Nightmares, tantrums, lies: The joys of parenting
My son seems to have at least one horrible nightmare a week. Do you think he experienced some sort of traumatic event that I don’t know about? I try to let him sleep in my bed a few nights a week to avoid having these nightmares.
– Signed, Scaredy pants
Kerry says: More often than not nightmares are not a cause for concern. Studies show that about 40 percent of children between 5-12 experience nightmares. What can you do? When he is experiencing nightmares, speak to him in a soft, calming voice. Explain that he is having a bad dream. Encourage him to discuss it.
Jacqueline says: If your child’s nightmares become frequent enough to disturb sleep patterns to a degree that interferes with his daily life, call a pediatrician. Don’t let your child get in the habit of sleeping in your bed! This sends the message that his room is unsafe.
My husband and I are expecting another baby in a few months. I’m worried about how my 4-year-old will handle it. She’s been the center of attention until now, and pretty soon she will have to share the spotlight. Any suggestions?
– Signed, No sibling rivalry
Kerry says: Explain in advance that another baby will be joining the family. Reassure her that you’ll always love her just the same but that you will need to give the newborn lot of time and attention. Let her know that she can help out as much as she wants.
Jackie says: I agree. I also suggest that you and your child begin reading books together about having a new baby. Try practicing what baby care will be like with a doll.
My best friend’s 5-year-old daughter lies all the time! She tells these ridiculous lies to her mother, and I’m worried about the effect this is all having on my own daughter. I tell my friend that she is doing a disservice her daughter by not challenging the lies, but my friend insists it’s harmless and she’ll grow out of it.
– Signed, Sick of all the lying
Jacqueline says: Teach your child why it is important to tell the truth. Talk with her about other ways that you will deal with mistakes so that she knows not to be afraid to be honest. And let her know that you are pleased when you hear her telling the truth.
Kerry says: Tell the truth yourself. This includes not breaking promises to your child, because to her that seems like telling a lie.
My 2-year-old has temper tantrums constantly! I can’t seem to stop him from behaving this way no matter what I try. I find I just lose my cool and yell. – Signed, Want to scream myself
Jacqueline says: You don’t want to lose your cool. When your child is in this state, he’s unable to listen to reason. Just sit down with him while he’s having his tantrum, hold him. He will calm down more quickly and find your embrace comforting. After he calms down, talk about what happened.
Kerry says: I say don’t give in to unreasonable demands of your screaming child. By conceding, you’ll only be teaching your child that pitching a fit is the way to get what he wants. If you’re in a public place, I suggest you leave with your child until he gets a grip.
– Kerry and Jacqueline Donelli are twin sisters and filmmakers of the comedy “Titillating Steven.” They are pursuing a master’s degree and then a doctorate in Mental Health Counseling in NYC.