Posts Tagged: Alyson Schafer

Birthday Party Invitation Etiquette

Birthdays are really supposed to be fun, but they can be fraught with issues.  One mom asks me:

My son (5 1/2) wants to invite everyone in his class to his birthday party except 2 people who he has singled out as not being his friends. This is his first ‘friends’ party.  We’ve discussed how these kids might feel (reading Junie B. Jones ‘That Meanie Jim’s Birthday’), but I haven’t (yet) made an issue of it.  However, I do feel bad.  What do I do about inviting/not inviting these 2 kids??

Here’s my take on birthdays. There are two kinds of birthday parties:

1. Small meaning a few close friends

2. Big meaning the whole class, or the whole brownie/cub scout group (ie. no exclusions)

I suggest you let the child decide on whether they prefer option 1 or 2.  The child must understand that if he goes for “big” it means including everyone in the group, even those that he doesn’t like. Explain that while it is natural to not like every person we ever meet, we have to treat all people with respect and dignity whether we like them or not.  To exclude a few from an established group is shunning and rejecting.  That is not okay.  It’s disrespectful.

If the idea of having the classmates he doesn’t like attend his party is soooo upsetting, be understanding and remind him he can always choose the other style party and invite his 5 or 6 best buddies from the “tighter” circle of friends.

I started very early talking to my children about the idea of how discouragement can make people act in ways that can look like they are “meanies” (in this case).  I explained that underneath their tough façade, those kids really want deeply to be liked and to feel accepted, but they are lashing out from feelings of hurt and rejection.  Once children understand this, they are willing to work harder to reach out and include them.

I hope that’s helpful.

Alyson

For more parenting tips visit alysonschafer.com

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schaffer

Alyson Schaffer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t MIsbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com.

 

The Situation

I recently received an email from a distraught mother who complained that every night after tuck-in time, her three-and-a-half-year-old daughter would call out, Mooooomy, I have to go peeeeeeeee even though she was put on the potty right before bedtime.

The Way I See It

I suspect that this three-and-a-half-year-old has discovered that toileting is a behavior that mom simply can’t ignore. She thinks, if I asked mom for another song, or to come kiss me again, she will disregard my request. After all, it’s bedtime and tuck-ins are over. But what kind of parent wouldn’t respond to a toilet-training tot when he cries out he needs to pee? The child has learned this is a request mom can’t refuse!

Yup, she’s right. After all, we don’t want to be inconsistent. We don’t want to take a step back in training. Nor do we want them to be wet all night. So we go and put them on the potty again. No doubt there is a small conversation, and probably an additional tuck-in kiss, maybe even a song if we are real suckers. Late-breaking pees actually become a very social experience for the child. And therein lies the payoff. These late-night toilet breaks provide bonus socializing sessions and that is the usefulness that sustains the child’s nightly behavior. It is our responses that we need to address if we are going to find a solution to the child’s creative behavior!

The Immediate Solution

Lose the payoff, or social benefit, of these extra night-time potty visits by teaching the child self-sufficiency.

During the day, take time for training (or T.T.F.T. as I affectionately call it). Show your child how to pull her own pants up and down and have her practice wiping herself. You might find wet wipes are easier for kids than dry toilet paper. They can wipe first and then you can be the checker until you are satisfied they have the manual dexterity to get the job done properly. Once they have this skill, you can install night lights in the hall and explain that they don’t need to call you to go to the washroom: You are so capable! You can go to the toilet and tuck right back in all by yourself! You may also opt to simply leave a potty in their room with some wet wipes and hand sanitizer (again, after some T.T.F.T.). Some children find this new limit exciting and want to test it out. However, after a night or two, most children prefer to avoid asking to use the potty before bed since they no longer have a successful stalling/attention tactic, and they just get on with bedtime.

The Long-Term Strategy

As with all the behavior guidance tips I provide, parents are not going to have long-term success unless we solve the child’s unmet goal, in this example: undue attention seeking, a mistaken means for finding connection. Every child needs to feel secure about their worth and their place in their social group (the family or classroom). That means parents need to bring on the encouragement and connection during those times when their children are not demanding undue attention. Find opportunities for positive connection instead.

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schaffer

Alyson Schaffer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t MIsbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com.

Divorced? What Children Really Want for Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day, and lots of articles are being written about ways to show your love. Here is an excerpt from “Helping Children Understand Divorce,” by University of Missouri, that might give you some ideas about what the children of divorce really want:

What I Need From My Mom and Dad –  A Child’s List of Wants:

  • I need both of you to stay involved in my life. Please write letters, make phone calls, and ask me lots of questions. When you don’t stay involved, I feel like I’m not important and that you don’t really love me.
  • Please stop fighting and work hard to get along with each other. Try to agree on matters related to me.  When you fight about me, I think that I did something wrong and I feel guilty.
  • I want to love you both and enjoy the time that I spend with each of you.  If you act jealous or upset, I feel like I need to take sides and love one parent more than the other.
  • Please communicate directly with my other parent so that I don’t have to send messages back and forth.
  • When talking about my other parent, please say only nice things, or don’t say anything at all.  When you say mean, unkind things about my parent, I feel you are expecting me to take your side.
  • Please remember that I want both of you to be a part of my life.  I count on my mom and dad to raise me, to teach me what is important, and to help me when I have problems.

About the Author:

Alyson Schaffer

Alyson Schaffer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t MIsbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com.

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