Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why Are Little Girls So Mean?

My oldest daughter is a 5th grader this year. I have just this one last year before she heads off to middle school where she will inevitably turn into a moody teenager and the world will feel like it's coming to an end. But I have noticed that ever since about the 3rd grade, my daughter has had constant problems with other girls in school. Little mini cat-fights. Seriously. What could a group of girls, starting at the age of 8, have to fight about?

It hurts me as a parent to watch her go through these ups and downs. Because, being a girl myself, I know that it does not get any better. Sometimes it affects her grades, and it most certainly affects her moods...which in turn affects my mood because she gets pissy with me after work and well, that sucks.

All of the parenting advice that I've read and received tells me that these problems are very common for her age group. My friend (who happens to be a child psychologist) and I took the kids to dinner last night and tried to help my daughter sort out all of the issues. We wanted to give her a way to go back to school and take care of the situation. So we did some role playing. It was odd, but it went pretty well.

My friend and I pretended to be the mean girls that gang up on her, and Deja played herself. She asked us: "Why are you mad at me? Why did you stop being my friend?" And we made up things such as: "I heard you said something mean about me." and "You act bossy." and we made Deja come up with responses to these questions and even a general apology towards the girls if she felt like she wanted to mend the friendship.

We also talked about how when she gets mad, she shouldn't yell at people. We talked about what other things she could do to get her feelings out and to calm down before she makes the situation worse. She said that she likes to write, so I got her a notebook in which she can write down how she feels - just to vent - a private notebook just for herself.

Do you think these things will work? I didn't know what else to do, but I'm going to ask her in about a week how things are going and if she has talked to the girls. I'd love to hear what other parents are doing to help their daughters get through these situations....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

5 More Days Until My Birthday!

I haven't posted on here in awhile, but today I am in a combined mood of whimsical and sad. Which makes me want to write. I did want to go ahead and post a picture of the cupcakes that my friend Jayne and I made for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Tell me what you think!

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And last night, I made Cinnamon Toast Cupcakes, which turned out amazing. They are definitely a new favorite.

But sadly, not even cupcakes can cheer me up today. If I haven't mentioned how hard it is being a mom, it's even harder being a wife. I guess I have been pretty stressed out lately. Both of my daughters have been sick in the last week...and well, me personally, I thought I was pregnant, got all excited, only to find out that I actually am not pregnant. So, emotionally, I am drained.

One good thing that has happened recently on the parenting front is that I decided to implement a Rewards & Responsibilities chart. I printed a chart and reward coupons from this website called Child Avenue. It is all kinds of helpful. First let me just say, I did not think my daughters would respond to this type of system. But my four year old was getting out of hand - just being rude and talking back and even hitting her sister for no reason. And well, the 10 year old, it was even worse. She was having girl fights over boys in class, lying, and just being generally disrespectful.

So, I was at my wits end and decided to try the reward chart. I felt that they might be misbehaving so badly in part because we don't spend a lot of quality time together or really do anything fun together anymore. I have been so busy with work (a full-time and a part-time job) in addition to still taking classes to finish my Marketing degree, so I don't get much free time. But, I know that quality time is important, so I decided to try harder. This is how I do the chart:

At the beginning of the week, each child picks out a reward they want to work towards for the week. For example, last week was "A Night Out With Mom". I use the top 5 spaces for my oldest daughter and the bottom 5 spaces for my yougest and I write in their responsibilities. They are each responsible for doing their chores everyday without being told. For each chore completed, they get a star to put in the box. During the week, if they misbehave they get one warning. After the warning, if they misbehave again, I take away a star and write it in the box. And if by the end of the week, they've had 3 or more stars taken away, they do not get the reward. So, it's 3 strikes you're out. And let me tell you, after the warning and/or the threat of taking a star away, they stop dead in their tracks. They act like getting a star taken away is the end of the world and they immediately try to behave. It is working wonders! I seriously can not believe I did not try this before.

Have any of you tried this chart before? How is it working for you? Or do you have any questions about how I'm using it or have other suggestions? Feel free to post a comment and let me know what you think!