Thursday, August 23, 2012

7 Lessons Your Daughter Needs You to Teach Her


My daughter came home from school one day and I did my usual.  I just tried to make conversation with her and I absent-mindedly asked, "Who did you sit by at lunch?"

She replied, "Grace wanted to sit by me, but Julia and I didn't want her to."

As you can imagine, this really got my attention. I spent many years in high school and beyond dealing with girls excluding me for reasons I never understood and it never occurred to me that my daughter would be the one doing the excluding. Granted, she's only four, but that's no excuse.

The next day, she wanted to stay up past her bedtime. I said no. She kicked at me and said, "No!" in a very snotty voice. I realize that kids aren't going to be well-behaved all the time, but I have a very low tolerance for bratty behavior and I wanted to nip this in the bud before it became a habit.

This sent me on an interesting journey. Over the next several days and weeks, I interviewed my Mom, my Mom's friends, and my good friend and co-author, Susan Case. Susan is a former Kindergarten teacher and child expert. My goal was simple. To find out the answer to this question: What are the most important lessons I can teach my daughter so she doesn't grow up to be a back-talking, sassy teen-ager?  My end-goal is to raise a daughter who is considerate of other people, fun to be around, and I want her to respect (and adore) me!

Here is what I found out, from some very wise mothers and grandmothers:

1. Your happiness doesn't depend on me buying things for you.  The way to teach this lesson is simple: Don't buy them anything.  This sounds drastic, but what it really means is don't buy them something from a store when they are with you, unless she knows going in that you are searching for something. Otherwise, they'll start thinking they get something every time you shop and pretty soon you've got a spoiled girl who begs and whines and pitches a fit when she doesn't get what she wants. Of course, if they need shoes or a necessity, this does not apply, but still make sure you do not just buy them everything in the store.
2. Looks aren't the most important thing.  It's important to boost your daughter's self-esteem, but don't make every compliment about her looks.  Don't put a mirror in her room.  This goes double for a "vanity" that you can buy from the toy store. Sure, it's tempting. They look adorable sitting in front of the mirror brushing their hair, but what are you really teaching them?
3. Friends are important.  If you ever see them being mean to anyone, or they tell you they don't like someone, explain why it's important to include everyone. Praise her when you see her being nice to one of her friends.  Talk about your own friends often and explain why they are so important to you.
4. No one likes a bossy-pants or a tattle-tale.  For this, it's important to lead by example. Don't be sassy and mean to your husband. Even if he's sitting in the couch scrolling through his iPad while you run around like a headless chicken making dinner, do not snap at him! If she hears you being snippy and mean, she will follow your example. She wants to be like her Mom.  And don't encourage her to tell on other people.  That won't help her in school at all!  (Trust me, my Mom is a P.E. Teacher and this is one of her biggest pet peeves.
5. The world doesn't revolve around shopping.  Try bonding through exploring a flower garden or a park. Or try to find a hobby that is outdoors and active, such as horseback-riding or bike-riding. The closer you are, the more likely your daughter will be open to discussing difficult times with you.
6. You catch more bees with honey than vinegar.  Never let a snotty tone slide. This doesn't mean you have to yell at them every time they're rude, but if they demand something in a snippy way, always correct them by saying something like, "Now, you don't need to talk in that mean tone. Let's try again in a nice voice." Eventually these gentle reminders will sink it, and sometimes a firmer reminder might be warranted.
7. It's good to help people. Open the door for the elderly lady at the grocery store and then talk afterward about how it's nice to help people.  Do nice things for your husband and/or friends and make sure your daughter knows about it.  Have her help you pick out toys to give the needy at Christmastime. It doesn't matter what it is, but show them how fun it is to give back to the people who need it.

After I gathered all this advice from all the wise Moms I know, the kids were playing outside a few weeks later and I saw a neighborhood girl approach my daughter and her little friend. The third girl asked if she could play too. I stood back and held my breath to see whether all my hard work had paid off.

My daughter said, "Sure! We're playing school. You can be a student!"

I breathed a sigh of relief. No one is perfect all the time, and I'm certain that the battle is not over. I will have to reinforce this behavior on a daily basis, but for now, I am happy to see my daughter including others. There is hope for her yet.



If you enjoyed this post, you will love our book!  I teamed up with former Kindergarten Teacher Susan Case to release The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble, and Motivated to Learn in July, 2012.  If you have ever tried to cook dinner while your kid clings to your leg and cries, this is the book for you! 



Kids behave better when they are given challenging projects to work on, which will in turn give you more free time to do the things you really need to do, like washing dishes, paying bills, and relaxing so that you can be a better Mom!  You can hear us talk about this theory in this interview about the book:


 
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34 comments:

  1. So I can't yell at my husband anymore? Oh boy.....

    ;)

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  2. I agree with Shannon above :o)... Great advice I love it but I am bad because I am partial with the shopping with my daughter that is not all we do but we have been knows to cause some damage. Not all we do though :0)

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    1. I know....shopping is really fun I agree!

