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Syndicated column from The Parent Institute

[JUNE 15, 2006]  Q: My daughter is 8 years old. Lately she has been very disrespectful to me and others -- at home and at school. She becomes angry when she doesn't get her way. I'm afraid she's going to get into trouble at school and her grades will suffer. What can I do?

A: Most children get angry or disrespectful once in a while. But some children become preoccupied with fighting and arguing with their parents, their teachers and the rest of the world. If your daughter has recently started showing angry or defiant behavior, think about what's changed in her life. Has there been a change in your family situation? Could there be a problem at school? Consider the following:

  • Set some limits on what you will -- and won't -- allow. You cannot change your child's feelings, but you can change her behavior. You need to set up clear consequences if your daughter acts out when she's angry or acts in a way that is disrespectful. For example, you might say, "You may not hit. The first time you hit someone, you will have to go to your room. The second time you hit, you will lose your TV privileges for one day."

  • Try restricting what your daughter watches on television. Watching too much violence on television, according to some experts, can make children more aggressive and defiant.

  • Don't worry that your consequences aren't strict enough. Consistency is more important. Sending your daughter to her room for five minutes may be as effective as sending her there for an hour. Make your consequences reasonable, and then apply them -- every time.

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  • Don't fight fire with fire. If your child is angry with you, it's hard to stay calm. But learning to manage your own angry response is the first step in teaching your child how to deal with anger in a positive way.

  • If your daughter is frequently so angry that it is disrupting family life, consider professional help. Check with your school counselor, doctor or local mental health center for resources in your community.

When your child misbehaves, she needs to know that you still love her -- even though you don't love her behavior. The good news is that the same qualities that make a disrespectful, angry child difficult to live with now may also make her a success later in life. Your job is to help her channel that energy, persistence and strong will in constructive ways.

[The Parent Institute]

For more information about helping children learn or to submit your own question, go to All questions will receive a prompt answer by e-mail.

Copyright 2006, The Parent Institute

"Ask the Learning Advisor -- Ideas for Raising Successful Children" is a free, syndicated column from the Parent Institute.

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