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proexpert37, Educator/Life Coach
Category: Parenting
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Experience:  Teacher 20+ years, Parent, Expert Mentor
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I am worried about my 7 year old daughters attitude and behaviour.

Customer Question

I am worried about my 7 year old daughters attitude and behaviour. I am also confused as to which advise to follow to help her. Some say to do time out or the "1,2,3 magic method, some say that time out is more like a punishment rather than positive parenting.

Please help as I am at my wits end. Thank you.

Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Dr. Rossi replied 6 years ago.

Hi Sarah,


To assist you better, would you clarify -

What behaviors are most problematic?

Does she exhibit these behaviors elsewhere (at school, grandparent's house, etc)?

When did her misbehaving start (became worse)?



Info request is intended for clarification purposes only. Any expert can respond back.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Hi, she has always been strong minded and from the age of 18 months has had tantrums when not getting her own way. She has always tested us to the max. Just recently she tests us even more, eg if we tell her to stop doing something she will do it again just to test how far we go. If we ask her to do something, she can instantly through a stamping tantrum at not wanting to do it. She is verbally nasty but not physical. She has a jealous streak of her brother who is very easy going and doesn't get told off half as much because he is a much more laid back character and easy to be with.


She comes out of school often with a stropping mouth and demands everything in an instant, which of course I don't give in. She is just hard work. This week we have put parent controls on the TV to try and calm her down, especially on channels such as MTV music channels and the american disney shows which I don't like. The worst part of her is her continual ignoring and attitude towards us. She doesn't exhibit these behaviour at school as far as her teacher is aware, but I have been told that her particular teacher sees all the children with rose coloured specs anyway. She does do it at grandparents (both sets) and more than more she has come to relax in their presence and play up. She particularly does it when she knows she's going to get nanny reacting to it, which she has to because normally its to severe a bad attitude to not address it. She is also good at switching on the tears very quickly and stamping off into her room and slamming doors...she's acting like a teenager and she is only 7. I am very worried about her and we are both exhausted and sad that she is turning out completely different to the way we are trying to teach her.

Expert:  Dr. Rossi replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for clarifying.

Few things caught my attention 1/ she is trying to punish you with her behavior (which in itself is attention seeking = negative attention is still attention.

2/ her brother is somewhat of her antagonist (is he by any chance younger than he?) She very well experiences some kind of differential treatment (because you described him as more mellow than she)

"her continual ignoring and attitude towards us" But this on her end is most likely done with an agenda behind it (to aggravate you and once again drawn attention to her self even if it is negative. Behavior is purposeful.

3/ "She doesn't exhibit these behavior at school "(possibly because she's not striving for attention and is not punishing other adults because they most likely do not treat her differently. Or, she does not perceive their treatment as different. If her grandparents discipline her and if it reminds her in any sense of the rivalry w/ her brother or if it evokes a sense of inferiority, she would react/act out. "particularly does it when she knows she's going to get nanny reacting to it"


While parenting her, you can give her consequences for negative/undesirable behavior and in order for the consequences to work out, they have to involve removing something pleasant. If you're using time out (and it does not always work with everyone especially introverted kids) you would not use it again. On the other hand, if you see her striving for social attention/interaction, you'd make sure to reinforce the time out. Kids do not usually become complacent in the time out the first few times (as they hope this would discourage adults to do it again) Yet, you'd want to remain firm. While she's in time out, there should be no interaction with others, no ability to watch TV or engage others in anyway. And if she does, they should ignore her instead of tell her constantly to be quiet. That is still reacting to her.

It may be helpful to use a different approach when parenting her. Focusing on her positive traits and entrusting her with some responsibilities in the home that will strengthen her sense of belonging as well as her self esteem. Adlerian psychology examines all family members as a unit and how one person's behavior affects the rest. You've already tried different approaches. Something else to look into may be STEP (systematic training for affective parenting) based on an Adlerian approach. Family counseling is another. Not individual therapy just for her and not parenting just for the adults but family therapy where everyone takes part in it.


The Parent's Handbook: Systematic Training for Effective Parenting


My Kid is Acting Out and I am About to Shout: Effective Parenting Made Easy

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

But what I don't understand is the fact that I have explained to Gaby that if she behaves well then she will get the good attention like Cameron and she will get lots of cuddles and kisses like I give Cameron. If she knows that, then why does she still carry on with the bad behaviour, when she knows it's not going to end in cuddles and kisses!


Its not like I ignore her, don't get me wrong, she gets kisses and cuddles like Cameron its just we are better bonded and he is just easier to cuddle, talk with etc without bad behaviour starting. She takes things too far sometimes and gets silly with it, in a negative way.


I just want to clarify that you think I should take something pleasant away from her for negative behaviour and give her time out for attention seeking behaviour. Im not sure I understand because her negative behaviour is attention seeking behaviour?



Expert:  Dr. Rossi replied 6 years ago.

You're rationalizing something with a 7 yol girl but her rationalizations are done on emotional not logical/mental level. Then, you're telling her if you do this then you'd get that...

