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May 2, 2014

‘Baby talking’ 4-year-old should be of no concern

(Continued)

NORMAN —

If we didn’t watch him, he will go in the bathroom and just do a perfunctory job, or just wet his toothbrush and say he brushed. Any advice?

A: My advice is that you accept you have done and said everything you can do and say to get him to realize the importance of brushing his teeth and stop doing or saying anything.

Have you not yet figured out that short of standing over him while he brushes — something that is going to get very tiresome very quickly — you aren’t going to win this battle? And I suspect, by the way, that this has turned into a power struggle that he is winning, he knows he’s winning and he is going to continue winning, no matter what you do.

If you stand over him in the bathroom twice a day, you are only going to stimulate more passive-aggressive behavior from him and become increasingly exasperated. He’s going to see to that.

Drop it. It is only a matter of time before his peers begin telling him he has bad breath. One cannot neglect brushing forever and not develop halitosis.

You also can inform him that if he develops a cavity, it will be his job to pay for the repair, and that his privileges will be suspended until he has satisfied the debt. Let this monkey be on his back, not yours.

Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parent questions at parentguru.com.

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