difficult child is the most negative person I've ever known. And that's saying a lot...if you knew my aunt or difficult child's dad, you'd understand. She's always been this way. Always. I've spent her entire life trying to change that line of thinking, but I really haven't even made a dent. Heaven forbid you do something that she thinks is against her...whether it actually is or not doesn't matter...she will hold it against you forever. But do something nice for her and it's forgotten the next day.

It's very difficult for me to understand it. I have my moments where I'm feeling overwhelmed, but I always find the good in everything. I'm a realist and see things how they are, but I'm always optimistic and hopeful. Not so with difficult child. No one has ever had it as bad as her. No one.

My mother was fed up with how materialistic difficult child is - after difficult child wanted something, was told no, and then complained how she never gets anything. (Read BBK's post on how much stuff difficult child has.) So, my mom wonders if taking difficult child to volunteer in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen would show her what it's like to really have nothing. I told her she could try, but that I honestly think difficult child's reaction would be along the lines of, "So. They're used to not having anything." How sad is it that that is what I expect from my child?

I really don't know how to get through to her. She's too young now, but I foresee a Borderline Personality diagnosis in her future. Her therapist agrees.

See, THAT is my fear with Tink...and she is SIX!

Then I get to it society's fault? We have an entire generation of kids here that do not have to wait for anything. They do not have to WANT for anything. Is THAT why they feel o entitled? Were there these problems with OUR generation? Were the problems not there just because we did not recognize them? Why don't I just shut up?

Ah Heather. I wish I had an answer for you. I'll make you a deal though...if one of us finds something that works, we'll share it with the other one...mmmkay?


New Member
I feel your frustration. I have always tried to get my difficult child to focus on the good points of a situation, instead he always complains about what he didn't get or what didn't happen. He is very materialistic as well and we are also considering having him do some community service at the local homeless shelter/soup kitchen. While I'm trying to be hopeful about its impact on him..a big part of me knows it will probably do very little because he lacks empathy or sympathy for others.

But the optimistic side of me says go for the community can't make the situation any worse and at some point something has to get through to our difficult children...right???


New Member
I use to volunteer at a children's hospital Christmas luncheon every year. The last two years they ran it, I made oldest easy child join me. I was amazed at the change it made in him, even if it only lasted a few months.

I fully intend on getting all my kids to volunteer with Habit for Humanity within the next few years. They have a special kids program.

I love the idea of taking her to a homeless shelter or soup kitchen.


New Member
I truly believe that volunteering and sharing make a huge difference in kids today. They do see that others don't have as much and most care. Empathy has to be taught. It is hard for a person to put themselves in another's shoes if they've never seen those shoes. Do remember that Marie Antoinette was not being mean when she said, "Let them eat cake!" She truly thought they would have cake even if out of bread.

We also did puppet plays where she would act out the part of a person she had hurt either physically or verbally. This helped her to see a little what others felt and what she could have done to make things better.

When my daughter was little, we delivered food to the elderly. The first Christmas gifts purchased every year were for Toys for Tots. When she got older, we both worked at a soup kitchen. When she was in high school, she volunteered at an animal shelter.

She may have no empathy for my feelings at times, but she does care about the world in general. I doubt she would had she not seen that others have so much less than we.

by the way -- It seems most girls at 12 are pretty self-centered little tyrants. Puberty really does bring out the worst in them.


Well-Known Member
I hear you!
I agree, that taking your difficult child to a homeless shelter or where ever you choose will make a difference. Make it a weekly event, and couple it with-bagging up a bunch of difficult child's stuff and donating it, to drive home the point.
When you do it, don't b*thch the entire time (like I used to, LOL!) Just make it a matter-of-fact thing, like it's something you do every day. And do it every day if you have to! Trust me, it's worth the effort of a couple of wks, because it won't last forever.
When your difficult child says, "They're used to it," you can always respond, "That's right, and you'll be used to it soon, too!"
You can also add, "by the way, just because you're used to something doesn't mean you like it."

