Need help with problem almost 13 year old girl
Im not a foster or adoptive parent, but my husbandҒs cousins daughter may need to come live with us full-time. She has some very difficult behavior problems and IҒm completely unprepared on how to deal with them. I hope any foster parents on here might be more experienced with kids with these types of problems or any recommendations for books or other forums.

A little background: My husbands cousinҒs daughter (for short, Ill call her my cousin, but thatҒs how were related) is 12, soon to be 13. SheҒs been living with her grandmother (my husbands aunt) for about 6 months. Her mother is serving 3 years in prison, her dad (my husbandҒs cousin) struggles with mental illness and substance abuse problems.

Her grandma is dealing with a serious illness that is getting progressively worse. My husband and I live in the same town so weve been trying to help her since the girl is causing so difficult and causing so many problems. I guess you could say we are doing respite care. We babysit some afternoons and have her some nights to give her grandmother a break and to see how things would go with her living with us - which IҒll admit is not good.

Nothing has an impact on the girls behavior. Her grandma has tried behavior charts, reward systems, positive reinforcement, getting tough. She doesnҒt listen to my husband and I either and we feel as if we have absolutely no control over anything she does.

The behavior problems keep escalating. Money has disappeared from her grandmas purse. She lies. She acts as if she canҒt hear you when you ask her to do things. She has cussed out just about everyone, including me, her grandmother and my 4 year old daughter. She has developed the habit while at our house of going downstairs while were asleep and watching tv.

IҒve been looking through every book I can find on how to deal with these types of discipline problems and cant find any solutions that are going to work. IҒve downloaded Parenting with Love & Logic, The Connected Child and Raising Kids Who Refuse to be Raised on my Kindle, but Im not sure any offer a solution that will work for my cousin.

A lot of parenting books are geared more for younger kids. But sheҒs not a teenager either. These books also are more for parents or adoptive parents. She also gets very defensive about anyone acting like her mom or trying to replace her mom. She is very clear that she doesnt want anyone to act like a parent towards her and I donҒt want to replace her mom either.

Theres nothing to take away or use as leverage. She doesnҒt have a cellphone or Facebook account. She doesnt play video games. She doesnҒt have any friends or ask us to take her places like the mall or to parties. She doesnt want to do any activities at school. She doesnҒt care about clothes or makeup. She uses the internet to email her mom, but doesnt care if she doesnҒt have internet access otherwise.

She doesnt listen to what we say nor does she care about natural consequences. She doesnҒt ask us for anything. If theres something he does want, she does behind our backs and does whatever she wants or steals.

SheҒs been given the opportunity earn anything she wants as a reward for good behavior but that hasnt worked as motivation.

We canҒt figure out how to discipline her. She ignores what we say. Getting her to do chores is next to impossible, so doing something as punishment hasnt worked. ThereҒs nothing to take away.

She is seeing a therapist, but there are a lot of issues, mainly related to her mom, and her therapist hasnt been helpful in providing solutions for behavior problems. We understand it's going to take time, but things are getting worse not better.

IҒm very concerned that I have no ability to handle an almost-teen with these problems and what will happen to her if her grandmas illness gets to the point where she canҒt care for her. Were the only close family in this area.

If we wonҒt take her and her grandmother is to ill to take care of her, then shes going to end up in foster care. I know there are great foster parents out there, but there is also bad ones and her grandma especially is very fearful of what will happen if a relative canҒt take her for her. But I dont think I can deal with her behavior and I am afraid of the impact she will have on my two daughters.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
Honsetly, I would tell you that maybe foster care is what is needed in this case. (yes, I'm a foster parent who loves taking teens). I say that because if I were in your place and had young children, I would think about how having a teen with the behavior problems you have given, would effect my little ones. You have already had her there and tried to enact some control, but it isn't working because there appears to be nothing she cares about so a reward/consequences system doesn't work. I am surprised her therapist hasn't been helpful either. If you haven't done so, perhaps a sit down with the therapist would give you an opportunity to really explain what is going on and what help you need to help her. Be very clear about the fact that without some help for her behavior, she is headed for foster care as there isn't anyone else to take her. Is she on any medications? Has she been evaluated for depression or any mental illnesses? (considering her father has them and perhaps her behavior is a sign of that)
I havent spoken to her therapist directly, but that is something IҒve been considering trying to take a bigger role in. My aunt has so many doctors appointment of her own that its a way I can help out.

The therapist has suggested before some rather basic things like house rules and rewards systems but hasnҒt been helpful on what to do when those dont work.

ItҒs all well and good to say that she needs to write a letter of apology or do chores to pay for things she has stole, but what do you do when she completely ignores you, wont do it? WeҒre locked into a power struggle with her where as soon as you take something away, she doesnt want it. If you try to talk to her and sheҒs pissed off and doesnt want to listen, she has no problem just walking out the front door.

SheҒs been diagnosed so far with just depression and anxiety and her therapist is helping her with specific issues related to her mom. He hasnt been seeing her long enough to diagnose anything more serious. She isn't on any medication yet, but that is being considered if just talk therapy doesn't help.

Her grandma has very little confidence in the therapist, but heҒs the only one close thats covered by insurance. He doesnҒt have experience dealing with kids with this many problems and far too many other patients.
Wow-I'm sorry you're facing such a tough situation with your young cousin. It does sound like you've looked through a lot of options in handling her behavior. And, it's funny you mentioned downloading The Connected Child because I was about to suggest that. Have you had a chance to read it yet? I know it sounds like it's just for adopted/foster kids, but I've heard a lot of therapists recommend it for kids in general who don't respond to traditional discipline methods or come from difficult backgrounds. Of course, I think that a therapist is your best bet for getting to the bottom of your cousin's behavior. Perhaps if you're not having luck with this one it may be worthwhile to see if you can find someone who specializes in attachment issues? Not sure if that's the case with your cousin or not, but just a thought. Well, I'll be praying for you as you try to figure out whether your home is the best place for this young girl.
gardensparrow said...
Wow-I'm sorry you're facing such a tough situation with your young cousin. It does sound like you've looked through a lot of options in handling her behavior. And, it's funny you mentioned downloading The Connected Child because I was about to suggest that. Have you had a chance to read it yet? I know it sounds like it's just for adopted/foster kids, but I've heard a lot of therapists recommend it for kids in general who don't respond to traditional discipline methods or come from difficult backgrounds. Of course, I think that a therapist is your best bet for getting to the bottom of your cousin's behavior. Perhaps if you're not having luck with this one it may be worthwhile to see if you can find someone who specializes in attachment issues? Not sure if that's the case with your cousin or not, but just a thought. Well, I'll be praying for you as you try to figure out whether your home is the best place for this young girl.



I’ve looked through The Connected Child, and the examples seem to be for much younger kids. I think it has some good principles, but I need to figure out how to apply those to an older child. But her reactions are a lot different than younger child’s would.

For example, she doesn’t ask for things. She doesn’t whine. If she wants something in the kitchen, she takes it. She is very independent and was used to being on her own because her mom worked evenings/nights.

Trying to correct her is difficult since likes to retaliate or says something like “F*** off you’re not my mom”. If I try to stand up to her, she is out the front door in ten seconds.

I’m also not really not trying to be her mom or her parent. I’m also not sure about the attachment therapy, since she’s very attached to her mom. It’s a huge loss for her being separated from her mom and I’m not sure it would be possible for her to bond with another family. She just wants her mom back.
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