During the holidays, family reunions are as common as queso de bola and Kris Kringle. While some kids look forward to such get-togethers, others dread them because they might find themselves in uncomfortable situations. Here are some that you might catch yourselves in—and expert advice on how to best handle them.
Situation #1: Performance anxiety “An adult relative usually starts a conversation by asking how my kids are doing in school, kung matataas ba ang grades nila...” confides Anna Sison, stay-at-home mom to Sasha, 6, and Ben, 4. “Then she’d tell my kids, ‘Show us what you learned in school,’ and ask them to dance or sing.”
It’s already awkward if your child is too shy to perform, how much more if her bibo cousin readily goes up front and busts a move? “Then I’d start hearing things like ‘Ay, Sasha, mas magaling pala si Jen sa iyo,’ or worse, ‘Anti-social yata ang anak mo!’ I get so defensive because I know they are untrue,” Anna confesses.
What to do: Psychiatrist Maria Elena Del Mundo-Nepomuceno, M.D., advises: “You can smile or laugh to let your child know that it’s not a big deal if she doesn’t want to perform. You can encourage your kid simply by asking her if she wants to perform. If she refuses, you could prod her gently. But once she begins to get anxious and tearful, then immediately reassure your child that it is okay if she decides not to. Never let your little one feel bad if she doesn’t want to perform.”
Situation #2: Petty fights “I never know what to do when my child comes crying to me because his cousin doesn’t want to lend him a toy. His cousin’s parents don’t do anything about it either. I don’t want to start an argument with my relatives, so I usually just try to distract my child with another toy,” says Giselle Panganiban, a computer programmer and mom to Antonio, 6. “But doesn’t that teach the kids that it’s okay not to share?”
What to do: Grace Macapagal, M.D., a medical specialist in the child neuroscience division of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City, says: “The best thing to do is to confiscate the toy, and let the two kids talk about how they can play without having to fight over it. That way, you develop their ability to share as well as their patience in waiting one’s turn. If you are able to manage a simple squabble such as this on your own, then there’s no need to involve the other parents. You can just update them when the opportunity presents itself.”