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.