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My daughter stole almost $400 in clothes and makeup. The mall banned her for two years and put up photos to warn merchants about her. I have since found that she has been stealing for years. My husband and I have decided that we will no longer pay for luxuries, like a cell phone, the Internet, and cable TV. I’ve estimated we’ll be saving $200 per month. Is this too harsh for a 15-year-old?
Most certainly not. Keep in mind that there are plenty of parents out there who don’t allow teens unlimited use of a cell phone or pay for cable TV. What you consider a punishment is normal life for a lot of kids, particularly poorer ones.
The whole point of punishment is to deter the person being punished, so they will change their conduct. Given the nature of the bad conduct, a serious slimming-down of your daughter’s lifestyle is certainly justified. Hopefully it will have the desired effect and your daughter will change her ways.
Why does my son ask me the same questions repeatedly? Every day, several times throughout the day, my son will ask the same question, such as “What is your name?” or “How old are you?” It drives me crazy. He will be 4 next month.
Some children ask repetitive questions because of anxiety about the future. They may have trouble anticipating what will happen next. Repetitive answers can be reassuring to a child facing this type of fear.
Another possible reason is that your son wants to communicate with you but isn’t sure how to make conversation about anything beyond small talk. This is not uncommon among only children, younger children, or those who are introspective.
The second reason is easier to deal with than the first. When your son asks you questions, respond, then ask some of your own. Try to talk to your son like you would talk to an adult. Ask him open-ended questions about something he likes or doesn’t like, or just ask what he thinks about a subject he knows well. Listen to his answers, then respond appropriately. You should lead the conversation, but don’t try to dominate it.
Such conversations not only build vocabulary and strengthen the parent-child relationship, but they can also boost a child’s confidence and enhance his ability to interact with others verbally.
The anxiety issue is more troubling, because the repetitive questioning you describe is one of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders. I don’t want to scare you, but at the same time, it is worth considering. Most conditions on the autism spectrum can be treated effectively with love and patience, and the most serious conditions are generally diagnosed well before age 4.
Start by working with your son on his conversational skills. See if he becomes more comfortable with complex topics. You may also want to do some research on repetitive questions. I’ve provided a couple of links below.
Conventional wisdom holds that if the behavior continues despite your efforts to assist your son in developing his conversational skills, the next step is to see a pediatrician. The pediatrician may have some ideas about what is going on. It is also possible your doctor could refer you to a psychologist.
I’m not a fan of psychology, in part because treatments vary in effectiveness, and in part because any diagnosis is subjective. As human beings, if we go into a situation looking for a problem, we’re likely to find that problem even if it is not there. My preference is prayer. I’ve found it works wonders, even with children who don’t respond to traditional treatments.
If you’re looking for some resources, check out this fact sheet from autism-help.org and these tips for coping with repetitive questions
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