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Soon we will be watching our seven-month-old
granddaughter two days per week while her parents are working and going to
school. When they leave her with us, which has been for a few, rare short
periods, she is absolutely inconsolable and miserable, crying and screaming for
an hour and a half on one occasion, until she just collapsed into a fitful nap.
How can we make this transition for her, and for all of us, go smoothly? Is
there anything we can do to relieve the separation anxiety? -Grammie B., WA
First, be aware that your granddaughter is right on target developmentally. At
this age, children are beginning to be aware of object permanence. That is, she
is understanding the concept of something being here one minute and being gone
the next. This is why babies begin to drop everything over the side of their
high chairs...to see the object disappear. So, even as early as four months,
babies can start to show signs of separation anxiety. As you know from being a
parent, this phase will pass but here are some tips to make it easier.
Your granddaughter should have many opportunities to get used to you before the
day care period begins. You mentioned that she has only been left with you for a
few, rare short periods. This needs to change for a more successful transition.
Try to set us times more frequently to see her. These can be shorter, practice
sessions for an hour to start and increase from there.
If your granddaughter has a special blanket or stuffed animal, make sure that
she brings it with her. This is called a "transitional object" and will help her
feel more comfortable when she's with you. Encourage her parents to find a
special "lovey", or you can introduce her to a special blanket or stuffed animal
at your home that can become her special object.
Encourage her parents to bring her to your home about 30 minutes early. This
will give your granddaughter time to interact with you and engage in an activity
before her parents leave. Also, her parents will be calmer as they are not
feeling rushed to get to work or school. The calmer everyone can be, the better.
If her parents are feeling anxious or rushed and you are feeling anxious, then
your granddaughter will pick up on that anxiety and have a more difficult time
As mentioned, stay calm. This phase will pass. Don't let her crying and
screaming work you into a state of panic or anxiety. Stay calm, cool and in
control. Visualize your granddaughter calming down. The calmer you guys remain,
the better. Babies pick up on all our emotions and will act them out through
their unhappy behaviors.
Let her parents know that they need to make a point of saying goodbye to their
daughter...no sneaking away! Sneaking away will cause your granddaughter more
anxiety and confusion as she will expect her parents to be available any minute.
Though she is young, she will understand consistent, calm talk about leaving.
They could say something like, "Mom and Dad have to go to school now. We will be
back to pick you up from grandma's house. Have lots of fun. We love you." Keep
it short and sweet.
Have fun activities and toys available at your home. Instead of depending on her
parents to bring her toys along, have your own special "grandparent toys"
available. Have some picture books and music if possible. Babies this age love
music. You could put on some fun music before she arrives and have some toys to
distract her. Also, babies this age love games. Some game ideas are Hide and
Seek. Hide toys under a blanket and ask where it is. Then say, "There it is!"
Peek-a-boo is lots of fun. "Where Is" can also be a fun game. Carry your
granddaughter around the house and ask her where certain objects are and then
point and say, "There it is!". Encourage her parents to play these games at
home, also, as they will teach her about object permanence and help her
understand the idea of separation.
Make sure that your granddaughter is well fed and has had enough sleep before
she comes over. Hunger and lack of sleep will make the transition more
Try to keep your granddaughter occupied after her parents leave, and provide
support during her crying phase. Continue to occupy her with games while
soothing her. If you burn out and need to let her cry it out, do so. But, the
best option would be to continue to make contact with her and comfort her so she
knows that you are there.
She will pass through this phase. But, because you don't have enough
opportunities to watch her, she is still uncomfortable with you. Make sure you
get lots of contact with her and remain patient. It's tough when you're immersed
in the difficult behavior, but the rewards are close at hand. You'll have some
wonderful time with your granddaughter, and she will begin to love spending time
Should I allow my 11 year old son to play with
a 15 year old boy? My 11 year son has two sisters, 6 and 2. I am not comfortable
with my son's relationship with the 15 year old. Shouldn't 15 year boys be
dating and hanging with 15 and 16 year old boys? -Lynn, Florida
Your situation depends on many factors. Is this child a friend of the family?
Has your son known him for a long time? What is the developmental age of the 15
year old boy? Do you know this boy's family? If your son has been friends with
this boy for many years, it's natural that they may still find some common
interests and enjoy hanging out together. If this is a newer friendship, you
need to get to know this boy's parents. He may be developmentally younger and
have more in common with an 11-year-old than his peers. Possibly, he's socially
immature and doesn't fit in with kids his own age and feels more comfortable
with your son. If you get to know his parents, you can start an open
communication and figure out why he might be interested in socializing with your
son. In today's world of video games, two children of different ages can become
equal competitors. It's not so uncommon to find different aged kids hanging out
The key here is communication and supervision. You need to supervise their
activities and make sure that they are age appropriate for your son. It's fine
to set some limits and talk with the kids about what's o.k. and what's not o.k.
And, you can make it an expectation that they only play at your house so you can
supervise. You can also set limits regarding how often they socialize. Maybe
once or twice per week is fine but not every day.
