I’ve recently written two articles for mom.me about communicating with tweens. Here’s the one about talking with your pre-teen daughter.
She’s not a teenager yet. But she’s sure not a child anymore, at least in the way she used to be. Just last week her school notebook contained pictures of cute puppies. Now she actually talks about cute boys.
One foot in childhood, one in adolescence. Sometimes sweet and playful, sometimes moody and sensitive. She’s a tween.
How do you talk to her? Here are some suggestions.
We expect so much of our kids, don’t we? But when we misperceive their ability to handle themselves well, we make things hard on everyone involved.
That’s the gist of my new article at mom.me:
I hear it from parents all the time. They’ll come to my office and say, their voices full of frustration, “He’s capable of handling himself well. He does it at school and usually at home. But then there are times he just acts so immature and freaks out.”
Sound familiar? Does to me, too. In fact, it sounds just like my kids.
And like these parents, I’ll sometimes take the next, seemingly logical, step and assume that the fact that a child can often make good choices and handle herself well, means that she can always do so.
A father in my office last week described his daughter like this: “She wants things her way. And if things don’t go her way, she might lose it; and she could clearly make a better choice. I know she can deal with stuff well, she just chooses not to.”
Again, this can seem like a logical conclusion. But is it? In other words, if a child often, or even usually, handles herself well, does that mean that when she doesn’t do so, she’s being manipulative or somehow choosing to make things hard on her parents so she can get her way?
Let’s apply it to ourselves. Could someone say something similar about you as a parent? “She’s capable of parenting well. She does it lots of places, and usually she handles herself great at home. But then there are times that she just acts so immature and freaks out.” I don’t know about you, but if someone said that about me, my only response would be, “Guilty as charged.”
But obviously, you and I don’t have bad parenting moments because we’re intentionally acting belligerent so we can get our way. Manipulation implies that we are calculating. But when we mess up with our kids, it’s because the emotions get the best of us and we temporarily don’t act like the kind of parents we want to be.
You see the point I’m making. Just because we parent well lots of times, doesn’t mean we can parent well all the time. The way we handle ourselves really depends so much on
I don’t know about your little ones, but mine didn’t exactly come out of the womb wanting to share their toys. Here are some thoughts on the matter.
I want it!
Give it back!
Sound familiar? If you have small children, it does.
And, while on the one hand kids love to share and give—they light up when they give a present, for example—self-sacrifice doesn’t come quite so easily.
If you think about it, sharing is actually a pretty complicated social situation. It requires quite sophisticated thinking and emotional intelligence. It demands that we think ahead, consider another person’s desires, balance our emotions and control our impulses. Most adults sometimes struggle with these skills!
Sharing is an awful lot to ask of a little one, particularly when we intrude upon what she’s doing in a given moment. When young children have a hard time taking turns or sharing, it’s often because they have difficulty handling their big feelings. They don’t yet have the skills to say, “I’m sorry, but I’d rather play with these blocks by myself right now.” So instead, they handle the situation their own way. They throw a fit. They grab. They hit. They cry.
Sharing isn’t usually fun. And it’s not easy to do. But as you know, it’s one of the skills children need to learn. So how do we help them develop the ability to share and take turns?
I have a new post up at mom.me. It begins like this:
I recently wrote about why we should be grateful when our little ones throw a tantrum. But aside from understanding that a tantrum is normal and even healthy, what else can we do when we’re actually in this kind of high-stress moment with our kids? I don’t believe parents should ignore a tantrum. When children are truly out of control, that’s when they need us the most. We still need to set clear boundaries, but our response should always be full of love, respect and patience.
Here are seven suggestions for dealing with a toddler’s tantrum:
Here’s a new post on Mom.me. It begins like this:
I know what you’re thinking: “File this one under ‘You can’t be serious.’”
But I am serious.
Nobody likes a tantrum: not your little one, and certainly not you. But even though we don’t enjoy our kids’ tantrums, there are plenty of reasons to be grateful for the times when they get the most upset.
For example . . .
As you can see here, I recently made a brief appearance on “Good Morning America.” I was asked to share my opinions on whether or not to use a “leash” on a small child. Only a minute fraction of what I said ended up in the actual segment, so I wrote up my thoughts in an fuller article. You can read the whole article at Mom.me (where it’s already generating a great deal of discussion). Here’s an excerpt from the piece:
You see it at the mall, at the airport, at Disneyland. A small child wears a monkey backpack, and the monkey’s tail is a tether held by the child’s parent. A leash.
Lots of people react pretty strongly against leashes for children. I even hear the practice described as “inhumane.” When I asked a friend about it, his tongue-in-cheek response was, “That’s how you get them to sit and stay.”
In my opinion, a leash is like so many other parenting tools and techniques. It’s not inherently good or bad. What matters is how it’s used: how it’s presented to the child, how and when the parent uses it, what the child’s temperament is, and why the parent is using it.
For example, I can see why a mother of young triplets might use a leash when she takes them to a crowded store. Or why the dad of an impulsive 2-year-old who has a history of bolting might feel the need to use it in airport security because he’s also attending to a 4-year-old. In fact, I’m not sure that a leash in these cases is all that different from buckling kids into a stroller to keep them contained. And, further, it might be a better alternative to what I’ve seen in parking lots, where I sometimes see a parent yanking a child’s wrist in rough ways.
In other words, I understand that in certain situations, a parent may have tried everything and eventually decided that a leash is the best way to protect her child until the child has a little more capacity for thinking and controlling impulses. Some parents are truly afraid for their child’s safety, and that fear is legitimately based on the child’s past behavior. I’ve talked to many caring parents who decided to use some form of a leash when it became a basic safety issue for their overly impulsive child who was, say, 18- to 36-months-old. And some parents feel that this provides them with a basic security that allows them to be more engaged and playful with their child.
However, all that being said, I do have three main concerns about using a restraining device like a leash.