Ask Alma

Alma Gill

By Alma Gill
NNPA Columnist

Attitude and Temper from My 3-Year-Old

Dear Alma,

Help Needed! I’m a single dad. I have full custody of our 3-year old-daughter, and I need your advice. Every time I get my daughter back from her mom, I get nothing but attitude and temper tantrums. She spends every other weekend and holidays with her mom and as soon as I pick her up, my daughter starts repeating the negative words and the negative actions she has heard and seen from being with her mother. How can I stop the temper tantrums and attitude without punishing my daughter because I know it’s not her fault? I used to just ignore it but lately it’s getting worse.

Kideem Lewis, Richmond, Va.

Kideem, Kideem, you know what? I like you and I know you’re fine, ‘cause any man who has full custody of his daughter has got to be fine in my book, LOL.

Sounds like Miss Sassy-Classy is driving you mad and you’re not sure what to do about it. One things for certain: she a Baby-Sponge-Bob, soaking up every ounce of what she sees her Mama doing, and she can’t help it.  First and foremost, here are three things I want you to remember:

•             It’s just for right now, it won’t last always.

•             Don’t worry about who’s watching and don’t be embarrassed by her actions.

•             Don’t take her actions personally, she’s three, not 13 and she REALLY doesn’t know any better.

When she offers her color me bad attitude, bless her with kindness. Think of it as reciprocating her fragile heart-canvas with soft, bright vibrant colors, restoring the rainbow that’s inside her. You should counter every one of her negative words with a positive word. Redirect every one of her negative actions with a positive reaction, and compliment her afterwards. I know it won’t be easy and it’s more work than you’d care to do after a hard day’s work, but welcome to parenthood. Besides, she’ll only be in “renegotiated rehab” for about 24 hours. Once she’s back at home with you, in her own space, reverted in her old routine, I bet it’s all good.

Toddlers learn by direct imitation; that’s what they do best. Remember how you imitated a big brother or super kool uncle? It’s the same pattern.  Cut her some slack. She misses her mother, no matter the circumstances.

I’m so glad you’re aware this is not her fault. You’re already way ahead of the game. When you get an extra minute, check out my sweet-pea, Jade, on Facebook under the community page “Single Parenthood.org.”  It’s a great place for single parents to connect, share and refuel.

Allow me to remind you Kideem, as I’m sure you already know, be careful you don’t say anything negative about her mother in front of her. Ever. I know they’ll be times you’ll need to vent. But save that for your best friend. She should always hear you speak kindly and respectfully of her mom. Those words will fill her spirit bowl and allow her confidence cup to overflow.

Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to: alwaysaskalma@gmail.com.  Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and twitter @almaaskalma.

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