How to Deal with 13-Year-Old’s Misbehavior at Home


Do you recommend the Ticket system for a 13-year-old girl who is not getting along with a younger sibling, and is very stubborn about getting her way?

She does well in school and is respectful with teachers and coaches. The misbehavior occurs only at home.


Thank you for your question and for reaching out to Parent Guru. Though the ticket system can bring about positive outcomes with some 13-14-year-olds, the structured nature of the approach may provoke an upsurge in misbehavior. For this reason, the ticket system is generally not recommended for children older than 12. It also tends to work best on children who are already fairly well behaved. It is certainly positive that you state that your daughter is respectful with teachers/coaches and does well in school. Not knowing your daughter, I would have to defer to you as to whether or not she would be a teen who would likely to respond to the ticket system.

With hormone changes kicking into high gear during the teen years, the best parental approach is to focus on helping teens take responsible control of their own lives. During this stage of development, parents should maintain their position as the ultimate leaders of the family while serving as a 'guide on the side'.

As far as your children not getting along, sibling conflict is virtually inevitable. As much as possible, allow your daughter and her sibling to work through their own squabbles. Implementing "Do Not Disturb the Family Peace" rules can help. This approach is outlined in John Rosemond's book, The Well-Behaved Child, in the section entitled Sibling Warfare (p.139). I highly suggest reading/rereading the entire book, with an additional focus on this section.

Wanting to get one's own way is not unusual with teens. Rosemond's book, Teen-Proofing, is all about fostering responsible decision making in teenagers. The book focuses on how to manage teenagers in a way that allows them to take responsible control of their lives. Parents can't help teens learn to control themselves if the parents are doing, or attempting to do, all the controlling. The tone of your relationship with your daughter (tension filled vs. more relaxed) depends primarily on you. Butting heads day after day will only serve to negatively impact potential positive outcomes whereas helping your daughter experience the negatives of her own behavior will serve her well in the long run.

The issues you share are not unique nor are they insurmountable. If your approach has been more of a "it's my way or the highway" you need a 'dial' reset with your daughter. Start with a heart-to-heart discussion (free of distractions), that includes verbal recognition that your daughter is getting older and that it is natural that she wants to have more freedoms (i.e., get her own way). Calmly, cite incidences where she has attempted to get her own way in an unpleasant manner. Also, take ownership of any behavior that you also have displayed that was not a good choice. [Parents] apologizing for inappropriate behavior sends a powerful message to children that everyone makes mistakes and that everyone needs to take ownership for their mistakes.

Be willing to listen to your daughter's concerns. Listening is key. Refuse to engage in back-and-forth bantering. If your daughter gets emotionally riled, it is perfectly acceptable to discontinue the conversation. Tell her that you need to carefully reflect on what she has shared and will get back with her. Too often, parents claim their children are argumentative. There can be no argument without at least two people participating.

The bottom line is: The manner in which parents address issues with teens is key to moving forward. Attempting to 'bring the hammer down' time and time again will not produce the desired results. I encourage you to read the materials cited above as the information contained in both books can guide you in the process.

Sharon Lamberth
Certified Leadership Parent Coach
sklamberth17@gmail. com

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