Her self worth and behavior is a direct response to what is going on in your relationship. This may be hard to hear, but if you keep punishing and taking away things to control your child, she will rebel or continue to try to end her life. I am amazed how many people continue to use these lazy parenting methods even when their child does not respond positively. You are not spoiling your child, you are meeting her needs. She needs continual love and understanding. I think once you do these things, you will find success and happiness with your new relationship. Good luck and feel free to contact me if you need additional guidance.

Angela - posted on 07/16/2012

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Sounds like your family is in desperate need of individual and family counciling. My children are definatky a handful as we have 6 between the two of us and when we run into a problem that we can't deal/help with we see our family councillor. I think every family shoule have one as every communitie has these centres provided free of charge for that very reason. Take Suicide attemps and tempertantrums very seriously exspecially when they are older to know better it sounds like she is crying out for help. Definatley take your daughter to a counciller, she needs to talk to someone other then you. It is our job as parents to abserve and protect our children, that never stops no matter the age of the chiLd.

Tina - posted on 07/17/2012

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It sounds as though you have a child on your hands that takes the holding-her-breath-until-she-turns-blue situation to the extreme. You say that she has even attempted suicide twice. How did you react? Is she currently in therapy? You also need to remember that YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR HER BEHAVIOR. She sounds like she is bipolar and needs psychiatric help IMMEDIATELY due to the severity of the situation. What has been your response to her "temper tantrums"? Does she have privileges taken away? Take the phone, the computer (if she has one), and the cable or satellite TV away if she acts out. If her behavior gets progressively worse, then you MUST get progressively proactive in removing her privileges. As her behavior worsens, gradually start taking things away. The things I mentioned previously are a great start. If she continues to be disrespectful, gradually remove "luxuries" from her bedroom. You must do this even if it means her clothes are stacked in cardboard boxes and her matttress and box spring are on the floor. This child desperately needs to learn to respect you, and she also desperately needs psychiatric help. Good luck- I will pray for your family!

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Maybe try a different counsellor, yours may not be hearing or seeing problems or solutions, don't give up. My mother is schizophrenic, nothing to do with your daughter but, after twenty years of dealing with her counsellors,doctors,therapists, you would be shocked at how many just didn't hear what she was saying or see what was going on with her get her different help and don't stop trying. I have a twelve and thirteen year old who don't have their periods yet or any of the issues you're experiencing with your daughter but, hormonally speaking they are very different and harder to deal with. Being a parent is absolutely the hardest job there is just don't give up!

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Kasi - posted on 07/18/2012

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Marsha, I am sorry you've had such a difficulty road. Kudos to you for taking her to counseling, and bravo to her for going! Perhaps she has hope that it will get better!  If she says she hates feeling this way - she means it, and will try almost anything to feel "normal".  My thought is to
consider changing to a Psychiatrist qualified to help teens and prescribe RX. And perhaps a different family Dr.  If either are male- She may feel awkward and not open.  Yes, It may be very well something as simple as hormones. My acne and personality improved greatly after I started a low dose pill at 13. ..But-You're story also reminds of my niece. At 12 she was angry, very defensive, and sad. She threatened to kill herself on her 13th bday. Her mother took her to a Therapist. with No improvement. But she wasnt giving up, and wasn't putting up with the rage either.  next was a  Psychiatrist with  family and individual help. The Dr had a different approach and more experience. We soon learned: 1-moms can't fix everything! 2-My niece had been molested by a 17 yo male she trusted. She was angry she hadn't been protected. She was certain all males will be bad.  3- she was diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder. It explained the anger, the manic state of frenzy, and more. ..she is 18 now, quite the artist, taking her meds to control the depression, and doing well.  ...Perhaps the idea of med's doesn't sound great. But if it is hormones, or something more, it may mean you get your daughter back. There are some great meds available for manic or clinical depression now.  Im Sure there is a wonderful daughter under all her pain.  I commend you for reaching out. And I think she is lucky to have a mom that it is not giving up! 

Mommy - posted on 07/17/2012

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You daughter sounds like she has some mental health issues that need to be addressed by a professional. The therapist in me is already in diagnosis mode, trying to figure out what it is. I have an idea, but would need more information. In any case, talk to her pediatrician about getting referrals for a therapist, and see what they say. Attempted suicide is nothing to be taken lightly (not that you are) and is not just a behavioral issue. There is something going on with her that needs further exploration.

Erin - posted on 07/17/2012

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Marsha, I am so sorry to hear of your troubles. I noticed you said most of the behavior problems started when you married her stepdad. What is his and your daughters relationship like? Is this at all discussed during therapy?

Please forgive me for being so bold but I was along the same lines as your daughter in my behavior. I was angry, sad, depressed, lashed out at everybody, and felt suicidal...I was also being molested by my brother. I am NOT saying your daughter is nor do I want you to jump to any conclusions. What I am saying is that there is clearly something in her life causing this behavior.

I pray you find the right help with the right people and get your family healthy

Marsha - posted on 07/17/2012

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I committed her when she mde the attempt....mostly because it came as a total shock and therefore I needed to know the whys of it and she can be selectively mute when emotional. The hospital didn't think she really needed to be there and once she spoke to the psychiatrist and I she was released and resumed councilling. Things are worse since then - I suspect she was sensing my reluctance to discipline her when she first got out and while she has threatened it once she hsn't followed through again. I do plan on getting her a big sister, which my sister suggested. She did have a big sister in our church but we moved out of the city 2 days ago.

Marsha - posted on 07/17/2012

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Thank you for your ideas and support. Sometimes a person just needs to know they are doing everything they can and that they are not alone.