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  3. That is great advice and would apply to sons as well.

    : 0 ) Theresa (Capri + 3)

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  4. my own mom was so good at these things and I can only hope I pull off a few with my sweet pea.

    Wendy
    Www.momswithmuscle.blogspot.com

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. Sorry....had to remove last comment due to typing fast and not checking for errors! :-) This is my 33rd year of teaching kindergarten and I definitely agree with all of this wisdom. My job today is SO much harder than it used to be because most parents are not teaching these principles at home. Thanks for sharing and encouraging.

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    1. Deb, that's so great to hear! Thanks so much for visiting and giving your opinion. As a Kindergarten teacher, that means a lot and I really admire you for your work!! 33 years!! Wow!!! :-)

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  7. Thank you for this! My daughter (and her twin brother) are 2 1/2 now... the past few months I have been SO worried about her attitude and the way she whines/throws fits/yells. Yikes! I think I know in my "head" what to do, but I couldn't get any practice things started. This is a great, easy to read list! I think I'll have the most trouble with being nicer to my husband. Not that I yell at him all the time, but I am "snarky" with him often. I've caught my daughter talking to her brother the same way (and him to her!) and she does it to both of us, as well. So obviously, I need to start teaching by example! I am also a 2nd grade teacher, and it is SO true that these are the types of things MISSING from kids these days. Kids come in on the first day of school treating me and their new classmates disrespectfully. It makes you wonder what their parents are dealing with at home, and why they haven't been taught to treat others with respect and care!

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    1. @honeybear have you read Parenting With Love and Logic Magic? That was my favorite read when my daughter starting getting snarky at 2.5 years. And I can't blame you for being a little snarky too...a 2nd grade teacher! Wow! You are awesome. Thanks for visiting!!

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  8. Wonderful tips to help raise a "nice" girl. We are just starting the snotty tone occasionally here, got to nip that in the bud!

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    1. Thanks OneMommy! I definitely hope to raise a "nice" girl! We'll see :-)

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  9. I'm struggling with finding the fine line between encouraging children to not be tattle tales, but also making sure they stand up for what is right and don't allow other people to hurt them. Any tips?

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    1. I've seen some awesome posters on this going around my teacher friends on pinterest, I'm sure you could search for it. The basic idea is that if someone is doing something dangerous to themselves or others and you feel like you should tell because you want to help or protect yourself or others you should tell. If someone is breaking a minor rule that is not dangerous AND you want to tell because you want them to get in trouble it's tattling. The posters say it better, but the main thing is the kid's motivation for telling. And if it's dangerous always tell, of course.

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    2. @rhiannonzz Yes, I agree with Heather. I try to teach that if there is something dangerous happening, she can tell me. However, if it's something that's just irritating her that her brother or someone else does, she needs to ask them nicely to stop or whatever. However, it's a daily struggle. I am sure that it will take years before this lesson totally sinks in, but I'm going to keep trying!! :-)

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  10. I enjoyed reading this.. It was a nice refresher to get things back into perspective. Although, I must say I don't agree with not putting a mirror in her room. While I do agree we shouldn't teach our daughters everything is based on looks. I do think we should teach them how to dress modestly, like ladies. To find beauty in that is very important to me. I want to teach my daughter what she sees in the mirror is beautiful, in a Godly way. Even though my daughter will see magazines, and other girls around her in super tight jeans, way to short shorts, and skirts.. I want her to get dressed, and look in her mirror.. feeling confident in who she is.

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    1. Good point! For me, I still think my daughter is too young at age 4 to have a mirror in her room, especially one of those toy vanitys...I'm afraid she would sit around during naptime and stare at herself. We have a mirror downstairs where she can see herself all ready for school and it seems to work well. But great point and I'm sure there will be a time when she will be ready for her mirror. Thanks so much for visiting and have a lovely day!

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    2. I agree with the mirror thing. My daughter didn't have one in her room until about a year ago. She's about to turn 9yrs. She doesn't look at herself in it all the time. I've even got her into using it as more of a decorative piece or just part of the furniture (it's attached to an antique vanity I received from a family friend who was moving and no longer wanted it) rather than for self examination. I think it may be because I never treated a mirror as a big deal with her, just a tool to make sure your clothes are straight etc. We've taped and clipped pictures and decorations to it and around the outside of it. There's always an inappropriate age for all things.
      I know of many girls who could use some help in many of the things on this list. The sad thing is that there are so many snotty women who just haven't grown up enough before having children (or really just should not have children because they've never matured). They treat others terribly and because as you've stated above, "she wants to be like mommy" the girls think that's how to treat others and how to act. Some of them are so bad that even when outsiders try to help it does no good. There are situations like this in my life and I've given up because mommy is idolized no matter what and I'm just an outsider that doesn't know what her mom knows.
      Sorry my comment's so long :)

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  11. These are some great tips, I came across your blog from clicking through from Pintrest. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  12. I think I need to work on a few of these.

