Thursday, October 13, 2016

Momiversity: Your Six Year Old, Loving and Defiant

I picked up this book for obvious reasons - I have a six year old. But I didn't find it to be that helpful. It's full of very broad generalities that didn't really resonate with my observations of Judah and in the end I feel like I read about everything and nothing.

But I'm going to blog about it ANYWAY because otherwise it feels like I just wasted 5 hours of my life.

So...random snippets:

--"Five was lovable...early Six was handful...Six and a half can be truly gorgeous. What makes him so much fun? His lively intellectuality for one thing. Intellectual tasks are now a challenge. He loves to count for you, loves to say his ABCs..."

Uh, my THREE year old loves to count for me and say his ABC's. I really don't see how this just pertains to Six and a half year olds...

--"Five may think you're perfect. Seven won't be quite sure. But the Six and a half year old child likes you and you like him. No question. There is a warmth at this age quite unlike anything seen at most other ages."

Uh, what does that even mean? We like each other...okay...

--"Parents...looking back, remember their Six year old as argumentative, oppositional, violent, tantrumy, difficult. And then they think of Seven as silent, withdrawn, suspicious, complaining."

Uh, I remember my TWO year old as argumentative, oppositional, violent, tantrumy and difficult. Again, how does this really just pertain to 6 year olds? And wow, get ready for those moody 7 year olds!

One chapter of the book I did think was helpful, was regarding "Techniques" to handle your kid:

--Praise! If your kid is being a monster, a word of praise (however difficult to dig up) can work miracles in turning the ship around.

--Chances. If your kid blatantly resists your instruction, tell him he has 3 chances to comply. A face-saving way to preserve his autonomy and your authority.

--Counting. Let's see if you can do _____ before I count to 10. Judah responds really quickly to this because it sounds like a challenge - and he hates to lose challenges. But it also makes him surly because deep down he can't help but feel coerced, which truly he is.

--Bargain. If you do this, I'll give you that. The authors acknowledge this is basically bribing your kid to comply, and warns that it shouldn't always be used. But it works! I save my bribes, er, bargains, for only the most crucial and onerous tasks, which for Judah, is practicing his Chinese lessons.

--The remaining techniques - Give in, isolation, and ignoring - speak for themselves. In general, the authors counsel you to just let things go. Don't sweat the small stuff. Six year olds have atrocious table manners and zero awareness of the giant messes they make. Pick your battles.

My favorite part of the book, and the only one that made me glad to have read it, came at the Q&A part in the end. The authors reply to various letters sent in by parents and one of them addressed the biggest problem I've had with Judah ever since he was born - and something that exploited my greatest insecurity - feeling like I'm a bad mom because my kid doesn't think I love him.

I feel like I could've written this letter:

Dear Doctors:

My son, Frank, is Six and a half years old. He is a normal child in every way and is also a very good child...The problem is he says I don't love him. Even when he is just sitting around, all of a sudden he will say, "I love you but you don't love me." I tell him this is not true, but he insists it is...

The authors replied:

It is natural and reasonable (i.e., feeling that he is not loved as much as he loves) but you should not take it too seriously. You can talk with him about it to a certain extent. Tell him this is the way lots of children feel and that usually (and especially in his own case) it is not true. You do love him....

Chances are he just wants a little special reassurance....Going-to-bed time, with a Six year old, is a specially good time for a little snuggling and affectionate talk. In the daytime, when he makes his complaint just take him on your lap and talk about what a good little boy he is and how glad you are that you have him. Tell him how much you and his dad think of him....

Above all, try not to feel hurt that he talks this way. It is, with most children, just a part of growing up.

Thank you doctors! It's just such a relief to know I'm not the only one.

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