First-grader's lies catch parents by suprise

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz October 31, 2012 06:00 AM

My son is 6 years old in kindergarten and an only child. He has started telling me and his grandmother stories about being bullied at school. My husband emailed his teacher about the most recent incident where he said a boy pushed him down the steps on the playground and calls him bad names. I was devastated when the teacher told me that she saw the whole thing and that he fell down when he was tagged "it" while playing a game of tag and he was angry because he didn't want to be "it". I feel hurt that he would make up such an incredible story for, as far as I can tell, no reason. The teacher also told me that he expects the kids to [cater] to him and always give him his way when playing games. I feel like he thinks they are being mean just because he doesn't always get his way and he interprets that as being bullied. Should I punish him for these lies or ignore them?

From: Laura, (no town given)


Fifth grader has few friends

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz October 26, 2012 06:00 AM

My son is in 5th grade, he's smart, hyper active, and very insecure. Since he started 5th grade, he hasn't been able to make friends. He plays soccer in recess but doesn't have a set of friends. How do I help him make friends?

From: Liz, Fresno, CA


Fred's son has a very limited appetite.

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz October 24, 2012 06:00 AM

I am a Father of a 4 year old, who's having trouble getting him to eat, period. When he does eat , it's Chicken nuggets, Cheese sticks, Pizza. Nothing really healthy. In the morning, it's such a battle to get him to eat his toast (it's the only thing I can get him to eat in the morning) but sometimes he throws it up. He'll start chewing it for so long that I guess it just liquifies and he'll throw it up. I am really worried, and honestly don't know what to do. He won't try anything new.

From: Fred, Palm Bay, FLA


SIL's behavior with kids worries grandma

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz October 22, 2012 06:00 AM

I believe that my son-in-law has anger management problems that affect his children.

He's the main care taker as far as picking up the kids and taking them to sport activities. However, I observe that my grandsons are expected to do things as soon as they are told. Sometimes, he swears at my daughter in front of them, and puts her down. I've had my eldest grandson tell me that his parents argue and yell in front of them. When I recently was there, he gave his youngest son a hard slap on his bottom. This has happened before but this time I was fed up. I got angry and told him that there is no reason to hit a child so hard. Now he's saying I'm interfering in his disciple and I shouldn't have yelled at him. My grandsons are only 7 and 5 years old.

I worry on how he will behave towards them as they get older and have their own opinions, and test their boundaries. However, now I'm afraid that he will use our recent altercation to keep the boys from visiting or coming over to see me. I don't want my daughter to be in the middle but I don't see me changing my mind about my son-in-law. What is your advice on how I should handle this situation.

From: Nana, Edmonds (WA or SD? Nana doesn't say.....)


Favoring one parent over another is normal childhood behavior

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz October 19, 2012 06:00 AM

Hi Barbara
I have a 13 months old boy and in the last 3 months he acts in a way that makes me feel a little hurt. He shows affection to his father (which makes me happy) but whenever my husband goes out of the room my baby starts crying as if I was not there. The same thing happens when we are out and daddy is out of his sight. He looks really desperate.
In addition, he started giving hugs in past month (which I thought him how to do with his favorite toy). My son refuses to hug me. He hugs daddy, he hugs every single stuffed animal or even his fluffy cloths but when I ask him to hug me he just turns around. My husband tried to ask him the same but he just doesn't want to hug me.
Besides that, when I hold him and his father is around, he constantly reaches for him.
Any advice would be appreciated!

From: Desperate Mommy, Chicago


8-y-old's "back chat" wearing mom down

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz October 17, 2012 06:00 AM

Hi there,

I am the mother of an 8 year old girl. She is very strong willed, knows her own mind and very determined, all traits I do love about her but we at constant battles at the moment. She is back chatting and arguing with me constantly and being very disrespectful. I am firm and I punish her by sending her to her room or taking things away from her, like the tv or computer or she misses out on doing things because of her behaviour. She accepts her punishment and always apologizes and we talk about it and how it made each of us feel and about better choices she could make. She takes it all in and listens and then...bam..again with the back chat and's like it's just not sinking in and I am at a loss in what to do as I want to have this under control before she becomes a teenager and I don't want to squash the traits that I admire in her but I just want her to be respectful and think before she acts. I often give her a choice as as I have asked and it's ok, don't do it and you loose I give her the choice, most times she always makes the right choice but with a "OH FINE THEN< I"LL DO IT" and pulls a face....any advice would be much appreciated and I am wiling to put in the hard work to get results as she is an amazing little person, I just want her to be respectful to us and her brother and stop the yelling. Thanks for your time.

