Disrespectful 7 Year Old. Please Help.

Updated on April 10, 2013
B.M. asks from Arvada, CO
17 answers

I need some help with my daughter! She is 7 years old. She has always been a great kid, wants to do the right thing, generous, sweet, can take her anywhere. I have even had to take her to work with me a few times and she has always been perfect. Here are the serious issues in our home at the moment -
Lately she has been so obnoxious. Rude, condescending, smart mouth, very dramatic and downright defiant. She has even begun snarling and growing like a "velociraptor" when she gets upset at you. Lately she cries at the drop of a hat, the other day she bawled for 45 minutes because I had asked her if she wanted chips and she said no because she didn't realize that I had made guacamole instead of salsa. Still don't know what that was about. She also blames everyone for everything, especially me. Example - earlier she had left her shell collection on the floor, I made a pile of her things for her to put away. She apparently almost dropped one shell because she didn't see it. Immediately started saying how she didn't see the shell, and how I put it there, and that maybe next time I should try harder and do something else instead of putting it in a pile. It doesn't sound as bad on here as it was but it was very disrespectful and snotty in person.
Almost every time I ask her to do anything (clean her room, finish her dinner, pick up her toys, etc) she sighs this super loud, very dramatic sigh, whines, complains, and cries the whole time.
She also complains about everything, how I sold one of her toys at our garage sale 6 months ago, she can't buy certain toys, her shoes are too big, her jeans are too small, her socks are weird, her water glass tastes funny, pretty much CONSTANT complaining about something.
She is obviously very unhappy about something but I don't know what to do about it.
She has always been such a sweetheart and I would hate to see her turn in to a monster now.
I don't know what to do with her. Please help, give me some tips, advice, pointers, anything?!
House rules? Chores? Punishments? Things to keep her busy? What can I do......

What can I do next?

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answers from New York on

How much sleep is she getting? Try putting her to bed 20 minutes earlier for a week. Is there something that has changed? divorce? death of grandparent? single parent dating? new babysitter?

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answers from Cleveland on

Thanks for posting - I have two of these (twin 7 yr old girls), and sounds pretty similar to what we are going through!

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answers from Honolulu on

Don't negotiate.
Don't debate.
Don't let her... "choose."
Just tell her, what you expect and that's it.
A kid has to realize... that not EVERYTHING is a choice, nor a debate, nor a negotiation, and NOT... depending on their moods.
Girl or boy, they can... get like this.
It is obnoxious.
And at a certain age, it is just not cute, anymore.

YOU need to state boundaries.
SHE has to learn that and about respect.
AND about "compromising."

WHEN/if my kids get like that... I will state, in a calm stern way "No, you know the rules, now do it. IF you complain/nag/tantrum/scream/whine... it will NOT WORK. So, scream/tantrum/grumble all you want... I will be reading my magazine, tell me when you are done." And then I walk away.
And by doing so, my kids know, not to manipulate me.
They know, I am on to them.
And I actually TELL THEM "you cannot manipulate someone into doing what you want by acting this way."

OR... I tell my kids if/when they act like that "If you cannot or will not COOPERATE with Mommy.... do not expect anything from me or ask me for anything, nor will I cooperate with you... unless you redo your actions.."
And that's it.

Also teach her, (before it becomes a bad habit), that "complaining" is not productive, nor is blaming. SHE, is responsible for her voice and actions. It is a CHOICE..... if she acts icky or normally.

ALL kids, go through age related phases. BUT, you have to, manage it and teach the kid, BOUNDARIES. And about the WAYS of talking.... in a palatable way.
Otherwise, yes... her attitude/icky tone of voice... will become a bad habit.

Tell her, "REDO, you voice and behavior. You KNOW...what is appropriate or not.... " then walk away. And tell her "When you redo that... and correct yourself, you come to me and let me know..." and have her apologize.

And TELL her "I WILL NOT, put up with that." And then walk away.
Even if, she is having a cow and screaming or having a fit.
Because... a kid WILL deflate, on their own... when they realize it is not getting them a reaction.

Also, she is 7. IF she is so picky... about how you place her things or not, and about what she wants as a snack or not depending on what else there is along with it... THEN, have HER DO IT herself. She is 7.
My son is 6 and he can, pick things up himself and put it in his own pile... he can make his own snacks too and will, pleasantly.
And I taught them how to cook/do things in the kitchen since they were 3 years old, so I KNOW, they can do it. And if the complain about how I do it... FOR them, I tell them in a nice calm voice "You can do it too... yourself. Everyone does things differently. If you are picky about it, then come into the kitchen and do it, yourself." And my kids know... that is my telling them, MY limits. And they will do it.
TEACH your child HOW to do things... in the house... too.
Mommy is not a waitress.
I have a 10 year old girl, and 6 year old boy...and they are perfectly capable. I know it, they know it.... and though I will do a lot for them.. IF they use an icky voice and attitude... I will NOT... put up with it.
They know, that.

