Parenting Q & A

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By Gregory Ramey, PhD, child psychologist at Dayton Children's and Dayton Daily News columnist

Edition: January 21, 2007 | Topic: Archive


My 11-year-old daughter has been obese since she was a toddler. She came home from school today, and said that the other girls were making fun of the way she looks. She asked me directly if I thought she was fat. We have talked about this issue in the past, but I've never directly answered her. I have focused instead on the importance of the type of person she is on the inside, rather than on her superficial looks. Am I making a mistake?


Yes. Your daughter already knows she is overweight. It's a disservice for you to pretend otherwise. While it's true that your daughter's behavior, values, and the way she treats others are of critical importance, you also know that looks do matter. Obese children grow up to be chronically overweight adults. Obesity has significant medical, psychological, and social implications. Don't accept the fact that your 11-year-old will be overweight forever. Search for programs in your community that work with young people. Comprehensive treatment of obesity in children typically involves the entire family and focuses on nutrition, exercise and psychological issues around self-concept.


My daughter is a senior in high school, but has made no efforts to take her SATs or prepare for applying to college. It seems that the more we pressure her, the less interested she becomes. She is an excellent student and would have a good chance at obtaining a college scholarship. Any suggestions on how we can get her more interested in planning for her future?


While many academically gifted students go on to higher education, some need more time before making a decision about college. Your daughter may be uncertain as to whether college is right for her next year, or simply may not want to deal with life beyond high school. Pressuring hasn't worked, so there's no sense continuing what has failed in the past. Instead, talk with your daughter regarding your expectations concerning what will happen when she finishes high school. It's reasonable that you expect her to support herself and contribute to household expenses if she continues to live at home. Let her know that you hope she will attend college, but you also would understand and be supportive if she wanted to pursue other interests as long as she accepted the financial consequences of her decisions.


My 12-year-old son got an iPod for Christmas, but now I think it was a serious mistake. He constantly has those white earphones in his ears and it really interferes with our family interactions. We won't let him use it at dinner time. However, at almost any other time all he wants to do is listen to music. Should we let this go, or place some restrictions on the iPod?


If you've read this column for a while, you know I am somewhat of an iPod fanatic. However, it is appropriate to place reasonable limits on when he listens to music, creating an "iPod-free" time or location zone. Talk with your son about your concerns. Let him know that his contact with you and his siblings has decreased substantially over the past few weeks. See what reasonable rules he may suggest regarding limiting iPod use so as to encourage his appropriate interactions with others.

Dr. Ramey Gregory Ramey, PhD, is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit and join Dr. Ramey on facebook at

©2010 The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. Columns may be reproduced with the permission of Dayton Children's.


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