ShareThis Page
Parents need to get on the same page to address daughter’s meltdowns |
More Lifestyles

Parents need to get on the same page to address daughter’s meltdowns

Carolyn Hax
| Tuesday, January 22, 2019 1:30 a.m

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

My usually calm daughter, 6, has recently started melting down every time something doesn’t go her way — big or small. My spouse and I can’t figure out the best way to handle it. He says I’m too easy on her because I want to talk it out and give her chances to practice saying things appropriately. I think he’s too hard on her because he goes directly to time-outs in her room or other methods that strong-arm her into compliance. We can’t seem to put up a united front here and everyone gets frustrated.

Do you have any suggestions on how to restore harmony?

— Quieting the Drama

(1) Both of you read, “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, and Listen so Kids Will Talk.” Kids have agency and it deserves respect.

(2) Both of you update what you ask of and expect from your daughter to reflect her current skills and abilities. A 6 who is treated like a 3 is going to lose her mind at being babied and find other ways to feel in control. A 6 whose life is filled with things a 6 can decide for herself, however, will feel more engaged, empowered and calm.

(3) You and your husband both need to master the art of the either-or. Short version, let your child choose everything for herself … from a list of parentally approved choices. So it’s not, “Put your shoes on, we’re going to the park” — it’s, “We’re going to the park, do you want to wear sandals or sneakers?”

Again, this is the oversimplified version — and it can be exhausting in the long form. It forces you to be a step ahead of your kid, planning and anticipating, all the time, when sometimes you just want to exist and react. But it changes the environment from one where you give orders and she melts down in impotent rage and frustration, to one where she controls her little sphere and you control the big one around it, in the background.

If you’re way ahead of me on all of this, and your daughter already has plenty of age-appropriate autonomy, and her meltdowns are just a sudden change you can’t explain, then:

(4) Run this by your pediatrician. And for the love of screaming:

(5) Get your parental acts together. The clash between his authoritarian bent and your authoritative/permissive bent (I can’t tell which without knowing how you are with consequences) will mess with your kid’s head if you don’t negotiate your way to a workable set of values and limits. Get help with that, too — pediatrician again, to start — if you must.

Dear Carolyn:

I’m pregnant with my first and just starting to show. I have a relative who puts her hands on my stomach every time I see her. It makes me uncomfortable. I’ve tried stepping away or trying to block her. She has 100 percent noticed my discomfort and even said, “Oh, I shouldn’t touch,” and then continues. I can’t think of anything to say to get the point across strongly that wouldn’t be rude. Suggestions?

— Showing

Be rude and get the point across strongly.

It’s not rude, though. Rudeness is this relative’s not accepting the polite version of no.

Email Carolyn at, follow her on Facebook at or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

Email Carolyn at, follow her on Facebook or chat with her online at noon each Friday at

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.