May 17, 2008,
L.P. asks from Mullica Hill, NJ on May 10, 2008
My 8 Year Old Is Always So Negative
My eight year old daughter seems to be negative about just about anything. If I say black she says white. No matter what I do she seems to disagree or have a problem with it. If I talk to one of her sisters, she complains that I'm not talking to her. I have two other daughters that need attention too. My husband and I try to give her one on one attention but it never seems to be enough and then we end up arguing with her. We love her and want her to be happy but I don't know what else to do. Any suggestions?
T.M. answers from Philadelphia on May 11, 2008
refreshing to see someone else has this..i have 2 like this..they have been worse lately but mostly always since they were little...cant wait to keep reading your advice because the only thing i recently said to them is that before i hear anything negitive i need a positive 1st takes their mind off the bad...sorry i am in the spot you are and hope we both get good info...maybe it is a girl thing because my boys dont do it much!!!!
T.Y. answers from Philadelphia on May 11, 2008
Hi L., I am wondering if it's a phase they go through around that age. My son also has been doing a little of that. It's like he always has to be right even when he's wrong. And although most of his life he has been a really happy kid, he also has been very negative lately. He even gets jealous when I talk to my dog...he always says "she gets all the attention" and then he tells me I never pay any attention to him. He's an only child and he even complained yesterday that the dog doesn't get punished for going on the furniture but he always gets punished. I try to talk to him rationally but sometimes I get so frustrated. I usually end up telling him he can think whatever he likes but that doesn't make it right. Sorry I can't help much more than that but I guess if it's a phase that means it has to end eventually. I hope!
A.J. answers from Williamsport on May 11, 2008
Hey, L., it's really good that you have identified this. Your daughter is having a tough time for whatever reason. I think there are three super important elements to this solution. First: You're doing the right thing by giving her one on one time and attention. Do as much of that as you can within reason of what she should need and what you give to your others. Do things specific to her interests so she knows you know and understand her. Be really present with her and focus on her without distraction, listen and be supportive. Number two: Start or continue to instill a sense of gratefulness in her for be so fortunate. At that age, my mom would take me with her while she volunteered at a deaf and blind school and wildlife rehabilitation center. We always hosted less fortunate people at holidays etc and went with her to donate time helping people with less than us. To this day I remember those things and how they made me thankful at a very young age. Make sure she's exposed to things with uplifting inspirational values about people being nice and classy. Old movies show women in a dignified strong light. Audrey Hepburn movies are good. Little House on the Prarie is awesome. I've heard Oprah's video about the girls school in Africa is really good for girls to see how hard it is for girls elsewhere and how happy they are for their opportunities. Avoid shallow catty bratty things like Hanna Montana-and too many shows with commercials full of "things to want". Don't let her hang around kids who complain a lot and act mean. Keep her busy with rewarding books and pastimes.
And third: Don't tolerate her bad behavior. Be firm. As soon as she starts acting like that, immediately enforce whatever discipline you use. If' you're out shopping for her and she gets negative or difficult, tell her you won't shop for her then, and leave. If she's talking back and being rude, implement her discipline immediately. Be persistent and consistent.
We were never allowed to whine or cry or be difficult unless we were hurt or sad for a legitimate reason. Otherwise, that behavior was never allowed. She needs to learn it's wrong to behave that way for the good of her own character, so don't dote too much or she'll learn she gets attention that way. Very Best Wishes to you! I hope you can turn this phase around and watch her grow into a happy loving person. It's not too late! You can do it!
a m y
B.K. answers from Pittsburgh on May 11, 2008
Hi L., welcome to my world!! I have three girls too, ages 11, 14 & 16. No matter what we do someone always feels left out, ignored, "it's not fair", or neglected in some way. There are times when I just want to pull my hair out! We love our girls, we planned each one of them and they are each very special in their own ways. When they were younger we had them all involved in the same activities, girl scouts, dance, softball, & music. As they have grown older we have encouraged them to find their own little niches...doing somthing "their own". That does help a bit. Although as I think about it they all do have similar intrests...they are all in scouts still, one plays soccer one softball, all three are in the school's orchestra's, two love to write stories and poetry while one is very artistic...they complament each other. My middle one tends to feel left out more than the others and we fight alot. She is alot like I was at that age! All I can suggest to you is try to carve out time alone with each of your girls every week...Dad too, that seems to help. Good luck and hang in there. Best wishes.
F.H. answers from Sharon on May 11, 2008
Shes in the whiny 'life nots fair' stage and 'everyones out to get me' and 'life is rotten'. Beleive it or not this is stage that kids this age go through. My son is the same way. Learn to say "oh really is that what you think" or something along those lines if its something that doesnt really need to be commented on.