And, be careful of the tv shows she watches. I know, a lot of kids at my kids' school, who, even at that age, watch all those Tween and Teen tv shows, because they have older siblings. And, that is the way they talk, on those shows.
Also, just tell your child, point blank... what you will NOT... put up with.
Be clear.
Tell her "behaving that way is WRONG. You KNOW that. Redo that and correct yourself. Now. When you do, you come and tell me. I will not put up with it."
And make sure, she is getting enough sleep.
AND also... have a regular "chatting" time with her... so that, she CAN express herself to you, everyday. Good or bad, that she can tell you things about her day etc. This is important. Even if she is "grumbling"... this is the time to do it. Tell her this is your chatting time. Ask her about her day or irritations, etc.
I do that with my kids, and it makes a difference. AND it is also a "bonding" time, with my kids. A NEEDED, time, for a child just to talk to their Mom, about anything. It not being contingent on performance or deadlines or requirements.
My late Dad used to say "If a child cannot be themselves at home or cannot vent or express themselves at home to their parent... then where, will they do that?" and the answer is: outside the home, or with undesirable friends etc. So, you also need to, toggle their icky moods/attitudes... along with, having a concerted effort, to bond and chat with them too... so that they can tell you about anything, that is bothering them or not.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

As Jessica notes -- this is a very typical age for a developmental stage where kids get very sensitive; very easily upset or angered or both; and in an "it's all about me" funk when anything happens. Your sweet kid can be sweet one minute then in tears over some perceived slight. It is a developmental stage that happens around age seven to eight, and expect it to keep going until she's maybe a late eight or has reached nine.

She isn't out to be bad, though she may at times be pushing against your limits a bit to test who she is and what she can do.

So do ensure that you have good discipline in place -- discipline that teaches, not punishment that only...punishes. If she is snarky, one thing that might work well (I've seen it stop my daughter cold in her tracks) is to turn to her, be sure you face her and stare at her silently for a moment, then say VERY calmly, "Excuse me, but that tone of voice is one I can't hear. Now, tell me that again in a voice you know is acceptable." Then wait, not moving and looking at her. Do your own variation (I often said, "I do not hear any requests made in that voice so please try again"). Halting everything, turning your whole body to face hers, and using a far quieter voice -- rather than raising your voice -- can be a short, sharp shock to a child who is in the process of getting herself wound up, and can break the cycle in which she's heading for meltdown or for further snarkiness.

As for the dramatic sighs, the complaints about funny water and weird socks....Please, please choose your battles. Ignore as much as you can; definitely ignore these little things. Yes, it IS annoying! Yes, you do miss your sweet kid. And yes, you will find your nerves frayed. Go into another room. If you just must reply, be very calm and non-committal ("I'm sorry the water tastes odd to you. You can get yourself a new glass of water if you want to try again" and then when she whines "Noooo, it'll taste the same" -- say nothing more!). Choosing battles and not making every whine and complaint into a topic for discussion -- even well-meaning discussion like "But the socks are fine! They're pretty! You liked them last week" -- is VERY important just now. Don't ignore her but also don't give the whining and nitpicking much attention either. She really does believe the water is off and the socks are weird and the order to clean her room is a bummer. She does think that so let it go, as long as she does what is asked -- and when she does not, ensure that she KNOWS in advance what her consequences will be. Ensure that consequences "fit the crime" and do not improvise -- decide in advance that if, for example, she has to be told to do a real chore (clean up room, take out trash now, etc.) more than twice, she will lose TV privileges for today and tomorrow. Plan ahead on your consequences so you don't improvise in the heat of being annoyed with her, or you'll go overboard and get more riled as she gets more whiny.

You asked about house rules, chores, punishments, things to keep her busy...Just keep on with consistent, fitting and fair discipline and don't get annoyed. Don't tolerate snotty comments either but handle them with cold calm and not a raised voice.

She is not "turning into a monster" as you fear and you do not have a sudden delinquent on your hands. Please talk to the school counselor and ask about this stage -- and it is a stage that even the nicest kids go through, and it will be accompanied by not just snottiness but also tears and upset over things that seem utterly trivial to an adult. They aren't trivial to her, so don't dismiss them, and keep the lines of communication open. Choosing battles and knowing when to ignore (most of the time) and when to discipline (when things really can't be tolerated) are vital right now.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on


I'd start with two things: be very consistent in whichever correction you choose and stay emotionally neutral when she starts popping off. Don't get sucked in, don't get angry-- kids often expect a response from us, but going overboard with empathy and questions or getting upset and talking about respect-- these things both do the wrong thing. Why?

They introduce a conversation when she is clearly not ready for one.

