33 answers

Advice for Handling an Unappreciative 7-Year Old

I'm the stepmom to a 7-year old. She is normally a very thoughtful and quite happy child considering her situation, which is she spends every other day/night at her mom's house and every other weekend at her grandmas, alternating between the two. She's with us maybe 40% of the time. This situation cannot be helped a this time.

My husband and I like to take her places and give her some "fun." We've taken her to the county fair, parades, festivals, mini-golfing, movies, museums and thrown her parties. We try to make things fun for her, as she tends to sit around at her mom's and watch TV (although they occasionally go out and do fun things.)

All of these outings have ended up the same. At the fair she wanted to do ALL the rides, and we didn't have the money. So we told her "pick four you really want to do" or something similar. At the aquarium she was mad she didn't get to see the shark exhibit, which was extra money. At the fair she wanted us to buy her lots of stuff, we told her to choose one souvenir, and she pouted that she wanted more than one. If we try to buy her ONE gift, she wants MORE MORE MORE. And what could be fun family outings seem to end with her pouting because she didn't get everything she wanted, and me fuming that we spent a lot of money and this is what we get. My husband thinks this is "normal" behavior for a child and says she is just disappointed. He'll often try to cheer her up by tickling her or asking "where's my happy girl?"

We've tried the allowance thing, and are still trying. She has a chart and she marks off her chores when they're complete. At the end of the week she turns in her chart and we give her allowance. When we go places we tell her "bring your allowance" and we've made the rule that we are NOT buying her anything, she has to buy it with the money she earns. However, she wants to spend her allowance right away, no matter how much we talk to her about saving. And when she runs out of money, it's back to the "I WANT I WANT I WANT" and me either leaving the store immediately, or threatening punishment for one more "I want." Sometimes I ignore it completely.

How can we turn our family outings into something that's FUN, instead of having them end with her pouting because she didn't get everything she wanted? I actually don't want to take her anywhere anymore.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

WOW, thanks for all the great advice! It's good to know we're not alone!

After sharing all your responses with my husband we looked closer at the situation agreed together on a solution.

We are beginning to think she is getting this attitude from her mom. Unfortunately her mom IS the kind of person who thinks she is "entitled" to free stuff. She did not get married to her boyfriend so she could collect welfare. We homeschool her, but her mom went and got a free backpack of school stuff anyway. But they just got a new widescreen HD TV! And recently our DD tried to send an email to Webkinz telling them she was poor so she wanted free Webkinz. We didn't put two-and-two together until we read your responses, because some of you said the behavior must be working SOMEWHERE or she wouldn't do it!

We are definitely going to do fewer outings. There's no need to do something that seems to end in upset for all of us! It's just throwing money away. This way when we DO go out, it will be special.

We are going to start setting the ground rules before we leave, and let her in on what we are doing and what our expectations are of her. If she doesn't seem excited about what we're doing then we won't go.

You all had differing opinions on allowance. Thanks for your points of view, they were helpful! We are going to stick with the allowance for now because it gives her some buying power so we are not the sole source of her getting something. It works for small things, when she's begging for something from a vending machine, we tell her she has to buy it with her money. She thinks twice about it then. I think making her put some of her allowance in savings is a good plan.

We are going to talk about greed and manners. I'm pretty sure there are some children's stories out there about greed. We can incorporate those lessons in her homeschool.

And we're going to have a talk with my husband's mom. When she goes over there she is indulged. Their attitude is "we don't get to see her much, so we want to get her candy, pop, ice cream, toys, etc." That isn't helping right now, and if they can't abide by our guidelines then perhaps she should have limited visits over there.

Mostly we're going to have patience and a steady attitude. Thanks for all your encouragement! If you think of any more advice I'd love to hear it!

Featured Answers

Hi Nicole.
you have received from great advice. i just wanted to let you know that the bernestein bear series of books has one about being selfish or greedy. Hope this helps and good luck.

