Dear Savvy Auntie,

My 11-year-old niece, with whom I am VERY close, is having big issues - both and in school.

For the past three months, I seem to have been accused of all sorts of things. I was accused of lying to her. We got our to ears pierced. I went first and when she wanted to know how it was I said, "fine." After her turn, she hopped off the chair and went ballistic saying it hurt and I lied. Then she said I ruined her dreams of being a police officer because I teased her about being afraid of mice. She accused me of locking her out because I closed the door to set the alarm before we went out... and  MANY more dramas.

At present, she will not speak to me because I was helping her each night with math and I told her mother that I felt she was having some difficulties. Her response was that I "betrayed" her and I hurt her so badly that it was as if I "punched her in the face." I have talked over each incidence with her and she has admitted that I have NEVER done anything to purposely hurt her but each time I've endured about an hour of carrying on and jabs about the incidents for weeks.

I refuse to have her continue treating me this way. Her mother has also talked to her yet it continues. I feel this is deflected anger and my new tactic is to NOT react. Now she hasn't talked to me for two weeks. This is a child I have watched weekly since she was born and I've never had problems with her.

Am I handling this correctly? I can't allow her to treat me the way she has and yet I know how stubborn she can be so this could go on for weeks or months. Help!

Dramatic Niece

Dear Dramatic Niece,

Sounds as if her outbursts of anger are very troubling both to you as well as to her. It is common for preteen girls to have hormonal surges that fuel their excessive rages. There is often some underlying difficulty or problem that is magnifying her reactions to you, that have nothing or little to do with you.

Try to ride out the attacks and not take them personally for a while. If they don't ease up talk to her mom and try to figure out the real issues. Meanwhile, take comfort in the fact that her anger, like so many her age, target the person they feel closest and safest with.

Try to contact her by letter, text, or email suggesting ice cream, a movie, or any short pleasant activity. Keep it light and don't bring up past upsets and emotions.

Good luck,

Natalie Robinson Garfield

Homepage Photo: InesBazdar

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