Wednesday’s Parent: Dealing with attitude


When fireworks fly. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

When fireworks fly. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Have you ever experienced attitude from your child? Not the smiling Fourth of July fireworks excitement but the rolling eyes, sighs, staring without seeing, hearing without listening kind of demeanor? It is often a result of the child misinterpreting parental good intentions as obtrusive interference.

“We think the same but not at the same time.” This was the thought expressed by a frustrated son to his equally exasperated mother in the play “Butterflies are Free.”

I saw the play days ago but this concept is like a song I can’t get out of my head. It describes the divide between parent and child. Now all we need is a reliable and sturdy bridge.

Wednesday’s Parent is on it. Your very own POCSmom Wendy David-Gaines and college prep expert Suzanne Shaffer have joined forces to provide parenting tips and strategies to help you help your student achieve success.

Whether you are the parent of a preschooler or a college freshman, attitude can block communication like an NFL tackler.

Here are seven parent tips for dealing with your child’s attitude that may interfere with back to school success:

1. Homework Attitude at the mere mention of the word “homework” is not surprising. No one likes to take their job home with them but that’s what homework is to students. Of course they would rather relax, socialize and chill, wouldn’t you? Helping your student make studying and timely completion of assignments a priority provides a tool that will serve him well throughout his academic and employment future. Take out the calendar and create a schedule together. Block out time for studies, extracurricular activities, play time and alone quiet time. Sometimes adjustments are necessary but that’s okay. The key is to get your child invested in the process so he will continue the practice on his own. The bonus is that will decrease your reminders that result in his attitude responses.

2. Activities If your student is making up excuses, rolling out the delaying tactics, or complaining about going to a club, sport or activity, it is time for a reassessment. A heart to heart conversation can get to the root of the problem. This is the time for parents to do the listening and mentally walk in their child’s shoes. Has your student’s interests changed, is there a problem with a bully, is it socially awkward because of a recent friendship fight or loss, is it overwhelming your student’s schedule, is there a personality conflict with the supervising adult? Knowing what is wrong is the first step in working together to find a solution- even if that means switching to something else.

3. Friends Distance does not always make the heart grow fonder, contrary to the popular cliché. A summer apart can take its toll on friendships. Your child may give you attitude because he does not want to discuss the details. Making new friends, keeping old ones, and adjusting to friendship losses are life skills that parents can help their child develop. Brainstorm how-to together. Then list new opportunities for your student to meet others with similar interests and encourage continuing contacts from old and new friends. Check local sources such as school, library and sports sponsors. Also look to communities further away to widen your student’s circles.

4. Meals What parent hasn’t been asked, ”What’s for dinner?” and received, “Ugh” as a response? The more your child takes part in meal preparation the more likely she will enjoy them. From making up a grocery list to setting the table, there are plenty of chances for children to assist parents with breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. The bonus here is this can become the basis of a healthy diet and less swapping of carrot sticks for chips in the cafeteria. By the time she is off to college she will be on her way to avoid the “Freshman 15.”

5. A.M. Routine It takes time to transform a new routine into a habit. Factor in your child may not be a morning person and getting ready for school can be a disaster. Try this abc approach. A. Allow for rest:: Set reasonable bed times that allow for enough rest. B. Be prepared: Prepare so everything is ready to go including tomorrow’s clothes, backpack, lunch and snacks. C. Clear the mind: Turn off electronic devices at least an hour before bed. Let your child get used to this special quiet time to relax, read, start a journal, reflect on the day and plan for the next one. By learning self-winding down techniques, he will be prepared when he heads for the college dorm.

6. Family fun Parents shouldn’t have to walk on egg shells around their child but it can happen when moms and dads censor their comments for fear it will generate attitude. Turn the generation perception gap into family teamwork togetherness. Pick fun projects together that require cooperation such as building a model, prepping for a barbecue, forming a family book club, and participating in an act of charity. When the time comes, your family will be primed to take on the challenges of college prep activities.

7. Independence It is human nature to want more of a good thing so when children receive increased privileges they may cop an attitude based on their new status. Match responsibilities to privileges and explain a path that will lead to new ones. Be specific about expectations and how privileges can be gained and lost. Communication and respect are twin necessities as children grow toward independence. Soon enough parents will be parenting an adult child.

There are times when attitude seems to appear for no reason. Patience and a strong memory may help parents through. Count to 10 while remembering when you thought adults didn’t and couldn’t get it. Congratulate yourself for your insights and wisdom that come from experiencing both viewpoints.

Read on for Suzanne Shaffer’s Wednesday’s Parent: Attitude Adjustments.


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