How selfish is your average 8 yr old? (Please let the answer be "breathtakingly selfish")

(11 Posts)
Shhthebabyisasleep Mon 28-Jul-14 07:42:56

I am struggling a bit with my 8 year old daughter. Neither of us are very happy and I'm not sure what I could be doing differently.

I am struggling with her selfishness. Examples from the last 2 days:

Taking 2 of the 3 towels after swimming and leaving her 2 yr old sister shivering without a towel. Refusing to hand one over "because its freezing! I'll be cold with just one".

Carefully sorting through the wrappers of the ice creams so she only throws her own away (when asked). Point blank refusing to throw anyone else's wrappers away.

Running down the iPad battery and not telling her brother who was sitting waiting for his turn. She just left him waiting for it.

Smashing my hair dryer. Forgetting to mention it.

Whole family watching a film - she casually angles the screen so only she can see it well. Not done for effect or to be funny or naughty - just seems totally unaware that the other people in the room might want to see the screen too.

Oh perhaps there all sound petty. Do I just need to relax? The thing is, we're a fairly gentle family, we all help each other out, everyone unloads the car after shopping, everyone pitches in with setting the table and that sort of thing, and I feel like she has switched all of that off. She never ever ever offers to help, or does or says anything nice for anyone, but she also feels very angry like she's hard done by, but I really don't think she is. Is this normal for an 8 year old?

I also worry about her socially. She is very in your face, and tries to relate to people by deliberately annoying them. Her peers seem less awkward. She has friends, and she likes to play the clown of the group - her best friend admits that her silliness is hard work sometimes.

I want to tell her to relax and just be her beautiful self. She is funny and interesting and imaginative and has so much to offer. But instead she speaks in a grating squawk and does this 'moon face' thing where she looms her face in front of whoever she's speaking to and won't move away. And now I feel disloyal because she only means to be funny. I've told her that people don't like it, and we've chatted about good qualities in people we admire and I've praised her good qualities.

I just worry about her.

I'm afraid I can't answer how you would like! My 7 year old DD isn't like this although she definitely needs reminding to share/help etc.

It sounds a bit like your DD is competing/fighting for attention - at home and with friends. Is she ever good with her siblings? I don't know what to suggest but I do sympathise.

JenniferJo Mon 28-Jul-14 08:09:06

I think I would be worried as well. Neither of mine were like that until they hit their teens.

I'm assuming you don't let her get away with her selfishness and that you took the second towel from her to give to her sister.

Her behaviour with friends does seem strange. Have you spoken to her teachers?

UniS Mon 28-Jul-14 08:09:26

Casually selfish , with occasional bouts of being lovely and thoughtful.

He gets ticked off and pressured into doing the right thing on a regular basis. He will lay the table properly or his dinner doesn't make it to table. He will clear all the picnic rubbish when asked or he doesn't get his choice of activity.

QueenCardigan Mon 28-Jul-14 08:19:02

Mine can be like that with the towels and iPad. It's all basically resentment (still, after 6 years) at her little brother. Yet, she'll willingly share with her little sister hmm.

All I can suggest is praise the good behaviour, however small it is, to try and encourage more of it. As the eldest my 8yo feels very hard done by too and I've had to take a good look at my own behaviour towards her to see if she is justified. She also gets very angry and I'm looking at ways in which I can help her with anger management. If anyone has any tips I'd be grateful.

Inkspellme Mon 28-Jul-14 08:46:39

Have you tried doing one of the selfish things on her? I don't mean as a punishment or as a tit for tat but as a way of opening conversation about how it makes her feel.

I was thinking of doing something like the tv screen turned to you. When she protests talk to her about it. How she feels is how others feel when she doesn't think about their feelings. is she a person who learns by doing rather than listening?

The behaviour with her friends sounds like she is trying too hard. If she has been told she is funny maybe it is a role she feels she has to do now and it's a cover for being shy or simply not knowing how else to be? Would roleplay with her to give her a different way to be help her?

