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How do you teach a child the difference between them having power over their life and just plain defiance?

My grand-daughter, who we are raising, has been taught in school that she is in charge of her life and she has the power to do as she pleases. We have always told them that it's their choice whether they get good concequences or bad ones, whether natural or ones we have agreed on. Her grades have dropped from A&B's to C&D's, sticking to our program she has lost everything just about, no parties, nothing extra. We have people telling us we are unfair to her. Help!

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Asked by Anonymous at 5:17 PM on Jan. 9, 2009 in Tweens (9-12)

Answers (10)
  • All I can say is stay strong. But maybe there is something else going on.......have you talked to her counselor about it-I would talk to her school counselor and see if there are steps you all can take to get her grades up again.

    Answer by Tricia19 at 5:23 PM on Jan. 9, 2009

  • Have you found out why she is dropping in her grades. Ask her and find out why. Sometimes a little intervention might be necessary. If she is doing her best, then you can't ask for more than that. School is harder now that what it use to be. you are right about choices and how she controls her life, but, she has no control over what is being taught and how and if she is understanding it, etc. You need answers to her problems before you can fix it and taking al that away might make it worse, JMO

    Answer by Kat122 at 5:24 PM on Jan. 9, 2009

  • I'm going through something similar with my almost 11 year old son who defiance has not been an issue until 6 months ago. Thus, I am awaiting any other answers you get!!! I feel like we have taken everything away, sent him to saturday school and the lot but tjis is so far not a solution.....Julie

    Answer by mom2priceboys at 6:16 AM on Jan. 10, 2009

  • Perhaps you should re-visit your bad consequence list. The things that you are restricting or taking away she may not care about any longer. You know your child better than anyone else, but a consequence is ineffective if it is not modifying the behavior you would like to change.

    Ever so often I have to shake things up and change the bad consequences/punishments my children receive for their poor choices. While my children are a bit younger, age 8 and 5, I find because if I do this they go for longer stretches between real punishments, usually 4-6 months.

    I would suggest coming up with a different system and be creative. For example, my daughter has to have PB and J for lunch everyday rather than buying lunch at school. This works for her.

    Answer by Anonymous at 11:11 AM on Jan. 10, 2009

  • You answered your own question. You can not be defiant if you have power over your life. The fact that you are trying to teach her this lesson should tell you and her that she does not have power over her life, because she still relies on you to meet her needs and is still developing the skills she needs to become an adult.


    Answer by Anonymous at 11:17 AM on Jan. 10, 2009

  • Without knowing what the actual consequences are that are given it is impossible to know whether or not you are truly being unfair. One thing that sticks out to me is that you are her grandparents. At this age, no matter how long you have been raising her, grief and loss over not being parented by her mother and father often becomes an issue. I have seen a lot of children this age/stage who are hurt, confused, angry (no matter how much or little they know of the circumstances), and frustrated about their birthparents. Acting out, poor grades, talking back, defiance..all those things could also be the sign of depression. She may not even know why she is doing those things or who she really is upset at. Find a good counselor. Oh, and the school is right. She is in charge of her thoughts, feelings, and actions. But you are in charge of her care and safety. She needs that pointed out to her.


    Answer by frogdawg at 11:51 AM on Jan. 10, 2009

  • You are not unfair and this is one reason why we are homeschooling. Children at that age are NOT in control of their lives. And are no where ready to be in control. Stick with your discipline actions and stay consistant. You are still boss and you are still accountable for her actions. Stay strong and stick with it. That really is the problem now days people telling everyone else how they should do things. That is wrong. You have to do what is right for your family. Stay strong!

    Answer by Central_IL_Mom at 6:15 PM on Jan. 10, 2009

  • Set rules and consequences write them down talk over with her on your expectations.Post
    on refridgerator.Tell her she does have control over her life but their are consequences with that power.There are rules in life to abide by for the well being and safety of herself and those around her.You love her enough to set rules.However let her know she can come discuss with you but not DEBATE any issues she feels she needs to speak about and that you will listen and take in consideration if their can be a compromise on SOME of those issues.However tell her disrespect is not tolerated She is to respect her elders or immediate consequences follow.Be consistant.

    Answer by summerray5 at 7:28 PM on Jan. 10, 2009

  • It sounds like she is taking the school's message out of context and just concentrating on the doing what she pleases part.
    review your consequences and see if you are being too harsh. Otherwise, stick to your guns. Folks on the outside looking in don't always know better than you.

    BTW, we just returned our granddaughter to her mom after 3 years with us.

    Answer by mama_k228 at 1:16 AM on Jan. 11, 2009

  • Frogdawg is right..I was raised by my g-parents, & as a tween  I became defiant & rebellious. I was angry bcuz my  parents were not in my life. I took it out on my g-p's until they couldn't take it anymore & they sent me away. That only caused MORE problems, because I saw that as proof that I was unloveable. My own parents, & now my g-p's, threw me away. some of my misbehavior was a test to see if my grandparents would love me no matter what. This may be what's happening here.. try constant reassurance that no matter what, she is loved & will never be sent away. Kids have huge fears of abandonment, especially if they've been abandoned by their  parents. It makes them think "what's wrong with me? Why can't anyone love me?"


    Answer by Anonymous at 9:53 AM on Jan. 11, 2009

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