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Parenting Problems? Ask An Expert for Advice

Parenting can be challenging at times. The right parenting advice can also be hard to find! Find A Babysitter is pleased to bring you some practical advice from Michael Grose to help you manage those tricky parenting problems.

Michael Grose, a well-respected parenting expert (and a father himself) has provided some answers to common parenting dilemmas! Below are a range of questions and answers covering sibling rivalry, eating, sleeping and behaviour.

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS!


Question 1: how do i get my two year old to eat? i'm surprised she's growing at all. i give her milo instead of just milk to try and up her nutrient intake (and sugar...hmmm). i try different food and when she finally finds one she'll eat i try it again and lo-n-behold, nope doesn't like it any more. i'm worried and frustrated. F.C. (Tasmania)

Response: Yes, young eaters can frustrate the hell out of parents, particularly if we come from a three meals a day type family. There is an old saying: “Its not what we eat, but what we digest that makes us grow.” Kids vary, appetites vary but we as parents tend to be pretty constant with our concern about food intake- both the quantity and quality of the food kids eat. Children typically at this young age are experimenting with taste and often graze, but they won’t starve themselves.
Here are some ideas you may consider:

· Let young children feed themselves. They are tactile and it is hit and miss but they generally find it enjoyable. Mix up the textures as well as the tastes.
· Provide plenty of healthy snacks foods – raw carrot, fruit, cheese and sandwiches available. It takes pressure off meal-time. Resist adding sugary stuff to entice them to eat. You may find that this becomes the only way you can get her to eat.
· Keep helpings small and varied. Better to give a little more later than have food left over.
· Be unconcerned about how much she doesn’t eat. Kids pick up very early that their parents are more concerned about an issue than they are and then they get you every time by refusing to eat.
· Present food in fun ways by arranging cheese, cabana, carrot sticks and other food to make smiley faces, spaceships or people

Be fun but business-like at mealtimes. Refuse to nag, fight or count how many mouthfuls she has had. When sufficient time has passed for her to eat then take the food away and move on, regardless of whether she has finished or not. Your job is to provide healthy food and your daughter’s job is to eat. Don’t confuse the two.


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Question 2: I have a three and a half year old son who is often hostile towards other children. Although he has a few close friends that he gets on very well with, and an older brother who he is very close to and plays well with, he is often aggressive and grumpy with children he doesn't know, for example in the playground. He often says to me "I don't like people". Should I be worried or is this normal, and is there anything I can do to make him more sociable?! Thanks, L.H. (NSW)


Response: Children at this age spend a fair bit of time playing side-by-side rather than together. It is good that he can play well with his siblings and that he does have some close friends that he gets on with. This shows that he is able to play with other children. He is just a little choosy who he plays with.

Temperament-wise, some children are very quick to adapt to new social situations while others are very slow to warm up socially. Maybe your child fits this category and takes some time to adapt to change in circumstances and to meet new people. The notion of ‘”I don’t like people” may be his way of saying “I don’t feel comfortable with new people and in new situations.” You may need to give him time to get used to new places and people, which means you may have to stick around for a few minutes rather than leave straight away when you leave him with others, for example.

It also helps to give him a little warning that there will be other children around so that he gets used to the idea of mixing with strangers. Some kids just don’t like surprises.

You can help him be a more sociable. Provide opportunities for him to mix with others but respect the fact that he may not want to mix for as long as others. Take your cues from him and maybe take him home from a visit to friends a little earlier than expected to avoid frustration. You can also keep giving him messages about how he should treat others and let him know that thumping others is not the most appropriate way of acting. If he continues to be rough and not share then maybe it is time to take him home.

Children at this age are often territorial, particularly boys. They are not terrific at sharing the time, possessions and space with others. Maybe he only needs to share one or two toys or just some of the space he is in. Maybe he should play with one or two children at a time for a while.

As he gets older he will learn that it is difficult to pick and choose who to play and learn with. At school, which is still a little way off, he will in all likelihood learn to cope with a variety of social situations. With maturity and more experience he will develop different strategies to deal with people and develop his own style of socialising that may be very different to that of his sibling.

