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A mother pulled me aside after a lecture I'd given and asked if I would answer a question for her. "I feel like I'm caught in a bind with my daughter," she explained. "I enrolled her in an after school sports program that she said she wanted to sign up for. We're not even halfway through the semester though, and she's telling me she doesn't like it and wants to drop out. I'm confused. She's only six, and I hate to make her do something that she's really unhappy with, but at the same time I think she about the right age to start learning about commitment."
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Infants are naturally good eaters. They fuss when they're hungry, eat heartily until they feel satisfied, and then they stop eating. Why, then, are food issues and eating disorders on the rise? Why don't the natural eating habits of the infant last? What goes wrong?

The answer is that many things can go wrong. However, as parents, we have an integral part in helping our children develop healthy ideas about eating that can compliment their natural instincts and deter dangerous eating habits later on.

Let's look at the influences that shift...

Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman ... these mythical characters sprinkle our childhood memories and fill us with nostalgia. As parents, most of us weave these fantasies into tales which enrich and enhance our own little one's childhood experience. Children look eagerly forward to the magical appearance of gifts under a tree, money under a pillow, even tales of the Sandman serve their purpose in gently transitioning a child from the excitement of a day filled with activity to a restful sleep. These mythical characters add magic and...

As I sat indoors this past season in some of the coldest weather we'd seen in many winters, with my children bored and irritable, full of energy with no place to expend it, I longed for the warmer days of spring and summer when I could set them loose on the playground. Now the opportunity is here, and I've breathed a sigh of relief. But as any parent can attest, the playground brings its own challenges. At times the politics on the playground rival those of the Capital in Washington. Is it o.k. for your child to play with someone else's shovel and pail if the...

Of all the myriad aspects that make up the school year -- routines, extracurricular activities, early mornings, pick up and drop off plans -- the one that challenges parents the most is homework. And most parents (and children too!) close their eyes to its inevitable occurrence thereby finding themselves ensnarled in power struggles and tantrums with each other once homework passes through the portals of their previously calm home. Let's look at an alternative to the closed eyes route and see how you might be able to set your child up for success even before...

A mother sat in my office the other day, telling me about her preadolescent son. He was surly, she said, and when he spoke to her it was with a great deal of eye rolling and nasty comments. He refused to pick up his clothes, and his simple chores of taking out the trash and setting the table were never done properly. Even when she approached him to ask a question about something he wanted - such as when he would like to leave for soccer practice, he would snap at her, they'd invariably get into an argument, and he'd wind up saying something like "Never mind, I don't want to go...

On November 7, 1997 I walked into one of my workshops - my "advanced" group, most of whom have been with me for at least several years. I was greeted with exclamations of confusion and bewilderment, resulting from an article appearing in the New York Times on that date entitled "When Parents Decide To Take Charge Again." In case you didn't have an opportunity to read the article yourself, the gist of it was that many parents are disillusioned with the "psychologically correct mode of discipline" -- concerned that "appeals to the child's better side" in an effort...

"We took our cat to the vet for a check-up. Everything was fine, but when we brought him home and opened the travel box that he was in, he was dead. What do I tell my daughter? It was her cat."

"I know it may sound ridiculous, but my son won a fish at a street fair, and three days later it died. He absolutely fell apart. About a fish! I don't know what to say to him."

"My husband died last night. How do I tell our son?"

When a child experiences the death of a person or of a beloved pet, it can be a heart-wrenching experience for...

Single parents are often concerned with their "single" status. They worry that being single might have a negative effect on their children. Sometimes they feel guilty that their child isn't "getting as much" as a child in a two parent home. Often they feel bewildered or exhausted by the constant demands of taking care of a child single-handedly. Common, too, at least in divorced households, is the added anger or bitterness toward an uncooperative ex-spouse.

The feelings that single parents have can seem particularly intense at times. If you're not...

When children of any age temporarily disappear for any reason -- as in the case of the three year old who dashes off down the street, or the teenager who stays out overnight without phoning -- parents' feelings of panic and fear are unimaginable -- unless you've been through it yourself. Clearly, if a child disappears (at any age) for a long period of time, you must contact the police. But often children run off temporarily, and parents must consider how to handle these incidents based upon the age of their child.

When toddlers and early elementary...

