Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Preteens – Dot is bored and I don’t know what to do

Dot when she was easier to handle

I’m at a bit of a loss parenting-wise. I know being a parent is hard work – and children don’t come with a manual for how to get it right – but this time, coming up to her 12th birthday, seems to me to be the hardest bit so far.

Her terrible twos were terrible and her troublesome threes none the less so. She has always been very strong willed and I didn’t cope so well with the toddler years – the tantrums, screaming and all that comes with them. When they’re that age though you can scoop them up and carry them away with you to wherever it is you want to go and they don’t. You can’t do that when they’re almost teenagers.

Dot is very nearly as tall as I am, she is healthy and strong – and if she doesn’t want to do something how in the hell do I get her to do it? Add hormones into the mix and I’m on a hiding to nothing.

She’s bored – school is boring, her creative writing club is boring, lessons are boring. She decided she wasn’t going to school this morning because she has maths and geography and – yes, that’s right, they’re boring.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had this refusal to go to school and it is becoming more frequent. I have tried reasoning with her, ended up shouting at her, grounding her, taking away her computer/DS/XBox/tablet privileges. So far, eventually, I’ve got her there. But what happens the day none of that works?

We came close this morning I think. I didn’t lose my temper I’m glad to say. I did reason with her and at several points I thought I was getting through, then the tears came – hers. After the crying the stubbornness and point blank refusal to go. I threatened to ring the school and tell them she refused to attend and I tried to explain to her what the results of that phone call could be  – meetings with the head, possible intervention by education officials...

I have no idea if that would happen, but I don’t want to get to the point of finding out.

She is growing up, but at the same time she’s still a little girl. Her mood is all over the place and I know that’s because of puberty. She doesn’t need me as much, but doesn’t realise how much she still does need me. There’s a lot of upheaval at home at the moment also, which doesn’t help and which is affecting her. But despite all of this, she still has to go to school.

So as I said, I’m at a bit of a loss…

If you have children of a similar age or older, are you having or did you have the same issues we are having and if so, how did you cope with the situation? Am I worrying about nothing? I want somebody to tell me it will all be alright in the end. I’m very conscious this is a vulnerable time for Dot and I want to get it right – but I don’t know what to do for the best much of the time.


  1. Hi - I have a 13 year old, who has her moments. I don't have the answers, I can only tell you what I do.
    1) The first thing I believe in is SPORT - kids need to do it at least 3 times a week for a minimum of 1 hour each time. Kids need to release the frustration they have inside.
    2)I don't give in. It often takes ages, but I have learnt not to negotiate. My child psychologist friend says once you give in, you lose the ability to win, cos they know they broke you once, they can do it again.
    3)I feed them NO junk food. they have junk food once a week, and only on weekends, not when they have to concentrate at school. Food seriously affects moods.
    4)I let them have a 'chill half hour' directly after arriving back from school. Then we structure what else needs to be done.
    5) Routine - kids need to structure their day. It gives them a sense of control. Most of the time they feel totally out of control and this helps them a lot.
    6) allow them to make some decisions (with guidance) of their own on when they do homework (6pm or 7pm) and how to structure the day - then they feel more in control.
    7)when the tantrum happens - I walk away till the are calm and can talk rationally.
    8) homeopathic Rescue Remedy helps sometimes, but I only offer it on REALLY bad days. Pills are NOT the answer.

    Hope that helps! It works for us, not sure if it'll work for you but some may be worth a shot!

    1. Thank Mum In Awe. I know I really must not give in, but I admit I do so at times, it's something I need to work on. Walking away during a tantrum is also something I try to do, but boy at times it is impossible not to retaliate. I like your idea of a chill half hour and of letting her have a say in decisions, I will be implementing that from next week once things are hopefully back to normal.

      There is an update on our latest argument about school - it turns out she has tonsilitis, so though she was at school on Wednesday, she has been home yesterday and today, and her illness could explain her bad temper as she must not have been feeling 100% on Wednesday. Being ill also means she wants her mum so she has been very cuddly and not a stroppy preteen at all. I love it when we are close, I hope I can find a way through so we can continue to be so and the silly arguments just go away. Thanks for your advice. xx

  2. Could someone be bullying her at school? Pre teens don't like to admit to classmates causing trouble but it can really affect them. Worth finding out. I would speak to the teacher and find out if they are aware of any problems at school too. Try to be on her side, some kids can feel life is against them at this age with hormones and she needs to feel you are on her side. Above all make sure she knows you love her and are there for her, that between you you need to sort whatever it is causing school to be "boring". I had a boy who had a tough time in year 6, a teenager before his time. She will come round with support so just be there for her.

    1. I don't think there's any bullying going on - I have asked her and we had parents evening last week and no problems came up there, in fact her teachers all said she was a delight in class and worked really hard (very proud mum!)I think Dot is a teenager before her time also, she is so advanced in many ways, physically and mentally, and I don't think it's doing her any favours. I hope she knows I love her more than anything, and she does talk to me about stuff that happens with friends and stuff that's bothering her, though perhaps not as often as I'd like. I know that at times she feels I'm not on her side - I can tell that from things she says during arguments. I guess the answer is to keep on with what I'm doing and hope things will sort themselves out. As I mentioned to Mum In Awe, it turns out Dot has tonsilitis so Wednesday morning's row could have been caused to a great extent by her not feeling well. Thank you for your advice, it is much appreciated. xx

  3. Oh my word, this sounds just like me! I have two girls - one 13 and the other 11. It's the 11 year old I have trouble with. She, like your daughter, is strong-willed and I can see this getting more and more difficult. She has done the whole defiance thing, although not over school as yet. I'm not sure that you will come up with a strategy for this, as Fiona from Coombe Mill says, it's probably worth contacting the school/her form tutor, to have a chat about her "boredom". Maybe you threatening to do this, will be enough! Have you tried having a 'chat' with her at the end of the day, when things have calmed down a bit, to work out what's going on in her head/heart? It's so hard, I know. I'm actually seeking help form the Parent School Advisor for me daughter at the moment, she is still in year 6 at Primary but about to leave. I know they have these people in Secondary Schools too. Is it worth contacting? She has been an invaluable sounding board for me :) Good luck x

    1. I am so glad I'm not alone in this, thank you for commenting. I will check to see whether there's a parent school advisor at Dot's school I could talk to and yes, talking to her teacher about her boredom is a good idea. I know from the parent's evening last week there are no problems at school (well as much as I can know, I don't think she's hiding anything from me), but perhaps there's something they can suggest. Chatting to her works sometimes, but not others, depending on her mood. I do try to talk to her about life, problems, school and friends, but unfortunately I'm embarassing mum at the moment, who lived in the time of the dinosaurs and has absolutely no idea about life, how could I, I've never been young and never been through what she's going through (that's Dot's view of course, not mine). It makes me smile to realise she thinks I've never been through teen angst, much as my mam used to do when I was Dot's age). The situation has improved since Wednesday and we haven't had any further rows. She has tonsilitis so is feeling sorry for herself and being all cuddly, it feels good to be needed again, though of course I wish her better quickly.

    2. Hi Suzanne, sorry, I meant to say that I hope you work it out with your daughter too. It's a difficult age for them and us, but we will get there in the end I'm sure. xx

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