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Sylvia B. Rimm, PhD

Sylvia B. Rimm, PhD

Dr. Sylvia Rimm is a psychologist and best-selling author with a national following. She is the director of the Family Achievement Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, and is a clinical professor at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.

Exclusive to Wholefamily....Dear Dr. Sylvia, My 11-year-old daughter has hit puberty and all that comes with it. She acts as if she's 20 in some areas of her life and in others, she acts like a five-year-old. How do I let her know that the way she wants to act is not appropriate for her age, and the way she should act is not like a five- or 20-year-old? A At least from your description, your daughter is acting very normal for an early adolescent. The babyish behavior is telling you that she's not sure she's ready to grow up. She still requires the assurance that you're there for her. If the behavior is too childish, like temper tantrums when she doesn't get her way, you can ignore it and discuss the issue at a calmer time.

Dear Dr. Sylvia, We listen to your radio program every week and have found this site as a way to ask a question that is pretty complicated. We have guardianship of our six-year-old granddaughter, Shelley, daughter of our adopted daughter who came to us at age three. Shelley's mom has many problems, among them attachment issues that have followed her all her life. Shelley, her firstborn, was eight weeks premature, and is a twin whose sister died at one month from complications of pre-maturity. Shelley has been with us permanently since she was four-and-a-half. Before that, she spent weekends, which became longer and longer. She is now six. Lately she's been expressing feelings of abandonment: "My mommy loves Jennifer (her two-year-old half sister) better than me.

Q: Dear Dr. Sylvia, I have a soon-to-be ten-year-old son already experiencing girl problems. At first I thought it was the usual boyfriend-girlfriend cute thing all the kids go through, but now I see it is much serious. He walks this girl to her car everyday after school while carrying her books. He writes her letters telling her how much he loves her. The other day he said she broke up with him and he started to cry. He didn't want to go to school the next day for fear she may do it again. He was sent down to the office twice complaining he didn't feel well. Now he isn't doing so well in school. He isn't allowed to talk to the girl on the phone anymore, and I told him to tell her that they should only be friends (which I don't think he has done).

Dear Dr. Sylvia, I have an eight-year-old daughter, who does not like to listen. Her teacher says she talks too much in class, and I have taken away some of the things she likes to do, but she still talks in class. It started in first grade and continues. I have read many books about discipline and have not found the answer. She is usually a sweet child, but sometimes she really gets out of hand and throws tantrums like a two-year-old.

I have been married to my second husband for seven years. The oldest of our four children is from my first marriage. My ex-husband left when I was four months pregnant with my son, so he has never seen him or had any contact with him. My husband and I started dating when my son was four months old, and he adopted my son six months after we were married. The boy is now 11, and we are not quite sure how to explain to him that his dad is not his biological father. How should we go about this? Although my husband and son have a wonderful relationship, my husband is quite concerned that our son will no longer think of him in the same way once we tell him, or even worse, he will want to see his biological father.

Dear Dr. Sylvia, I am concerned about my three-year-old nephew. My sister has been having ongoing problems with his behavior, which is very defiant and even violent at times. He will pick fights with other kids or do things on purpose to hurt them or make them cry. He will also hit my sister, or occasionally, other adults like myself. He also swears a lot, using strong words that even sound bad coming from an adult. My sister has tried time-outs, but he will not stay in place. He can be such a sweet, lovable boy, but then, all of a sudden, his mood switches and he becomes mean. Do you have any suggestions for my sister to help her help him express his anger in a more positive way, or for redirecting his negative behavior? I should say that he lives in a household with a father that is quite angry as well.

Dear Dr. Sylvia, I believe our five-year-old daughter has the empowerment problem you spoke of in your article. (See Foundational Principles Parenting) Now that we've realized the problem, how do we fix it so she doesn't continue to act like a spoiled brat? We set what we believe are the appropriate limits. However, she pushes and pushes us to the point that we have to send her to her room or ground her from her favorite channel on TV. She honestly believes that she's THE BOSS. Any suggestions? A You will have to set clear limits for your five-year-old, but you'll want to be careful not to get on a negative track of constant punishment, or you'll soon find your daughter becoming sad or angry.

Although the times and family make-up have changed dramatically, the foundational principles of intelligent parenting survive. Research has provided clear fundamentals that direct children toward confidence, security, and achievement. Furthermore, there are a fair number of day-to-day options available in raising children from which parents can choose. The children of this millennium will continue to be influenced by much more than their families; however, parents and grandparents continue to set the important foundations. I anticipate with enthusiasm sharing with my audience the cornerstones of raising happy, achieving children based on my many years of clinical work and my research with families.

Q Dear Dr. Sylvia, My husband and I have a four-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son. The challenge is with our four-year-old daughter. Just as background, we are a very happy "all-American" family. My husband is an incredible father. The problem we are having is that our four-year-old is what you may call a "Mama's girl." She will only accept Mommy doing things for her. This is not a phase since it has been going on for about a year. My husband is beside himself, and it is now beginning to hurt his feelings. If he goes to pick her up at school, she will not go with him. She begins crying and says, "I want Mommy to pick me up." Once they are in the car and she realizes she is not getting her way, she is nice to him.

Q: Dear Dr. Sylvia, I am a single parent of three teenagers; a senior girl, age eighteen, a sophomore boy, age sixteen, and a freshman girl, age fourteen. My family is in crisis. I've raised these children alone since they were one, three, and five, and now my son is involved with drugs, alcohol, and is on probation. He was busted two weekends ago for MIP, driving under the influence of pot, possession of pot, and possession of paraphernalia. I couldn't believe it.

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