Q: My Friend has a five year old child who whenever I visit her house, which is quite frequently as we have been friends for many years, is increasingly disobedient and throws tantrums and crying fits if she cannot get her own way or if we are having a discussion and she is not receiving the attention she requires.
My Friend does not chastise her and openly admits she is too soft with her. It has got to the point where I am dreading going to see my Friend as I cannot stand her daughter, that sounds really awful and I am at a loss of how to deal with the situation or broach the subject with my pal.
A: It sounds as though you are a great friend and genuinely want to help without jeopardising your friendship; it’s great that you value your friendship so strongly. This is one of those tricky situations where you personally cannot make your friend, or anyone else for that matter, change their behaviour.So the challenge here is for you to find something that is within your control to improve the situation. The simplest way for you to do this is to change the way you currently react or respond to the situation.
You have already identified that your friend’s young daughter isn’t receiving the attention she requires so how about the three of you doing something together, include your friend’s daughter, make her daughter feel important.
All children crave attention and if they aren’t receiving it for being well behaved they will happily misbehave just to get themselves noticed. In a child’s world any attention, even negative, is better than none at all. Even if you are only having a chat and a cup of coffee, make sure your friend has thought about her daughters needs and has an activity for her to enjoy too.You can then praise her daughter for sitting nicely, and comment on how well she is doing at colouring in or whatever the activity may be.
Perhaps you could even take along a small colouring book, a pad of paper or some crayons when you next visit.
You say your friend doesn’t chastise her daughter, how about talking to your friend about the future? One way to broach the subject would be to ask your friend to imagine how the future will be if she continues being too soft with her daughter. The secret here is to calmly ask her to consider the situation rather than you telling her the answers.
Make sure that you have plenty of time to talk as it’s not ideal if you need to rush off somewhere else. Maybe you could offer her a couple of useful suggestions, perhaps agree to meet up at a different time or in a different location, when her daughter isn’t around, or how would your friend like to visit you?
One of my favourite quotes is “If you always do what you have always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” So, if what you are doing isn’t working, literally do something different.
These are all very simple, subtle suggestions for change that can potentially have a huge impact. Do something different the next time you meet up and see the effect it has. I am sure together you will find a solution that works well for you all. Good luck.
About The Author: Allison Marlowe, founder of Allison Marlowe Ltd coaches, inspires and challenges women in business to achieve new levels of success. She can be contacted at www.allisonmarlowe.com.