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“I Don’t Like My Child, Help!”

“I’ve had it with my 12-year-old daughter who has ADHD, sensory disorder, and learning disabilities (LD). She’s defiant, rude, immature, and uncooperative. I can’t wait to go to work each morning so I don’t have to be around her. I know she feels my ambivalence. These negative emotions aren’t good for her or my husband and son. What should I do?”

I understand why you are frustrated with your daughter and how it has affected your feelings for her. As a parent, it’s important to remind yourself that you can love your child without loving her violent or defiant behaviors. My husband and I said this to our son Jarryd, who also has attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD), so often when he was growing up that soon he was able anticipate our words: “I know, I know — you love me, you just don’t love my behavior. Right?”

Before the relationship deteriorates further, see a counselor experienced in dealing with ADHD, sensory challenges, and LD. She can suggest treatments for managing symptoms, such as anger issues. However, your daughter’s behaviors may have nothing to do with these conditions but may be a result of the challenges of becoming a teen. Or perhaps demands at school, at home, and from her friends are causing the problem. She may need support — mentoring, counseling — to get through this period of her life.

You can also try changing the way you interact with her. One technique that may help is painting a picture: Before going out shopping or visiting a relative’s house, describe in detail how you see the day going. By telling her your expectations, she will know when she has stepped over the line. Another option is avoiding or limiting the situations that often bring out the behavior problems in your daughter.

[Free Parenting Resource: Manage Your Child’s Anger]