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Question 3: My 17 month old boy is not interested in playing at all on his own or attempting to amusing himself even if I am sitting close by in the same room. Unless I am interacting with him one on one, he will follow me around the house and whinge until I pick him up or interact with him. I have tried sitting with him and engaging him in an activity and then getting up and leaving him to it but the minute I stand up he starts to protest and will come and follow me. This problem is reversed when we go to the park as he seems more than happy to run to the far ends of the earth and not care at all whether I am with him or not! Is this a phase he will grow out of? What am I doing wrong? N.P. (Vic)

Response: Your son is at a clingy age for many boys however the fact that he leaves you at the park demonstrates he knows you won’t disappear. He does however need to know he can leave you alone for small periods and you won’t go away. He also needs to learn to keep himself occupied for short bursts and not rely on you to be his home entertainment machine.

Perhaps the answer is to be boring at times when he is around you. That is, refuse to interact or ignore him at those times when it should be ‘his time’. Refuse to pick him up when he whines and follows you. That is the tough part I know. If you continue to pick him up then he will learn that eventually mum will give in. One mum I am coaching says she goes to the toilet when her kids follow her, puts on the headphones and reads. She told me that worked a treat for her.

As you suggest, as he gets older he will increasingly be able to keep himself amused however you can help now by promoting some ‘his time’ – i.e time for him to play by himself – and sticking to your guns and refusing to play when he wants to you to occupy him.

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Question 4: Can you advise me on the best way to handle the conflicts between my 4 1/2 year old girl and my cheeky and very physical 2 1/2 year old boy . Both have learnt how to push each others’ buttons and I am sometimes not witness to the event that has resulted in tears. Should I intervene or let them work it out when I hear the conflict brewing? Thank you. L.C. (Vic)

Response: Sibling fighting tends to come with the parenting territory. It is born from rivalry or competitiveness between siblings and shows itself through mindless arguments, noisy squabbles, physical means, verbal put-downs and even long silences.

It is always a difficult call to know when to intervene in children’s disputes. Do I ignore the squabble or do I become involved?
Good question. Bear it (if you are a saint you maybe able to ignore it), Beat it (go elsewhere when they fight) and Boot them out (noisy disputes are best settled outside) come from the let-them-work-it-out-themselves school of thought. There is a time and place for this approach. With young children you do need to give them some opportunity to work things out themselves.

But kids have L plates on when it comes to resolving conflict with their siblings. They can learn better ways of resolving conflict than resorting to reflexive means such as hitting, shouting and generally playing the person rather than the “ball”. There are times to intervene when there is a dispute. The key is to get in early before the dispute escalates into World War III.

When you do intervene be more concerned about solving the problem (is it about space, possessions or infringement of personal rights) than trying to work out who started the dispute. Don’t be the umpire or the judge – attempt to be the peacemaker. But even peacemakers have to get tough and send both parties to their bunkers (bedrooms) to cool off.

Here are some simple strategies you may use to help young children resolve their own disputes :

It is better in the long run to focus on restoring relationships rather than taking a punitive approach when young children fight.
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Question 5: My daughter is nearly 3 years old. Her current symptoms are: cough especially at night ( for 2 – 3 weeks; inflamed gums ( last 10 days); mouth ulcers - so eating is avoided more so than usual; Ecszema – made worse during winter because we have heaters on ( we treat her with Advantan ointment; Sore eyes ( she tells me daily they are sore and this has been the case for a few weeks; Sore leg but this could be arthritis and we have looked into this. It has occurred infrequently since she was a baby (and my sister had juvenile arthritis); Tantrums, crying, whinging – much more than usual; No interest in food.
She has been diagnosed with a mild myopathy. She didn’t walk until she was 25th months old having been a bum shuffler for her entire crawling period. She always had difficulty swallowing. The only whole fruit she has ever eaten is strawberries. She eats pureed vegetables occasionally, otherwise she lives on toast, stewed apple ( occasionally), milk, juice ( we have just started giving her juice to boost her vitamin intake), vegemite or honey sandwiches, sultana’s, sausage, fish finger, yoghurt, sesame wheat biscuits. We have started giving her oral vitamins this last week. She approaches all new food as though it is a dead rat!; although when at a party will eat everything in sight even if she has never laid eyes on it before. She asks for chocolate daily but I have not given it to her for months.
I have made an appointment to see our GP today but can’t get an appointment for a month. We live near a small country town - so services are limited. We can access specialists in Sydney if needed.
My main concerns are:
- she isn’t eating much and has no energy, very lethargic, not healthy or happy
- she isn’t sleeping ( coughs a lot and wakes up crying regularly throughout the night – she has always been a pretty good sleeper)
- miserable most of the time
Over the past few months she has increased her time in child-care to 5 days per fortnight. I am having a book published in October so have been occupied with that over recent months but am conscious of spending time with her. She has a little brother who is nearly one and she takes every opportunity to inflict grievous bodily harm. We do discipline her and carry through with consequences ( naughty spot, goes to her room until she can stop crying etc) All up – she is a nightmare!!! What should we do????
Regards, A.O. (NSW)

