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Miscellaneous Questions

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Welcome to our Questions & Answers page on Miscellaneous Questions. Currently we welcome requests for behavior charts or suggestions for content but do not directly answer specific parenting questions. Click on a question below to see the full question and answer.

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Careless Behavior In Child
How To Stop Whining
Motivating a Six-Year-Old In The Morning
Separation Anxiety In A Seven-Month-Old
Young Kids Talking Negatively
Six-Year-Old Adjusting To A Divorce
Five-year-old Having Difficulty Adjusting To New Baby
Five Year Old With Sensitivities To Textures And Tastes
Eight Year Old Perfectionist
Talking With A 12-year-old Girl About Boys
11-Year-Old With Anger Management Issues
Helping Young Kids Keep Glasses On
Eight-Year-Old Who Cries Frequently
Parenting A Transgender Teen
Grandparent Raising Grandchildren

What To Do With A Careless Child

My son is 7 years old. He is too careless. Can you help me with some hints? -Jackie, Riyadh

Jackie, how you work with your son will depend on what you mean by careless. Is he careless when doing chores? Does he lose things? Does he have difficulty taking care of his things? Does your child have any type of diagnosis such as ADHD? This can also be a factor in careless behavior.

In general, all kids can be careless to some degree. Kids with attention problems may not stay focused on an activity long enough to complete it thoroughly and carefully. Kids who are very bright often have too much they're thinking about and can demonstrate careless behavior. A behavior chart can be helpful. You may want to target one careless behavior at a time so you don't overwhelm your son. For example, if your son leaves his toys out, forgetting to put them away, you might set up a chart for this one behavior. Check out our single behavior charts and work on one behavior per week. Or take another week if you need some additional time on the behavior.

If carelessness while doing chores is an issue, make sure to explain exactly how to do the chore. Kids aren't mind readers, and a parent's idea of cleaning the table may differ from a child's. Again, you can use a chore chart to keep track of chores successfully completed. Only mark off the chore if your son completes it according to your guidelines.

As always, don't forget praise. Make sure that you praise your son every time you notice that he is not being careless. If you're at a loss for positive phrases, check out our page called 75 Ways To Say Good Job. Sometimes, praise is all that is needed. If a child really enjoys the praise, he will do what it takes to gain more!

Best of luck with you son!

How To Stop Whining

How do I get my son to stop whining or at least slow down ?-Brian & Joanne, Canada

Joanne & Brian,
Whining is a successful strategy for kids when they are rewarded for their efforts. The first question to ask yourself is, ?Does my son get what he wants when he whines?? You might want to keep a written record of the events surrounding his whining so you know how to better tackle the problem. Take note of when he is whining, why he is whining, and what happens as a result of his whining. Ask yourself some questions. Is his whining brought on by hunger or exhaustion? Does his whining happen at the same time every day? How do we act when he whines? What rewards does he get by whining?

Whining can begin when a child is sleepy or hungry. If that is the case, take some preventative measures to make sure that your son's needs are met before the whining begins. Does he need to eat a small snack between meals or go to bed earlier? Ask yourself these questions if you think that his whining is tied in with basic needs.

Whining can also be an attempt to get attention. Have you been busier than usual? Does your son need some extra attention right now? Have there been any changes in the family that would cause him to feel left out? If this is the case, make some special one on one time for a favorite activity. When kids feel that they need attention, they will get it anyway they can-negatively or positively!

Next, take a look at your own behavior. When your son whines, how do you handle it? Do you calmly state your expectations or do you become drawn into the moment and argue with your son? Many kids learn whining from their parents. That's right. We often whine back and reply with statements like, "Stop whining-I hate it when you whine!" Then, we may give in to our kid's demands just to stop the awful whining behavior. If you feel like you are drawn into the whining behavior, you need to work on your response to your child. Keep the tone of your voice calm and your expectations clear and to the point. In reality, your child may have a reasonable request. The problem is the way in which he is addressing you. So, you might say something like, "Why don't you go to your room and practice asking without whining. Then you can come back and try again." The point is to let your child know that you won't address his needs when he asks in a whining tone of voice. If your son is pretty young, lets say age 4-6, then you might repeat his request back to him in a calm voice and prompt him with, "Let's try that again without whining."

Most importantly, realize that changing behavior takes time. Be patient and calm when dealing with your son. Don't forget to catch him being good. Sometimes, rewarding a child's positive behavior will be enough to make change happen. Give him positive feedback when he uses words without whining. You might say, ?Boy, I like how you asked for that without whining!? Take a look at our page on 75 Ways to Say Good Job. Best of luck!!

