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Twelve-Year-Old Causing Trouble in School
Q: I'm having trouble with my 12-year-old daughter. She just started middle school and two weeks ago received an infraction for profanity. Today she came home with another infraction for pushing a boy out of his desk. He was tapping on the desk and wouldn't stop -- this irritated her. She's never been in trouble before, but has always been bullied. She's usually the teacher's pet. How should I handle this?
A: We're learning much about bullying, and the fact is that most bullies are also victims. I strongly encourage you to make an appointment with your daughter's school counselor about this problem she is having. Talk with the counselor about possible peer mediation for her infractions, an anger group, and/or some sessions with the counselor to work on assertiveness skills. At the same time, support the school's discipline policies. For now, I would not recommend additional consequences at home unless she behaves this way at home.
Perhaps you could spend some time talking with your daughter (or maybe the whole family can do this) about ways you handle irritations in your life, and alternative ways she might handle such situations in the future. Let her know you believe that she is able to manage her feelings and to take responsibility for her reactions to others.
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Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.