Response: A.O. - I am glad you are seeing a GP regarding her health. Waiting a month seems outrageous and says something about the state of health care in this country. This is an eye opener to urbanites such as myself.

The fact that you are working hard at present and that she eats easily when away from home suggests that your darling daughter is finding some ways to keep mum busy with her. The fact that she is lethargic suggests that you do need to be concerned about diet but don’t be so concerned that it becomes a battle of wills. Kids generally don’t starve themselves to death and often stick to boring, mundane food. Don’t be too concerned about her eating.

The fact that she is not happy obviously concerns you. Some children have a more difficult, even irritable temperament and little that parents do actually seems to make them happy. It maybe that she fits that particular bill. Behaviourally, the fact that she is spending more time in childcare, you are busy and her stage of development adds up to some pretty good reasons for giving her parents a hard time. And there is a little brother who has arrived to boot. Is it payback time?

Stick to your guns with the discipline that you are doing. You need to send the message that some behaviours are unacceptable. Change the term ‘naughty spot’ to ‘thinking spot’ as you are giving her a label to live up to. On a positive note spend plenty of good one-on-one time with her and focus on her positive aspects. Make sure you catch her being good and let her know you appreciate her cooperative behaviours, which can be hard if you receive little of that kind. Your letter mentioned many deficits and no positive aspect at all. You may have to go on a treasure hunt to discover her good side.

I am glad you are seeking some medical assistance. In the meantime, plenty of love, attention for the good stuff and minimise the attention for the negative stuff. Good luck.
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Question 6: Hi, we have a healthy little 3yrs & 9mth old girl. She has always been a poor sleeper, but recently she wakes in the early hours of the morning (often 2 or 3am) and is wide-awake for 1-2 hours. She goes to bed at 7-7:30pm happily, does not nap during the day and gets up around 6am. Last night she woke at 3:15am and didn't go back to sleep! We usually spend an hour or so settling her by popping in briefly, reminding her it is night-time, tucking her in and walking out. She isn't distressed, she just stays awake and calls out repeatedly. This escalates if we don't intervene. We don't want her to wake her little brother - so after about an hour we either resort to putting a video on in the living room then getting her back to bed an hour later when she is tired again. We have tried putting her in our bed or lying in her bed - but she is wide awake and sits up and plays if we are there. We have just started to try Phenergan which works well (she goes to sleep within half an hour and wakes up at her usual time bright & alert) - but we don't know if this is safe to use regularly. What can you recommend? Are there some behavioural strategies we can try? Or are we just battling the body clock of a 3 yr old insomniac?! Thanks! D.B. (Vic)

Response: Sleep and young children is one of those difficult areas for parents. Children need differing amounts of sleep, too.

A few comments about what you have presented. Good to see your daughter is not napping during the day and that she goes to sleep readily. She is in a pattern of waking in the middle of the night. The notion of using Phenergan is okay to get children to establish a different sleeping pattern but don’t keep her on it for too long otherwise it will become the only way to get her to sleep through the night.

