Stay with Me!

Dear Mr. Dad: My 3-year old has been going to the same daycare for 8 months, but he’s still anxious and nervous every time I drop him off. I know that young children can have anxiety problems about unfamiliar places and people, but hasn’t this gone on long enough?

A: I remember dropping off my oldest daughter (now 22) on her first day at daycare, and how hard it was to say goodbye and leave her in the care of people who couldn’t possibly love her as much as I did. And I still remember how she cried and didn’t want to let me go. She got over it within a few days (although it took me a lot longer), and most kids will do the same. But unfortunately, when it comes to separation anxiety, there’s no way to tell you what’s normal and what’s not.

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Finding Day Care

My wife and I are shopping around for day care. How can we tell if the facility will offer the proper care? Are there qualifications and credentials I should look for to make sure our child is safe and well cared for?

Finding a quality daycare center or provider can be incredibly stressful. Here are just a few things to look for in a day-care center:
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Some people just shouldn’t have kids. Ever.

Yesterday, it was the couple who left their kids along while they gallivanted around Las Vegas. A few days before that, there was the guy who made his son stand on a corner with a sign asking people to honk if they felt getting Fs on a report card was good. And then there were the school administrators who made a 15-year old girl get up in front of the entire school and announce that she was pregnant.

So why am I not surprised at the moronic father in Missouri who decided that the best way to discipline his 4-year old son by shooting him with a BB gun?

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Unexpected benefits of daycare

Dear Mr. Dad: My wife and I are expecting our first and we’re on the fence about whether to hire a nanny or find a childcare center for our son. It would be great to have someone at home to take care of household chores, but our friends say that there are some great advantages—for us as parents—to having our child in daycare too. Is there any truth to this?

A: In a word, yes. While it’s every parent’s dream to come home to a sparkling clean house where the laundry and the toys have been put away and as healthy dinner’s on the table, having a child in daycare offers some definite benefits to parents as well as to kids. In fact, the same day as I got your email, I received a copy of a new book by Mario Small, a Professor in Sociology at the University of Chicago, who has extensively studied a number of these benefits.

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Biting the hand—and everything else

Dear Mr. Dad: My toddler (17 months old) has been biting his three-year-old sister at home for the past week or so. Now I’ve learned from his daycare provider that he’s biting other children there as well. She’s not happy about that, of course, and I’m worried they’ll kick him out. I’ve tried lecturing him and giving him timeouts, but nothing works. What can I do to help him stop this behavior?

A: First of all, it’s important to understand that biting is a pretty normal behavior for a toddler. Children often bite when they’re tired, teething, jealous, or just plain frustrated. And sometimes they’re conducting little science experiments, wondering what would happen if they bit something—or someone—new. It’s an odd (to us anyway) but pretty effective way of exploring and testing out the world around them.
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