By John Rosemond
---- — Q: Our 13-year-old daughter has a very bad attitude, mostly when it comes to our family. She stays in her room most of the time, reading, and only participates in family activities if we force her, and then she does her best to make life miserable for the rest of us. Unfortunately, she usually succeeds. The incredible thing is that her teachers, coaches and friend's parents all love her. They constantly rave about how helpful and personable and mature for her age she is. That frustrates us even more. We've tried everything under the sun to reach her, but to no avail. Help!
A: I guarantee that you have not tried everything. Furthermore, I can all but guarantee that what I am going to recommend will bring her out of her room and transform her into the personable, helpful, mature individual she is obviously capable of being.
Obviously there is no real problem here. Your daughter simply has too much time on her hands. With this excess of time, she thinks about herself and conjures up reasons why her misery at being your daughter is justified. It never crosses her mind that she has never had to want for food, clothing, medical care, heat in the winter, air conditioning in the summer, free vacations, and so on.
You can exorcise her inner brat — drive it far from your home, never to be seen again — by simply taking her door off her room. Picture the shock when she comes home from school one day to find that her private sanctum is now a very public sanctum. No doubt, her pet demon will cause her to rant and rave for some time before it packs its bags and leaves to find more suitable habitation.
When the ranting and raving has subsided, simply tell her that when the real daughter that you love and cherish comes out of hiding and begins to act like a respectful, grateful person, her door will be restored. But do not let her jerk you around about this. Tell her that to be sure your real daughter is back, she must act like your real daughter for at least a month.
Let me assure you that it won't be long before her door is back on her room. This is the best and cheapest therapy your daughter will ever have.
Family psychologist John Rosemond: www.johnrosemond.com