What to do with a 15 yr old girl?

Stephanie - posted on 03/01/2010 ( 20 moms have responded )

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My husband and I have custody of my 15 year old sister, she been with us for almost a year now, It has been extremely difficult for us because we also have 4 young children of our own. She is in a new school this year, niether one of her parents is really involved in her life at all and the home she had for 7 years just gave her away. At her last school she was failing everything and barely passed the 7th grade. She was doing very well in her new school at first, she even made the honor roll the first marking period, then bam! She's failing her classes, not doing homework, being totally disrepectful to me. I have to repeatedly ask her to do anything, shes lieing about having homework and has no resect for anything or how much things cost. We are realistic, we know shes had a rough life and has some issues. All we've asked is that she do good in school, and do the 1 chore she has. We have grounded her from her cell phone, internet, computer, going anywhere, videogames, pretty much everything as of now she is grounded from all of the above. Yet, shes just become more rude to me and is now failing another class. We don't know what to do at this point, if you have any ideas please, we need help!?

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Brandy - posted on 03/10/2010

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Sounds like a normal teenager to me. I am dealing with all the same things with my son. He was always a perfect kid until Jr. High and girls. We took everything away from him also but I also took his room away from him unless he is going to bed for the night. He can read, do homework, watch what I am watching on tv, or his sports. Phones, computers, etc are not a necessity they are a privledge. Instead of giving her a set time of being grounded tell her you are taking this stuff away and she may EARN it back by her actions. My mom did this with me when I was a teen and it works really well. They kiss butt to get what they want back. You are an amazing woman to give your sister a home and treat her as your own. Hang in their. You will reap the rewards when she is an adult and realizes how special you are.

Ali - posted on 03/09/2010

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I just wanted to add that I believe that kids want to do well but they lack the ability to do so whether it be their emotional baggage, their fears or a billion other things. They need to learn the skills or tools to be able to do well with or without baggage. Also, kids will tune you out or feel worse about themself if they continue to hear the negative so I disagree with the statement " Maybe ask her if she thinks she would be good at doing a struggling criminal's job? When she asks why tell her that's the only job she gets if she don't get an education." those kind of statements will not go anywhere and I am guessing she has already heard alot of negative in her life. I do believe in consequences but I also believe in building on strengths and drawing attention to the good that one does...positive reinforcement. If kids lacked the attention they needed, they will seek out any attention even if it is negative reinforcement. Even though she is now in a positive environment that is what she knows. I also believe that sometimes it only takes one person to change a persons life, one person that believes in them and can reach them. If you are able to even get a mentor involved that could prove to be helpful as well. Also have the school counselor at school check in with her on a weekly basis.

[deleted account]

These are all very good ideas,(except the one who says "give" her back her stuff,I wonder how many kids they have raised,I've raised several ) I agree you are doing a wonderful thing, but hearing that doesn't really help, my husband and I adopted 2 babies, one is 15 and doing almost identical things, if we weren't in counciling, I'd go bonkers, We love our dear girl more than life itself, and she continues to sabotage everything, it's frustrating, but somehow we get through , , my heart goes out to you.

Ali - posted on 03/07/2010

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First of all, she was in the honeymoon period when she came to live with you and that is why she did so well. I have worked with kids in foster care and that is often the case when they are first placed into a new home. My guess is she struggles with abandonment issues and needs counseling, however if you and your husband attended with her that would likely be more successful. But change occurs over time, and sometimes that time is really long depending on how much baggage the kid has brought with them. However, i am assuming she may have already had some counseling at some point if she has gone through what she has gone through. Often times kids dont know or fully comprehend why they do the things they do and can't put it into words. My guess is that she is testing, whether consciously or subconsciously and probably gathers that if she is bad enough, you will leave her too. My guess also is that her lying and some of the other behaviors are coping mechanisms. SHe also may have such deep emotional issues that she can't do well in school. She may have alot of underlying fears. Some kids don't know how to function with a "nornal" life. Many adults don't either. They need chaos in order for them to feel normal and it is working with them to find a new normal. She also likely has major trust issues and is afraid to get close to you and your family because of her her fears of being let down. Sometimes it is difficult to find a good therapist but one that she can connect with is ultimately what may help. Good luck to you but she needs someone in her life to always be there and be consistent and prove that to her.

