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That's "Mom" To You

When James Radcliff was 3, he often had trouble sleeping through the night and would call out, Mom! But when she didn't respond right away, he'd call for her by her name. Why? "He told me he knew I'd come if he said my first name," says his mom, Kara, of Clifton Park, NY. "Clever, but I didn't want him doing it in public!"

"Plenty of kids discover that using Mom's or Dad's first name is a surefire way to get a parent to sit up and take notice. Others will try it out as a way to experiment with language. And many children do it because using your name, the way other adults do, is a way to feel powerful," says Mark Goldstein, Ph.D., adjunct professor at Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Here's how to handle it:

? Ignore it. If you act shocked or upset, your child will probably just want to do it even more. What he really craves is your attention, even if it's negative.

? Pull rank. If he persists on a first-name basis, tell him, "If you call me by my first name, I won't answer you. But if you call me Mom, I will. It's your choice." Then stick to it.

? Wait it out. First-name calling is usually a short-lived phase. Most kids give it up in a few weeks.

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