Respond to pinching quickly and consistently

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz April 30, 2013 06:00 AM

My 2 year old grandson DOB 4/18/11 is an only child, no others on the way. He pinches people; his parents, and other adults. He gets a certain look of mischief (a little scary) before he pinches. His parents have tried ignoring it not reacting when he does it didn't work, giving him time out didn't work, have tried talking to him as to why and how it hurts when he does it nothing seems to help. Need help, he can also be such a love gentle and sweet. HELP!

From: GG, Burbank, CA


Explaining your surrogacy to your child

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

How do you explain surrogacy to small children? Due to cancer, my cousin can no longer carry a baby. I would love to be able to do this for her, but I don’t know how to explain it to my children. My daughter is 3.5 and the last time I was pregnant, she got a baby brother (who is now 8 mths). How do I explain that this time we are not keeping the baby? Thanks!

From: Mom of Two, Rexhame. MA


How can she help her 8th grader with an imminent move?

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

Dear Barbara,

I will be moving from Richmond, VA to an undecided location in Arizona very, very soon. This same situation happened four years ago, but was switched, We moved from Arizona to Virginia in November of 2009, when my daughter was in the 4th grade, (she is now in 8th and will he attending HS this following school year). She had her heart set on moving mid-year for the purpose of being able to make friends more easily and having more friends over the summer, but that is not doable, due to a surgery and a trip I am going to go on.

So, I guess I'm asking how can I help her make friends? She will have to start high school knowing absolutely nobody, and she does not want to go to a camp because the kids may or may not be going to the same HS and they probably wont be the kind of kids she will be friends with. Help! Thanks for any advice!

From: Lexi, Richmond, VA


Coping with tantrums

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz April 23, 2013 06:00 AM


Any advice for handling toddler tantrums? My 18 month old son has some trouble with transitioning from activities. For example, if it's time to leave the park, he'll flop himself on the ground and kick and scream. Or when it's time to leave in the morning to go to daycare or to the store, if he's busy playing with his toys, he'll throw a kicking and screaming fit. I try to stay calm and explain that it's time to go, and we can come back to the park tomorrow. I usually end up just scooping up a kicking toddler and putting him in his stroller or car seat. I know this is very typical toddler behavior, as he doesn't have the language skills to tell me what he wants, but I was wondering for some advice on how to handle this better.

From: Kathryn, North Shore, MA


Child's post-Marathon fears bubbling up

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz April 19, 2013 06:00 AM

Dear Barbara,
I hope you can answer this quickly!!
In the wake of the Marathon bombings, our 9 year-old son has told us that he "absolutely will not go" to Red Sox games. We always go to at least one afternoon game with my dad and my wife's dad and my two other children, one younger, one older, all sons, it's a boys' day out. The middle boy, I'll cal him T, announced this at dinner, in front of his sibs on Wed night. There was an immediate hush at the table. My wife and I were both stricken, I have to admit. (The conversation, btw, had not been about the Marathon or about the Red Sox. He said this out of the blue.) The first one to speak was the oldest (13) who said, "No way am I letting these jerks stop me from having fun." Pause. "Right, dad?" The youngest (7) typically takes his cues from his oldest brother and said, "Yeah!" But they all looked at me.
Honestly, my wife and I had already been thinking about this. Even though we know, intellectually we can't let fear rule our lives, who can say what's right for any given family? Our job is to protect our children!
The conversation shifted, the meal went on, but my wife and I know this will come up again. T is a quiet boy, he's cautious, not fearful, but tenacious and more serious.
Please, I'd like your thoughts. BTW, both grandfathers have already said, over the phone so not in front of the boys, life goes on, don't even think about us not going to our game. Hmm. Now that I type that, maybe they are projecting my reaction? Maybe I've projected that onto T?
What to do?!
From: Peter, west of Boston.


Should she invite the mean girl to her birthday party?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz April 17, 2013 06:00 AM

My daughter is in third grade and has been having friendship issues. She goes to a private school where the classes are small and the girls are together for 12 years. My daughter has had one friend that she spends most of her time with at school. The friend has started to bully her by ignoring her, hissing at her when she approaches, and saying they were never friends. They have been friends and inseparable for 3 years.

I have coached my daughter and dried her tears. My daughter is turning 9 and is inviting 10 girls from school to sleep over. She is not inviting the friend who has been bullying her. She fears that she will ruin her birthday. However, she worries that the friend will hold a grudge and bully her more.

What advice should I give her. I have shown empathy for 3 months, however, it's decision time!
Thanks for your help.

From: Steve, Charlotte, NC


Should 6-year-old travel cross-country with dad she doesn't know well?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz April 16, 2013 06:00 AM

[This letter has been condensed. BFM]
My wife and I find ourselves in a dilemma with her daughter’s dad. He would like to take his daughter across the country – by driving – for a vacation from North Carolina to Seattle. The purpose of the vacation would be to visit his parents who recently moved from our area to Seattle. He would also like to stop on the way in Las Vegas area for a visit with his wife’s family. This would be approximately a 2-week trip. My wife’s daughter will turn 6 when the trip occurs.

Our problem [is due to his] lack of involvement with his daughter. He has custody rights to her on Wednesday evenings and every other weekend. That arrangement is not consistently met by him; he often makes excuses ...why he cannot pick her up and/or changes plans at the last second.... He is inconsistent in other areas of responsibility for his daughter as well; late (or no) child payments, does not call to speak to her on a regular basis, is not directly involved with her schooling, etc. He is a generally good person but has not necessarily built a strong bond with his daughter or taking her as a prioritized responsibility; hence our concern.

