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Child Safety


Can you offer ideas on how to handle a rebellious preteen?

Question:
I have an 11-year-old daughter who is being very rebellious and doesn’t like to do what she’s told. I know I don’t spend a lot of time with her any more (because of my work). How do I handle this situation?

Answer:
First, let’s be sure this is a real problem, because it looks to me more like a mixed blessing. For many parents, the least popular feature of their children is defiance. Yet it is one of the most important for safety. If defiance is always met with discipline and never with discussion, that can handicap a child. Many years ago, the first time your daughter asserted her will may have been cause for celebration, not castigation, for she was building the courage to resist. If as a teenager, she never tests her defiance on you, she may well be unable to use it on a predator. So, she has something right now that many young women and adult women never acquire - and it needs to be protected. This is not to say you shouldn’t address her behavior, but just that it includes some good as well as some bad. Also, as is often the case, part of your answer was embedded in your question: You acknowledged that you don’t spend as much time with your daughter as you’d like.

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