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Archive for May, 2012

Tips to Avoid Separation Anxiety in Infants

Infant Boy BSeparation anxiety is difficult for everyone involved. The baby sobs, the parents feel guilty for leaving and the caregivers have the near-impossible task of calming the infant down. Thankfully, there are a few techniques to prevent separation anxiety.

  • Say ‘Goodbye’ and Go – One of the worst things you can do is to linger around for an extra five minutes with your infant. It gives your infant the feeling that the person he or she is staying with is not trustworthy. Then, if you’re lured back into the room, the infant might have an even worse reaction than the time before.
  •  Don’t Sneak Out – Although this may seem like the best thing to, it can damage your relationship with your child. You shouldn’t trick your child into thinking you’re still there when you’ve already made it into work. When the child realizes you’re not there, it can provoke a meltdown.
  • Put on a Happy Face – Your child needs to know that you feel good about leaving him or her with the caregiver. Even if you’re sad to leave your child, the child should believe that you’re confident as you head out the door.
  •  Start Early – Unless you can be with your baby at all times, it’s a good idea to familiarize him or her with other caregivers from as early as six months old. Practicing the separation is important and will also make going into preschool a bit easier. If you have a lot of family members willing to watch your baby, they could be good resources.

These tips are not guaranteed. Separation anxiety can happen to any child at any time, but there’s no harm in preparing your child for the future.

Father’s Day Craft: Popsicle Stick Puzzle

With Father’s Day right around the corner, here is a craft that is not only fun for the children, but fun for dads, too!


  • 8-10 large Popsicle sticks
  • White glue
  • Tape
  • Small utility knife (for the adult helper’s use only!)
  • A copy of a favorite photo of daddy



  1. Lay the Popsicle sticks side-by-side so they align at the top and bottom.
  2. Place pieces of tape along the top and bottom of all the sticks to hold them together.
  3. Flip the sticks over, center the photo and stick it to the Popsicle sticks using white glue.
  4. Place a few heavy books on top and let it dry completely.
  5. When dry, remove the tape on the back and have the adult helper use the utility knife to separate the Popsicle sticks and cut through the photo.
  6. Mix the sticks up and wrap them or bundle them together and tie a ribbon around them and give to dad on Father’s Day!


*An adult should oversee all activities.  Activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

Ask the Expert: Regression – When Development Seems to Slip

“My son recently turned three and we have noticed a change in his behavior. While he is doing great at potty training, he has been acting more aggressively by hitting and pushing at school. My son has always been a daddy’s boy and recently has been hitting me, telling me I can’t play with him and that I don’t love him. Help!  Is it a phase?”

Dr. Kyle Pruett A

This mom has a three-year-old  son who is toilet-training, learning language, playing ‘I-wanna-be-a-big boy-like-daddy-right-now,’ and giving her and a few of his friends a tough time these days. This last development feels new to her. She asks, “Is it a phase?”

I titled this answer ‘regression’ to remind us that development is not a steady progression from young to old, unknowing to all-knowing. The road of development is full of speed bumps, potholes, slips backward and endless side streets. Why is it so rough? Development is a highly dynamic interaction among children’s genes, personality, environments and experiences. Three-year-olds are especially busy because of the high volume of traffic flowing across this intersection. Their vocabularies are exploding (100 words a month), their bodies are increasingly under their conscious control (toilet training and staying asleep are VERY complicated things to pull off with their abilities and wishes and your rules) and they are whizzing past emotional landmarks at blinding speed (envy, shame and embarrassment are new arrivals in their brains and in your homes).

Preschoolers are more powerful and impulsive than ever, and are just starting to learn the differences between girls and boys, mothering and fathering. By now, children have developed different repertoires of behaviors for mom and for dad. Moms are often aware that they are getting the toxic waste from the day on a regular basis (mouthy and aggressive pushback is more common around moms), while dads seem to get away with being Mr. Nice Guy and enjoying the playful, physical rough-and-tumble stuff and little pushback. These trends are normal. The child is learning how to be away from mom without needing her so much and feeling helpless (hence the pushback).

T. Berry Brazelton, the previous generation’s go-to pediatrician, taught us that a period of regression is common just before a child makes a big developmental transition (sleeping through the night, giving up breast feeding, learning to walk or talk, going to preschool, staying overnight with relatives without you). Often, these periods of regression are more obvious in retrospect (“Oh, that’s why he was such a mess the week before he slept at grandma’s.”). I compare it to trying to jump over a puddle on the sidewalk. In order to clear the obstacle, you might have to back up so that you can gather enough momentum to carry you safely to the other side. Parents usually miss this because we are so focused (if not preoccupied) with supporting constant forward and upward progression. Unfortunately, the brain and personality don’t work that way.

To handle a child’s apparent regression, back up yourselves, don’t change much (appropriately, the mother kept using her time-outs, to some avail), put your faith in your child, calm down the other adults in the circle of upset and let your child clear the puddle. If he continues to have difficulties, you should talk with your pediatrician. In the meantime, enjoy his baby pictures to refresh your spirits.