Could his mixed-age classroom intimidate this boy?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 28, 2013 06:00 AM

I have a son who will be five years old soon. He has been always very friendly, social and is well liked by everyone around him. He has been attending a private school that combines everyone, boys and girls, between the ages of 3 and 6 in the same classroom. He has been saying that all the "big boys" (kindergarten) are very mean in that they say "bad" words and kick each other and they are not nice to each other." He says that he doesn't like to play with them because they are "bad" boys and he is a "good" boy. I did notice that he has many girl friends in the class. But what concerns me lately is that he walks around saying "he likes girly things" and what concerns me the most is that he tries to imitate the walks, talks and the manners of girls around him and the girly characters he sees on TV. Should I be concerned about his sexuality and the sexual orientation at this time? I am afraid that he will be picked on and bullied at school. When he is with boys, he will play rough and tumble and exhibits no problem whatsoever.

From: Liz, NY


Third grader is breezing through school work

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 26, 2013 06:00 AM

Our son is just recently 9 and in 3rd grade. He is the oldest of 3. Our trouble is that everything comes naturally to him and he does not need to try. Nor does he feel the need to try to exceed his own capabilities. He is a natural student and athlete - gets 100s on every spelling and math fact quiz. We check his homework but he does the work himself in no time. All of his classwork comes home with elaborate drawings because he finished early and had extra time. We try to insist he should use the extra time to check his work and we when we ask did he do that, he says he forgot - but still gets everything right, so really what's the point of checking? In sports, he does not push himself, just hangs by the net and scores the goal.

We are glad he is happy and does well but life will not always be so easy and we are concerned he is not learning the skills to problem solve and stay motivated when things are tough. We don't know how to motivate him or even what motivates him. We have tried a variety of reward systems since kindergarten and at first he is interested and then just doesn't care anymore. It is driving us crazy - we are concerned that when he does hit a roadblock he won't be equipped to figure it out. We have spoken to his teacher and she agrees with our assessment and said she will talk to other teachers to get ideas - but so far nothing. Do you have any ideas?

From: Goldie, Everett, MA


What to do when a son's friend's behavior is destructive?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 25, 2013 06:00 AM

Hi Barbara,
I was wondering how to deal with the following situation: my son has a friend, "Sam." They are 13 and have been friends since they were 6. Sam has been here countless times, as he is also in the neighborhood. Overall, he is a nice boy, but can sometimes get a bit wild when a group is together fooling around. Over the past 6 yrs. I have had to ask him twice to not break toys. This past weekend, my son had his group of friends over. I specifically asked the group (directed to him) to not be destructive.
Two days later, I found that a baby doll of my daughters was written on and a wooden dowel was pierced through its plastic/rubber head! My son was upset, told me it was Sam and that he had asked him to stop.
I do not know how to proceed with this. Do I speak with him? His parents? Even though it is an old toy not played with any longer, I am disturbed that he would disrespect a friend's property, that is was so deliberately violent and he didn't heed my or my son's requests. Please advise. Thank you.

From: Jane, Southborough, MA


You can't always make your child happy. PS. Don't try

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 21, 2013 06:00 AM

My 8 year old girl is stubborn. When I take away her time to watch T.V, she cries and smacks the table and hits a thing. I don't want to make her sad, but I don't know how to make her happy. Could I just pat her to calm her down? Her grandma says she will grow up to learn to be mature, but my daughter doesn't seem to understand. How can i not make her sad, but make her understand a lesson?

From: Jianjun, San Diego


Partner's temper worries mom, rightfully so

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 20, 2013 06:00 AM

[This letter has been condensed and edited for punctuation. BFM]
I'm worried about my partner's attitude and temper towards our sons. Mostly everyday consists of my boys' dad winding them up, like when my 7 year old wants something he can't have. Instead of being an adult and saying a persistent NO, his dad says no but when my son reacts with the expected whine, it seems like his dad encourages it and debates and laughs at him. Then they start calling each other names, my son gets to the brink of frustration and cries, then his shouts at him to stop it.
I try to tell my partner to stop winding him up but he says 'he enjoys it and that's what dads do.' I don't believe this is right and can see my once bubbly happy 24/7 child turning angrier. Also he seems to say no to everything my son asks for.
....The other night we were having dinner. I finish mine and just pop to the other room when I can hear [my partner] going on: 'Eat your dinner.. eat your dinner,' getting annoyed...Then my son shouts "ouch!" and starts crying, I go to see what's wrong and dad says he's not eating... I ask my son what's wrong and he says nothing mum, later at bed time he tells me his dad flicked him on the forehead when he got annoyed!
I feel like I need to keep an eye on them all the time but when I say anything [to my partner], he thinks I'm too soft and keep undermining him when I think that's what he does to me! He does have a short temper and it angers him when someone gets upset, it's like [he] takes it as being all about him.
I really don't know what to do, I've tried telling him he's temper is not right, he either doesn't agree or admits to certain things depending on what mood he's in....I really don't know how common this is and how much longer I can live with it but he says he has a plan and will fight for kids if I wanted to split up :(

From: Marie, Medway, UK


She's missing her friend

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 15, 2013 06:00 AM

I changed jobs so it was a good time to change day cares. My daughter had made a very good friend at her daycare. Its been 2 months and she saw the little girl over the weekend. Since then she has cried a couple times, missing her friend. Due to illnesses at our new daycare, it hasn't been consistent. I know consistency is a very big thing with kids. Since that has been out of my control, what can I do to help her adjust? She has friends in our neighborhood that she plays with. What can I do to help her deal with this? Thank you for your time.

