A Is For ATTITUDE
Tame the ‘tude in your tiny, tiny teen
Do you have a 2.5, 3, or 4 year old girl? And yes, I am gonna do it. I am going to separate the sexes. Wanna know why? Because sometimes things ARE different. Not ALLLL of the time, but there are some behaviors and tendencies that are hard to ignore and girls are WAY more attitudy than boys. Sure boys will say NO, tantrum, and be grumpy, but the venomous wrath that can come from your adorable little woman in training can be mind blowing, especially the first time. You thought that you would not see this kind of storm until perhaps around 13, but no, now it is here. Why? Don't they know what you do for them? All that you sacrifice? How much you love them? Why? Why? Why then are they trying to make you explode with their, much wished for, laser vision? You become SURE that their eyes will actually get stuck in their head if they keep rolling them so intensely? Can they really not, “Take it any more” and what is the IT that they are referring to?????? What are you supposed to do with all of this?
Stay calm. Yes, it is hard. Attitude cuts deep. It is disrespectful, paints grown-ups as idiots, its nicks the armor of grown-up authority. But, staying calm is a must. Calm is the key. It feels better for YOU and will keep the incident from escalating to an all out explosion filled with tears, sweat, foul words, tantrums and some other things that will happen on your child's end.
GIVE ALTERNATIVES (Another A)
I love a strong powerful little lady, but it is my job to mentor her so that her strength is a positive one and not one that will be used to squash others in her wake, ME included. When attitude is thrown my way I give alternatives.
- “You seem to disagree. Instead of grunting and rolling your eyes, tell me calmly what you think.” (This will not get anyone out of cleaning, dressing, bathing... But sometimes being heard is all it takes to nip some ‘tude.)
- “If you need more time just tell me and you can finish your picture before dinner.”
- “You can be angry with me, but say that. When you roll your eyes and yell at me, it upsets and frustrates me.”
Kids are emotional creatures. Raw emotional creatures. Some are raw, SUPER emotional creatures. They have not yet learned how to cope with their emotions. Mentor (there is that word again) them. Give ideas about how to deal with strong feelings and thoughts, and ask them for their ideas about what to do when upset. For example, find space, find a comfort item, color, read, express feelings. We often are clear about what we DON’T want kids to do, but less so about what we do want to see from them. Teach your kids how to be mad or frustrated without an attitude. Be sure to model that conduct as well. They are watching grown-ups for social cues. YUP. WATCHING US, EEP,
Take action. Remember point #1, stay calm, and be clear. “You have been snippy, rolled your eyes, and have had an unpleasant tone today. I am looking forward to going to the park, but I cannot take you to the playground acting this way.” Hand their day over to them. They decide if they go to the park or not. To be clear, the consequences are not for the feelings but for the expressions of them. Kids can feel whatever they want, they can also express those feelings, but when the dagger like words and tone start soaring in your direction, THAT is when those consequences come in. Ask yourself, why are you taking someone who is not speaking clearly and calmly to the movies, park, museum? The message is that if your child speaks to in rough ways, then they will have to have solo time. I am fascinated when I see grown ups letting kids talk to them in ways that they would not accept from friends, coworkers, a partner, or anyone. Doling out consequences is not fun, but even for us, our actions have reactions.
This post is NOT about making girls quiet, submissive, “good”. This is about empowering girls. Helping them express feelings, needs and wants in productive ways, while conveying the idea the they are part of something bigger. A family, a team, a community, we must impart that others matter too. Children have feelings but so do others, and all feelings need to be respected. Strength and confidence is great. Attitude and unkindness is NOT. Teach our girls to be strong and clear so they can use those skills in the future and so that you do not put them in a rocket ship and send them to the moon TODAY or lock them in a tower until they are 20.