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Adele - posted on 10/22/2013

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I laugh when my daughter says she needs a break?? I need a years break from what I go through daily with her. I just want to scream!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am reading different comments and advise about teenagers but just want to know will it ever end the behaviour?? there is no respect at all...you bend backwards and still get a grunt when you ask for something to be done.....

Sylvia - posted on 03/13/2010

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I wish you all the best you have taken on a very difficult job. At about this age my daughter was often ready to eat me without salt. I found doing the unexpected with a funny twist had a very calming effect switching on a CD with songs like Nude Boot Scooting, or poems like Turbulence We would go from fire brand to shock horror mum how could you to doubled with laughter to calm and sensible. Drop this in on an irregular well spaced occasions. Another approach that worked on selected occasions I'd like you to think about this if you wish to talk about it fine if not also fine you are now almost old enough to have your own baby girl how would you feel if you were the mum in this situation. Remember to tell her that you love her no matter how you feel about her behaviour. All the best may all go well.

Lee - posted on 03/11/2010

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I have to say I agree with Jenny, give her back her things. I would keep an eye on the internet use but like she said make your home a haven. Raising 15 year old girls is not easy I raised "2". There were days I wanted to just scream and pull my hair out. We went for counseling and the counselor told us her behavior (our oldest) was normal for that age. Unfortunately for your sister on top of being 15 she's got the rest to deal with so counseling may help a lot. But again if she refuses you cannot force her. You might want to ask the school if there is anyone (in the upper grades) who would be willing to tutor her in the subject she is failing. Most seniors and some juniors do this (tutor) to put on their applications for college so it is free and does help. I know it is hard but she must always know that you love her no matter what she says or does. She has not had very many people in her young life it seems make her feel this way or that she can depend on. " Unconditional love" it works. By the way both my girls made it through their teen years and I still have my voice and a full head of hair. Good luck you can do this.

Heather - posted on 03/11/2010

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Okay as a 17 year old who was a bit, okay a lot, out of hand around that age I can give you some advice on what my mom did. The more my mom made me feel trapped the more I rebelled. Try giving her space. She's a teenager and more than likely just wants to experience things. There was times when my mom wouldn't let me do anything and she watched me really close and behind her back for 4 years (started when I was 11) I smoked, drank, did drugs, messed around wih boys (that was more when i was 15). She never took away my cellphone the computer videogames or any of that stuff because she knew it would make me want to act out more because it would make me mad. She may feel betrayal from her parents and the last home she was in. Remind her everyday how much you love her. If she has tests or anything like that coming up always wish her luck and make her feel really special and important. I know one of the reasons i rebelled was because I have an older brother who needs more of my moms attention and she worked full time so i felt left out. Plus I've never really felt much love coming from the rest of my family. Don't yell at her and freak out on her because she'll do it more. Talk calmly (as hard as it may be) about what could happen if she does something. Another thing is she may be looking for that negative reaction. Because in her eyes its still attention. I say back off a bit and let her mess up a bit. I mean like let her learn from her mistakes. And as bad as you dont want her to fail don't get really mad if she does because it may make her feel useless and make her not want to try. Just remember she can always repeat a course which sure it will hold her back a bit for going to college but it will let her learn. And the more space you give her the more bored she'll get with doing what she is. But the main thing is dont get mad at her bad stuff stay calm with her, remind her you love her, and be really encouraging towards her good behaviour.

