John's Articles

An Example in Parenting Minimalism

Posted on 11/4/2014

Q: My 6-year-old son argues with me about everything I tell him to do. He comes up with reason after reason why he shouldn’t have to or can’t, why it’s unfair, or why, at the least, I...

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Roadblocks to Success in Classroom Discipline

Posted on 10/14/2014

A first-grade teacher asks what she can do about a girl in her class who is completely undisciplined. After nearly two months of this teacher’s best efforts, the child’s behavior is no better. She...

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Personality Issue, Not a Behavior Problem

Posted on 10/7/2014

Q: My 7-year-old son does well in school and sports and has a good number of friends. However, he often allows himself to be intimidated by other boys. He is a rule-follower and is more...

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Parents Helping with Homework

Posted on 9/9/2014

Q: I homeschooled my oldest, an 8-year-old boy, until this year. He started third grade in public school in August. As a homeschooling mom, I was not a micromanager and don’t want to...

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8 year old Grandson is Lying

Posted on 6/17/2014

Q: We are very concerned about our 8-year-old grandson’s lying. He always pleads innocence and wonders plaintively why no one ever believes him. When someone confronts him with some misdeed...

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To Help or Not To Help?

Posted on 6/3/2014

I recently asked a group of 50 teachers: “Raise your hand if you agree that when a child comes to an adult asking for help with an academic problem, the adult should help.” ...

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"The Doctor" Makes House Calls

Posted on 4/28/2014

Shortly after I finished graduate school, a friend of mine shared with me a book called Indirect Hypnosis, written by Milton Erickson, a most unorthodox psychiatrist if ever there was one....

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"Boy" Behavior

Posted on 3/11/2014

Q: My 6-year-old son is a bright and friendly kindergartner. Each day a color coded chart is sent home about his behavior. This year he's gone through several spells during which he will have a...

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Who cleans up?

Posted on 2/4/2014

Q: I have 3 kids ages 8, 6, and 4. I need help solving the "pick up the playroom" dilemma. When an area in which they've been playing needs to be picked up and straightened, the 8-year-old always...

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Child Argues with EVERYTHING

Posted on 1/7/2014

Q: What suggestions do you have for disciplining a 7-year-old girl who argues with every single thing her parents say? We don't try to reason with her and we frequently say "Because I said so" but...

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Homeschooling After Hours?

Posted on 12/24/2013

Q: I homeschool my two children, ages seven and nine. The school day lasts from eight-thirty in the morning until two o'clock in the afternoon, after which they usually do homework for an hour or...

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Hurt Feelings

Posted on 12/17/2013

Q: My 6-year-old daughter has recently learned to say "You're hurting my feelings." This is part of her school's anti-bullying program. The problem is she's now saying it to me when I discipline...

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What No Child Has Ever Said!

Posted on 10/8/2013

Q: My 5-year-old daughter has developed a bad habit of arguing with me whenever I refuse her something, anything. Believe me when I tell you she is relentless. She will continue to argue until...

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Kicking Out of the Garden of Eden [Explained]

Posted on 10/6/2013

Kicking the child out of the Garden of Eden John's "Garden of Eden" statement: Other Q and A or articles about this method may be searched by using the keyword "Garden" Below is detailed...

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Gifted ... With Laziness

Posted on 8/20/2013

Q: Our 9-year-old son Bobby is very intelligent and capable of doing good work in school when he wants to, but he is generally just downright lazy. As a result, he makes mediocre grades and we...

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Toddlers in Restaurants?

Posted on 6/25/2013

Q: Help! We find it almost impossible to finish a restaurant meal when our 18-month-old twins are along, which is always. We give them toys to keep them busy, and they do well for about 30 minutes...

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Gifted and Talented Programs

Posted on 6/4/2013

Q: Our 9-year-old daughter is going to the fourth grade next school year. She loves school and has always done very well. She recently took a series of tests and we've learned that she qualifies...

