It’s Chinese New Year and the family is all excited to usher in the Year of the Pig with treasured traditions – except for your child.
She refuses to wear red, doesn’t want to make small talk with her relatives or play with her cousins (she’d rather remain glued to the iPad). And refuses to eat the traditional Chinese New Year dishes that her grandaunt has cooked for her (she’d rather eat fish and chips).
Uncooperative kids can be a real party pooper. Of course, you can’t force her to be pleasant and participate fully in Chinese New Year traditions, but you can certainly encourage her to take a more positive approach to this special day in the family calendar. In the run-up to the festivities, talk to her about her responsibilities as a member of your family.
Be responsible, girl
First, she has a responsibility to her extended family – to her aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.
She’s now old enough to understand the notion that she should do things for other people. No matter how much she finds her cousins annoying, no matter how she dislikes Grandma’s cooking, she would surely not want to be the cause of their disappointment. Explain that her attitude towards Chinese New Year traditions has a direct effect on others and would reduce the fun for everyone.
Second, she has a responsibility to you. Remind your child that when she is grumpy and aloof during family celebrations, that reflects badly on you as her parent. Tell her that although she might not realise it, guests will blame you for he non-participation, and that would be unfair. Third, point out that she has a responsibility to herself. It might not occur to her that other people judge her by her behaviour.
Therefore, she has a personal responsibility to act in a sensitive and caring way. The net effect is that her party-pooping antics about Chinese New Year traditions cast her in a bad light. And lastly, she has a responsibility to respect the traditions of those generations associated with happiness and good fortune, she should wear at least something in that hue to show that she cares about her history. That doesn’t mean she cannot wear any of her fashionable clothes; just that some of the items should be of that significant colour.
Related: How to control a rebellious child
Make an effort
On the first day of Chinese New Year, before you leave to visit the relatives, reminder her once again of your previous discussions about responsibilities.
Make it clear that you expect her to participate to some extent in all the activities. Discuss what games she and her cousins can play with; let her choose. Suggest also that she doesn’t have to eat every scrap of food made by her grandaunt, as long as she makes an effort to try a mouthful or two without complaint.
And give her extra attention throughout the day, telling her every so often how pleased you are that she made an effort, just as you asked. (You could even allow her a special treat of a few minutes alone with the iPad in a quiet room halfway through the day because she’s being so pleasant to everyone.) You never know.
With that little bit of effort, she may find that celebrating the Year of the Pig with her extended family isn’t as awful as she had imagined. And that her cousins are not as boring as she had anticipated, and that grandaunt’s cooking is actually quite tasty. She might even enjoyed herself, despite her initial attitude.