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No harm for a boy to learn about "girl" things

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

I have three children...of ages 6, 4,and 2 my 6 year old only likes to watch shows where it's all girls. I have an older niece and he looks up to her so much that he only likes to watch what she does...although I might add that I do get upset at him if he pretends to walk like a girl and so forth but I get confused because he loves cars and boyish things...so my question here is this...is it normal for a 6 year old boy to be interested in girl things and will it affect his sexual preference? Thank you.
From: Yolanda, Brownsville, TX

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Barbie dolls for her grandson? Behind her son's back?

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

I have a 8 year old grandson who's always liked to play with Barbie dolls. My son, his Dad, throws a fit if I let him play with them at my house. He's always liked them from birth on. I sneak and let him play with them at my home. Is this wrong? I sometimes worry why he likes them so much, but see nothing wrong in letting him be who he is. He is a great, sensitive, caring and mannerly child. Please, I need some feedback on this issue.
Thank you
From: Debbie, Hustonville, KY


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Siblings and bickering

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


My kids are 2 and 5 and get along well. When there is a squabble, I try to not intervene. However, I find myself erring towards the younger one, even though I want to be neutral and teach them to resolve on their own. Probably, it just keeps the peace to let her have her turn first (or whatever is the problem) or the 5 year old's behavior seems babyish (wanting a random toy she hasn't seen in years). Advise, please! Thanks!

From: Marie, Melrose, MA


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Her son only wants to play with girls

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

For the past year maybe, I've been a little worried about my 5 year old son behavior in terms of being a boy. He likes playing with girls more than boys, he's love the arts (which I love), and likes playing "girl games" (among other things). Although I don't mind any of it, I did notice it all. But today he said to me, as I asked him to give me back my hair band: "I wish I was a girl." That really surprised me and worried me. I explained to him that he is a boy, and being a boy it's cool, but I don't really know what else to do. Should I worry about this? Or am I just making something out of nothing? Is there any literature that you can suggest for me to read? Thank you!

From: Maria, Rochester, NY


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Read the riot act to this uncle

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz March 20, 2012 06:00 AM

[Letter has been condensed by BFM]
Hi Barbara,

My question is about how to handle my brother-in-law who is so incredibly over-stimulating/shows poor judgement when interacting with my toddler son (almost 3 years old).

We don't see my brother-in-law frequently, but when we do, his interactions with my son include repeated forced tickling, throwing/dropping my son, and other physical play that he thinks is funny but is bordering on abuse in my/my husband's opinions.

... In the past, I have intervened and told my brother-in-law to stop, as has my sister (his wife) and my mother. My brother-in-law will only briefly stop, but whatever he does next will be equally objectionable.

My son is a very sociable, resilient kid. And these play sessions tend to involve lots of shrieking, laughing, and screaming on my son's part, which I am assuming my brother-in-law thinks means he is having fun. But after my BIL leaves, my son is SO over-stimulated, and he usually has a giant melt-down/tantrum which is just painful to watch. Sometimes my son will tell my brother-in-law to stop what he is doing, but he usually will only listen if an adult tells him to stop.

My brother-in-law shows very poor judgement in general, even with adults. As a result of this, he has been the cause of repeated minor injuries to himself/other people and property damage. Adults are frequently asking him to stop inappropriate behaviors, and he has trouble listening to adults as well.

It has gotten so that my husband and I can barely stand to be around my brother-in-law, due to his behavior with our son. Any suggestions for how to handle this?

Thank you so much in advance!

From: Over-stimulated in Hamilton (state not included)


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Is this mom 's discipline lacking? That's not the issue

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

Would you please write something on the permissibility of parents letting their children run in the house? I have lived in a second-floor condominium for twenty-three and a half years, and in the last seven months I have had to deal with a new third-floor neighbor, a single mother with two boys, ages 3 and 1. She lets the 3-year-old run around, and the heavy pounding of his feet makes my unit shake, and I feel the vibrations through my body. My repeated requests to her have led to a lessening of the problem but not its elimination. The trustees and property manager say it is an issue between owners and will not tell her that such running is prohibited. I believe it is not part of the normal sounds of living, like walking; it is more like playing ball in the house, which should also be totally prohibited. I am also aware that her second child is not yet running, so in another six months to a year, I will probably have two pairs of pounding feet over my head! What do you think about parents who are lax in disciplining their children this way, especially when it affects other people? (If she lived in a first-floor unit or in a house it would be a different matter.) Thank you.

