“How can I teach my child chess?”

From the mailbag:

"Dear MamaBear,

My child would like to learn chess.

I, however, don't know how to play it.

Where can I find free resources to teach her?


Dear A,


MamaBear is a lousy player as well.

You shouldn't force yourself, mind you, if you don't like playing it; I myself refuse to play my kids unless they've first mastered the basics via great sites like the following.

Princeton Learn Chess

Chess for Kids

and don't forget:

Hope that helps!

Thus speaks…MamaBear

“My child bites. Help!”

From the mailbag:

"Dear MamaBear,

My child bites.  How do I get her stop?


Holey Dad"

Dear HD,

MamaBear adores  questions like this, because the answer is 'way 'way 'way simpler than teaching children to appreciate raspberry Pixie Straws!

Simply put…

When your child bites someone…*you* bite your child.

I told you it was simple!

You'd be surprised at how quickly a child will *stop* painful actions if they learn that it will be done immediately to them!

Now, I'm not advocating that you chomp thru the skin, of course, but apply enough pressure to make the child *feel* it and *feel* it in a most discomforting way as well.

After you bite your child, dry her tears and explain that hey, you chose to bite Aunt Bertha, this is what happens in response. 

Then lead her down the logic path by saying,

"That sure didn't feel good, did it?  Well, imagine how you made poor Aunt Bertha feel! 

You dishonor yourself and treat yourself real bad when you do something so mean….and you're better than that!  Never bite someone or cause someone pain.  Bullies do that, not wonderful children like you."

Yep, MamaBear is big on telling kids when their own actions dishonor themselves…and how they're worth more than that.

I'd be real surprised if your child sank her fangs into another person again!

But if she did (after all, some kids need repetition), bite her again.  Each time she bites someone, make her feel the pain herself.

And then make certain to empathize with her feelings, and highlight how she's better than that.

It's worked great for me!

Thus speaks….MamaBear

“Where can I find academic school enrichment stuff online?”

From the mailbag:

"Dear MamaBear,

My city's school sucks at teaching.  I want to give more work to my kids, where should I go?


Pissed Off Parent"

Dear PoP,

Oh, how your question brings back sooo many memories! 

'Matter of fact, right now MamaBear is being flattened by her neurons firing on overdrive as she remembers all of the weighty sleuthing she did in her never-ending question to Teach Her Kids More!

Here are some of my favs:




Critical Thinking:

Lateral Thinking:

These should be enough to start you off!

Remember, the key with academic enrichment at home is to verify your kids actually *get* the concepts. 

If they are clueless, it doesn't matter how much "stuff" you dump on them, it will roll off their brains like 16 ton anvils fall from the sky.

Thus, always be open to confusion from your kids and be ready and able to turn on a dime and offer other learning methods whenever required.  Your kids will thank you for it.

Thus speaks MamaBear

“My son absolutely REFUSES to brush his teeth.”

From the mailbag

"Dear MamaBear,

My son just refuses to brush his teeth!  I've tried everything, I told him about how bad cavities are and how he'll get them, I've asked him again and again, and nothing happens!



At The End Of My Toothbrush"

Dear AteoMT,

Mamabear gets these types of questions all the time, and she just has to exhale in exasperation and ask you:

Who is the parent here?   You or your kid??

You "ask" your son to brush his teeth?

Permit me to gently einquire,

  • Do you also "ask" him to do homework?
  • "Ask" him to do the chores?
  • "Ask" him not to throw pie frosting at his younger sibling?


You do not "ask" your child to brush his teeth, you *tell* him to brush his teeth.

And if he refuses, you take away privileges.

In other words,

  • He chooses to disobey you, he gets consequences.

And not just idjut-like consequences like sitting in time-out.

You make him feel the pain.

  • You put his favorite plushie in jail.
  • You refuse to let him have a favorite playdate.
  • You take away desserts or anything that will cause him to have tooth decay.

See what MamaBear means?

