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When four year olds begin finding "bathroom talk" funny, parents usually dismiss the "you're a poo poo head" with a shrug of the shoulders. "It's just a phase," parents will say. And indeed, this type of "humor" does seem to pass by the time a child is around five or six years of age. Yet when those same children begin experimenting with four letter words, very few parents will dismiss it with "it's just a phase." Indeed, children's initial experimentation with four letter words often shocks and inflames parents. Some parents respond with moral imperatives: "We do...

Every morning Janice's daughter, Samantha, would fight with her about her clothes. Even if they'd picked the outfit out the night before, the next morning it would be the same old complaint, "I'm not wearing that, I hate it!" One day, however, Samantha simply put the clothes on without complaining. As mother and daughter walked out the door to go to school, Samantha turned to her mom and said with an exclamation of surprise, "Mom! We forgot our fight today!"

Sometimes parents and children get stuck in a negative cycle in which fighting, or misbehavior...

Traditional medicine such as ancient Chinese, Asian, Indian, Greek, Native American, along with more modern therapies, such as homeopathy and naturopathy, consider health to be a condition of wholeness. A condition in which body, mind, and spirit direct our life in equal proportion so that there is balance and harmony among all aspects of our being. In this state, health and healing flourish because our body is capable of healing itself when it is placed in a balanced condition. The healer merely works to re-align that balance.

This kind of health is...

Language learning is a natural process. As active observers of their environment, children constantly take in and process the sounds, sights, smells and other sensations that ultimately help them make sense of their world. But when does language learning begin?

Research strongly suggests that language is linked to a baby's initial exposure to sounds in utero. The fetus is bathed in the sounds of its mother's voice beginning at a gestational age 7 months. Some baby books actually suggest speaking to the fetus and putting headphones that amplify...

In the past two articles we've been talking about promoting honesty. We've discussed setting yourself and your child up for success and we've discussed what most parents consider the most ingenuous of lie-telling: fanciful storytelling. In this issue, we'll discuss lies of a more serious nature.

When a child tells her parents an "untruth" -- that is she says something that's untrue when she knows it's untrue, it is the parents' job to determine why the child is lying. Is the child afraid of punishment because she's been punished severely before? Or is...

If the title of this article speaks to you, then you're in good company. No matter what their child's age, one of the biggest complaints I hear from parents is that their children talk back. Why is it that even young children have "an attitude" with their parents? What is causing this phenomenon to occur at younger and younger ages? And no matter what your child's age is, what can you do about it?

We all know the part of the Constitution of the United States that states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." More...

Now we're going to talk about stepping in when our children are fighting. I want to emphasize, however, how important it is to support our children in coming up with solutions to their own problems. If we do, they'll have a sense of "I can handle things myself" as well as tools to handle future conflicts, not only with siblings, but also with peers and others -- even through adulthood. And if our children can approach adolescence and adulthood feeling confident in their ability to handle conflict, they're more likely to thrive. I don't know any adult who doesn't...

Although many coaches emphasize "good sportsmanship" sometimes the competitive nature of sports overcomes what could be a valuable lesson for children about how to lose as well as how to win. One mother said to me "My son is such a sore loser when his team doesn't win. I understand that it's partially developmental, but I'm tired of it. It takes all the fun out of playing for him, and all the fun out of watching for me." Competitiveness -- the desire to win or be the "best" -- is indeed developmental, and most parents begin to notice it in their children by three...

"I'm at a loss with my son. Now that he's a teenager, I'm really seeing that he's swayed by what his friends think. Some of the things I can manage my way through - like when he wants a new pair of roller blades because all his friends have that kind, or when he wants to wear that new style of pants that slinks down around his hips. But I'm not sure what to do about other things - like when he wants to go away to his friend's parents' house, and this is a friend that I really don't approve of, I think he's a terrible influence."

One of the scariest...

On February 24, 2002, the cover article for the New York Times Magazine "Girls Just Want to be Mean" finally drew attention to the aggressive tendencies of girls, a long neglected subject. While much attention has been paid in recent years (particularly in the wake of school shootings) to the ways in which boys vent frustration, anger, low self-esteem and a sense of isolation, until now many people have not realized that, while the damage may seem subtler, girls can do as much psychological injury to their peers as boys who harm in more physical ways. Now it's...

