all entries with the category


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


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


Toddler popping out of bed, with complications: twins!

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

My daughter is 2 1/2 & has been getting out of bed at night for months. I have twins & they sleep in the same room. That is currently our only option. My husband & I are at wits end trying to keep her in her room. She'll scream for what seems like hours. We have pocket doors so locking them is out. We just have to stay up & take turns holding the door shut. Is there any advise you can give us?

From: Tina, Mundelein, IL


Potty-trained at daycare, not at home.

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz September 14, 2012 06:00 AM

Hi Barbara!
I am having problems potty with potty training. My daughter will be 3 in November and is completely trained at daycare. She uses underwear and asks to use the potty when she has to go. At home, it's a different story. She refuses to even sit on the potty and won't even wear pull-ups, it's diapers only. I've tried setting a timer for 30 minutes and that works until about lunch time and then she will refuse to try anymore. I've done stickers and m&m's and prizes from the dollar store and nothing seems to help. Her brother is 1 month old and everyone seems to say it's because of him, but the problem was even before he came home. I will admit now that he is here the problem is worse because she seems to purposely hold it. An example of this is the other day we sat on the potty (after a bribe) for a good 15 minutes and then when we walked into the living room she went in her pants and looked at me and said " I tell you I only go on da potty at Ms. Annie's house". My thoughts now is to totally back off. My question is do I still send her to daycare in her undies? Do I try pull-ups or just use diapers at home? Is backing off really what I should do? Any help will be appreciated. Thanks!!

From: Rachael, Marshfield, MA


Helping toddlers when there's a baby coming

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

I'm expecting my second child in March 2013 and at that time the baby's older brother will be two. Recently I have noticed that he gets upset/jealous when I hold another baby or pay attention to another child. Which I feel is quite normal for a child his age, and being an only child at this time. But I wonder how he'll be when his brother/sister arrives next year. And is there anything I can do during my pregnancy to get him prepared? Or do I wait until the baby arrives to see how he reacts/adjusts? I would appreciate any advice you may have. Thank you.

From: Kristen, Boston, MA


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


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


Thumbs down on "Little Devil" as a nickname

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

Dear Barbara,

My question is regarding a name that my mother-in-law uses very loosely toward my 22 month old. When my daughter does typical toddler things my mother-in-law calles her a "little devil." I feel that this is not an appropriate term to use at all, especially toward my daughter and directly to her. I have told my husband that I do not want her saying this and have asked him to speak with her. He thinks that it's not a big deal; I think he just doesn't want to address this with her. I am a little out spoken but I feel I should not be the one to address this topic.

Thank you
From: CJW, Providence, RI


Slowing down that thumb-sucking

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

Hello Ms. Meltz,

I love your column, and really respect your balanced advice. I'm writing to you now with a question that is probably not worth a whole column, but I'm hoping you can point me toward some resources: what are some good techniques to stop thumb-sucking?

My 30-month old daughter sucks her thumb frequently, and it doesn't bother me or my husband. However, our dentist recently told us that she's starting to see some physiologic changes (her pallet is rising) and that it's important to stop this behavior.

She does have a "lovey" and self-soothes by holding it while sucking her thumb at quiet moments during the day, and while falling asleep. I don't anticipate breaking the habit will be easy, and as a former thumb-sucker (until age 4 or 5), I sympathize with my daughter. How can we make this as painless as possible, for everyone?

Thank you so much,
From: Valerie, Dorchester, MA


Taming the toddler tantrums

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


We have a 25 month old son who up until about 4 weeks ago was a perfect little Angel (at least in our eyes!)! He really does have a very entertaining and sweet personality and he is usually a joy to have around! About 4 weeks ago, we started with what I am sure is common 2 yr old behavior, tantrums (huge kicking screaming head banging ones!!) when tired, hungry, can't have what he wants! It is almost impossible to get him to do anything asked (get shoes on, come inside to eat, get into chair to eat, bath, etc etc). I have tried giving warnings for transition (in a few minutes we will do...) and setting a timer (when the timer goes off we will...) and counting to 5 (if I get to 5 you will go into time out). NOTHING seems to work well. I feel like my 2 year old is running our home, and no strategies are working, this is also very frustrating and upsetting for both my husband and I as well as our little guy!

Background info: we have a new 3 month old baby too...just to make things more interesting!

Our 2 year old is very very good with the baby and seems to really like him...

In addition to the tantrums, we are also experiencing separation anxiety (leaving at daycare or with a babysitter or even grandparents!) and very clingy behavior!!

Any help would be so appreciated!

From: Melanie, Kingston, Ontario


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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