On Parenting: Meghan Leahy took your questions about parenting

On Parenting: Meghan Leahy took your questions about parenting
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I see Amy already posted a columnI wrote about this subject, but listen, this stinks. It STINGS to make something nice for a kid, WITNESS the joy, and then have the child poo-poo it.

So, a little brain science for ya: seven is on the brink of the age of reason. This means that your son is right around the typical age where he can hold two opposing emotions at the same time (I LOVE THIS ARCADE “happiness” and I HATE I RAN OUT OF MONEY ON MY FAVORITE GAME “sadness”).


I don’t know how sensitive or immature your son is, but it is 100% normal for this age to “forget” the other good stuff and only remember the last bad thing. This is a sign that a) he is still immature and can only handle one big emotion at a time (NORMAL) b) he is sensitive, hence feeling his big emotions too much and overwhelmingly so, slowing down the maturation process or c) he was hungry, sick, or tired after the party (also likely) which hampers the brain’s ability to hold on to two opposing thoughts.

Now, here is what I know: if you remind or cajole or shame your child into being grateful, he will dig in to the negative narrative of his day. So, don’t do that.

What do you do? Nothing.

Know that, in your heart, your son had a wonderful day, you  provided him with a fun party, and that your happiness doesn’t depend on his happiness. I REPEAT: YOUR HAPPINESS DOESN’T DEPEND ON HIS HAPPINESS.

Do you have the right to feel peeved about this? YOU BET. Phone a friend, write to me, complain to spouse, complain to a stranger…get it out. You have the right to your big emotions! Just don’t use them to bully your child into caring. IT WILL BACKFIRE.

One little thing to try is, when you are tucking him in and enjoying him, simply mention your top three favorite things about the day and one thing that didn’t work. For instance, “I loved the games, the prizes I won, and the cake…but that pizza hurt my tummy!” This shows that BAD things happen, even when you are having fun. See if he can also give you one bad and one good. This is life, right?


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