Advice with girls and adolescence


Hello, we have two daughters ages almost 9 and almost 12. The almost 12 is the one this question is about.
Past few months, especially these past couple months, she has become increasingly self-centered, critical of her sister, and not thoughtful of others. Maybe this is part of an oncoming phase? I am looking for any resources–books, online articles or videos–that can help me understand common emotional and social aspects of this age, as well as how for us to deal with them as parents.

If you can offer any advice, can you please send it this way!
I try to correct, guide, discipline when I see behaviors. I am not sure if I am doing enough or if I am micromanaging.
I would also love any resource on teaching virtues, hoping to help with this.

Thank you for aby advice you can give! :sunglasses:


The “All Things Girl” series from Teresa Tomeo is good, it is out of print but you can pick it up on Amazon.

Leah Darrow is a good resource


She is entering a phase of her development where she needs to define who she is apart from the family. This can be an ugly process. Keep the standards solid, and insist on civil behavior. Don’t worry about the emotions (whether she feels like being nice or friendly) but just the behavior. She can be as critical as she wants, but she needs to keep it to herself. If she can’t say something nice, she should say nothing.

She may be self centered and thoughtless, and you cannot expect her to be empathetic, but you can expect for her to behave in a polite and civil manner. If she does not , there need to be consequences.

You will all get through this!


I haven’t parented a teen yet, but I do remember being one. I think in addition to still being firm about expectations (my parents were better about this than many and I am so grateful now!) it’s as important as ever to maintain strong attachment to adolescents. Yes, they become more independent and interested in friends, but I think doing fun stuff together and bonding is just as if not more important. It’s much easier to reject the worst of peer culture if there’s a firm foundation of family to build on. So, don’t put up with the bad attitude, but still maintain open communication and trust and make sure she knows you love her.


Welcome to the teen years! While it is a phase they all go through, some seemingly more difficultly than others, there are things you can do to correct the behavior.

Explain the behavior you expect her to exhibit
Don’t allow the behavior you don’t like. Be careful with how you address the issues, i.e, reiterate that it’s the behavior you don’t like, not her.

If you haven’t already, teach your child(ren) the difference between being nice and being kind.

Nice is telling people what they want to hear whether it’s the truth or not.

Kindness is telling people what the need to hear, i.e., the truth.


Thank you, I really appreciate all the helpful tips. All good things to remember.

Little Lady, thank you for the book recommendations. I know something will be helpful from them–we have gone through a couple of the help books the past year or two from American Girl and those were good to read together–so I am looking forward to seeing what these are.

Guanophore, good insight and I like how you stated it honestly–it can be an ugly process. Good tip on focusing on behavior.

Pens, thanks for your first hand review, and the addition of staying attached as they also become independent.

Janet, interesting part on the difference of nice vs kind.

Thanks again, I will try to keep these in mind and mentally refer back to in times of stress!


Two more pieces of advice:

  1. Model the behaviour you expect. It’s not reasonable to expect our children to use their manners and treat others with respect if we don’t show them any. For example, you could say “Please come set the table”, rather than “Set the table NOW.”

  2. When she does exhibit positive behaviour, give lots of praise. Be specific. “I appreciate how you’re helping your sister with her homework. That’s very thoughtful of you.” “Thank you for bringing in the groceries. That was helpful.” I think it’s easy to scold children for poor behaviour, but it’s just as important (if not more) to provide positive reinforcement for positive behaviour. This way they see that you notice when they do something good, and it can be a good motivator.


Try the classic Get out of my life! but first, could you drive me and Cheryl to the Mall? by Anthony E. Wolf. Obviously good for both girls and boys. This book includes excellent advice on choosing your battles and how to run the campaign to win the war for the good.


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