Category Archives: Communication

How to Manage a Meltdown
Meltdowns

Tis the season—for stress, impatience and probably some unrealistic expectations and resentment over why your family isn’t like the happy ones you see on Instagram. That means trickle down stress for your children, no matter what age. Your littlest ones may show it in irregular sleep, eating, toileting and generally cranky behavior. Your middle ones may show it in angry outbursts and words that push anyone’s buttons. And your teens may simply disappear to their rooms to get away from it all. 

But all are at risk of some major meltdowns. Mainly because children can’t hold onto as much stress as we can—note: this is a good thing—and are far more likely to let it out at home with the safest people in their lives. More good things. 

Nobody likes dealing with kids’ meltdowns. Especially kids. Please do not be influenced to ignore or threaten your child by those who say, “He’s doing that on purpose. He’s just trying to get your attention.” We’ve all had meltdowns. They’re not fun. Your kids aren’t doing it on purpose. And of course

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From “Toilet Talk” to Curse Words: How Forbidding Turns Curiosity into Weaponry
silyl faces

Q. We have a 4-year-old turning 5 next month, and we have a lot of toilet talk going on. We’ve tried ignoring it, explaining why it’s not okay and that it’s not okay to use in our house. Nothing seems to work. He just lays around and says: penis, boobies, vagina and other words. No swear words but typical toilet talk. Also he’ll poke me or others and say I can see your booby, bum bum etc. Also with his 1-year-old sister and dogs. Any advice would be appreciated as it’s starting to be such a theme and hard to help him know that it’s not okay to yell this and say it all the time.

A. Actually, it’s you who needs to know it is okay. Your son is right on target developmentally when it comes to “toilet talk.” Four and five-year-old’s have curiosity about their bodies, compare themselves to others, especially the opposite sex, and want to discover what bodies do and what makes them different. Because they are this age, they get silly about it all.

Unfortunately,

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Are you (accidentally) invalidating your child’s feelings?
Mom with child

Are you trying to do the right thing by validating your child’s feelings only to hear even angrier tirades? Your best intentions backfire and you don’t know why. Let’s break this down to figure out why your child is reacting negatively when you are trying to empathize.

“I am understanding of how my child is feeling, but it seems to just make her madder,” is something I hear from many parents. Progressive parenting has put a lot of emphasis on validating feelings and being empathetic—rightly so. Your kids want nothing more than to know you understand them. But in our impatience to get on with what we want them to do, to correct them, we may end up invalidating their feelings without realizing it.

  1. “I understand you’re upset. You can be angry, but you have to get in the shower.” 
  2. “I get that you’re mad at your sister, but you can’t hit her.”
  3. “You’re upset you got a bad grade. Buck up. You’ll do better next time.”
  4. “A friend should never make fun of you. You need to tell her
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When (and when not) to Talk to Your Kids About Sex

Q. While listening to one of your insightful podcasts, “Mom, When Can I Start Watching Porn?”, I heard you say “that the best time to start introducing your children to the mechanics of sex and how babies are made and born is between 4 and 6, before it becomes embarrassing, shocking and awkward. If you are saving “the talk” until kids ask, you may wait forever.” I have two daughters, ages 5 and 1. I always answer their questions as honestly as possible except when she was three and I was pregnant. She asked: “Mom, how did my baby sister get in there?” Not prepared, I froze. What, when and how do I share the answers to her future sex ed questions before she is too embarrassed to ask me? 

A. Don’t wait for the questions. They may never come. Sometime, ask her, “Do you remember when I was pregnant with your sister, and you asked me how she got inside me? I didn’t think you were old enough to understand then but now I think you are. Would you

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Are You Looking at School Success the Wrong Way?
child at school
Do you teach your children that their school performance is for you? That’s one way to diminish school motivation.

All parents want their children to love school and learn lots. For too many children, the school years are a prison sentence to be endured. School often falls short of its intended role to encourage and motivate children’s natural love of learning and has become rules and curriculum to satisfy a set of statistics. School must be handed over to our children. They must know they have our support in doing the best they can. Some kids flounder in public school. They need your support more than anyone.

