Typical Selfish 7 Year Old Behavior, or Something Else?

My daughter is 7. She has some mild Aspergers, childhood anxiety and mild childhood OCD - so I’ve already got my hands full. My daughter has very poor self control - she makes poor decisions without considering the consequences. Recently she did/said 2 things that made me wonder if this is “normal” selfish 7 year old behavior, or something more.

  1. Since she frequently makes poor decisions, she frequently ends up with consequences (ie- silently sitting on the stairs for 10 minutes.) Yesterday she was being sent to the stairs, and she started screaming about how unfair that her little 5 year old brother never gets sent to the stairs (he does, occasionally, but he has good decision making skills). When I gently told her that she would spend less time on the stairs if she thought through her actions, she said she wished he would act the same way she does so he’d be on the stairs more. Isn’t this backwards? Logically I would think she would want to make better choices to NOT have consequences, but instead she wants him to make poor decisions so he CAN have consequences. Quite backwards in my opinion.

  2. She told me tonight that she was jealous of one of her brother’s stuffed animals. She said that (a long time ago) she took it and hid it from him in her room. She said she would take it out when he wasn’t around, then hide it again. Then she said she lost it and couldn’t find it. Here is where I would think she would have apologized or said she felt bad for losing it. Instead she said she was happy she lost it because then he wouldn’t be able to find it which meant she wouldn’t be jealous about it anymore since he wouldn’t ever have it. This shocked me. It seems so cruel - malicious to me. However, I’m an adult, so maybe this is just typical 7 year old behavior?

I know girls can be challenging. As a teacher I remember some of the cruelty I witnessed from 7/8 year old girls - they could be so malicious and cruel to each other (and quite passive aggressive). Please let me know what you think…

AND please let me know what you think a decent consequence for her actions with the stuffed animal would be. Use her money to buy him a new one? But that only takes care of the object, not the action. I’m at a loss. I told her I’d think about the situation tonight and she could expect we will be discussing it tomorrow. Thank you for your help!

Hello my friend! Both my kiddos have executive functioning issues. Many kiddos on the spectrum do. Is it a possibility for your daughter? Also, maybe with your son starting school this year, there honestly could be some pure jealousy:) Remember, our kiddos view life a little differently, so there could be a million reasons why she’s behaving this why.
Conduct an informal FBA would be my best suggestion! Our kids are brilliant! So there’s a reason for their behavior​:wink: it may take a few weeks, but you will figure it out! Nobody loves her like you! You are a fabulous mother and an amazing teacher :heart:

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There is a book I would like to encourage you to read, I am not familiar with your personal situation but I believe everyone should and would benefit from reading this book. It is How Evil Works by David Kupelian. I did not personally read the entire book but my husband proved a point by reading it to me, parts of it rather.
Children do make poor decisions based on their sinful nature (don’t we all), and it is important I believe to help them understand that there are consequences to every act by punishing them for their misbehavior and/or disobedience, which is a way God Himself deals with us, and also to help train them to acquire better character. It is helpful to guide them in all aspects of their lives by showing them what good character is and looks like.
Including good character quality books, and being the example are sure to instill in them the what it looks like part of it. And when they struggle in a way like she seems to be you can help them find another way of thinking, by lovingly asking if they think what they did was nice, if they think it hurt the other person, how they think they would’ve liked if their sibling had done the same to them, if they think God was pleased with their actions and thoughts, etc.
It is helpful to point out what kind of sins they have committed, and what kind of character qualities they should strive for instead. And to always point them to Jesus, how we should strive to be like Him, and to please God, so they first must learn what pleased Him and what being like Him is really like.
My children personally benefit from children’s praise songs in the morning, while cleaning, doing school or during play time. They love to hear me talk about God and read to them from His Word and other Bible resources. It really does help shape them.
But all is to no avail if we fail to pray and ask for His guidance and work to be done in their (as well as our) lives.


It sounds like she said this in the moment, and I think that’s pretty normal. Misery loves company!

I think I would carefully consider whether there is any truth to what she says though. Is he less likely to get punished when he makes a poor decision because he so often makes good decisions? It’s worth praying about. The combination of both incidents make me wonder if she has anger towards her brother because of her view (real or simply perceived) that she and her brother are not treated equally.

I would also pray about whether there are ways you can set her up for success more–ways to structure her day or to do more training and coaching (and especially pre-coaching before a situation to walk her through what to do). Ask God for a window into her soul and what would help her.

Finally, look (even if you have to look very hard!) for ways to encourage her and to re-enforce those times when she does make good decisions.

None of this excludes the possibility of there being something else going on (such as executive function or other types of issues)–just things that have been helpful for us along the way.