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My baby needs constant swaddling. Tiny infants like to be cozy, but some parents take it to an extreme. “Everyone wants to perfect the swaddle, and parents pay lots of money to find the perfect swaddle wrap so their babies will sleep,” says Dyan Hes, M.D., medical director of Gramercy Pediatrics. “Yes, a newborn enjoys being swaddled to feel snug like they are in the womb, but after a few weeks a baby may want to stretch more and by four months they start rolling over. I have seen some very tight swaddles, where the infant looks like an eggroll.” She says over-swaddled infants can have delayed milestones because they cannot roll over and their hips can be damaged if the swaddle is too tight on their legs.
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Your children will be spoiled by too much praise. There is a belief that overpraising will turn out kids who need applause every time they enter a room, but this is not necessarily the case, says Laura Paret, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist specializing in child and adolescent psychology at Union Square Practice. The trick is to balance true praise with refusing to feed the beast of bad behaviors. “In fact, receiving specific praise—such as, ‘I loved how you sat politely at dinner’ vs. ‘great job’—from parents for expected behavior while actively ignoring undesired behaviors such as, whining, baby voice, sassing will quickly work to increase the chances that children will behave appropriately,” Dr. Paret says. She points out that active ignoring must be unemotional; parents who look exasperated while ignoring are still responding to the behavior and thus attending to and reinforcing it.
Kids do not need to rest. Many parents push their kids too hard to excel in physical activities and sports. Orthopedic surgeon Barbara Bergin, M.D., a Bronx native who now practices in Austin, TX, says she treats kids all the time who are being pressed too hard. “Many children are playing more than one sport at a time, all year round,” Dr. Bergin says. Sometimes parents bring in injured kids to be patched up like pro athletes, insisting the child’s team cannot win without their child. “They need a break,” she says. “We’re over-working our children, and they’re going to pay for it someday, when we’re gone and aren’t around to kiss their boo-boos anymore.”
I am powerless to help my overweight child. Childhood obesity is a huge issue, yet some parents are overwhelmed when it comes to making healthy changes. “The child who is struggling with his or her weight will benefit from small changes in the family’s lifestyle,” says Connecticut pediatrician Douglas C. Curtiss, M.D. “Parents can make big differences by just introducing a little bit of family exercise into their lives, [such as] going for a walk together.” Parents do not always realize the effect that nutrition can have on a child’s focus and concentration.” Also, with nutrition, there is the feeling that it is too hard to prepare healthier meals, [and] that because of busy schedules, fast food is necessary,” he says “Parents don’t realize there are quick easy ways to make healthy meals for their children.”
Something bad will happen if I am not overprotective. Keeping kids safe is a real issue, yet parents may be overdoing it on vigilance. “Some parents believe their kids cannot advocate for themselves and are overprotective as a result,” Dr. Stringel says. “Children need to be nurtured toward independence and confidence. It is natural to fear that your child may experience discomfort, but again, being there to guide them while allowing them to see that they can master certain skills themselves builds confidence and self-esteem.” He says parents should become aware of their own anxieties and how their own childhood experiences may exacerbate worries about their kids. “Shielding their children from physical injury or emotional distress is the goal of most parents,” he says. Parents must find the balance of being supportive but also giving children a chance to solve their own conflicts.