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My 10-year old is irresponsible with school and lies often...
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My 10-year old is irresponsible with school and lies often...

I need help please... my 10-year old daughter is very irresponsible with her school work, she just makes no effort and then she lies and tries to get away with it.
I should start by saying that she is my stepdaughter, and that I have been with living with my husband and our 3 kids (which I completely consider mine but are from his first marriage) for almost 2 years now; we are a very close family and communicate very well among each other, from the begining, I've adopted the Mom role which they have welcomed, to the kids, I am Mom.  The problem is that we have had a lot of problems with our oldest, she is in 4th grade and does not like anything that requires her to be responsible.  She is just the most genuine, generous, and smart girl, but she is very irresponsible!

Last year we had a big problem with her because she took money from her friend's house... We caught her and made her return the money and apologize to her friend and her mom, we also grounded her.  After that, things have just gotten worse on her acting up, she just does not like to do her homework, her grades are very poor (even when me and my husband are in constant communication with her teacher), she does not put any effort into school and anything that has to do with responsibilities.  Her room is always a mess, and she hates to take showers!!!
A week does not go by without us finding out that she lied about something or that she didn't turn in her homework... Her excuse is always "I didn't know that I had to turn that in..." Last semester she was the only one in her class that did not receive an award, she was devastated!  We tried to encourage her to try harder so she can get an award next time.  The grading period was over and she was selected to receive a "citizenship" award (I may be too harsh, but from talking to her teacher, I have a feeling that she received that award so she wasn't the only one in class not to receive an award again.

Today, I found out that once again, she didn't turn in her homework (and lied to me about it) and she failed a test because she failed to answer some questions because "she went to the bathroom" and she didn't have time to finish.  After talking to her teacher I find out that she just took off for recess and just chose not to stay and finish the test!!!

Me and my husband are very frustrated!!! We have in numerous occasions, expressed to her in every way possible that we are here to support her, but that irresponsibility is not tolerated.  We have also explained our expectation to her, grounded her, taken away privileges, we just try to be consistent in every way, but nothing seems to work!

We have a Disneyland trip scheduled in a couple of weeks, but now we are considering not going because we don't want it to seem like we are "rewarding" her for her behavior.  my husband and I just don't think its fair to the rest of the family that we cancel the trip because of her, but we just know what to do !!!

Please help us!
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To address the last issue first, it makes sense to go ahead with the family's plans. It's not as if your daughter will 'mend her ways' if you do not go to Florida. In other words, it won't make any difference for the better to cancel the trip. When 'big' things are at stake, like a special trip, a birthday party, etc., it does not make sense to use these as opportunities for punishment. Special things are valuable in a family's life and, while I am a proponent of sound limit setting and discipline, I do not endorse the notion of depriving kids and families of special opportunities in the life of the family.
Now, relative to the problems you are encountering with your daughter, children who have a normal mood and who are not undergoing any acute or chronic major stress in their lives sometimes behave in an irresponsible fashion because they are somewhat pleasure-seeking by nature and/or display deficits in their executive functioning. Executive skills are centered in the frontal lobe of the brain, and this takes time to develop. You may seek neuropsychological testing, which can identify aspects of your daughter's cognitive functioning that might well be contributing to the behaviors you are witnessing.
4 Comments
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I would get some medical advice too.  even though she is only in the 4th grade there could be some depression.  depression doesn't always mean being down in the dumps it comes out in all sorts of ways.  maybe some cognitive behavior therepy and counseling would help her.  I have a daughter now 18 she was the same way when she was in school i wished i would have gotten her the help she needed.  we put in private school and got tutors but she needed so much more.  it wasnt until 9th grade when she got in with the wrong crowd and started drinking and using drugs.  her daddy left us when she was 5 and it devestated her.  we did get the help she needed and she no long er does those things has a full time job and is going to go to college next fall.  she underwent alot of therepy though.  God got a hold of her too she turned her life over to the Lord and is doing awsome.  she still needs to work on being organized but that will come in time.  i dont know your daughters relationship with her biological mother but that may be the root of all her symptoms.  her behavior is probably coming from something that may have traumatized her when she was younger.  well good luck get her some help punishment wont help if she is chemically inbalanced.
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Avatar_n_tn
My daughter at 13 is doing about exactly the same thing.  We, however, are not even CONSIDERING medicating her unless it's an aspirin.  She was taken off of some terrible antipsychotics, an antidepressant, and the myriad scrips needed to counteract the effects of THOSE medications.  We were at a loss as to why a child would do homework, and then not turn it in.  Makes no sense!

What has worked is a huge amount of positive reinforcement.  When I catch her doing the slightest good thing I make a HUGE deal about it.  The lying has also curbed.  I would sort of find ways to "set her up" a bit, so that she would have reson to lie about something small, like did she eat 6 yogurts in a sitting when I knew darn well she did.  I would gently encourage her to tell the truth, all the while she was afraid that if she did she would get in trouble.   When I got the truth out of her, I would smile, give her a quick hug, and say "thanks for telling me!"  Then I didn't mention it again.  Didn't ask her to not do it anymore, did get on her about cleaning up (those are small things that can be dealt with later).  Gradually, she has started telling the truth even when it DOES get her in trouble.  It has helped me not to fly off the handle, too, a habit that I had formed that I suspect was contributing to the trouble.

She sounds scared.  Mine is scared of growing up in general, an insecurity I never suspected she had.  
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Avatar_n_tn
My oldest daughter is 10 and had ADHD not the hyper kind though. She is predominantly inatentive and impulsive. She is also "starting to Develope". I have also had problems with getting her to do her homework. And that is what led us to get her tested and found the ADHD. We still occasionally have the problems but for the most part she is doing better. I too didn't want to medicate until It was explained to me that she could fail because the medications help with concentration and I didn't want that. She has become a bit better. Now we just need to figure out how to get her to stop lying, stealing and destroying property. We have taken every suggestion that we were given on how to disciplin her and nothing has worked so far. We are waiting on a referral for a Phsycologist now. I would also like to know why some kids don't like to bathe. I am
also having that problem with her. She will get in the bath and everything but she hates to wash her hair or body! I don't get it. Why would anyone want to be dirty?
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