January ’18 Q&A – Sharing & Hogging, School Resistance and The Dark Side

Sharing and Hogging

Q. My three-year-old has a very big issue with sharing and hogging. She has an 18 mo. old sister who is not allowed to touch anything. I understand that my daughter still is having a hard time with her arrival, she has to share me, she doesn’t get to have me all to herself, she doesn’t even get to read books alone with me and on top of it all I am three times as tired, have to do a lot more chores, can’t play with her at the drop of the hat, and she doesn’t get to have all of my adoration just for her. I still feel really guilty about that. At first I thought, fair enough the toys were hers, so I opted to buy my youngest toys for herself. I told my eldest and explained before we bought anything that I was buying for her sister so she doesn’t have to touch hers. She agreed but once the toy is bought she wants to have it and play with it. She gets so angry and hits me when I try to give the toy back to her sister.

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Raising Gratitude

So many parents complain, especially at holiday and birthday time, how ungrateful their children are. It’s hard to put in all the time, effort, and money into our children’s upbringing and wants and desires only to have them take and take and show no appreciation. So how do we turn this around? How do we raise grateful children?

The irony is that when you expect your children to show appreciation—in other words when your button gets pushed because they don’t, and you react anywhere from subtly guilt-tripping to blowing up—they will only get defensive and you will never see it. Yet when you least expect it and never demand it, that’s when you get it.

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December ’17 Q&A – Anger Management, Stealing and Mutual Respect

Q. I have two sons almost 3 and 5.  The 5 y.o. seems to take his anger out on his brother with some physical violence when he’s upset. After an incident, I take the 5 y.o. upstairs to his room and we talk about our family rules (respect others, respect ourselves and respect things) and about the feelings attached to the situation/hitting or kicking. He gets upset and doesn’t like when we go upstairs and often cries. I know his impulse control is still not there, but I want to stop him from hitting again and teach him it’s not ok. I try very hard to control my emotions. Sometimes he hits just to be a “pain in the neck” and bug his brother. I assume he’s doing it at times for our attention. Should I approach it differently?

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Empowering Boys and Girls in a Culture of Sexual Harassment

The news has been shocking to say the least. But I believe the tide is turning. Powerful men are being called to the table and women are feeling strength in numbers. How did we get here? Or rather, if this is the beginning of the end of centuries of male conquest and domination, how do we raise our children to keep the momentum going?

It comes trippingly off the tongue for us to encourage and admire the strength and competition of boys and the delicate, sensitive nature of girls. Even when we consciously want it to be different, unconscious norms take over. We’ve been this way for eons; no wonder it’s hard to change habits.

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November ’17 Q&A – New-found Independence, Conflicting Agendas and Making Friends

New-found Independence

Q. My 3 ½ yr. old son has on ongoing heart condition that he was born with that is being controlled by daily medication (morning, afternoon & evening). He is very bright and articulate and has always been amazing at taking his drugs but over the last few weeks his independence (and determination) has increased tenfold, and he is asserting his authority by refusing to take his drugs.

I have tried everything – asking politely and explaining why he must take them, bribery, and then out of sheer panic (these are life saving drugs), yelling and forcing the drugs into him and preventing him spitting them out by restraining him! I know this is totally wrong but it gets to the point where there is no other option. After trying for an hour without success and by the time we have forced him we are all very upset and very late for nursery school and very late for work… and this is every day. How can I manage this better and just get him to agree to take them?

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If I Don’t Punish or Give Consequences, What DO I Do? How to Use Problem Solving

Even after I outline problem solving to a frustrated parent of a child who just keeps pushing the limits, I get the same reply. “Yeah, okay, but what do I DO?”
It’s hard to understand at first that logical words, emotional understanding and empathy, and asking the child to think is actually DOING anything. We are so accustomed to grounding, time outs, taking away privileges, threatening, and withholding. It’s hard to think a respectful process of working it out is doing something.


What’s hard is dropping the notion that we have to make our children miserable in order to teach lessons.