The daughter does enjoy a relationship with her grandparents prior to their moving to Seattle. She seems to enjoy spending time with her dad when it happens; other times she is reluctant to visit; she often tries to hide when he comes to pick her up; more so out of what appears to be her joking around to avoid the reality of her leaving to visit. Our nervousness also includes that she is very clingy to her mother. Mom is very protective of her well being and does not feel comfortable with the Father taking her for extended time, given his inconsistent responsibilities. I have made suggestions on how she can work with him on “building towards” a trip (i.e. she needs to work with him on building more trust prior to the trip, based on consistent actions from both sides); can you suggest an approach? I greatly appreciate any thoughts you and the readers may have; thank you in advance.

From: TCH, Cary, NC


This mom needs to leave

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

[This letter has been condensed and edited. BFM]
My husband has PTSD and ADHD we have a 2 year old little girl. I'm struggling with whether or not it's time to leave. [I keep hearing] "he has PTSD -- don't give up on him he will get better" but my life is hell and I'm afraid it will ruin my daughter's life as well by staying with him. Here is a typical day with him: first he is addicted to a video game called eve, he is on it constantly. If you tell him he is on too much, he makes excuses, he will also argue or complain if you ask him to do anything..... He is also VERY verbally abusive calling me names like ..., idiot, stupid ... etc. When it comes to driving, he thinks he belongs in NASCAR speeds all the time and has terrible road rage. This is constant. I get frustrated, we fight and I'm just so distraught because all of this behavior is in front of my daughter. If I ask him to stop or say something like don't call me names, he says na na boo boo, and patronizes me.

I think I should leave and so I have been planning ways to keep money hidden from him, buy a car and move out. Counseling hasn't helped and did I mention EVERYTHING is my fault. He will blame me for everything. He thinks physical abuse is worse than verbal abuse, and that verbal abuse causes no harm. His explanation is because police wouldn't do anything if I called 911 and said someone was calling me names. But the negativity is killing both me and my daughter. PTSD has ruined my marriage. I don't want it to ruin my daughter.... He also threatens regularly to take my daughter away in a custody battle if I say I want to leave. HELP!!!
From: Georgette, Houston, TX


Preschooler's acting-out could be kindergarten related

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

Our five year old son has always been very laid back and calm. Lately he has been acting out more with, "I can't hear you," and turning his head. He often just won't listen or comply and pushes back about the silliest things. It's usually just with us the parents, but lately have heard a few comments from the preschool as they have never had this behavior with him. No, there is nothing new, no changes, nothing different that would indicate a change. Is this normal growing pains for his age? Is there something, or some strategies, that work best here?
From: Lucy, Foxboro, MA


This little boy sounds troubled

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz April 9, 2013 06:00 AM

My 5- year- old son recently came home from school with a note saying he pushed another student in the stomach, when I asked him about it he completely lied to me. I had to get the real story from his teacher. The next day he came home with something that looked like red marks and dot around his neck and shoulders. He said some story about a chair causing it, then he told my family that my fiancé did it.... I know this cannot be true, I see how they interact and how this upsets my fiancé.

What is the deal? How can I deal with this? I'm afraid of him being taken from us!

From: Brooke, Atlanta


Mom, you're taking first-grade way too seriously

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

Hi Barbara. I love your level headed approach to your parenting advice. I wonder what you can tell me about this: my first grade daughter just doesn't seem comfortable trying her best. Her teacher says she puts in a very focused effort in school, and she learns a lot and does very well, so I can only assume this is true. However, at home, everything seems to be just a rush. To finish her homework quickly, without paying much attention. It isn't really a school issue, so I really don't worry much about this. But, then there are the activities. She has a dance recital coming up and she loves dance, has for years, but she is always the one watching the other girls to see what they are doing. I have to actually tell her to look at practices like a recital in order to see her really try. (this is only very recent, trust me I don't harp on these things). Similar in gymnastics. She loves it, but it's expensive. She's also nervous about a lot of it. Her coach says she can do everything with a spot, but always nervous on her own. It reminds me of me learning to ride a bike and insisting someone had to hold the bike. I don't know if this is a fear thing or a control issue or just about putting in any effort. I tell her she doesn't have to be the best, but she should try her best. I don't want to give up on these things she loves, but it seems like a waste sometimes to pay money to let her just run around and be silly. Is it just me?

From: Confused Mama, NorthShore, MA


Grandson who isn't talking to her is driving grannie nuts

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz April 3, 2013 06:00 AM

My 8 year old grandson will not speak to me. In fact, he seems mortified if I even approach him to speak. He is like this with all the grown-up members of our family and other adult friends of his parents. He can talk perfectly well with siblings and other children, also his parents, but simply will not say one word to the rest of us. This is becoming socially uncomfortable for all concerned and I'm afraid my son and his wife do not take likely to my continual demands for them to seek help for him. They have had the school psychiatrist to speak to them and he said there is absolutely nothing wrong with the child. I'm sure this is the case, but he chooses not to speak to us and this cannot go on for obvious reasons. Funnily enough, when he was a toddler he did communicate but has simply ceased to do so over the last 5 or 6 years. How can I persuade my son to seek help to sort this problem?

From: GrannieTricia, Castle Douglas, UK


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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