I'm often asked whether I believe that children today have too much homework. My answer is "yes." Having said that, however, I think that most schools who give too much homework are finding themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. Elementary schools, to prepare children for the homework demands of middle school, must give more and more homework as the children advance through the grades. Likewise, middle schools, to prepare kids for the challenges of high school, must do the same. And high schools, challenged by parents to get their children into good...

In the decade and a half that I’ve been teaching, I’ve had an opportunity to think deeply about the tools and techniques that parents need to raise happy, healthy children. Some of the tools are instinctive, and need no teaching: humor, play, hugs. Others are less intuitive and must be sought out: how to discipline, be a good listener, teach values consistently. Generally speaking, all of the tools are important, and parents must learn to balance instinct with learned skills. But if I were pressed...

From birth, our children must work to accomplish a variety of tasks. From the frustrating first moments when they must root for the breast or bottle, or get their fists into their mouths to relieve teething pain, they struggle to succeed. They progress eventually to more complex abilities, rewarding but no less frustrating. They stand, only to fall again and again. They get on a bicycle, only to tip over and skin a knee. As they mature, the physical struggles are replaced with emotional ones. Do they include Rob in their group, even though Sam doesn...

Labeling our children is something we all do.  We may begin by swearing we won't, we may have read infinite numbers of articles and books on the negative effects of putting labels on children, but long and behold, the moment we hold our child in our arms for the first time, up pops a label: "He's an easy baby." As our children grow, it continues: "Sara's the musician in the family." And the labels we apply aren't necessarily positive, either: "My son is so obsessive," "My daughter is such a slob." Positive and negative labels are so prevalent in parenting that they bear closer examination...

As New York begins to spread its finery like a proud peacock in preparation for the holidays, and people bustle through the streets making private preparations for Hanukkah and Christmas, many parents watch with dismay as their loving, appreciative children are slowly transformed into greedy, insatiable monsters.

Following Hanukkah last year, I spoke with a mother and father who proclaimed vehemently "We're never giving a gift a night during Hanukkah again." It seems that as the days of Hanukkah wore on, their son became more and more demanding,...

Sarah's three year old son, Jason, had suddenly become aggressive. She could understand that sometimes he was frustrated and would strike out in anger, for example when another child took his toy. What she was bewildered and angry about, however, was why, in the middle of a playgroup, he would sometimes dash across the room and violently squeeze or push another child with a look of glee on his face, even though the other child had done nothing to provoke him.

In order to help young children overcome their impulsive and aggressive misbehaviors, it's...

Nine year old Sarah wanted to go to a friend's house to spend the night, but her parents said "no." She pleaded and begged, and finally ended up sulking in her room for most of the weekend. Three year old Jack asked his mother for juice while she was working on the computer. She nodded her head and said "o.k." As she went to save the file she was working on before getting up, Jack flew into a tantrum, screaming "Juice! Juice!" as he flailed around on the floor.

What do these children have in common? Neither one feels understood or listened to by their...

In the months to come parents will be faced with children who have an on-going need to process the tragic events of September 11 as well as the unfolding current events that continue to spiral outward from that date. The biggest challenge facing us will be identifying our children's need to process when that need arises.

Children are particularly good at distracting themselves from traumatic events. In a way, this is healthy as it allows the jarred psyche to heal, much like putting a Band-Aid over a wound protects it and allows the fibers of the skin...

Many parents of young children name sleep deprivation as their number one complaint. Even when children get out of the infancy stage, they often adopt poor sleeping habits that can continue into the early elementary school years. The sleep deprivation that adults experience is even worse for children because lack of sleep can negatively affect learning, concentration, the ability to engage in positive relationships and other vital goals of childhood.

So how much sleep does your child need? According to Richard Ferber, M.D., nationally acclaimed sleep...

In talking with the men who attend my parenting groups the theme of disciplining children arises again and again. Interestingly, many of the men I speak with are reluctant to discipline. I just don't get to see her very much because of my work hours, one dad explained, when I do see her, I want it to be fun. Another dad commented, I don't want to be the bad guy. I had a bad relationship with my dad, and I want my son to like me.

It's true that many fathers see less of their children than mothers do. In fact, Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of...