I am having difficulty getting my 4-year-old son to use the bathroom for his bowel movements. He knows when he has to go. He urinates in the toilet and is perfectly able to do the same with bowel movements, but he simple won’t do it.
Your son might just need a little more time to be comfortable with using the bathroom. It’s frustrating, but try to encourage him every time he uses the toilet, including when he urinates.
Since you say that he knows when he has to go, you must know the signs as well. If he gets antsy or hides in a different room, this may alert you that he has to use the bathroom. When you see these behaviors, take some toys and books into the bathroom. Tell him to sit on the toilet and read his books or play with his toys. Keep it as relaxed as possible.
You don’t want your son to become tense because then his muscles will constrict, making it harder for him to release his bowel movement. Just wait it out. If he goes, make a HUGE deal out of it. Celebrate with a piece of candy, a sticker or whatever else is meaningful to him.
Our 7-year-old son is attentive in school and earns good grades. But he does not listen to us at home. When he does finally comply with an instruction, he is easily distracted. We have sent him to his room as a punishment, but then he kicks his walls and throws things. We have taken away privileges such as playing video games. He plays a team sport, and is also inattentive during practice and games. He does not listen to his coach or the referee.
It is not unusual for children to talk back, argue or refuse to listen when given an instruction to do something that they do not want to do. To improve these skills, replace the unacceptable behaviors with a new skill.
Your son needs to learn the skill of following instructions. The age and development of your child will dictate the complexity of the skill. Think about how you would like your child to respond when given an instruction. Then teach this skill to him in steps like these:
- Look at the person who is giving you the instruction.
- Say “OK” so he or she knows that you heard them and understand.
- Do the task right away and check back when you are finished.
Clearly describe your expectations, and give your son a good reason why he should do it the way you have just described. Have him practice by giving him a simple instruction. Keep the practice brief and fun. This will make it easier for your son to actually comply with an instruction when the time comes. Tell him that whenever Mom and Dad, a teacher, coach, Grandma, etc., give him an instruction, it is important to follow that instruction.
Praise your son when he practices. When he uses the skill or makes small improvements, praise him. If, however, you give him an instruction and he talks back or argues, issue a negative consequence and reteach the skill.
My 7-year-old daughter comes home almost daily from school crying that her classmates do not play with her at recess or sit with her at lunch. I think she needs to learn people skills. She has been looking for attention, but I don’t know if she is going about it in the right way. I want to teach her self-confidence, but I also want her to know that not everyone is going to like her.
You have identified that friendship skills are important social skills for her to work on now. The first step in teaching these skills is to introduce them to her. Tell her that you are going to help her learn some skills that will help her make and keep friends at school. This will reassure her.
The next step is to identify some of the things that you both feel are important in friendships, such as honesty, conversation skills, fairness, etc. Then make a list of the things your daughter can do to demonstrate that she is honest, has good conversation skills, is fair, etc.
To make it fun, role play. You become the potential friend, and your daughter tries to strike up a conversation with you. Or you can role play that she is in a situation in which she has to tell the truth about what she might have done. Praise her for practicing and using her skills correctly, and give her goals. She should use one new skill a day at school. See how she does.
You might consider visiting the Boys Town Press website at www.BoysTownPress.org and consider some of the materials. Books and workbooks that focus on various social skills are available. Two such books are A Good Friend: How to Make One, How to Be One by Ron Herron and Val J. Peter, and Friends Forever by Fred Frankel. Both books advise children and parents on such areas as friendship do’s and don’ts. Activities for the two of you to do together are included.
My ex-husband and I have been divorced for two years, and we maintain a healthy relationship with one another. We have a 4-year-old son who spends time with both of us.
My ex-husband has a fiancé, and I have a boyfriend. We have been living together for 10 months. My son will not warm up to my boyfriend. He cries constantly and follows me around whenever my boyfriend is home. My boyfriend has done everything he can to establish a relationship with my son. He has done nothing to warrant my son’s reaction. I have tried talking, bargaining and disciplining, but nothing seems to help the situation.
My son’s negative reaction began when my boyfriend moved in. He has three children of his own. My son does say that he loves my boyfriend “a little,” but that he wants it to just be the two of us living together.
Change in the home environment can be very difficult for small children. It is likely that your son is targeting his frustrations at your boyfriend because he associates him with the disruption in his home life. It has nothing to do with what your boyfriend has or hasn’t done.
