Are all 11-Year-Old Girls Like This? Dealing with your Tween Daughter’s Attitude

It is no secret that mums and daughters often clash. Sadly, this is especially so during their most difficult time, the tween years. You may notice the change when your daughter goes from 9 to 10, or 10 to 11, or perhaps 12 to 13.

But, for many mums we’ve spoken to, this golden age of tween attitude starts to rear its head in our 11-year-old girls.

We go from being best friends, playmates, and confidants, to experiencing constant bickering, sarcasm, eye-rolling, and disrespectful behaviour. You used to be her favourite thing in the world and all of a sudden she thinks you’re weird. She’s suddenly obsessed with Snapchat and skincare and there’s a new sass about her that looks vaguely similar to the same sass you used to pull as a tween but, still…IS THIS HAPPENING ALREADY??

Dealing with your tween daughter and her new attitude is not easy, but with a little patience, grace, and understanding you can find ways to get along with your tween daughter during her most challenging years.

What happened to my little girl? 

One minute she’s begging you to play tea party with her and the next she’s giving you the death stare from across the kitchen table. These typical changes typically happen between the ages of 9 to 12 and it’s not just the new attitude that she’s developed.

During this transitional time, tween girls will:

  • Start to detach from you (sniff sniff). She’ll try to gain independence and figure out who she is by trying new things, experimenting with clothing styles, and spending time with new friends.
  • Go through changes, and she’ll begin menstruating. Here are some great tips on handling this one.
  • Her brain will experience significant growth and she’ll make impulsive, fear-based, aggressive decisions centred on her emotions rather than logic. Scary, we know!
  • She’ll also face stressful social changes during middle school as she navigates the complicated world of preteen friendships and increased schoolwork.

The most important thing to remember as your tween daughter goes through this confusing and challenging period is that this is a phase and it is not about you or what you have done.

In this story, you did not suddenly become a monster of a mum or the bad guy. This is about your tween daughter learning to navigate a new and complicated normal.

More than anything, dealing with your preteen girl’s attitude will require your understanding and compassion as she grapples with a wide array of changes.

11-year-old girls: Tips on tackling this tricky age and stage 

1. Deep breaths – remind yourself this is normal and not your fault 

As annoying and difficult as your preteen daughter’s attitude may be, try to remember it is completely normal. Yes, she may be difficult to live with, but all this means is that she is developmentally on track.

In case you are wondering, here are some common preteen behaviours:

  • The popular eye-roll
  • Sarcastic tone and responses
  • Abrasive responses to criticism
  • Attitude or annoyance at being told what to do
  • Rebellious body language, such as crossed arms
  • Being overly critical of you
  • Non-verbal expressions of annoyance, such as heavy sighs

As long as your tween daughter’s behaviour is not harmful to herself or others, it is best to accept these new little quirk unless she is being disrespectful. Then you may want to have a chat to her about it.

common teen behaviours
Source: Bigstock

2. Do a self-assessment

While your preteen girl may be experiencing a variety of difficult changes that may lead to her bad attitude, it may be a good idea to take a look at yourself and see how you may also be playing a role through your behaviour.

Think about the times when are stressed or angry. How do you handle those moments? How do you treat and talk to others?

Without knowing it, you may be modelling how to behave to your tween girl during challenging times.

Try to model the behaviour that you want to see in your child. Remember, they are always looking to us for cues on how to handle life’s ups and downs.

3. Let your tween experience natural consequences

Instead of immediately punishing your preteen’s bad attitude, look for ways to teach her cause and effect.

If she stayed up late talking to her friends or scrolling through social media and missed the bus? Then, she’ll have to be late for school.

Didn’t wake up early enough to do her hair? Then, she’ll have to do without the pretty hair-do or be late for school.

Letting her experience natural consequences may be more effective than taking away a privilege or giving her a lecture.

4. Offer a “do over”

More often than not, your tween daughter may be just as bothered and overwhelmed by her moodiness as you.

During times of disrespect, help your daughter develop self-awareness by calmly speaking to her and pointing out what she has just done.

By giving your tween a do-over, you are giving her grace and understanding as you allow her to try again, this time, without the attitude.

5. Pick your battles

No one wants to fight every moment of every day or to be on the defensive, walking on eggshells to avoid confrontation.

Instead, save your energy, and your sanity, by focusing on issues that really matter and letting the little things go.

As they say, not every moment has to be a teaching moment.

6. Connect 

When your preteen girl acts like she hates the world and everything in it, the last thing you want to do is be anywhere around her.

However, this is when she needs your love and understanding the most. It is said that the children who need the most love ask for it in the most unloving ways.

So, gather your patience and offer to listen without judgement and without offering advice, unless she asks. Let her vent her frustrations.

Find activities you can both enjoy and spend some one-on-one time together.

By finding something you can both like, you’ll avoid arguments and disagreements and you’ll show her you value her as a person.

7. Talk! 

Even if it seems she doesn’t care or want to listen. Talk to her. Ask her questions. Speaking candidly about the changes she’s experiencing can help her feel respected and valued. Even if she rolls her eyes, let her know you will always be there to listen, even if she’s in a mood.

As she learns about the reasons behind her various changes, she’ll feel relieved, understood, less vulnerable, and will feel more connected to you. And when she’s older and more capable of communicating her emotions, she will appreciate every single chat she sighed her way through.

Yes, the preteen years are no walk in the park. Dealing with a tween daughter and her attitude can be quite a challenge.

If, however, your tween breaks things when she’s angry, gets in trouble at school for disrespect, is withdrawn, is no longer interested in activities she used to enjoy, experiences drastic mood changes, or is engaging in self-harm, it is important to seek professional help immediately. These behaviours are not normal and should be addressed by a trained professional.

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Avatar of Gloria Ramirez

Gloria Ruby Ramirez is a writer, mother, and lover of coffee, twinkle lights, and rain who believes in the magical power of words. She is passionate about parenting, mental health, and the environment. She is a former agricultural microbiologist/plant pathologist with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from Arizona State University. Born in the desert of northern Mexico, she is mum to her beautifully energetic son and Shih Tzu, Gerty. When not writing, Gloria can be found spending time with her son and family, reading, or embroidering.

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