If she wakes in the middle of the night the aim should be for her to turn her own light on and keep herself occupied in her room. Get her out of the habit of coming to your room. Praise her for staying in her room. Have things in her room that she can occupy herself with. If she comes to your room return her immediately. Keep doing it, even if she calls out. It may end up waking her brother but stick to your guns on this one until she gets the message that she can’t come to your room.

One alternative is that she can sleep outside your door if she wants to be close to you. I have known this to be an effective strategy with some kids who wake in the middle of the night. This way they are close to their parents but not invasive. So this is a type of compromise.
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Question 7: Hi Michael, I would appreciate your thoughts on best way to explain to a 3 1/2 year old the answer to ''Why doesn't Daddy live with us? and Why do I have to have two homes?". Friends have also been struggling with the best way to answer when their children ask ''Why doesn't (Rosie) live with her Mummy and Daddy together?". I would like to know the most age and developmentally - appropriate language for this. Thanks, S.A. (VIC)

Response: Children ask the most pertinent, straight-forward questions that deserve a straight-forward response from parents and carers.

You need to respond truthfully but also by directing your child to look forward and helping him or her focus on positives. Such questions are often code for “I want you and daddy to live together in one home again.” Children should be allowed to say such things and express their feelings in such ways. Children do grieve the breakdown of their family as they knew it and usually want things to be as they were before. As parents we need to be realistic with children and don’t let them harbour false hopes.

A suitable response may be along these lines: “Mum and dad can’t live with each other in the same house any more. It is better if we live in two houses. Mum and dad still love you very much. We are still your mum and dad like before but we live in different houses. You have to have two homes because Mum and dad have a home each.”

The notion of an age appropriate explanation is always testing. You usually know your explanation hits the mark when they are satisfied with your response. Don’t lay too much information or explanation on children. Keep it simple and let them keep asking.

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Question 8: Hi, we were wondering what your thoughts are on kinder (& school) readiness for boys? We have a boy born during February who is legally able to start 3 year old kinder next year, however we hear that many parents hold children back if they are at the younger end of the spectrum. Our son is tall for his age and seems well within normal limits developmentally (as far as we know!) We'd like to start him in kinder, but don't want to make a mistake. Do you know of any research or evidence to guide us with this decision? What are the pros and cons of holding boys back? Many thanks, DT (VIC).


Response: Welcome to the wonderful world of education. Parents sweat over the issues of timing and choice. Specifically, when should they begin pre school/school and what institution (pre school, school) should I send them to?

You are right in that parents tend to hold children back these days so that six years of age tends to be the more likely starting age for many children.

Research does strongly suggest that boys and girls who start school earlier than the median can struggle and more importantly, continue to struggle through their schooling.

Having said that statistics don’t account for individual children and there are plenty of examples of children who buck this trend.

One pro for holding boys back is that they tend to mature less quickly compared to girls so a four year old boy can be on a similar wavelength developmentally with a three year old. Have a look at how he measures up with girls of similar age.

However my hunch would be to start him at three year old if he is the right age and doing well developmentally. If he doesn’t cope to well then you can give him a second go at three year old kinder (I am assuming three year olds kinders still allow a child to do three year old twice). Boys also can benefit in the longer term from the experiences that three –year-old kinder provides.

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Question 9: Hi Michael, I have a 3 year old who is 4 next month who puts on a song and dance (to put it nicely) every night when it is time to go to bed. He has done this on and off for as long as I can remember. When he was smaller we would just ignore him as he wasn’t able to leave his room, but now he is older and louder and there is also his 9 month old brother who we don’t want disturbed. His night time routine is the same every night….we are routine Nazis here…..he gets 3 stories in his bed and then it’s time to go to sleep. He prefers to sleep with the light dimmed and the door ajar (even threats to do the opposite don’t deter his antics!) His bedtime is 7pm and sometimes he carries on for up to 1.5 hours. He is at a cross roads with his day sleep, he seems to need one every couple of days. I thought that by dropping it completely he would go to bed more easily at night but this hasn’t worked as if he doesn’t get an afternoon nap every couple of days we start to see hysterical tantrums over nothing. I know his behaviour is attention related but am at a loss as to what more we can do??? Please help!! Regards, P.R. (VIC)

Response: It sounds like nighttimes are difficult at the moment. Your son is in a transition phase sleep-wise so it may be best to cut the daytime sleep out altogether and put up with tantrums for a while until he adjusts.

