ABOUT The Books : Parent Q&A
1. Help! My 4 and 7 year-old kids are out of control. I can’t take them anywhere. My family sat me down to tell me my kids are rude and wild. My sister, who lives nearby, said she won’t have my kids over to spend the night on weekends anymore. What am I supposed to do?
Your darling “out of control” cherubs are definitely showing their bad sides. You sound overwhelmed by their behavior and may not know where to start. Your kids can’t behave that way and feel good or be happy. But more importantly, such unruly behavior can lead to serious problems later in life. Their bad behavior is getting noticed by the entire family and they are getting a lot of attention. That’s power! Your yelling, threats, and criticism are actually rewarding their bad behavior.
So instead when they act out of control and get attention, make the rule that acting IN control gets the attention. Give them attention when they give you the behavior you want. Time Out, when used correctly, can be a great tool. When you get the behavior you want, spend time with them in an activity they love. Stay firm, get the support of your family and in time, they will change.
2. I’m worried about my daughter. She is shy, and seems to only have one (also very shy) friend. Kids from our teen group at church invite her to do things with them, and she isn’t interested. She seems too timid, so uninterested in people that I just can’t relate to her at all. How can I help her become more confident before she goes to high school?
During the adolescent years, there are great physical, psychological, and intellectual changes happening. That might have something to do with your daughter’s shyness, but if her basic personality is to be shy, accept it.
Help her to become more confident by doing everything that you can to strengthen your relationship with her. The closer you are, the more effectively you can influence her. Her self-confidence will grow when she feels valued – for whom she is- by you and those around her. Try to understand what’s special and different about her. Help her inventory her strengths and don’t try to make her fit the mold that you have in mind. She will grow to be her own unique and wonderful self.
3. My 3rd grader seems like the only child in his private school who hasn’t developed a passion for something. Whenever I suggest that he take a class, try out a sport, or learn something outside of school he shrugs it off. What does it mean? Am I wrong to want him to find something to feel passionate about?
At this age, your son’s job is to acquire many kinds of skills. The fact that you encourage him to find something to be “passionate” about suggests that you might be putting pressure on him to find something he loves to do. Because he doesn’t feel that way, he is acting very self-contained and is resistant to all of your suggestions. You might be smothering him in parental concern.
Many kids in this stage of development need unstructured time to explore interests of their own. Encourage him to try things. Give him lots and lots of positive strokes for learning all kinds of skills. Learn about his interests, abilities and strengths, but make sure that they are unique to him…not what you think they should be
4. I am a single mom and find myself bored and uninterested in my 10-year-old son’s life. I can’t seem to relate to anything he loves, and often don’t understand what he is talking about. How can I show him I love him when I don’t really care about things he cares about?
You can’t show him you love him, because you aren’t acting like you do. There are lots of things that are boring and uninteresting in life, like doing laundry or going to work every day. We do them because they matter and have to be done. Part of your job as a parent is to see the world through your son’s eyes and offer him the wisdom of our years.
That will mean more to him than any present you could buy.
To be an effective parent, you have to focus on his needs. He needs you to enter into his world. He will feel better about himself because you’re interested in him. The relationship between the two of you will improve, making it easier for you to stay connected.
Being a single parent is the toughest job in the world, so I encourage you to build a team of friends, neighbors, or relatives that can support your efforts at reconnecting.