She may be carrying on like this because she wants to receive positive attention regardless of whether she's good or bad (not only when she's good)

"Cameron its just we are better bonded and he is just easier to cuddle, talk with etc without bad behavior starting. She takes things too far sometimes and gets silly with it, in a negative way. " She understands this (she observes your interaction with him and that he's being preferred to her)


When you use a consequence it will always involve taking away something that she enjoys but letting her know how to earn it back and in what time frame. It has to be reasonable. Meanwhile, you can think of things to entrust her like the second lady of the home (things she can help you with in the home with the understanding that these are very special things to be doing. Then, you praise her effort and her help (even if it's not perfect) You compliment her at least 2x per day for things she does (she brushed her hair nice, she put dishes away, she did her homework well, etc) and her dad do the same. When you decide on what consequences to give her, both you and her dad will make sure that you are on the same page with the discipline. Behavior is always purposeful and yes, it may very well be attention seeking as I mentioned even negative attention is desired by a child when they know otherwise there will be no attention what soever. Children get a sense of who they are when they interact with their peers and from adults. No one likes to be ignored. If she has a low self esteem (which she most likely will if she feels like #2 in the family, she would do what she can to draw attention back to herself. Instead of using other "good kids" as role models, use her own behavior when she's good (say something like, the other day when you did was wonderful...etc)


I don't have anything else to add as I think I've covered a lot to think about.



Expert:  proexpert37 replied 6 years ago.

Hello and Thank you for using Just Answer. If you have not already done so, you may need to pay a visit to your daughter's pediatrician and specifically address the behavioral concerns of your daughter. Your daughter seems to be manifesting ODD: Oppositional Defiance Disorder, which only a medical professional could accurately diagnose and assist you with solutions based on your child's individual case. Here is some information to help you better understand the aspects of ODD: negative persistent behavior which has lasted more than 6 months and has become a disruption to the family, defiance, disobedience, hostility toward adult figures, having temper tantrums, annoying others on purpose, being very argumentative with figures of authority, and displaying mean/vindictive/ aggressive behavior. It is important to seek professional assistance because ODD is often co-occurring with ADHD, anxiety, and even depression. The sooner any disorder can be discovered and then managed, then the better the chances of alleviating and even reversing its effects for your daughter and for your family members. Appropriate treatment can help improve and restore your daughter's self-esteem and rebuild much more positive relationships between your daughter and all of the individuals in her precious life.


Hope this helps!!!





Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Good morning, an example of Gaby's behaviour was this morning when Gaby said something to Cameron but it was said with a grumpy bad attitude and yet Cameron had not antagonised her in any shape of form. Both my husband and I spoke last night and agreed we should try and be more postive parents to her and so rather than shouting to her we said "Gaby, do you think there could have been a different way in which you answered Cameron". "How do you think you could have said that to him differently?". She put her head down then and covered her eyes with her arms because she knew she was wrong but she then grumbled a reply "say it nicer". We then said yes, that would have been the right way.

I wonder whether we are right in our approach to help Gaby's behaviour. We know behaviour is attention seeking, we know about giving her time out and withdrawing things that are pleasant and we know that obviously her self esteem must be getting hugely knocked because she can physically see Cameron getting a lot of "good attention". I feel I just an answer that is going to work. I'm not going down the doctors route yet. I feel this is defiant and I know at the end of the day, it's to do with our behaviour towards our daughter as much as her is obviously fuelling the's just so difficult in knowing how to actually approach her.

Expert:  Dr. Rossi replied 6 years ago.


Just Answer is intended for paid question and answer (versus ongoing communication) Experts are free lancers and receive credit for their work only when a client accepts their answer. I would be available to answer more questions upon acceptance of prior information provided ir you chose to work with me or you are free to work with any other expert.

Also, there are multiple issues going on that would benefit from face to face family counseling versus online consultation (also suggested by another expert who had posted to you). For a disorderto be either diagnosed or ruled out (the behavior ought to be observed in multiple settings including school) Thanks.

Expert:  proexpert37 replied 6 years ago.

Hello and Thank You for responding. The doctor's route is always an option. Since you are not ready to travel that route, then you must be consistent and firm with your behavioral modification techniques. Stop focusing on all of the negative things that your daughter does. Set up a reward chart for each day broken up by morning, afternoon, and evening or like:


Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday








Display the chart in an area for all to see like on the refrigerator. For every time period of the day in which she behaves well, give her a sticker on the chart. If she behaved well for the entire week, she would receive 21 stickers. But let's say that you have established a goal of receiving 10 stickers to start for the week. When she meets that goal for excellent behavior, praise and reward her. Take her to the park. let her visit a favorite friend or relative. Buy an inexpensive toy or book. Take her out for ice cream. The goal is to try and change her behavior by focusing on the positive and make her feel more responsible for her own actions. Then for the subsequent weeks, you can increase the goal by 1 or 2 stickers until you start observing more appropriate behavior. If negative behavior is displayed, she receives nothing but make a little notation on the chart and what the behavior was. Like you have done before, make sure that she understands and verbally can express what the correct behavior should have been. I know that you have used a reward chart in the past but maybe this one can help.


Also, children love to role play and play dress up. You can role play with your daughter but you be your daughter and let your daughter be you so she can see how she appears to others. It will be interesting how she perceives you. Then you can discuss the experience and her feelings.


To assist your daughter more appropriately, she must verbalize her feelings when she is calm. Teach her how to use " I " messages instead of having tantrums. When she is unhappy or feels upset, teach her to say, "I feel unhappy because I cannot.... and I want.... This really makes her stop and think what is bothering her and what needs to change. But it needs to be said in a calm manner. She can also write it down . It makes her feel more accountable.


You can also buy a fancy and decorative journal. When she is having a meltdown, tell her in order to calm down she must first draw a picture of what is bothering her in her journal and write a sentence about it. When she has finished, you can discuss the issue.


Also, give her more leadership responsibilities. Let her pick out where the family will go out to dinner. Let her pick out SOME of her new school clothes and supplies. Allow her to go grocery shopping with you and "help you" pick out the desired foods. She needs to feel more confident and appreciated in a different way.



proexpert37, Educator/Life Coach
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1374
Experience: Teacher 20+ years, Parent, Expert Mentor
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