The week's best parenting advice: March 22, 2022
Teaching children to seek forgiveness, how to spot disordered eating, and more
Teaching children to seek forgiveness
Forcing a kid apologize is one thing, but teaching them to sincerely apologize and seek forgiveness is another, writes Christian Dashiell in Fatherly. Before parents can teach their child about giving and receiving forgiveness, they'll need to help their them "think introspectively about their own mental state and be able to consider the mental state of others," Dashiell writes. One way to develop these so-called "theory of mind" skills is to ask kids to explain the differing perspectives of characters in a movie or story. It's also important to encourage kids to build a habit of identifying commonalities with other kids, which "can help them develop connections that facilitate forgiveness." And when it's time for an apology, don't just ask the child to give one — begin a conversation between the kids, allowing both to share their perception of what happened and how they feel about it.
How to spot disordered eating
Eating disorders in children as young as 8 or 9 have risen rapidly during the pandemic, so parents should be on the lookout for signs and symptoms, writes Rachel Fairbank in Lifehacker. These include meal skipping, compulsive exercise, highly restricted eating patterns such as cutting out entire categories of food or eating at hyper-specific times, talking about food a lot without actually eating at meals, or consuming excess caffeine to suppress the appetite. If you notice these behaviors, be proactive by asking your child open-ended questions about it, and listen patiently to their answers. "The more you validate their feelings, the more they are going to feel comfortable opening up," said physician Catherine Gordon. And don't hesitate to solicit advice from your pediatrician or seek out resources from The National Eating Disorders Association.
How to throw a baby shower for adoptive parents
Adopting a child can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000, so it's strange that baby showers for adoptive parents aren't more common, writes Nayanika Guha in Parents. If you're throwing a shower for an adoptive parent, be sure to verify the child's age, which will determine what the new parents will need. Consider throwing a gift card shower, which will give the parents more freedom and the child — who may not be a baby — more autonomy in picking the items they truly need. Or, alternatively, ask the parents to set up a registry. And it's best to wait until the paperwork is finalized to throw the shower, because placements often do fall through. "It can be really disheartening to a family to see all the stuff that they got at a baby shower, but there is no baby," said adoption agency director Steffany Aye.
The most haunting truth about parenthood
When Mary Laura Philpott discovered, as an adult, that her father used to work at a secret underground bunker for high-ranking government officials in the event of a nuclear attack, she finally became aware of the danger in the backdrop of her otherwise normal childhood. "My mom drew water for my bath and flung wet clothes into the dryer and taught me to tie my shoes while my father did test runs for the end of the world," Philpott writes in The Atlantic. Her father's strange job thrust him in the face of a truth many of us parents are hesitant to accept. "What parents want most of all — to keep our children safe forever — is the one thing that's absolutely impossible," writes Philpott. All we can do under the circumstances is "carry on with ordinary acts of everyday caretaking."
Helping kids through difficult tasks
Kids resist activities for lots of reasons: fear, anxiety, frustration, and boredom, to name a few. To help kids overcome these barriers, parents should help the child find meaning in the activity they are avoiding (math homework, for example) and point it out when they make even small progress, writes Phyliss Fagell in The Washington Post. Don't dismiss the feelings at the root of the child's hesitation, which will only heighten their negativity toward the task, but remind them that those feelings are temporary and that they will feel better when the task is done. If it's an unfamiliar activity, such as ballet or a judo lesson, see if you can find a friend to accompany them. And focus on getting the activity started, rather than completed, which is often enough of a victory to keep them going.