Mother and Baby

Child And Family Psychologist Dr Christine Puckering Answers Your Questions

Missed our Wednesday Lunch Club with child and family psychologist Dr Christine Puckering? Don’t worry, you can read all of the advice she shared here

Every week at Mother&Baby we bring you the Wednesday Lunch Club – a chance to get brilliant advice for your fertility, pregnancy and parenting questions from a top expert. 

This week, top child and family psychologist Dr Christine Puckering was on board to answer your questions.

Christine is a clinical psychologist, chartered forensic psychologist and a full practitioner member of the Division of Neuro-psychology of the British Psychological Society. She has more than 30 years’ experience working with children and families both in clinical and research positions and is one of the original authors and the programme director of Mellow Parenting. 

If you missed the chat, here’s what happened…

My son, who's two, seems to hate me sometimes. He screams for his dad to do the bed/bath routine and refuses to have me even read him a story. It's making me feel rejected and I'm scared it's affecting our bond. Is there anything I can do?

Christine: You must feel dreadful! But he is angry or worried about something and is too little to explain to you. If you can just describe what he feels and then remind him whatever he feel you still love him, he will come round.

Say, ‘I can see you like daddy to bath you and read your story, and that is fine. Mummy still loves you lots and lots.’ Then go and put your feet up! As adults sometimes we just have to absorb our children's feelings because they are too big for them to manage by themselves and just too hard to explain when you are just two. Whatever you do, do not tell him you are upset or angry or ask him why. He has his own feelings to manage and can't take responsibility for yours, too.

My five-year-old son seems withdrawn and more emotional since his baby sister arrived last summer. What can I do to help him?

Christine: Children need help to recognise and share their feelings. He probably does not know what he is feeling, except it is not quite right! Give him special time with you so he does not feel displaced by his baby sister and let him choose sometimes.

Children need help to recognise and share their feelings

Say, ‘Do you want to go to the park or shall we have a picnic in the garden?’, ‘Do you want to wear your red T-shirt or the blue one?’. Then name his feelings, ‘It’s hard being a big boy. Big boys have to do things themselves while mum does everything for the baby. It is not fair.’

My son is 20 weeks old and first rolled over from being on his tummy five weeks ago. The first week of rolling he'd roll lots, left and right. Since then it has reduced and other than yesterday he had not rolled from tummy to back for a couple of weeks! Yesterday he did so, twice, when rolling from his back and I think it was the momentum that took him back onto his back. He started rolling from his back to tummy a few days ago. I'm just concerned as to why he has stopped rolling from his tummy to back? I give him tummy time a couple of times daily and it always ends with him crying as fed up or me picking him up as it's milk time.

Christine: Children develop at their own speed and in fits and starts not a smooth progression. As long as he is having tummy time and time on his back too, he will do it in his own time. You could try putting tempting toys where he needs to roll to get them.

Children develop at their own speed and in fits and starts not a smooth progression

Ever since we potty trained my five year old, he's been reluctant to go to the loo without being encouraged by us. He seems to have a strong bladder and can go almost all day without going – it’s as if he wants to take control of it. I hate hassling him to go to the loo (because I feel he's old enough to take himself off on his own, like his two-year-old brother does) but I worry he's damaging himself by waiting for so long, unless I make him go. Any advice appreciated? I think it's more a mind problem than a physical one, which is why I thought you might be able to help.

Christine: Make sure he drinks enough and give him chances to go to the loo from time to time but as you say don't hassle him. Are there other ways you can let him be in control of little things? What he wears, what he eats, where he goes. Of course this has to be within reason. Don't give him too many choices and don't accept choices that don't suit you.

One of the few things children feel they can control is their own body. We can't make them pee or poo to order, but we can understand that we all feel better about ourselves when we have a little control of our lives.

Any advice about our three year old who has become naughty and won’t sit to eat tea. He only does this at home. It has become worse since having his five-week-old brother. Is this normal?

Most three year olds will eat much better if you sit with them and try to not have the baby in your arms at the same time

Christine: It is pretty normal! Of course he is having to get used to lots of changes and mum and everyone making a fuss of the new baby who naturally takes up a lot of your time. You need to make him feel just as special as the baby.

Make time for him when the baby’s asleep, to read a book, play or just cuddle. Most three year olds will eat much better if you sit with them and try to not have the baby in your arms at the same time.

It also helps to name his feelings for him, for example, ‘Oh, it is so hard when this baby takes up all the time and there does not seem as much time for you. You must feel a bit left out?’ Then when you are sure he is getting all the attention he needs, stick to your house rules. For example, you only eat when you are sitting at the table. You will have to stick to the rules too of course. Then, no snacks until the next mealtime. Don't worry, no healthy child ever starved to death, but maybe he can chose what to have at the next meal?

Which topics would you like covered in our Wednesday Lunch Club? Let us know in the comments box below.


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