John's Articles

'The Doctor' Prevails Again

Posted 1 week ago

Regular readers of this column are no doubt familiar with my imaginary friend, The Doctor. I often call upon him to solve behavior problems of various sorts concerning young children. Well, The...

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How to Make No-TV Rule Stick

Posted 2 weeks ago

Q: I’m a single mom who works from home. At noon, I pick up my 5-year-old from half-day kindergarten. Because I’m unable to pay attention to her while I’m working, she wants to watch...

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Solution to Teens Leaving Clothes on Floor

Posted 3 weeks ago

Q: Getting my daughters, fifteen and thirteen, to pick up their clothes from the floors of their rooms requires constant nagging from me. I’m at my wit’s end. Please help me out with...

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Starting Toilet Training Early Pays Off

Posted on 12/27/2022

Q: My grandmother maintains that her children – my mother and her two siblings, all born in the 1950s – were completely toilet trained at 18 months. Her terse explanation: “I just gave...

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Connect Son With Person You Both Trust

Posted on 12/20/2022

Q: Our fifteen-year-old son has pronounced mental health issues. He deals with multiple anxieties, depression, and is painfully shy. You seem to believe that psychological therapy is of...

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Odd Behavior Does Not Always Need Psychological Diagnosis

Posted on 12/13/2022

When America’s mental health industry sees the opportunity to broaden its influence, they pounce. If said opportunity presents itself in the form of odd behavior on the part of certain children,...

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Don't Make Santa Claus Into a Boogie Man

Posted on 12/6/2022

Okay, stop it! Enough, already! I guess we need some rules around here, beginning and ending with, “Don’t make Santa Claus into a boogie man.” I know him personally and he’s the...

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Drama-Free Bedtime

Posted on 11/29/2022

Q: Several months ago, my husband and I allowed our five-year-old daughter to sleep with us for a couple of nights. We thought this was innocent, but she began crying hysterically when we...

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The Cult of 'Gentle Parenting'

Posted on 11/22/2022

This is the Age of the Parenting Cult, the latest iteration of which is so-called “gentle parenting.” GP is the latest attempt by America’s mental health industry to persuade moms (today’s all-too...

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Help Son Learn to Give and Take In Conversation

Posted on 11/15/2022

Q: My just-turned four-year-old repeats things he has heard or has said before. For example, even though my brother’s family moved away nearly two years ago, whenever we drive by their...

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Playing Well With Toddlers

Posted on 11/8/2022

Q: I have two boys, 18 and 33 months. How much time each day should I spend involved in activities with them? Also, they chase one another around the house and other sorts of...

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The Problem With Pull-Ups

Posted on 11/1/2022

I finally tracked down the fellow who invented the so-called “pull-up.” His name is Lucapher (Big Lou) Saytan. Reputedly, Mr. Saytan lives in an underground bunker from which he develops and...

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School Principal Asks About Discipline

Posted on 10/25/2022

Q: I am a principal at a private church-affiliated school. Contrary to my graduate school training and most of my peers’ practice, I believe disciplinary actions should "fit the crime."...

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The Importance of Manners

Posted on 10/18/2022

One of the characteristics of a truly civilized society is the ubiquitous use of proper social courtesies. Raising a child is all about civilizing the savage within; therefore, “manners,” as they...

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Alternatives to the High Five

Posted on 10/11/2022

Well, I must say I'm rather, uh, disappointed albeit my worst suspicions have been verified. I expected response to my recent column on the practice of high-fiving children, but I failed to...

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‘Gentle Parenting’ Appeals to Emotion, Not Reason

Posted on 10/4/2022

Q: My husband and I recently visited our son’s family. We live two thousand miles apart and with the pandemic and all, hadn’t seen one another in several years. We were appalled to...

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Stop High-Fiving Kids

Posted on 9/27/2022

Arrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhh! Will you please just stop doing that, please? Every time I see it, I want to scream, and I’m not an emotionally hyperactive person. I’m talking about adults high-fiving...

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Leadership vs Discipline

Posted on 9/20/2022

A mother recently asked my advice concerning a discipline problem she was having with one of her children. I asked her to define the word discipline. She thought a moment and answered, “Well,...

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When It Comes to Your Child’s Education, You Know Better Than Them

Posted on 9/14/2022

Q: I have homeschooled my seventh-grade daughter on and off through elementary school. This school year, I began homeschooling her, but she’s now telling me she wants to go to “real”...

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Homeschool Discipline Problems

Posted on 9/6/2022

Q: Ever since toddlerhood, we have had significant behavior problems with our 6-year-old son—defiance and general disrespect, mostly. We have tried various disciplinary approaches with...

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Child Mental Health Therapy: Any Proof It Does Any Good?

Posted on 8/30/2022

In a 6 – 3 decision, the Killingly, CT, school board recently said “no” to establishing a mental health center at its high school. I imagine most folks, upon hearing that, would be dismayed,...

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'Parenting' vs. Child-Rearing

Posted on 8/23/2022

“The goal of parenting is not to control, coerce or punish children into being ‘good.’ The goal of parenting is to grow children who can feel all of their feelings and become empathic...

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A 3-Point Plan to Get Kids to Do Their Own Homework

Posted on 8/16/2022

Q: The school our 10-year-old daughter attends believes parents should micromanage homework sessions – they call it “being a homework buddy.” As a consequence, our daughter believes we...

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Defiance Should Result in Discipline

Posted on 8/9/2022

The mother of a 5-year-old girl tells her to dress for school. The child replies, insolence abounding, “No! I don’t want to, and I’m not going to!” Mom tells her that if she doesn’t dress, she...

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Help Big Brother Understand Baby’s Limits

Posted on 8/2/2022

Q: Our soon to be 5-year-old son enjoys playing with his 14-month-old brother, but there have been three times recently when the baby has started crying and when I check, big brother has a guilty...

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Why Parenting Slot Machine Theory Is Wrong

Posted on 7/27/2022

Some parents, I have discovered, believe in the parenting slot machine theory. They hold fast to the notion that some parents are simply lucky, meaning that chance, and chance alone, determines...

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'Equal' vs. 'Fair'

Posted on 7/19/2022

Q: How can I explain to my kids, ages 6 and 9, that “fair” and “equally” are not the same. They complain constantly that I’m not fair. What they mean is I don’t treat them the same. A: ...

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If Bedtime Routine Invites Trouble, Shorten It

Posted on 7/12/2022

Q: We have a 3.5-year-old and each night we have a routine that we go through with her--bath, pajamas, brush, choose two books and read them, sing a couple of songs, and pray before lights out....

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Research on Ultrasounds Is Murky

Posted on 7/5/2022

Correlation does not prove cause, drummed my grad school statistics professor. For example, a rise in the rate of American children who regularly consume lox and a concurrent rise in Type 1...

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Back Off on Daughter’s Eyeliner Use

Posted on 6/28/2022

Q: Our 14-year-old daughter is a rising high school sophomore. We let her wear eyeliner this past year, but she is wearing entirely too much. She is well-adjusted (plays sports, good grades) but...

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How to Handle Alpha-Male 8-Year-Old

Posted on 6/21/2022

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 on 6/14/2022

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 on 6/7/2022

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 on 5/31/2022

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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