Motivating A Six-Year-Old In The Morning

How do you get a 6 year old motivated to get out of bed and dressed for school in the morning? She is so slow and has to be pestered constantly to get organized! Justine, South Africa

First, you need to ask yourself if your daughter is getting enough sleep. It is less common for children in her age range to have difficulty getting out of bed. Usually, parents find the opposite true...they can't keep their kids in bed long enough! A child between the ages of five and twelve should have 10-11 hours of sleep per day. Next, how is school going for your daughter? Is there any reason why she would not want to go to school? How are her peer relations at school? You may want to investigate these questions to rule out any reasons why your daughter may not want to go to school. If there is a school related issue that is disrupting her behavior, you may want to check in with a school or family counselor.

If everything is going well at school and your daughter just isn't a morning person, here are a few tips. First, the night before school, get as much ready as possible. This will make your job easier. You can incorporate this into your child's nighttime routine. Get her backpack ready and any papers signed that need to go back to school. Then, help her pick out her clothes for the next day and lay them out. Or, if she wears a uniform, place her uniform in a convenient spot that she can access. Try to follow the same routine every night, incorporating some rituals such as reading a book, taking a bath, etc. We have some Bedtime Routine Charts that you may use as a guide here. Again, make sure that your daughter has enough sleep every night. Try to keep that bedtime as consistent as possible.

Next, you might want to set up a behavior chart to motivate her in the morning. We have some simple charts on our Single Behavior Charts page that you can use to target one behavior such as get ready for school in the morning. You can explain to your daughter that this includes getting out of bed promptly. Or, you can break down the morning into a few behaviors such as get out of bed, get clothes on, etc. Check out our Morning Routine Charts for some ideas of morning expectations. You can handle her rewards or incentives based on what works for you. You can give her a reward from a treat bag immediately in the morning. Or, put something special in her lunch like a piece of candy, etc. If that is disruptive to the morning routine, you can save her treat for after school. Maybe you can do something special with her such as play a game or give her extra computer/tv time. You could also have a weekly treat if the week goes well. Maybe she can have a friend over or do a special activity with a family member.

Most important is consistency. Keep her nighttime routine and morning routine as consistent as possible. Even during the weekend, have some type of weekend routine for her. For instance, have her get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth. Keeping her on a bit of a schedule will help the transition to the school week again. And don't forget to give her lots of positive reinforcement when she does a good job. Catch her being good!

Best of luck and let us know if you need a special chart made up that would better fit your situation!

Separation Anxiety In A Seven-Month-Old

Soon we will be watching our seven-month-old granddaughter two days per week while her parents are working and going to school. When they leave her with us, which has been for a few, rare short periods, she is absolutely inconsolable and miserable, crying and screaming for an hour and a half on one occasion, until she just collapsed into a fitful nap. How can we make this transition for her, and for all of us, go smoothly? Is there anything we can do to relieve the separation anxiety? -Grammie B., WA

First, be aware that your granddaughter is right on target developmentally. At this age, children are beginning to be aware of object permanence. That is, she is understanding the concept of something being here one minute and being gone the next. This is why babies begin to drop everything over the side of their high see the object disappear. So, even as early as four months, babies can start to show signs of separation anxiety. As you know from being a parent, this phase will pass but here are some tips to make it easier.

Your granddaughter should have many opportunities to get used to you before the day care period begins. You mentioned that she has only been left with you for a few, rare short periods. This needs to change for a more successful transition. Try to set us times more frequently to see her. These can be shorter, practice sessions for an hour to start and increase from there.

If your granddaughter has a special blanket or stuffed animal, make sure that she brings it with her. This is called a "transitional object" and will help her feel more comfortable when she's with you. Encourage her parents to find a special "lovey", or you can introduce her to a special blanket or stuffed animal at your home that can become her special object.

Encourage her parents to bring her to your home about 30 minutes early. This will give your granddaughter time to interact with you and engage in an activity before her parents leave. Also, her parents will be calmer as they are not feeling rushed to get to work or school. The calmer everyone can be, the better. If her parents are feeling anxious or rushed and you are feeling anxious, then your granddaughter will pick up on that anxiety and have a more difficult time calming down.

As mentioned, stay calm. This phase will pass. Don't let her crying and screaming work you into a state of panic or anxiety. Stay calm, cool and in control. Visualize your granddaughter calming down. The calmer you guys remain, the better. Babies pick up on all our emotions and will act them out through their unhappy behaviors.

Let her parents know that they need to make a point of saying goodbye to their sneaking away! Sneaking away will cause your granddaughter more anxiety and confusion as she will expect her parents to be available any minute. Though she is young, she will understand consistent, calm talk about leaving. They could say something like, "Mom and Dad have to go to school now. We will be back to pick you up from grandma's house. Have lots of fun. We love you." Keep it short and sweet.

