Dear Sara, My Toddler Bites…

Dear Sara,

My 2 year old daughter Annie has been biting her 4 year old brother. I have been putting her in timeout for this but so far it hasn’t helped. One of the problems is that she won’t stay in timeout unless I’m there holding on to her which in my mind gives her too much attention. Is there some other way to discipline her for biting? [Read more...]

Dear Sara, We told our 14 year old daughter she couldn’t go to a party but she sneaked out anyways…

Dear Sara,

Our 14 year old daughter Taylor sneaked out Saturday night to go to a party at her friend’s house. She had asked us if she could go and was told that she couldn’t attend because we found out that her friend’s older brother was giving the party and the crowd would be kids who were 16 and 17. She waited until we went to bed and had someone pick her up at the end of our block. I just happened to get up and looked in her room to find that she was gone. She is grounded for now but we wonder if we were being too strict by not letting her go to the party.


Dear Christie,

Your rules are for Taylor’s safety and she has to accept the fact that she can’t defy them and do as she pleases. Apparently her friend invited her since the party was at her house and she felt entitled. The brother might not have been aware of the invitation. At times fourteen year olds tend to think that they are more mature than they really are.

Are you against kids having parties or was this just because the crowd was older? If the parents were at home and there was no alcohol involved, this might have been safe enough for Taylor. Maybe you have a problem with Taylor hanging out with boys who are older than she is. This is a cause for concern in that they may be more experienced and she could end up in a situation that she is not prepared for.

Supervised parties are a way for kids to get together with their friends and become social. They need some safe ways to hang out and have fun. You might consider letting Taylor invite some friends her age to your house. You can provide pizza, soft drinks and whatever entertainment kids that age enjoy and be there to supervise.

For now Taylor deserves to be grounded for defying your rule.


Dear Sara, I have an 18 month old granddaughter…

Dear Sara,

I have an 18 month old granddaughter whose parents work hectic hours. This baby has been left with a caregiver who she is not happy with. She is very insecure and demanding.

[Read more...]

Dear Sara, how can I get my daughters to stop tattling?

Dear Sara,

My girls ages six and eight are driving me crazy with their tattling. What can I do to get them to stop?


Dear Joyce,

Kids will do what ever it takes to get your attention and they certainly have figured out a way to do this even though it’s negative. The one being tattled on gets attention for doing negative things and the tattler for being a little angel who is being harassed.

Your best way to handle this is to ignore both of them. They may continue for a time but if they are frustrated in their attempt to gain your attention their behavior will gradually lessen. Don’t get pulled into their disagreements.
Try to give them attention when they are playing well. You can do this by playing a game with them or going for a walk around the block. They need your attention, just not at the wrong time.
Keep in mind that they will probably be best friends one day.


How can I get my wife to stop drinking?

Dear Sara,

I have been married for six years and we have two children ages five and three. My wife drank a lot before I married her but it never seemed to be a problem. Now she starts drinking in the afternoon and doesn’t stop until she goes to bed. Not only is she neglecting our kids but I feel she is a really bad example. I have encouraged her to get help but she ignores me. How can I make her stop drinking?


Dear Dallas,

This is a really unsafe environment for your children. Your wife could accidentally start a fire and burn the house down or some other accidental tragedy. Would you leave your kids with a babysitter who drank? They would be safer in daycare.

You can’t make her stop drinking but you can take care of yourself and your children. You are putting up with some really bad behavior and by doing this you are enabling her to drink.

It might be time to do what’s best and leave her. This may or may not be a wake up call for her. You will have to wait and see. Does she want you and the kids or does she want alcohol? If you have the money she could go to an inpatient treatment center, if not suggest AA to her. They will be a support group for her.

For yourself, you might want to consider Alanon. They are a support group for people who are affected by someone else’s alcoholism.

For right now try to take care of yourself and keep your kids safe.


How do I teach my son to conquer fears?

Dear Sara,

I have three children ages eleven, seven and six months. My six month old Danny has developed a fear of strangers. He won’t interact with anyone but immediate family and cries and clings to me if anyone speaks to him. How can I help him get over this?


Dear Clarissa,

I know this can be a problem, especially if you might have to leave Danny with a sitter on occasion. This is something that some kids go through and they usually outgrow it in a few months.

I’m sure it’s painful for grandparents to feel rejected by their grandchild or visitor to not be able to hold him but for right now he feels fearful so let him take his time getting to know people.

