I sometimes get questions from parents who are concerned that their elementary school child has a boyfriend or girlfriend. They rightfully don't want their child to grow up too fast or be too focused on romantic relationships while they are young. They may want their child to wait until he or she is older and can better understand the dynamics of these relationships and can enter into healthy relationships. Some parents feel "dating" is not age appropriate for young kids. I understand those concerns. I also know that many, many children whose parents forbid them from having a boyfriend or girlfriend have said to me as their therapist "I have a boyfriend. Don't tell my parents!"
Forbidding dating relationships for young kids doesn't guarantee they won't happen, but it nearly guarantees they won't talk with you about them. This can be a missed opportunity to talk about lots of important relationship dynamics, from consent to kindness to communication. It's sort of like how we help guide our kids when they're first learning to ride a bike. We stay close beside them, giving them pointers and helping them balance before we send them out to navigate on their own. Perhaps the most important benefit; starting these conversations young helps kids feel more confident and prepared for teen relationships, and more comfortable talking with parents about them.
Some questions I ask parents when deciding if they want to forbid dating relationships for their kids:
Some questions parents might want to ask their kids before deciding if they will allow boyfriends or girlfriends:
Of course I am not suggesting that we push our children into romantic relationships if they aren't interested in them. If kids feel pressured by parents to be in a relationship, it can send confusing messages about why we enter into relationships and who can provide consent for them. On the other hand, I'm not suggesting we give up on rules and boundaries and allow kids to do whatever they want. However, if kids are naturally interested in a romantic relationship with a peer, it can be an age-appropriate opportunity to help them practice the relational skills they're developing with your support and supervision.
We've all been there at one time or another- we've raised our voice, we've lost our patience, or we've responded to our kids in a way we wish we hadn't. Some people are regular yellers and for some it only happens occasionally, but none of us are immune to the pressures of parenting. Of course there are no perfect parents, but there's a fine line in pressuring ourselves to be perfect versus working to improve our relationships.
On April 24th I'll formally launch my new e-course Positive Parenting for Behavior Change. To celebrate this launch, I'm doing a free One Week To Less Yelling group that will have FREE resources in it every morning, with a free live Q&A every evening! This will all happen in a facebook group called One Week To Less Yelling With The Inherent Parent. Just join the group and hang tight until April 19-23rd, when we will do the official challenge!
PLUS, I'll be giving away a 60 minute consultation to one lucky group member. Invite a friend to join and you'll both be entered to win!
Sometimes my kids get so hangry that I am desperate for them to eat something. One of my kids is particularly picky, so I try to get some protein in him when I can, not knowing when or what he will eat next since his diet is 75% cheez-its. Here are some things we've found with some sneaky protein. His flavor recommendation is in parenthesis.
LaLa Smoothies, 5g (mango)
Clif Builder's Bars, 20g (mint chocolate chip)
Van's Protein Waffles, 11g and Kodiak Power Waffles, 12g (original)
Clif Kidz Bars, 5g (chocolate chip)
He doesn't like any type of cheese or lunch meat or any foods that touch each other, so we don't do sandwiches or casseroles, but we do try to incorporate
When I do intakes with parents to get more information about how their child is doing, I ask "Are there any signs of depression or anxiety that you're concerned about?" Often parents say "what would that look like in a child?" The answer is that they have the same symptoms as adults, but they may show up differently. Look for:
I recently had a parent share with me that learning sight words was a real struggle at home. I tend to lean more toward the don't-stress-out-about-academics for young kids, but if you want some fun ways to incorporate sight words, I've got some ideas.