Child who wants Mom to do everything needs to grow up
Question: My 5-year-old daughter relies on me far too much. All through the day, she asks me to do simple things for her like get her a glass of water or help her put on her shoes -- things she is able to do for herself. If I don't cooperate, she begins to whine, then cry. It's driving me crazy.
Another thing she wants is for me to watch her play. She just can't seem to be alone or entertain herself. At bed, for example, she wants me to lie down with her until she falls asleep. It never ends. A counselor informally suggested that she's desperate for my attention, because the new baby is taking up a lot of my time, but this was going on before he was born. Can you help me get a life for myself again?
Answer: What the counselor told you is hogwash. As you said, this problem was going on before the new baby came on the scene. Even if that was the problem, the solution is not to give your daughter more attention, wearing yourself to the nub in the process; the solution is to insist that she accept that she is not and never will be deserving of being the center of anyone's attention.
Contrary to the prevailing myth, children who act "starved" for attention have received too much, not too little. They've come to depend on being the center of attention, and the more the Look-at-Me Beast is fed, the bigger it gets and the more demanding it becomes. Children who don't get enough attention usually withdraw into their own little windowless worlds.
Like most mothers, you obviously feel that if you make a decision that upsets your child, it must have been a bad one. The fact is, children don't know what they truly need. They know only what they want, and they believe that what they want, they deserve to have, and no one has a right to deny them.
That belief defines a child, in fact; therefore, lots of the children in question are much older than 21. It takes some people a long time to grow up.
You can help your daughter begin growing up by making a list of everything she wants you to do for her, including watch her play, fetch her water, put on her golden slippers (as you kneel in front of her), lie down with her, and so on. Take your time. Just put a sheet of paper on the kitchen counter, and whenever she asks you to do something (unnecessary) for her, write it down. After a week, you should have a list of at least 30 items.
Post the list on the refrigerator. Bring her to the list and read it to her. Tell her that you spoke to a doctor who told you that she's much too old to be asking her mother to do these things for her. The doctor said that every week, she has to cross off two items on the list. Her choice. You no longer do the items she crosses off. The doctor said so. Call it the "I'm-Growing-Up List." Tell her, "This is how children grow up. They begin doing things for themselves."
If, after she crosses off an item, she asks you to do it for her, just take her to the list and say, "I can't do that for you anymore. You crossed it off because you're growing up." After a few weeks, you'll probably notice that she begins doing even things she hasn't yet crossed off. You'll also notice that she's proud of her new accomplishments.
What fun growing up can be. How liberating for both parent and child.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Undersized Beachum quietly excels at 1 of game’s pivotal positions
- EPA says it won’t reguluate coal ash as hazardous waste
- Steelers notebook: Polamalu, Taylor unlikely to play, Harrison ‘ready’
- Despite intimidation, women still passionate about video games
- Penguins’ defensive depth proves valuable
- Hotel building boom sweeps Pittsburgh region
- Port Authority fires two bus drivers involved in rollover crash
- Real estate union: Howard Hanna buys Langholz Wilson Ellis
- Pirates sign Corey Hart to 1-year deal
- Pittsburgh adjusting to new bicycle lane, ‘stop boxes’
- Man involved with crash with officer dies in Pittsburgh hospital