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Dr. Mom Mondays: When Playdates Go Bad

14 Mar

I have an exciting announcement!

Mondays at The Little Hen House are now “Dr. Mom Mondays.”

Some of you may have heard me mention that my mother is a psychotherapist. Well, I’ve convinced her to host a weekly series here on The Little Hen House, in which she answers all your tough parenting/relationship questions. She’s pretty awesome at her job and I seem to have turned out relatively healthy and normal, at least that’s what my therapist tells me. So umm… yeah.

What was I saying? Oh yeah, my mom is going to be here every Monday for “Dr. Mom Mondays.” Now, the only way this will work if is if you all participate in my brilliant plan. I encourage you to email me with any parenting or relationship questions you have. I’ll be picking one of your questions to feature every week with a link back to your blog, or I can keep your identity a secret if that works better for you. Everyone needs a little confidentiality from time to time too.

My mom will personally respond to the weekly question here on my blog and then we can all chime in on the comments below. The idea behind Dr. Mom Mondays is to create a community for all of us to share our experiences and support each other during our adventures in motherhood. We will have our own Dr. Mom as the licensed therapist/voice of reason and the rest of us to lend a girlfriend’s point of view.

Are you ready for the first installment of Dr. Mom Mondays? Me too! Today’s question comes from yours truly, as this is what sparked the whole “Dr. Mom Mondays” idea. It’s a real-life problem that I am struggling with, and I know that many other mothers have the same issue.

Please email your Dr. Mom Mondays question to morgan(at)thelittlehenhouse(dot)com. Thanks guys!

Question:

My 4-year-old daughter has a good friend who can be aggressive at times, hitting and pushing and slapping my child when they have conflicts during play dates.  How should I handle this with my child, the little friend, and the other mom?

Dr.Mom:

Let’s start with making the best assumption — that the “aggressive” child needs a better way to handle her frustrations. The next time the girls are together, start out the play date with a practice session BEFORE ANY PROBLEM HAS COME UP.  Stay cheerful and positive, like a good coach – make this a bit of fun!

Tell the girls that you are going to teach them something that many kids don’t know — what to do and say if they get frustrated with one another.   First, have them practice saying out loud, “I am frustrated!” while they sit down at the same time.  It is very important that they sit down as soon as they say the sentence “I am frustrated!”  Be sure you join along in the practicing, getting up in between and sitting down again with the sentence.

Then have them practice saying, “How can I help you?” When they can say both sentences clearly, set up a practice session with you having a toy that they want.  They will sit down and say, “I am frustrated!” and you will say, “How can I help you?”  When they say, “Give me the toy,” you can model some negotiating (“Let’s set a timer and when it dings, it is your turn” or “Let’s dance to music instead of playing with toys” or “Let’s each get a toy we both like and trade every 5 minutes” and so on).

The day of the playdate have them tell you every time they make this work, and reward them!  If this doesn’t help, let me know and we will take the solution a step further.

Mary Quinn is a Marriage, Child, and Family Therapist with a private practice in San Diego. She is also a wife of 31 years, a mother of three, a step-mother of two, a grandmother of seven, a passionate gardener, and a writer. She has a Ph.D., survived a childhood with five brothers, and always wears red toenail polish.


Thanks Dr. Mom! Readers: what do you do when a playdate goes bad?


Five Finger Discount

3 Mar

Emma has developed a bit of a nasty habit. Some call it “stealing”, but I’d like to think of it more like “borrowing without ever returning.” Sounds nicer, no?

It started like this: Two weeks ago we were leaving a friend’s house after a fun-filled afternoon playdate. I strapped Emma into her car seat and started driving down the road, when Emma said, “Mommy- look.” She held out her open hand containing a small plastic toy that belonged to her friend. I said, “Emma! That’s not yours! You can’t just take someone else’s toy from their house. That’s called stealing.” She replied, “But Mommy, I love it.” She carried that toy in her hand for three days until I was finally able to pry it from her grasp and return it to its rightful owner. And by returning it, I mean sneaking into my friend’s house and placing the toy back in her daughter’s room without anyone noticing. What? It was my first time dealing with this, ok?

Last week, when I picked Emma up from school I noticed that she was wearing a new accessory- a light-up pink jelly ring. The thing was enormous. I asked her, “What is that?” She said, “It’s a ring. Look- it lights up!” And so it did. So then I asked, “Where did it come from?” She said, “It’s Natalie’s.” Natalie is not her real name btw- I have a reputation to protect-Emma’s of course. I gave up on mine years ago. Back to the story….

So then I said, “Did Natalie give that to you?” Emma replied, “No, she brought it for sharing. I found it.” What?! Not again! So I said, “Honey! You can’t take Natalie’s sharing! Imagine how sad she is right now. She brought that for sharing because it is special to her and now it’s gone!” So then Emma said, “But I found it.” I replied, “Yes, but the right thing to do would have been to return it to Natalie. Just because you found it, doesn’t mean it belongs to you. You are giving it back to Natalie the next time we see her.” That seemed to sink in, except Emma has since broken poor Natalie’s ring, so if you know of a place where I can get a pink light-up jelly ring in a pinch that would be great. *cough*

Why does my little kleptomaniac have such sticky fingers? I am mortified. I can assure you though, I am on it. I’m not sure exactly what being “on it” entails, but I’m going to figure something out. I the meantime, please consider this post a disclaimer.

To all potential future playdates: You lock away the silver and your jewelry, and I’ll give my daughter a full pat-down before we leave your house. Deal? (Please still invite me over for play dates I swear my daughter won’t steal your stuff well maybe she might but I swear that she’ll only take the crappy stuff but if it’s really nice stuff I promise to bring it back except if she breaks it and then I’ll do my best to replace whatever jelly light-up contraption it is because if I don’t have play dates scheduled I might lose my mind or what’s left of it and then the only thing I’ll have left to do is shop at Target and if one more toy from the dollar bin makes its way into my house I’m going to need to be committed.)

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