Questions From You

Parenting questions submitted by our community members and answered by a YOU Program facilitator.
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My son wants to go to one school and I want him to go to another. How do we make the decision?

May 23, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

A group of middle school kids walk to school on a city street.

Question: My oldest child will be starting high school in the fall. He wants to become a scientist and wants to attend a specific high school for their well-regarded science program and strong reputation for research. However, the school is in a neighborhood that is a bit unsafe and inconvenient, so I’d rather he went to a nearby school. This other school doesn’t have as strong of a science program, though. What should I do?

Answer: It’s wonderful that your son knows what career he wants to go into at such a young age, and even better that he has researched the best options for his education. To be so devoted to his academic and professional career is a very unique quality, especially at his age.

It also can be very difficult to juggle just one child’s schedule, let alone multiple, and we understand that having your son at a nearby school is much more convenient for your family.

Think about how much further your son will go in his career if he starts studying at a school that caters to his career goals now. Talk to the school counselor to see if that school’s program will help him get into a better college that caters to his career choice.

Now think about what will happen if you insist that your son goes to the nearby school that doesn’t cater to his strengths and career goals. Will he resent you? Will he work as hard in a program that doesn’t develop his interests? Will he be challenged at this school?

Only you and your son can answer those questions and make the decision, so it’s important to ask yourself what will happen in each scenario. Are there compromises that both of you can make in each scenario?

Finally, regarding the unsafe neighborhood, remember that there is danger everywhere, even in safe neighborhoods. If the danger is a very strong concern for you, voice your concerns with the school administration. How do they address the danger? Use the school as a resource to help you and your son make the decision.

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Should I be reading to my baby? He can’t even talk yet!

May 16, 2014

By YOU Parent Facilitator

A mother and father hold their son as they read to him.

Question: Should I start reading to my 6-month-old son? I don’t think he knows what I’m saying, so do I really need to read to him before he learns to talk?

Answer: It might not make sense when you first think about it, but reading to your baby now will help him learn to talk sooner and will help develop his vocabulary.

Specifically, reading to him provides visual stimulation, story element introduction, sequence processing, and information synthesis. These are more clinical terms that mean that reading to him will help his brain develop.

As you try reading to him, start with these simple techniques to engage different parts of his brain and senses.

  • Let him touch books that have different textures.
  • Point to a picture in the book and tell him what it is. For example, if there is a picture of a bear, point to it and say, “bear.”
  • Repeat the name of the image a few times while pointing to it to reinforce the word association.
  • As he gets older and learns to talk, point to a picture in the book and ask him what it is. “What is this animal?”

Aside from benefitting his brain development, when you read to him you cater to his emotional well-being. As you try reading to him, sit close and hold him while speaking in a gentle and loving voice. This approach will boost his sense of security and your bond together.

By starting to read to your son when he is six months old, you will help foster his emotional and academic achievement as he grows through family bonding, word association, and pronunciation practice.

For more information on reading to your baby, see the first book in the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher book series by Sunny P. Chico, Through the Early Years.

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My high school daughter lacks confidence. How can I help her?

May 9, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

A group of teen listens intently to a confident female during a discussion.

Question: My high school daughter lacks confidence. She doesn’t speak up in class, doesn’t have a lot of friends, and won’t join clubs or do other social activities. How can I help her build confidence so that she is prepared for adulthood when she goes to college?

Answer: First, it is important to examine why your daughter practices the behaviors you mentioned above. These behaviors might simply suggest she is introverted, and if that is the case, it does not mean that she lacks confidence.

However, if you are certain that she’s not just introverted, it’s time to address her self-esteem. You said you want her to build confidence so she is prepared to go away to college. In this context, extracurricular activities are a great option for your daughter for three reasons.

