Parenting Tips

On Temper Tantrums

© Victoria Todd

You’re tired; you’re hungry and you’re eager to go home.  You wearily push your shopping cart up to the check-out counter where your daughter’s eyes become transfixed on candy.  You let her know that you have wonderfully healthy treats right here in the cart and as soon as you get home, you’ll wash off a nice big peach for her to eat.  That’s when the wailing begins at full throttle.  Read more →

On Picky Eating

© Victoria Todd

Picky eating can start very early—when a child first starts eating solids.  But it seems most common during toddlerhood and may continue throughout childhood and beyond.  There your child sits stubbornly refusing a plate of your nutritious and delicious food as if it were laced with arsenic.  “Not hungry,” he mumbles with a turned face and tight lips.  But, as soon as the food is put away, this very same child will be ravenously in search of treats.  So, what’s going on?

Young children seem to be naturally suspicious of new foods.  Also, this is one of the only ways they can exert some autonomy.  You can cook it, but you can’t make him eat it.  In fact, the more you beg and plead, the less likely he is to even give it a try.  But you already know that.  So what should you do? Read more →

On Bedtime Struggles

© Victoria Todd

Bedtime struggles can appear at different ages and for different reasons.  But the most common time for sleep troubles is toddlerhood and the most common reason is separation anxiety.  Feeling particularly vulnerable at night, your child wants you by his side.  So, he tries to lure you back to him with requests for a drink or one more story.  Most children who are having trouble sleeping just need reassurance that you are there and that you will keep them safe.  Regardless of how tired you are, resist the temptation to let your child get into bed with you.  Then you will have another problem—getting him out.  Read more →

On Halloween

© Victoria Todd

Halloween is right around the corner with houses decked out with witches, spiders, graves and bats.  Some adults seem to be involved in a strange competition to see who can create the most ghoulish, terrifying images and haunted basements etc.  All of this scariness is appropriate for older, school-age children and teenagers. But it can be very confusing and downright frightening for preschoolers and young children who don’t have good reality testing.  How do we know they don’t have good reality testing?  Because they believe in the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny.  Older children with better reality testing will tell you there’s no way Santa can go all over the world in one night and he’s too fat to come down a chimney.  But younger children believe he can. Read more →

On Separation Anxiety

© Victoria Todd

As school begins, there will be children who struggle to separate from their parents and return to school.  They may come up with an assortment of reasons:  don’t feel well, can’t bear to face mean teachers and rejecting peers, etc.  But very often the issue is ambivalence about growing up.  Remember when your child first went to school?  Part of him/her wanted to stay home with you and another, more mature part wanted to grow up and go to school.  You may well have felt the same way.  Part of you felt proud that you had prepared your child for this big developmental step by practicing with brief separations.  But another part of you felt sad to turn him over to the care of others and see him move away from you.    Read more →

On Forgetting

© Victoria Todd

As a child psychoanalyst, I provide consultation services to tutors who work with children with learning troubles.  My job is to help them understand that behavior is a meaningful communication.  Children can’t always tell you how they’re feeling.  They let their behavior do the talking.

Recently a tutor reported that a boy showed up for class without his school supplies.  So, the tutor gave him a pencil and paper only to learn that he “forgot them somewhere” by second period.  This “forgetting” happened over and over again.  So, what was the boy really saying to his tutor?  Was he feeling forgotten? Read more →

On Procrastinating

© Victoria Todd

Your child has a history project due in two weeks, but he hasn’t even started.  You’ve seen this behavior before—procrastinating.  As is true of all childhood troubles, procrastination can have many causes.  But this time, your son gives you an important clue about what’s going on.  “I can’t do that assignment.  It’s too hard!”

Often procrastination is due to anxiety.  Somehow that project feels way too big for him.  And starting it, even thinking about it, leads to tremendous anxiety.  So, he shoves it aside and tends to less daunting tasks or maybe even no schoolwork at all, because it will remind him of the history project. Read more →

On Bullying

© Victoria Todd

Bullying, a topic of concern to parents nationwide, is really a two-year-old trouble.  Toddlers can be very mean—biting, hitting and snatching things from others.  This is why it is important for parents to be firm with toddlers.  “No.  That’s mean and mommy (or daddy) want you to be a kind boy.”  This message has to be repeated over and over again through the years whenever you see your child engaging in hurting behavior. Read more →

On Sarcasm

© Victoria Todd

I think it’s important to think about things from a developmental perspective.  So, let me take you back to the second half of your child’s first year of life.  Remember the biting?  Remember how it hurt?  Well, sarcastic children no longer bite with their teeth; they bite with their words.  But their biting comments still hurt. Read more →

On Too Many Activities

© Victoria Todd

Some time ago, parents very much wanted my assistance with their daughter, but when it came time to schedule an appointment, I had to contend with step-dancing on Mondays, piano lessons on Tuesdays, pottery class on Thursdays with sleepovers on Fridays.  Barely eeking out C’s, the girl informed me that she did her homework in the car on the way to her various activities.  Clearly too muchness was part of her problem. Read more →