By Dr. Joseph Gianesin, Behavioral Consultant
My daughter does very well in school but is not interested in anything anyone else wants to teach her, including myself. In any conversation she disconnects
and simply does not listen. She's also very stubborn when I try to help her with homework.
You have described characteristics of many pre-adolescents. Fifth-grade girls mature very quickly, and some move into the pre-adolescent phase of striving for independence early, and as a colleague of mine used to say, "They get the big feeling." This translates into a form of narcissism. Everything centers around them, they have difficulty listening to others, and when spoken to, they often roll their eyes barely tolerating your very presence. This is fairly typical behavior of this age group.
I would suggest that you find activities that you and your daughter have in
common, and communicate and establish a relationship with her in a less stressful situation than doing homework. Developing a rapport in a non-stressful interaction will build trust for those difficult times that will likely occur in the near future.
The parents most successful in dealing with homework are those who offer to assist when asked by the child. This puts the control in the hands of the child and creates a situation to ask on an "as needed" basis. If and when your child does ask for help, be sure to be non-judgmental in your approach. For example, you might frame your thoughts this way if she has done a poor job with her homework: "You have a unique method of attacking this problem. I might view solving this problem by......."
Using "I" messages rather than "you" messages breaks down the barriers and leaves the door open for future communication.
Here are some suggestions regarding homework:
Your daughter is transitioning into the world of adolescence. Be careful to pick your battles, but set firm and consistent boundaries and rules for her. As she moves into adolescence, her independent attitude will likely get worse initially. As she matures, she will reconnect with you. These can be very trying times, but a great deal of patience and firmness will prepare her to be a wonderful adult. I always recommend that mothers with a daughter this age read Mary Pipher's book, Reviving Ophelia. It provides an eye-opening look at the everyday dangers of being young and female, and the way adults, especially mothers, can help.
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.
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