  1. Social. Your daughter will meet people she might not otherwise interact with through these activities. If she finds an activity that she is interested in, she may make new friends who share the same interests.
  2. Academic. During meetings or activities, your daughter will build skills that she may not build in the classroom. From teamwork to finding an outlet for her creativity to developing leadership skills, your daughter can become a better student because of the skills she develops in extracurricular activities.
  3. Prepare for College. Colleges and universities seek well-rounded students who have demonstrated a strong academic record and participate in extracurricular activities. The extra work shows a dedication outside of school and that the student can still earn good grades while doing something outside of the classroom.

If your daughter is initially hesitant to join clubs or other extracurricular activities, remind her that it’s very important for her college applications. If she is looking forward to going away to school, the motivation to boost her chances of getting into the school of her choice should encourage her to join one or two organizations. As she participates more frequently, she will build those skills and in turn, build her confidence.

For more information on the value of extracurricular activities and boosting self-esteem in teens, please see Through High School and Beyond, the third book in the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher series.

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My daughter comes home from daycare with bruises. How do I know if she’s being mistreated or has a health issue?

May 2, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

A doctor examines a baby girl.

Question: My 4-year-old daughter comes home from daycare with bruises on her arms and legs. I’ve asked the daycare and they say she plays kind of rough. She doesn’t play like that at home, though. I also talked to other parents at the daycare and their kids don’t seem to have a lot of bruises. How do I know if she’s being mistreated or if it’s a health issue?

Answer: It’s good that you have noticed the bruises and asked the daycare and other parents about their children’s experiences. Have you asked your daughter if anyone is hurting her?

If not, the next step is to ask her. She might be able to tell you if something is wrong. There is also a chance that she won’t tell you what’s happening for various reasons. Either way, by asking her directly, you are showing her that you care about her, what happens to her, and what she tells you.

Next, regardless of her response, you should take your daughter to her pediatrician. Your daughter is at an age where she no longer sees her doctor as frequently as when she was a baby, so if there is a potential medical issue that occurs between scheduled check-ups, she should visit the doctor immediately.

Her doctor can help you determine whether her bruising is from playing rough, a health issue, or from mistreatment and can help you determine the next appropriate step for preventing it. Additionally, the doctor can document suspicious injuries and give you information on reporting those to authorities if necessary.

Hopefully the daycare provider is correct and your daughter is just playing a little rough, but you have every right to be concerned about your daughter’s safety. Consider spending a day at her daycare observing to make sure everything is okay there. Even if you need to take a day off work, it's worth it to make sure your daughter is safe there. 

For more information on how to deal with your child’s injuries and doctor visits, please see Through the Early Years, the first book in the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher 3-book set. If you suspect your child is being abused, call the National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD.

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My child is mean and disrespectful to me. How can I change his behavior?

April 25, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

A boy angrily faces the camera.

Question: When my son gets angry about something, he takes it out on me by calling me vulgar names and insulting my life choices. He does this in public and at home. How can I help him change his behavior and see how inappropriately he is behaving?

Answer: This is a very difficult situation for any parent to deal with. It can be emotionally difficult and potentially embarrassing when it happens in public. Start with these suggestions to change your son’s behavior.

  • Establish boundaries. As soon as you notice this negative behavior repeating, set limits with your child. Calmly tell him that you will not respond to that behavior and you will wait until he calms down. The sooner you establish these boundaries, the sooner your son has the opportunity to change his behavior.
  • Stay consistent. Enforce your rules regularly, especially when it comes to punishments. Your child is more likely to repeat negative behaviors if he can get away with them on occasion. Don’t give in just because he’s causing a scene—hold your ground.
  • Explain your stance. Once your son calms down, you can talk to him about why his behavior was inappropriate. Try putting it in perspective by asking him how he would feel if someone called him those names. Ask him why he was so angry. These conversations may provide insight into why he is behaving that way.

These suggestions are good places to start with your son. However, the behavior you describe could be a symptom of a bigger issue. Speak to his physician about the behavior. He or she may refer you to a child therapist who can assist your efforts with your son and determine if another diagnosis is necessary.

For more information on establishing boundaries and consistent discipline, see pages 56 and 75 in Through Elementary and Middle School, one of the books in the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher 3-book set.

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