John's Articles

How to Handle Alpha-Male 8-Year-Old

Posted 4 days ago

Q: Our eight-year-old, the oldest of three, is often rude to his siblings. I know some sibling conflict is normal, but this seems excessive. I hear him multiple times per day tell his younger...

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The Ideal Time Spacing Between Children

Posted 1 week ago

Q: My husband and I have one child, age two. We’d like to have at least one more. What is the optimal spacing between children? A: Research puts ideal sibling spacing at three to four years....

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What Should Single Mom Do About Disrespectful Son?

Posted 2 weeks ago

Q: I’m a single mother with a 13-year-old son. His father, whom he sees infrequently, has PTSD from battle experiences. My son has anger toward his father, but I can’t get him to talk about it....

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Chores for 3-Year-Olds? Yes!

Posted 3 weeks ago

Q: In certain of your books as well as your newspaper column, you have written that children as young as three should be doing daily chores around the home. Exactly what chores are reasonable for...

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Today’s Kids Have No Idea What They’re Missing

Posted on 5/24/2022

I grew up in the “You’re Making a Mountain of a Molehill” Era, also known as the Age of “Children Are Starving in (fill in the blank with some remote place)," and by golly, I’m a better person for...

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Should I Tell My Best Friend to Discipline Her Bratty, Bossy Daughter?

Posted on 5/17/2022

Q: My best friend’s 6-year-old daughter is an only child and a spoiled brat. She screams at her parents when she doesn’t get her way, always wants to be first at everything and is extremely bossy...

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Discipline Differences Between Divorced Parents

Posted on 5/10/2022

Q: We see my husband's 9-year-old son every other weekend and two weeks in the summer. He has major issues in school with both behavior and doing his work. He's well behaved when he's with us, but...

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Don’t Just ‘Settle’ Dispute, Solve It

Posted on 5/3/2022

Q: Our sons are six and four. When their same-age cousins, come over, they all go down into our basement to play. Invariably, within thirty minutes my youngest comes upstairs crying because his...

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The Age of Parenting Enlightenment

Posted on 4/26/2022

America entered what I call the Age of Parenting Enlightenment around 1970. That was the year, or thereabouts, when parents stopped listening to their elders when it came to childrearing matters...

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Don't Enable Entitled Teen

Posted on 4/19/2022

A recent online article concerned a mom who refused to pay her teenage daughter for doing household chores. A poll of readers found that an overwhelming majority of them agreed with the...

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Keep Kids Away From Screen-Based Devices

Posted on 4/12/2022

Psychologist, author, and professor Russell Barkley, widely regarded as one of America’s leading ADHD experts, used to be (and may, for all I know, still be) fond of ridiculing me in his public...

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Parents Should Trust Teachers About Children

Posted on 4/5/2022

If the following testimony, received from a thirty-eight year veteran of the teacher wars, was a one-off, it could be dismissed, but the sad, sad truth is that it is but one of hundreds of such...

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On Chores, Discipline, Potty-Training

Posted on 3/29/2022

Q: When I give my 5-year-old daughter a chore, she does it, but all the while she is muttering under her breath, huffing and puffing, and so on. Do I discipline that behavior or just let her...

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Kids Need Parents Who Are Authentic Adults

Posted on 3/22/2022

The contemporary parenting ideal consists of equal parts fixer, go-fer, and friend, which is why, when it is encountered in the flesh by someone of my ancient age, the new definition of a “good...

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Make the Marriage Top Priority in Family

Posted on 3/15/2022

Okay, I’ve had it! I’ve reached my limit! My tolerance for well-intentioned nonsense is kaput! Over and done with! Maxed out! Stop it! Just stop it! I’m referring to the...

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Are You Trying to Be Liked by Your Child?

Posted on 3/8/2022

Is the following statement true or false? It is often the case that children like what is not good for them and do not like what is good for them. True, right? Right! ...