Our difficult child is extremely negative, too. Our child psychologist suggested making difficult child even more miserable, LOL! Which sounds counterproductive, but it works! We have bagged up a lot of stuff because our difficult child, like other kids, is very spoiled, and he has had to go with-me to donate it. He is angry and complains about it the whole way but since he's angry and complaining anyway, why not do something constructive at the same time? After awhile, our difficult child stopped complaining.

Also, our difficult child has to do chores. The minute he complains, he gets privileges taken away and I keep taking them away until he shuts up. Right now he's only got a mattress, bookcase, books and a few clothes in his room. (A lot of that is also because he was violent and was wrecking things.) And believe it or not, he's better behaved than he was a yr ago!

Also, when our difficult child complalns, assuming it's not something legit like a bee sting, we immediately tell him it's not allowed and he can complain by himself in another room but we're not going to listen to it. Period. If he won't go to his room, we do the usual thing of saying, "First one up to your room gets their pick of toys or books to give away," and we walk slowly (to give him a chance) to his room and follow through. Usually he renigs and stops complaining immediately.
It took many, many tries to get to this point but it really works now, with-o fail.

You cannot change difficult child's attitude, per se. Some kids are just born negative. But you can change her behavior (And behavior is what our child psychiatric is trained in, as opposed to the deep-seated psychiatry stuff). Often, once you change the behavior, the rest follows. It's a gradual awakening to how life works, a way to put things into perspective.

Good luck!


She does have empathy for others. For a while, I was unsure of that, but I know now that she does. However, while she has empathy for others, they still don't have it as bas as she does in her mind. She often gathers toys and clothes to donate. She cares that others have nothing and wants to help out, however in her mind it's not as bad because they're used to having nothing so they're used to it. If she were to end up with nothing one day it would be worse than if it happened to anyone else. I don't know how else to explain it.

It's like when my aunt pointed to the television commercial showing starving children is some third world country and saying, "Even they have it better than I do."

BBK - I've tossed those same questions around, but I've come to the conclusion that it's just who she is. She came out this way. easy child has always been completely different. Same mom, same values taught.

It's not just with material things, either. It's with everything. Just the most negative person I've ever known.


How would you expect them to react? Shocked, of course.

I haven't talked to my aunt in 10 years. She sucked the life out of me. Used me up. I was done.


Well-Known Member
I meant, did anyone actually say anything to her? I didn't realize she wasn't in your life any more. I thought she was still there, influencing the kids. I can see how she used you up!
Good for you that you moved on (emotionally and physically) with-o her.


Several people said things to her. We just didn't understand, you know. No one could because no one had it as bad as her. :rolleyes:

I see so much of her in my daughter. The difference is that my aunt did have a horrifying childhood and my daughter has not. I guess in my mind it makes it a little easier to understand my aunt, but maybe one really has nothing to do with the other and it's just who they are regardless of environment.


Same here. difficult child is negative like that. Nobody likes me, I hate her/him. I want this, that and I want it NOW. Can't wait for birthday or xmas...NOW. Sad is that husband usually gives it to him. Then I have nothing for birthday or xmas.
He was playing a computer game about a month ago and his last guy was killed...he lost everything...he flipped out. Said if he had $1000 he would spend it online and get all these things for this game! I was blown away.

Good think is he does know kids that have less. He does feel for them. He asked if he could volunteer somewhere. I just don't know where. Sad is that the kids that have less, seem to be less negative than difficult child. You would think our kids would appreciate what we try to give them. Instead they seem to find something negative about everything. Really eats away at you!


Heather, your difficult child sounds depressed to me. As you probably know, anxiety and depression can go hand-in-hand and spill over into each other. I recognize this negativity and holding grudges forever in my own daughter, but when we got her properly medicated, these symptoms subsided to a large degree. Perhaps your difficult child's medication is only partially doing its job.

I'm reading a really interesting book about a depressed suicidal teen called Will's Choice by Gail Griffith. It talks about how some depressions are only partially treated with disasterous results. You might want to check out this book.


Active Member
I do think a lot of this is they live in the NOW. They rally have difficulty moving from one minute to the next (task-changing) plus, they feel everything so deeply. Life IS often harder for them in terms of understanding how to adapt to other people and sometimes it's just too hard to try.