Jessica - posted on 03/11/2010

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She probably has alot "going on inside" considering what's happened. Her honor roll status says to me that she WANTS to do good but has given up. Something obviously happened but we don't know what. I'd ventur to say she has extremely low self-esteem. Her parents aren't involved in her life and the home she was in the last 7 yrs gave her up - in her mind she may be thinking/feeling, "Nobody wants me. What's the point?" Punishment has to happen, she has to learn that there are consequences to one's decisions and/or actions - good, bad or indifferent. In addition to the church youth group suggestion (which I am in total agreement with - she needs to feel like she is part of something, has a purpose other than to simply exist), some counseling would not be a bad idea. Kids will sometimes open up to a total stranger than to someone they know but they're quick. They will know if someone doesn't care and is using them for a paycheck. Find someone that COUNSELS and has experience with teens. She doesn't need meds, she needs a friend. Good luck honey...

Danielle - posted on 03/11/2010

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You could also try reverse psychology. Also, at her age if she went to counselling & kids found out they might tease her about it, even though it's completely normal but all kids see is, 'oh she's seeing a therapist? then she must be a psycho'..know what I mean? And you know maybe she isn't used to being cared about the way you seem to be looking out for her & she doesn't know how to take it in. Maybe even try just you and her going out doing something she likes a few times & get her to warm up to you & she may tell you what's going on.

Rose - posted on 03/11/2010

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Stephanie,
Do you go to church, if so does your church have a good youth leader and youth group? If your Church does have a good youth group try and get her interested in it, you may not see a change right away but it will make a difference. She needs the feeling of belonging to something and being worthy and useful. What are her interest, are any of her interest the same as yours, if so try doing things just the two of you. You are her older sister and that is part of the rebellion she is going through, she probably tells you, 'Your not my Mother!" or should I say screams this at you. You are doing the right thing by grounding her from all you mentioned until she brings up her grades. Even if she brings her grade up one mark, reward her with maybe the video games and work up from there. As you said the home she was in before gave up on her and just gave her away after 7 years. She probably feels you will do the same (she probably has low self esteem and the feeling of no self worth), she has not had a stable home life from what I read between the lines and is trying to deal with too many issues being 15 and her past. She is probably wondering what she did wrong for her parents not to show any interest in her. I know this is no excuse for her actions, and I feel you do take this into consideration. Her peer pressure is working on her also, I think we all remember what that is like. I hope some of this will be helpful for you, I will put you both on my prayer list. May God bless you and give you wisdom.

Rose

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I agree with Becci: pick your battles! Teenagers will paint themselves into a corner and then have no idea how to fix things. Might be important to guide her rather than be the "enforcer" in your situation.
Sorry, but I have 4 kids, and what worked for one didn't necessarily work for another one, and equally, age appropriate and behaviour appropriate responses are priceless. One thing that worked for my older two was to create a "behaviour contract". In the contract we were addressing a 7-day period. Beginning on Monday, we tallied any breaches of 5 rules that the child picks themselves. Perhaps those are 1.) use of common courtesies (please, thank you) 2.) daily/weekly chores completed (help with dishes, trash out, making bed etc) 3.) do homework after school, 4.) following general household rules (no tv after 9PM, no food in the bedroom etc) 5.) respond and act when asked the first time.
I seemed to get a better response when my girls chose these, as opposed to me choosing.

You must also let the child set the consequences... first offense lose cel phone for a day, 2nd offense, early bed time... you get the idea.

Once the child offends through a maximum of 5 times, you all have to sit down together and cover things... it gets them involved in what nis happening after all, they set these rules, AND the consequences. You can then set up a "second chance" scenario, or let them suffer the consequences. Things are always reset on Sunday. That way thyey still have a weekend day to start over before facing antoher week.

Good luck... I'm sure you'll find the right path. This set up really did work well for us!

Becci - posted on 03/09/2010

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Pick your battles. Make sure its a life and death issue. That may help with keeping things a little calmer at home. Try to be consistant in all your rules, but give her a chance to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes and at least if she makes them now, you will be there to help pick up the pieces.