ShuCKs! i THOUGH MY KID WAS JUST UNGRATEFUL TOO! aPPARENTLY THIS IS NORMAL? OK, I have been fussing and alternating breaths! aNYWAY, I give her the money too, let her decide what she wants and when its gone, its gone. IF they have to learn a hard lesson- next time they'll get it right. 7 years olds like to feel like a big kid. My daugher has a chart and she earns her privlages. Say I budjet 25 dollars. I give her 15 and then when she begs for more, and its a worthy cause, I use that extra I hid. BUt, 7 years olds! ALso, no matter how they beg, never take a seven year old anywhere "JUST TO LOOK" its a trap!

Wow, I thought I had the only greedy kid! My son used to do this, sometimes he still does. It's like whatever I do to make him happy is never enough. We could go out to the museum, catch a bite to eat out, and when we got home he'd be upset he never got to play video games. On his birthday, we let him decide what to do and he spent the whole day playing video games and then cried because he didn't get to go out and have fun.
Try cluing her in on the budget. "We are going to spend $20 tonight, and when that is gone it's time to go home." Show her receipts, or let her hold the money. Give her advance notice and let her plan the whole evening.
Also, do less! When we stopped being able to go out as much because of money reasons, my son started to appreciate what we did do a lot more.
Good luck!

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I liked the way you ended it......"leaving the store immediately".... I've done that and the message usually comes out loud and clear. Bad behavior is tiring but please don't ignore it. I wouldn't want to take her anyplace either. You're husband is wrong - don't accept bad behavior and don't just take her places out of guilt, fear that she is bored or not stimulated enough at her other homes - it becomes competitive and a kid learns quickly how to "play" this game with the parents! Pull out a board game, take out a box of creativity items (crayons/paints/glue, paper, beads/stickers...anything) and spend time with her. Another idea, send her home with a "creativity box" so she has other things to do at home. It's what she needs more than anything. She's been so accustomed to "taking" without giving and your husband is working so hard at being the "fun parent!' He just needs to be a parent.

Kids learn to be gracious and to have good manners, more by observing their parents. Teach her how to "give back" this Holiday season by helping someone less fortunate. It's a great way for children to learn gratitude. You can even do this as a family - help out at a food drive, soup kitchen, etc... Or you could work together to make an item or two.... "Project Linus" is a vey nice charity
She doesn't need any more regular "gifts". It's come to the point that she expects them - not appreciates them.

So sorry about her situation - it's so sad that you can't do a 3 days on/3 days off at the same location. That way, she could actually make friends in her three neighborhood "homes". Good luck.

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Sounds normal to me. Don't engage with the drama. Children don't appreciate what we do for them - they have no way of understanding. (not that I haven't found myself explaining anyway!)

My take on it is, you can't control what she feels or make her grateful, and you'll only frustrate yourself trying. It sounds like the poor kid has very little control over her schedule or who the adults are who have say over what she does - I'd whine too.

What you can do is make your limits clear to both of them. Stop trying to control what your husband does and how your stepdaughter feels, because you can't do either of those things. Instead think about your own boundaries and what you need to be comfortable within this family. Maybe that means you don't go on outings some of the time. Maybe that means you say, "I need to have no more complaining for five minutes." Maybe it means you agree that after x number of complaints, the outing ends (agreed in advance).

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In her limited time with her father (and you) focus on connection rather than fun. This is her time with her father. It's so easy as a mom to over-engage with step children, and so hard to step back. So, build your times together around the two of them, rather than around her. The MORE MORE MORE attitude is probably a 7 year olds way of trying to get her needs met. It's easy at that age to think that tangible goods are what you need, when what she wants is a little normalcy, time and focused attention from dad.

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I think it is pretty normal. Especially if you are doing lots of outings as it sounds. I have 4 kids and we were doing Lots of outings. I got so frustrated that everything we did ended in tears and "I wanted mores". I stopped. We started doing more free things and cheap things and not as often. I have discovered that they appreciate fishing and an afternoon in the park as much as they do an amusement park. They love to bake so we find a recipe and do it together. I guess what i am saying is maybe it is time to take the glam and distractions out of your relationship and get down to what it is really about, spending time together and building a bond.
Keep It Simple Silly... The KISS theory.