Don't equate your daughter with your aunt. Your daughter has you to constantly put her pespective in front of her.

That said, I found one of the worst things you can do is to try to make light of their woes. If you seem to be belittling their distress, it's as if you're saying, "You have no right to be sad about this," even though it's not what you're saying. But they feel it is, and so will keep pushing the point home that they feel bad, really ,really bad and have never felt worse. NOBODY has ever felt worse.

So before the negative superlatives totally overwhelm you, say something like, "I know you are upset that you lost your game, you were really working at it too." Or, "It's difficult, sometimes, when something new comes out and you want it, but we have to choose instead. Making decisions is really difficult sometimes."

I've mentioned my favourite fiction author, Terry Pratchett. He is a brilliant, entertaining writer and also incredibly perceptive. In one of his recent books (technically for children, they would enjoy it, but adults love it too) called "Wee Free Men", Pratchett describes a two-year-old child who has difficulty when given too much of what he wants, such as sweeties. His older sister, the heroine of the story, doesn't like him much but he is her brother so she takes care of him.
Then the toddler is kidnapped by the Fairy Queen (who is not very nice, really) who gives him exactly what he wants - all the sweeties she can conjure up. But the little boy just sits there and cries. It is a phenomenon his sister calls "tragic sweet deprivation", because "the moment he took any sweet at all, said his sugar-addled brain, that meant he was NOT TAKING ALL THE REST. And there were so many sweets HE'D NEVER BE ABLE TO EAT THEM ALL. It was too much to cope with. The only solution was to burst into tears."

The girl's regular solution to this, such as at a birthday party, is "to put a bucket over his head until he calmed down, take almost all of the sweets away. He could deal with a few handfuls at a time."

In some ways, the brains of our darlings are no further evolved than this, no matter how smart they may seem in other ways. It's in having to make choices that the internal conflict and despair originates. Repetition then grinds it along deeper brain pathways and we have to work even harder to show them how to find their own sense of perspective.

Your aunt never had anyone call her to account on this, or to help her understand. Sounds like she had a very dominant personality and wouldn't have stood for it, anyway.

But I have found the starting point is always better if you accept that the child is really upset about whatever-it-is, and from there you can help them find a way out towards a better perspective.

And maybe removing a lot of the frills is also a way to go - "tragic sweet deprivation" can be reduced, by reducing choice.



Well-Known Member
I was going to say it is normal teenage 'it is all about me' syndrome, but you say she has always been this way.

My difficult child was too busy to be negative when she was younger. But, around 9 she just started to get so sassy and self righteous. I do think hormones played a big role in her changes. She just thought she deserved way more than she had or would get out of me. She still is like this to an extent. She just this week tried to tell me that everyone at her school gets a new wardrobe every school year. I had recently purchased several pairs of jeans for her. But, she thought I should be purchasing several more for 'back-to-school'. I told her it was unfortunate for her that she was not born into a rich family and that if all her friends were so rich to get new wardrobes perhaps she should stop paying for them to go to the movies with her! UGH :eek:

Some of it could be teenager chemicals, but she may just be a negative person.
I hate being around negative people.


New Member
Yeah, even though she's always been this way, I can kinda side with Wendy, that some of it, the materialistic stuff, may be some typical teen. Some.

difficult child 2 is VERY materialistic. He started with that around age 9 or 10, wanting the best sneakers, pants, etc. Even now, he's this way.

The thing about difficult child 2 is, he's 15, so he can work. And he works. The deal is, I give him a very small ($50) clothing allowance per month, and anything else he wants, HE has to buy. I will tell you, this has made him appreciate things alot more when it comes from HIS pocket and not mine. I spend the $50, and ONLY the $50 and that's it.

We don't really have extra money by any means, so I cant afford for any of my kids to be this way LOL!

I'm sure some of the negativity is probably some type of depression or something, but I doubt pills are probably gonna cure the negativity thing. Especially now, at 12 years old, maybe it's force of habit?