Have fun activities and toys available at your home. Instead of depending on her parents to bring her toys along, have your own special "grandparent toys" available. Have some picture books and music if possible. Babies this age love music. You could put on some fun music before she arrives and have some toys to distract her. Also, babies this age love games. Some game ideas are Hide and Seek. Hide toys under a blanket and ask where it is. Then say, "There it is!" Peek-a-boo is lots of fun. "Where Is" can also be a fun game. Carry your granddaughter around the house and ask her where certain objects are and then point and say, "There it is!". Encourage her parents to play these games at home, also, as they will teach her about object permanence and help her understand the idea of separation.

Make sure that your granddaughter is well fed and has had enough sleep before she comes over. Hunger and lack of sleep will make the transition more difficult.

Try to keep your granddaughter occupied after her parents leave, and provide support during her crying phase. Continue to occupy her with games while soothing her. If you burn out and need to let her cry it out, do so. But, the best option would be to continue to make contact with her and comfort her so she knows that you are there.

She will pass through this phase. But, because you don't have enough opportunities to watch her, she is still uncomfortable with you. Make sure you get lots of contact with her and remain patient. It's tough when you're immersed in the difficult behavior, but the rewards are close at hand. You'll have some wonderful time with your granddaughter, and she will begin to love spending time with you!

Best of luck!

Young Kids Talking Negatively

My 6 year old grandson says terrible things to his parents when he doesn't get his way and my son is running out of patience. I am his grandmother and he tries it on me also. It is becoming a serious problem and his 5 year old brother is doing the same thing....the two boys feed off each other. When one is being told his behavior is unacceptable, the other one starts saying bad things and vice versa. -Connie, Illinois

First and foremost, stay calm with this behavior. Kids continue negative behavior because they get some type of reward. If their parents are becoming angry and reactive, that's the reward. Sometimes, all it takes is a parents to change their reactions for the behavior to diminish. You might want to check out our article When Your Kids Back Talk to get some quick tips on how to respond to this type of behavior.

Next, you should have a consequence set up for the behavior. Kids this age respond well to time-outs. Time-outs are great because they give the child a chance to calm down and the parents a break from the behavior. Let the boys know that when they talk negatively they will get a warning, and if they don't stop, they will get a time-out. The warning gives them a chance to take control and stop their own behavior. We have a great article entitled Using Effective Time-Outs if you need some guidance about the time-out process. Specify two different locations for the time-outs in case both boys participate. They must be separated. Most likely, the younger one will not follow in the behavior when he sees his brother's consequences begin. Have them take time-outs, and let them rejoin the group when they are ready to stop the behavior. When the time-out is over, calmly talk about the reasons they went to time-out and how they can make different choices next time. As it mentions in the Back Talk article, use "I" statements to let them know how it makes you feel when they say mean things to you.

Next, set up some behavior charts as incentives for positive behavior. We have posted a chart entitled "I Didn't Talk Negatively Today". We are also happy to make up charts for you. If the boys have specific characters they like, we can put them on the charts so it's extra fun. Drop us a line if you're interested. If you consider the problem out of hand, you may want to reward the boys daily to start. Every day that they refrain from talking negatively, have them mark their charts and earn a treat. You can use something simple such as stickers, candy, dollar store items. We have a list of rewards here. Or, you can let them earn an incentive every few days. As their behavior gets better, you can spread out the rewards a bit more. It's up to you how you want to implement the chart. Make the chart fun, too. Let the boys help pick a special place to set up their charts and pick out special stickers or markers that you use to mark the chart. If you need some extra guidance, we have an article on Using Behavior Charts. Make sure that you have a chart available when the kids are with Grandma, too.

Best of luck and let us know if there is anything else we can do to help!

Six-Year-Old Adjusting To A Divorce

I've been divorced for 2 yrs and I think the difference in structure from one home to the other effects my son because when he comes home he's happy to be home but very emotional. He's a great kid and very intelligent for a 6 yr old! He gets upset and overwhelmed over simple things sometimes. I can't get him to tell me why or what causes this behavior. How can I get him to open up to me so we can fix what's upsetting him? -Ashley, TX

Divorce affects all kids differently. Some kids transition easier and some have a more difficult time depending on their personality types. If your son is prone to have difficulty with change and transition, a divorce and separate home situation may be more challenging for him. First and foremost, remember that it's in your son's best interest if you work together with your ex-husband. Don't forget that though the marriage is over, you are still parenting partners. Show your son that you and your ex are on the same page. Communicate respectfully with each other and avoid speaking disrespectfully about your ex in front of your son. If you maintain an open relationship with your ex, then you can check in with him weekly to see how the visit went. Make sure that you know how your son is coping when he is there. Is he emotional at his father's home? Does he seem unhappy when he's there? Are there any changes at his father's home that you need to know about? These are the types of questions that you should discuss with your ex-husband. And remember that the addition of a new girlfriend/boyfriend can be upsetting to kids as they experience a loss of hope that their parents will get back together. Finding out what is going on at your ex-husband's home may help you figure out why your son has been upset.

