Sleep problems in a 3-year-old

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz August 30, 2012 06:00 AM

I need some help resolving some bedtime drama with our 3 year old daughter. Bedtimes have stretched out to 45 minutes with trips to the bathroom and any other excuse to pop out of bed. To make it worse, about half the time she really does have to go to the bathroom. My husband and I are both trying hard to be direct with her and not feed into this attention-getting scheme, and I sense that even my daughter is tired and ready to go to bed. However, this has been going on for about a month and I need it to stop soon! She will go to bed without a fuss for the babysitter so I know it is all about attention from Mom and Dad. Thanks for any tips.

From: Ann, Hopkinton, MA

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Sister's sexual orientation unclear

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz August 29, 2012 06:00 AM


My younger sister (who is 16 now) is questioning her sexuality. She told me that she sometimes gets crushes on girls and that she is afraid of it because she doesn't know what to do.Our parents and our family in general is very unsupportive and we never had a bisexual or gay/lesbian person in our family or friend circle. She said that she didn't sleep with a girl but that she would if she was in love with one. I've tried to tell her that it's okay to feel that way and that she shouldn't worry about anything yet because the feelings might change. But even if they don't, I will still be there for her, supporting her no matter what. My question is - Is it normal for her to feel that way? She said that she likes 60% of boys and 40% girls and it's been like that since she was really young. Does this mean she's bisexual? or bi-curious?
Thank you!


From: Loreen, Nottingham, UK

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Girls' friendships can turn on a dime

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz August 27, 2012 06:00 AM

My 11 year old daughter got into a fight with her best friend a few weeks ago. Her friend would be mean to her or jealous at times. I always told her to try and talk to her and work it out. It just got worse and now they don't talk at all. She asked me to try to talk to her friend's mom and I did and she didn't help the situation at all. She basically ignored me and then I told my daughter to just back off for a while. My daughter is going into middle school and she does have other friends but it seems like there's always so much fighting and mean talk . I have 2 other children and never went through anything this extreme. I just want her to have a good start to middle school. So I guess what I'm asking is, did I give her the right advice by telling her to back off? She was always so stressed with her friend and it just didn't seem like a healthy friendship.

From: Karen, Silver Creek, NY

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Single mom, "secret" son

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz August 15, 2012 06:00 AM

[Editor's note: this letter has been condensed.]
I'm worried about my son's relationship with his father. His father and I split when I was only 4 months pregnant. His father is actually married to someone else, during the time of our relationship they were separated, he was living in his own apartment....Upon finding out about my pregnancy, the estranged wife threatened to take his other 3 kids away across the country if he did not come back to live with them and cut ties with me and the baby.

Now our son is a toddler. His father comes to visit a couple times a week (at most) and he pays child support. The problem is that while he wants a relationship with our son, his visitation is unreliable. His other children (ages 4, 6, 8) do not know they have a half sibling, and he keeps his visits secret from his wife. The support agreement has no visitation agreement written into it. When he visits, I often have very little notice or he cancels last minute. The visits are also often very short (like 20 minutes). I'm a single, full-time working mother to a toddler, schedule changes are not easy to accommodate, and they disrupt my son's daily routine. He gets very agitated when his father leaves....

I'm wondering what is best here. I want my son to have a relationship with his father, but I fear the one that he has will only be disruptive and disappointing. I'm also extremely uncomfortable with my son being a "secret." I do not want to enable his father's behavior, but I also do not want to prevent a relationship that maybe in the future could be normal. What is the best course of action here? Thank you for your insight.

From: The Other Son, North Shore, MA

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Why is this 4 1/2 yo suddenly acting out?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz August 13, 2012 06:00 AM

Hi,
We have a 4.5 year old boy. Lately his behavior has changed from rational and good to defiant and difficult. He spits and sticks out his tongue and will not listen. During the year he is in a very organized and nurturing preschool setting. This summer, his camp experience was less than stellar with difficult kids in the class and counselors who seemed to have a difficult time managing. The behavior is recent, during the summer. Can you recommend some books for dealing with this kind of behavior or offer suggestions? We have tried taking away privileges but we don't feel we are making much headway. Thanks!