From: Janiene, Aukland


This friend is worried about mom's interaction with her daughter

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz October 16, 2012 06:00 AM

My friend has two children ages two and four. The girl who is four, seems very oppositional. She literally starts every sentence with "No" when you make a comment or ask her a question. She is and has always been jealous of her brother and antagonizes him to the point of him biting her. Now a new baby has arrived which she has dreaded from the start so she is particularly angry today. She was verbally nasty to me and when anyone asked her today about the baby she refused to answer. My friend is getting quite frustrated with her and I tried to explain the expectation of regression, accidents happening, acting out, lying and just outright non compliance(which has been an issue before baby was conceived minus the accidents) and that she needs to be more attentive as far as communication, including her in baby care etc. I am not around enough to see the full interaction between mother and daughter, but I am out of the obvious tactics for this behavior and because I have noticed the hostile feelings towards the brother after two years of having him around, I am concerned about deeper issues. I forgot to mention that the mother says things like, "I get along better will my son" and ""When the she asks me a mil and one questions while doing housework, I tell her to stop with all the questions, I'm busy". So that may be a clue. They are a very religious couple and are very gentle and sweet. I just want to help her out before she gets too frustrated.

From: Debbie (town withheld)


An easy strategy for night-time wetting

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz October 11, 2012 06:00 AM

Dear Barbara,
Another potty training question for you, this one is with regard to night wetting. Our daughter just turned 3 and has been potty trained during waking hours for over a year now (she expressed interest in the potty very early). That said, she has always had difficulty staying dry while she sleeps (our pediatrician explained that a different part of the brain that controls continence when you are awake vs. asleep.)

Within the last month, our daughter has had some continued success staying dry during her nap (which is usually 1.5 – 2 hrs) and has been so proud of being a “big girl” and that she doesn’t have to change into a pull-up anymore for nap.

Of course, now that she doesn’t have to wear a pull-up during nap, she is pushing back on wearing one for nighttime sleep. We have let her wear underwear a few times, however, she usually wakes between 2-4 am after having an accident (bedtime is 8:30pm). She has always been a great sleeper (in her own bed, not getting up at night, settling herself down etc.) but I have noticed that after we change her clothes and sheets after the accident, she has been having trouble settling down back into sleep and then asks to get into our bed etc. I want her feel like a big girl, but I also don’t want this disrupted sleep pattern to encourage bad sleep habits and create a sleep problem where there isn’t one.

My question – what is the best way to proceed? Should we continue to let her wear underwear (and have accidents in the middle of the night?) Or should we keep her in the pull-ups until she is dry through the night (although it isn’t what she wants?) A side note – she sees the pull-ups as free license to pee - when she wears one she doesn’t even try to hold her urine and usually pees immediately once she lies down in bed and we end up giving her a fresh pull-up as part of the bedtime routine. But when she wears underwear that doesn’t happen – but she just isn’t quite mature enough to make it through the night yet. Oh, and we do limit liquid intake after dinner so it isn’t like she is drinking a ton before bed – and she uses the toilet right before bed as well.

Thanks for your help!

From:: Kate, West Roxbury, MA


Mom wonders about son's gender identity

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

I read your article about boys who have strong preference playing with girls, but my question goes further, my 6yo is also interested in playing only with girls and quiet play, this less concerns me, what bothers me is that he always says he wants to be a girl and wished he had a magic wand to change his body parts to a girl, this has been since he was very little and hasn't changed, he also says he wished he could put lipstick and eyeshadow, he never tried to dress up as a girl and he does like some boys things, not many though. Should I be concerned that he might be a transgender? or could this be just a phase?

