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Dear Dr. Day Care,

My daughter is in the second grade and tells stories that are not true. I call this lying and I will not tolerate lying in my home. How can I stop her from telling lies; and why is she doing this?

Signed, Tell Me the Truth

Dear Tell Me the Truth,

Lots of children at this age of development tell their parents (as well as other people) information about events and happenings that are not factual. Some great ways for changing this behavior are to begin your reply by saying: "I like your stories that you tell me. However, I need to hear the correct information." Explain/retell your understanding of the story to your child and state the story the correct way. In most instances, the child will agree with you and yet, from time to time try to tell stories that are not correct. If you continue to bring the correct information forward, the behavior usually disappears quickly. This is true because your child realizes you are following through.

If your child does not agree with your version of the story and persists that her story is correct, you need to follow through collecting all the information you need to obtain to get the actual facts. It is important to do this with a good attitude, because your child will pick up on your vibes. Together, check out the information, i.e. if your child tells you a story that her day care provider would not feed her all day and you state "I know you ate,": and she still denies the fact of eating all day, explain to her that the following day you both will ask her child care teacher about her food intake to become clear on the facts because eating is an important part of her health. Talk to her teacher together to gather information to what times and the foods your child ate. By ding this, you are clarifying the facts about your child's story.

I know this is a lot of work, but as you continue to follow through, the behavior most always disappears. I know this type of discipline takes time, however it is a much better direction to discipline your child in this manner compared to yelling at her and calling her a liar, which will only increase the behavior and lower her self esteem. By saying you will not listen to the misinformation she is telling you and continuously getting the facts from the sources, her behavior will cease and you will find her starting to tell the correct facts of her stories.

As far as why children tell misinformation: Sometimes it is for attention (they want to see if you are listening to them.) It could be that they like to control their parents and see them get upset by the misinformation they are explaining to you. They could also be testing their parents and other times, the stories are a child's way of telling what they would like life or a situation to be in their life. As a parent, we can obtain a lot of how our child is feeling through the stories they tell.

Dear Dr. Day Care,

My husband and I have four children. Three daughters and our son is the baby. The oldest is eleven and he is five years old. He is entering kindergarten this year and is refusing to go to school. I asked him why and he said it is because his sisters told him

Signed, baby boy's mom

Dear baby boy's mom,

Explain to your son that kindergarten is not for babies. Let him know that babies chronologically are months old and he is five. Reassure him that he will be learning many concepts such as the alphabet, numbers, how to write his name and to learn how to read. Explain playtime is a part of kindergarten, however, adults use playtime as part of their learning experience too. Continue to ask him more questions about his understanding of being a kindergarten student and his underlining concerns will be revealed. The key is to listen to your child's needs and redefine his actual concerns. When the whisper of the start of school is in the air through conversations your children are having at home, or commercials on television and radio, many children become apprehensive of their new and unfamiliar environment.

Throughout my years of working with school age children, I have noticed many children will have the following concerns. One concern could be; who will be my teacher. Get your family involved, explain to your daughter that their brother is worried about who his teacher will be and ask his sisters to explain, from a positive prospective, their knowledge of their previous kindergarten teachers. Another concern could be; will the school bus bring me home or how will I get to the after school day care program. May I suggest explaining in detail about riding on a bus and what to do if he becomes worried? An example would be asking his teacher a question or talk to the bus monitor. Have a back up letter in his back pack that explains all the details of where he lives and/ or where his after school day care program is located with pertinent telephone numbers in case of a mix up. Write his teacher a note to let her know of his concerns, this will keep everyone up to date of the situation.

Finally, may I suggest, reading books to your son about attending the first day of school? Books can not only address some concerns or new ones, but more importantly eliminate the concerns and worries children might experience before hand. Most important, your son will pick up your feelings towards him going to school for the first time – so be positive and in that way you will insure his safe transition to the beginning of his school career. He will realize too that you are there for him.

Dear Dr. Day Care,

The TODAY show had a segment on preschool children being tutored. The tutoring process gives parents an area to assist their children in succeeding in academics. Do you believe in this process for young children?