One thing my sister does with her three boys is that when they complain about a chore, she has them do that chore over and over ** until they can do it without complaint**.

All the Daze (a child development website) has this to say about seven year olds:(just picking the highlights)
"Be ready for mood swings"
"Withdraw and are often silent, brooding, sulking and moody. They frequently feel that other children are picking on them or don’t like them."
"Expect to be treated fairly and are easily hurt when they feel they have been treated unfairly."
"Likely to complain than rejoice; maybe moody"
"can become suddenly exhausted"
"may feel that everyone else is against him/her"
"The seven year old has defiant moments. She wants to know why she has to do something. She may
call her mother mean and run to her room to sulk but is less likely to physically strike her parent now...When she is
disciplined she accepts it but is deeply disturbed by being in trouble. "
(read more at http://www.allthedaze.com/7.html )

All that to say, your daughter is typical for her age.

If it were me, when she starts the yelling and carrying on, stop her. "I see you want to solve a problem, and I will be ready to talk to you when you can use your regular voice." If it continues, "You may go to your room until you are ready to use your regular voice to solve the problem. I'll talk to you then."

If she is mad and comes out again, "room... regular voice". No discussion.

I've also learned that short bursts of empathy without lots of explanation can help. "Oh, your shell broke. I know you liked it. That's a bummer." More complaining? "Yes, it's too bad. It's important to put our treasures away." No lecturing, no justifying. She knows the lesson, so keep it short.

You might also want to try one of my very favorite books on communication and relationships, "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen... And How to Listen So Kids Will Talk" by Faber and Mazlish. This book is helpful in giving parents other communication tools-- besides talking-- to get their point across and make expectations clear. Switching to written reminders is one great example. The less confrontation kids have with us, in the moment, the more harmonious things are for everyone.

And there's always "wow, that's a bummer" when they are just complaining to complain. :)

OH, and EVERYTHING SH suggested. Damn! THAT was an awesome post!:)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

Every little girl I've ever known had gone through this particular developmental stage. You have to tough it out and remain consistent with your house rules and discipline while at the same time be understanding that this isn't all in her control. It's like pre-pre-puberty.

I have three daughters. I have many friends with daughters. I'm friends with all of the mothers in my two of my daughters' Girl Scout troops. It's Girl World in my world. I have a 12 year old, 10 year old, and 8 year old. I have teenage nieces and nieces that are my daughters' ages.

It really can appear to come out of nowhere. Something could be bothering her, absolutely... but the over-reactions and hormonal-ish-ness? Developmental.

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answers from Kansas City on

i know you're going to think "yeah right!" but my 6 1/2 year old SON is the same way lol.

i discipline for all the disrespect you mentioned, just like anything else. eye rolling. time out. stomping feet. time out. dramatic sighs and throwing something down on the floor in frustration. time out. certainly the snarky sarcastic know-it-all tone he gets sometimes. the other day we were at my mom's house after spending the night. the previous night we had watched a movie and popped popcorn- he found out my mom ate the last of the popcorn the next day - and BURST into tears, running to the bathroom. all the while sobbing hysterically (LOUDLY!). my mom and i just looked at each other like "what the HECK!?"

i ignored that tantrum and he got over it pretty quickly.

but seriously all those other behaviors, while an understandable reaction to out of control emotions or whatever- are still disrespectful and inappropriate. i would put her in time out, EVERY time it occurs. make sure she knows the rules ahead of time too.

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answers from San Francisco on

Since this is a new behavior, make an appointment with her PED and let them know everything you have told us. This seems (to me) like a really rapid imbalance. If everything checks out at the PED and he/she does not recommend additional medical attention....THEN pull out the STOPS and have a serious heart to heart with your PREVIOUSLY sweet little girl. Tell her how much you love her but the recent changes are something you just don't understand. Let her know if something is bothering her that there is NOTHING she can tell you that will make you STOP loving her. Also let her know that if she continues bad behavior without letting you know something is WRONG, there will be some consequences.

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answers from Williamsport on

You can improve your bond and offer fun things for the two of you ..once this is nipped! My oldest is seven. I never let the slightest eye roll go by without a severe warning. Due to consistency over her whole life for disrespect, it didn't go past that to rude phrases. Ever. Therefore, it's fair to say she is super sweet with no discipline (as people often comment), but actually, she has always been disciplined by catching things and handling firmly as they started.

I would get the book Back to Basics Discipline by Janet Campbell Matson for a concise clear stop to the disrespect. You want to act fast so you can move on to positivity. It's normal for girls to get b_tchy at this age and it can get really ugly by nine or pre-teens and teens. Or it can be avoided if you have a zero tolerance policy. First and foremost NEVER IGNORE!!!!! Anything you ignore will be tried again and again and again and pretty soon you'll have rude and disrespectful daughter. Be concise, not naggy and BE effective. Get the book. I honestly have three kids who would never treat me badly and I can't say the same for my friends who ignore the snark.
Good luck! Don't lose your sweet girl!

