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<p>My husband and I are looking for non-traumatizing, non-punitive ways to help my 8-year-old stepdaughter get some perspective. (Posted here rather than GD because I'm not sure this is a discipline issue; mods, please feel free to move if you disagree.)</p>
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<p>She has, of late, developed a rather full sense of entitlement-- "You only say 'wow, congratulations' and do the tooth fairy thing when I lose a tooth. That makes me feel like I'm not special. I want ice cream and a new toy too." "I'm not hungry for X, only for pizza and ONLY Papa John's, so I'm not going to eat at all but I'll whine all night about how hungry I am" (when she has about 8 foods she's willing to eat, and X is one of them). "I hate it here because I don't have my own computer like I do at Mom's." (When I point out she has access to an iMac here that only she uses, she says, "yes, but it's not a laptop, it can't go in my room, and it's too slow.")</p>
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<p>"I hate Christmas at your house because I don't get enough presents" actually came out of her mouth yesterday. (She gets full celebrations at both houses--usually actual Christmas day at her mom's--so this isn't about missing out or missing Mom for the holiday. But we don't do the massive spread her mom does, and we never will because it's not at all how we are; she gets a few presents and an experience; last year it was the Nutcracker, the year before a hotel with waterslides, etc.)</p>
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<p>I know some of this is age-appropriate, and there may be added issues with her parents being apart (more than 7 years now; I've been around for 6), but it's still not great behavior.</p>
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<p>We're kind of at a loss about how to handle this. We/she routinely culls her stuff to give to charity, but beyond that?</p>
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<p>Some measures suggested by others seem either overly punitive (pack up everything but her absolute necessities for sleep and school and donate the rest), traumatic/voyeuristic (videos of starving children in Africa was suggested by my mom), or she's too young (most soup kitchens, etc. require workers to be 18).</p>
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<p>(Note: I know I'm 'not Mom,' but Mom doesn't see anything wrong and my husband, her dad, is getting fed up, but doesn't post here, so I am.)</p>
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<p>Suggestions would be helpful. Thanks.</p>
 

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<p>I think you can address this on a few fronts.</p>
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<p>I personally wouldn't punish kids for expressing their feelings at that age but I would give them a look and say something like "I'm sorry you feel that ____ but the way you just said that was a bit rude and bothers me." Nothing too harsh, but consistent - because it's true and she's old enough to hear it. She doesn't have to say it every time, or say it that way.</p>
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<p>I wouldn't get into or worry about the particular things she's complaining about. I'd just say "...it's nice you can enjoy that at your mother's" and give her, again, a consistent message - "we're ok how we are."</p>
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<p>I'd look for some opportunities to involve her in volunteer activities that will bring her some awareness of poverty, etc.  Again, not as a punishment or anything, but just to give her some perspective - and also to empower her. It kinds of sounds like she needs something real to fill up on because she's grasping at so many superficial things if that makes sense.</p>
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<p>I would also look for ways for her and her dad to spend time together that don't involve getting stuff or fancy experiences under the same theory - that she is expressing some kind of need that she can't articulate, via things and food.</p>
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<p>When she doesn't make a fuss I would be sure she gets attention in a positive way.</p>
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<p>ETA: Our food bank lets whole families volunteer.</p>
 
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<p>I think the above post has a lot of good points.  I will share that in our family we will be making a donation to Heifer International this year near Christmas, and I had my 8 year old help look through the options and pick out what animal (or share of one) we will give to a needy family. I think it really helps dd to keep things in perspective a bit- seeing how happy these families are to get a pig or goat for Christmas.  It is in no way punitive, and we debated it in a very casual way, whether one animal is better to give than another, leading to a good discussion. </p>
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<p>I have also dealt with the "I don't want to eat that, but I"m hungry" problem.  For us, I have had to make it clear to dd she can eat what we are having, she can make herself something, or she can go to her room and be hungry.  She is not allowed to make the rest of us miserable because she is choosing to not eat.  For the most part, that seems to have passed now.</p>
 

