My eight-year-old daughter is often greedy, rude and hostile.

My eight-year-old daughter is often greedy, rude and hostile toward us and her younger sister. She complains constantly about what she doesn’t have, or about things that we have not done as a family (as in not having gone to Disney). We feel unappreciated for the things that we do give her. We have told her this and have tried to point out all the things that she does have. We have talked to her about not comparing herself to others. I feel upset that my child is ungrateful and only wants more and more. Neither her father nor I are into “things” so we don’t model this behaviour. However, we know we are doing something wrong because she is exhibiting this behaviour. I am worried about her because she seems miserable most of the time.

You have done most things right. You have shown her how to behave by example. In the long run this is extremely important.

You have explained to her that whining and complaining about what she doesn’t have is not OK. Now you have to teach her how not to whine and complain. There are two parts to the best strategy. First, ignore her when she whines or complains. Make it obvious you are ignoring her. Turn away from her or walk out of the room.  Don’t say anything. The second part of the strategy is when she stops whining and complaining, pay attention to her.

She will likely increase her complaining for several days. She may complain more loudly. She may be more rude. Continue to ignore it. You have to be very, very consistent. Don’t respond at all to her complaining. Don’t explain, don’t correct her or criticize her. Don’t make a negative face. Don’t get upset. Just ignore it.

If she hits you or her sister, you should punish her but otherwise just ignore her when she is whining or rude.

And really pay attention when she is not complaining or being rude. Be warm, smiling and attentive.

It may take a few weeks to turn her around. It is best if all adults in the house use the same strategy.

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