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Parenting Dilemma: He Let The Kids Play All Night!

Child development expert and author Michelle Anthony, Ph.D., solves your trickiest kid problems.
 

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Question
My boys beg to stay up late on the weekend. My husband often gives in, which means it’s Meltdown City the following day. It’s not worth it! How can I convince him to see it my way?

Answer
Staying up late is a big treat for little ones. But when it leads to crankiness (them) and grumpiness (you, toward your husband), it’s time to take action.

Since you don’t want to be known as the parent who squashes the fun, and you don’t want your husband to casually dole out the privilege, start here: Find out why the big guy gives in. Is he a pushover for those adorable, pleading 
faces? Does he simply not agree with your view that the kids should have the same bedtime every night? Hold a private conversation with him and explain your position, then come up with rules about requests to stay up late. If you can’t agree, you might gather the troops, get out the calendar and choose one weekend a month when bedtime can be pushed back. Then add the stipulation that Dad can reschedule once per month on the fly — as long as you both agree to it.

To avoid meltdowns, make sure the boys know that staying up late is a privilege to be earned: They must agree ahead of time that whining and complaining the next day are out (and if they do start, they go to their rooms); they will finish their homework before the special night; and they will have an earlier bedtime the following evening. Most important, make sure they understand that the next chance to stay up late depends on how well they handled the one before.

 

Question
I like my daughter’s friend but I am not so fond of her parents. They always want to get together when the girls have a playdate. How can I manage?

Answer
When your daughter was little, you chose her friends for her. These were usually the children of your own friends or acquaintances. But from preschool on, she has more opportunity to choose her own pals. That’s an important developmental step, but when it comes with a set of parents that rub you the wrong way . . . ugh!

Don’t sweat it. You don’t have to like everyone. To better manage the grown-up relationship, try thinking of the new parents as a strategic alliance, as opposed to a friendship you struggle to create. Perhaps they can become allies you call on for an after-school pickup in a pinch.

Otherwise, try a few things to keep the time you spend with them to a minimum. A playdate for the girls centered on an activity, such as a movie or bowling, requires less adult conversation and direct interaction. You can also try inviting the other mom to drop off her daughter at your place “to free up time so you can run errands.” Or suggest a playdate at the friend’s house, and have 
a reason you are unable to stay past drop-off.

If you can’t avoid the get-together, keep the conversation as light as you can. Start off with a question about a topic of interest to them, for example, or discuss a magazine article you’ve brought. That way, you can keep things bubbling along without the awkward silences that sometimes happen.

Let the friendship blossom between the kids while you sidestep interactions as best you can. (Hopefully, they’ll get the hint.) The good news is, as your kid gets older, you’ll spend less time with the other parents, and just as with a business acquaintance or casual friend, the interactions will be about what you expect: small talk in passing.

 

Question
My daughter is really shy and won’t go to parties unless she knows everyone there. How can I help her?

Answer
When a person is in a raucous setting (like a birthday party), it’s natural to feel more comfortable around the people she knows best. Some kids, however, are unable to participate in events without this feeling of familiarity, and they end up holding themselves back from fun or growth-producing experiences. To help foster your daughter’s social confidence, give these suggestions a try:

Practice at home.

Have her invite a new friend over for ice cream or craft making. Then, have her invite three or four kids the next time. As her confidence grows, hold the get-togethers in a public setting where there’s likely to be more commotion, such as a skating rink.

Put your child in a low-stakes situation.

Bring her along to a sibling’s event, where she doesn’t know many people. Have her join the activity and slowly reach out to meet other siblings or adults present.

Make her activities more social.

If your child loves music, have her join the school band. If she is a fish at heart, find a swim team to join. It’s easier to make connections with acquaintances if all participants share a common interest.

Develop her skills.

Be it with soccer savvy or artistic acumen, the more accomplished your child becomes, the more her self-confidence increases overall as well.

Encourage your child.

Being shy as a temperament is not an excuse to avoid participating. For more help supporting her, take a look at resources such as shykids.com.

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