The mother of a 5-year-old girl tells her to dress for school. The child replies, insolence abounding, “No! I don’t want to, and I’m not going to!” Mom tells her if she doesn’t dress, she will go to school in her pajamas. The child dresses. And that’s the end of it. Or is it?
“Did I do the right thing?” Mom asks.
“Was her ...Read more
Q: Our soon-to-be 5-year-old son enjoys playing with his 14-month-old brother, but there have been three times recently when the baby has started crying and when I check, big brother has a guilty look on his face. So far, the baby has suffered a scratch under one eye, a red mark on his face where a ball hit him, and a bruised forehead from ...Read more
Some parents, I have discovered, believe in the parenting slot machine theory. They hold fast to the notion that some parents are simply lucky, meaning that chance and chance alone determines whether one has easy children or difficult children. This parenting slot machine supposedly pays some parents and cheats others.
With rare exception, ...Read more
Q: How can I explain to my kids, ages 6 and 9, that “fair” and “equal” are not the same. They complain constantly that I’m not fair. What they mean is I don’t treat them the same.
A: You’re yelling into a hurricane. Forget it. Below age 12 or 13, children cannot wrap their brains around the difference between the two concepts.
Q: We have a 3.5-year-old daughter and each night we have a routine we go through with her — bath, pajamas, brush, choose two books and read them, sing a couple of songs, and pray before lights out. Bedtime typically falls between 7:30 and 8 p.m. each night and she sleeps soundly for about 11-12 hours. We try to go through the routine calmly ...Read more
Correlation does not prove causation, drummed my grad school statistics professor. For example, a rise in the rate of American children who regularly consume lox and a concurrent rise in Type 2 diabetes among American children does not, in and of itself, prove lox consumption increases the risk of diabetes. Proving the contention would require a...Read more
Q: Our 14-year-old daughter is a rising high school sophomore. We let her wear eyeliner this past year, but she is wearing entirely too much. She is well-adjusted (plays sports, good grades) but seems insecure to go out in public without her makeup. When we tell her she looks prettier without it, she becomes defensive. Should we lighten up or ...Read more
Q: Our 8-year-old, the oldest of three, is often rude to his siblings. I know some sibling conflict is normal, but this seems excessive. I hear him multiple times per day tell his younger brothers how annoying they are. In addition, he often yells at them to stop whatever they are doing that he doesn’t like. We’ve asked him to stop berating ...Read more
Q: My husband and I have one child, age 2. We’d like to have at least one more. What is the optimal spacing between children?
A: Research puts ideal sibling spacing at three to four years. A child 3 or younger may respond to the birth of a sibling by regressing behaviorally and even becoming aggressive toward the new arrival. On the other ...Read more
Q: I’m a single mother with a 13-year-old son. His father, whom he sees infrequently, has PTSD from battle experiences. My son has anger toward his father, but I can’t get him to talk about it. It comes out of him in the form of a lot of disrespect directed toward me. What should I do about this?
A: I assume that by “this” you mean your...Read more
Q: In certain of your books as well as your newspaper column, you have written that children as young as 3 should be doing daily chores around the home. Exactly what chores are reasonable for that age child?
A: First, a personal anecdote: My mother kept a scrapbook of my early years that contained photos, notes and other such memorabilia. ...Read more
I grew up in the “You’re Making a Mountain of a Molehill” era, also known as the Age of “Children Are Starving in (fill in the blank with some remote place)," and by golly, I’m a better person for it!
First, some historical context: I am a baby boomer, a child of the '50s. I remember the first time I heard Elvis. I was in a diner with...Read more
Q: My best friend’s 6-year-old daughter is an only child and a spoiled brat. She screams at her parents when she doesn’t get her way, always wants to be first at everything and is extremely bossy with other children. For whatever strange reason, my children want to play with her. How can I discourage the friendship? Should I talk to my ...Read more