All the questions and answers come directly from Smart Love Solutions in Early Childhood-A Handbook for Parents, Teachers and Caregivers by Drs. Martha Heineman Pieper and William J. Pieper.

Q: Mom who feels ignored

How do I get my 3 ½ –year-old son to listen to me? How do I manage to control my temper when he ignores me? I usually have the toughest time with this during transitions. For example, when we are getting ready to leave the house I will ask him about 400 times to put his shoes on. By that time when I have gotten my one-year-old daughter ready to go and in the car, my patience is pretty much exhausted with my son. He ignores me until I raise my voice, or I say, “Mommy is getting very angry with you for not putting on your shoes.” Then he will sort of meander over to his shoes and tell me he cannot put them on, etc.

Another example is after preschool. In the car on the way home I always ask him what he did at school and who he played with. He frequently ignores me. I used to say things like, “Mommy doesn’t like it when you don’t answer my questions,” or “It’s rude not to answer questions,” which, of course, did nothing. Now I just ask questions and shut up when he does not answer. I feel frustrated and angry when he ignores me. Do you have any suggestions?

A: The reasons for your feelings of being ignored in the two examples you give are quite different, and so we will discuss them separately.

In the first example, the problem is less that you are being ignored than that you are expecting too much of your three-year-old. The result is that you are frustrated when he does not respond as you wish. Three-year-olds normally have great difficulty with transitions and need lots of tactful help to make them peacefully. This is especially true when there is a one-year-old sister getting all the attention and assistance that the three-year-old still needs and wants.

We suggest that instead of simply telling your son to put his shoes on, you get his shoes, put him in your lap, and help him on with his shoes while you sing a song or talk about the fun he will have at the outing. If he says he wants to put his shoes on himself, do praise him but don’t expect that he will want to do this himself the next time. If you take his true emotional age into account and help him now with shoes, jacket, etc. in order to make possible a calm and comfortable transition, you will not feel frustrated and ignored, your son will experience the warmth of being understood and cared for and your relationship will immediately become closer and more enjoyable. When he does begin to do more for himself it will be out of pleasure and a feeling of competence and not from feelings of shame or worry about your displeasure.

A lot of the frustration you describe in your second example is the result of not realizing that three-year-old children hold conversations very differently from adults. Children that age often are speechless when asked general questions, such as, “What did you do today?” Moreover, if something went wrong at school they often dislike discussing the discomfort they feel. So, if you ask your son who he played with and things did not go well with his friends, he may not feel like answering.

If you consider his silence as the result of immaturity rather than rudeness, you will have taken a big step toward being able to have a conversation with him that is appropriate for his age. Try asking questions that you think will allow him to relive activities he enjoyed. For example, if he likes animals, ask him how the hamsters were feeling today. If you know he enjoys art, ask if he worked with clay or painted a picture.

Most important, do not get angry with your son, if he does not answer a question. When children that age do not know what to say or do not want to talk about something, they frequently remain silent. Your son is not deliberately upsetting you; he is just acting his age. When you get irritated with him for not answering you make it more difficult for him to be outgoing and responsive. If you bring up topics that your son finds enjoyable in a relaxed and non-pressured manner, you will be amazed at how much of his day he will want to share with you.

All the questions and answers come directly from Smart Love Solutions in Early Childhood-A Handbook for Parents, Teachers and Caregivers by Drs. Martha Heineman Pieper and William J. Pieper.


My 2 ½ year-old used to be a good eater. Now, he only wants to eat bread, butter and jelly. I thought it was a phase, but it’s been going on now for three months, and I don’t see an end in sight. I have tried telling him he can’t have this butter and jelly sandwich, until he eats some meat and vegetables, but he throws a complete tantrum and doesn’t eat anything. Some days it seems like all we ever talk or think about is what he is eating. I am at my wit’s end.

A: The first step is to consult your pediatrician and find out what foods besides jelly sandwiches, vitamins and milk your son needs to eat to stay healthy. Then take your son to the pediatrician and let him hear the doctor tell him what additional foods he needs every day.

Choose one meal, and make sure your son eats the added foods before he gets his jelly sandwich. If he cries, wait him out without becoming angry or isolating him. Eventually, he will be hungry enough to eat the necessary food and move on to his favorite dish. The point is that you are not arguing with your child over food preferences, you are only using the same principle as when you give him medicine or put him in his car seat; there are certain things that have to happen to keep him safe, and those are not negotiable.

In general it is pointless to go to war with any child, especially a two-year-old, over food preferences. If you begin using punishments or rewards for eating, you open a door you don’t want to go through, because you will be stuck with the consequences for years to come. Hardly a meal will go by without your having to use threats or rewards to get your child to eat.

So remain firm, consistent and caring. Within the limits of preserving his health, let him eat bread, butter and jelly to his heart’s content. At some point he will outgrow this food fad and move on and will outgrow it sooner rather than later, if you can avoid making a power struggle out of it.

A new attraction at the Buena Park Open Day on Sun., July 19 is the Bazaar on Buena. Half of the Bazaar will be devoted to selling your arts and crafts, and the other half will be for selling your items in a community rummage sale. The Bazaar on Buena will be in the Smart Love parking lot on Clarendon, just north of Buena. The cost for a six-foot table and two chairs is $20. Space is limited. The registration deadline is June 15. (Registration is now closed.)

All the questions and answers come directly from Smart Love Solutions in Early Childhood-A Handbook for Parents, Teachers and Caregivers by Drs. Martha Heineman Pieper and William J. Pieper.

Q: Should I insist that my four-year-old continue going to summer camp?

My four-year-old, who had a successful first year in preschool, was supposed to be in a summer camp doing sports, art, etc. He was really looking forward to it, so I was amazed when he came home after the first day and said he didn’t want to go back.

