Your 10-year-old comes on really strong with new friends. How do you tell her to cool it?
From our panel of staff contributors
I'd give it time. Kids can go overboard when they discover something new. (Heck, even adults do that. I recall running out and trying to get my hands on every Carrot Top CD at one point.) Let her have her outburst of enthusiasm; chances are it will fade. If it doesn't, then maybe you try to get her to ease off the accelerator. But for now, enjoy her being a kid.
I don't think you need to tell her to cool it unless it is one-sided on her part. If she is turning off new friends because of overexuberance, then it is time to talk to her about overwhelming new friends. But it sounds like it may be 10-year-olds being 10-year-olds.
Your 10-year-old is likely approaching a chunk of years during which overexuberance will not be in her bag of tricks. So you may want to enjoy it while it lasts.
Still, if her enthusiasm appears to be costing her friendships, you can take one of two approaches, says family therapist Roni Cohen-Sandler.
First, help your child step back and recognize how her style is sitting with others. If 19 of her 20 text messages go unanswered, if her repeated phone calls aren't being returned, if friends ask to leave early during play dates, have a friendly, nonaccusatory chat with your daughter.
"In a very observational way, I would say something like, 'I noticed your friend wanted to go home after this particular thing happened and I wonder, do you think there's a connection there?'" suggests Cohen-Sandler, who wrote "Stressed-Out Girls: Helping Them Thrive in the Age of Pressure" (Penguin Group). "You could also flip it around and ask, 'How do you think you would feel if you were her?'
"Kids learn over time what effect their behavior has on other people," Cohen-Sandler says. "This can be a good learning experience and I would treat it as such."
Second, you can help your daughter understand that different personalities don't always mesh.
"If a child is a little overwhelmed by your child's very enthusiastic temperament, it may just not be a good match," she says. "You can help your daughter learn why she may want to gravitate toward kids who can tolerate a high-energy personality."
If your daughter's approach doesn't appear to be causing her or her potential friends distress, though, it's best to steer clear of the topic altogether.
"I'd ask myself whether this is really a problem," Cohen-Sandler says. "Kids will tolerate all different kinds of behavior from each other."
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