I recently told my 10-year-old daughter, “I love you”… and she just kept reading her book.
“Did you hear me?” I asked. “I said, ‘I love you!’ She didn’t look up but simply said, “Meow.”
She is turning into a teenager! She used to drop “I Love Yous” on us all the time, but lately has been much more withdrawn and distant. Sometimes it feels like she is a completely different person.
I’ve been studying the situation, and here’s what I’ve noticed:
1) She can be extra sensitive.
For example, she often ignores me when I ask her to do something. If I get annoyed and ask again a touch more loudly, she will say, “You don’t have to so mean about it!”
Recently we were picking up things in the room and she just wasn’t helping. When I asked her to please help, she left the room. A little while later, I found her in the bathroom crying. She said that I had yelled at her, and it made her sad.
I hadn’t yelled – but it made me realize that she is perceiving my actions through a strong filter. Even the smallest bit of annoyance feels like an emotional attack to her. Since then I’ve tried to be much more neutral in tone, but it is not easy. Sometimes it feels like if I breathe too close to her, she feels attacked.
2) She feels like she is constantly under attack.
It’s not just me. She told me a while ago that her brother is mean to her, so I’ve been watching very closely. Yes all siblings can be annoying at times, but mostly he gets frustrated over their chore split. He always walks the dog as agreed… but she rarely does the dishes. I overheard him asking her why she didn’t do the dishes, and she reacted to him the same way she reacts to me.
3) She has gotten less helpful around the house.
She was super helpful around the house when she was younger, but that little helper disappeared a few years ago. I googled it and apparently this happens to many kids around this age. I even have to cajole her into showering. Apparently this is also very common around this age. But it just feels like a nightly battle, and I’m exhausted.
Here’s my game plan for the next few weeks:
- Stop nagging. Easier said than done, but I will completely stop.
- Be much more neutral in tone.
- Check her health. One article said this sort of behavior might be a sign of female ADHD, which caught my eye because our son does show signs of ADHD. Will have to research this further.
- Check for other possible outside causes. My friend mentioned that her daughter also acted up around this age, but it was due to bullying at school. My daughter is doing online education through apps so there’s no bullying, but maybe there’s another outside cause I hadn’t considered.
I have had a strong relationship with my kids up until this started, so I am worried. If it’s like this when she’s a tweenager, what’s it going be like when she becomes a real teen!
Has anyone dealt with this and survived??