Q: We have been working with my 8-year-old son on appropriate behavior and when and where it is okay to do things. We have talked with him about not dancing in the aisles at church, but the older women in the congregation egg him on. How can I politely ask them to back me up in front of my son instead of undermining me? I am hoping to raise a respectful man here, not a boy child.
A: I understand your feelings of being undermined by the older women in the congregation but, in fact, you may be giving them too much power. You are the parent and must position yourself as a higher authority than the women at church. It's a good idea to consider why your son feels the impulse to dance in the aisles at church. Is he seeking attention? Could it hard for him to sit still? Is he bored by the sermon? Might he be defying your rules? Try to explore the root cause of his disinhibition. Then, set up a positive incentive program with your 8 year-old. Tell him if he can demonstrate good sitting from beginning to end in church you will treat him to lunch after the service and "he" will get to choose the restaurant. Give him permission to tap his foot in rhythm to the choir singing music when he feels like moving. If he cannot control himself and he gets up to dance in the aisles take him out of church until the music stops. Be sure that your attitude is calm and non-judgmental. A + B = C. If you disrupt in church, you must leave. When the singing stops, go back in and try again. If you have to take him out he loses lunch in the restaurant but gets another chance to earn it next Sunday. Keep it positive and praise every increment toward expected appropriate behavior!!