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Oh, that poor little girl! I hope you can find it in your heart to embrace and love her -- ultimately, she will mimic the behavior of the adults (including you) in her life. So if you are a good role model and love her, I think that's the best possible. Maybe seek some personal or family counseling. There may be some "greed" issues in yourself, as well as low self-esteem in yourself, that you want to explore. I agree with Kristinn M.'s response below -- and frankly, your treatment of this little girl sounds almost abusive.

While this is a stage they are normally going to go through, it does sound a little over the top. I suspect that the problem is one where she feels like there is nothing stable in her life right now. It sounds like she is living in three homes and essentially with three sets of rules, no matter how much everyone might or might not try to communicate.

I agree with the idea that quieter one-on-one bonding time might be a good idea. I'd also look for places where there is nothing to be purchased. Take an outing to the forest preserve and hike a trail while it's still nice enough (of course I'm writing this while it's snowing, so that option might be trickier right now). There are lots of events and activities that can be found where you don't pay money or you pay upfront and there isn't anything to buy later. One-night classes, where you can learn to do something fun together. Drum Circles, Festival Lights drives and walks... things like that. My mom and I used to just drive around and look at all the holiday light displays when I was a kid - we'd point out all the different things we saw to each other. Reel her in to the down-to-earth things and it will likely help give her a feeling of stability that will help her "greed" issue and probably in other ways as well.

She sounds lucky to have a stepmom who cares so much! Good luck!

How does someone learn to appreciate? By being shown unconditional love and appreciation, by seeing appreciation modeled by those around her.

Love and appreciate her. Just love her and appreciate her in all the ways you can think of. It's really as simple as that. The problem is that so many parents have become so confused about what loving means. Love is not punishment, threats, control and teaching lessons. Love isn't tough- it looks good and feels good. It looks like:

* Teaching through modeling
* Kindness
* Patience
* Being on her side and trying to see things from her perspective.
* Validation- "You really wish we could get more. That x looks really neat. Wouldn't it be fun to have a stack of money that reached all the way to the sky and we could buy the whole fair?! Maybe I could write x down for you and we can maybe try to get it next time or we can think of ways to save the money."
* Always looking for the good in your child and giving her the benefit of the doubt by assuming a legitimate need is trying to be met in the best way her present skills allow.
* Setting your child up for success
* Abundance- Where in her life is she not feeling this and where can you fill this child's cup?

If you are interested in peaceful, connected parenting I recommend the books "Unconditional Parenting" by Alfie Kohn and "Connection Parenting" by Pam Leo.

I used to deal with this type of behavior all the time. My guess is she is doing this because at some point someone has given in to her pouting and complaining and given her what she wanted. I was guilty of this and it made everything worse. So my suggestion and what I started to do was to give them my expectation of them for any location and what we were going to do/not do/buy/not buy at that place. For example, we go to toys r us for a birthday present for her friend. I say..we are going to Toys R Us to pick out a birthday present for Susie. We are not buying anything for you or any of your sisters. If you start asking and whining for anything, we will leave the store and won't buy anything for Susie and I will call her mother and tell her you won't be able to make it to the birthday party. Or..we are going to the zoo today. We are going for 2 hours and we are going to see the following exhibits ... (or what free animals do you want to see out of this list).. we are not staying any longer and we are not purchasing any souvenirs or food. If I hear anyone asking and whining for anything, we will be going straight home. You can tailor this to allow her to bring ____ amount of her own money with if she wants to. The key is that you have to mean what you say and they can't just be threats. You have to leave immediately. In the beginning, we missed birthday parties, left outings and left grocery stores with a cart full of food. It was no fun. But it was well worth it. I can take them to any store and while sometimes they will still ask for things, I say no and remind them of what we talked about and they now know that no means no. I don't get the whining, temper tantrums, etc. any more.
Good luck.

Wow, I thought I had the only greedy kid! My son used to do this, sometimes he still does. It's like whatever I do to make him happy is never enough. We could go out to the museum, catch a bite to eat out, and when we got home he'd be upset he never got to play video games. On his birthday, we let him decide what to do and he spent the whole day playing video games and then cried because he didn't get to go out and have fun.
Try cluing her in on the budget. "We are going to spend $20 tonight, and when that is gone it's time to go home." Show her receipts, or let her hold the money. Give her advance notice and let her plan the whole evening.
Also, do less! When we stopped being able to go out as much because of money reasons, my son started to appreciate what we did do a lot more.
Good luck!