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<p>I don't see this at all as a lack-of-awareness-of-poverty issue. She's trying to reconcile the differing rules/systems at each house. Mom is ok with X, but that doesn't work at Dad's house and vice versa. It's very hard for children this age to live with two differing sets of rules (especially if she knows the parties are adversarial).</p>
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<p>Might it work to acknowledge that it's difficult to go between two houses and discuss from there? Chances are she'll always have a preference for one over the other, but she will come to appreciate both in time (a lot of time). I would just let her dad be firm that the rules are the rules at your house and she's free to not like them, but she does need to speak respectfully. I sometimes rescript for my kids in this type of situation, but my oldest is only 4 so not sure how that would fly with an 8 year old. "Wow, Papa John's is my favorite but I know you like Domino's." might be an appropriate sort of script to give her. She's always entitled to her opinion but not to being rude. </p>
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<p>I think she's fighting the two parents off against each other, trying to get them to compete. I'd back way off and completely disengage from all talk.  "I see" or something equally vague every time she says something like that, until she figures out you won't buy into it.</p>
 

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<p>Probably no use since you're step mum but when i was about 8 i was dragging my (new shoes clad) feet around in puddles in a zoo car park and a middle-aged male stranger said "you'll wreck your shoes" and i replied "they're waterproof" and he said "but they won't be if you keep scuffing them" and i said "then they (indicating my parents) will buy new ones" and he smiled and said, not at all nastily, "Goodness, you sound like a spoiled, ungrateful brat when you talk that way".  My mother and father smiled wanly at him (i guess i must have been going through a very similar phrase to the one you describe) but i was HORRIFIED and ran the conversation over and over for days and yes, i began making an effort to show appreciation of things better.  </p>
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<p>Does she know how she sounds?  I have a 4yo DD who goes back and forth though we're far from adversarial, and she will say "dada lets me" and i reply, "oh well, i'm not dada".  If she continues i ignore it unless it's getting out of hand (loud or disruptive which she can be) at which point i say "would you like to move on, and talk about something else, or would you like to think about how it's so unfair in your room?" and she generally gets over it.  I have told her "i'm a bit worried that if you say things like that people will think you're a horrible person, when i know you're not" when she's said particularly awful things (to her baby sister "i hope you die and then i can have your toys").  Maybe even videoing her would allow her to see the image she presents to the world when she acts that way, i know for me it was such a shock when the stranger said i seemed like a brat because i DID feel entitled and i DIDN'T think about how i sounded when i informed people of my entitlements.</p>
 

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<div class="quote-container" data-huddler-embed="/community/forum/thread/1282221/raging-entitlement-in-an-8-year-old#post_16079182" data-huddler-embed-placeholder="false"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>mamazee</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1282221/raging-entitlement-in-an-8-year-old#post_16079182"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif"></a><br><br><p>I think she's fighting the two parents off against each other, trying to get them to compete. I'd back way off and completely disengage from all talk.  "I see" or something equally vague every time she says something like that, until she figures out you won't buy into it.</p>
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I think this would be my approach, as well. Just refuse to get pulled into the tactic-- "oh, okay. well, suit yourself, then." I've dealt with this, on a smaller scale, with my DD1. She's younger (6). She uses similar tactics to try and play me and DH off against each other, because we work split shifts, so she's with one or the other of us an awful lot. I would try really hard not to let her pull you into trying punitive things-- which I think you realize won't help-- or into too much lecturing. Just be like, "oh, that must be hard for you. but that's how it is here."
 

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Discussion Starter #8
<p>Thanks for the advice--sadly, her mom called my husband and actually requested that we forego our Christmas tradition of Chinese food and a movie (I'm Jewish, and my husband thinks it's a great, low-pressure way to spend the holiday) this year (SD will be with us Christmas Eve/Day for the first time in a long time) because it "makes (SD) sad and feel like you're not trying."</p>
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<p>What, we're not allowed to create our own traditions in our own house, with our own family? We have to raise our son according to how she raises her daughter?</p>
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<p>Also: We're going to a tree-lighting/Santa thing tomorrow but my stepdaughter is boycotting Santa (she's never really been encouraged to or discouraged from Santa, but she doesn't believe at all anymore) so we'll probably quickly get the baby a Santa picture then skedaddle (she can have one if she decides at the last minute she wants one, too). We do have a tree (a small tabletop one because the dog will destroy a big one), stockings, some gifts, AND we're hosting a big Christmas Eve "got nowhere else to go?" dinner with pretty traditional Christmas fare.  I don't know what more else we can do, short of going out of town to my husband's relatives (which we can't do this year, for $$$ and new-job-no-time-off reasons). (Note that no party in this is Christian--this is purely being celebrated as a cultural holiday.)</p>
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<p>But after 11 a.m., when the toys have been played with for several hours and "I'm bored!" begins, what are we supposed to do?</p>
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<p>My husband said thanks for the suggestion but we've got plans. So it's moot. But it's frustrating.</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>ProtoLawyer</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1282221/raging-entitlement-in-an-8-year-old#post_16090129"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>Thanks for the advice--sadly, her mom called my husband and actually requested that we forego our Christmas tradition of Chinese food and a movie (I'm Jewish, and my husband thinks it's a great, low-pressure way to spend the holiday) this year (SD will be with us Christmas Eve/Day for the first time in a long time) because it "makes (SD) sad and feel like you're not trying."</p>
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<br><br><p>Ugg, sounds like she's got her Mom completely bought-in to her "poor, pitiful me" act.</p>
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<p>I have to admit, my first thought when I read the OP was that there is more going on here than meets the eye.  These behaviors are a smoke screen to conceal a bigger issue.  I don't know what that issue is, but I expect it has to do with her parents divorce and your blended family.  It could just be that she sees you and DH and your baby as an "intact family" and it makes her sad that she doesn't have that.  Anyway, I hope you guys can get to the bottom of it.  If you need some help, I would suggest family therapy.</p>
 