If they get along well, enjoy each other's company, and engage in age
appropriate activities, there's nothing wrong with allowing their friendship to
continue. In fact, the fifteen year old can become a positive role model for
your son. But remember to stay in touch with his family and keep an eye on the
kids. And, if you notice any behaviors that you feel uncomfortable with, have a
discussion with the boy and his parents and set some limits. If you find that
the boy is not following your expectations, you have the choice to stop the
My 6 year old grandson says terrible things to
his parents when he doesn't get his way and my son is running out of patience. I
am his grandmother and he tries it on me also. It is becoming a serious problem
and his 5 year old brother is doing the same thing....the two boys feed off each
other. When one is being told his behavior is unacceptable, the other one starts
saying bad things and vice versa. -Connie, Illinois
First and foremost, stay calm with this behavior. Kids continue negative
behavior because they get some type of reward. If their parents are becoming
angry and reactive, that's the reward. Sometimes, all it takes is a parents to
change their reactions for the behavior to diminish. You might want to check out
our article When Your Kids Back
Talk to get some quick tips on how to respond to this type of
Next, you should have a consequence set up for the behavior. Kids this age
respond well to time-outs. Time-outs are great because they give the child a
chance to calm down and the parents a break from the behavior. Let the boys know
that when they talk negatively they will get a warning, and if they don't stop,
they will get a time-out. The warning gives them a chance to take control and
stop their own behavior. We have a great article entitled Using Effective
Time-Outs if you need some guidance about the time-out process.
Specify two different locations for the time-outs in case both boys participate.
They must be separated. Most likely, the younger one will not follow in the
behavior when he sees his brother's consequences begin. Have them take
time-outs, and let them rejoin the group when they are ready to stop the
behavior. When the time-out is over, calmly talk about the reasons they went to
time-out and how they can make different choices next time. As it mentions in
the Back Talk
article, use "I" statements to let them know how it makes you feel when they say
mean things to you.
Next, set up some behavior charts as incentives for positive behavior. We have
posted a chart entitled "I
Didn't Talk Negatively Today". We are also happy to make up
charts for you. If the boys have specific characters they like, we can put them
on the charts so it's extra fun.
Drop us a line if you're interested. If you consider the problem
out of hand, you may want to reward the boys daily to start. Every day that they
refrain from talking negatively, have them mark their charts and earn a treat.
You can use something simple such as stickers, candy, dollar store items. We
have a list of rewards here.
Or, you can let them earn an incentive every few days. As their behavior gets
better, you can spread out the rewards a bit more. It's up to you how you want
to implement the chart. Make the chart fun, too. Let the boys help pick a
special place to set up their charts and pick out special stickers or markers
that you use to mark the chart. If you need some extra guidance, we have an
article on Using
Behavior Charts. Make sure that you have a chart available when
the kids are with Grandma, too.
Best of luck and let us know if there is anything else we can do to help!
Support For An Adult With Developmental
23-year-old high functioning
autistic/moderately mentally retarded family member - recently moved in with us.
Has visited for last 5 years. How to motivate and help him establish routine
without vexing him. Comes from chaotic, dysfunctional situation. Thanks.
-Maria, Ocean Co, NJ
We apologize, but we specialize in information regarding parenting children and
do not have expertise working with adults with disabilities. We suggest
beginning with the
Ocean County Office for Individuals with Disabilities.
Here, you will find qualified individuals to provide support, suggestions, and
counseling. You're doing a wonderful thing by providing a home for your
relative. Best of luck finding some appropriate support!
Request For Additional Charts
I was able to get a few chart pages with
the yellow smile face at the top of the page like I slept in my own bed but I
want more than I could find on the list. Where do I get more like that?
Thank you for your question and for visiting our website! You mentioned that you
would like more charts than you can find on this page of our site:
Could you explain this a bit more? We are happy to make up charts for you if you
have a specific behavior you would like listed on the chart. We have many
different charts on our website, but if you don't see what you want, please let
us know the specifics and we'll make up a new chart for you. This is a free
service. We were unable to contact you at the email address you provided.
Please contact us at this address:
to discuss this further!
We look forward to hearing back from you! Thanks again for visiting.
Changing Sleep Patterns
We received your question regarding changing your
sleep patterns at the age of 69. We answer parenting questions here at
Free Printable Behavior Charts, and you would be better served asking your
physician for some help on this matter.
I am not a parent, I'm 16 years old. But over
the summer I babysit my 4 cousins whose ages range from 5-13. How can I punish
the oldest without her thinking that I am just being mean? -Vanessa, U.S.
It's great that you are already preparing for your babysitting job this summer.
The best way to approach child care is to go in with a plan of action, and
you're doing just that! Since you have some time before summer, it would be
a great idea to set up a meeting with your aunt and uncle to talk about
expectations. The kids' parents should be setting up the rules of the house, and
it's your job to enforce those rules as opposed to making up your own rules and
consequences. Be ready with a pen and paper. Ask the parents to write down the
household rules and consequences. This rule sheet can be posted somewhere in the
home. Use this meeting as a time to ask questions and discuss problems
that you may have with the kids you baby-sit.
Then, at some point in time closer to summer, you need to have another meeting
involving all the kids, their parents, and you. At this point, refer to the
written rules and consequences. This may be a time to discuss the use of a
behavior chart if that is part of the plan. The kids' parents should state their
expectations and remind the kids of the consequences if they do not follow the
rules. This would be a great opportunity to let the kids know that you will be
enforcing the consequences because you are the responsible party, not because
you intend to be mean to them. If you address the whole gang, then the oldest
cousin will not feel singled out in the discussion. You may also be able to
engage your oldest cousin in managing the younger siblings. This would keep her
busy and create more of an equal relationship between the two of you. This is
only possible, though, if her parents feel comfortable putting her in this role.
You might want to bring this up at your initial meeting with her parents.
Best of luck this summer and feel free to get in touch if you have any more