I have been forcing him to go because I think it will be good for him and I’m sure he will like it if he gives it a chance, but he is actually becoming more, rather than less, resistant. I am afraid to give in and let him think he can dictate what he will and won’t do. Please advise.

A: The real issue is not whether you are going to allow your son to dictate to you; it’s when to make a child do something he doesn’t want to do.

The best principle for making this decision is only to insist when the behavior is necessary (for health, safety, family needs, etc.). It’s never a good idea to make children do something just to establish that you are more powerful than they are and can order them around. In fact, teaching children that “might makes right” is a bad idea that boomerangs as children get older and stronger. Applying this principle to your son’s summer vacation, think of it as a time when he has free time and should have relatively free choice. Even though your son was happily looking forward to summer camp, something about the reality of going to it has turned him off. Since he is unhappy about going, try to enroll him in a different program. Or if you are not working, perhaps he would be happiest staying home with you and going on outings to the beach, the park or the zoo. You will accomplish much by showing your son that whenever possible you will honor his preference. He will know that you value his choices and as he grows up, he will copy you and learn to respect the choices of others. For now, the knowledge that you want to honor his wishes will help him to be more accepting at those times when you can’t do as he wants.

Buena Park Neighbors to Hold Spring Clean and Green 
on Sat., April 18, 10:00 a.m. at Dollop Coffee & Tea (4181 N. Clarendon Avenue)

Buena Park Neighbors will hold its Spring Clean and Green on Saturday, April 18 at 10:00 a.m. at Dollop Coffee and Tee at 4181 N. Clarendon Avenue, which is on the northeast corner of Clarendon Avenue and Gordon Terrace.

At this annual event, Buena Park residents volunteer to help clean up their neighborhood. The group will meet at Dollop at 10:00 a.m. and spread out from there. The Buena Park Neighbors Association supplies the trash bags and tools. Residents should bring a pair of gloves. At noon everyone will meet at Michael’s Pizzeria for a community lunch.

This is a great way to meet neighbors and work together to make Buena Park shine.

Buena Park Neighbors Association General Meeting Is TONIGHT, Mon., March 30, 7:00 p.m. at The Shift, 4101 N. Broadway

Alderman Cappleman will attend the General Meeting on Mon., March 30, 7:00 p.m. at The Shift, 4101 N. Broadway where residents gather to learn news about Buena Park, hear about upcoming events, recap recent accomplishments and hear from local officials and leaders. Buena Park Neighbors has obtained a limited number of Cubs tickets, and they will be available to residents who attend the meeting.

Upcoming Buena Park Neighbors events for the next three months are:

Thurs., April 2, 7:00 p.m. – CAPS Meeting, Ruth Shriman House at 4040 N Sheridan Rd.

Sat., April 18, 10:00 a.m. Spring Clean and Green – The Fall Clean and Green is an opportunity to meet your fellow residents and clean up the neighborhood after a summer of outdoor activity. We go through the neighborhood to pick up trash and do light gardening in selected areas. We supply the bags, rakes and shovels.

Thurs., May 7, 7:00 p.m. – CAPS Meeting, Ruth Shriman House at 4040 N Sheridan Rd.

Thurs., June 4, 7:00 p.m. – CAPS Meeting, Ruth Shriman House at 4040 N Sheridan Rd.

Thurs. June 18, 7:00 p.m. – Concert in the Park – The Free Concert in the Park is a perfect night for relaxing with family and friends, enjoying the music, tasting from food trucks (or bringing your own)and fun.  Our face painter will be busy all night to delight the children with interesting and unique designs. The bouncy house will be full of kids with parents and grandparents standing by.

Attendees will also be brought up-to-speed on Buena Park Open Day, Sun., July 19, 12:00 p.m. Noon – This is third year for Buena Park Open Day that features tours of historic architectural and St. Mary of the Lake, a bouncy house, face painting, food and more.

At Buena Park CAPS (Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy) meetings you get to talk with the police officers who work in your neighborhood and work together with the police, other neighbors, local businesses and community organizations to improve public safety and work collaboratively and constructively to make Buena Park a safer place.

Attendees who begin a new membership or renew an existing one will receive a complementary copy of Sweet Home Buena Park: A History of Our Unique Chicago Neighborhood and Its Nearby Lakefront by Gene Tenner.

Buena Bunnies
Sunday March 22, 2-4 pm
St. Mary of the Lake school hall

The Buena Park Neighbors Association announces that its annual Buena Bunnies charitable event will be held this Sunday March 22, from 2-4 pm at the St. Mary of the Lake school hall. The school hall is located on Buena Ave. at Kenmore Ave. – parking is available in the lot on that corner and the entrance is from the parking lot.

Buena Bunnies is an annual event where all are welcome to help make Easter baskets and fill plastic Easter eggs for neighborhood children. Approximately 40 baskets filled with toys and candy are needed this year for children of needy families that receive assistance from the St. Mary of the Lake St. Vincent De Paul Society food pantry, a Greater Chicago Food Depository. In addition, plastic Easter eggs are needed to be filled with candy for the St. Mary of the Lake Easter Egg hunts, which are for all young neighborhood children, held on Easter Sunday at 10:30 am and 2 pm, on the St. Mary of the Lake church lawn, on Buena Ave. at Sheridan Rd. Anyone who is interested in helping make baskets and fill eggs, please bring baskets, small toys, plastic Easter eggs, and of course candy, to fill both the baskets and plastic eggs. Buena Park Neighbors will provide recyclable “grass,” cellophane wrap, ribbon, and other supplies for making the baskets. The annual Ellen Feinberg award will be given for the best Easter basket. If you cannot make the event but would like to donate baskets, candy, plastic eggs, or small toys, there is a donation box in the back of the St. Mary of the Lake church.


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