From: Judith, Brookline, MA

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Girl uses her doll to process her feelings

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz December 29, 2011 06:00 AM

I am very nervous because my daughter is saying things to her dolls that her mom is saying to her. Not the nice things, but the not-so-nice things. "I'm not proud of you; you're being fresh," was the straw that made me write in, but it has gotten to the point where my daughter is repeating my wife's unduly harsh reprimands verbatim. I don't know why I find this so frightening. Should I be concerned? What do I say to my wife? I am worried that this is the start of an unhealthy, resentful relationship and I want to derail the train before it becomes a runaway. Help.

From: Conducting a Runaway, Providence, RI


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Preschooler needs help with social cues

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz November 30, 2011 06:00 AM

My son is 5 years old and has always been very curious, active and impulsive. I just figured it was his personality and, even though it got frustrating at times, didn't worry about it. I have 2 younger children and they are actually easier to watch at playgrounds, stores, etc. because they do not need to touch and explore everything like my oldest does even when I explain beforehand that we need to stay together and not touch things unless we ask first.

However last week, his preschool teacher pulled me aside and said that it was becoming disruptive to the class. There are 2 other boys who he is close with and he just cannot keep his hands off them. I also see this at home with his 18 month old brother. The touching, shouting and grabbing is never done maliciously but always out of excitment. Also, when there is something he wants to touch he will touch it no matter what, like he has no control over his hand reaching for it. Often when he is playing with kids he gets so over-excited and doesn't know when to stop with the grabbing and hugging. A friend of mine suggested OT for him as it may help him find other ways of expressing his feelings. I understand that he may always be a high energy kid but when it's disruptive to those around him I feel I need to help him make some changes.

I have tried everything in my playbook: getting down to his level and calmly explaining that it can be dangerous or not fun for other kids, timeouts, raising my voice. But 2 minutes later he's at it again. It's like he can't NOT do something. He is a smart, caring kid. He sleeps well, eats well, has friends and is overall a wonderful person but this thing is becoming exhausting for me and a problem at school. How can I help him think before he does gets rough or grabs things he knows he shouldn't? Again I don't expect these to go away completely as he is a young kid learning about the world but I don't want it to snowball into him being a kid who no one wants to play with and who gets in trouble all the time at school. Thank you.

From: Amanda, Boston

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Is there such a thing as a preschool bully?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz November 8, 2011 06:00 AM

My 5 year old daughter has a "friend" at preschool who has says horrible things to her, such as "you're no good." "you're stupid." I encourage her to make other friends but she continues to play with her. At the same time, she has been acting out at home, being incredibly defiant, and now calling us "stupid."

I worry that my daughter is somewhat insecure and is being bullied by this other preschooler. Should I mention it to the teacher? How should I handle her behavior at home--I want to be firm, but I am aware that she is probably reacting to what's going on in school.

From: Gillian, Quincy, MA


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Day camp swimming woes

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz July 18, 2011 06:00 AM

Name Kerry
Hometown North Reading
Help! My almost 5 year old twins are having serious separation anxiety this summer. They cry and scream before going to their day camp and my son just refuses to go to swimming lessons. Keep in mind, they have been taking swim lessons at the same place (different teacher) since January without any problem and they have been taking various pre-school classes with their day camp counselors since the fall. I've given in and allowed my son to drop out of swim lessons completely and there have been a few days I've just kept them home completely from camp. I am sure this isn't the right thing to do, but don't know what else to do. Any thoughts?

From: Kerry, North Reading, MA


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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.

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meltzbarbara (at) gmail.com.
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