Next, consistency is very important for kids. If at all possible, try to set up consistent rules between the homes. Again, this takes some communication with your ex. If you have the same expectations at both homes, it will be less confusing for your son. You might have your son do the same chores at both homes and follow the same rules and consequences. You can set up a family meeting with you, your ex, and your son. At this time, discuss your expectations. Have your son participate in making up a chore chart, for example, to use at both homes, and make sure that you are all on the same page about the rules and expectations for both homes. Let your son know that you both love him and will keep trying to make the transition as easy as possible. It may be very reassuring to your son to see you and your ex-husband working together.

Also, keep your visitation schedule as consistent as possible. Avoid using your son as a messenger. It's your job to communicate with your ex-husband as opposed to using your son as a go-between. And, try not to jump to conclusions regarding the visits your son is having with his father. If you feel that there is a problem at your ex-husband's home, then discuss it with him as opposed to second guessing your son's behavior.

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for getting kids to open up about problems. Some people are more communicative than others. If he is more open with his father, you may suggest that his father try to communicate with him. Or, if you have another relative such as a grandparent that he may be more open with, then arrange for your son to spend some time with that person. Finally, if you continue to be concerned about your son's emotional state, you may want to schedule a visit with a child and family counselor. A professional counselor has many different ways of working with kids who are not very communicative. And, you and your ex-husband could get some tips about communicating with your son and making his transition between homes as smooth as possible. With lots of love, support, and consistency, your son will be able to adjust to his living situation in a healthy way.

Five-year-old having difficulty adjusting to new baby

HI, I have an almost 5yr old son and newborn baby of 3 weeks. Before I was pregnant with my 2nd baby, my son listened well and stayed in his bed the whole time from 8pm to 8 or 9am.. Since I was pregnant, he has been getting up so early... 2,4 or 6am to sleep with us. He started not listening to us.. we tried to put him back to bed but he refuses to sleep in his bed and wants to sleep in our bed.. It's hard for us to wake up in the middle of the night dealing him and our newborn baby. Also he started not listening at all. We took all his privileges like Video games, tv and computer. We think that maybe for 2 or 3 weeks of not turning these on till he actually listens to us. Is that a good idea? -Noemi, Washington

Your son may have started feeling insecure when you became pregnant with your second child. He's very young, and the addition of a sibling may be hard for him to fully understand. He may have been feeling afraid that he would lose your attention when the baby arrived. Kids this age are too young to verbalize their feelings adequately so they tend to express their feelings through their actions. Most likely, that's why he started climbing into bed with you and your husband. Also, his misbehavior may be an attempt to gain your attention any way he can...even you are busier, now, with your newborn.

Kids at this young age need immediate rewards/consequences. Withholding privileges will not be very effective with a five-year-old as he is too young to maintain an understanding that his behavior is connected to the consequences. We have a great article on this page about helping siblings adjust to a new baby. You should deal directly with the cause of his behavior...the need for some attention from you and fears of losing your attention to the new baby. Make an effort to have some alone time with him every week. Either you or your husband should spend some quality time with him doing a fun activity that he enjoys. The more positive attention that you can give him, the less he will need to act out to get your attention negatively. Talk about the new baby with him, reassure him that you are still there for him, and encourage him to help care for his new sibling. This way, he won't feel left out.

Next, if he is still waking up and crawling into your bed at night, take a look at our article on this page about getting your child to sleep in his own bed. There are some good tips. A behavior chart would be a great motivation for your son. We have some charts on this page geared toward sleeping in his own bed. Every time he sleeps all night in his bed, have him mark his chart and pick a treat. You can have a treat bag with dollar store items or other little things that he would like. Then, when he is sleeping in his own bed regularly, you can give him a certificate to celebrate. We have just added a reward certificate called "I Can Sleep In My Own Bed". You can also help encourage a daily bedtime routine by using our Bedtime Checklist on this page.

A chart would also come in handy for some of his other acting out behavior. Because he is young, you should focus on only one or two behaviors at a time. Pick a behavior that you would like him to change and use a chart to help eliminate the behavior. Our Step-By-Step charts are great for focusing on one behavior at a time. And, if he is demonstrating any aggressive behavior or tantruming, time-outs are a great tools for kids his age. We have a nice article on giving time outs here.

And, as always, catch him being good. Any time you notice him doing a great job, let him know. Positive reinforcement is a great motivator for change. We have some cute "Caught You Coupons" that you can hand him when he is doing a great job.

Just remember that a new sibling can be a tough adjustment for a little guy. With patience, support, and positive reinforcement, you son's behavior should shape up soon.

