Fighting in front of the Kids

My wife and I-like most couples-have our share of disagreements on how to parent. One of the things we’ve been disagreeing on lately is whether or not it’s okay to fight in front of the kids. I think it will teach our children how to compromise. My wife thinks it will scar them for life. What do you think?

Parenting approaches are the source of just about as many marital spats as money and division of labor. Ideally, you should avoid having huge fights in front of your children. Kids are scared and confused when their parents yell at each other, and researchers have found that the angrier the parents, the more distressed the children.
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Children with Special Needs

My wife and I have a child with a number of special needs. Although we both love our child very much, there’s no question that parenting him has taken a toll on our marriage and the rest of the family (we have other children). Interestingly, my wife and I respond to the stress very differently. Is there anything we can do to reduce the tension, as well as improve our relationship as a couple, so our entire family is happier?

It’s nearly impossible to get accurate data on disabilities, but conservatively speaking, around 15 percent of preschool and school-age children in the US have one or more "chronic conditions." These could be anything from asthma and autism to cancer and cerebral palsy.
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The Importance of Father Involvement in the Schools

My child’s school often sends out emails asking for moms to volunteer in the classroom or around the school. A lot of these communications talk about how important it is for mothers to be involved in their children’s education. As a father, I find this a little annoying, and I’m wondering whether you know of any evidence that dads’ involvement is important too?

There’s a mountain of research that shows a direct connection between parents’ involvement in their children’s education and their kids’ performance in school. In short, the more the parents are involved, the better the kids do. But in many schools (and in many families), the word "parents" really means "mom." That’s a big mistake. There are a number of benefit that are specifically related to father involvement. When dads are involved, their children.
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Debunking the Mozart Effect

We are parents of two kids, 6 and 8, and our closest friends have kids the exact same ages. These friends swear that they can increase their children’s IQ by playing certain kinds of music. I think they’re full of it. But could they possibly be right? Does music actually increase a child’s intelligence?

Remember the Mozart Effect’the wildly popular idea that listening to music by Mozart would boost children’s IQ? Don Campbell, who took the Effect out of the lab and into the shopping mall, sells all sorts of products that supposedly will make your child smarter. Turns out, though, that the Mozart Effect does nothing of the kind (although that hasn’t stopped Campbell and others from making a ton of money).
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Single-Sex Education

A few years ago our daughter was having trouble in school. On the advice of friends, we sent her to an all-girls school, where she has thrived. Now, our son is starting to have problems and we’re wondering whether an all-boys school would be good for him. Is single-sex education as good for boys as it is for girls?

When people think of single-sex schools they usually have girls in mind. As you discovered on your own, girls in girls-only schools tend to do better than those in co-ed schools. What about boys? Well, not many people know about it, but the results are similar: boys in boys-only schools do much better than boys in co-ed. In fact the bump kids get from single-sex schools is even greater for boys than it is for girls, according to an exhaustive study by English researcher Graham Able.
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Non-Stop Chatterbox

I’ve got three kids. The middle one, who’s five, starts chattering the second she wakes up and doesn’t close her mouth until she’s asleep. On one hand, I love to hear her talk and have conversations about “Why this?” and “Why that?” But she’s exhausting me and I feel like my other children aren’t getting the attention they need because the 5-year-old is constantly interrupting. What can I do?

When babies are born, we look forward to all of their "firsts." First smile, first laugh, first steps, first words. Especially with our first baby, these are milestones that make us giddy with anticipation and cause us to break out the camcorder at every turn.

Then they start rolling . and walking . and talking – and we wonder, "What was I thinking??"

Infants get going rolling, then crawling and we are amazed at how quickly they get good at it and soon are getting from point A to point B in little more than a blink of an eye. Toddlers start walking sometimes just as an aside to running and seemingly thrill at their new found ability to run in the "wrong" direction every time. But we understand that though these may try our patience and challenge our creative problem solving skills at times that, "This too shall pass".

Talking is a whole different ball game. Or is it?

We wait so patiently for their first coherent words, regale friends and co-workers with tales of our baby’s babblings, pride ourselves in how well and early she’s speaking in full sentences. And then it starts – the flip switches on and there’s no off button in sight. And yes it can be exhausting.

But there’s good news! Young children learn at lightening speed with every sense available to them. This is such a good language learning time for them that adding a second language is a possibility. And reading to themselves is close at hand. All good things.

So how to embrace the chatter of this age group without losing your cool? And how do you ensure that the other members of the family get a word in edgewise meanwhile? Here are some ideas:

  • Learn to ask questions that require more than a "yes" or "no" answer. Questions that start with how many? when?, and what if? Are good places to start. How many nuts were in that bag that just spilled? When do you think the apples will be ready to pick? What if we didn’t do the dishes and take out the trash?
  • Take turns (literally at first) answering questions like these … include all of your children. This teaches the art of dialog rather than monologue.
  • Look for projects that the whole family can enjoy together. this way the project is the center of attention and not one child in particular.
  • Schedule reading times and quiet times – children this age are more than capable of entertaining themselves for short periods of time without getting into trouble. This gives everyone in the house a much-needed moment to recharge and regroup. Often a chatty child is a tired child and naps are not uncommon once they slow down.
  • Be as good a listener as you want your child to be. Children learn their talking and listening habits from us just as they do anything else, through observation and imitation. The better listeners we can be, the better they will ultimately be also.

Learning to talk and have co-operative conversations are important stepping-stones to reading. Once she’s reading, you’ll have some of that quiet thinking time of your own (perhaps a dim memory at this point) back. Meanwhile, find ways to appreciate that she does want to talk to you . ’cause this too shall pass . and be inclusive of everyone in the family.