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#1 of 8 Old 03-03-2004, 11:54 PM - Thread Starter
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I am at a loss as to what to do about my almost 10 year old and her selfishness. I am not sure if this is just "normal" behavior, or if it is a problem.
I am worried because her younger brother who is almost 6 is so much more giving than her, so it makes me wonder is it just her, or is it an age thing. To be honest thought, she has never been terribly giving even at 6.
Here is an example of what I am talking about, today when we went to drop off dh at work dd rode in the middle seat next to ds#2 (we have a minivan so there are 3 rows, she was in the second row with ds#2). The two older kids ds#1 and dd take turns sitting in the middle seat. Well when it was time to pick up dh, she pitched a fit about having to sit in the way back, and she said "I should get two turns in the middle". I tried being nice about it and explained that the reason we made this rule was because they both faught over the seat so much, so that is why they take turns. It did no good it was like I was talking to a brick wall, she just sat back there fussing with her seat belt, yelling at me, crying. Then out of know where, ds#1 says to her, "here you sit here, I will sit in the back seat." He gets up goes to the back and buckles up. She gets into the middle seat, doesn't even say thank you, and looks smuggly at me. I was so upset at her, yet so touched by my son being so giving.
THEN, (ok, I need to explain something, about once a month we have a "movie night" and we rent a couple movies and stay up late and "camp out" and eat popcorn and watch movies) so it was ds#1's turn to watch his movie first, and he was really excited since he had been waiting for it to come out on video, but again he said his sister could watch hers first. So we did, and it is over and she wants to watch the "special feature" but I told her it was getting late and ds#1 wanted to see his movie, so she freaks out again! I told her, I was sorry, but it was his turn and she could either settle down and watch the movie with us, or go to her room, and read a book, because she wasn't being very fair, and ds#1 let her watch her movie first, and now it was his turn. I also said that we could watch some of the special features of both movies tomorrow. Well, she did settle down and they are now watching the movie, but I am really disappointed in her behavior. And I am at a loss as to what to do.
I don't want to shame her or say something like "Look your little brother shares, why don't you?" But I am not sure what to do. She really takes advantage of ds#1's niceness, and giving nature. She bribes him to help clear her room, then won't help him. A few days ago, he asked her if she would help him and if she did the next time she needed help he would help her. She said "no" and then the VERY NEXT DAY, she needed help and asked him and I was in his room when she did, and I stepped in and reminder her of what had happened the day before. So she starts yelling at him (not me) and tells him she will never help him again. I did get after her about that, because I know she was mad at me, and taking it out on him. I told her, "You get what you give" You know, if you willing help people, most people will willing help you back. If you are kind and generous it comes back to you. I don't know if she is too young for this or if she doesn't believe it or what! But I am at the end of my rope!



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#2 of 8 Old 03-04-2004, 12:14 PM
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Okay, I'm in sales and one thing I've been taught over and over again is that everyone listens to a radio station called WIFM - what's in it for me? Somehow you need to motivate her to share. You need to make it look like the grass is greener when you share than when you selfishly take what you want. And it will be most effective when you do it without ever mentioning her behavior. For example, when little brother offers to sit in back so she can have the fought over seat, rather than commenting on her behavior, I would comment on his and tell him how nice he was for thinking of her and sharing and reward him for that behavior. It needs to be a reward that she sees him get and is given as soon as possible after his good behavior but that he can't give her if she demands it from him. You know your kids better than I do and what makes them tick. So here's an idea that may or may not work. "DS, you were so nice to let DD have that seat. Why don't you pick what we're going to have for supper tonight?" And then you make the family whatever he wants. Obviously that's probably not the reward you will pick. But it needs to be something that is important to him that he gets because he was willing to share. That's where the WIFM comes in - that reward will be different for each child on any given day. You have to figure out what motivates your kids. Try different things. You may pick one reward and then it will somehow backfire on you. That's okay - try again with a different reward that doesn't have the potential to backfire in the same way. Bottom line, you need to make it worth it to her to share and be kind to her brother. I know this is more philosophical than practical, but I don't know your kids so I don't know what will work with them. If I think of any better ideas, I'll be sure to let you know.

