Strategies for Handling Her Silent Treatment

Silent Treatment_cold shoulder_mom daughter_bench


Have you ever given someone the silent treatment?

You know how it happens. Someone says or does the wrong thing to you. Maybe they’ve not met your expectations. Or worse yet, they may have misjudged you. Such actions or inactions may have made you feel

  • mad (which covers over feelings of hurt),
  • sad (which masks feelings of guilt or shame)
  • lonely (which results from feelings of rejection)

…just to name a few.

What had you hoped to accomplish by your silent treatment?

In my work with moms and daughters, it is not uncommon for their relationship to experience these “sounds of silence.”  Often the silence is for the following reasons:

  1. One person has said or done something that has hurt the other person.
  2. The action or statement has become the “last straw” in a multitude of occurrences which has “broken the camel’s back.”
  3. The person who has gone silent is having a hard time processing how they are really feeling and “just can’t deal” with the other person.

Hard Time Processing The Silent Treatment?

As a mom, I know it can be very emotionally wrenching when your (tween/teen/adult) daughter has closed herself off from you. You may feel offended, defensive, or even get argumentative. If this has happened or is happening to you, now may be a good time for you to do an honest review of what things you have said or done in your daughter’s presence that may have contributed to her giving you the silent treatment.

Silent Self-Reflection.

self-reflection_black woman_mirror

Here is something you may want to consider. When you look at yourself in your bathroom mirror, what is your first reaction? Do you…

  • quickly wipe away any dirt or grime?
  • zero in your gaze on something you like about yourself or don’t like about yourself?
  • dart your eyes away from looking…at yourself?

That’s okay. Just know that your daughter’s silence may be due to her having a hard time looking at and reflecting on her own thoughts and feelings.

If you take the time to look at how you yourself respond to your reflection in a mirror, you may discover a new degree of empathy for what may be occurring with your daughter.

What’s A Mom To Do About The Sound Of Silence?

know thyself_Stone_picture

If you know.

If you know that you have offended or hurt your daughter in any way during your prior interaction with her and she is giving you the silent treatment (aka the “cold shoulder”), then you may want to try the following:

  1. Apologize for the specific thing you did or did not do/say during that interaction. (“I’m sorry I ___(name the specific action/inaction)__.”
  2. Affirm that you love her. (“I love you.”)
  3. Acknowledge that she is mad at you. (“I can understand that you are upset with me.”)
  4. Avoid fueling the fire with explanations. (“I’m here if you’d like to talk.”)

If you don’t know.

If you don’t know what you have done to contribute to your daughter’s silence treatment, then try the following:

  1. Give her space for a few hours. (Note: This is the hardest part for a mom).
  2. Initiate dialogue in her presence with simple “hellos” and “love you’s” as she passes by you.
  3. Verbalize that you are present and available if she wants to talk.
  4. Express your continued interest in things going on in her (The Risk: she may ignore or not respond to you.)


If you need any help during these “sounds of silence,” here’s a resource that can get you on the road to restoring your relationship with your daughter.


©Dr. Michelle Deering & Curative Connections LLC. All Rights Reserved.


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