Q: My ninth-grade daughter has suddenly started locking her bedroom door almost all the time.Should I ask why? Tell her to stop? Please help.
A: It sounds as though your teen is going through the normal developmental process of separation and individuation. As our children move into their teens they come to see that their future is out in the larger world among their peers and that they must move away from family in order to establish their sense of independence and autonomy.
Because their sense of independence is rather fragile, they need to push parents away. The closer the relationship, the higher the threat level. They lock us out in reality and symbolically.
What is key to remember is that this is not about you!
Try not to take the behavior personally. Find ways to stay connected to your teen by spending time doing fun things with her. A trip to a mall or sports event allows your teen to relax and let her guard down. This is the time to talk about her life. Make sure that you talk less and listen more. Perhaps read the same book and discuss it. Try not to judge or ask too many questions. As our children have more life experience and come to feel more confident, they feel safe reconnecting with us in a more open and mature way.
Q: My 6-month-old absolutely hates a bath.It sounds like he is terrified. I don’t like listening to him scream, so I rush and get all worked up myself.Could he be picking up on the vibe?
A: Our children are certainly sensitive and reactive to our own emotions and behavior. When approaching your infant, it is best to use a calm, firm and friendly approach.
Having said that, all babies go through stages of anxiety in response to some situations. These phases are almost always short-lived.
Rather then forcing the issue you might want to take a different approach for the time being. You could give your baby a sponge bath on most nights and a full bath once a week. On the nights you do the bath, it is important that you stay calm and matter of fact. Offering him a small toy to play with may help to make the experience more appealing. Know that this is just a phase and that most babies grow to love their bath.