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ask jen

May 24, 2017



Hi Jen, any time our 3 girls play together our 7-year-old will get frustrated at some point with them and hurt one of the 4-year-old sisters usually on the arm with a scratch or with a pushdown. This is especially bad on weekends when we are all together. I have told her until I'm blue in the face that we do not hurt each other EVER, and it is against the rules of our house. I put her in time out, but she will bang, kick, and slam the door. I can't see that spanking sends the correct message not to hurt others. SO, what do I do all summer??!! Scared to death of summer. She is an amazing student at school in the Gifted program and wins awards for her writing. She treats the other kids and teachers at school with respect. I am at the school volunteering usually 3 times a week, so I have dropped in enough times to see that she is really doing well. She is a great kid, beautiful, and smart. She responds the best to positive reinforcement so I always praise her when she plays nicely with them, and I give her rewards and special time with me. It is especially bad on weekend mornings when I'm getting ready or getting chores done so we can head out. I can't watch every second.


It sounds like your 7-year old daughter is a pretty, amazing kid. She works so hard to be such a good student at school, that by the time she is at home, she can relax more and show more of her true self, which is a good thing and perfectly normal. We want our children to feel like we are their safe place.

Hearing one of your children cry in pain can make your stomach turn and twist up in knots at the same time. It can also make you feel frustrated because you know that one of your other children inflicted the pain onto their sibling, their first friend and loved one. With that being said…you are correct when you say that spanking does not send the message you are trying to convey to your daughter, which is “we do not hurt others”.

So what can you do?

  • Identify the “WHY” this is happening.

    1. Have everyone’s needs been met? (enough food, sleep, time alone, etc.)

    2. Is there a certain activity or toy that starts these arguments?

    3. Is there a conflict in personalities, abilities, developmental levels, etc.?

    4. Do your children have the tools or have been taught the tools on how to handle disagreements or how to work cooperatively?

  • Identify “WHAT” is triggering this type of behavior?

    1. Tune in to their behaviors before it escalates.

    2. What behaviors are making the situation worse?

    3. What are the common battle issues (i.e., both kids want to play with the same toy)

    4. Is there a solution that you can implement that could prevent this from happening?

    5. How did you handle the situation? What was your response and how did your kids react? Did you make it worse, better, or neutralized the problem?

  • “HOW” can your weekends be “harmonious”

    1. Ask your older daughter to help you with the chores. This is a great time to bond with her while getting things done. You could also assign her sisters chores too that are appropriate for their age.

    2. Divide and conquer. If you really need to get things done, trying to give each child their own individual play area (i.e. their bedroom, the playroom, the living room, etc.) to play by themselves for a set amount of time.

    3. Talk with your family about family goals and how to handle conflict. Once a plan is in place, it will be easier to refer to it when things escalate. Post it in a common area so that it is a daily reminder.

    4. Instead of time-outs, try time-ins. This will help your daughter deal with her BIG emotions. You can read more about it here:

Remember, you got this. This too shall pass. If you need more support, you can book an appointment at

Have a Question? Contact Me.

May 31, 2017


I had my son evaluated for attention difficulties. They won't diagnose him because he is too young at almost 5. Anyway, I've been desperately trying to get an appointment with the principal or psychologist at their school next year before they do kindergarten placement. I know they don't want to and have been sort of avoiding me and encouraging me to write a letter since they don't take teacher recommendations for kindergarten. So, do I full on-disclose that he could potentially be diagnosed with ADHD in 6mths-1 or do I hint at the attention issues and let them figure it out. I'm afraid of him being labeled. He's a complex kid. Very gifted academically per score but self-control, impulsiveness, and attention is a huge problem. Thanks.

I commend you on wanting to give your son’s new school a “preview to the coming attraction.” Most parents do not do this for fear of the school labeling their child. From my experience as a school counselor, most medical professionals will not diagnose a child before kindergarten because developmentally they are acting like a typical 4 or 5-year-old.