Tana, wife to Steve (5/02), mom to Ben (7/03), Joey (10/06) and Caroline (9/09)
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#3 of 8 Old 03-04-2004, 03:36 PM
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It seems like your kids have gotten themselves stuck in certain family "roles" - he's the kind, generous one, and she's the "selfish" one. I would guess that your son gets something out of being generous and kind - he knows you're happy with him, he's pleasing you, and he's getting to be the "good kid". I wonder if your daughter isn't still tring to find her "place" in the family, and that fighting for the perks she enjoyed before he was born is a way of asserting her place - sort of an "I was here first, you get seconds" thing. She would seem to be the one who was feeling insecure - I think generally when people struggle hard for things that are basically meaningless, it's more about making sure that they're still important than the thing itself.

If this all fits, then maybe it would help to create certain things that are just for her and a parent, maybe something that reinforces her place as the older child, like going out for coffee (even if she gets cocoa) or to a bead store to make some too-complicated-for-6-yr-olds jewelry It might also help to give her some opportunities to do things for herself and her little brother, like making them a snack and using the stove, so she has an opportunity to do things that more reinforce her role in the family and are also caretaking towards her brother.

As far as the situation now with taking turns, if he's not complaining I would let it be for, and see if doing the other stuff has an impact. With the room cleaning, you might remind him that she didn't help him when he asks, but if he still wants to help her I'd let him. He's getting something out of this, too, and I think when he stops getting what he needs from it, he'll stop being so "nice".


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#4 of 8 Old 03-04-2004, 04:07 PM
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I see the car seat situation slightly differently. If I had been you then, I would have thanked ds for being willing to give it up, but I would still have insisted that dd sit in the back.

And I would stop ds from helping dd until some reciprocation was happening. Dd is being manipulative, and that is imho, worse than being selfish.
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#5 of 8 Old 03-05-2004, 10:45 AM
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Don't sweat it! Typical 10 year old behavior!

My 10 yr old ds has been so selfish lately! He went through this same stage around 4 as well. I have been pretty upset about it lately and have been wondering if I had done something wrong! It is apparently just a stage. I have been talking with a lot of different moms and have been getting the same feedback.

But isn't it amazing the level of selfish rude behavior a 10 year old can have! I agree with Dar here to some degree. Except my kids don't remember being the only one so the last part doesn't really apply. The general idea is the same ......

I wonder if your daughter isn't still tring to find her "place" in the family
When he does something or says something so ridiculously unfair I stop and think about him and the way I KNOW he is. Does that make sense. I have gotten to the point where I DO NOT talk to him when something happens. I don't try to reason. I wait until we are alone and then try to involve him in a discussion. A large part of his problem, I believe, is hormonal and you just can't reason with him. Aren't you getting tired of the constant negotiations though! I really have to just lay down the lay when this sort of thing happens. He is sooooo unreasonable. He does seem to appreciate the dialogue when we talk about it later. It makes him feel like he does count. And he does understand that he is being unfair. I do have to say though, that I have been making an effort to "side" with him more and more. (I try not to even enter into that sort of thing with the kids at all - sometimes you have to : )

Good Luck! HTH

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#6 of 8 Old 03-05-2004, 03:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, it is nice to know that it is just her age. I know she can be very giving at times, I guess I just don't always remember it. (It seems to me that she is REALLY nice when she wants something. Which makes me nuts. :LOL )
About my ds#1, I am not really sure what he gets out of it, he has always been that way. Ever since he could get around he would share and give stuff to people, very out of character for little kid. It was shocking to me. I think sometimes some people are just born that way, just honestly more giving, without trying to "get anything" out of it, except maybe see others happy. I think most of us learn to be less selfish, but some are just born that way. Also for him it maybe that whole middle child thing, trying to keep the peace?
Anyway, I will try and stop being so critcal of dd when stuff happen and then talk about it later. It could be that I am shaming her with out really meaning to, and so she is being reactive to that.


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#7 of 8 Old 03-05-2004, 05:47 PM
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We have the same hting. exept my children ar e 3 and 6. So I don't think it is age.

In your situation I agree with Irishmommy.

Praise your son profusely for being a peacemaker and for his generosity but not give dd her way. She 'll get over it. Also I would talk to ds about not being a doormat. let him kknow that you appreciate his kindness and generous spirit but assure him that you wan't be mad if he stands up for what he wants, especially to his sister. You may even want to suggest that he not do everything she asks him too.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#8 of 8 Old 03-05-2004, 07:14 PM
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I am going to agree with Dar about family roles.

I think you need to put forth effort to find when she has been even a touch generious, and praise it.
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