Five Year Old With Sensitivities To Textures And Tastes

I am having serious power struggles over dinner time and getting dressed for school with my 5 year old son. He has not been tested for adhd but we see a lot of signs that he has it. What are your suggestions for these issues when he is so picky with clothes and food? To give you better perspective, he has a thing about textures of food or fabrics being itchy or not having drawstrings on pants etc.. he wants to wear or eat what he wants too period. -Britney, CT

Some children have an increased sensitivity to sensory stimulation such as touch, sounds, taste, and smell. Sensory processing disorders occur when sensory information is not filtered correctly before it gets to the brain. As a result, the information the brain receives is much more intense than in a person without a sensory disorder. What parents might see are kids who become uncomfortable with tags in clothes or certain fabrics, kids who hate drawstrings in pants, kids who react to loud sounds or strong smells, or kids who have difficulty eating certain textures of foods. Sensory sensitive kids aren't trying to make their parents lives difficult but have real issues with processing information. In addition, kids with sensory disorders may appear to have ADHD as they become overstimulated by their environments and less able to focus on tasks. You can find more information about Sensory Processing Disorder in our article here. Whether this is the case for your son or not, you should remember that he can't help his feelings of being itchy with tags or put off by certain food textures. In time, he may outgrow his sensitivities or become better at adjusting to discomfort. But at the age of 5, kids are living in the immediate world. The minute something doesn't feel right or taste good, everybody has to hear about it!

First and foremost, try to understand his situation and be patient with his sensitivities. Regarding clothes, give yourself plenty of time to plan out what he will be wearing the next day so you don't have to go through many changes of clothes right before taking him to school. Try to buy clothes that are comfortable for him. Involve him in the process and make it positive. Have him help plan out his clothes for the next day and make a special place in his room to lay out the clothes. Give him positive feedback for making some good choices. Do not get into power struggles over the choice of clothes. This will only make things worse. You don't want him picking battles just to push your buttons. The less of a deal you make it, the less of a deal he'll make it! And again, give yourself planning time. This is one of the most important strategies when dealing with sensitive kids.

Regarding food, try making mealtime as easy as possible. This can be tough when you're cooking for many people, but be aware of your son's difficulties with food textures. Try to keep different textured foods separate...mashed potatoes and gravy for instance. Plan meals with him and even do some cooking together. Make a list of his favorite foods and try to have at least one of those available at dinner time. Again, you want to avoid power struggles. It's fine to try and help him adjust to some new textures/foods. We have a chart entitled "I Tried A New Food Today". This would be a great chart to help him feel positive about trying new tastes and textures. And, if he doesn't like the texture of a new food, give him lots of praise for trying it and move on. No power struggles. Then, you can revisit the food when he is a bit older to see if his tastes have changed. Read more in our article about Sensory Processing Disorder And Picky Eating.

You may want to check in with someone who specializes in sensory sensitivity. A professional may be able to better assess your child's level of sensitivity and share some techniques to use with your son. Sometimes a school counselor or psychologist is a good person to get a referral from. Don't forget to catch your son doing a good job, too. We have some cute "Caught You Coupons" available here. When you notice him doing a good job, hand him a coupon. Kids love positive feedback and will often change behavior to receive the reward of more positive words from a parent.

With some understanding, encouragement, and positive feedback, you and your son will be able to handle his sensitivities just fine!

Eight Year Old Perfectionist

My 8-year-old child is a perfectionist when it comes to schoolwork (at home and school). If he doesn't get something right on his paper, falls behind in an assignment (because he is erasing his work to make the letters just right), doesn't get called on to answer a question, doesn't get an A, or doesn't understand a question, then he starts to cry. He is at the age where his classmates are starting to make fun of his behavior. His teachers and I tell him that crying doesn't solve his problems and that we just want him to try his best, we don't expect him to be perfect. What steps can I take to stop the crying and improve his self-esteem? -Jennifer, AZ

Though some children are born with perfectionist tendencies, it's still a good idea to look at the influence of family members. Without knowing it, parents or siblings may contribute to the pressure that kids place on themselves. First off, take note of what is going on in the home. Is there any teasing by siblings? Has there been too much emphasis on grades versus effort? We are an achievement oriented society and parents often give positive feedback about grades by saying things such as," You got an A!" versus "Great job on your assignment. I can see you worked hard!". Some parents even pay children money for each "A" they get on their report card. Just make sure that you are praising effort, not only grades. Then, take a look at yourself to see if you model any perfectionist behavior. Kids will pick up behaviors they see in their parents. Even our use of the word "perfect" can be overdone. When your son completes a task, note how you give him praise. Do you say, "that's perfect" instead of "good effort"?