Good to see you have a routine in place. Three stories is enough. You may want to cut this back to one or two as you only need to be there for five minutes to settle him. Do your reading elsewhere perhaps. Make a quick exit and don’t come back unless there is an earthquake or nightmare. No responding to calling out or crying. Return boomerangs promptly without scalding or rebukes. Consider placing the nine month old elsewhere if he or she is in the same bedroom. Be absolutely persistent and consistent. Good luck.
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Question 10: We have a 3 year old daughter who day time toilet trained in just 5 days about 9 months ago. She still has no bladder control when she sleeps (day or night time) and this can include even a short nap in the car. We put her to bed in a nappy and so started a reward chart for waking up with it dry. The aim was to give her a treat when she reached the end of the chart however we have reached that point and she is still having wet nappies most days. How do I train her to be sleep time toilet trained? C.R. (VIC)

Response: Hi CR, Your child is probably not developmentally ready to stay dry over night. Around 30% of four year olds still go through the night with a wet nappy. A child’s bladder size and bladder control affect bed-wetting. A child’s bladder is usually big enough by the age of five to hold sufficient urine to stay dry.

When a bladder is full in the middle of the night a message goes to the brain to say hold on, or to wake up. With young children the brain doesn’t react to this message. Nothing wrong with that. It is just physiology at work.

The reward mechanisms you use are fine but in many ways it is a matter of readiness. There are many good books around about toilet-training. I favour a little book called Boss of the Bladder by Janet Hall. It is terrific and outlines the whole toilet-training process. You can get at www.parentingideas.com.au bookstore or possibly at book shops.
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Question 11: I have a 5 year old daughter at kinder who in the last month started crying and doesn't want to go. She went through 3 year old kinder and up until 1 month ago 4 year old kinder fine. She does go with her cousin and they are quite close, my daughter is the sensitive shy one, the cousin is similar but is a bit more outgoing. Recently the cousin has begun to hang out with other girls and my daughter is not coping too well. I am pretty sure this is why she doesnt want to attend now. She will sulk if the cousin goes off and last kinder when the teacher rang the bell for them to sit down and have a role call, she was missing (she was hiding behind the bushes upset). Im extremely concerned and having many sleepless nights. My question is do we take the cousin out of kinder and change her day (which she is happy to do) so my daughter has to fend for herself at her kinder or will she just grow out of it?? Also considering sending them to different schools as this could continue?? Please help. Thanks S.

Response: Dear S, Blood maybe thicker than water but try telling that to children. Your daughter obviously relies heavily on her cousin and maybe she is a child at the shyer end of the sociability spectrum. Nothing wrong with that. Many of us operate on the notion of having a few special friends.

Your daughter needs to widen her circle of friends and not be dependent on just one child. So avoid the sleepless nights and see this as one of life’s little hurdles that your daughter must meet and overcome. Do not take her cousin out of kinder nor your daughter but encourage her to move on and socialise with other kids. Friendships and children are like wind. They can be friends tomorrow and enemies the next day but best friends in a week’s time.

Think a little longer term about the schooling issue that you are now. You may send them both to the same school and they won’t interact at all….. or maybe they will. Use other criteria to help you choose a school than just a likely relationship with one child.
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Question 12: Hi my three year old is extremely clingy and possesive of me. His clingyness has caused competion with my five year old resulting in fighting over me. I do feel guilty as my 5yr old misses out on time with me. He even doesn't like my husband next to me.I have tried time share with each child which my 5yr is willing and understands what to do, but the 3yr will not comply. Iam also expecting our third child and I would like to sort this out before the baby comes. I have explained to him that he needs to share mummy. I really would love my space sometimes. I am getting frustated and I don't want to push my three year old away and him feel rejected. What should I do. Has he got me wrapped around his finger? Please help!

Response: You have to share yourself around so many people. Your 3 year old wants a big chunk of you. He is at a very clingy age. Also he has a sibling coming along which I assume he knows about. He probably feels that he is being displaced and more than a little insecure. Don’t feel guilty that you first born doesn’t get enough of you. He had heaps when he was on his own.