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Patience With Young Daughter’s Questions Will Pay Off

Posted on 3/1/2022

Q: I’m concerned that my 3-year-old – she’s nearly 4 – daughter has some sort of language issue. For example, even though my brother’s family moved away nearly two years ago, whenever we drive by...

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Son’s Crying Is Normal

Posted on 2/22/2022

Q: Our 11-month-old son has started crying at just about anything he doesn’t understand. In our playgroup, if another child or an adult so much as looks at him the “wrong” way, he melts down....

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Is Vaping Ok for High School Senior?

Posted on 2/15/2022

Q: Our son, a senior in high school, is vaping. He claims he does it to control his anxiety. I worry about him getting into harder drugs when when he goes to college this coming fall. What’s your...

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Respect Is a Two-way Street

Posted on 2/8/2022

I just experienced a flashback, but fear not, it wasn’t freaky. I was thinking about the parenting revolution that began in the late 1960s and quickly overwhelmed America’s homes and schools....

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In Defense of ‘Because I Said So'

Posted on 2/1/2022

Q: Concerning chores, another expert recommends giving a child a certain number of chips, like poker chips, every month and if he or she fails to do a chore or doesn’t do it properly, you take a...

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‘Parenting’ vs Childrearing

Posted on 1/25/2022

I often go looking for parenting ideas that illustrate the difference between so-called “parenting” and mere childrearing. They abound. My latest find came in the form of a 2018 article on...

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Avoid Telling Young Kids About Existential Threats

Posted on 1/18/2022

Q: My 3-year-old is fearful of trying anything new, including things that other kids his age love to do such as swinging on a swing, sliding down a slide, and splashing in a pool. I feel like I...

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The Keys to Relatively Quick, Painless Toilet Training

Posted on 1/12/2022

Q: I recently tried toilet training my 32-month-old, but after a few days of no success, I decided to stop. A friend tells me to hang in there, but my pediatrician says my son isn’t ready. She...

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When To Use Time-outs

Posted on 1/4/2022

I was once an orthodox believer in the power of time-out—the practice of having a child sit in a somewhat isolated chair for five minutes or so immediately after said child has misbehaved. I...

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Is This Battle Worth It?

Posted on 12/29/2021

Q: I have six-month- and thirty-two-month-old boys. The older one—well-mannered, easy going, very affectionate—attends a preschool program three mornings a week. This is his second year there. ...

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Time Out for Disrespectful 6-Year-old

Posted on 12/21/2021

Q: Whenever—and I most definitely mean every single time—I ask my six-year-old daughter to do something, she becomes very disrespectful. She stomps her foot, yells at me that I make her do...

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Cleaning up the Messes Therapists Enable

Posted on 12/14/2021

I can count on one hand—okay, maybe two—the number of parents who’ve told me that letting a child speak with a therapist has produced a positive outcome. One might dismiss a few such reports, but...

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Moving From ‘Gentle Parenting’ to ‘Insistent Parenting’

Posted on 12/7/2021

My previous column concerned so-called “gentle parenting,” which is naught but a retreading of the parenting propaganda that has gushed relentlessly from the mental health professional community...

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No New Tricks To Raising Kids

Posted on 11/30/2021

What is “gentle parenting”? It did not take much investigation for me to conclude that it is merely a rebranding of the same old, same old parenting babble America’s mental health establishment...

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The Problem With ‘I Feel Your Pain'

Posted on 11/23/2021

“I feel your pain” passes as a virtue, but it is anything but. However well-intentioned, it is the gist of codependency. When someone else is in a state of emotional pain, it is one...

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Using the ‘Dry Run’ for Tantrums

Posted on 11/16/2021

Q: My almost four-year-old daughter is generally well-behaved except for screaming and running away from me when we leave a store, the library, etc. before she’s ready to go. She pulls away from...

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Choose 1 of 2 Paths With Kids’ Anxieties

Posted on 11/9/2021

Q: I recently changed my almost 4-year-old son’s preschool. My son, once fearless, has become reluctant to simply get out of the car in the morning and go into the school. There’s always a...