You are on the right track just leaving immediately when she starts that. You are showing your consistency and she needs that. And she seems to be asking for you to say no. It might take some time. And as far as the allowance goes, maybe you should hold it like a bank instead of giving it to her. Raising your own children is frustrating enough, you are doing a wonderful job with your step daughter.

ShuCKs! i THOUGH MY KID WAS JUST UNGRATEFUL TOO! aPPARENTLY THIS IS NORMAL? OK, I have been fussing and alternating breaths! aNYWAY, I give her the money too, let her decide what she wants and when its gone, its gone. IF they have to learn a hard lesson- next time they'll get it right. 7 years olds like to feel like a big kid. My daugher has a chart and she earns her privlages. Say I budjet 25 dollars. I give her 15 and then when she begs for more, and its a worthy cause, I use that extra I hid. BUt, 7 years olds! ALso, no matter how they beg, never take a seven year old anywhere "JUST TO LOOK" its a trap!

Unfortunately I see that this in ingrained in some kids. I have three daughters. The middle one used to be like that. The other two never were. The oldest was always grateful for every little thing. The middle one, you'd take her to the circus, buy her the cotton candy and a hot dog and a toy, and when you didn't buy the five dollar caramel apple on the way out you were a terrible parent and woe is she and she'd pout all the way home and then some. My youngest just turned six this week. She told me, Mom, I have enough stuff, and decided to collect DVDs for a home for developmentally disabled men instead of brining gifts. When I take her to the circus and I tell her she can choose between two items, she'll either choose one or say, "Mom, I can't choose. You choose for me." She never complains and she even thanks me for showing her a good time.

My solution is to just take my middle daughter fewer places because she's such a pain. I tell her (she's fourteen now) that she is going to have a really rough life if she doesn't learn to appreciate anything.

Hi Nicole,

Even though your step daughter is going through a lot, she still needs to learn that going out and getting things bought for her are privileges NOT rights. Don't take her out for a while and let her know she has to earn the privilege of going somewhere fun or earn getting something bought for her and that it will not happen with an ungrateful attitude. I'm already teaching my three year old to say thank you instead of more....Feeling disappointed is okay, but bad attitudes/whining are not. Good luck!


Hi Nicole,

It's wonderful that you recognize this as a challenge rather than giving in like many others. How about going to a children's hospital and volunteering to spend time with kids in her age group? Sometimes witnessing the difficulties others have brings out a more humble side in us. Have her spend time with these courageous kids and I think it will do wonders.

Think if this were your biological child. Would you let them get away with that behavior? Probably not, so dont let her. Children need to be taught to appreciate what is given. I have been in that situation and my husband ended up with a self centered, selfish 17 year old because no matter how ungrateful she was or unappreciative of anything, she still got more. Now, her own family doesnt want to be around her because she is such a brat. Teach her now, or you will be sorry later. Dont think they will outgrow it on their own, that doesnt always happen.

I know that I am late in sending this, but I want you to know that I have a 6 1/2 year old daughter who is EXACTLY the same way. My husband took her out of Walgreens today as she was screaming like a 2 year old because she wanted stickers and he wouldn't buy them. I don't know the answer to help, as I am still working on this one myself, I just wanted you to know that your not the only one with a "spoiled" child. :)


I agree with everything.If you go to an outing I would upfront tell her, this is how much you can expect, don't ask for more.I wouldn't give a 7 year old an allowance, I think it is way to young.My kids are 13 and 15 and still don't get an allowance.I give back in other ways.

As for myself I am a mother of 2 a dn my daughter is 7 as well. Girls are never satisfied first of all and being women we learn to compromise but that doesn't mean we are satisfied. Now with that in mind, my daughter pouts when she doesn't get her way but when she does or trys to throw a fit I send her to her room and let her cool off then I go in and have a talk with her about why this is unacceptable behavior and explain why, I always explain to my kids that other kids are not an fortunate as them and during Christmas we as a family collect good stuff and donate to those kids.. also both my kids tried that at places , I just got them ready and left, and when I got home sent them to their rooms, and told them that everytime they act up when we go somewhere we will come home and they will be in their rooms. They shaped up after two times now they are well behaved kids in public places. Try it also i recommend the book named EPEDEMIC it helped my hubby and me out well cause we used to argue with the way we are different in handling the kids, now we agree and the kids seem ahppier with rules !!!