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<p>Sounds like your dsd's mother has bit of issues with entitlement as well.</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>blessedwithboys</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1282221/raging-entitlement-in-an-8-year-old#post_16090768"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>Sounds like your dsd's mother has bit of issues with entitlement as well.</p>
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<br><br><p>I'm not sure if it's entitlement, per se, but I know she sometimes see me as living "her" life--I had the second child with "her" husband (though they were long separated, divorce underway, and had both dated other people before I came along--and it was a mutually desired conflict-driven separation, not a cheating, abuse, or abandonment scenario), I have the modest-but-nice house, I have the good job in my career field, etc.  I admit it would be hard being on the other side and I try to take that into consideration, especially when it's framed in terms of what she's mourning versus, say, the fact she thinks my husband/her ex needs to suffer or struggle because she's suffering or struggling.</p>
 

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Discussion Starter #12
<p>See this? (Points in my general direction.) This is me giving up.</p>
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<p>We *were* going to go to our community's holiday festivities Saturday (for a little while, at least), which included a tree lighting, Santa, hot chocolate, elf-hat and ornament and menorah making, and fun stuff at several businesses along the main strip. One of my stepdaughter's--and her mom's--complaints is that we're not "festive enough" for holidays. When asked what that meant, we were told it's because we don't do a ton of decorations or make a big deal out of things. So what happens when we try to do something festive--something that, earlier in the day, she'd said she wanted to attend?</p>
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<p>My stepdaughter threw such an enormous fit--it's too cold, Santa's evil, it'll be boring, it's not ACTUALLY Christmas and therefore the event is stupid, "I'm not going, you just make me, why do we always have to do what you say?" that we missed the event completely (because short of physically forcing her into her coat and into the car, she wasn't budging). I mean, we had coats and hats on, and E. strapped into his car seat, and the car warming up, and everything. (Usually that gets her going. Saturday, it didn't.)  She didn't offer any reasonable explanation for not wanting to go--she was well rested, fed, and not ill. (She was, however, playing "Angry Birds" and apparently didn't want to stop.) And when my husband dared tell her that the alternative to going to the event wasn't sitting around watching TV and playing "Angry Birds" and getting pizza delivered, she stormed into her room and screamed and cried and then sulked the rest of the night.</p>
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<p>My husband's looking into some family counseling or play therapy. </p>
 

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<p>It sounds like my dd acted (with me) sometimes, starting at about that age (prepuberty...just wait), I just stopped responding with any interest or drama after a while...ala Parenting with Love and Logic.  "Bummer.  I guess if you don't want to hang out with us you can find a place out of the way to sit but if you change your mind we'll be over there *disappointed smile*"  "Bummer.  I thought you'd like what we're having for dinner.  Well, if you want to make yourself something else just please clean up after."  "Bummer.  We love spending the holidays with you but I know not everyone likes the same things.  I hope you won't be too miserable."  The key is to move off the subject and go about your business afterwards.  At 13 my dd still pulls this stuff and will sometimes skip eating icecream so she can sit in the car and pout.  I find she will change her mind and join us if I'm very nonchalant about it and just tell her I'm sorry and hope she can join us.  Since I haven't given her anything to prove she is more likely to cave.</p>
 