Signed, Preschooler's Parents

Dear Preschooler's Parents,

For some, the concept of tutoring young children can be developmentally inappropriate. Asking most three years olds to sit down and attempt to learn in a tutoring style is at most a challenge, and then parents place pressure onto the child just to sit still and pay attention. Those parental actions can be interpreted or misinterpreted by their children. Tutoring can be a pressured situation that young children are not ready to encounter and may turn them off from learning. Children pick up those vibes in adults.

Children learn best through play. To define play, in the academic sense, is where children learn through experiencing their senses and have an environment conducive for having fun, enrichment and a relaxed atmosphere. Examples of learning through play are: a parent reading to their child and going apple picking with the family. In one of the learning through play examples, such as apple picking, family members can talk about apples being different colors and/or shades of red, the shape of apples and how they grow on trees. They can count, out loud, how many apples the family picks from a tree. Using all the senses in the learning process is associated with learning through play, along with having the experience of being child centered. Upon arrival home, after apple picking, take time to schedule a time when your family can prepare a cooking experience around the topic of apples. Before preparing the apples to be baked or turning them into a pie or applesauce, the family can cut open the apples and note the star inside. In a nutritional sense, parents can serve an appropriate sized portion of pie instead of a super size piece. As a parent, you can model proper eating of one slice and discuss the topic of super sizing that is currently sweeping our country with the whole family.

Learning through play, as in the experience of apples, taught children colors, shapes, math, language, alike /different, nutrition and socialization, most importantly, those family memories will never be forgotten. Enjoy...

Dear Dr. Day Care,

I have had many foster children over the last few years of being a licensed foster mother. I am glad to say all the children who were in my care returned home. Some children were in my home for just a few days, while others stayed with me for a few months. What is the best way to identify children who have emotional needs and how do I help children who appear to have emotional problems?

Signed, Foster Mom

Dear Foster Mom,

The best way to help children who appear to have emotional challenges in your foster home is to observe their behavior and take in to consideration the child/youth/teenager's age, environment from which they came from, and past history. AS the begin living with you, children may show signs of having emotional needs if they appear to be withdrawn, want to be isolated from their foster family, or acting out. Keep in mind that most foster children, youth and teens have experienced some type of emotional upset due to leaving their home. It can certainly be traumatic for any human being to be moved from their family life.

Emotional behaviors could be associated with the sudden loss of their family situation and in time, the behaviors may disappear. As you are observing your foster child's behavior, may I suggest jotting notes about your daily observations on your private calendar? These notes will assist you and professionals to see how long the behavior is lasting, begin to see if the behaviors are being repeated, and show signs of patterns.

You asked me how you could help children with emotional behaviors and may I suggest for a very young child that you can comfort the child with hugs, positive feedback, good nutrition and a safe place to live. A school age child might need all the above plus more consistency in his/her daily routine, such as helping them adjust to a new school and help then to find a friend. A teen's needs could consist of taking one on one time to have conversations and ask what they need and what is their expectation of living in a new home. It is ok to say to a teen you seem down, is there any way I can help you.

Go with your gut, and utilize all the resources and training you received before you became a foster mom. If the symptoms seem acute in a child/youth or teen placed in your home, immediately talk with his/her social worker, and/or pediatrician to discuss a solution.

Dear Dr. Day Care,

My infant son Patrick has an underlying eczema condition. During the fall and winter as the relative humidity level drops, is when the symptoms generally manifest. At the day care center he attends, the temperature is often hot and the humidity level is really low. When I pick up my son at the end of the day, he is warm and sweaty, which worsens his eczema condition. At home we use a humidifier in his room during sleep time and that works well. How do I best convey this to the owner of the child care center that they need to record the humidity level and then take appropriate actions by installing a humidifier for the well being of my son and the other children at the center? I'm also concerned that by raising this issue with the day care center that my son may be kicked out of the center.

Signed, Concern Dad

Dear Concern Dad,

I contacted Dr Kevin Killeen a microbiologist who attended a seminar by Dr Peter Palese, world expert on influenza. His laboratory clearly demonstrated that low humidity strongly enhances animal-to-animal transmissibility of flu virus. These data suggest that monitoring humidity levels in homes may substantially reduce reduce human-to-human spread.

