Short answers for quick questions

Q:  Can you tell me why my 34-month-old daughter is throwing so many tantrums?

A:  She throws tantrums because you don’t obey her. After two years of being the center of attention, it’s difficult for her to accept that she’s not ringmaster of the family circus.

Q:  So what should I do when she throws a tantrum?

A:  Assign her tantrums to a rug or some other “tantrum place.” When she has a fit, drag her to her special rug and walk away.

Q:  My 5-year-old still sucks her thumb. I have tried various means of getting her to stop, but she persists. Any advice?

A:  My wife and I told our thumb-sucking daughter, Amy, when she was five that she could suck her thumb in her room only. If we found her doing it elsewhere, we sent her to her room. Not as punishment, mind you, but simply to put it out of sight, to describe some geographical limits around it. She quickly gave it up.

Q:  I want my 24-month-old son to learn to drink from an open cup. Sippy cups drive me nuts. Any advice?

A:  Sippy cups are found in the hands of kids as old as five these days because so many kids no longer drink water. They drink colored, sweetened junk liquids that stain if spilled. The way to teach a child to drink from an open cup is to put water in it. Begin with a small amount and gradually increase it as his cup-holding mastery improves. Sippy cups should be over and done with by 24 months. After that, they interfere with hand-eye coordination.

Q:  So what should a parent do if a child is constantly wanting attention?

A:  Parents should not let children dictate the terms of the parent-child relationship. The child who constantly wants atten-tion needs parents who refuse to give it to him on demand.

Q: What if the child gets upset if the parents refuse to give him attention?

A: So what? Children don’t know what is best for themselves. A child who gets upset because his parents refuse to let him command center stage in the family should be sent to his room until he cools off.

Q:  When she’s at home, my 14-year-old daughter prefers to be in her room, reading. She has no cell phone or computer in her room, but getting her to join the family is sometimes like pulling teeth. Otherwise, she’s a good kid. Any advice?

A:  Let her be. Unless, that is, you have a specific reason why she should come out of her room, in which case you should insist upon it. If this is the only problem you have with a 14-year-old, give praise and thanks and leave well enough alone.

Q:  My 15-year-old son has been invited to a boy-girl sleepover. The supervising parents are good, responsible people. Should I let him go?

A:  This is a joke question, right?

John Rosemond

Family psychologist John Rosemond is America’s most widely-read parenting expert. Learn more about John at