Parenting

  • Dr Maya Cockeram qualified as a medical doctor in the UK and specialised in family medicine. She has been on a career break from doctoring, to do what she calls ‘the most important job in the world’. . . being a mum! Maya is currently a full-time mum and a part time Consultant for the Emergency Medical Services provider FALCK and a visiting lecturer on Child Health.

    She manages to combine this with running Parenting and Preparing for Puberty workshops for Mums in Colombo and writing articles for various parenting magazines. Maya and her husband of 15 years, Steve, have two sons aged 14 and 12 and a daughter aged 7, a ginger cat, a three-legged dog and three guinea pigs! In her spare time Maya likes to read and bake.

I am having huge issues with my son who is 8, regarding basic irresponsibility. For example, if I tell him to get ready in the mornings for school, I have to repeat each thing over and over again before it is done. If I tell him to unpack his bag after school and sort himself out, EVERYDAY I have to yell at him before it is done. If he messes the playroom, till I yell, it won't be cleaned up. I have taught him how to have a bathe by himself, everyday I have to send him back for a wash because he hasn't had a good scrub. If I tell him to do certain things at school-like take this notice to the Sports Dept and get 3 signatures etc-he will come back with only one thing done. I have told him EVERYDAY to put his bottle in the bag after school as he looses bottles every month, he STILL leaves it out and when I go to get him from school, his bottle is in one place, and his bag in another. I have
to ALWAYS ALWAYS repeat everything before it gets done. My husband and I spoke and about 2 years ago we put up a list of "Morning Routine" "After-school Routine" etc but even with that, EVERYDAY he misses out something, or does it his way and forgets everything again. I have given him a note pad to write his home-work on, once in a way he will write on it, the balance times, he forgets to tell me completely and then gets himself into trouble. Even last week I went to get him after sports and I asked him AT school whether he had his bottle, record book etc, he said yes, we came back home and he realizes that the record book, wallet and bottle were at school in a tree house!!!! I have tried to help in every way I possibly can... I have even told the teachers that I struggle with this issue and to please help me....but everyday is a battle. I get so so angry as I have another kid as well, plus I work from home and do all the housework by myself that I'm at wits end with him. I have threatened with putting him into boarding school, but though he is scared of it, he forgets that within a few hours, and he is back to being irresponsible. The only thing that motivates him to work fast is when I say he can watch a movie (which I do NOT do often). Please help!!

You certainly do sound very stressed and upset about this whole issue. Very often when parents approach me for help on how to change the behavior of their child the first thing I say is that it's not the child's behavior that has to change but the parents. In my experience if parents change their behavior then that subsequently changes their child's behavior. If you sit down and carefully analyse what you have written what stands out is that you seem to do a lot of yelling and shouting and threatening to your son. But that does not change his behavior, And yet you continue. Why? If something does not work then you need to try a different approach.
My 7 week old Baby refuses to be put down. As soon as I put him down he howls and screams till I pick him up again. I'm exhausted -  help - is there any way to change this behavior?

 As tough as it can be for new parents who just want a few minutes to themselves, the fact is that very young babies often prefer being held by mum or a main career than being in any other position.This is normal.

When you hold your son, he feels your body warmth and hears your heartbeat, a sound familiar from inside the womb. He smells your scent. And when you cuddle him, he feels safe; it reminds him of the good old days back inside your womb.Plus, the closer he is, the more likely he is to receive your caresses and kisses. 

Many developmental specialists refer to the first three months of life as the "Fourth Trimester" meaning that babies are not really quite ready to be born at 9.5 months, but because of their big heads, Mother Nature ushers them into the world a bit early. That means they spend much of the first three months sleeping, eating and crying if they aren't held. So it's totally normal for your 7 week old to want to be held all the time. It's not a bad habit that needs to be broken.
My son had a couple of friends over for a project. I heard one of them mentioning porn. The others told him to shut up and that was so gross etc. I spoke to my son about it and he seems genuinely grossed out by the idea of porn but I am afraid that repeated mention will lead to experimentation with porn sites. 
I'm also not sure whether or not to tell the other child's mom.  I would like to know but I'm not sure how she'll take it.
Help!

This is a really difficult question to answer. If your child's friend is just talking about porn to him and not actually showing porn to them or encouraging them to watch it then really there is no harm that has come to your child. On the other hand a child this age being exposed to porn can have detrimental effects on their lives for many years to come.

