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Child Psychology
By: Dr. Niloofar Farnoody > Ask The Experts > Niloofar Farnoody
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  Comments    Post a Comment 
  posted by mahin namdari on: 05/21/08
My 12 years old daughter

ba salam Dr.Farnoody ,
I have a question about my 12 years old daughter, she is asking me to go cinema with group of classmate girls and boys, I believe and trying to have traditional family, I expalin to her she accepted what I am felling but I know she is not happy with my decision and she thinks I am not trust her, what I have to do in this situation, I have your mom's CD but I couldn't find my answer there. can you help me please.

nellyfarnoody replied:
Autonomy & Safety
Dear Friend,

Autonomy & Safety are your two issues. On one hand you need to support her need for autonomy and to communicate with her that you trust her and support her independence, but on the other hand her safety is an issue...and you can give her lots of examples where things go wrong and she could be in danger...just watch the news with her!

If she agrees to a parent supervising, and making sure that they are safe, then you can meet her half way and let her enjoy her time with her friends! It's a process, and requires your ability in negotiating with her. I wish you the best during these very challenging times, and good luck!

Nelly Farnoody-Zahiri, Ph.D.
  posted by betty on: 05/15/08
My 3 1/2 year old son

Hello Dr. Farnoody,
I have 3 questions regarding my son and I am hoping you'll have time to answer them.
I have a 3 1/2 year old boy whom had never had a babysitter or left with anyone other than my husband and family members. I am having a hard time with him with his pre-school. I started him last year when he was 2 for just a few days. the first day I stayed for 10 minutes and when I noticed that he is playing I left but when I came back after 1/2 hour, his teacher told me that he cried for a little bit but he stoped. The next day I stayed with him for the whole 2 hours, and the next day as well. But the fourth day he just refuesed to leave the house and kept saying that you'll leave me. I thought that it maybe too early for him so I did not push him to go. He still does not go to school and everytime I talk to him about it he says I am scared of school. I am planning to register him again for this year in August when he is 4 but I am just so hesitant to go thru the same experiance with him again. He even refuses to go to the babysitting services at the sport club for a short time.
The second question that I have is that I started him with potty training about 7 months ago when I felt he was ready. He did that for a while but one day he stopped and refuses to go to potty. He says that he is scard of wetting himself. I am not pushing him to use the potty as I understand we should not force children.
At last, I am so ashamed to say that he still uses pacifires, if he doesn't use it he has a hard time sleeping.
I thank you in advance for your time and assistance.

nellyfarnoody replied:
Attachment Parenting
First of all, understand that this is very normal behavior. An attached child, who has grown up NOT being routinely left with a babysitter, will naturally not be thrilled about suddenly being left at a preschool. There is nothing that says all four-year-olds should feel comfortable in this setting. If you choose a parent-involved preschool you can stay with him for a little and help him ease into it. If this doesn't work, there maybe some issues with the teacher and your child or other children. Somehow, your son maybe sensing these issues or problems.

Try staying for five minutes, then wave and say goodbye and leave. He will cry for 2-5 minutes and will be fine. If he still has a hard time give him an option and take him to visit a couple of other schools and try a variety of different schools and teachers. Be prepared to stay for a set number of minutes so your child knows when you are leaving. Be patient. Listen to your child. If he continues to refuse to stay, then move on. Do not keep trying for more than a couple weeks if it isn't working. Keep trying until you find one that your child feels right about. Let him or her choose a school. Realize that this behavior is normal. Just as your child has built trust in you, he or she must also be able to trust the teacher and school.

You child's use of pacifier does not imply a psychological problem or a need unfulfilled by parents. On the contrary, the ability to use objects to self-comfort is a sign of psychological health. The only problem with pacifiers at three years of age is the likelihood of exerting pressure on the upper front teeth, resulting in an overbite. If your child does not use a pacifier long enough and suck hard enough to be causing mal-alignment of the teeth, then there is no need to break this habit.

