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11-Year-Old Girl Ignores Mother’s Instructions


I am a single mom of a good 11-year-old girl who is spreading her wings lately by pulling away from family influences and turning more to her friends. Here is a specific example of what I mean: I suffered from several severe sunburns while growing up. My siblings, my parents and I have all had skin cancer. So my daughters know the importance of wearing sunscreen. They have always worn SPF 50, and they have never had sunburns. 

Today my daughter went to the pool with her friends. She put on sunscreen before leaving the house except for the area where her swim top covers. She didn’t wear the top, and she came home with a burn on her shoulders, back and upper arms. 

How or what do you say when your child does the exact opposite of what you have told her to do, and as a result suffers a negative consequence? I don’t want to be an “I-told-you-so” mom.



You are right about her age being a time of demonstrating new independence.  This is a very tough time in parenting. You will see her make choices that are the opposite of what you have instructed her to do, and this is frustrating.

We encourage you to use this understandably sensitive issue as a teachable moment for you and your daughter. She has already earned her consequence – in this case a natural consequence – by getting sunburn. We hope this will be enough to prevent her from repeating her mistake. 

To make the most of this teaching moment, we encourage you to calmly explain why sun block is so important and that by choosing not to use it, she has earned a natural consequence. Then explain to her what she could have done differently. Ask her why, with the hope that she will take responsibility for her actions and be able to verbalize her understanding of what she did wrong.

With any defiant behavior in which your child does not follow your rules or instructions, there should be a consequence. It should be meaningful to your child, and the punishment should “fit the crime.” You shouldn’t ​overreact, as in grounding her for five years for not doing a chore. If you feel additional consequences must be earned for not following your instructions, these guidelines should help.