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School Start and Birthdays

Posted on 5/21/2013

Q: Our son's fifth birthday is in August. He did just fine, socially and academically, in preschool, but the counselor at the school he's slated to attend has recommended that we hold him back a...

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Nine year old: Homeschooling problem

Posted on 1/28/2013

Q: Our 9-year-old (only child) is home-schooled. He starts out well for about one hour, but then the wheels start falling off. He has to constantly be told what to do, but if you don't stand over...

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Nine year old Refuses to go to her room

Posted on 1/15/2013

Q: What should I do when my 9-year-old daughter loses all of her privileges because of her misbehavior but refuses to go to her room? I tried to physically force her, but she put up too much of a...

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7 year old twins fighting

Posted on 1/8/2013

Q: How can we help our 7-year-old twin girls stop fighting? They constantly provoke and antagonize each other. We thought this was just normal sibling conflict, but it seems to be developing into...

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Attitude is everything!

Posted on 12/11/2012

Q: Our 7-year-old has always been a great, respectful, funny little kid. However, recently he started lying and become a little sneaky. We punished him by taking his television privilege away and...

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Leave the Homework to the Child

Posted on 8/23/2011

<i>As the new school year begins, it's time for me, once again, to make my perennial case against parental involvement in homework.</i> First, it is significant to note that as...

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8-Year-Old Boy Video Games

Posted on 8/2/2011

Q. We have taken video game privileges away from our 8-year-old son for various misbehaviors, but now he's sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night to play them anyway. If we confine him to...

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6-Year-Old Boys Being Rambunctious

Posted on 7/26/2011

Q. I have 6-year-old twin boys who tend to get rambunctious when playing with other boys. How can I teach them to control their behavior when around other 'wild' kids? Recently, one of my boys and...

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Wild Boys

Posted on 7/25/2011

Q: I have 6-year-old twin boys who tend to get rambunctious when playing with other boys. How can I teach them to control their behavior when around other 'wild' kids? Recently, one of my boys...

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Young Children Attending Funeral

Posted on 6/14/2011

Children at funerals? Q: My father-in-law has about one month to live. Should our children - ages 7, 5 and 2 - attend the funeral or viewing? A. Sit down with the older two children,...

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8-Year-Old Girl Not Completing Chores

Posted on 5/24/2011

Let children know you mean business Q: Our 8-year-old daughter has not been completing chores and following directions. On the morning of a recent soccer game, she failed to follow some simple...

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8-Year-Old Boy - Grade Retention Issue

Posted on 5/24/2011

Q: My 8-year-old son is the youngest in his third-grade class. Some students are more than a year older because parents are holding back boys these days. I am concerned because he is struggling...

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Kids Hitting Parents

Posted on 2/22/2011

A hidden abuse problem: Kids who assault parents One of the more heartbreaking consequences of the "psychological" parenting philosophy and style that American parents began adopting in the...

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Third Grade Boy Defiant and Lazy

Posted on 11/16/2010

This 'laziness' may be a clever form of defiance In their e-mail to me, his parents call him "The Laziest Kid in America." The child in question, a third-grader, hides his clothes rather than...

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Fifth Grade Boy School Issues

Posted on 11/2/2010

Parent wishes school would act on discipline Q: Our son's fifth-grade teacher has recently sent home notes to the effect that our little darling isn't paying attention and is missing homework...

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8-Year-Old Boy with Temper

Posted on 10/26/2010

8-year-old with a temper Q. My 8-year-old son is a sweet, sensitive little guy with a really bad temper. When I ask him to do something like take a bath or clean his room he often flies off the...

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10-Year-Old Girl Shaving Legs

Posted on 10/19/2010

Girl talk: Shaving legs Q: My 10-year-old daughter has been asking to shave her legs. So far I have said no, mainly because putting a razor in the hands of a 10-year-old doesn't seem safe....

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10-Year-Old Girl in Step-Family with Very Lenient Mom

Posted on 10/19/2010

Ultra-lenient mom Q: Our 10-year-old daughter goes back and forth between our house and her mom's. Our homes are run very differently. Bio-Mom gives her everything she wants (TV and DVD in her...

