Alternatives to ADD Meds + Young Adults in Rehab + Bilingual Advantage + Sending Kids to College

[amazon asin=0393343162&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 1: Marilyn Wedge, author of Pills Are Not for Preschoolers.
Topic: A drug-free approach for troubled kids.
Issues: Understanding that there are almost always alternative treatments methods other than medication for troubled kids; the need to change the language mental health professionals use to classify behaviors and feelings.


[amazon asin=1616492643&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 2: Joseph Lee, author of Recovering My Kid.
Topic: Parenting young adults in treatment and beyond.
Issues: What is addiction? How do we cope when a child returns home from treatment? How can parents support his or her recovery? How can the family be supportive during the recovery process? What if the child relapses?


[amazon asin=1400023343&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 3: Barbara Zurer Pearson, author of Raising a Bilingual Child.
Topic: A step by step guide for parents.
Issues: The tremendous advantages bilinguals have in the business world; the advantages of a bilingual upbringing and how it can enhance a child’s intellectual development; how children learn language and how it differs from the way adults learn.


[amazon asin=0933165161&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 4: Marie Pinak Carr, author of Prepared Parent’s Operational Manual.Topic: What parents need to know before sending a child off to college.
Issues: Getting your child (and yourself) prepared to cope with finances and budgeting, insurance issues, homesickness, long-distance physical illness, roommate troubles; what to do—and how to protect yourself—when the unexpected happens.

Oh, No. Not the Birds and the Bees…

Dear Mr. Dad: My son is approaching the age where we need to have “the talk.” My dad died when I was young, so my own introduction was nothing more than what I could find in books or from friends. I want to give him some guidance but I feel totally confused and embarrassed. What’s your advice?

A: You didn’t mention your son’s age, but if you’re like most parents, you’ve drastically underestimated the age at which “the talk” is appropriate. Because children are bombarded by sexual images from a very young age, parents need to control the message, which means you have to bring up the subject first. Otherwise, kids will do exactly what you did: turn to books, friends, and something you didn’t have when you were growing up: the Internet, which is great in many situations, but is also the biggest source of unreliable information in the world.

Under the best of circumstances, talking to a child about sex can make you—and your son—feel awkward and self-conscious. So how do you bring it up?

Actually, “how” is a good place to start since it’s just as important as “what.” If you make your discussion too clinical, dismiss it with jokes, mock, lecture him, or come across as embarrassed, disgusted, or negative, you’ll be sending your son two extremely dangerous messages: First, that you think sex is dirty, wrong, or insignificant. Second, that he can’t come to you to talk about serious issues.

Before you can start a discussion about sex, you need to find out what your child already knows, which means asking questions and listening carefully. You can then tailor your message. Sometimes, having a visual aid helps.

For preschoolers and kindergarteners, you could point out a pregnant woman and ask the child if he knows how the baby got in there. A basic discussion of the differences between male and female anatomy is important.

For early grade schoolers (say, up to seven or eight) point out a kid a few years older who has started puberty and ask your child if he understands the changes that come with adolescence. Now is when you might talk about the physical signs of sexual arousal and what actually happens during sex. That can be scary for some kids, so be sure to emphasize that all of this is completely natural and normal.

For tweens, you might use a typical TV or movie scene: Boy meets girl. They talk, they laugh. Then, cut to the next morning with the two of them in bed. Does your child understand what happened during the commercials? In addition to the physical part of sex, it’s important that your child understands the emotional component too—and the significant repercussions. Talk about pregnancy and the importance of protection. Talk about sexually transmitted diseases and steps that can help cut the risk of contracting something frightening and potentially deadly. You might also discuss things like, gulp, masturbation and oral sex. This isn’t going to be easy, but research shows that around 70 percent of tweens and teens think that oral sex is not “real” sex and isn’t that big a deal anyway. They’re wrong.

We’ll delve deeper into “the talk” in future columns, but don’t wait for me. Get these discussions going now—you’ll need to have more than one. It may make you uncomfortable, but kids who talk with their parents about sex are far more likely to be responsible, practice safe(r) sex, and have an easier time understanding and coping with the changes they’re undergoing.
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Bad adult behavior: apparently it’s contagious

Back in grade school I was a regular in the principal’s office–probably got sent there at least once a week. And more often than not, the principal would lean me over the desk and paddle my butt with a large wooden racquet. Those were different times (I guess) and most people would agree that a principal hitting a child with a paddle is child abuse.

So what is it when a teacher and teacher’s aid at a Houston school lock 3- and 4-year old children in a dark closet for acting up in class (in one case, the punishment was for laughing in class)? And not just any closet. Apparently these clever educators told the kids that there was a monster in the closet.

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My Husband Feels Rejected by Our Child

My husband and I have a 4-year old son and a 22-month-old daughter. I am a stay-at-home mom, but my husband is a very involved father. The problem is that both kids have been in a long stretch of “Mommy do it.” It’s terrible to see how my husband’s face falls as night after night the kids scream “mommy, mommy” as he tries to put them to bed or read them a story. Is there anything I can do to help the kids get past this stage?

The dynamic you’re describing is very, very common–and very, very painful to the non-preferred parent. In this kind of situation, your husband may be tempted to back off as a way of avoiding the hurt. Don’t let him.
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The Favored Parent

Dear Mr. Dad: My three-year-old son prefers his mom over me! I work full time and my wife is a stay-at-home mom. How can I get him to spend time with me without feeling that I’m competing with Mom?

A: Well, you’ve already taken the first two steps: Recognizing that there’s something you want to change and asking for help. Far too many parents (dads and moms) react to a child’s rejection by backing off, which is the wrong direction to go. So the fact that you’re still committed to developing a meaningful relationship with your child is very good news for both of you.
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