What’s the difference between normal teenage behaviors and toxic daughter signs?

Picture the scene. It’s 2am in the morning and your 15-year-old daughter has just stumbled through the door, drunk and high. You’re worried out of your mind. You try to reason with her, but it ends up in a full-scale argument. She pushes you out of the way, slams her bedroom door in your face and turns her music up loud enough to wake the next town.

So, is this normal teenage behavior or a sign of something more serious? How do you deal with a daughter spiraling out of control? In this article, I’ll identify 12 toxic daughter signs and what you can do about them.

12 Toxic Daughter Signs

1. She is disrespectful and rude

Teenagers are rude and disrespectful as a rite of passage. But there’s a line between pushing boundaries and outright contempt. It’s a red flag if your daughter says demeaning things or pours scorn on your rules.

Watch out if she belittles or dismisses your rules, acts as if she’s entitled and disparages you. This is a definite sign of a toxic daughter.

2. You find her intimidating

Are you afraid of your daughter? Do you find her intimidating? Does she threaten you verbally or with violence? Is she unpredictable, prone to emotional or aggressive outbursts? Are you at the stage where you’re reluctant to discipline her because of her reactions?

This is not acceptable. The parent should never be afraid of their children.

3. She is argumentative

Does your daughter become hostile and argumentative over the smallest thing? For instance, asking her to clear the dinner table results in a full-blown tantrum. Getting her to put her laundry in a basket ends up in her slamming out of the house. Is she always on the defensive, acting like the world hates her?

4. It’s easier to give in to her demands

If you have other children in the house with you, you might find to keep the peace you give into her demands. You can’t face another row or her upsetting her siblings. So, you enable her by giving in.

5. She disrupts other family members

Do you dread your daughter coming home because you know she’ll upset her brothers and sisters? One of the most common toxic daughter signs is causing conflict amongst family members.

She may manipulate and play her siblings against each other. Whenever she’s home, there’s always conflict.

6. Nothing is ever her fault

People that cannot accept responsibility for their actions or behavior have an external locus of control. This means they believe their fate is out of their hands. Whatever happens to them is someone else’s fault. They are never to blame for their choices or poor outcomes.

7. She is physically abusive

what happens when you ignore a manipulator

One of the most serious signs your daughter is toxic is physical abuse. Does your daughter use violence to get her own way, or avoid a situation? Are you afraid she’ll lash out at you or your partner? Are you concerned about your children?

If your daughter is physically violent towards you, it’s time to seek professional help.

8. You are emotionally and physically drained all the time

It is exhausting dealing with a toxic child. You are forever on high alert, waiting for the next dramatic episode to unravel.

Will she kick off again because she’s grounded for previous unacceptable behavior? Is she causing friction between you and your partner? Is her behavior affecting your other children? Have the neighbors complained about her? Are you getting repeated calls from her school?

These are toxic daughter signs and not indicators of normal teenage behavior.

9. She guilt-trips you into submission

Shrewd manipulators use devious tactics such as guilt-tripping. You might think that only adults can employ such calculating methods. But children are more intuitive than you think. They’ll use issues like divorce or your busy job to guilt-trip you into giving in to their demands.

10. She lies all the time

Children lie for several reasons. The most common one is to avoid punishment. However, there are other reasons and ways of lying. One is making promises with no intention of keeping them. Another is withholding the truth or hiding information. Then there’s scapegoating a sibling.

11. The atmosphere is always tense when she’s around

Do you feel you are treading on eggshells when your daughter is home? Does the world revolve around her and her demands?

Is she abusive, using derogatory or foul language in front of your other children? Has your partner had enough? Is she spouting offensive views to get a reaction from you? Do you dread coming home when you know she’s there?

12. She ignores boundaries and rules

Parents set boundaries to keep children safe. It also teaches them that rules apply in the adult world and are a productive way of preparing them for adulthood. Having no regard for boundaries or rules is one of the major toxic daughter signs.

Does she arrive home well past curfew? Is she invading the personal space of siblings? Has she taken things without asking permission?

Why Do Daughters Become Toxic?

Children are a product of their upbringing and environment. No one grows up in a vacuum. Everything and everyone influence us. It’s easy to look at the symptoms of toxic behavior and bypass the causes.

But we can deal with it by instead of focusing on what your daughter is doing, stepping back and objectively examining why she’s acting in this way.

1. Parenting styles

What sort of parent were you? Did you spoil your daughter or favor her amongst her siblings? Or perhaps you were a strict parent who made all her decisions for her?

Helicopter parenting is taking an excessive interest in your child’s life, micromanaging their every move. And then there’s the absent parent who is burned out by their job or abusive parent. How you raised your daughter might help you understand her behavior towards her.

2. Witnessing abuse in the home

Studies show children that witness abuse are more likely to suffer from behavioral issues. These include increased aggression, depression, anxiety, fighting at home or at school and more.

Children find different ways to cope with these negative emotions. They may resort to substance abuse, change their peer group, start bullying, or exhibit rebellious behavior.

3. Mental health problems

It is possible that your daughter has an undiagnosed mental health disorder. Many adults are now being diagnosed with ADHD, borderline personality disorder and Asperger’s. Look out for:

  • frequent mood swings
  • difficulty managing emotions or changes to routine
  • impulsive behavior
  • sensitivity to loud sounds
  • minimal social interaction

4. Mixing with the ‘wrong’ crowd

If teenagers don’t feel valued and accepted in their own family, they seek this validation elsewhere. As well as the basic human necessities such as food and shelter, children (and adults) need to know we love them unconditionally.

Spending time and sharing your experiences and knowledge is also vital. You might be strict with your daughter or working several jobs or even too easygoing.

What To Do If Your Daughter Is Showing the Signs of Toxic Behavior?

manipulative parents

1. Look at the person, not the behavior

When teenagers act out, something is wrong, and they don’t have the verbal dexterity to talk about it. However, when your daughter is screaming or punching you, it’s difficult to separate the toxic behavior from your loved one.

The obvious answer is to sit down and talk to your child to find out why they are acting out. Perhaps there are some moments of calm when you can say:

“OK, I know something is wrong. Whatever you tell me, I won’t judge you. You are my concern. I love you, and I’m here for you.”

2. Take an honest look at your parenting style

Teenagers rebel against strict parents. Then again, parents who don’t provide clear rules and boundaries can produce children who lack self-control. Over-involvement in your child’s life can inhibit their decision-making skills.

Overly critical parents prevent teenagers from expressing themselves and lead to a fear of failure. Using attention or affection to reward good behavior can cause co-dependency. The child may seek attention elsewhere and end up in abusive relationships.

3. Set boundaries and stick to them

Whether your daughter is 13 or 33, boundaries are important. If she is living in your house and underage, she has a curfew time. There are consequences for being late.

If you are dealing with adult children, let them know you won’t be at their beck and call. You are not bailing them out when they’ve messed up and if they don’t start working/contributing/helping etc., they can leave. You are their parent, not a punchbag or a bank.

4. Get professional help

We can only solve some problems with professional help. If your daughter is putting herself in harm’s way, or becoming a danger to others, you may have to get the authorities or a healthcare professional involved.

Final Thoughts

Toxic daughter signs manifest in many ways. However, these signs show an underlying problem. You may or may not solve the problem. You might have even had enough and stopped all contact. Whether it’s time for you to act or step back is entirely your decision.


  1. journals.sagepub.com
  2. frontiersin.org
  3. sciencedirect.com
  4. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  5. Featured image by benzoix on Freepik

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Julie

    Thank you Janey. Interesting information.

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