Sounds like there is a lot going on here but, something you could try would be to give your step-daughter a dollar amount that she can spend rather than an item limit. This will give her control over how she spends the money and if she wants to blow it all on the first thing that she sees, that's where the teaching moment and communication comes in.

Explain to her that she can have that first item but, it might be smarter to look around before making her final choice. The original item will be there at the end of the day at the fair or the shopping trip and if possible, you can put it on hold to make sure.

This will teach her how to shop wisely, put off immediate gratification and decide what is important to her. In addition, it is a good math lesson and will show her how much things cost.

You will not agree with all of her choices but, this is another way she will learn. She will learn what the value of an item is. Whe she spends a lot of money on something that breaks before you leave the fair or that falls apart or doesn't work exactly as she imagined, she will know better for next time and if she doesn't, she can be gently reminded.

My husband and I have been doing this type of "activity" with my daughter since she was about 4 (she is now 8). She too was the more, more, more type of kid. Now if she falls back into that behaviour, it is an easy discussion about appreciating what she has and has been offered because she has a basis for understanding the larger picture and concepts that go along with appreciation.

Hi Nicole.
you have received from great advice. i just wanted to let you know that the bernestein bear series of books has one about being selfish or greedy. Hope this helps and good luck.

Just think about how exhausting it must be for this child to never spend 2 nights in a row in the same place!

Personally, I think she might enjoy a little more personal one-on-one down time with your family rather than always go-go-going all the time. Maybe less excursions & when you do go on one , pull out all the stops so it's extra-special. Maybe you could spend your time with her playing board games or doing craft projects, or something simple like going sledding or ice-skating. Maybe she feels like she is being "bought" and when she doesn't get "everything" she wants she feels shortchanged.

Don't expect her to make you feel good. It should be the other way around.

Less $$$$ more Hugs & togetherness on a personal basis.

Good luck.

It sounds like you are doing nearly all of the right things. As a parent of a newly turned 7 year old, I hear a lot of "I want" as well. Have you tried establishing a limit of how many souvenirs, rides, etc. and the consequence for poor behavior before you go on the fun outing? I know that even a trip to the store can be extremely trying at this point. Good luck!

This behavior I think is normal of a 7 year old, but as parents it is our responsibilty to help evolve the ME ME ME mindset. My daughter is 12 now, when I first came into her life at 8 I felt some of the same feelings. I enforce the please and thank yous as well as point out when her father goes out of his way to do something for her and put the idea of giving him a big hug to thank him. Sometimes they need the angel on their shoulder to guide them to see how lucky they are!! As a step-parent (I dislike that word) we have an easier time of being the angel, or as I like to call it the "Jiminy Cricket". Point things out about how lucky she is not just materials. It's not that they are ungrateful, it's that they are pre-occupied with "kids stuff" and sometimes, especially in a split living situation that "kid stuff" on their mind can be pretty heavy. Have a family day volunteering somewhere. A shelter is a perfect place to donate time to as well as have a life lesson. Good luck to you and your family!

Actually, it all sounds VERY normal to me. I have a wonderful, thoughtful 11-year-old who still sometimes acts like that. I don't think kids that age understand the value of money and how much things cost. They just want the fun. I also think 7 is too young for an allowance. I understand what you are trying to do, but I think she is still too young to comprehend it. Before you go on an outing, I would sit down with her and let her know what you are going to be doing and what you aren't going to do. And ask her if that sounds ok or would she rather just stay home. If she says ok, then you have to remind her then that if she throws a fit it will be her problem and not yours and you will have to leave. I think if you end up having to leave once, maybe that will get the point across. Also, remember that your step-daughter has been through - and is going through - a lot with her family and may need a little extra understanding. And, again, I think her behavior is pretty normal for her age.

