‘E’ wrote to me to say, ”I have an 11 year old daughter with hormones bubbling up. She’s talking back and is so sensitive. What can I do?”
One simple way to start Giggle Parenting is to spend some time hanging out in your daughter’s world, doing something of her choice for a set time period- Hand in Hand parenting calls this special time.
You might find as you do this that there are moments, where you daughter naturally laughs. Perhaps you’re playing a computer game together, or board game, and she’s beating you, or you’re playing together will dolls, and your dolls are doing silly things that make her laugh. Or you’re watching her favourite TV programme, and she’s the all-knowing expert on it, while you’re getting confused by the plot or what’s going on.
Giggle parenting can be different for every child, and just spending time with her can get you focused on laughter. Then you can go with the laughter, repeating what makes her giggle, acting all silly and goofy, and being in the less-powerful role.
Special time can also helps us to connect with our child’s interests more deeply. We might find it boring playing Lego, or watching their choice of TV, but understanding their passions can actually give us more opportunities, and scope for laughter – more about that in a minute.
When a child is back-talking and sensitive, it’s actually in a way – a good sign! Your daughter feels safe and connected to you to tell you how she’s feeling – albeit often in an indirect way. She may not really mean what she says when she’s back-talking, which is why some playful, giggly diversion can be perfect.
I asked some Hand in Hand parenting instructors of older children for games that would be good for a ‘back-talking 11 year old.
From Ravid Aisenman Abramsohn – When my daughters used to call me names at that age I would try to ‘sing it back at them’ So, for instance if they would say, oh mammy you’re so stupid/ annoying/ ugly etc. I would sing it (about myself of course): “Oh I’m annoying – Yahha, yes I’m annoying (clap), yes so annoying – Yahha, I am annoying (clap). I had this short upbit tune that went with it and sometime I would even add some small dance move to it, and we all had a really good laugh about it!”
From Emily Murray – I say in a regal, snooty, Shakespearean tone things like “how dare you defy my orders! Do you not know who I am?!” “My subjects report that I am the kindest, most understanding mother in all of humanity. I demand you feel the same”
She likes to continue to thwart my attempts to convince her how amazing I am and I keep getting more shocked and horrified at her disrespect.
I also read some of the same young adult books as she does and geek out about the characters with her or ask her about what is coming next since she’s ahead of me. She likes to torture me by withholding information or cackling with laughter when I’m at a pivotal plot point. When she sits on my lap and says she’s getting too big for it I squish her into a ball and pretend she’s a newborn.
She feigns annoyance and reminds me how big she is. In moments when I have been particularly mediocre I try to convince her about how amazing I am or how lucky she is to have such a skilled and cool mom. She just loves that theme of rolling her eyes about what a dork I am.”
From Sophie Hunter – Any kind of mock horror/disgust delivered playfully works wonders, as do chasing games. My 12 year old has a soft toy tiger on her bed, who she loves very much. When she’s rude and grumpy in the mornings, and I can’t get through to her, then her tiger always can… gently making her laugh and ‘soften’ from the hard old place she’s woken up into.
From Karen Murphy, Having quotes from favourite films/books always good to have in back pocket. In our house both yoda and darth vadar occasionally show up to play. 100 kisses still work wonders for my 11 year old boy.(a game where we playfully tell our child we need to give them 100 kisses and chase them) I try to kiss his face 100 times and he tries to avoid. If he kisses me back I have to deduct 5. Lots of laughter ensured.
From Danielle Hanchett Friedman – How about chasing with dirty socks? You could imagine“pretending” you don’t know they are dirty and might smell and then saying “I’m going to take a big wiff of this sock to check and see if it might be dirty, change your mind, ask your kiddo if they will check, decide that you will be brave enough to check, get chicken, try again and take a tiny wiff – “smells OK”, then go for a big wiff – OMG it smells so bad and fall down or pretend it doesn’t and then ask them to check, and so on.
My girls -When one of my girls (11 & 13) is hugging me, the other one will try to come along and wedge herself in between us, and not let the other sister in. One squeezes in and the other pops off and it begins again. It can get very physical with lots of laughs.
I hope these games are helpful!
Would you like a Giggle Parenting solution for your family challenge? Leave me a comment or send me a pm via facebook.