I have had this issue with my girlfriend's daughter, mind you I have been with her for approx 3 years and I seem to have a discussion on how her daughter does not obey or respect what she is told or is dramatic when things don't go her way. Since I am not her father, I just find it difficult to enforce any discipline and I don't get mad or yell at her, but all I can do is try to talk and have communication that will reflect some logical sense to my girlfriend and daughter.
Through these years that I have been around, I feel that she had always been given, previously by both parents, what she wanted due to being an only child and for this reason she whines or cries when we tell her no or try to talk to her about discipline. She is a smart little girl, which behaves in school, has excellent grades, is in the gifted and talented program, and never do we get any complaints from teachers.
What I have noticed, and not only from how my significant other would parent her (which I despise, but is changing by us communicating and understanding/respecting our different point of views), is the way most parents nowadays will give a child a smartphone to distract, calm, entertain, or simply to use as a reward. We have limited or have tried to implement the use of the device for only an hour or so, even if I really dislike the idea of Youtube or games being a type of reward.
Previously, she would cry for the phone and my girlfriend would hand it over. Now it's still something she asks for everyday after school, but it isn't given to her as easily, and timed before she would be stuck on it for hours and cry when taken away. Now she cooperates when she is told to hand it over.
What I now find hard to help on parenting is how she has to cry for everything.
I understand she is a girl, which can be more sensitive or emotional, but if we are going to a restaurant she doesn't like or to a store at the mall she knows is for her mom, she whines/cries and even after being at the park for, say 2hrs, riding her bike and being at the playground, once we let her know that it is time to leave, she cries and yells and it has become very frustrating.
She would do it before at restaurants, with video games and things of that sort as well, and I completely understand that kids just want to keep playing and having fun. She will cry for losing at a board game, she will cry for not waiting for her while walking and she is on her bike, or if she cant pedal uphill (she exaggerates immensely), for a scuff, fall, not wanting to switch the tv channel, sending her to her room to watch tv/movie, not wanting to sleep in her room while we are in the living room, crying or yell because we switch the song on the radio, etc. We have had talks with her about understanding that crying is not something that will allow her to get it her way and that unless she has hurt herself, as kids are prone to injuries, she shouldn't cry for everything.
She also tends to not obey when something had been asked or if she is told to do something, like pick up her shoes, change, etc. And what I think is she doesn't respect her mother as an authority figure. She can be told 3 times to do something and honestly, it's as if she needs to be scolded on a daily basis. There is not one day when her mom does not get after her due to repeating herself and having to reiterate in a tone of frustration/upset after she was talked/asked in a calm tone a few times.
I have tried explaining to my gf that her daughter knows that punishment, whether grounding or removing privileges are never upheld and that she knows that she can get away at the end of the day.. I do know that at school, with her grandmother, and her father she seems to be in a better behaved state and acts less spoiled/bratty. I honestly don't want to make her a soldier and be strict or for her not to be a kid.
I actually like asking her about her day at school, try to teach her new things, especially since my punishment as a kid was having to go to my room and get a book and sit there for an hour or so, whether dictionary, encyclopedia, bible, then writing a summary or short essay on math problems, repetition of writing multiplication table, but my father would make me study or read with no tv.
I also don't like to be telling my girlfriend how she should discipline or raise her daughter. Let me just add that my gf is expecting (we will have a baby girl in 2 moths, god-willing) and I know that for me it will be a blessing but, a tough and interesting life change and that I'm anxiously waiting my princess' arrival.