Kids Gone Wild!
7. Hateful Talk
"My 3-year-old son says 'I hate you!' to his dad and me, even to his
grandparents." -- Andrea Menta, 32, Drexel Hill, PA
"When your child says he hates you, he means it -- for that moment,"
says Fletcher. But he does not mean he'll hate you forever; likely, something
you've done (telling him "No more cookies," or not letting him watch
Barney for the fifth time) has made him fuming mad. The key is to
address what made your child say "I hate you," as opposed to trying to
address the fact that he said it. The latter will only have you spinning your
wheels as you try to explain how, no, in fact, he does not really hate you. At
this age, he doesn't have the reasoning skills to be able to respond,
especially when his emotions are running so high. A simple "I guess Mommy
made you angry just now, but you still can't have a third cookie" works.
When he's calmer, talk to him about how words like "hate" hurt others'
8. Dreamy Destruction
"My 7-year-old daughter wanders around doing things without thinking --
things she knows better about, like squeezing a bottle of shampoo into the
sink, or writing with a marker on the back of a chair. What can I do?" --
Karen Cann, 33, St. Clair Shores, MI
First, make sure there's no physical reason your daughter's focus seems to
have slipped, says Brown. Is she getting enough sleep? Could she have a
neurological problem? If the change seems very swift or severe, ask your
pediatrician for advice. But chances are good that this is just a benign,
idiosyncratic -- and passing -- phase. If no destruction of property is
involved, "let her know you don't like what she's doing, but otherwise
don't make a big deal out of it," says Miller, because the more fuss you
make, the more you might unwittingly prolong the phase. If she is causing
damage, bring it to her attention and assign a consequence -- helping you clean
the dining room chairs is an obvious one. Also, "use her behavior as a
reality check," says Miller. "When busy parents are pulled in multiple
directions, they may be guilty of paying lots of attention to negative
behavior, and little attention to good behavior." So when your daughter
does something positive with those markers, like draw a colorful picture, pile
on the praise.