Some ideas to use:

Divide and conquer is one strategy you can use. That is, you take one child and dad takes another for ten or so minutes then swap days around. Be insistent that you need time with each person, including your partner.

Use technology to help. The electronic babysitter (TV) can be useful to get the break you need.

Use an egg-timer to teach your young child that you need some time to yourself and with others. “You can sit on my knee until the sand reaches the bottom.”

Praise your young son when he does spend time occupying himself even if just for a short period of time.

Let your children join you in preparing for the birth of your third. You want this child to be their baby too so early preparation can help them feel that they are not being displaced.
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Question 13: Hi. I’m a mum of a 4.5 year old who is a pathological thumb sucker. I have tried positive reinforcement approaches– verbal, star charts etc, have put the stuff to stop nail biting on his thumb but to no avail. It is now at the stage that he is starting to slur his words due to what I think is a significant over bite – also his bottom teeth are starting to push inwards. So what other options, strategies, advice is there to combat this problem. N.L. (VIC)

Response: Thumb-sucking occurs for a number of reasons – habit, anxiety and even attention-seeking.

I often relate thumb-sucking to anxiety as it is generally has a calming effect on child. In a way it is a way of self-calming. The pleasure or relaxation that comes from thumb-sucking far outweighs any negative side-effects you may suggest or the positive reinforcement strategies you use. None of your strategies probably provide the same level of comfort as the old thumb. It also becomes habitual so maybe you are fighting habit and the need to relax.

One idea rather than fighting the thumb-sucking is for you to accept the sucking, but explore alternatives to sucking the thumb such as dummies that don’t have adverse affects on his teeth.

Consider seeing a dentist for information about the affects thumb-sucking have on teeth and also for strategies, suggestions or even safe alternatives that he or she may offer. It is an issue that many of them face so you may get some top ideas from a dental viewpoint.

In the meantime, you may even look at other ways to help your child relax and get a feeling of calm. Some children grow out of it gradually. Some stop over night. Often it takes interacting with other children for them to stop as peers can have a greater influence on each other than we realise.
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Question 14: Hi - I have a 6 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. Every time one gets a present the other one wants it. It could be a boy toy or a girl toy, blocks, coulouring books, pencils the list goes on. What do I do do I? For example say John's toys are his and Suzies toys are hers, or should I make them share? I have tried the sharing and then eventually after 5 minutes they are fighting and arguing. I have removed the toy and then they will start arguing about the next toy. I have even removed the child or separated them and within 5 minutes again they are misbehaving. Eventually after an hour I give up on the diciplining as by then I am exhausted. This happens daily the same pattern. Could you please help me?

Response: Hi, This is two questions in one.

Let’s take the first one: When one child gets a present avoid going the fairness track and getting the other child something to compensate. Sometimes one child needs something such as an item of clothing and the other doesn’t. To avoid whinge sessions we often buy them both something. Be firm and smart on this and stick to the notion of “you get this on a needs rather than a wants basis” as much as you can or your kids will realise you are stuck on fairness and drive you crazy to make you give in.

Second issue: Your children have reached an age, particularly your six year old, where they are capable of sharing time, space and possessions with each other in small doses. Avoid making them share everything. Children like to have some toys or possessions of their own, particularly special or new things. You may wish to ask your children which toys they would like to share and which ones would they like to put away. A little persuasion may be needed if a child won’t share anything.

I often advocate a ‘put them in the same boat’ principle when kids continue to fight over toys or possessions. That is, if neither wants to share or both are fighting then removal of the toys or offending items maybe the best solution. Alternatively, you may want to stop joining in their disputes and make yourself scarce rather than try to find a solution when they fight over toys. It could be a case of Bear it, Beat or Boot them out when they fight or refuse to share.

