combative preteen girls

How to Help Combative Pre-teen Girls

We asked our Instagram followers for their parenting questions, a few of which centered on helping kids navigate and talk about big feelings. Here is one of those questions, followed by insight from Uplift team members Amanda Suarez, school psychologist and certified conscious parenting coach, and Jon Ogden, curriculum designer and writer.

My pre-teen girls roll their eyes at me and contradict everything I say. What can I do?

Luckily, your child is right on time with the developmental tasks of individuating.

During childhood, kids are learning how to be part of a collective and conforming to the rules and expectations of the groups they belong to. Now is the time your child begins the important work of figuring out who they are as an autonomous being, separate and distinct from you. Try not to take it personally.

Start by noticing when your reaction is coming from a desire to defend your own ego. Do you want them to conform to your views just because they are your views? Or is it because you are helping them truly find wellbeing? (It might be a mix of both!)

Also notice when you are feeling reactive, fearful, or defensive of your pre-teen’s behavior. Notice the thoughts that come with reactivity, like, “I’m afraid I’m a bad parent” or “my child should respect me!” Are these thoughts constructive?

Uplift lessons that might help include respect, growing up, kindness, and social skills.

Often what teens need most is for someone to validate their individuality — while also helping them understand that there are healthy, kind, and respectful ways to go about it. So celebrate every time they do it right. Say, “I love seeing the person you are becoming” or “I saw the way you treated your classmate. What a kind thing to do!” or “You always share good ideas with your brother.”


Photo by Alex Green.