When a child thinks he must perform for a parent or a teacher, motivation drops. When he believes he is not meeting your expectations, it drops even more. To have intrinsic motivation to learn, children must feel good about themselves. That should be the number one goal of education. That means adjustment within the system to suit each child’s manner of learning. Hard to do. Much is left up to parents.

Many children

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He’s an Integrity Kid, Not a Habitual Liar
upset child

Q. My 9 year old boy’s behavior is driving me nuts and making me feel like failure. He is a strong-willed, smart boy, who will do anything only if he likes it. There are many things he decides he doesn’t like to do or eat, and there is no cajoling that can get him to give it a try. But my bigger problem here is his constant lying. He cannot stop himself from lying and sneaking. And this
behavior is only getting worse and more sophisticated as he is growing up. For eg, he loves cookies and most often eats more than what his share is. If I suspect that he ate them when he shouldn’t and question him, he goes on the defensive and outright denies it (even with all crumbs stuck to his mouth).

Another example is every night I ask him to brush his teeth. He usually goes
to bed without brushing, and when I check if he did what he is supposed to do,
20% of the times he tells the truth but the rest is

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How to Talk to Your Kids About the Hard Stuff
Dad and Son Talking

After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, I wrote an article called Look for the Helpers inspired by Fred Rogers. I am redoing it with the same basic
message—sadly because so much more has happened. Not only has gun violence increased, but our democracy and our climate are threatened. Whatever side of the political spectrum you fall, the recent overturn of Roe vs. Wade by the Supreme Court requires discussions with your children. How do you assure their safety at school? How do you tell them that the highest court in our nation has undermined the liberty of women?

My son just gave the commencement address at the high school where he teaches.
He too was inspired by Fred Rogers’ words:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother
would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are
helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my
mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still
so many helpers—so

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Want to Know the Secret to Supporting Your Perfectionist Child?
Anxious little girl

Q. My daughter freezes when she is asked a question on the spot or during exams because she is fearful of being wrong, not knowing the answers or not being able to complete the entire tests. What advice should I give her to help her overcome this fear?

A. Of course you want to help her deal with her fears. Most parents, I find, live by the myth that you can help your child by telling them what you have learned as more experienced human. Makes sense. You want to tell her something that will make her see the light and stop being fearful of getting it wrong. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Advice rarely helps unsolicited.

Your daughter was likely born with sensitivities for self-awareness, a desire for approval, as well as strong capabilities. This can underscore any ideas she has of how important those capabilities are to gain the approval she wants.

As parents, most of us are unaware of how our expectations of our children effect their behavior. Of course, we want our children to do

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How to Give an Allowance
Teaching Kids About Money

~ so your kids grow up financially savvy.

  • Ever get sick and tired of kids begging for one more thing?
  • Ever feel taken for granted because your kids don’t appreciate all you do and buy for them?
  • Ever wish your teenager was more responsible with money?
  • Ever wish your children had a little more patience and stop expecting things RIGHT NOW?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, my advice to you is give them an allowance. It’s as important as teaching them to swim. 

Having an allowance will teach your children how to manage, use, save, spend, and value money. And, maybe most importantly, they will learn delayed gratification—a lost skill in this age of instant everything. 

Growing up with an allowance means your children have a much better chance of managing their future finances responsibly. When children have their own money to spend, they soon learn the value of what they spend it on. A tempting toy that breaks the first day becomes a lesson in quality. Spending the wad on candy means there is nothing

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Is It Ever Effective to Take Away Privileges?
Child yelling

Q. I know you don’t believe in consequences, but is there ever a circumstance where a consequence is effective even when knowing the root cause of the behavior? Example: My 10-year-old son expressed this morning that he wished he didn’t have to go to school. He was moody and angry. I did some digging and turns out he hates music and it’s his first class of the day. I get it. I said missing school isn’t an option and asked if he could think of anything to make the day bearable. He was super angry and wasn’t open to hearing me and started to call me vulgar names/swears. I told him that calling me names is unacceptable—something I’ve told him many times. He stormed outside to ride his scooter for a bit, and I was left wondering if he should lose YouTube after school. Will it make him remember or think twice when he is in the red zone swearing at me? Is it just a thing parents do to feel in control when the situation feels so out of

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