Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Monday | July 6, 2009
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My child needs to socialise

Q Do you know of any summer school programmes for children who need to develop their social skills. I have written to you before regarding my four-year-old son who has been having problems getting along with his peers. I wanted to use the long summer holidays to get him into a programme geared towards developing better social skills.

A I am not aware of any programmes right now. Keep on reading the newspaper as at this time of the year many such activities are organised and advertised. Remember to practise the skills you know will benefit him. Encourage your child to talk when he is angry so he will act out his anger less. Teach him to listen and wait his turn to respond. Remember to monitor television and DVD watching. They can be used to help your child develop appropraite social skills. Some children will be more successful in social relationships than others.

Q I have a 15-month-old son and from he was a couple months old his father introduced him to the soother. Now it seems as if he is literally obssesssed with it; he has it in his mouth 24/7. He won't sleep at nights without it. He talks with it in his mouth and when you are feeding him, after each spoonful, he replaces it in his mouth.

Should I try to wean him off it now or wait until he is ready? Will the soother affect his teething structure?

A First, research shows that dentists who specialise in working with children report that regular use of a soother before age four does not cause dental problems or misaligned teeth. This may be different for your child, so you may want to see a paediatric dentist to see if your child may have dental problems. Some parents are embarrassed by or dislike seeing a child with a soother. But most children, by the time they get to preschool and see that the other children don't use soothers, they give it up on their own. Some children who are dependent on their soothers may just substitute their thumbs if the soother, is taken away. If you still want to wean your child off the soother, give him a toy for comfort.

If you are going to take away the soother, do so gradually. Make it disappear for a few hours each day and increase the time daily.

QMy child is to be tested for counselling. I do not understand why.

A: Counsellors use tests to help set counselling goals which will help clients to make decisions. Information from the test can help a client explore new areas of interest and facilitate good counsellor-client relationships or help the counsellor to prepare the client for future counselling sessions. The counsellor will be able to help your child maximise his potential by testing him before or during the session.

Orlean Brown-Earle, PhD, is a child psychologist and family therapist. Dr Brown-Earle works with children with learning and behaviour problems throughout the island and in the Caribbean. She is an associate professor at Northern Caribbean University. Email questions to helpline@gleanerjm.com or send to Ask the Doc, c/o The Gleaner Company, 7 North Street, Kingston.

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