Also, evaluate whether there have been any major life changes for your son. This can include things like divorce, a move to a new school or home, the addition of a blended family, the addition of a new step parent, or death in the family. Sometimes, when kids have circumstances in their lives that they cannot control, they seek control in other ways such as through their school work, social relationships, etc. This can look like perfectionism as not being perfect can translate into not having complete control over something.

Next, make sure that your son has enough free time to play and relax. Don't over schedule him. Down time is critical as the expectations of school and extracurriculars can strain a child.

Regarding school, you may want to sit in on his class to make sure that his teacher is not putting too much pressure on the kids. Is the teacher too hard on the kids? Is she rewarding only "A's" and not good effort? Is she unreasonable in her expectations? These are just a few things that you can look for when observing his class. And, if you notice that the teacher may be part of the problem, sit down with the teacher and another school staff person such as the school counselor or principal and discuss your concerns. In addition, the teasing that he is receiving from other kids only makes his anxiety worse. This should definitely be dealt with and discussed with school personnel. If there is a school counselor present on a regular basis, you may want to have him begin checking in weekly to receive some support at school both to help him with his perfectionist tendencies and to give him support regarding teasing.

When he is in a calm state of mind, have a talk with him about realistic thinking. Kids who are perfectionists often see the world in black and white. Discuss the reality of what will happen if his letters aren't perfect versus what he believes will happen if his letters aren't perfect. Reassure him that teachers need to give all kids a chance to respond in class...that's why she may not call on him. In his mind, he may believe that the teacher likes him or doesn't based on whether she calls on him or not. These discussions may help him slowly change his black and white view of the world. During your discussions, use real life examples of failures turned to successes. And while you're at it, talk about some of your own personal examples of success and failure. Your son will love sharing some time storytelling with you.

Finally, be a good listener and mirror his feelings. So, instead of telling him that crying won't solve his problems, let him know that you see how hard this is for him by saying something like, "you're really frustrated that you can't get your letters right." This way, you're validating his feelings and letting him know that you understand. By telling him that crying won't solve his problems, you might play into the perfectionist thinking by giving him the message that he is not doing a good enough job solving his problems. Though it's frustrating for you as a parent, don't forget how frustrating it is for him to be locked into this pattern of thinking. Nobody enjoys putting this much pressure on themselves, but someone suffering with anxiety can't help it. It's your job to slowly help him change his way of thinking about himself and the world around him. A child and family counselor may be a wonderful option to help support you and your son through this. With time and patience, he can learn to change his way of thinking, but remember, it won't happen overnight!

Talking With A 12-year-old Girl About Boys

I feel that my 12 year old daughter isn't honest with me when it comes to boys and that in a way is scaring me. The other day I got hold of her phone and read the msgs she and a boy from school had. Many times I thought there was something going on and I asked her more then once but she kept saying he is a good friend like a brother. I never told her I read her msgs. I also told her many times that I don't have a problem with her having a boyfriend but would like to know everything. I'm just very scared with her making wrong choices. I don't want to be too strict but I also don't want to be her friend. I want her to understand that I'm her mother who is there for her whenever she needs. We really haven't had that very important girl daughter talk as I really don't know from where to start and how much to reveal at that age. Please help. -Roula, Lebanon

You sound like a very sensitive and understanding parent. Your daughter is very lucky. Your approach with your daughter will depend on the accepted norms in your culture. How a parent might approach her 12-year-old daughter may be different in the United States versus Lebanon. We can list some general guidelines, but it's up to you to decide what is the appropriate approach based on your culture.

First, you can use everyday examples to bring up the topics of dating and relationships in conversation. If you see a couple walking together, you might ask your daughter if any of her friends are becoming interested in being a "couple". Or, if you see any example of dating in the movies or television, you might ask your daughter how she feels about dating or if her friends are talking about dating at this time.

Make sure that you take time to listen as well. Parents sometimes get into lecture mode when it comes to talking about dating and sex with their children. Give your daughter a chance to speak, and be patient. This topic can be uncomfortable and embarrassing for teens and preteens. She may not be very talkative at first, but if you gently continue to pursue conversation and be a good listener, she will come around.

Share some of the experiences and feelings that you had as a girl her age. When parents share their own life experiences, their children begin to see them less as authority figures and more as someone who understands. Talking about your own experiences can be a good way to start a conversation, too. You might say something like, "I remember when I was 12, I really liked this boy...." That should get your daughter's attention!

And throughout your discussions, share your value system with your daughter. Let her know how you feel about dating, sex, and marriage. Again, you can do this without lecturing but through gentle conversation. Lecturing will only intimidate her and make her less likely to share any thoughts or feelings with you. Also, since you let her know that you would allow her to have a boyfriend, be open about your expectations. What does it mean to have a boyfriend at her age and what are your expectations? Will you need to meet this boy and have him over to dinner? Will a parent be joining her on outings with this boy? Maybe she can see the boy as long as it's at your home. She'll appreciate knowing that you are open to her having a male friend, but lay out your expectations, too.

