Teenage Daughter Is Acting Out

Dear Sara,

My daughter has been suspended from school three times for not going to detention when she was supposed to. She failed several classes and can’t get along with her teachers. She can do the work but just refuses to do it. She said that she gets mad when somebody orders her around. She’s sixteen now and I was hoping that she would grow up a little bit and be more cooperative. What can her father and I do to make her improve her behavior?

At home make sure there are consequences for not doing her school work like not getting to go out on weekends and rewards when she is cooperative. If she behaves she can have something that she wants like driving lessons or new clothes. These things are dependent on having good grades and being cooperative in school. Be consistent and keep in touch with her teachers to make sure she is doing her work.

It sounds like you need to try some family therapy to get to the bottom of your daughter’s behavior. She might also benefit from some group therapy with teens with similar problems.


  1. Robin Hubbard says:

    I don’t know what your rules are but life is ALL about cooperation, doing what is expected of you and all of that. Maybe a job where she gets paid to do what the boss tells her to do. But, seeing it as being “ordered around” is the real problem that needs to be discussed and removed from her thought processes. Traffic laws are not “suggestions” but are really orders put in place by government that we all obey or someone can die. She does not seem to associate good things with following the rules or bad things with willfully disobeying the rules. So, you need to show her the advantages of it and that living in your home, in your community, in your state and country. And discuss why people go to jail, are fined and the millions of other things that happen when you do not follow rules.

    And, on the other hand, you need to have serious discussions with her about completing class work and if she finds them so easy, then you will get her into more challenging classes. It is possible that her defiance is really because she does not understand the work or some other issue like poor reading skills. And, teens need a lot of sleep but many burn the candle at both ends and it can cause behavior like you describe. And, do you have rules that she follows? If so, then you need to equate that to the world in general. If not, if she does things if and when she “feels like it”, then she is getting away with it at home and has extended the bad habits to everything and that needs to change.

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