I would let her know your expectations before you leave. If she ignores them and still behaves the same way, then don't take her on an outing on the next weekend.You can still do family things together like a family game night, but make a point with her that you will not be taking her places when she behaves that way. If you keep taking her to do things she is just going to keep behaving that way because she can get away with it.

The money thing and asking for things....my step-daughter is 10 and is finally getting the picture that I won't be buying things for her on every trip to the store even though I never did. (her mom buys her something w/EVERY trip to the store though so she doesn't think it's fair that I don't) She has gotten sneakier about it and point out all of the things that she would "like" to have or wishes we had. I tell her that she should write them down on her Christmas list or birthday list or save up her money to get them. I also remind her that the reason we can afford to go on vacations and buy nice presents at Christmas and her birthday are because we are saving our money and not spending it on little thing that we'd like to have. It is great that you are making her spend her allowance on this stuff though!

My five year old started that this year. No matter what we do she is never happy in the end. She pouts when it is time to leave a party and says she didn't have fun. If she doesn't get a big prize somewhere she complains she didn't have any fun. If we got places and then not everywhere she wanted, then she didn't have fun. She pouts quite a bit and we talk to her about being ungrateful every time. This has been going on for about six months. We seriously talk to her about all the positive things that we did and the one or two negative things she is pouting about and explain just how silly she's being. We explain that pouting about little things makes a person very unhappy all the time. That we can't have everything we want, when we want it. We try to explain how we should be happy about what we do have.

Sometimes I wonder if she doesn't get it from me...I tend to have pity parties about how we don't have enough money for the house, clothes, or activities for the kids. And so on. So I have to keep in mind that she is getting it from a legitimate source. So at the same time I'm correcting her I'm making mental notes to correct myself.

She is starting to come around. She has become more appreciative of things.

This past weekend my mother sent her a white Bible with her name on it in the mail because she got saved and babtized. She put a few card games in there and some treats for the girls. Of course, my oldest complained that there wasn't a toy or something and pouted about it. I told her that since she wasn't happy or appreciative of what grammy sent her(...explaining that grammy spent good money on the Bible, treats, and cards and then good money to mail it to her all the way from SC....) that I would package it up and send it back so grammy could get her money back. Told her that it is very bad to complain that a gift isn't good enough. I told her that no one has to buy her anything, nor do anything fun with her, or take her places. All she really needs is food (that could be anything), a place to sleep, and clothes on her back. That's all she NEEDS. Anything else is a blessing. If she wants to pout and be sad about the blessing, then maybe she needs to give it back.

She thought about it that night. The next day she was proudly showing that Bible to everyone she could. She was all smiles and explained to everyone how special it was and how nice it was that her grammy loved her so much to send it to her.

I haven't heard another complaint for a few days now.

Keep telling her. Maybe even take something away a few times. Don't give up. It will sink in.

I think most kids learn much of that from television. They see kids there getting everything and having everything and living it up. They are inundated with tons of commercials about how you have to have this and that. Adults are pretty bad too that is why we have the trillion dollar consumer debt in this country. The government is only doing what we do in society. Kids are far more susceptible than adults and adults haven't been doing well in this area either.

Just be patient and keep kindly and calmly driving the message home. It will sink in.

Too many outings. Stay at home and bake cookies, play a board game or campout in the backyard. Build a fort out of blankets in the living room, or just turn on the music and dance and sing.

When you do go out, before you leave the house lay out the plan. If she fusses for more that what is agreed on, then she gets nothing....and don't waiver. She will soon learn that you mean what you say and she'll quit asking for more than she is already offered.

Sounds to me that she is a pretty smart 7 yo. She is playing you! She realizes that being around you is fun. she is testing the waters to see how much she can get out of it. I would suggest that you have a type of family meeting to discuss how things will be regarding chores, allowance, outings etcs. Also, try not to give in when she gets demanding. when you give in, she has won the battle. Explain that there will be opportunity for rewards..good behavior, good grades etc. Our younger son is 14(today) and when he has report card time, we plan a lunch out on a day off of school. He thinks this is great. we don't actually pay him for his grades, but going out to lunch is something he really enjoys. Also, he has certain stores he likes to shop at. we explain that is what "his" money is for. We have taught him about looking for the sale items to make his money go further. He actually looks forward to taking some of this money and shopping. The most important thing is to set the ground rules first. explain that if the rules are not followed, there won't be any "fun" outings and stick to your guns. after a few times, she will see that you are in charge.