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  13. As a mother of 3 daughters I loved this article so much! My mother raised all 5 of us kids to be "nice" to everyone and I strive hard to do it with my girls. I am printing this and reading it with my girls tonight :) It always makes me so happy when parents/teachers from school brag on how sweet my girls are with the other kids even kids that dont have many friends! I think this is great :)

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  14. Hi hun. Just wanted to let you know that I featured this on my blog today. I would love if you could check it out :)

    http://mammymade.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/mint-stuff-ive-seen-25.html

    - Adele @ Mammy Made

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    1. Thanks Adele! That's very sweet of you!!

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  15. I think the mirror thing is overkill. (And I think the tiniest ones have MORE reason for a mirror than bigger girls. They don't use it to primp; they use it to learn - like, "hey, that's ME I see in the mirror!" Totally agree on the vanity, though.) I think it's more effective to talk a lot about different KINDS of beauty. In our house (I have three girls, 1-10), we talk about different body types and different types of coloring (not just black, brown, white, etc., but like Winters, Summers, etc.). So they are (hopefully) learning that THEIR kind of beauty is not better than someone else's (or vice versa) - they're just different.

    And I'm the opposite with the shopping thing! I HATE to shop, so it's something I have to work at doing occasionally with my girls (who love it). But it also gives me opportunities to teach them to shop wisely and make the most of their available funds. (More the 10yo than the 5yo right now, of course.)

    Lots of good stuff here, though - and things that every mama needs to be reminded of on occasion, even if she already knew!

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  16. My husband and I are both guilty of #1. We have been trying to break the habit before it gets too out of hand. It hasn't been easy, but after reading this post I think it is going to help strengthen my mindset. I'm going to print this out and hang it on my fridge so I can remember these daily.

    I'm also guilty of snapping at my husband and just being all around impatient/angry a lot, and I've seen that rubbing off on my daughter, too. I need to get that in check. Thank you for the reminder. :)

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  17. This was SWEET and well done...found you on Pinterest...
    THANKS.

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  18. I just stumbled across this page titled "7 things your daughter needs you to teach her" and I was about to repost it on my Facebook site, before reading it through to the end, but then I stumbled on point 4. - "No one likes a bossy-pants or a tattle-tale."
    I really struggle with the 'tattle-tale' part and often have to bite my tongue (this is always so hard for me) when I hear other parents tell their child not to tattle tale.
    I want my daughter (age nearly 5) to come to me and tell me when she see's other children doing the wrong thing. I want my daughter to feel that it is important that she knows right from wrong. I want my daughter, when a teenager, to be able to come to me and discuss things she see's her peers doing which she may question. I don't want her 15yr old head ringing with "don't tattle tale' if she see's her friends making wrong decisions. I want her to know I am open to listen to her concerns.
    I like to encourage my daughter to work out her disputes with her friends and cousin before 'running to mummy', but if she see's them doing the wrong thing, what is wrong with applauding her common sense in seeking adult intervention rather than disciplining her for 'tattle-telling'. I would hope her teachers feel the same way, rather than the one mentioned in the article.
    Maybe I am missing something...

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    1. It's a fine line. I've known kids who were the WORST tattle-tales over stupid things. But of course it's important to tell if someone is doing something dangerous or hurtful...it's definitely something that needs lots of discussion and lesson to teach kids when it's good to talk about it and when you're just tattling so you look like the better student/kid/friend or whatever. Just my opinion though!

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  19. This is a great post. My daughter is 8 years old and oh sweet baby Rae, the girl drama gets laid on thick. The good news is she invites me into her little world by telling me all about the "word on the playground" and this leads to some very deep discussions. I am also a big fan of her fighting against the clique, but I also don't want her to be devastated when she is excluded. This was my analogy to her: It's like strawberry ice cream. Not everyone likes strawberry ice cream, but that doesn't mean that strawberry ice cream is bad. It's just not that person's flavor. I am such a people pleaser that I have to remind myself of this all the time.

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  20. Great post! Though, I would tell my kids to tell me if someone did something bad. In my high school years, I told my teacher of some snotty girls physically and emotionally bullying me and they bullied me more for "telling on them", which got them punished even more for. xD Making the victim out to be the bad person is simply intolerable. Kids shouldn't care if they're not liked for being a tattle tale. What has to be done, has to be done.

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  21. I haven't read all of the previous comments so I am not sure if this is redundant or not but I was taught an early age to treat others as you wish to be treated. I know this may be a commandment, however, I don't come from a religiously devout family but, rather, a family that simply had a lot of basic principles while I grew up, this being one of them. I can tell you, though, that whether you are male or female, this was a very helpfuI perspective to have gained at such an early age bc it instilled such an easy way to view basic human kindness and when making mistakes it was a nice lesson to refer back to making the lesson easier to learn, often.

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