How can I tactfully ask our family not to give my kids character toys?

Posted under Ask the Mediatrician.

Q: I don’t want to seem ungrateful, and I know my children would probably like the Dora or Batman version of toys, but I just find that sort of commercialism unnecessary. How can I tell my family that we’d prefer they not get the character versions of toys when giving my kids gifts?
A: Let your family know how important it is to you that your child make up her own stories during plattime instead of having her playtime scripted by pre-digested plotlines.

Is sexting a sign of early sexual activity?

Posted under Ask the Mediatrician.

Q: I thought I had a handle on my 15 year old’s texting habits, but I recently found some sexually explicit texts between him and a 12 year-old friend. Are my son and his friend more likely to jump into sexual activity, since they have been so daring in their texts?
A: A report from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy shows that 40% of all teen boys report having sent a sexually suggestive text, so your son and you are part of a growing proportion of families…
Answered by Dr. Michael Rich, The Mediatrician®

What should I do about video games on playdates?

Posted under Ask the Mediatrician.

Q: My son is entering 3rd grade and is an only child. When he has playdates at his friends’ homes, sometimes the moms allow video games above my son’s age level, usually because my son’s friends have older siblings. It makes me uncomfortable, but I’ve noticed that a lot of parents don’t appreciate it when I ask that they not play any video games during the playdate—it’s viewed as trying to control what happens in their home, or as some judgment upon them for allowing the younger child to play age-inappropriate games. I don’t want to tell my son he can never go to their houses, so do you have any advice? I usually try to have kids over to my house so that it’s not an issue, but at some point, the other parents want my son to come to their home.