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Monthly Q&A – Grieving, Transitions and News Anxiety

How to Deal With Grieving

Q. My 3.5 yo nephew’s adored grandmother has just died. She lived far away and he and his mother have just spent two weeks with her. They just got back only to discover that she died right after they left. My question is how his parents should handle this with my nephew. She was very special to him and he was very, very fond of her. Should they be honest, should they just say that she has gone to heaven – how honest would you recommend they be with a 3.5 year old’s processing of the news and his handling of grief?

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5 Things Never to Ask Your Child Right After School

You want to interact and make connection when your kids get home from school. Your kids do too but not in the way you might think.

You’ve missed them, you want to know what they did all day, how they got along, if they had any problems. But questions can feel like an interrogation.

  1. How was school today?
  2. What do you have for homework?
  3. When are you going to do your homework?
  4. What did you get on the test?
  5. What did you learn today?

They have just spent a long hard day meeting (or not) expectations, doing things they might not want to do, following orders, coping for hours, and hopefully working hard and learning. Probably the last they want to do is go over their day with you. They need a break. They need to know here is the place where I can be myself. They need to chill.

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Monthly Q&A – Getting Out the Door, Talking About Suicide, Sibling Conflict

Getting Out the Door

Q. HOW do I get my 3.75 yr. old to MOVE in the morning?? It’s not a matter of getting up earlier or being more organized. When he knows we’re going to school, he puts the breaks on and repeatedly tells me he doesn’t want to go to school. This is his first year, and he goes 2 mornings a week. This has just started happening 2 weeks ago. I don’t recall a change and teacher say nothing happened there in particular. When I pick him up he’s always happy but just doesn’t want to GO. So how do I make getting ready to leave a fun thing to do if he doesn’t want to go?!

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10 Ways to Get Respect from Your Child
Parent/child respect
We want our children to grow to be happy and successful, yes — but more specifically, to be responsible, respectful, grateful, honest, kind, empathic, helpful and giving to others. The irony is that traditional methods of parenting — varying degrees of reward and punishment, threats and criticizing — teaches exactly the opposite.

In my 30 years of working with parents on how to better connect with their children (ultimately resulting in better behavior), I have learned one thing over and over and over. It’s all about relationship. In order to get respect from our children, we need to be respectful of them. Nothing else needs to be taught about how to be a good person that consistent work on a gratifying and mutually respectful relationship doesn’t teach. But it’s not simple.

Developing a Respectful Relationship with Your Child Involves:

  1. Understanding the power of connection. Empathizing with and understanding your child’s agenda, instead of telling them what to do and expecting it to be done according to your agenda.
  2. This may be the hardest — stepping back and trusting your child to do the right thing and allowing many mistakes to get there. Trusting means letting go of nagging and hyper-vigilance.
  3. No blaming and criticizing. The message you intend isn’t the message that is received. A child who feels bad about himself, behaves badly.
  4. The ability to remain objective and observe what is happening right now rather than getting triggered by the past or fears of the future.
  5. Understanding and allowing all of your children’s desires and wishes — not fulfilling all of them, just acknowledging them.
  6. Finding balance through understanding that no family member’s rights and needs are any more or less important than another’s.
  7. Holding appropriate expectations for each child to insure they feel accepted. Accept the child you have, not the child you wish you had. If your expectations are too high for this moment, your child will think he can never be who you want.
  8. Maintaining respectful interaction with your children even when setting a limit or correcting behavior. There is never a need to be disrespectful. Firmness and clarity is all part of establishing mutual respect.
  9. Maintaining a respectful relationship with your spouse or partner to model the relationships you hope your children to have.
  10. Being the type of person you want your child to become.

A good relationship is like a mobile dancing in the breeze. It requires sacrifice, compromise, give and take, and respect for one another — balance. A good relationship is mutually satisfying and leaves you feeling better and stronger. Balance in the relationship comes through understanding and consideration of each other’s needs and agendas — very different for adults and children.

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