If it is beginning to bother her teeth, here's how to wave bye-bye to her "binky."
1. Use the distract and substitute technique. As soon as she reaches for her comforter, distract her ("Let's play…") and substitute an alternative activity.
2. Here's a binky-breaking trick I have oftentimes advised in my pediatric practice. I call this the trade-in technique. Take your child to the toystore and let her pick out a toy to "trade" for the pacifier. Experienced toystore clerks are used to this trading game. By making the pacifier less convenient to use, distracting her, and substituting a treasured toy, you should be able to close the pacifier chapter of normal childhood.
3. Lose it. Make his plug less convenient to find. When he starts to look for it, engage him in such a fun activity that he forgets his rubber friend. Then, arrange for the pacifier to be permanently "lost," meanwhile substituting other touches of comfort, such as lots of snuggling, and a few cuddly toys.

1. Toilet-training is a partnership, with proper roles assigned to each person. You can lead a baby to the bathroom, but you can't make him go.
2. You have not failed Parenting 101 if your baby is the last on the block to be dry. As with eating and sleeping, you can't and shouldn't force a baby to be dry or clean, but you can set the conditions that help baby train himself.

3. The bottom line is helping your baby achieve a healthy toilet- training attitude. Approach toilet-training as an exciting interaction rather than a dreaded task; consider this event an initiation into your role as instructor. From baby's viewpoint, toileting is his initiation into "bigness"-a rite of passage from toddlerhood into preschoolerhood. (This explains why the desire to stay little makes some procrastinators resist.)
4. Toilet-training is a complex skill. Before you rush baby to the potty at the first squat, consider what's involved in learning toileting skills. First, baby has to be aware of the pressure sensations of his bowel and bladder. Then he must make the connection between these sensations and what's happening inside his body. Next he learns to respond to these urges by running to the potty, where he must know how to remove his clothes, how to situate himself comfortably on this new kind of seat and how to hold his urges until all systems are go. With all these steps, it's no wonder many babies are still in diapers well into the third year.
5. The muscles surrounding the opening of the bladder and bowel (I call them doughnut muscles when explaining the elimination process to six-year- old bed wetters) need to be controlled to open and close at the proper time. Bowel training usually precedes bladder training, mainly because the doughnut muscles surrounding the bowel are not as impatient as those around the bladder. When a baby senses the urge to defecate, he has more time to respond before soiling his diapers. A solid substance is easier to control than liquid. When the bladder is full, the urge to go is sudden, strong, and hard to control.
6. The usual sequence of gaining bowel and bladder control is (1) nighttime bowel control; (2) daytime bowel control; (3) daytime bladder control; (4) nighttime bladder control.
7. Girls are rumored to be trained earlier than boys. This observation reflects more the sex of the trainer than the trainee. Culturally, toilet-training has been left to mothers; naturally, women feel more comfortable training girls, and baby girls are more likely to imitate their mommies. Picture mommy standing and trying to show baby Bert how to urinate. By imitation, babies learn that girls sit and boys stand, but in the beginning boys can sit, avoiding sprays and dribbles on walls and floor. When your son figures out he can stand just like daddy, he will.
8. The pressure is off parents to toilet train early. Don't equate toilet-training with good mothering. The idea that the earlier baby is eating three squares a day, weaned, toilet trained, and independent, the "better" the mother is nonsense.
9. We do not mean to imply that you lazily leave baby alone until he is old enough to order his own potty-chair. Some training is necessary on the parents' part, and some learning is needed by the baby. Children need parental guidance to get control of their bodies.
10. The temperament of the mother and baby play a role in readiness, too. A down-to-business baby tends to learn quickly and may even "train himself," especially if he has a mother who thinks the same way, but who is wise enough not to pressure. A laid-back baby with a casual mother may still be in diapers at three years and no one worries. With a laid-back baby and a down-to- business, mother toilet-training gets more challenging.
11. Take the pressure off you and baby. Don't cave in to in-law pressure. You know when your infant is ready. Of course, the "diaper-free" policy at your desired preschool looms over you like a due date.
12. Diaper company market research shows that toddlers are being toilet trained later than in the past, and to go along with this trend diaper companies are making bigger and better diapers. Children learn to use the toilet the same way they learn to walk and talk: by imitating their caregivers- and when the appropriate nerves and muscles are mature enough to be coordinated. For these reasons, the time of training will vary from home to home and child to child.
13. Toilet-training is so difficult for parents and a battle for toddlers because:

1. The infant was encouraged to use the diaper as a toilet, so the toddler has to unlearn what he has previously been taught.
2. The child has not yet developed body language to make the connection between feeling and going, since prior to toilet-training, parents were not looking for these cues and the baby did not give them.
3. Toddlers, especially boys, are on the go and the last thing they want to do is "sit still" on the potty.

