Dr. Brodlie: When you talk to the boys about the privacy of family or issues that one wants to keep private, be very specific. In other words, even do some play acting, going over subjects to show them what might be appropriate and not appropriate. You play them and let them be the strangers. Then you are showing them quite concretely what is inappropriate and appropriate. Children are often confused by parents making general or ambiguous statements such as, "don't tell others private things," when they don't know specifically what is private. If the problem were to continue after you've had this type of conversation with them, I would examine whether there is another motivation involved, such as a desire on their part to embarrass their parents. But being specific with them should work.
Q: I know it's good to give children a sense of control over their world and the chance to make decisions for themselves, but I'm not always sure where to draw the line on this. My daughter is 5 and she throws a fit if things aren't done her way -- even though her way often is not the right way. I don't want to spoil her, but I also am sensitive to this issue of letting her having control. How can I find a balance?
Dr. Brodlie: Parents are always struggling with that issue. The answer is always changing as the child develops more capabilities and maturity. There is no answer that applies generally, there are only answers that apply to that given day and situation. The fact that you are thinking about it is a good sign. Don't worry about being wrong -- occasionally we all are. Just recognize that their seeking control over their world is a positive phenomenon and occasionally they're going to scrape their knees or hurt their fingers. If those types of things never happen that means you're not giving an adequate amount of control to the child. Therefore, you're better thinking in terms of what my child can do and worrying less about what they can't do. They may grow up with a few more bumps and scars but likely with a greater sense of self and independence.
Chat Moderator: Thanks, Dr. Brodlie, for joining us today and for answering our behavior and discipline questions.
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