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My 12-Year-Old Is Obsessed with Death

From the U.S.: My 12 year old daughter has recently become obsessed with violence. Specifically killing people. She doesn’t act out but she constantly talks about killing people and makes extremely inappropriate jokes regarding death and murder. She claims she would never do such a thing but it’s starting to concern me.

Thank you for writing. You are right to be concerned. This isn’t usual behavior for a 12-year-old.

I think she is sending up a flare. She may be either very afraid of something or very angry about something but can’t find a way to tell you directly. If you are only talking about her obsession with violence, you may be missing the point. I’m worried that she is trying to tell you something without actually saying it.

Often kids who have been hurt want to hurt back. They don’t know how else to handle it. Sit down with her and calmly and quietly ask if that is what is going on with her and what you can do to help.

If you don’t get anywhere by yourself, I strongly urge you to take her with you to a family counselor to help you safely manage a difficult discussion with her. Please don’t wait to do this. She’s not likely to “outgrow” this obsession if the root of it is that she has been harmed, bullied, or abused.

I wish you well.

Dr. Marie

from Ask the Therapist

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