Good Luck,
Nelly Farnoody-Zahiri, Ph.D.
  posted by shaghayeghb on: 05/12/08

Dear Dr. Farnoodi
I have 2 questions in regrds to my 3-year-old daughter. First is regarding the tasks like brushing her teeth in which she pretty much always resist. I have tried doing it forcefully(as her dentist suggested), playfully(either using an exciting toothbrush or toothaste, with roleplaying, or leting her brush my teeth, or...). Allof them would work for few days and then we are back to square one. lately I have told her that she would not get any snacks the next day if she does not brush her teeth the night before. She is really hurt when she sees her 18 month old brother get the snack but no her. When it is snack time she says lets brush now. I have explained to her that is not the way it works. I am very concern because I am not sure if I am doing the right thing. I do not want to ruin her in order to get her do what I want. The other related question is that she is being pretty violent with her 18-month-old brother over the past 6 months. I do understand that she is under a lot of stress just dealing with him being around. At night, she cries in sleep talking about their daily issues fighting over toys and.....Well, they do fight a lot and he has started hitting back. I have a very hard time making peace between them and I feel that both my kids spend most of their day being mad or disappointed.
I appreciate your help and also if there is god reference that you recommend please let me know.

Thanks a lot,

nellyfarnoody replied:
Brushing Teeth
It sounds like you have been modeling good dental hygiene and this is great, continue doing it. Let your baby watch you brush, and clean your gums. Show excitement, capitalizing on "just like mommy and daddy." Getting him an exciting toothbrush and enjoying a side-by-side brushing just for play i very effective. Try to make it fun! Regarding the sibling rivalry, I highly recommend Berry Brazelton's book "Understanding Sibling Rivalry: The Brazelton Way". Once you read his touchpoints of sibling rivalry you will be more skilled in handling these situations.

Best Regards,
Nelly Farnoody-Zahiri, Ph.D.

  posted by nahid on: 04/03/08
Dear Niloofar

I am mother of two beautiful daughters, one 15 and the other 13. Me and my husband are both Iranian professionals and we are very cultured people. Our home is often filled with educated and intellectual people. My younger daughter is doing very well at school and is a very sociable person and leads many activities in school and out of school.

But my older daughter is not sociable, often day dreaming. She has no interest in studying and is doing very bad at school. She cares about how she looks, constantly watches TV and is interested in stars. She knows everything about their lives and read a lot books but mostly fiction.

We had many serious conversations with her, she calmly replies that I know you are right but I can not do that. She has developed a strange philosophy saying that she knows her home wok and does not need to prove it to her teachers or others.

I am very worried and do not know what to do please help.

nellyfarnoody replied:
Identity Development
Dear Mother of 15 year-old:

Your daughter is going through stages of identity development, and it is okay that she's different from her sister in terms of goals and achievements. Explore her crisis, and learn more about her commitments (attitude, likes & dislikes, etc.). You could expect her to study and have average grades, and to keep up with standard expectations related to her cohort and environment, however, you need to have an honest conversation regarding her needs and desires and negotiate new boundaries with her. It might be a good idea to consult with a youth psychologist, a few sessions would help both of you in setting new limits and boundaries and developing a more intimate relationship. This is a very challenging time for parents and teens, but with patients, respect, good communication, a healthy bond, and the appropriate attention you will be able to achieve your relational goals.

Nelly Farnoody-Zahiri, Ph.D.
  posted by aftaab1 on: 04/01/08
Contact Info

Dear Dr. Farnoodi

Congratulations on your new born babies. Wondering if you are still on maternity leave and best contact info if I want to make an appointment to consult with you re: our 26months old daughter. You can send your reply to me at
Thanks & with Kind regards

nellyfarnoody replied:
Contact Information
Dear Mahdokht,

I will be on maternity leave till the end of Summer 2008! I am available for consultation, however, and you can reach me by phone: (310) 413-9353 or e-mail:

My Best,
Nelly Farnoody-Zahiri, Ph.D.
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