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answers from Kalamazoo on

I saw a supernanny where she had the parents act the way the child was acting. Maybe she needs a taste of her own medicine?? Otherwise, I would talk to her, she should be treating you the way the wants to be treated. Some of the overly emotional stuff, she probably cant help, but she doesnt need to be complaining all the time. Dig in, Im sure its not going to get easier from here on out. GL

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answers from New York on

Ah welcome to the world of 7 year old girls! Sounds perfectly normal to me. They start to test the waters around this age. Choose your battles. The comments about clothes, ignore. I certainly would not accept her "snotty" tone. Make sure she understands the consequences if she does not do what she is told to do. Good luck. This too shall pass. Girls also get very colicky at this age.

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answers from Philadelphia on

ha my daughter goes through phases like these sporadically. I;ve posteed a few scenarios on the facebook group where i thought i had a bratty spoiled acctress for a kid. luckily it seems like after one big emotional blowout she feels badly and doesnt do it again for months

we sing exageratorrrrrrrrrrrrr woahhhhhhh to the tune of Come Out and Play by offspring...no idea why that tune but it works. she gets what she's doing and cools off and sings. she sings it to M. when i whine about something in the car now=)

as for her whining about how you do something..simple enough make her do everything for heself. Make her make her own pile, get her own glass and so on...either she needs that because she needs the control or she will get how much you do and complain less and let you help
Emmy would whine about M. doing her hair wrong. now she does it.

I have responses that will get her to smarten up

complaining saying I WANT A TOY at a store i simply reply "ask one more time and i'm throwing one out at home" that makes her quiet down real quick. A mom caught M. saying this last week and laughed and came over and told M. she was stealing that line
"I want candy" same thing. we will throw away a piece of candy from home if you dont stop

The one thing that IRKS M. is when we are somewhere i spent money to take her and she whines about wanting something additional ussually i J. say "oh mom thanks so much for taking M. hear, spending your hard earned money...." and so on and she gets it and will stop in her tracks hug M. and thank M.

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answers from Denver on

Find a class or get the book or cds for Parenting with Love and Logic.



answers from San Francisco on

Honestly, it sounds like the age.



answers from Norfolk on

My 7-yr old son has been doing the exact same thing! So frustrating!

While I have zero tolerance for that type of behavior, I really think it's an attention issue. I have a 4-yr old son who gets my time so much more and I really notice a difference when I carve out positive one-on-one time with my 7-yr old.

I did a "muffins for mom" morning at his school and had a few great days after that! I've also promised him a "date" with me next week because Grandma will be in town to watch my other son. I have also been very pro-active in being more thoughtful and kind to him. Going out of my way to praise his good behavior, while also showing no tolerance for the bad behavior.

Please let us know what works for you!



answers from San Francisco on

It could be a phase. I think you should ignore the sighing and complaining. If she's snotty, give her a consequence. If she wants to cry while she's picking up toys, let her cry. If she cries while finishing her dinner, send her away from the table with no more dinner and tell her she's ruining everyone else's dinner.

Then, reward positive behavior. Say, "I really like it when you talk pleasantly," after she talks pleasantly.

Don't worry that this indicates a complete personality change. It's probably just a kid testing her limits.


answers from St. Louis on

She is emulating someone, at school, in the family, neighbors, etc. She is growing up and she is learning to be more independent. You do not punish her, you teach her and modify her behavior in a nice but firm way. You look at her eyes and say:
"name, we don't do this, that is not OK"
"name, yelling it is not nice". I see you are upset, but I will understand you better if you tell me what makes you upset" (or angry, or sad, etc)
However, you have to find a place for "time out", a chair in the hallway, by you in the kitchen, etc. and you say:"you will be H. for 7 minutes, until you feel better".
Do not yell or get upset when she yells or whines or gets upset. You act normally and speak seriously w/o anger, just show her who is the boss,period. Do not give her many choices ( 3 different kind of mealls, juices, dessert, or do not feel obligated to buy a toy she wants every time you go to the store, etc) Be consistent with what you say every single day every minute of the day in terms of discipline.
Last thing, "nurture" good behavior, do not "reward" good behavior, which means to say" I noticed you were able to control yourself even when you felt upset, good job!" Show her you notice every time she is doing something good or behaving as expected, but first she needs to know what is expected from her, even the minimum detail of good behavior.
Chores? Of course, just a little help from a little helper!:
sorting out laundry (socks for example),
cleaning up toys, you can start together and say to her: "let's clean up, you pick up the red ones and I will do the blue ones!", you may want to do it together a couple of times and then she will get the hang of it. (every evening before bed time at the SAME time);
Be firm and do not give up! There is nothing more cute and beautiful than a child well behaved.

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