I dunno, I think the animal shelters, old age homes, things like that is a good idea. I went to drop easy child off for a play date a while ago at his friends house. The mom was just recently divorced or seperated. She had NOTHING. A kitchen table with two plastic outside chairs for kitchen chairs. No furniture. She had been in there 6 months she said. Obviously, very much hurt for money. I walked out of there being very thankful for what I had.

Sometimes a smack into reality is a good thing.

Sorry she's such a PITA.

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
I think the volunteering is a great idea. When I was around 12-15 I volunteered a lot! Really changed how I saw things. I would love to get my easy child involved in some volunteering. She too is becoming somewhat materialistic-that part for her is the age (I hope) but I would still like her to see how worse off many are. I think she thinks money grows on trees!


I wish I could say the materialistic thing is age relevant. It's not. Another always been that way thing. I couldn't even go to the gas station without her thinking she had to get something. Sometimes I think she's trying to fill some emptiness inside by having stuff. I don't know.

A couple Christmas' ago, all day long she came up to me, hugged me and told me it was the best Christmas ever. Later that night, the batteries in her game died and all of a sudden it was the worst Christmas ever. I quit asking her how her day was at school because the answer was, "awful", "horrible", or "the worst day ever", yet when I talked to the teacher's they all said she had a good day. Instead I started asking her what she had done in school that day. If I disagree with her, I'm being mean to her. If I agree with her, I love her. Very split thinking. It's exhausting.

I weigh my words so carefully around her. Last night, though, I didn't. I am stretched very thin financially and she KNOWS this. She already has on her list of requests (and I use that word because it's nicer) for when I have more money a desk, chair, lamp and the Sims 2 game. Last night she came down talking about a cell phone. *I* don't have a cell phone. She did start off by saying when I can afford it, but I'm stressed about the financial situation and one more demand/request/whatever was more than I could take. I've got easy child in one ear wanting his license and am trying to figure out how I'm going to get him a car so he can get a job, etc (cause his dad said he won't help unless he lives with him...another story) and difficult child in the other wanting more stuff and I'm just figuring out how to buy groceries. So, I told difficult child last night that I don't want to hear about anything else she wants until after we move. Not an unreasonable request. But, of course I was mean and I hated her. Sigh...


Well-Known Member
all the sweeties she can conjure up. But the little boy just sits there and cries. It is a phenomenon his sister calls "tragic sweet deprivation", because "the moment he took any sweet at all, said his sugar-addled brain, that meant he was NOT TAKING ALL THE REST. And there were so many sweets HE'D NEVER BE ABLE TO EAT THEM ALL. It was too much to cope with. The only solution was to burst into tears."

Very interesting, Marguerite. I like that author! He has a good, solid understanding of the human psyche. Yes, that technique does work. I've done it. (Okay, I didn't use a bucket, LOL!)


Active Member
Oh have just described by son, completely, exactly. The weird thing is that I have always blamed myself for his greed and needs.......I assumed that obviously I had created some sort of monster, somehow, someway. Reading your post caused me to realize, that maybe it is not just my faulty parenting, but that some kids minds are just wired this way. Interestingly both your daughter and my son have NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD), which can cause that intense black and white thinking.

I do agree with you, that it seems as if they are trying to fill up a hole withing themselves at times. Kind of like a food addict, only it is with stuff - and nothing will ever be enough.

My son and I volunteered a bunch of places over the years, and yes it did help, but I am not sure it really stuck with him. Again, that black and white thinking of - that is them - and I am me.

Two things that I do think has helped is one, we watch a fair amount of the Natl Geographic channel about different cultures throughout the world. That has really seemed to help with his perspective issues. Not that he walks away going - boy, am I lucky! But it has seemed to broaden his horizons in a deeper sense, and caused him to be bit more introspective about things.

The other thing we do is watch, learn, and keep up with all of the political happenings. For whatever reason, he is empowered by being a "democrat" and bashing the republicans - and fortunately this is the type of thing where negative energy is funneled into a forum that is changing the world - rather than the negative energy always being about himself. Does that makes sense?

Hang in there.......UGH!