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8-Year-Old Son is a Verbal Bully

Posted on 8/10/2010

Son regrets ridiculing girl Q: My nearly 8-year-old son made fun of our next-door neighbor's biracial daughter's skin color. The minute he realized how wrong he was, he became very upset and...

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Sixth Grade Son Excessive Homework Load

Posted on 8/3/2010

How much homework is too much in sixth grade? Q: My son will be starting sixth grade at a new public charter school. This school uses a classical curriculum that does not draw from pop culture...

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7-Year-Old Son Sucking on Stuffed Animals

Posted on 7/20/2010

Sleeping with stuffed toys Q: My husband recently discovered that our 7-year-old son has been sucking on his stuffed animals when we put him to bed. He took the animals away, telling our son he...

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Younger Children Playing Poker with Older Child

Posted on 7/13/2010

Dealing with poker Q: What do you think about a 13-year-old child playing poker with my kids, ages 8 and 9? Even though they weren't using money, I didn't think it was age-appropriate, so I...

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6-Year-Old Girl Throwing Tantrums

Posted on 6/8/2010

Tantrums at 6? Kid's living la vida toddler A concerned mother told me her 6-year-old daughter still threw tantrums nearly every day, during which she screamed as if she were being tortured,...

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8-Year-Old Boy Humiliated by Coach

Posted on 5/11/2010

Coach humiliates kids Q: Our 8-year-old son is on an extremely competitive gymnastics team. We're concerned about the coach's disciplinary style. When a child makes a mistake, he is prone to...

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7-Year-Old Boy Bored Living in the Country

Posted on 4/13/2010

Bored country kid needs a hobby Q: We live in the country and my 7-year-old son is bored out of his mind. He desperately wants to move to the city where he can have neighbor kids to play with....

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Young Siblings Bickering

Posted on 2/16/2010

Siblings can't bicker if they're not together Q. My 7- and 4-year-old daughters play together all day long, but the play is punctuated every few minutes with bickering of the "I'm telling!" and...

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7-Year-Old Boy Dealing with Bully

Posted on 1/12/2010

ADVISE SON TO STAY OUT OF THE WAY OF POTENTIAL BULLY Q. My 7-year-old home-schooled son, whose personality is generally sweet and somewhat goofy, goes to a 4-hour class once a week with five...

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Ex-Wife Giving Lavish Gifts to 7-Year-Old Daughter

Posted on 1/12/2010

Stop lavish gifts from ex Q. Both my husband and I have 7-year-olds from previous marriages. My husband's ex-wife routinely sends her daughter home from visits with new presents. The last few...

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6-Year-Old Boy Lying

Posted on 11/3/2009

Nip that lying in the bud Q. My 6-year-old has recently started lying. His favorite sentence is "I didn't do anything." Even when I catch him in a lie he denies being at fault. I calmly and...

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6th Grader Required to Watch TV by School

Posted on 10/20/2009

Along the same lines: A mother relates that her daughter's sixth-grade science teacher assigned the class to watch "American Idol." The mother writes, "We told our daughter to forget it, it wasn't...

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Kindergartener Questionnaire

Posted on 10/20/2009

KINDERGARTEN QUESTIONNAIRE A WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY Q. My kindergartener brought home a questionnaire that asks: Do you like your class? Do you have friends in your class? Does your teacher...

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Consequence Needs to Produce Permanent Memory for 6-Year-Old Tantrum

Posted on 9/29/2009

ISSUING CONSEQUENCES EQUALS WELL-BEHAVED CHILDREN From the Mailbag: A Charlotte woman writes to the Observer that I should get out in the real world more and meet the "mothers and fathers of...

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Kindergarten Separation Anxiety

Posted on 8/4/2009

TAKE THE DRAMA OUT OF DROP-OFF TIME Q: I've been a public school teacher for quite a few years, and I wanted your opinion on the problem of kindergarten and even older children throwing fits...

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