There is no doubt that one important quality of parenting (and of maintaining one's sanity while parenting!) is a sense of humor. It can smooth the bumps, soothe the feelings and lighten the heaviest of loads. Humor, used properly, can teach your children to approach life in a positive manner by encouraging a second look at circumstances which may at first seem overwhelming or unbearable. However, humor can also be a sharp sword which cuts deeply into the self-esteem of your child and as such should be used with thoughtfulness and...

Now that the cold weather is upon us, many parents are faced with the difficulty of encouraging their children to bundle up to stay warm. While some (though it seems very few!) children do this willingly, the vast majority kick and scream their way up from toddlerhood through adolescent defiance, all the while remaining absolutely adamant about NOT putting on that extra sweater or bulky coat. So what's a parent to do? Should parents simply give up or is this a worthwhile battle to engage in? Let's take a look at some of the causes of defiance as well as a few...

As NYC families, most of us are intimately familiar with the wealth of opportunity that is available for our children here in the city. By five years old, many children have been exposed to the finest art, music, theater, museums. Even our children's palates have experienced more than many children growing up in other parts of the country - sushi, lox, exotic cuisine from around the world, all are accessible and at least part of our children's vocabulary, if not exactly to their taste. Because we live in a city that truly has the finest of everything, it's...

"I'm totally stuck," said a mother to me recently. "Every time I try to set a limit with my son, and I tell him how I feel about his behavior, he either ignores me or says in a snotty voice `I don't care!' If I try to follow through with a consequence, and tell him I'm going to take away his Nintendo, he also says `I don't care.' I just don't know how to discipline him. He doesn't care if I do, so it has no impact."

The problem that this woman is experiencing is not uncommon. It stems from the fact that children, of all ages and either gender, are...

Parental guilt, like worry, is a significant part of parenting. As mentioned last month, each of these emotions has positive as well as negative effects. On the positive side, parental guilt can serve to help us correct the mistakes that we might make with our children. For example, let's say you wrongly accuse your child of something and later discover that he's innocent. Your ensuing feeling of guilt can lead you to do the right thing * apologize and promise you won't hastily jump to such conclusions in the future. Guilt also has a negative side, however, and...

For most children going back to school almost always involves a certain amount of anxiety. As adults, the transition from summertime to school time seems relatively easy. After all, the date for the beginning of school has probably been part of our planning for the summer...we had to keep it in mind to plan vacations, many of us made alternate child care arrangements for the summer and now must release others from that responsibility. For children, however, the summer days flow endlessly one into the other and summertime is eternal. Thus, as school approaches in...

In Part I we talked about the importance of instituting a consistent bedtime routine in order to help your child stay in bed. But what happens if your child is still getting out of bed numerous times during the evening?

There are two more things to try prior to the disciplinary technique which will follow.

1) Eliminate sugar prior to bedtime, especially chocolate. Chocolate has caffeine, and sugar stimulates your child. Both of these can make it difficult for your child to fall asleep.

2) Eliminate TV prior to bedtime. Many parents believe that TV...

Do you have joint custody with a "jerk?" Is your ex uncooperative and difficult? You're not alone. And the task of raising a child - negotiating the details of visitation, school, money, health issues, etc. with a an uncooperative ex-spouse is, more than likely, the most difficult task you've ever faced. If your ex is a jerk, then when you say "black," she says "white." World War III erupts when you speak with him. Her maturity has regressed to the level of an eight year old. His values are so different from yours that you can't believe you ever married him in the...

One of the biggest problems facing parents today is curbing the sense of entitlement that children feel. From designer jeans, to extended curfews, to credit cards, many children have an attitude of "I deserve to have the things my friends have" or simply "I deserve to have stuff as well as money to spend." In part, this attitude is encouraged and reinforced by the media, whose primary message is "you gotta have it or you're not cool." However, parents also play a part, often overindulging their children by buying them material things whenever they want them or...

Disagreements among children are common, and may be looked upon as a normal part of the socialization process. Yet too frequently they also represent a missed opportunity for parents to teach their children something about relationships, and to help their children engage in healthy communication with others.

Often, a simple misunderstanding begins a negative cycle of behavior on the part of all the children involved that can escalate into a more serious disagreement and sometimes even break up a friendship. In order for us to help our children break...