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<p>No advice really but I wanted to let you know that we go out for Chinese and a movie on Dec 25th too.  So totally normal for us!</p>
 

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<p>i could of written your post.  my DSD is the same (7years) </p>
<p>i try to let it annoy  me as little as possible. although it's <strong><em>hard</em></strong>. whatever we are doing she sure wishes we could be doing X instead.</p>
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<p>going to rent a movie? well I want ice cream.... going to a party? well there wont be this, or that, or the other, or i wanted to do X.</p>
<p>I try as much as possible to just 'uh huh. that would be fun' and not engage. </p>
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<p>as far as creating your own traditions at your house you are totally able too!! different houses do different things. She'll be fine. </p>
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<p>I wouldn't actually show the videos your mom suggests, but 8 is certainly old enough for a discussion about how a lot of kids in the world don't have enough to eat and we're glad for what we have.  </p>
 

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<p>protolawyer, first let me say i have no suggestions.</p>
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<p>i think instead of focusing on your DSD i would focus on you and your dh and how you guys can survive this phase. could be a looooooong phase.</p>
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<p>i have been watching this thread. i was hoping all those dsc growing-up-as-hell's-angels-kids-but-later-appreciating-new-family mamas would reply here. </p>
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<p>rather than dd going thru therapy i think if anything dh needs therapy to see the hidden words behind all the screaming and throwing a fit. and ONCE you have a better understanding you can deal with her better. </p>
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<p>yes it would be great if your dsd had a place to vent, except your house. dd went thru that around 5 - 6 when she went thru her first phase of prepuberty. i definitely think it was hormonal. yes it was her worst behaviour EVER. soon after she got over that phase she started BO. so i dont know if this could be what is going on with dsd.</p>
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<p>i knew during that phase that dd needed a place to vent. in a sense i was honoured that dd felt comfortable enough to express herself that way. i sat with her and allowed her. yes i was punched, asked to leave the room. however its because i knew as dd described 'mama it feels like i have someone else living within me and i dont want to behave that way but i am forced to.' so what i did was instead of disciplining her then, i became even more clear about limits. so she had an idea of what she could do or not.</p>
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<p>right now at 8 i have become much more strict about following rules. its because dd's consciousness has developed and i feel i have to protect herself against her very self. she is far harder on herself than me on her. the last time she 'twirled' me around in anger on teh playfield and i allowed it, she took a whole week to recover and was v. v. angry towards herself. </p>
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<p>what i am trying to say is that this is a deep deep issue. and it really isnt fair on her with her mom playing against her dad. i cant blame dsd when probably her mom is pointing out these things and pitting two families against each other. </p>
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<p>so really your dsd is really 'reacting'. the real problem is mom brainwashing her. </p>
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<p>and that is why i say i have no concrete strategies for you - except that its even more important for you guys to keep up your stand. and not give in every single time. </p>
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<p>i think the more your dsd reacts - the more she is actually saying - "but i dont understand - my mom is telling me how to feel. yet i dont feel that way. i do enjoy chinese food and a movie on xmas day (btw that's more than dd and i do. i dont even get her one single present) but mom keeps telling me that is not enough. i dont know how to stand up to my mom. why did all this have to happen and make my life so complicated. which way do i go|? i am so confused. but i know no matter what my dad and stepmom really love me because they put up with my horrific behaviour. and i know no matter what they will continue to love me. i need a place to vent. and so i will show my very worst side at dad's where i know ALL of me is acknowledged."</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>ProtoLawyer</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1282221/raging-entitlement-in-an-8-year-old#post_16097792"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>My husband's looking into some family counseling or play therapy. </p>
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<br><br><p>I think this is a great idea. It sounds like among other things, your DSD has some control issues that she's working through. My DSD 11 went through a period like this when she was around that age. Our standard response when one of the children doesn't want to do a family activity that has been planned is "We want to go, you can't stay home by yourself. You don't have to participate but you do need to come with us. Please go get in the car." Rinse and repeat. Also I would consider not talking about planned activities prior to the event. That way there's no time for her to change things around in her head so that she no longer wants to go.</p>
 

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<p>I guess I would just go with "poor you (eyeroll)" and move on.  She's 8 and she's pushing it.  Eventually I think if you ignore it long enough she'll figure it out. </p>
 
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