Marsha - posted on 07/17/2012

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Thank you for your comments and prayers. She has always been a tantrum child and could scream for literally 3 hours a night for no apparent reason. There was a lull in this behavior but mostly it has remained consistent over the years. I have had her in councilling and several groups for anxious children. She has learned many strategies to help her cope. Some have helped others where not good fits. When she uses the strategies you can tell but like everything of this nature it requires practice to become automatic. We regularly go on mother daughter outings - movies, facials, pedicures, manicures, lunches, ,etc. Actually I was alternating weekends between the three kids and and the last weekend for me alone. She resents anytime I spend with either boy. In the beginning she was 3 when I married her stepdad and I believe that those tantrums and possibly these are at least partly due to residual feelings she has about the change in household. In retrospect I should have had her in councilling back then but I saw it as terrible 3s and then her temperament over the years. I do think things are worse now and that this is possibly due in part to hormones. Her psychiatrist wanted to medicate her but I am all too aware of the potentially dangerous side effects of meds (especially those under 18) and her intense dislike for swallowing any pill. I have elected to use natural meds that are in liquid form - this was not a decision taken lightly. When she made her suicide attempt and the police and I searched her room it was found that she had been hoarding the natural meds that were in a pill form.

Marsha - posted on 07/17/2012

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Thank you for your comments and prayers. She has always been a tantrum child and could scream for literally 3 hours a night for no apparent reason. There was a lull in this behavior but mostly it has remained consistent over the years. I have had her in councilling and several groups for anxious children. She has learned many strategies to help her cope. Some have helped others where not good fits. When she uses the strategies you can tell but like everything of this nature it requires practice to become automatic. We regularly go on mother daughter outings - movies, facials, pedicures, manicures, lunches, ,etc. Actually I was alternating weekends between the three kids and and the last weekend for me alone. She resents anytime I spend with either boy. In the beginning she was 3 when I married her stepdad and I believe that those tantrums and possibly these are at least partly due to residual feelings she has about the change in household. In retrospect I should have had her in councilling back then but I saw it as terrible 3s and then her temperament over the years. I do think things are worse now and that this is possibly due in part to hormones. Her psychiatrist wanted to medicate her but I am all too aware of the potentially dangerous side effects of meds (especially those under 18) and her intense dislike for swallowing any pill. I have elected to use natural meds that are in liquid form - this was not a decision taken lightly. When she made her suicide attempt and the police and I searched her room it was found that she had been hoarding the natural meds that were in a pill form.

Caroline - posted on 07/16/2012

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If her current therapist isn't helping her maybe you should try another. Therapists are just like any other professional, some have more experience than others, some specialize in kids. If she tried to commit suicide at 13 then there is probably a very real organic cause for her behavior, and the sooner you find out what that is the better.

Heather - posted on 07/16/2012

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If you daughter is a danger to herself or others she need to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. There she will get immediate help, which is something that counseling is not going to do. She may be hormonal, or she may need meds, but if you don't find out immediately you may not get the chance.

Ajanae - posted on 07/16/2012

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Doctors and councilers want to medicate the kids period i 2 was an out of control teen who my mother had absolutly no control over.i never had any brothers or sisters to beat up on but i trashed my house was very disrespectful and even threatened suicide before. I was jailed committed to a physc ward and even had a counciler. It further infuriated me that my mother thought a stranger knew about how i felt and how to deal with the problem better then she could. Maybe there is something actually wrong because it is a possiablity but try to just mostly listen to wat she has to say and how she feels just you and her maybe a mother daughter day thing . Take her out to do things that she likes and when you feel its a calm moment take the time to tell her how you love her and want to understand whats going on in her life.

Tina - posted on 07/16/2012

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Marsha - you should definitely not quit on her. Something is up - it could be just hormonal imbalance due to being a teenager - you don't mention if this is sudden or if she's been difficult all along. My thoughts are that she is being bullied or otherwise made to feel like she isn't worth living. If a teenager attempts suicide it's a cry for attention. Keep looking for therapists! Maybe a young female therapist - or something like Big Brother/ Big Sister.

Can you get coverage for the boys and steal away with her for the day? Maybe spending some time with her might give you some insight into her troubled soul. As for picking on her brothers - to me it seems almost like - they are the only people she has control over. - I would talk to teachers and find out what their take is too!

Marsha - posted on 07/16/2012

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I have been thinking its hormonal. She hasn't started her period yet but still. The problem is getting the blood work is a huge problem since she is MORTALLY afraid of needles.

Corinne - posted on 07/16/2012

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This sounds like my 16 year old. It was so bad that we admitted her to a psych ward and the doctors all told us she was bi-polar, but apart from the mood swings and depression, nothing else lined up. But she was cutting, she was constantly yelling at her siblings and made everyone's life a living hell, even with counselling. One day, the penny dropped for me - she was in a cycle, which is what made the doctor's think it was bi-polar but it was too regular to be bi-polar. Turns out it was hormonal. We have her on birth control and the difference is night and day. She has been on it now for 4 months and in that time we have seen no signs of depression, no cutting, minimal mood swings. I am amazed that our hormones can make us crazy like that (I don't have that problem so really didn't think my kids would either - boy was I wrong!) Talk to your doctor, it may be something as simple as putting her some kind of birth control.

Marsha - posted on 07/16/2012

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She does do counselling but has had only marginal progress on this front. Thanks for your response though.

Michelle - posted on 07/15/2012

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Have you thought of getting her to talk to someone? Obviously something is bothering her and she doesn't know how to sort it out. I would get her into some counceling ASAP.

It's a hard age with the puberty hormones raging through her body.

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