How to Deal with an Out of Control 7 Year Old?

Updated on May 26, 2011
J.P. asks from Lockport, IL
9 answers

I have been having issues with my 7 year old daughter being disrespectful, honest & kind. She has always been a good kid up until about 3 months ago. We did have another child 11 months ago and she was very happy when he arrived and she is really good with him (most of the time). She still gets the same attention, if not more now, than she had before her brother was born so I don't think this is the reason. Maybe it's just the age??? She says mean things to me and no matter what I say or do it just continues. She has also stop listening to us, we will tell her to do something and we will have to repeat ourselves about 5 times before she does what she was told. We have taken away her favorite things, grounded her, sent her to her room, and even made her go to bed way before her normal bed time. Anyone have any suggestions on what to do to help her change and be the loving good kid she was? I miss my little princess

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answers from Atlanta on

I had a conversation with a friend of mine last year about this very same thing. At about this age 7-8 (some) girls really try to push their parents to see how far they can go. I would step up the discipline!!! I did not and am now having problems with my sweet 8 soon to be 9 year old who thinks she is the center of the universe!

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answers from Sacramento on

Maybe she is truly jealous. We had this problem with my stepdaughter who was 10 when our son together was born.
She is better once he was born but every once in awhile it resurfaces.
I think that coupled with her age and possibly friends at school.
Again....we noticed this behavioral change w/my husband's daughter.
I see flows and ebbs w/her attitude.
Be consistent, be loving, immediately correct the bad behavior when you see it, don't get lazy and let something go (we saw this snowball and turn out to be a huge problem if we didn't correct the bad behavior each and every time), give her attention too (I know it's hard when you have a baby), spend special time w/her (take just her w/you to lunch or the mall once every 2 weeks or so), praise good behavior each time you see it (go a little over the top with your are trying to modify behavior and encourage the correct behavior when you see it.)

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Awwww....I think part of it is the age, part of it is the end of the school year is in sight, part of it is attitude.

I would say to just be consistent with her consequences. Hit her where it hurts. For my 8 yo boy that's baseball, Wii, and his airplane collection! (His favorite things to do.)

You know that time of the day--maybe its right before she goes to sleep, getting a bath, driving in the car, etc where she tends to REALLY want to talk? Use that time to slyly review what she did and how it made you feel and keep reinforcing the fact that words hurt and how easily you can really hurt someone else with just a few simple words blurted out in anger.....

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answers from Dallas on

I have a 7-year-old and have never experienced this type of behavior with her. I also have a 4-year-old and no other kids. I don't really have any advice for you because I have no idea what would cause this but I just wanted to send warm thoughts your way- being a Mom sucks sometimes!

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answers from Chicago on

My 6 year old did the same thing after my youngest was born last year. My once sweet & loving 6 year old became disrespectful, mean (mainly to me) and nasty. Turns out she wasn't getting enough attention from me. Everyone else was giving her quality time as a way to help me out. I spent time with her, but realized I needed to spend more quality time with her. I made my helpers take the baby so I could take her out to a movie, dinners or even just a solo trip to the playground. Her nasty behavior turned around within a week or two. This solo time also gave me an opportunity to talk to her about how our life has changed. I still held strong to discipline, but turns out she was just jealous of the new baby. Good luck!

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answers from Portland on

Part of this could be her age, because she's trying to "find" herself as an autonomous person. Part of it could be changes in family dynamics with the baby and the kinds of time and attention you can now give her.

Unfortunately, you can't "make" anyone, adult or child, change their actual feelings. Punishment may actually make matters worse, because something she perceives she needs is not only going wanting, but she's receiving negative consequences for having that unmet need.

I'm not there to hear the actual tone of things as your daughter expresses them, but I'm guessing she's feeling uncertain about her place in the family and in your heart, even if she adores her new baby brother. This is a huge change for her, and a few months ago she may have had to acknowledge that she's not the only child anymore. She may have changes going on in her educational life, as well, or the patterns of her friendships, that are puzzling or frustrating her.

If you were to quietly contemplate life from your daughter's point of view, and noticed that Mom and Dad were much busier and more stressed now, and wondered whether they still loved you as much, might you push buttons to see what happens? If you do something annoying, and Mom reassures you that she loves you, wants your happiness, AND hopes you will play your part in keeping the family running smoothly, how would that sit with you compared to Mom getting annoyed or impatient with you and sending you to your room? What would continued punishment do to your desire to contribute positively to your family?

Something that children your daughter's age are capable of comprehending, with some helpful coaching from parents, is that they are capable and original problem-solvers, and can be appreciated for those budding skills.

This is a real hit of the power and control your daughter might be craving right now, and once she tastes it, she'll want more. So I hope you'll read the wise and practical book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Faber and Mazlish. It will equip you to know when to talk and when to listen, how to draw your daughter out so you know just what's going on with her, and how to assist her in some creative problem-solving. All in easy to read, easy to understand and implement steps.

You may end up wondering how you got this far without this wonderful resource. It's my favorite parenting book ever, and I've watched it do some amazing things in young families with problems like yours.

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answers from Chicago on

I second Peg's recommendation for the Adele Faber book— tough to sometimes put into practice as a parent when you're frustrated, but is good sound common sense that really works when you use it! I think what you're experiencing is partially the age and testing boundaries. It sounds like she wants attention and is figuring out where she fits in as she's not the baby, but not a parent either. I would try to give her some choice where applicable and help her feel she has some decision-making power, like getting her involved in solving things like, "How can we make picking up easier? Can you pick a song to listen to that would help to keep you moving? Is there a better way to store the ponies so that they don't always end up on the floor?" — that kind of thing. And offer positive reinforcements, like if you hang up you clothes, ready for school (whatever the task is that is a sticking point with you) for X number of days in a row we can do something enjoyable together..... extending the time needed for reward as she meets the goals. My guys are very chart oriented and that kind of motivation really works for them. Additionally, praise her when she acts kind and respectful and point out when you see others doing the same as it's those qualities you value and know that she has even if she doesn't always choose to exercise them! Your princess is going through a rough patch, but she's still there!



answers from Chicago on

This could still be due to a new child. 1. When she is disrespectful stop her in her tracks and tell her know in your most stern voice that she is being disrespectful and it will not be accepted and make her stand in a corner or give her the scripture from Ephesian 6 that talks about how children should obey thier parents and have her write an essay about her disrespectful behavior.
2. When you tell her to do something and she doesn't move the first time don't repeat yourself, get up and let her know that she needs to get up and do whatever you have just told her right now or she will be writing or standing or doing extra chores.
She is old enough to learn how to follow directions. If you start this now then she will be fine in no time. When you train a child to respond only after you tell her 5 or 6 times then that is what she will do with everyone incouding her employer. So get her straight now before it is a major problem.



answers from Chicago on

Positive discipline is a loving way to help children regulate their behavior. Check out Love & Logic, which is based in Colorado. They have a website with lots of resources such as a free newsletter, as well as materials for sale (books, DVDs, etc.). I find their approach and materials to be simple, effective, and above all, kind.

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