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Straight Talk About Respect

Posted on 11/2/2021

“I can only expect my son to respect me as much as I respect him,” said the mother to the “parenting expert.” In a sense, that’s true, albeit this mom’s definition of respect hardly...

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Cure for Kid Who Hits

Posted on 10/26/2021

A 4-year-old – I’ll call him Popeye – had a habit of hitting other children in his preschool program. His teachers tried various approaches, including rewarding him with a treat on days when he...

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How To Stop Nitpicking

Posted on 10/19/2021

Q: A friend recently pointed out that I constantly nitpick my nine-year-old son’s behavior. Her words were, “You’re on his case all the time.” Why do I nitpick and how can I stop? A: ...

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Just 'Stop It!'

Posted on 10/12/2021

I often find myself telling parents that they need to stop doing something that is counterproductive and, in most cases, contributing significantly to whatever parenting problem is bedeviling...

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Should Son Switch Schools?

Posted on 10/5/2021

Q: Our 13-year-old eighth-grader says he doesn’t like the small private school he attends and wants us to put him in public high school next year. His grades are fine, he’s got several close...

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Fixing Our 'Parent-View'

Posted on 9/28/2021

Most of the problems today’s parents are experiencing in the course of raising children are due to a faulty “parent-view.” Just as one’s worldview consists of attitudes, values, and expectations...

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Why? Because I Said So

Posted on 9/22/2021

When I was a graduate student, one of the parenting memes then emerging from within the mental health professional community had it that “children deserved explanations.” The flip side of that...

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Teaching Financial Responsibility to Teens

Posted on 9/14/2021

Q: My two young teens are constantly begging me to buy them clothes. It’s become highly annoying. After reading your book on teenagers, I’ve decided to stop buying them any clothing and give them...

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How To Help Your Child Get More Grit

Posted on 9/7/2021

It’s all over the web, that “grit” thing. Seems like every day, I get some promo for a webinar on how to get more grit, project more grit, or get in touch with your inner grit. So, allow me to...

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Tighten Up Deadline for Adult Child To Move Out

Posted on 8/31/2021

“We should, like, what? Give him a year to figure out his life and move out?” I’m talking to the parents of a twenty-one-year-old male who instead of going to college or into the...

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Psychological Parenting Is a Prescription for Enabling

Posted on 8/24/2021

Q: In your column, you have often spoken of “psychological parenting.” What, exactly, do you mean by that? A: Answering your question requires that we first unpack the word “parenting,” the...

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Talking About Children’s Fears Can Intensify Them

Posted on 8/17/2021

A stalwart friend recently called my attention to an online article titled “Two Things to Say to a Child Returning to In-Person School (& Two You Should Avoid).” I am choosing to provide...

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What To Do About Head-Banging Toddler?

Posted on 8/12/2021

Q: Our 19-month-old is a very active little boy who flips out when things do not go his way. When he has a tantrum, we walk away or simply ignore him. Nonetheless, he will scream and flail about...

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With Parenting Young Adult Children, Less Is More

Posted on 8/3/2021

It seems to be generally true that as one gets older, the habit of reminiscing develops. Looking back seems to be a function of getting closer to the final curtain. The closer the latter, the more...

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Taking Back Control From Child’s Tantrums

Posted on 7/27/2021

Q: Our four-year-old, an only child, is giving us fits. As a toddler, he began ignoring us. That evolved into downright refusing to do what we ask, as in, “I’m not going to” and just plain “No.”...

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With Sippy Cups, Stick to the Short Term

Posted on 7/20/2021

Research finds that so-called “sippy cups” – spill-free cups used by most American preschoolers – are linked to speech problems as well as early dental issues. A sippy cup’s spout depresses a...

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The Biggest Problem Teachers Face Is Parents

Posted on 7/13/2021

When I ask a teacher, “What is the biggest problem you face?” the answer – there has never been an exception – is “parents.” That is certainly a recent phenomenon. My parents were...

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