Help her become solution oreineted when she has a problem she is complaining about. Try not to acknowledge the whining but instead say, "oh yeah what are you going to do about that ?" She will have to figure out a solution. She will also feel as if you are listening to her. She may just need to vent sometimes.
Other things we have done is say "I'm sorry you feel that way." Dont let her get you caught up in arguments, its not worth it and it never accomplishes anything. Work on being more positive yourself and it will lighten everyones mood.
Also check her sleep patterns. Is she getting 10 hours every night? Tired kids are grumpy/whiny kids. Dont be tricked into thinking if she doesnt sleep for 10 hours she doesnt need it she does!
S.C. answers from York on May 11, 2008
You didn't say what ages your other daughters are, but that's somewhat irrelevant. Your heading threw me for a loop, once I started reading your post. It sounds to me that it's not so much that your daughter is negative, but that she's argumentative and somewhat ungrateful. By eight years old, she certainly "knows better" than to be disrespectful and argumentative, but if she knows that she can get away with it she will. As for the attention never being enough, perhaps it's time to require some gratitude for what she does get. My five year old son "helps" write his thank you cards for presents and kindnesses. With the school year ending, she could write a note to her teacher(s) and also the principal of her school. Also, since we're celebrating mother's day, ask her to list 3-5 things that she likes or appreciates about you. Then, ask her to write down one or two things that she's unhappy with you about. The next time you have one-on-one time you'll have a subject for dialogue.
Naturally, you're the adult, so it's your responsibility to "take the high road" when she wants to turn conversation into a verbal sparring match. On the other hand, now is also the time to make sure that she understands that she MUST respect authority, and that sassing, rudeness, disrepect, etc. will NOT be tolerated. Set a stiff punishment and stick to it! The first few days will be the hardest. The flip side is an incentive for good/positive behaviors. Ask her what she thinks would be a good motivation. If her response is something extravagant, make the effort extravagant. If she's only asking for something small, make the requirements a little easier to meet. Hope this helps. I'll be praying for you, your husband, and your daughters.
J.J. answers from Pittsburgh on May 11, 2008
Hi L., we had this problem last summer with our 9 yr old. I got my idea from Super Nanny and it worked! The tool Supernanny used was to get some boys to quit cussing she had clear columns and for everyday they were 'swear word free' they got a balloon and when the column was filled they got to do something. Well I felt that was a tad juvenille for a 9 yr old so I tweaked it a bit. I drew a rainbow and left the 'bows' blank. I labeled it "Hailey's Uplifting Rainbow", for everyday that she wasn't negative we colored in a 'bow', when it was full she got to chose to do something, go to a movie, out to eat, etc. It may sound corny but it REALLY worked and now we use the same theory all the time with different things, right now we're working on her putting her clothes where they belong so she has a clothesline and the clothes get colored in. It also takes some stress off me too, I don't have to push her to do it and if she choses not to then it's her loss.
K.C. answers from State College on May 11, 2008
I went through this - it made me nuts. I have her thank God for something that happened that day at the end of prayers every night. If you don't do the prayer thing(of if you do) have her write in a book one good or cool thing that happened that day.(I would write one in the book too always having to do with something good she had done that day). When my daughter would say the neg. I would ask her for a positive. "It's raining today, this sucks" I would counter with, "But it's making the farmers really happy right now. They've been needing the rain." Also is you scheduled a weekly "special time" with each kid that might help so she knows she'll go on a 1/2hour walk once a week with one of you and each of the other ones will too.
If she's feeling so negative that attention elsewhere hurts her regardless how valid or not it's a sign she needs you and your attention more to help her with whatever is going on in her life.
T.M. answers from State College on May 11, 2008
Is she the only one of your children doing this? Do either you or your husband do this? What can you do besides engaging in an argument? If you say black and she disagrees immediately, can you acknowledge her opinion by just stating (unemotionally), "Oh, you say white. That's interesting," what would happen? Is there any reason you need to have the final word, thus engaging in an argument? After all, it takes 2 to argue. If you let it drop, will she?
L.S. answers from Philadelphia on May 11, 2008
I don't have anything really constructive to add. But I do think that personality traits feed into negativity. Some people just seem born to be people who see the glass half-empty rather than half-full. I don't have this issue with my kids, but my mother is a master at negativity. Mom is 78. My grandmother, her mother, died only 4 years ago, and even she used to say, "I've known your mother for 74 years, and she's been this way right from the moment she was born!" My mom is in the hospital now following a hip replacement, and she has real reasons to complain, but in proportion to other people, she's way over the top and very dramatic. With everyday sorts of things, she just has to always add a comment that disagrees with whatever anyone says to her. If you say, "What a beautiful, sunny day today!" She'll respond, "Well, it'll be rainy one of these days!" There's nothing she won't try to bring down. On some level, I think it's her way of gaining control and/or attention. It's very wearing on everyone around her, and eventually, her friends all move on. She never has a friend for more than a year or so. That's about all anyone can take of her personality. So, her life is one circle of negative energy. It's very sad.
