A collection of “shorties”—questions from parents that require less than 100-word answers:
Q: Can you tell me why my 34-month-old daughter is throwing so many tantrums?
A: She throws tantrums because you don’t obey her. After two years of being the center of attention, it’s difficult for her to accept that she’s not ringmaster of the family circus.
Q: So what should I do when she throws a tantrum?
A: Assign her tantrums to a rug or some other “tantrum place.” When she has a fit, drag her to her special rug and walk away.
Q: My 5-year-old still sucks her thumb. I have tried various means of getting her to stop, but she persists. Any advice?
A: My wife and I told our thumb-sucking daughter, Amy, when she was five that she could suck her thumb in her room only. If we found her doing it elsewhere, we sent her to her room. Not as punishment, mind you, but simply to put it out of sight, to describe some geographical limits around it. She quickly gave it up.
Q: I want my 24-month-old son to learn to drink from an open cup. Sippy cups drive me nuts. Any advice?
A: Sippy cups are found in the hands of kids as old as 5 these days because so many kids no longer drink water. They drink colored, sweetened junk liquids that stain if spilled. The way to teach a child to drink from an open cup is to put water in it. Begin with a small amount and gradually increase it as his cup-holding mastery improves. Sippy cups should be over and done with by 24 months. After that, they interfere with hand-eye coordination.
Q: How do you feel about leashes for children? My husband and I were recently in Europe, where they’re fairly common.
A: I am a huge advocate of child leashes. They give children a reasonable amount of freedom while affording parents a sufficient amount of control. Children on leashes learn proper public behavior much quicker than children in strollers.
Q: When she’s at home, my 14-year-old daughter prefers to be in her room, reading. She has no cell phone or computer in her room, but getting her to join the family is sometimes like pulling teeth. Otherwise, she’s a good kid. Any advice?
A: Let her be. Unless, that is, you have a specific reason why she should come out of her room, in which case you should insist upon it. If this is the only problem you have with a 14-year-old, give praise and thanks and leave well enough alone.
Q: My 15-year-old son has been invited to a boy-girl sleepover. The supervising parents are good, responsible people. Should I let him go?
A: This is a joke question, right?
Family psychologist John Rosemond: johnrosemond.com, parentguru.com.