I think much of it is age appropriate, but that doesn't mean you can't work to instill greatful-ness in her. I would stop with all the outings and focus on doing things together. Like baking, playing at the park, bike riding, making crafts.

Consider involving her in some sort of charitable endeavor, like taking the money you would spend at a carnival and buying food for the local food pantry. Then, take her with you to make the donation. Maybe she can do some extra chores around the house (dog walking, leaf raking, cleaning, etc) and she can pick a charity she would like to donate to. My son's sunday school class made turkey cards to be delivered to a local hospital to people who would be there over the holiday. You can also send packages and letters to soldiers.

My daughter has been too young for this so far (she's 4) but I am thinking of getting her a MoonJar when we are at the right stage...It is a "piggy bank" that emphasizes forethought vs. impulse buying, and generosity. Here is a bit from the website:http://www.moonjar.com/default.aspx

Moon: "To shoot for the moon"; to go after dreams and goals.
Jar: Following ancient custom where wishes or dreams are written down and placed in a special jar for future celebration!

moon + jar = MOONJAR!

Moonjar’s origination was sparked by Mrs. Scandiuzzi’s childhood exposure to the values of hard work, thoughtful decision making and strong financial ethics, paired with an anecdotal remembrance of the Rockefeller family. In his family kitchen, John D. Rockefeller kept three jars for his children’s allowances for saving, spending, and charitable giving. This model of managing money, paired with the legacy of her family’s financial management principles, moved Mrs. Scandiuzzi to create Moonjar.

My daughters only three so I haven't experienced what's normal for a seven year old. I know some of the post say that seven is to young for an allowence but for my daughter it works. She's had one since she was two. She gets a quarter for each chore she does (which is putting cloths in laundry and cleaning up toys) for each day. She has to put 1 quarter in savings and then gets another for spending. I just added 10 cents also for her to add to a charity container. I needed to do this because my daughter always asked for stuff when at stores or on outtings and now she knows that if she has the money she can get something and if not she has to save up for it. My point is that allowence is important for teaching kids about saving money, budgeting, and learning that money isn't something that is a always there but that you have to work for it. Many may say she too young but it works for us. She even has asked to use her money to buy a Christmas gift for a friend of hers. I also encourge maybe getting her involved in some sort of charity work to help her understand that there are others less fortunite. With my daughter we're going to use the money she saves from her charity to go to the store 1x a month and have her buy food for the food pantry and drop it off. That way she gets to see where the money is going and starts to get an understanding of helping others.

We are having a similar problem with out 6 year old son, we have handled the situation much like you and your husband. I am looking forward to hearing some advice as well.

My gut feeling is you are taking her on too many of these outings in the first place. Kids need to spend time with their families doing just regular stuff, playing, reading, activities, real time together, more then they need fancy outing that just become miserable. The kid is unhappy and is finding happiness in "things". We are all bombarded with this idea we are supposed to have all kinds of "stuff" and that is going to bring us happiness. It is all over tv, computer etc. and even in how parents buy things for themselves etc. Plus it sounds like your are stretching yourselves too thin financially. How about some nature outings and cultural events that are free, and once in a while do the more expensive outing and teach that, yes you get one thing or x amount of money. Then it will be special and you don't have to keep repeating this negative experience.
On the allowance front, she is way too young to expect her to save her allowance. Let her spend it how she wants (or have her save a portion of it for long term stuff and to teach her to save). Just set the limits and stick to it. You on the other hand don't get to tell her how to feel about stuff. I would defintely ignore the pouting. If it has no effect on you I think she will stop it. If you let it bother you then it's YOUR feelings you need to deal with. (AKA, you feel guilty which you shouldn't) let her whine..so what? Or tell her if she's going to whine she can go to her room and whine there. or sulk whatever.

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