Q: My daughter is 8 years old. She is teased a lot at school and on the bus. I think it is because she is a little small for her age and the kids like to make fun of her. I have told her it is just kids being silly and not to let it bother her. Do you have any other advice to help make her feel better?
A: It is never a good feeling when you are being made fun of for whatever reason. I think at that age it is hard to just brush it off because it is a big deal for her. I remember in my Love and Logic Training they talked about a technique called, negative assertion. It is a technique that proved effective when dealing with putdowns. It might sound weird, but they suggest that you agree with whatever the person is saying. It is effective because it takes a healthy person to admit whatever weakness or shortcoming they might be talking about. You have to remember the person making the putdown is hoping for the opposite reaction. And many times, agreeing is all that you have to do and then it’s over. For example if the kid was calling your daughter short or a pipsqueak, her response could be, “You can say that again. I’ll be so glad when I get taller.” Examples of negative assertion might start out with these phrases; ‘Good point,’ ‘True,’ ‘I agree,’ ‘That’s not the first time I’ve heard that one,’ or ‘You can say that again.’ I think it is important to use the word “sometimes” in negative assertion. And I say this because if someone is calling you stupid, you do not want to agree with him or her. But you can say, “Sometimes, I can do really stupid stuff.” I just like to be able to give kids a tool or a technique that they can try. It may not work every time but it’s at least an option to try. I hope that helps and tell her she will grow.
Q: I have 2 children ages, 6 and 11. My 11-year-old son is always having trouble with homework, not getting it done. I’ve taken away his PlayStation, made him go to bed early, and I feel like I’m the one trying to fix things with his teacher. How can I make him care about his work in school?
A: This is a tough question. You can’t really make him care about his schoolwork, but there are always different techniques that we can try and see what happens. I think that the best consequences are those that happen naturally. It doesn’t seem that taking things away from him is having any effect on his work. This is something we all have to figure out with our children. We have to figure out what types of consequences will matter to them. For your son, it might be the natural consequences that come from not doing his work. He will receive a lower grade; he may not be able to participate in the more fun events at school because his work is not done; he may not be able to attend a fun assembly or go on the field trip. These are the consequences that make us a little sick as parents and because we don’t want to see our children hurt. We will do whatever it takes to not let our kids be in pain. I do think that this could be an option to try and the best result would be that something like this only happens one time and he misses one thing and this is what will change his attitude and make him care more about his work. I think it’s worth a try and I encourage you to include his teacher in on this and let them know what you are doing. They might be able to help too! Best of luck!
Q: This isn’t really a question but more of a statement. I am just seeing more and more children disrespect their parents out in public. I am appalled at how they speak to them and then how their parents in turn speak to other people. Is this something that you think can change or is it a generational problem that is passed on?
A: I’m not sure where to start for this question. I do agree with you and I have seen children disrespecting their parents. I have also seen parents disrespect other people in front of their children. I think the problem lies in the latter. Kids are sponges and they soak up what we say and how we treat others. I will give you an example, I was in Walmart with my daughter and we saw another parent say this to their child. “Shut the [expletive] up, stupid.” That same person then went off on the cashier for a long wait. The child didn’t seem very phased by that comment and I would dare to say that wasn’t the first time he’d heard it. It was so sad and it was shocking for my child. She couldn’t understand why someone would speak like that to a child. And the boy was probably all of 13 maybe. This is a great reminder that our actions and words are soaked up like a sponge by any and all kids that are around us. They emulate our behavior. When I think about that situation, it makes me think about how that child will probably think that is appropriate language to use when he has children. How sad it that? When we treat our children with kindness and respect this teaches them to go and do likewise. Moreover, it is this behavior that will make the world a better place for everyone to live.