Before I would send a parent to a medical professional for an ADHD evaluation, I would ask the parents to rule out a few things. Parents (and/or teachers) are not typically informed that other things could be the root cause of the concerning behaviors they are observing. I also would take into account the child’s age and where their birthday fell in a school year since behaviors are based on a child’s developmental age not what grade they are in. Have you considered the following?

1. Physical Exam: 
a. Bloodwork to rule out i.e. hyperglycemia, allergies, thyroid deficiency, lead levels, iron deficiency, B vitamin deficiency, etc.
b. Vision Exam (Find a specialist that specializes in eye problems/disorders. There are only 3 in our area) There are eye disorders that can mimic ADHD symptoms. Read more here:…/not-add-how-one-fam…
c. Hearing Exam by an audiologist, not the pediatrician. For example, a child may have wax build up that could cause hearing loss, which then leads to them not hearing well or at all. If they can’t hear, then it can appear that they are not paying attention. Also, they may have a processing issue like APD (Auditory Processing Disorder), which also can mimic ADD.
d. Rule out other potential health issues such as sensory issues, genetic issues, intestinal issues, withholding going to the restroom, UTI, etc. These can impact a child’s attention and behavior.

2. Sleep patterns:
a. What time does your child go to bed? What time does he wake up? Does he sleep throughout the night?
b. Is there anything in his room that can keep him up? (Toys, TV, Video games, etc.)
c. Does he seem tired all the time or cranky during the day?
d. Does he snore? If yes, see an ENT to rule out enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids, which can keep him from getting the rest he needs at night.
e. Is he getting the recommended number of hours of sleep for his age? (For his age, he should be getting 10-13 hours of sleep.)

3. Dietary factors:
a. What is he eating or not eating?
b. Does he get enough protein?
c. What is his sugar intake?
d. Does he drink enough water?
e. How is his behavior after he eats? Is he moody, tired, happy, agitated, hyperactive, etc.

4. Activity Level:
a. Is he getting enough exercise?
b. Does he have opportunities to run, climb, ride a bike, etc.?
c. Does he play more sedentary games vs active games?
d. How much screen time does he get? When does he get screen time?

5. Social History:
a. Have any life-changing events occurred? Moved to a new house? Loss of a loved one? Change in a parent’s work schedule? New sibling?

6. Family History:
a. Does ADHD run in your family?
b. Are things structured at home? Is he given responsibilities? Is he accountable for his actions?
c. Do you have rules and consequences?

If everything mentioned above is not contributing to his behavior, then you have a few options.

Option 1: 
You can wait and see how the first 20 days of school go while building a rapport with his teacher. If after a few weeks, you feel that your son is not placed with the best teacher that suits his learning style and needs, you can request for another teacher that may be better suited for him.

Option 2:
You can write an email to the principal over the summer explaining that you would like your son placed with a teacher that can meet his current needs without mentioning the possibility that he could be ADHD.

Option 3:
You may want to explore other schools that may offer more outlets for gifted children. Sometimes, traditional schools do not offer gifted children the outlets they need to be successful. Have you considered Montessori or the possibility of homeschooling?

I know I gave you a lot to think about, but in my experience, I have seen so many children misdiagnosed or diagnosed too early without ruling out any of the above-mentioned conditions. If at the end, your son is diagnosed with ADHD, there are a few treatment plans that you can explore with your doctor such as...

1. Medication: Remember, medication is a tool, not a cure. As a parent, if you choose this route, you will need to make this decision, while it is a hard one, on whether the benefit will outweigh the risks. Do your homework on the different types of medications and their side effects.

2. Behavioral Therapy: This has been shown to be a very successful treatment for children with ADHD. Both parent and child receive tools to help everyone deal with ADHD. Teaches behavioral skills and coping skills.

3. Medication + Therapy=Has the BEST outcomes

4. Natural treatments: You can read more about these options


Best of luck. If you need more support, you can book an appointment with me at

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