I hope that you can help your child see the good in situations. Give her positive feedback when she's in a good mood, so that she learns that she can get attention through positivity. Life is just too short to be grumpy!
H.F. answers from Pittsburgh on May 12, 2008
I wish you the best of luck in this endeavor. I'm currently enduring the same ride in the kiddyland, here. My daughter is 8 and disagreeable, argumentative, and moody. My mom's theory is that they are maturing faster because of all of the hormones in our food, so they are starting to hit the pre-PMS stage earlier. I have to say that there are days I would like to try to give her a Midol and see if it works. ;)
My best advice is to be patient. Try not to overreact to her rants and tirades. Be straightforward with her and when she starts to go off, take advantage of her bedroom. Send her to it. If she can't hear you over her own voice, then you are getting nowhere. I treat a tantrum or breakdown just like I would when she was 2, I send her to her room until she is ready to calm down and talk civily to me about what is bothering her. I have 2 younger kids (both boys, almost 4 years and almost 9 months). My daughter knows they need attention but it doesn't stop her all of the time.
One thing that has helped is setting aside (never a set time) some time to ask her during the day how her day has been, what the best part of her day was (or the day before depending on when we talk), and just finding time to actually let her tell me what is going on in her life in a positive way. Also, I'm part of a book club. She loved that idea. So she asked me to be part of a Mommy and Daughter book club that included just me and her. She picks a book for us to read (so far she's picked ones I've already read) and then we talk about it after she has read it. It is great and opens us up to conversations on some topics we wouldn't have considered otherwise. We, also, sometimes talk about what her brothers are doing and what she thinks about it. Like our 3 year olds potty training a few months back and his looking forward to starting preschool in the fall or our almost 9 month old's attempts to talk and walk.
I have to say that being patient and trying to listen to her actual complaints and accomplishments when she is talking to me calmly does help. As for all of the fight and moodiness, I have 2 younger sisters (now grown) and 3 young cousins that my parents are now raising and I know that this time in their lives will pass. It does take a while. My mom said, that first they realize that you don't know everything, then for a few years you get dumber and dumber, but somewhere down the line you start getting smarter again. It is at this point that you actually develop a better relationship and can become more than mother and daughter. My mom's been through it 3 times and I think of her as a wonderful asset and friend, so in this I believe she is fairly correct.
Knowing this from her experience, I persevere. I chant my mantra "This will pass, this will pass, this will pass." (I chant this silently to myself a LOT. My almost 4 year old has hit the why stage recently. Only with him, it is not just why. It is why, who, when, where, what and how. ;) ) The hardest part is not losing patience or hope that we will get past some of the behaviors and antics. I wish you luck with your daughters. Also, if you ever want to rant or commisserate please feel free to email me.
B.D. answers from Philadelphia on May 17, 2008
Has your daughter always been an argumentative child? Has she always felt that nothing was ever enough? This may be a part of her temperament. Take a step back and take a breath. It is not you. Stay calm and talk to her in a slow calm voice. " I hear that you want attention right now. I will give you attention when I am finished talking to your sister." Do not take her disagreement with you personally. Some children are strong willed. Knowing this can help you get rid of the guilt and end the fighting. If your daughter does have a fit about you not taking to her just walk away and talk to her later. It takes 2 to argue. Check out the books written by Stanley Turecki, M.D. They talk about the different temperaments of children. Keep up the good work.
B. Davis Child and Family Coach
If you would like to discuss this further please stop by www.ChildandFamilyCoaching.com
S.C. answers from Philadelphia on May 12, 2008
you are soo not alone! my 7 year old son is doing this same stuff right now. i'm trying one-on-one time for now and discipline. he is also very negative and argumentative. i think we also might try counseling, as per the teacher's suggestion, but also because i think we need it with him.
D.H. answers from Harrisburg on May 12, 2008
Some of this is normal, but I wouldn't let that be an excuse for not correcting her attitude. First, Lif is not fair...who ever said it would be??? There will be plenty of times when even when she is an adult, that life will not be fair. Sounds gruff, but get over it!! If she stays stuck on this, she will be one miserable adult. Second, it sounds like she is in need of somthing that makes her feel special. Not sure what this looks like to her. A great book that could help you discover what this might be is called, "Five Love Languages of Chilren". It is a wonderful tool to use to make your children feel loved in the ways that they understand it, not the way we "think" they should. It is an easy read, and a huge eye opener for a parent...this is a spin off of the first book, "Five Love Languages"...which is a super great book for couples to read...it could change your marriage relationship!! Good Luck!