From this research it sounds like a humidifier will work well in your Childs classroom, to alleviate your child's eczema as well as for the well being and health of all the children at the day care center. May I suggest that you schedule an appointment with the owner, and or, director of the child care center. Find out if the Director is the owner. If the Director is not the owner, I would request to meet with both people simultaneously. Principally, the owner is the decision maker for financial decisions. Explain your concern and see if the director / owner would be willing to add a humidifier to the infant room. Bring in the research you gathered from the seminar you attended and a note from your son's pediatrician.

Sometimes if the facility is being rented and not owned by the person operating the child care facility and the director must ask the landlord as an extra step to accomplishing tasks. Sometimes it is feasible by offering to help defray the cost of the humidifier, which might accelerate the decision.

Keep in mind there are other children in the facility and child care center. Together you and the owner need to come up with a plan. The most important concern is the needs of your son and his medical care. If together you cannot come up with a plan you might want to seek out another center that can meet your child's needs.

You mentioned you are concerned that your child may be asked to leave the center; however most directors really care about their profession and that would be discrimination which is not in line with their license.

Dear Dr. Day Care,

My fifteen month old daughter is in such a touchy, feely stage. She touches everything in our home. She has broken some of my favorite vases and china pieces. She has actually broken things at my mother's home, I hate to take her visiting with me, it is embarrassing. How do I stop her behavior?

Signed, Busy toddler mom & dad

Dear Busy toddler mom & dad,

Toddlers at fifteen months old are exploring their world. From the moment young children become mobile they begin to check out their environments. Your daughter behavior is typical of her toddler age. The stage that she is now experiencing will pass but until it passes I want to address your concerns. Your family is experiencing the emery of a toddler and I would like to share ideas that will support her development and lessen the stress on you and her Dad.

May I first suggest to place all your favorite items in your home such as your china away in a safe place until your daughter goes through her stage of development. At her exploring and play level I would have many things she can touch and a couple of things she is not allowed to touch. A good example of how to make this happen is: as your favorite vase is put away for a short period of your child life replace it with an item your child can touch and explore. Your first thought probably is: why implement this idea, I want to teach my child not to touch! However if the environment is set up with items your child can access you prevent the beginnings of a power struggles with your child. It will happen, in time with her brain developing and age development she will clearly understand what she can and cannot touch. Yet she will progress and develop in to other most interesting stages of development such as the terrific twos, sharing threes, out of bound fours and passage five year old.

May I also suggest it is ok to have a couple of items in her play space that she is not allowed to touch such as your family TV. As she approaches the buttons on the TV you have a choice to say a firm no, do not touch, redirect her behavior to another object or substitute with other buttons she can push. The most important part of the discipline process is once you say the word no or do not touch you need to follow through. So if your daughter determined toddler personality wants to continuing touching you need to take her from the TV because follow through is a very important lesson for toddlers. Enjoy your child and treasure the development of a toddler is changes quickly.

Dear Dr. Day Care,

My son has recently begun riding the bus to and from school. During this ride, he has been exposed to several conversations about H1N1 flu, the ongoing war, and more importantly the fear of death. How do I explain death to a 6 year old and help to set his mind at ease?

Signed, Scared to Death for My Son

Dear Scared to Death for My Son,

The reality of it is that children do worry about things and no one person has all the answers.

No one likes to think about sickness, accidents or bad things that can happen to people, especially death. The most important thing you can do is let him know that talking to a grown-up that he trusts about his feelings is the first and best way to cope with his feelings. Most people (children as well as adults,) don't discuss death because it may be tragic or due to a fear of the unknown.

Understanding why someone has died can be a difficult process, but death is actually a natural part of life. If it's not talked about, it naturally becomes something we fear.

If you feel comfortable, ask your son "What does it mean to be dead?" "What happens to the body when someone or something (a pet) dies?" "Can the body still move?" "Is the person still breathing?" Explain to your child that the heart doesn't beat, the body stops working and the person will stay dead. Try to clear up any myths about death your child may have such as "only old people die or death is contagious." If your child is unable to verbalize his ideas of what death means to him, give him paper and crayons and allow him to express himself in that manner.