Shhthebabyisasleep Mon 28-Jul-14 10:50:20

Thanks all.

I suppose I know it's not entirely usual behaviour because other 8yr olds I know seem so much calmer and less manic.

I think the crux of it is that it all stems from resentment at younger siblings as QueenCardigan says, and also social insecurity. I find it hard to be really tough on her. She is so fragile and breaks down into floods of tears very easily. It's all a big silly show of bravado.

Yes, I do react to things like the towel. I make sure she doesn't get away with that sort of thing. I also give appropriate consequences when she's been particularly bad but lately I feel as if its been nothing but punishment after punishment.

A few days ago we had a good chat. I said I was tired of always being cross, and that I missed seeing the great choices I knew she could make, and lets start over. She agreed. I left the room. I walked back in to collect my phone and found her hiding behind the door eating the biscuits she had been asked to leave for her sister (she had already had more than her share and knew that).

I feel almost bewildered by a non-stop barrage of crappy behaviour from her.

It doesn't help that her 2yr old sister is the apple of everyone's eye. And her brother is a calm and cheerful boy, mostly easy going and tends to be well liked and good at things. She is jealous both of them and of their relationship. But but BUT she could be that too!! She is a lovely, sweet girl who is very good at her chosen hobbies, has everything going for her and people are disposed to like her until she self sabotages by being a total wally.

Lally112 Mon 28-Jul-14 11:00:36

She isn't 8 for another fortnight but incredibly selfish is the answer. I also think this is a girl thing, my boys are fine. She takes everything bought new for herself, recently started helping herself to food (like crisps and juice and biscuits), she took my horse (who is 17hh might add - huge) out of the tie up point and let him loose so she could get her pony out and the attitude shock I was actually happy when one of the other girls at the yard knocked her down a peg or two for her mouth.

DeWee Mon 28-Jul-14 13:09:30

The screen is a normal thing. Even as adults you can think "tip it a little this way I can see it better" and not realise that it's meaning others can't see as well.
Ditto the ipad battery, I'd look at that as thoughtless rather than deliberately nasty/selfish. Unless she handed it over with a "haha you can't use it now!"

Again, I don't think the not offering to help is particularly unusual. At 8yo they don't really realise how much work things are.

The towel thing sounds like just a way of winding up a sibling. I can see one of mine doing that sort of thing at about that age-but if it'd had been a friend then she'd probably have been the one shivering having offered all the towels to her.

Ice cream wrappers: I suspect deliberately annoying combined with a "my siblings ought to do theirs". I can see dd1 doing that sort of thing even at her age (13yo) in certain moods because she would feel if she had to do hers then everyone else should jolly well do theirs too.

I have occasionally gone for a "work to rule" on dd1. Where I have said "fine you look after yourself..." and let her do just her own stuff. But that actually works out that she does a lot more-she has a 1/5 of the cooking pans to wash up etc. her washing is left downstairs where I would normally put it into her room for her to put away. She initially thinks it's a good idea, she reverts pretty quickly. It helps her realise that actually people do a lot for her.

I think because she's the oldest she sometimes feels that it's not fair that she's expected to do more. However she also gets more privileges than the others, and certainly more freedom. And she's not actually expected to do that much more than dd2 (3 years younger).

losenotloose Mon 28-Jul-14 13:39:01

8 year old ds1 can be very selfish. especially at home, will always try to take everything for himself, rarely considers ds2. everything is 'his'. but he's much better with his friends. so he knows how to be fair, just doesn't bother at home. that said, he spent half his birthday money on ds2 recently shock

Notcontent Thu 31-Jul-14 22:18:00

You could be writing about my 8 year old dd. She used to be lovely - still is a lot of the time - but often acts in a really selfish way, also can be a bit manic and tries to annoy people to get attention. I am hoping it's just a phase.

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