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Parents need to get on the same page to address daughter’s meltdowns | TribLIVE.com
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Parents need to get on the same page to address daughter’s meltdowns

Carolyn Hax
| Tuesday, January 22, 2019 1:30 a.m
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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 tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.


Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook or chat with her online at noon each Friday at washingtonpost.com.

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