Anne - posted on 03/09/2010

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I have no idea what you should do but I just want to say "Wow" and you are amazing. Keep up the good work...it sounds like you really care about her. Just let her know that you think she is amazing too and that you are glad she is with you. Maybe try to make some time for the 2 of you so she feels like she is important too. Good luck and way to go.

Eileen - posted on 03/08/2010

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It sounds like you are trying very hard. Taking her to counsiling/therapy is a wonderful idea. In the mean time, have you tried little notes? Just put a little card under her door, or in her room once in a while. Just something that says you love her and are willing to listen anytime she wants to talk. Try a coupon for a sisters only coffee shop run. I am sure with all that has happened, she has developed a way to not be hurt. She is in pain and doesn't want to be hurt again, so she does things to keep from letting her guard down and allowing herself to be let down again. She may be negative about it at first, but as long as you don't give in and keep letting her know you are not going to turn you back on her she will come around. She just needs to know that you will be there when she needs you. Trusting somebody after being let down by others is a very hard thing to do. You are a great sister for taking her in.

Jacqueline - posted on 03/07/2010

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Even though my children are young because of circumstances and the associated behaviours I insisted on counseling - indirectly most of this is done due to age but it's working - I have no answers but, I will say that even if ultimately the counseling you feel helps you more than her to start with it will be worth it.

You're an amazing family - never forget that - and I am sure you know that being in there for the long haul will one day be something she is thankful for - though not maybe until she has children of her own - Take Care of yourselves get someone in and take a night out even if it's coffee at macDonalds once every 2 months - you both need it.

Jenny - posted on 03/07/2010

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Give her her cell phone, internet, computer, outings, and video games back. Treat her as if the things that matter to her, matter to you too. If those are things she cares about, then be kind and give them back. Help her with her homework and dealing with school. Make your home a sanctuary of peace, something that she's desperately needing. Take the expectations of school performance out of the equation of whether or not she is a good person.

If I were her and you'd taken away all the things I cared about, I'd be rude too. Only do counseling if she's willing, otherwise it won't do much good, kids who are forced into counseling often don't confide in their counselors. She's stone walling. Don't be a wall, be a soft landing.

Stephanie - posted on 03/04/2010

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I know shes not doing drugs or having sex, she is ALWAYS supervised. We are in the process of getting her into counseling, we have to wait for the referral from the insurance company. We try really hard to make sure she doesn't feel like a burden, she's in cheer and does other sports as well. It has been a strain on us financially but we tell her that we are happy she's here and want her to be happy. I think maybe your right about the testing thing, it makes sense because it seems that everytime things get tough the people she cares about give up on her, or thats how she sees it. I guees we just need to stand our ground and keep pushing her to do the best she can. Thanks for your thoughts. This is all new to us and we aren't always sure we are doing things the right way.

Kathy - posted on 03/03/2010

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It almost sounds like she is testing you guys. Maybe she is seiing if you will stand by her no matter how bad she is. Also I would agree that she probably would benefit from counseling. I would even suggest drug testing her. Sounds extreme but drugs can lead a honor student to fail and become disrespectful. A checkup with the doctor with blood work-have the doc through in a drug test without her knowing. Check into counseling. Stnad your ground on the rules and continue to show her the love and the strength that she so desperetly needs. You and your husband are wonderful people for stepping in and giving her that chance to become a strong, healthy adult that she can be.

Amanda - posted on 03/03/2010

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wow...that is a tough one. the best advice i have to give is Have you considered putting her in counseling? She may buck it and resent it at first, but there may be something bothering her that she feels like she can't talk to you about. Especially since you have other young ones, she might be feeling more like a burden herself. Also at 15, is there any possibility of a boyfriend and sex? That seems to be a common reason for changes in attitude and falling grades. I hope this helps, sorry its all i can do.

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