Once you identify where your child is at, then you will be able support his beliefs and/ or clarify any misconceptions. For example, he may believe that if several people have died from the flu that the rest of the world is going to as well. By opening up this dialogue you can begin to teach him the facts and at the same time acknowledge how he is feeling. Your child will learn that every living thing eventually dies and when that happens, it can be for a variety of reasons. If you have lost a family pet and had a "ceremony" or "burial," this may be a good way to help him identify what he is thinking and feeling.

A good book to refer to is "The Sky Goes On Forever," written by Molly MacGregor. This book will help explain why everybody dies.

Dear Dr. Day Care,

My child is enrolled in a toddler program at a child care facility close to my home. The same child has bitten her twice in one week. This child has bitten other children. I love the day care and want my child to stay enrolled. However, I feel the child who is biting should get expelled from the program so my child will be safe. Do you agree?

Dear Bitee Mom,

Biting in a child care setting is probably one of the most difficult situations for all involved. This is a major concern for all child care providers and families. It is a situation that happens in all child care facilities.

I would not suggest having the child who is biting expelled from the child care program. I would suggest working closely with the Director of the facility to find ways to prevent your child from being bitten. There are many child development techniques that can be utilized to stop a biting situation.

To expel the child who is biting from the program would not be in the best interest for the child. The most appropriate decision would be for the child care Director and teachers to be in close communication with the family whose child is biting. Together they can come up with solutions and techniques to redirect the biting behavior of the child. It might be just a time in a child's life that they are teething and the biting stage may disappear when the child's new teeth appear.

Dear Dr. Day Care,

My son, who is in third grade, just started attending camp this summer. He comes home and says he hates going because of one individual student that is picking on him every day. He tells me that this kid is tripping him, laughing at him and dunking him in the pool. Now, he refuses to go back to camp. Camp is the only social connection that he will have with kids his own age for the summer because we live in a secluded area. I really want him to attend, what should I do?

Signed, Camper's Mom

Dear Camper's Mom,

It sounds to me like your son could be being bullied at camp and is afraid to attend. Children who bully other kids are in every community. They exist in every city, town, and neighborhood where children gather. Bullies are boys and girls who hurt their peers socially, emotionally and physically. They sometimes harass their peers by calling them names, hitting, pushing, heckling, yelling, insulting and gossiping about them, just so they can feel superior and powerful to their peers.

I suggest that you have a conversation with your son and ask him if he is afraid to go to camp because of the behavior of this certain person. If he does not open up to you, explain to him that you feel that by talking with you about the camp, you and he will be able to devise some techniques that will help him deal with being bullied and help him feel safe.

One skill that may assist your son is to teach him how to deal with bullies and how to identify who is a bully. Some ways to teach him how to ward off bullies is to have your son make direct eye contact with the bully, stand up and tall and to be around adults as much as he can. Adults, such as his camp counselor, can model how to stick up for themselves. Because bullies tend to be attracted to kids who appear quiet or shy and who tend to play by themselves, bullies feel that these kids are easy targets. Kids who can defend themselves do better in dealing with bullying behaviors.

Having your son observe his environment can help him in identifying a bully. Ask him to watch who is picking on other kids, calling them names and pulling their hair. Explain to him that this type of person is a bully and the bully may do the same types of things to him. Have your son avoid this type of person and assert himself when he is around this type of person.

It is very important to make your son feel safe and secure at camp. His needs need to be top priority. Immediately go to the Director of the camp and explain your son's concerns. Most definitely if this is happening to your son it is also happening to other children.

The camp can arrange to teach all campers about bullying in their camp curriculum. Books on the subject can be read to campers, role-plays can include children who are being bullied and how to identify a bully. Role-plays give the campers a real live space to express their feelings and act out ways to cope.

Once this situation is brought out in the open, most bullies will recognize that they have been identified. Usually, the intervention of adults helps to minimize or diminish the bully's behavior. The camp staff can keep a look out for this alleged bully and can intervene when the bully's behavior resurfaces. The behavior of this type of child will always reappear! If the camp staff has a heads up they can observe the bully's behavior and they can contact the parents and begin working on solutions with the family.