No healthy parent wants to think about his child viewing pornography, but it often happens. Some researchers have stated that the average age of exposure to pornography is down to eight. Before the days of the Internet, children were typically between the ages of eleven to thirteen when they began by viewing soft-core pornography found in magazines like Playboy.
My daughter is 3 years old and my concern is related to food. Each meal is fed by me. She maintains a healthy weight according to her age.....and thus you might wonder if I am a paranoid mother!

I struggle to feed her Maya. She keeps food in her mouth and takes forever to bite and swallow it. Sometimes by the first mouthful itself I get an indication how the rest of the meal would go. I'll be lucky if I can get beyond 5 mouthfuls. I don't get angry with her as her Pediatrician once told me never to make meal times battle grounds. But I am really really frustrated within me how to get her to eat. If I keep a fried rice in front of her, she will eat it and eat it by herself too. I mostly struggle with rice and curry meals (a veg curry with an assortment of veggies, chicken curry or fish curry or maybe fried fish pieces sometimes, any other tempered veggie, half a hard-boiled egg) but since of late I struggle with her favourite string hoppers too. She likes soup, so I most often have a soup ready to give her if the meal has been disastrous.

After lunch she takes a 1.5 hr nap and at nap time she has some milk. 4 oz. One day after a very poor lunch I put her down to nap without the milk too and I explained to her the importance of eating well at meal times and that there will be nothing else coming until the next meal. Surprisingly the dinner meal also didn't go down well either that day! I thought she would be very hungry 
She ate well when she was younger .... but I don't know why this has become such an issue.


At three years old your daughter certainly does not need to be fed by you. She needs to sit on her own in a high chair and feed herself, and be a part of the family meal time.It's great that she maintains a healthy weight for her age. All three of mine have always been very under weight for their height according to the chart, and at 15, 13 and 8 years still continue to be! But they are very healthy,active and sporty. It's far better to be underweight than overweight as you know. My point is that eating food is not just about gaining weight. It's so much more than that. It's about learning the skill to feed ones self, to discover new tastes, to sit at a table with the family and have a conversation. Children learn best by modeling their parents. So your daughter needs to see you and the rest of her family eating and enjoying the experience.
My 2 year old daughter got constipation while she was sick a few months back after that she's really scared to pass motions and  is trying to hold everything in. A doctor  gave lactulose syrup but she's still scared..,any advice ?

This is quite a common scenario that your daughter is going through.Many toddlers begin holding in bowel movements because they had one that was painful and fear the same thing could happen again. This triggers a difficult cycle. As stool sits in the rectum, water from the stool is reabsorbed, making the stool harder. It also becomes larger as more stool enters the rectum. When it does pass, a large, hard stool may cause a fissure, anal tearing or rectal bleeding and additional pain, leading the child to be more afraid of bowel movements. As a result, the child will develop continued stool withholding and even worse constipation.
I have started the rewarding system couple of days back to my 3.2 son for potty training. I said every time he uses the the bathroom and keep his pants clean god puts a gift in the surprise box (I placed a box in his cupboard and filled it with a tiny gift like an eraser,sticker,a toffee etc...) he uses the potty and comes back and  checks the  box and he's so happy  and seems like it works for the potty training, but I'm worried will this make him get used to it and make it a habit. Is this a  trick of mine..... will it make him a materialist. So please give me some ideas for how long I should keep rewarding him and also an ideal way to stop. 

First of all, it's important to understand the difference between a reward and a bribe. The line can get a bit blurry here, but the essential difference is this: A reward follows the behavior you're trying to reinforce, and a bribe precedes it. Also, a reward should be given as soon as possible after the noble deed so as to make a firm association between the behavior and the positive reinforcement. So your idea with having a box with tiny gifts is a good one. Especially as it does not include sweets and chocolates. Rewarding children with food is never a good idea.

However, I am a bit concerned that you told your son,God puts a reward in the box. I don't think that's a very wise choice. First of all I don't believe in lying to our kids. Being honest with our children as much as possible helps develop an open and trusting relationship between you both. Secondly, why bring God into it? If you must, a mythical creature of a fairy would do. But it's best that he understands that the rewards actually come from you.
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