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Questions, Answers and Comments, Part 3

By Morrisa Drobnick, LCSW

Q – My six year-old daughter sometimes ignores me when I speak to her or ask her a question. When I repeat the questions she says with an attitude, “I heard you the first time.” When I ask why she didn’t answer me the first stime, she’ll say, “I don’t know.” I’ve told her that this is rude behavior and have reminded her that she wouldn’t like it if her parents or a friend ignored her. What is going on here? Is it a power play? What should I do? Mother of a silent six year old, Ridgewood.

A – Is this a power play? You bet it is! Of course I would love to have more details regarding your relationship and the way you communicate with each other. Do you discuss things at appropriate times, or do you “bark” orders and demand her attention when it is convenient for you? One thing that could be happening is that you are not respecting her. Always check your behavior first. Ask her if she is available to lisen to you; maybe she is watching TV, reading a book, doing homework or in her own thoughts. Children have their own agendas – parents don’t often know that. How can we tell if this is a power play? All misbehaviors in children have a goal. The key to understanding why they are misbehaving can be discovered in your own response to the behavior. If you were giving her a choice and she didn’t respond, make one for her and let it stick. If she said she “heard you the first time,” she probably did. Don’t nag, but let her face the consequences and point out her role in the situation. By not responding, she may be indicating that she doesn’t like what she’s heard. Encourage her to express her feelings verbally --- and make sure you’re ready for what you might hear.

Q – My son is afraid to go on the school bus. He is six years old and says he’d rather I take him and pick him up. What can I do? A Working Mom, Hackensack.

A – Fears and phobias are common and within the normal range for a school age child. Focus your attention on helping your child cope with his fears. Ask him what makes him afraid of taking the bus? You may be surprised by his answer. A rattling window or the thought that the driver might not bring him home are both upsetting to a kid. Get him to express himself by role playing, storytelling or discussion. Talk to him about the statement, “he’d rather I take him and pick him up.” This is a lesson that, sometimes in life, we have to settle and compromise when we can’t have our first choice. Brainstorm with him bout what he could do to conquer his fear or cope with it. Acknowledge that life sometimes is scary. You could say, “Yes, I understand that you are afraid of going on the school bus. But I know you are brave and strong and it will be OK. I know you can do it.” Help him feel his inner strength. Tell your child how you work at overcoming your fears. Don’t battle with him. Let him have his fears and learn how to handle them. Praise his progress. Tell him each day how well he is doing on the bus ride and remind him that tomorrow you know he will do even better.

Q – I am new to the area and don’t know anyone. I have a six month-old little girl and I am going crazy all day with nothing to do. Any suggestions? L.R. Oakland.

A – If you managed to find Bergen County Kids Magazine, you’re on your way. Get out of the house! Find a parent group in your community. Many churches and temples have mommy and me programs where you can go to socialize. Many are geared towards new moms. New moms need to feel comfortable and motivated to take control of their new roles in life. Becoming a mother is a growth process. It takes time to add this role to your identity and all women struggle with it in a variety of ways. Isolation does not help the adjustment. People need support and comfort from others experiencing the same life cycles.