Long-term skills can include enrolling in a self-defense class teaching direct communication skills such as the use of " I messages" and, believe it or not, befriending bullies.

Dear Dr. Day Care,

I am the mother of a sixteen-month old toddler son. I come from a Portuguese family that throughout my twenty-three years of life, my parents made it a very important factor to teach me the language of my culture. They spoke both English and Portuguese with the latter being spoken in our home.

I have created the same values and teachings for my son's upbringing. However, his father is concerned and seems to think that we should only speak English to our son. He feels this could possibly delay his speech. What is you advice for our bilingual home?

Signed, Speechless Mom

Dear Speechless Mom,

According to Dr. Patricia Reblin, a speech pathologist from Swampscott MA, the best time to learn a second language is as a young child, while the speech and language area of the brain is still developing. The introduction of multi-languages doubles a child's vocabulary and increases the ability to learn additional languages.

When children listen to two different languages, the learn both at the same time; thus, building vocabulary and gradually going from one-word utterances to phrases and then onto sentences. When children learn two languages simultaneously, sometimes their utterances may be a little shorter than other children around the same age. The reason being is they are organizing to different language programs at the same time. When a child is about four years old they have caught up with monolingual peers. The teachings of two languages have also enhanced their ability to learn other new foreign languages.

Children up to or around the age of twelve years can learn a new language from a native speaker with no foreign accent. After the age of twelve, children can loose their ability to discriminate sounds that are not in their native language.

As I understand it, children born into a home where multi-languages are being presented, taught, and spoken have great opportunities open to them for their future. Travel, careers, and continuing to acknowledge and support the family culture can flourish because of their ability to speak multiple languages. Unless there is a concern of a language disability with learning their primary language, continue to speak both languages and explain to your son's Dad it is a benefit to his toddler.

Dear Dr. Day Care,

I am a nanny who cares for a five year old child who whines all the time. When she whines I seem to give her what she wants. How can I stop this behavior?


Dear Nanny,

Children who whine need to have the behavior of whining redirected. I have a few ideas that have been successful in reducing whining considerably and at times eliminated the behavior completely.

The first idea would be to ignore the whining voice of the child and answer what the child is saying. An example of this is when the child whines for a glass of juice, do not mention the whining voice but reinforce the nutritious drink . You might say, " I am glad you chose a nutritious beverage, would you like to drink it at the table or in the play room?"

You might also try discussing the child's whining with the child. At age five I'm sure she has been told many times she whines so discuss how it feels to be called a "whiner". Have the child and yourself agree with alternatives to whining. One agreement might be that if she whines when she speaks to you, you have her permission to whine and say the same sentence back to her. That way she can hear how it sounds. Then you both can discuss another way for her voice to communicate.

The third way is to allow the child to have three whines a day while in your care – Discuss a number of times you both feel comfortable selecting. This could also be a math lesson too !! If she whines three times or less each day and keeps to her agreement, reward her with a sticker each day in your care. At the end of the week if she earns five stickers, together you will purchase a special treat for her or do something special together.

It is important to realize that threats, commands to stop the whining behavior or embarrassing her to stop whining usually never work. It has taken five years to bring about this behavior and it could take up to five months to change the behavior.

I also would discuss this plan of action with her parents and work on the behavior together.

Dear Dr. Day Care,

When my granddaughter comes to my home to visit she is into everything. She is only a toddler. My daughter and her husband get very upset with her behavior and are constantly telling her "don't touch".

I am fine with her behavior and hate seeing her get in trouble for this typical toddler behavior.

When I visit my daughter's home there is no pressure and she is allowed to play and have fun. Any suggestions of what I can do?

Signed, Kids will be Kids in Grammy's Home Too!

Dear Kids will be Kids,

The suggestion I have is to sit down with your daughter and son-in-law and talk about your granddaughter's behavior as it relates to your home. Explain to them that her behavior is fine with you. Ask them to make an agreement with you. The agreement being, while your granddaughter is visiting your home, she may freely play and have fun. You will let them know if her behavior is not appropriate for your home. Until that point, they can allow their daughter to be a typical toddler unless they feel their child is unsafe. It is important for this agreement to work and that your home environment is conductive to child's play.

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