Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ask Auntie Fi: Little girls with BIG emotions......

'So my little princess is 7 and sometimes she has days where she is like a CRAZY PMS ing teenager!  She cries, gets totally dramatic, and screams all at "nothing".  (Well, maybe its directed toward her 4 year old brother just a smidge.)  Anyway, I do not know what to do about it!  It does not seem like any reasonable discipline does any good and since I'm not an emotional person myself, I don't get it!  Is it a hormonal issue and this is a glimpse into our future or is there something else going on that is a normal thing for girls her age to experience???  HELP! ;)' 

 Sooooooooo Earth Monkey's founder Gena recently posted this very question on the Earth Monkey's Facebook page, and this particular status received a LOT of feedback.  A LOT.  Seems to me that part of her question has been answered already......she is NOT the only one dealing with a roller coaster emotional princess and there were a great many suggestions regarding the use of wine, chocolate and prayer as necessary parenting aids.  

  I'm all for the use of those aforementioned parenting aids, but let's take this opportunity to dig a little deeper.......why do girls, little girls, get so emotional?  Why can they be so dramatic at times?  And how can we as parents react in the best way to their mood swings? And what happens when they take things too far?

  Let me be crystal clear here I'm certainly not talking from experience here.  When we were expecting our third child, I had thought surely now is the time for us to bring into the world an 'Elie Rachel'.  This time, maybe, just maybe there would be tutus and pointe shoes in my horizon......wrong.....when the time came for my ultrasound there was no doubt that babe had a wee willie winkie......and thus Asher Jacob joined boy one and boy two. help me out with these questions I'm getting a boatload of help from Dr James Dobson and Diane Levy.  

Dr Dobson explains that "because the female brain is not subjected to a comparable surge of testosterone in the womb and beyond (like male brains do), its communicative and emotional centers remain intact.  A girl's corpus callosum (rope of fibers that connects the right hemisphere of the brain, where emotion is processed, with the left where language is focused) is up to 25 % larger than a Male's and becomes an eight-lane superhighway capable of carrying great quantities of emotional information from one side of the brain to the other.  (For boys it is a country road).  As a result, a girl is more likely to be more expressive and emotional than most boys almost from birth.  She will feel more deeply and respond to subtle clues in her environment that boys are likely to miss."  

We're dealing with eight-lane superhighways people!!  Those little princesses of yours are wired to feel everything.  Everything.  Sooooooooo how do we as parents/ aunties/ grandparents/ teachers etc deal with these massive emotions that result in meltdowns, of chernobyl proportions or out of control behaviour?

Dobson says:  (his words in bold)
1.  Teach respect for authority while your children are young.  Display a confident firmness in your demeanor.  (We are not our kids' friend....)

2.  Define the boundaries before they are enforced.  Establish reasonable expectations and boundaries. 

3.  Distinguish between willful defiance and childish irresponsibility.  Also consider the other factors going on too....late nights?  hot weather that has drained the child?  I'm convinced that we as parents often get the 'leftovers' of our children...they give their best all day at school, then after school activities and then we get.....the leftovers.....

4.  Reassure and teach after the confrontation is over.  Make sure you explain the objective of your discipline (assuming you have just disciplined Little Miss for her behaviour - if it was...going to point 2.....over and above and beyond the boundaries you have previously established.....(you hold the keys to everything your little girl wants and needs:  permission to do things, transportation, allowances, coveted clothing, access to electronics - you can dole out the privileges and consequences as you see fit - as you have previously established).

5.  Avoid putting impossible demands on your children.

6.  Let love be your guide.  

Now how are we to respond when the little girlies in our lives turn on us?  When their emotions get the better of them and they fire 'verbal arrows' at us?  Diane Levy says that these arrows 'have potential to do enormous harm'.  Words such as 'I don't like you', 'I hate you', 'You're not the boss of me'.  Girls are pretty quick with their words.  Levy suggests there are three things you can do when your Little Miss is firing arrows at you:

1.  Take it in the chest.  It is not recommended to take the comment personally.  Don't reprimand her and tell her that it was not a kind thing to say.  Don't look very, very hurt, sulk, cry or demand an apology.  The problem with taking an arrow in the chest is that there is blood all over the carpet - and it is yours. 

2.  Fire it right back.  Another approach I do not recommend us to fire the arrow right back.  Don't tell her she is grounded, don't wonder whether she would speak to her classroom teacher like that etc.  The problem with 'firing the arrow right back' is that there is blood all over the carpet and it is your child's.

3.  Identify it and let it whistle past.  Recognise that the comment is just a response - it just not require your intervention.  Unless you have a real love for battlefields, the best thing you can do is to think, 'That was an arrow', move your head to one side, and let is whistle past your ear.  And if you absolutely need to say something, mumble a response along the lines of uh huh (nondescript grunt), how amazing, really?  (said in a very puzzled manner) or 'I'll have to think about that one'.......

Levy says that by showing emotional support and emotional distance, we can diffuse chernobyl situations more easily and quicker than by engaging in the battle.  

Soooooooo.  I'd love it if some of you try out these ideas.....and then let us all know how it went......your little girls are not drama queens because they want to take centre-stage....a lot of the time they just can't control all of the emotions they are feeling all at once.....but that is not to say they should be able to get away with stepping over and around the boundaries you have established in your homes.  

Do you have anything to add? Something you would do differently?  Anything that has worked for you?  DO share........

  (Please feel free to email in your questions to:

I am a legal alien in this amazing country (USA). I desire to be the best wife, mother and friend I can be. I love life and I want above all else, to be used by God. I write to encourage you – to be honest with you – to prove that we are not to ‘do this life’ alone. We have much to learn from each other.

You can read more about Fiona and her journey into the light on her blog: A Little Bit Of Honesty.
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