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How do I deal with a 12-year-old who is disrespectful and defiant?


​I have a 12-year-old daughter who is getting out of hand. She is rude, disrespectful, defiant, lies and says we are abusing her. We are at our wits end with her. She hits us and yells at us. Do you have anything that can help us?


Boys Town - Defiant child

We are glad you discovered our website and are reaching out. We can appreciate the frustration and concern you conveyed in your email. Reaching out is the brave and wise thing to do and we know it is not always easy.

You did not mention if this is traditional behavior for her, or if it is something that has developed recently. In any case, it seems as though outside intervention in the form of counseling with a therapist who works with children would be reasonable. We are glad you are addressing the issue now because, as you know, she is close to becoming a teen with more distractions and an even greater sense of her own of priorities.    

It is important that parents present a unified parenting approach. Often, parents need to meet to discuss and develop a plan both will commit to and support the other parent. This will be important to do as your daughter will likely present you with different challenges as time goes on and a change in your parenting may be indicated. Looking at our parenting approaches does not insinuate you are parenting wrong or are bad parents. You would not be reaching out if that was the case. We need to understand that if we keep thinking and doing the same things, things stay the same. Parenting classes can be very helpful in developing a cooperative approach.

Boys Town's parenting principles are at From the homepage you will actually see a link for Boys Town Parenting Principles. This will offer some insight toward pursing a behavior change in your daughter and reducing your parenting stress. Keep an open mind as you review the information; it is new information for most of us. 

For your daughter, there is a Boys Town website for teens:

From the homepage, she can visit with a counselor 24/7 through the Hotline, as well as texting. There is a library of articles in Tips/Tools which is a link at the top of the homepage. While this is a website for teens, parents find it helpful to work with their teen – and since your daughter is close to being a teen, you might want to do this.

Once again, we are glad you reached out tonight. We hope you will take advantage of the resources mentioned above.