Danny may be more willing to interact with others if he gets to make the first move. He may need to sit on your lap and observe for a while. Let him take his time. Sometimes an interesting toy can help him interact while he remains sitting on your lap.

Children often react this way to people who have loud booming voices when they are used to a quieter atmosphere. So let Danny take his time getting to know people from the safety of your lap. For right now he needs to be in your protection to feel secure.


Dear Sara, my 12 year old is reading pornography

Dear Sara,

I found some really graphic pornographic magazines under the bed in my twelve year old son’s room. I was really shocked that he would have something like this. I haven’t confronted him yet and don’t really know how to handle this. I don’t want this kind of thing in my home. Should I confront him or just let it go?


Dear Andrea,

Apparently you feel pretty strongly about this. These types of magazines are demeaning to women because they portray them as sex objects and you want a healthier outlook for your son.
Your son has a natural curiosity about how women look without their clothes on and how the female body works. He may not feel safe asking his Mom about this so he is trying to find out on his own. Since you feel strongly about this sort of material, as a parent you can confront your son and let him know that you realize that he is curious but that the material that he has chosen is inappropriate and that you don’t want him to get a wrong idea about women. He is still going to have that natural curiosity that need to be satisfied. There are some books with a healthier outlook.

Dear Sara, how do I help my recent grad son?

Dear Sara,

My son is graduating with a Bachelor’s degree from college this year. He has been living at home and really wants to move out. There is no way that he can do this without a job and the job market outlook is pretty depressing. What can I do to help him find a job?


Dear Patricia,

Sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know that helps get your foot in the door. Networking, volunteer jobs and keeping in touch with the people who are already employed and might be aware of openings are certainly positive things to do.

Encourage your son to work on his resume. It’s his first intro to people who have control over the job he wants. It’s a good idea to call the employer to make sure that they have received your resume. You can also ask when would be a good time to call back to check on the status of the resume and make another call. Be persistent in your follow ups.

If your son gets the interview, try to get across to him that he needs to look and act very professional. Dress up in good clothes and present himself well verbally. He’s not talking to his friends. Also no gum, turn off the cell phone and have copies of his resume in hand to pass out. He should be prepared to discuss past experience in the context of the job offered. He may not have as many opportunities to interview so he has to make the most of those that are available.

If your son doesn’t find a job in reasonable amount of time he could consider staying in school to work on a Master’s degree. There may be more opportunities in a couple of years and he will be better prepared.

I’m sure he wants to be on his own but if he can’t get a job he needs to think about his options. I wish your son and all of his graduating class the very best of luck.

What are fun winter activities for my toddler?

Dear Sara,

I have two daughters ages two and three and I am dreading winter. I live in a northern state so there are a lot of days where they can’t go outside. They enjoy going for walks but I just can’t push a stroller when there is ice and snow on the ground. How can I keep them entertained?


Dear Zoe,

When my kids were that age, I used to have two toy boxes that I would alternate. I found that after a while the kids would look at the toys as new and different when I brought out the second toy box. They would take everything out of the box. play with it and leave it on the rug. Before nap time we would all pick up the toys and put them back in the box. This kept them entertained for a while anyway. Reading to kids is a good indoor pastime. They will like to hear the same story over and over.

If you have friends with preschoolers, maybe you could trade babysitting for each other. This would give you time for shopping and other things you have to do that would be easier without the kids.

It will be a lot of trouble to dress the girls for outside in the winter, usually for a short period of time but they need to be able to get out of the house for a while.


How do I make sure my kids don’t break my mother’s antiques?

Dear Sara,

I have two children ages six months and three years. They are both very active and I have to watch them constantly. I am planning a visit to my mother’s home in another state and she has lots of antiques and collectibles. What can I do to keep my kids safe and my mother’s house intact? She doesn’t seem to think this will be a problem.


Dear Debbie,

I think you already know that it’s going to be a nightmare if your kids have the run of the house at grandma’s. Let your Mom know your concerns and suggest that she put up a temporary gate in one room where you can baby proof and keep her treasures away from the kids and safe.

You can bring along things like outlet covers and cabinet latches. Kids are so curious so remind her to put things out of reach like breakable items, medications, alcohol and perfumes and cologne and cigarettes if she smokes. Your Mom is probably looking forward to time with her grandchildren so she will also want them to be safe.

Hopefully you will be able to take you kids outside some of the time. Remember to patrol the yard for doggie do if Grandma has a pet. Bring a few of the children’s favorite toys so they will have something to entertain themselves. You will still have to be very watchful but not as much as if they have the run of the whole house.

Good luck.