Children can learn to go to sleep independently

Q: My two-year-old wants me to sit in his room until he falls asleep, before his nap and at nighttime. What can I do to change this habit? A: When you’re feeling emotionally ready to endure the inevitable upset that happens when children practice new sleep time habits, have a little chat with your son earlier that day. Tell him that tonight's going to be different by saying something like, “After your bath tonight, I’m going to read you a story, help you into your crib, give you a kiss and go in the living room (or whatever room is nearby). I'll come check on you after you're asleep." Talking like this will not only let your son know that tonight will be different but will reinforce the plan for you and help to release any tension you may be feeling around changing this habit.  When a parent demonstrates confidence in a plan, that [...]

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Digital Device Use in the Age of Coronavirus

Several years ago, I was enjoying a solo breakfast upstairs at Fairway Café in New York City, surreptitiously observing people at the other tables and conjuring up their life stories. It was a father and son of about 18 months who captured my attention from across the room. They were sitting opposite each other at a four-top next to a huge window overlooking bustling Broadway below. The father laid out a placemat in front of his son in preparation for their meal. Then he picked up his cell phone and fell down the digital rabbit hole, lifting his gaze only every few minutes. Whenever the father looked up, his son leaned toward him, trying to connect, and failed every time. The server arrived with their food and I became hopeful, thinking that finally, they’d connect over their yogurt, and bagel and lox. But the father’s fascination with his phone continued [...]

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Staying at Home and Aggressive Behavior

I got a call recently from the mother of two sons, one three years old and the other seven months. The mother said that the usually gentle three-year-old had “turned into a bully,” and had taken to hitting the baby, with his hands and with toys. When she and her partner got there fast enough, they were able to prevent the behavior from happening, they’d set limits by saying, “I won’t let you hit him,” and tried to reason with the toddler by telling him that he was hurting his baby brother. But their responses were making no impact and things were not improving. We know that domestic violence has increased recently, as people have been forced to stay at home together during the pandemic. Likewise, it’s not surprising to see an increase in aggressive behavior among children. Research shows that when physical space is limited, aggression increases. Being stuck [...]

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