7 Year Old with an Attitude

Updated on January 30, 2014
D.M. asks from Littleton, CO
12 answers

I have a very bright and witty and socially aware 7 year old. She is always having the last word and often not "nice" to anyone (unless she wants something - so she is capable). She isn't nice to her brother - not physically, but verbally. She'll say I love .... then name everyone in our family, including the dog, but leave out her 6 year old brother. She is constantly talking back to me mainly, but almost everyone as well. She plays all right with most kids, but does tend to boss them. It's not horrible, just not nice. She is not super-emathetic (understatement) but I don't know how to teach or encourage that. I am concerned that it will only get worse, and wonder if anyone else has dealt with the more successfully that I have (so far). Thank you !

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thank you all for your kind and gentle (but clear) advice. We are working to correct every little thing and have fair consequences. Explaining why her behavior is mean and sometimes hurts others. We've made progress. This helped to get us focused on this and change it NOW. THANK YOU so much - we've had more good days than bad and will continue to do what you've suggested. THANK YOU

Featured Answers


answers from New York on

It certainly will get worse as it becomes a habit. Sit her down and talk to her like a grown up. Tell her that when she was a little girl she only had to be cute because that's all most little children can do as they learn about the world. Now that she's 7 she's growing up into the person she wants to be. At this point she gets to make a choice on how she wants people to think of her. Does she want them to think she's bossy and doesn't care about their feelings? Does she want them to think she's a kind person? Does she want them to think she's smart? Funnny? A talented writer? A good friend?

Talk it through with her calmly and explain that once she gets a reputation for being a difficult or cruel person it's hard to change how people feel so they will always see her as a difficult or cruel person even if she changes in a couple years.

7 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Wichita Falls on

Couple of thoughts..

That kind of treatment to a younger sibling is not uncommon, my brother and I HATED each other until college. And the reason she sasses you mostly is because she feels safe doing so, you won't stop loving her no matter what her attitude is.

But this is a crucial age for developing empathy, and if she is really struggling with the concept, you need to talk with her pedi. She may be on the autism spectrum. If so, you will need a whole new set of tools for your parental toolbox. Don't be afraid of the label, understanding how her brain works will make dealing with her a whole lot easier.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

She is 7.
And this has gone on for TOO long.
And the thing is, she KNOWS she is being mean, but still does it.
And whether it is with family or in school, her acting like this is real obnoxious.
NO one, likes people like that. No matter what age.

You REALLY need to, be blunt... with her. And tell her, directly with no fluff, that her behavior is WRONG. She is mean and give her repercussions for her bad, behavior.
She acts like this too, because she can and does get away, with it.

I work at a school, elementary.
And I see kids like this, of ALL ages.
And really, everyone knows full well, the kids that are this way.
And they are not, liked.
Or, if they do have friends, their friends are either just like them, or they are the types that can be bossed around and mistreated.
Its just, noxious.
And yes, other kids and... parents... know, which kids are this way. They observe it themselves, too.

You REALLY have to, give her stiff scoldings and repercussions for her behavior. If you do not, nip it now... she will be a 15 year old Teenager, still acting this way, and you then will have a bigger problem on your hands. In many, ways.

Its not nice.
It is not longer "cute" to act that way. Because she is now, 7.
It is not pleasant.
It is MEAN.
It is not acceptable.

AND, her belittling her younger sibling is, WRONG.
I hope, you are standing up for your younger child???
Because, being treated like that, by another sibling, is simply, inappropriate. And very, wrong.
She needs to be taught, by now, what "family" is, and what a "sibling" is.
Being bright/smart or not, has NOTHING to do with it.
This is about, human decency and mistreatment of others. Which even young kids, do.
AND it is also very wrong, because, your daughter manipulates.... others.
And that, is wrong. Because your daughter is doing it, for mean reasons.

I grew up with a sibling, just like your daughter. And, it was REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLY, oppressive and unpleasant... growing up with a sibling like that. EVEN as an adult... she is that way. But the thing is, my parents tried all sorts of things to correct it, but it was HORRIBLE, for me, as the sibling, that she PICKED on. Your daughter, is negatively affecting the childhood of your son.
It is very, wrong.
AND you need to... stand up for your son, when your daughter PICKS and bullies, him.

You need to nip this now. In your daughter.
It is horrible.
I grew up with a sibling like that.
It is so, toxic.
So toxic.

NO one, should put up with her ill behavior.
And she is conniving.
And manipulative.
And it is so very wrong.
I really, just hated... growing up with my sibling that was that way.
You cannot trust... people like that.
Even if they are a kid.
You all, need to and have to, correct her now.
And stand up for your son.
Do you want your son... to think that girls are this way? And then he chooses a girlfriend who mistreats him later as he gets older?
Because, your daughter is, in a sense, giving him an example of what a girl is... and how to be treated. Or not.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

I agree with what the others have written. I think your daughter has a power game going, and you're going to have to take yourself out of the game before you end it.

"Look, Jenny, you may be having fun with the way you treat people, but I'm calling a halt to that kind of fun. It's mean to your friends and to your brother, and it's disrespectful to your father and to me. I'm telling you right now that I'm going to call you on this every single time it happens."

But first, you have to think HOW you are going to call her on it, because she will definitely test you!

What will be a consequence for her bossing her friends around? You'll have to know *before* she gets bossy so you can deal it out right away! What will be a consequence for her verbally barbing her brother? What will be a consequence for her mouthing off to you?

What will you do when she tries to get you involved in a conversation about the consequence *instead* of doing what you say? (That's why you want to use more action and fewer words.)