Have you tried integrating your boyfriend in activities outside the home environment, such as a trip to the zoo or a picnic in the park? Removed from the stress of the house, your son might more easily come to see your boyfriend as someone who is fun and supportive.
It sounds like you have a good relationship with your ex-husband. Would he be willing to help out? Perhaps you could invite him and his fiancé over for dinner so your son can see that the new family structure is still loving and supportive. If this is not possible in your home, maybe you could get a babysitter for your boyfriend’s children and the three of you could go to your ex-husband’s house for dinner. It is important that you show your son that the new family dynamic is supportive and caring like the old one was.
Family counseling is another good option. Your son needs a safe place where he can share his feelings and receive guidance from a therapist about the changes he is experiencing. It will take patience and time, but he seems receptive. After all, he says that he loves your boyfriend “a little.” This is a strong step forward. Do everything you can to reinforce these statements.
My son is hitting and pushing at school. His teacher administers time-outs at school. At home I have used reward charts and have given him time-outs. Nothing seems to work.
We often tell our children to not continue negative behavior, but we forget to tell them what positive behaviors we want to see instead. When your son becomes frustrated or angry with others, he hits or pushes.
- Tell him you would like him to keep his hands to himself and use his words to express his feelings. Another option is to ask his teacher for help. Teach him that whenever someone frustrates him he needs to put his hands in his pockets. If he does not have pockets, he needs to put his “handcuffs” on, meaning that he puts his hands behind his back and holds his wrists.
- Give him a good kid-related reason to do what you are teaching. Point out the benefits to him for doing it this way.
- Have him practice. Demonstrate what you mean. Check his understanding by having him demonstrate it back.
For example, take a situation that has happened in the past at school in which your son hit or pushed a classmate. Then show your son the new way to handle the conflict. Practice daily at home because the more he becomes familiar with this new way, the more likely he will be to use it in the heat of the moment. Praise him when he uses it, and be patient. It takes time to replace old behaviors with new ones.
It is good that you are using consequences. The more immediately that they occur after the infraction, the more likely your son will see the connection between poor choices and negative consequences. A time-out is an appropriate consequence. We suggest that you fill the time-out with practicing his new behavior because consequences paired with teaching is an effective way to bring about change.
Two years ago, my husband left my daughter and myself. We moved in with my parents four months ago because of our financial situation. My parents both have counseling degrees, which they think gives them the right to tell me that I am parenting my daughter incorrectly. It is undermining my authority with my daughter. She does not listen to me, but instead turns to my parents when she gets in trouble.
I have tried talking to my parents, but they will not change. They believe that they know better. I am at my breaking point and feel trapped because I cannot afford to move out. I have lived on my own for 12 years, but now that I am back in my parents’ home they treat me like a defiant adolescent. What can I do?
This type of living arrangement can be very stressful. It takes adjustments on all parties’ parts. But you are the mother and her father is not living with your daughter, so you are and should be her primary parent. As such, you are the one making all of the major decisions in her life. You should be the one to implement consequences and to reward positive behavior.
Do your parents criticize your parenting in front of your daughter? Do they make negative comments in front of her? If and when the three of you differ on parenting techniques, this disagreement should not take place in front of your daughter.
Talk to your parents at a neutral time when your daughter is gone or asleep. Remain calm and tell your parents that you need to be your daughter’s sole parent. Have reasons to back up your rightful claim. It is important that you remain calm.
If you feel that you can’t have this conversation with your parents, is there another adult who is removed from the situation who could serve as a mediator? You could seek help from a counseling agency perhaps. Since moving out is not an option right now, you must find a way to live peacefully with your parents.
How adults interact with each other teaches our children how to interact. Your daughter looks to you and your parents for role modeling. Do keep in mind that your parents are not required to take you in. You could live in a shelter, which would be very trying.
I have signed my 4-year-old twin boys up for soccer, and the season is not going well. One son pushes his teammates and does not listen to his coach. When my other son decides that he has had enough, he sits on the sidelines and goofs off. I think they might be too young for organized sports, but it is too late now. Do you have any suggestions for getting through the rest of the season?
Sports are good for children your sons’ age for many reasons beyond learning the fundamentals. They learn social skills like listening to their coach, following instructions, getting along with teammates, dealing with disappointment and in your case, boredom and staying on-task.
Yes, this situation is frustrating for you and your children. But it is best to finish out the season because it sends the message that we finish what we start. Quitting before we’ve given it a chance is not a good habit.