In addition, get a sense of what her peers think and feel about boys and dating. Try to discuss peer pressure and the importance of making her own decisions as opposed to giving in to behavior that her friends expect of her.

How much you discuss sexual activity depends on your culture and what information you feel that a girl of 12 should have. Knowledge is strength and good decision making comes from a good knowledge base. If you feel comfortable doing so, discuss sex in a frank, open way. Share your value system and what you think is acceptable. Most important, let her know that you will always be available to answer any questions and listen if she has a concern. It sounds like you are doing this already!

Roula, you are doing a great job. Be patient. Your daughter will come around. Just remember not to be too overbearing or pushy about discussing boys. The more you push, the more she will feel like hiding her relationship and sneaking around. As mentioned, try to bring discussion up casually and by sharing your own experiences. Be persistent. If she is not too excited to discuss boys at first, take a break and give it some time. Then, try again at another time. With patience, love, and support, you and your daughter will be able to have open, healthy discussions about relationships.

11-Year-Old Child With Anger Management Issues

I am having problems with my 11 year old son. He talks back to me and he has anger problems with his siblings. If they don't play with him he gets very upset and hits them. I feel like I lost control of him and his attitude is affecting the whole family. -Eugenia, California

First, has your son's behavior problem been ongoing or did it pop up recently? If he has suddenly had a drastic change in behavior, then you may need to look at what is causing this change. Disruptions in life such as divorce, death in the family, a move, or school issues can contribute to sudden changes in behavior. When children become stressed and upset, they may demonstrate these emotions through their behavior instead of expressing the emotions verbally. And, if you can pinpoint the source of his stress or anxiety, then you can try talking with him about the situation. If you have trouble talking with your son, you can find a qualified family counselor who can help open up communication with him.

Next, you definitely need to set up a behavior system for him as his behavior is out of control. We have recently added a new page of behavior contracts that would be appropriate for a child of his age. You can set up a contract with him and lay out consequences and rewards in writing. You can use the general behavior contract and target the behaviors of getting along with siblings and improving his attitude around the house. Sit down with him calmly and have him help draw up the contract and think of rewards and consequences for his behavior. Often times, behavior systems work much better when children can participate in setting them up. You can also look at some of our behavior charts for ages 11+ on this page. You can use one of these behavior charts or try out a point system for good behavior. You can find an example of using the point system here. We also have a great page of anger management resources that might be helpful. You can post some our the Calm Down Strategies and talk with him about how he can express his anger in a healthy way as opposed to taking it out on his siblings.

Also, don't get into arguments and battles with your son. Kids this age can be very combative and invite conflict. The more you battle with him, the more he feels rewarded. Simply set up a behavior system and refer to it when he's not doing a good job. And when he is doing a good job, notice. We all need to hear positive feedback and sometimes parents get into a negative cycle with their kids and only notice negative behaviors. You can even try using our Caught You Coupons. Hand him a coupon when you see that he is doing something positive and say, "Great job!".

Best of luck with your son!

Helping Young Kids Keep Glasses On

My granddaughter did not want to brush her teeth. She was told that she would not get a bedtime story, which she loves. She did not seem to care. What could be done differently. -Brenda, U.S.A.

We have a helpful article called "Getting Kids To Brush Teeth" that you'll want to take a look at. In addition, a tooth care chart might be a great idea. Depending on your granddaughter's age, you can give her a treat daily, after she marks her chart, or at the end of the week, if she brushes every day. Treats can include things like stickers, pencils, markers, or dollar store items. See our list of rewards here. In addition, we have just added some Brush Teeth Bucks on our page of Behavior Bucks. You can hand her one of these every time she brushes her teeth. Then, she can cash them in for a treat. You can decide how many bucks will earn what type of treats. This is really fun for kids and can also help teach lessons in counting and saving/spending. Also, we've made up some Caught You Coupons titled "I Brushed My Teeth". These can be handed out as a way to show you've noticed some great behavior. Best of luck with getting your granddaughter on the right track to tooth care!

Eight-Year-Old Who Cries Frequently

My 8-year-old daughter cries over everything. She is getting picked on in school because of this crying. What can I do? -Danielle, NJ

First and foremost, you may want to find a qualified family counselor who can work with your daughter and give you some support through this difficult stage. If this is new behavior for your daughter, then a counselor can help assess her situation and pinpoint any stressors in her life. You may want to look at things like divorce, remarriage, a move, death of a loved one, a new school, etc. as possible causes of her behavior. Kids don't always verbalize their anxiety or unhappiness and these feelings can materialize the in the form of constant crying or other acting out.

