Child Has No Respect

Annie The Nanny

Annie The Nanny

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Annie the Nanny is a professional parenting educator. She writes a weekly advice column for parents who need help with their children's behaviour. Her advice has also been featured on CTV, CBC and in all kinds of print media. For more information about Annie, please go to her 'about' page.

Hello Annie,

My best friend has adopted a girl from China, and she has no respect. Her daughter is 10 years old now.  She has ADHD, high-functioning autism, and many other diagnoses. She is out of control and has no respect for her mother. Her mother wants to change things, but when this kid doesn’t get her way, she becomes violent. She kicks the door so hard that it looks like it is going to break. She throws things at her mother. She curses her mother out, etc.

She has no respect for her mother. When the mom tries to discipline her, the child kicks, screams, and scratches. She is almost stronger than her mother. What is going to happen when she is stronger than her mom and beats her up? How can she control her child so that she can discipline her?


Hello Michele,

This child has no respectIt must be very hard for you to sit by and watch this happen to your close friend and her daughter. Your friend has done something very noble, and to have it turn out like this must be incredibly hard to cope with. I don’t know what kind of professional help your friend has already accessed, but I speculate that she must be under someone’s care, given that she has been diagnosed with autism, etc. I would strongly suggest that she go back to that person, whoever it is, to access any other services she can. Unfortunately, in your particular case, I cannot offer specific recommendations, as I have no real idea exactly what issues she is dealing with.

Child has no respect: There could be multiple factors at play here.

If this child has no respect, there could be many other factors at play that I’m not aware of, such as her other diagnoses, so I’m going to suggest you rule those out first before attempting other behaviour modification. However, having said that, this situation needs intervention. As you point out, this mom will soon be physically intimidated by her daughter, which is a frightening prospect for anyone and certainly does the child herself no favours.

Consistency is vitally important

Aside from the help she receives, it’s vitally important that this mom act consistently in her relationship with her daughter. “No” must mean “no,” and any limits put in place must remain steady in spite of the battering that putting in those limits might generate. This is somewhere that you can be really helpful and a good supporter. Whenever you change behaviour, it will certainly get worse before it gets better, and whatever plan is put into action, the child will need to know where she stands. Changing this behaviour will be tough, and consistency is key. The mom involved could certainly feel tired and overwhelmed, and having a good friend like you could be vital to whether or not she succeeds. You didn’t mention whether or not she had a partner, but if she does, it’s also extremely important that he buy in to the solution and the work required as well.

If you and your friend live in Calgary, there is an amazing program through the Calgary Family Therapy Centre at the Holy Cross Hospital. There is apparently a waiting list, but even so, that may be one of her best options.

Best of luck,


Here’s Annie the Nanny’s advice to another mom struggling with her daughter’s behaviour.

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