I have heaps of strategies in my at-home parenting program Siblings: Get your kids to fight less and lover each other more available at my site.
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Question 17: My 3yo son continues to wake nightly, has not slept through the night in his life. Often he wakes at about 10 then every 3-4 hours til morning and up for the day at 6-6.30am. He wants milk (from a sipper cup), me, my bed. He is also very clingy and resents me spending time with my husband and tries to push him away when we are sitting together. We got into bad habits last year where I would read to him at night time and often fall asleep beside him and now he screams when I leave the room before he is asleep and I guess he wakes up at 10 wondering why I am not still there. I feel I have the stamina now to go through some crying and push the boundaries of sleep deprivation but I want to make sure I do the right thing so that we can all get some sleep and in our own beds. Please help.

Response: Good for you for realising that you need to do something about what has become a bad sleeping habit.

You need to develop a sleep plan and stick to it. I notice you suggest that you are feeling strong enough to go through some sleep deprivation to make it happen.

A bed for him and bed for you is a good idea. Work to keep it that way.
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Question 18: I have a 5 year old boy whom I feel I am often embattled in a power struggle with. If he asks for a treat and I say no he will say I am and get very put out sometimes snort at me (humorous at first, but not as time goes on). Also when I say no to something he will still try and go ahead with it until I really have to come down on him. I try and be consistent which I would say I am 90% of the time> He is also a very fussy eater and has been so since eighteen months of age I wonder if he will ever eat any vegies!!

Response: Good to see you have worked out you are in a power struggle with your son. Usually it is power and control that is the central issue rather than eating or whatever that is at the heart of things when dealing with power-seekers.

Let him have little wins so don’t get too upset when he snorts at you. Don’t laugh, raise your eyes or give it too much truck - just ignore.

With power-seekers two language strategies generally work well.

First, focus on your rather than your child. E.g “I am serving the meal now.’( And do so.) “I will listen to you when you use a normal voice.” “I will say good night in 5 minutes.”(And begin reading the bedtime story then whether he is there or not). This places you in control.

Second, give him the choice of two things when sensible and possible. E.g “If you want to make a huge noise go outside. If you want to be inside you need to settle down. Which will it be?” Kids will often respond your way when given a choice as it makes them feel in control.

Yes, fussy eaters often grow into liking vegetables as they get older so don’t despair. You may have to hide his veggies with sauce, in pies or some other way. Kids usually get most of the daily intake of vitamins and minerals through a variety of sources including fruit so don’t worry too much if he doesn’t take to veggies for a time.
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Question 19: My sisteen month old Daughter is a bum shuffler! She was born 5 weeks prem and very small (2 Kilo) I was told this was due to a "True Knot" in the cord. She is only just 8 Kilo now. She sat up on her own at approx 10 months and only started this bum shuffling business at 13 months so she has always been behind everyone else her age. I have been told by so called experts that they need to crawl comando style in order for both sides of their brain to work properly. However, she claps hands, waves goodbye (with either hand), points to things when I ask her, so it seems her fine motor skills are good. She has begun to stand up and walk around furniture holding on now, however (experts) have told me she won't be able to walk on her own unless I make her comando crawl. She has this bum shuffling down to a fine art and MCH Nurses are very surprised with how fast she goes (It is much faster than crawling). I have done what they have said and got down and held her feet and then she crawls but she is happy going faster with the bum shuffling. Alot of peole have told me not to worry and she will walk, but these MCH nurses know how to worry 1st time Mums. Also, she has a fabulous Bio-dynamic / organic diet and has only has 2 little sniffles in her 16 months, so she is a very healthy and happy little girl. Please let me know your thoughts on this.

Response: This question is a little out of my direct expertise but I would like to add my 20 cents worth to reassure you. One of my kids was a bum shuffler and my wife was one too. Both have terrific fine motor skills and are ‘normal’ in all ways. It didn’t appear to hinder my child’s development one little bit, then or later on.

They shuffled along with their heads up as it was the most efficient way to move around. The more my daughter did it the more efficient she became and the less likely she was to crawl. She did walk a little later than other children, which I believe is normal as they can generally bum shuffle quicker than they can walk. Bum shuffling has the advantage of enabling a child to keep their head up, so the incentive to walk is a little less. But your child will walk when she is ready or finds bum shuffling inefficient.

Make sure you take plenty of photos that you can embarrass her with later on. Good luck!
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