Can tattling be a good thing? Parenting Coach Katie Malinski role plays with Kate Raidt what to do and say when your child tattles.
Dr. Patricia Nan Anderson and Parenting Coach Katie Malinski LCSW discuss with Kate Raidt the difference between normal sibling squabbles – and when sibling fighting or rivalry has gone too far.
We have all been there. We have either hosted a party and squirmed about how to politely tell the guests that their precious little Johnny needs to stay home, we have attended parties where someone brought sweet little Johnny or we are the parent of precious little Johnny and have stressed whether to bring him in tow or not.
Recently, I shared with my friends that I was planning to write an article about the social etiquette of bringing kids to parties (or not!) and if they could all weigh in. Whoa, I received a very unanimous, strong opinion on the topic. So here it goes….(take a deep breath before reading)
- 100% of the people I surveyed said they wish children did not attend adult parties. Definition of an “adult party”: Baby shower, birthday party for an adult, dinner party, wedding shower, book club. Unless the person being celebrated is a child, then it’s an adult party.
- All moms said it’s rude to ask the host if your child can come, because it puts them in an uncomfortable position to say “no” – or to say “yes” and then hold a grudge.
- Most moms said that going to an adult party is their one-day-every-six-months of freedom and fun without their own kids – and when another person’s child is present or fussy it’s an invasion on their mommy-time.
- Just because you think little Johnny is oh-so precious, doesn’t mean every person at a party thinks the same. Sorry!
- If you need a babysitter, think of other moms who will be attending the same party and bundle 2-3 families together and hire a babysitter. My committee says: if you can’t find a babysitter, stay home. Sorry!
- It is perfectly acceptable to print on a party invitation “adults only”.
- It is perfectly acceptable to bring your kids when the host voluntarily says (or it’s written on the invitation) “bring your entire family”!
- My “committee” also stressed the importance of parents keeping a close eye on their children when they attend parties. Too often parents get involved in conversations with other adults while precious little Johnny is taking a permanent marker to your guest’s sofa or he has snuck into the backyard swimming pool.
Most parents would agree that it’s a stress bomb to bring a young child to a grown-up party. And the point of attending a party is to have fun, right? So treat yourself to some fun adult company from time-to-time and pitch in for a babysitter.
I was stuck in power struggles with my daughter because I didn’t want to “give in”. If I did, I feared she would have all the power. She would learn that anytime she wanted her way, she could just dig in until she outlasted me. I couldn’t have that. So I dug in too. Until I understood how “letting go” could change our relationship.
My daughter was a won’t take no for an answer/won’t be told what to do kind of a kid. It’s hard to accept a child like this until you understand it as inborn personality rather than manipulative, oppositional behavior that must be eradicated. But that’s what I tried to do so I couldn’t give in, I couldn’t let her get away with it. As long as I believed I had to train her out of this opposition, I had to maintain control. Anything else felt like giving in.
Contrary to my initial opinion, letting go was not the same as giving in. Letting go was actually in my control. It was my choice to engage or disengage from a power struggle, to make her wrong or understand where she was coming from.
Letting go means being open minded enough to let go of your opinion and accept other points of view, even a child’s. You may get stuck in your own opinion about what is right for awhile, but when you’re willing to consider another viewpoint or understand new information, it may be just enough to allow you to rethink your stance, change your mind, and back down from what no longer seems important—to let go of your position, to let go of having to be right. People who can let go have an easy time saying, “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong about that.” That’s called appropriate social interaction and is important modeling.
Giving in means handing over your power to your child usually because you are trying to avoid a meltdown, a disappointment, an argument. Giving in means letting your child win while you lose. It gives your child too much power.
When you “stand on principle” because you’re stuck in the I’m the boss, I have to be right mode, you think that you are giving in whenever your child has a win. You do not allow another point of view, certainly not your child’s. You believe that you must win because you are right. So does your child. That’s called a power struggle. You’re both in it to make the other lose.
When I was determined to make my daughter get dressed and ready quickly and cooperatively on school mornings so that my schedule could move along smoothly, she resisted with a stubborn attitude, protruding lower lip and refusal to get dressed or move quickly. Power struggles were a regular part of the morning routine.
But once I realized that my assumptions about her motives were misguided, letting go was natural. Thinking she was out to get me and was determined to ruin my day, meant I had to hold my ground and undermine hers. Anything else would have felt like giving in. Once I saw that she was truly miserable, that she had a very difficult time getting going in the morning because she was dreading saying good bye to me and leaving home, my angry control switched to compassion and empathy. I learned that she couldn’t back down from her point of view and change how she felt—it wasn’t that she wouldn’t. This was her temperament, who she was. Stubborn, yes. Determined, absolutely. But she wasn’t trying to make me mad, she was in fact miserable when she felt forced to do something she hated, especially when I thought she was being obstinate. When I realized I couldn’t make her change and instead I could trust where she was coming form, I could let go of trying to control her. I could listen and empathize. I could let her be her. When she felt understood she relaxed. And in the letting go, her behavior responded positively.
To maintain important rules, to hang in there when you really do know what is best, to be the authority your children need, requires confidence that you are not losing ground if you let go, confidence that your child has a right to argue a point and sometimes does know what is best for himself, and confidence that you do not have to give in when you need to maintain appropriate limits or say “no”. Saying no with confidence sends a very different message than saying no with a power struggle.