You'll need to extremely consistent, and she needs to know you will be. No backing off just because it's happening in public or is otherwise inconvenient.

This *isn't* an unusual problem, particularly at this age. Talk to a counselor if you need to. Your very intelligent girl is (very intelligently) using her intelligence as a club, just as a big, strong kid might use his/her size and strength.

She needs to learn she has to use her heart as well as her brain. There are other kids who need to learn how to get their brains in gear. Just another adventure!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Whenever I hear my dd say something not nice or bossy, I always stop her. I give her an alternative. If I hear her gossip about anyone, I put a stop to it.
If she says something negative about someone I ask her if she would like it if someone said that about her.

When she has friends over and I observe bossy behavior, I call her over and remind her that friendship is give and take and she need to let the other friend have her way too.

It's a constant process of teaching what's okay and what is not. She is now 10 and I think she's getting the hang of it. I wish I could say the same for a few of the other kids I've observed.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Slam the door on this behavior quickly. It sounds to me like she knows exactly what she is doing. Give her a warning ONCE and then the next time she speaks to someone inappropriately take away a privilege. At our house our boys are "unplugged" no tv, games, computers, etc. Sometimes it is for just an hour, sometimes for a day.

Find what she values and put that in "time out". When she gets the picture that you are not going to put up with it any longer you can lighten up a bit but at first you have to jump on every infraction.

Good Luck


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

We went through this with our very bright 7 year old boy recently. After many failed attempts at trying to get him to see the effects of his words, what finally registered is something like this: when your brother was born, he was born into a family with a mom, dad and big brother. To feel good about himself and loved by his family, he needs the love and respect of all three of us. His mom, dad AND big brother. You have a significant impact on him and a very important role in shaping how feels about himself. Please use your powerful words carefully.

The behavior isn't gone, but there was an immediate change in the right direction.

Good luck. I know this tough and an ongoing challenge.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Along with other advice you've gotten, I'd add that I find the silent treatment pretty effective... When she's mean, no one talks to her, they ignore her etc. The few times my oldest was "mean", I'd say "that hurt" and then ignore her for a while. That really got to her. If your daugter's mean to her brother, tell him to completely ignore her. You refuse to speak to her too. I also tend (at another time) to talk about other people as examples of bad or unattractive behaviour. I'll bring up a girl at school I know is bossy and talk about her and how no one's going to want to play with her after a while and that's a shame bc she'll have no friends. Doens't make sense to be bossy... Do they like when someone bosses them or is a little mean? I let them kind of think about it. Sometimes I think that works well bc it's not directly attacking them but showing by example. I'll tell stories from when i was a kid about these "mean" sisters and how slowly they had no friends but how bad they made us all feel in the meantime. And I'll say I'd be so sad if you were ever like that and you'll be sad too bc you'll have no friends. Often I'll do this while we're driving some where so it seems like conversation vs lecturing them. I will say my neice apparently did not have much empathy at that age and it worried my sister but I think she got better. But good for you for trying to address it. I think I'm fortunate that both my kids don't seem to be inclined this way so it's likely been easier for me. I've seen a girl whose mother tries to tell her she'll have no friends though etc and it jsut doens't click as easily. This girl's brain works differently. So you may want to get some books, eventually talk to a counselor to get more tools etc. Same time, this girl has gotten better so it may just take time. And like I said, my niece learned empathy so don't panic.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Miss sassy pants needs to be held accountable for her behaviors.
Sure there will usually be sibling bickering, but when it becomes constant and cruel enough to hurt feelings, it has gone too far. Not cute.

I would remind her you know she is better than this. If we cannot say something nice do not say anything.

When she is not being nice just to manipulate those around her, mention that you like this type of behavior and you are noticing it.

When you know she is using kindness under false pretence call her on it.
She thinks she is clever, but it is actually very rude behaviors.

It is always best when we acknowledge the positive behaviors. But you need to let your son know, you have his back, and give him words to stand up to his sister.

"I do not like your words!"
"Your words are hurting my feelings"
"I love you, but you are not being nice."

And then mom, you need to back him up. Let her know, " I heard your words, you need to take some minutes, and come back and make this better." I also like "you are such a nice child, for such ugly words to come out of your mouth."

And during a quiet time, remind her what it feels like to have people you like/ love/admire say or do hurtful things to her. Ask her, if someone said the thing you said to brother, how would that make you feel?

Empathy cannot always be taught, but it can be explained. If you notice she honestly cannot grasp the concept, she may need to evaluated.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

When you see her intentionally being mean to her friends, the friends go home and she goes to her room. She stays there until the next day.

Same with back talking or being mean to her brother. All of this gets her sent to her room for the rest of the day and night. If she can't be nice, then she hasn't earned the privilege of being in nice company.

To teach her empathy I would mirror back to her what she is doing to her little brother and let her experience the hurt feelings that it causes. Some things have to be experienced in order to be understood.

S.H. you go on quite a bit about how wrong the behavior is and how it needs to be nipped in the bud, but I don't see one word of constructive advice on HOW to nip it in the bud which is the question that was posed.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

I'm with Cheryl B. That has to be nipped in the bud quickly. Not acceptable.


answers from Williamsport on

I have a 7-year old. All of this behavior is normal to try, starting at about 3 with a resurgence in the 6-7 range if not nipped, but what has your discipline been so far? It's hard to know what you should do without knowing what you have done. From this it almost sounds like you have sat back and witnessed the behavior without stepping in which I'm sure isn't the case. More information please! When she is unkind to people, and you have explained what that means and warned her not to act that way, what is her consequence?

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions