Dear Expert Overview

This is a place where you can send in questions that will be of general interest to readers. Your letter will appear with an answer from one of us or some other expert. If there are several letters about the same topic, we will combine and edit. However, if your question concerns something urgent, this is not the place for it. Instead, go to the coaching/counseling ICON or locate a specialist in your area. Send in your questions.

Recent Advice…

Dear Expert,

When my mother comes to visit, which happens every two months, she and our second daughter who is five seem to get into a lot of arguments that end in tears. I want my mother to continue to come because we have six month old twins and, with 4 children, I really need the help, but I can tell this daughter is really upset and she’s misbehaving. I’ve tried to explain to her that grammy is here to help and she should do what she’s told, I’ve put her in time-out, and even taken away her dessert, but things still seem to be getting worse. Any advice?

A tired mom

Our Answer:

Dear Tired,

First, our hats off to you! What a huge job you’ve undertaken and how great that you’re trying to stay tuned in to all the children’s needs. And having your mother there to help is a way you can also try and take care of yourself in this process.

The person you need to talk with first is your mom. She’s wonderful to be there for you and you need to enlist her help in understanding that your five year old has gone from being the younger child in the family to being in the middle between an older sister and two babies. The competition that twins provide for attention is huge. Grammy needs to find ways to give extra attention to this little one. It might also help if Grammy took over with the twins for some time each day so that you could have some one-on-one time with this daughter. Try and look at what has changed for her and see if you can find practical ways to help her cope with the changes.

Then, with your daughter, zero in on what she’s doing right and comment on those things. Try verbalizing that you understand it’s hard for her that so much has changed and that things will begin to get better. Guide her into ways to express her upset and frustration that are acceptable instead of punishing her because punishment is only going to make her feel worse and add to her misbehavior. Maybe dad or some other relative can give some special attention to ease her over this adjustment.

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