Q: My 18-month-old kicks me and hits me when I try to change his diaper. He doesn't do this for his father or grandparents. Should I hold his legs down until he gives up or will this worsen things?
A: Holding his legs will definitely make matters worse.
Q: Several months back, our just-turned 3-year-old son invented an imaginary friend whom he calls Larry. We're worried because he seems involved to the point of being obsessed with him. He plays with Larry almost constantly, talking to him all the while.
In a recent column I said thumb-sucking is not, as was once thought, a sign of insecurity or other psychological problems. Well-adjusted children suck their thumbs and grow up to be well-adjusted adults.
"I'm a yeller," she said, she being the mother of three young children.
"No," I replied, "you're not. There is no genetic predisposition toward yelling, and no biochemical or neurological condition that makes yelling inevitable much less irresistible.
Q: Help! We find it almost impossible to finish a restaurant meal when our 18-month-old twins are along, which is always. We give them toys to keep them busy, and they do well for about 30 minutes after which chaos breaks loose.
If my parents told me once, they told me at least one hundred times, "Don't talk to anyone about their religious or political beliefs." They meant, of course, that those topics are likely to generate tension and angry conflict.
Q: Our 9-year-old daughter is going to the fourth grade next school year. She loves school and has always done very well. She recently took a series of tests and we've learned that she qualifies for the gifted and talented program.
Q: My 3-year-old started preschool 3 days a week (private sitter other two days) about 2 months ago. He did great. However, this week he began being defiant and not following directions. Then he kicked, screamed, and spit at his teachers.
Q: Our son's fifth birthday is in August. He did just fine, socially and academically, in preschool, but the counselor at the school he's slated to attend has recommended that we hold him back a year because of his late birthday.