From: Andrea, Monticello, NY


The value of pretend play

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 12, 2013 06:00 AM

Hi Barbara,
I was at a recent meeting of preschool directors and in the course of discussion about parents and parenting, a colleague recalled a wonderful article by "that columnist who used to write for Globe." I said, do you mean Barbara Meltz? "YES!"

The article was, "When a box is not a box." Everyone wants to read it again. Everyone misses your articles.

From: Carol Mersky, director, Temple Emanuel Preschool, Newton, MA


Rule out medical issues before you decide you have a picky eater

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 11, 2013 06:00 AM

I have a 4 year old son who does not want to eat healthy food at all. The only foods he gets in is baloney sandwich, peanut butter sandwich, fried chips, vienna's, some fruits, wheatbix for breakfast and sweeet stuff. I am concerned about his health, and need advise on how to get him to eat meat, veggies and so on. I never use to have this problem when he was a baby, it all started when he was a year and few months. He is also someone who loves rooibos tea (black). I need help please. I am so concerned about his health and diet. Many people tells me it just a phase, but a phase can't last this long.
From: Veronique, Pretoria, South Africa

Hey Barbara

I have a serious problem with my 4 year old son, he doesn't like food at all, he wants to eat noodles in the morning and night, he doesn't even finish a packet of it, he gets full half way, starts complaining about his stomach is full & sore..

He drinks sugar water at night & he makes up crying for it in the middle of the night,after playing with friends, he comes looking for his water...

He prefer youghurt, noodle ,sugar water only, he doesn't like veg,he cries wen I try giving it to him...
He never eats porridge, he acts like his about to vomit when you feed it to him...please help me, I thought he will get better at this age but nothing changes ..

From: Worried mom, Port Elizabeth, South Africa


Grandparents, come down off your high horses!

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 8, 2013 06:00 AM

My granddaughter, 18 yrs old, just recently had a daugher. She lives with the father and she will not let me see the child because she said I was disrespectful to her boyfriend. She has always been verbablly abusive to me and my husband and her dad, but now she says I have got to apologize to her boyfriend or she will not let me see the baby. I am really hurt and I don't think I did anything wrong and I don't want to apologize but I do want to have a relationship with the child and be able to see that she is taken care of. What do you think?

From: Chris, Conway, NH

Dear Barbara,
I am at a loss. It is my granddaughter's 9th birthday and I don't won't to take part. I bought a birthday card and had to shift through several to find one that wouldn't make me out to be a liar. I blame her behavior on my daughter. She is rude and disrespectful and has been that way for years, but it is getting worse, then she will pour on the tears when she is reprimanded. Her Dad died about four years ago and I wanted to try and fill the void with support but before it's all said and done, I usually just want to strangle her. I have had several conversations about her behavior with my daughter yet nothing seems to help. I wonder if not dealing with either of them would make an impact on the situation? I have seven other grandchildren and she is the only one that I have this problem with.

From: Granny2, Lexington, MA


High school junior balking at family move. It's hard to blame her

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 7, 2013 06:00 AM

Do you think it is right to take your daughter away from all that she knows and move her to Houston? She honestly is refusing to go because she has a boyfriend that is "her life". She doesn't want to go unless he goes. She will a senior next year and plans to move back home if we move and live in small town USA until she dies. What should we do? This is really hard to talk to her about because she isn't listening to me about anything. HELP.

From: Andrea, Princess Anne, TX


Marine dad has questions about kindergarten readiness

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 5, 2013 06:00 AM

My ex wife called me today (29 Jan 2013) about our 4 yr old son. He has been in pre-school for 2 years now. She stated that his teacher is recommending another year in pre-k. She said he refuses to write/participate, puts his pencil down, can't write his name and doesn't associate letter sounds with the actual letter (ie. C - Cat). She said this happens after they come back home from visiting me. I see them every couple of months as I live further from them.

We have 2 children and my ex spends time working with our daughter in the evenings on her homework and said by the time she is done she leaves no time for our son. My daughter is 8, in 2nd grade, reading at a 4th grade level and doing math at a 3rd grade level.

I understand boys develop typically slower but my ex-wife's concern has me a bit concerned myself. I am active duty military and reside 680 miles away from my kids. We have been divorced since 2012 and separated since 2009.

I will not be retiring for a year and she (the ex) is insistent on me getting out asap! I wish I had that luxury. What can I do and should I be very concerned if my son has a 3rd year of pre-school? I understand children struggle too after divorce in their own way. I am desperate for answers and help.

I sincerely appreciate your time and assistance.

Very Respectfully,

From: Chuck USMC, Virginia Beach


Is South African teen suicidal? It's not worth the gamble to assume he's not

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 4, 2013 06:00 AM

Hi Barbara,
We thought it best to move my 16 old to a school close to his father and due to finances...he coped well the first 8 days, was even elected representative student council, which is excellent for a new kid. He is, however, in a very deep depression all of a sudden, he's begging us to move him back. He sms'ed me that he can't go on, I'm devastated. How worried should I be? Thinking of moving him back...

From: Gizelle, South Africa


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.

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