Soccer may not be their sport, but they can still learn valuable life skills by remaining on the team. Next season, you can try a different sport or activity. For now, encourage your sons to participate and praise them when they do. Practice their newly learned skills with them at home. Once they see how fun it is and how important their parents think it is, hopefully their interest will increase. Talk to their coach for suggestions on additional ways to encourage your sons from the sidelines.
I have a 10-year-old daughter and a 6-month-old baby. My older child has recently started displaying attention-seeking behaviors.
She is always adding to conversations whether what she says is relevant or not. She sprayed my perfume all over the bathroom when she was supposed to be brushing her teeth. She ignores my directions to do things. I have to get angry to be heard. When I reprimand her, she stares at me vacantly and mechanically says she is sorry even though she does not truly feel remorse.
I have explained to her that caring for a baby is a lot of work. I have asked her to help so she feels included. She says she wants to but does not follow through. What do you suggest? I miss my polite, well-behaved little girl.
It does in fact sound like your daughter is seeking attention as you stated. Children learn at a young age that acting out will get them noticed. Since this has worked in the past, she will continue to do this unless you help her learn a new way to behave. She is only 10; you cannot expect her to appropriately ask for more attention. Give her examples of what both positive and negative attention-seeking looks like.
You need to know that she understands and knows what your expectations are. Once she does, have her practice with you. For instance, she could ask for some of your time, help with the baby or express her feelings by saying that she feels left out. These are all healthy ways of getting attention.
The basics of behavior modification say that the only way to increase or decrease a behavior is to issue consequences. So if your daughter demonstrates negative attention-seeking behavior, give her a consequence. It can be small, but it must be motivational. Make sure it is immediate, and follow through on it to ensure its effectiveness.
If she does well and positively seeks attention, reward her. This can be as simple as spending 10 extra minutes alone with her before bedtime reading a book, brushing her hair, cuddling – whatever she enjoys. The activity is not as important as the time you spend with each other.
My daughter is being bullied and refuses to tell the dean at her school out of fear of it getting worse. She is convinced that changing schools is the answer. This, however, is not an option. What do I do?
As you stated, changing schools is not an option. It won’t be an option for her to change things that are equally important later in life. It will take strength and courage, but she will have to face this.
When you met with the dean, was it clearly stated that if there is any retaliation at all, big or small, that it must be reported and further consequences will be endured by the bullies? Your daughter must believe that this will happen, so hopefully this information is being delivered in a firm and believable manner.
She needs examples of what retaliation looks and sounds like. It can be in both written and verbal forms. It may be a look or body language such as others walking away or not talking anymore when she approaches. It could be that her possessions go “missing” and then turn up elsewhere.
Assure her that this will continue or escalate if she is not willing to reveal the bullies’ names. This will be difficult. But to do nothing will rob her of her dignity and self-confidence. If she does not listen to you, find someone who she can talk to who has reported a bully’s bad behavior in the past.
I am living with my boyfriend of two years and I am concerned about how he parents his 6-year-old daughter, who lives with us part-time. He basically allows her to dictate the rules, such as what she eats. When she does not get her way, she throws a tantrum.
She also will not do basic life skills on her own. For instance, my boyfriend brushes her teeth and wipes her after she uses the bathroom. My boyfriend has difficulty following through with discipline, and often ends up apologizing to her.
When I have expressed my concerns and have offered alternatives in the past, he says I should keep my opinions to myself since she is not my child. He has even said that if I don’t like it, I can move out. What should I do?
As parents, we all make mistakes. Hopefully, we learn from our mistakes and guide our children in a way that will help them be successful.
Whenever you offer advice to a parent, you run the risk of offending or upsetting him or her. Is it possible that when you talk to your boyfriend about how he parents his daughter that he feels threatened or offended?
Parents can have different parenting styles. It is important that you two learn to communicate and reach a compromise with one another. While you do not share the responsibility of rearing his child with your boyfriend, you do share a home and life with him. Thus, your input and concerns should be taken seriously.
It appears that he is not willing to compromise with you. This leaves few options. So instead of focusing on his parenting skills, ask him what his expectations are for you. How would he like you to interact with his daughter? Does he want you to take on an authoritative role or leave all of the parenting up to him? Ask him to be specific with you so you are both on the same page.
Once you know where you stand, it is time to make a decision. Can you live with the fact that you disagree with the way your boyfriend parents and that he does not want your input? This will most likely not change. It has stopped being a problem and has become a fact. You need to either accept this fact or move on. Only you know what is best for you and can make this choice.