From: Worried Mom, West Hartford, CT


Kindergartner's shyness worries mom

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz October 9, 2012 06:00 AM

I have a 5 1/2 year old daughter who is very shy when put in new situations or meets new people. I know that this is very common behavior but there are times when I think her shyness harms her more than I'd like it to. She has a tendency not to talk at all in these situations (such as meeting her brand new kindergarten teacher), and even resorts to acting like a cat, which includes crawling around on all fours on the ground. She often squeaks in response to a question, rather than utter a simple statement like, "My name is ....". Once she warms up to the new person or group, she's fine and participates as required. Is there anything I can do to help her grow out of this shy phase sooner rather than later? Help boost her self-confidence, perhaps? Thank you!

From: Concerned Mom, SmallTown, NH


This separation tantrum isn't typical

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz October 5, 2012 06:00 AM

Hi there, I really hope you can help me with this or at least point me in the right direction. I am a 30 year old single mum to my daughter who will be 3 in April.

I started college at the beginning of September and put her into their nursery. We had 3 days of settling in which went down fine - as there were no other kids, just the adults.
When it came to my first day, she was in from 9-3pm - there was an incident where she had been really upset and they tried to contact me to come out of class but was told I had left (even though I was next block along) they basically left her to cry the entire day and didn't try my emergency contacts. As you can imagine, she was distraught! Ever since she has not been able to settle. I kept her in for 4 weeks in the hope she would get used to it (we did shorter days and I picked her up at 12) but every time I went to collect her, I was told that she cried the entire time. She won't play, eat or drink! I tried a week of me being in the room with her and then leaving for 5 minutes and then coming back etc but she only lasted an hour on these days and would cry to me asking to go home.

I then tried a childminder and found a lovely lady and Olivia seemed happy playing in her house with toys etc and today was the first day I left her. I picked her up at 12:30 and was told she cried the whole time, wanted 'up' all the time and was miserable. She then told me that it was too much with my daughter and the other 2 kids she had. So now I'm really stuck . What's wrong with her? Have I babied her too much. How do I help the situation. I don't honestly know what to do. Please help!!

From: MG, Glasgow, Scotland


Bickering writ small: he screams, she gives in

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz October 4, 2012 06:00 AM

Dear Barbara,
I have a question about the dynamics between my son (4 1/2) and daughter (2) and myself. My son is quiet and slow to warm up with people outside the house, but with me (and nobody else, not even my husband) at home he sometimes blows up screaming and crying when he is frustrated about very small issues. I respond to this by helping him articulate that he's frustrated, telling him this behavior isn't acceptable and that it won't help him get what he wants, and then trying to help him calm down (deep breaths, etc). If he's still freaking out, I send him to his room and tell him to come out again when he's able to have better behavior. I do NOT give in to him, even if it's a reasonable request, until he calms down, I require that he ask me in a polite tone of voice.

In general I feel like my approach is helping... the freak-outs have been fewer and less intense lately, and I haven't had to send him to his room in a while. (He also just started Pre-K, and I think some of the behavior was because he was worried about starting school. Now he's settled in and liking school, he's better.) HOWEVER, I've been noticing that lately his sister sometimes just gives him what he wants as soon as he starts to cry.

For example, they were sharing crayons this morning, and she was using the purple crayon. He wanted the purple crayon. She said no. He screamed, and she threw the crayon at him. He immediately stopped screaming and started coloring with the purple, and she found another color.

I don't want to micromanage the way they interact, I think they need to learn how to do it themselves. But I'm concerned that she is helping to reinforce his idea that screaming/crying is a good way to get what he wants. She's only 2, so I can't really explain to her that she shouldn't give in.

I'd love any thoughts or suggestions you have, Barbara.

Thanks so much,
From: Cfran, Cambridge, MA


Toddler is biting mom

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz October 3, 2012 06:00 AM

My son just turned 1 a few weeks ago. He has recently started biting me, hard enough to be painful and leave a mark. He only has four teeth, but makes very good use of them. I should note that he does not bite out of anger or frustration. It seems to me that he bites when he's very happy or excited about something (he'll crawl over to me and bite my leg if I'm sitting on the floor, for example). Every time he does this, I firmly say, "NO. No biting." He only seems to bite me. He has not bitten his dad, or anyone at daycare, where he goes 2 days a week. Is there a more appropriate way to help him stop this behavior?

Thank you.
From: Kathryn, Danvers, MA


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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