If your daughter has always cried easily, then she may be an exceptionally sensitive child and how you react to her behavior will be important. If you are becoming stressed or unhappy when your daughter cries, you may be making matters worse. The less calm you become, the less you are able to create a calm environment for your daughter. So, remain patient, loving, and supportive during her emotional behavior, and when she begins to calm down, try to determine what triggered her crying response. You may find that your daughter is more emotional when she is hungry, tired, or transitioning between one activity/place and another. Become a detective and use your observations to help weed out her triggers. You might say something like, "I notice that you become sad when it's time for school," or "You seem to cry more at night. I wonder why?". This way, you are gently trying to solve the puzzle instead of speaking in an accusatory tone that may cause an emotional reaction in your daughter.

In addition, when your daughter is in a calm mood, talk with her about alternatives to crying. We have added a new chart titled "How Do I Respond?" on our Feeling Charts Page. You can explore different scenarios and behaviors. Some alternatives to crying might be asking for help, telling someone that she is sad, finding something else to do, etc. You can also check out our chart titled, "Calm Down Strategies" which is on our page of Anger Management Charts. If you start teaching your daughter optional behaviors to manage stressful situations, then she will learn some coping mechanisms besides crying. Again, a counselor can be a very helpful resource when working with your daughter on some of these issues.

With patience, love, and support, your daughter should be able to learn new ways of behaving! Best of luck.

Parenting A Transgender Teen

How to understand and parent transgendered teenagers -Cornell, Washington

First and foremost, you need to educate yourself. There are wonderful resources online that can help give you some more information about issues faced by transgender teens. For instance, TYFA (Trans Youth Family Allies) would be a great website to start with. Gender Spectrum is also a nice website to visit for information and education.

Next, get some support for yourself. PFLAG is an excellent organization for parents, family, and friends of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. You can access their website to see if you have a local chapter in your area. If possible, find a support group in your area. If there isn't one, maybe you can start a group for parents who face similar challenges. You can also find support through a family counselor that specializes in issues facing transgender kids. If you're not sure what services are available in your area, you can go through your child's school counselor to get some assistance.

Support your child. Don't cast blame on either yourself or your child. This isn't a choice. Being transgender means that your child was given a sex at birth due to his/her genitals but does not feel comfortable with or associate with that sex. It's safe to say that most transgender people have felt this way their whole lives. How lucky for your child to be able to explore options and gain information in a supportive, loving home such as yours and at a young age.

Your child needs love, advocacy, understanding, and support. If necessary, you may want to meet with school personnel and provide some information and education about the challenges your child faces being a transgender individual. It would be a wonderful idea to attend some family therapy with your child. Maintain an open and welcoming position with your child. Help him/her explore options and feelings in a supportive and accepting environment.

Also, understand that being a teenager is normally a difficult time. Your teen may experience some increased emotional fluctuations as he/she explores his/her true identity. Be there to answer questions and give lots of hugs and affirmation that you accept your child completely. You may be met with some increased struggles, and the emotional angst can be overwhelming. Be patient. Be loving. Find support and help through a counselor if you need an objective individual to mediate.

You can find some additional information and a wonderful discussion of parenting transgender teens on this blog: Advice To Parents of Transgender Children by Kay Brown.

Grandparent Raising Grandchildren

I have ZERO support from family members including other grandparent and my own husband to raise 3 grandsons ages 3,4,and 5. I have been doing this for 5 years. The parents are not involved. I do not work outside the home... and my days are 18 hours long. I have zero down time except for the 6 hours of broken sleep. The kids get up and down all night. My husband wont let me get a sitter, he says we don't need one. How can I have downtime in this situation. -Granny, Ohio

You are in a very challenging situation. Wonderful for you to take this all on and without support. Wow. In order to be the best grandma/caretaker you can be to these 3 little ones, you need to get support for yourself. You are definitely on the right track. Down time is a must!

First, you should revisit the other set of grandparents and explain your situation. Let them know that you are in need of some respite and see if they can take the kids maybe once/month to start and then every other weekend. That would be a huge help. Do you have any other children, aunts/uncles, who can help? If so, maybe they can take one child at a time (or more if possible) on a special outing once/week to the park, a movie, to the store, etc.

Next, if you truly cannot find relatives to support you, then you need an occasional sitter. This is not negotiable. A burned out caretaker is not an effective caretaker. You may need to just take charge and find a sitter for a few hours/wk, at least. Possibly you can appeal to your husband by suggesting a night out or movie date together. He may support the idea of a caregiver if it enables you to spend some quality time together.

Finally, we have a few nice articles on stress management. Visit our articles Stress Management Tips, Preventing Parental Burnout, and How To Be A Calm Parent.

You are definitely on the right track. You need support and down time. Again, start within your family and work from there.

Best of luck Granny and thank you for being such a wonderful person in the lives of your grandchildren. They are very lucky to have you!!