From: Leora, Jamestown, NY

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News bulletin: preschool can't send your child home for a toileting accident

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz August 10, 2012 06:00 AM

Hi Barbara,
I have two boys. My older son was potty-trained when he was 3.5 years and was done in about 10 days. Nights, poops everything. It was remarkable. My younger son who is almost 4.5 has been training for a little more than a year. He was in early intervention from age 12-18 mos for motor delay and is still a younger 4 than his brother ... but is deemed age appropriate in his skills and is on target per his pediatrician and preschool for motor, language etc. He wears underwear during the day and remains dry but wears pull ups at night and they are wet every morning.
Our big problem is poops. He will go days or sometimes even 2 weeks without a poop accident and then will have several a day for several days. It's usually solid so I don't think it's from an upset tummy. I can't deny that sometimes I get extremely frustrated and yell. Then he cries. Today we had 3 poop accidents inside of 4 hours and I put him back in a pullup and he freaked. I don't want to torture him obviously and I feel like the worst mother in the world but I have no idea what to do. He's starting a prekindergarten program next month and if he has accidents there they will send him home. (PS- he rarely has accidents at his current preschool that he attends twice weekly). Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you--

From: J, Boston, Submit Submit

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Mom asks, does sexual abuse affect sexual orientation?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz August 7, 2012 06:00 AM

Good afternoon,,,, my 6.5 year old son prefers to plays with girls' toys. I have a question: can someone become gay if at some point in life he was sexually molested?

From: Sandra, Manassas, VA

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Accidents on step-parents' watch make them wonder about stress

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz August 6, 2012 06:00 AM

Barbara,
My step son is turning 4 next month and has forgotten his potty training skills. My husband gets him for seven weeks during the summer. Within the first week, he had a potty accident. And now, in the sixth week, he's had at least one each week and then an awful #2 accident tonight. My husband is frustrated beyond consoling and I am just searching for answers. His mother lives out of state so this is not a typical every other weekend schedule. When we have him, he's here for long stretches of time. Also, she was in a very traumatic car accident in April, crushing both of her legs, leaving her very incapable of taking care of herself and son. I'm just wondering if you think these potty accidents are caused by the traumatic change in his mom's quality of life, or if it's simply because he's with us and his environment is different..? He's a very smart child and his explanation is simply, 'it was an accident.' He even smiles about it, which frustrates us more.

Any suggestions on the root of this problem may help us get through it.

Thank you for your input!

From: Miranda, Searcy, AR

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Family will be moving right after daughter starts kindergarten

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz August 2, 2012 06:00 AM

Question: We have been trying to help my my very shy 5 year old get ready for transition to kindergarten in the fall. We've taken her to the playground in her new school, bought her a few books about kindergarten, and reminded her that she'll know three children from her preschool. She feels re-assured and is really looking forward it.

For a variety of reasons, we have decided to put our house on the market and move to another town where she won't know anyone. Unfortunately, she will be in school for a month or two and she will have to switch schools. We are confident that this will be a good move for the family in the long run. Any advice on what we should tell her now and what can we do to make this "second transition" easier?

From: Vanessa, Worcester, MA


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Move to a bed was way too soon

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz August 1, 2012 06:00 AM

I put my 12 month old in a toddler bed, it went well for a month and a half. Now all of the sudden, she will not stay in her bed, she wanders to mine, I take her back in and repeat in about an hour. I have tried so many things and am lost now. She only is saying a very small amount of words hardly anything and doesn't understand like a 2 or 3 year old would. I hate to put the crib back up. I need help??

From: Jenna, Small Ville


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About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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Barbara answers questions on a wide range of topics, including autism, breastfeeding, bullying, discipline, divorce, kindergarten, potty training, sleep, tantrums, and much, much more.

Send your questions to her at:
meltzbarbara (at) gmail.com.
Please include your name and hometown.

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