You need to show your kid that sure, he can consider disobeying you…but then he *will* experience any consequences you choose to inflict.

Listen, AteoMT, your son needs *boundaries*. 

You let him get away with not brushing his teeth now, you're simply showing yourself as a wimpy parent who cannot be relied upon to be strong and stable.

Not good at all!

So take back your parenting power today, and stand over your son while he brushes his teeth.  If he refuses, tell him, if that's how he chooses to behave, you choose to give him whatever consequence will make the most impression on him.

I'll be happy to bet you…soon your son will brush his teeth with no problem at all.

Thus speaks….MamaBear

“Which came first, the saber-beaked chicken or the runny egg?”

From the mailbag:

"Dear Mama Bear,

My daughter keeps asking me, which came first, the saber-beaked chicken or the runny egg?"

Please enlighten me.


Hungry in Hoboken"

Dear HiH,

The answer, she be obvious.

  • Breakfast.

Of Champions, I might add.

Like the below.

Chicken or the egg

Have a great Memorial Day!  :)

Thus speaks MamaBear.

“My kids secretly pinch one another, how can I stop this?

From the mailbag:

"Dear Mama Bear,

I have two young children who generally get along well, but sometimes get really mad at each other and pinch each other when I'm not looking.  How can I get them to stop this habit?

Thin-skinned in Washington"

Dear TSiW,


MamaBear assumes this has been going on for some time, aye?

Gentle parent, might I inquire….

Why the hell didn't you stomp on this action the first time it happened?


That's the challenge of parenting kids; if you let them get away with something once or twice or 849 times, they'll simply up the ante until something (generally, *you*) give way in a screaming howling fit of anger and angst.

Not good at all!

The very first time one kid pinched another, you should have:

  • Quietly read the instigator the riot act

and then

  • Told the pinchee that he could pinch the pincher as punishment.  Then comfort/cuddle the pinchee and turn your attention to the pincher.

and then

  • Explained to the pincher that you will now show him just how it feels times 3… and pinch him.

The next step would be:

  • After the crying is over, sit the pincher down.  Try to get at what drove him to the actions of hurting his sibling.  Ask, what other actions might have been better?  How else could he have dealt with whatever issues were bothering him?
    (really spend time here as well; getting at the root cause will be quite helpful for the next step).


  • Ask the pincher if he enjoyed being on the receiving end of the pain.  Ideally, the answer will be "no."  Emphasize how this is what he deliberately did to his brother, and didn't he love his brother?  Ideally, the answer will be "yes."  Have him apologize to his brother.


  • Have him write a story about what he did wrong, why he did it, and how he could have behaved differently in the future.


It's draining, sure, but consequences like the above really get to the heart of the matter.

The plain fact is, telling one sibling, "we do not pinch our brothers" or "we do not push our sisters" etc. is just plain B.S.

Unless you proactively *make* the child *feel* what it feels like, the point just will *not* be made.

And it's critical to make sure you deliver the consequences asap so that not only is the importance of the situation not lost…but the pinchee will see he's just as important as the pincher to you.

Additionally, don't forget – it's critical to tell the pincher that you believe in him 110% that he will learn the best way to deal with things and not hurt his brother, and that you tell the pinchee how proud you are that he's handling the situation so well.

Find reasons to praise both and keep their spirits up!

In MamaBear's case, there's been hardly any physical altercations between her cubs because they learned that whatever they do unto each other will be done 3 fold unto them.

Kids aren't dumb, TSiW…they'll learn.  But they need to have boundaries proactively shown to them…and they need to experience the consequences of their actions bigtime.

So take back your parenting power and start alpha-parenting your cubs.  Trust me, you'll see improvements in no time fast.

Thus speaks MamaBear

“My kid is being bullied but I do NOT approve of her fighting.”

From the mailbag:

"Dear Mama Bear,

My 11 year old is continuously coming home crying because she's being teased and hit by other kids at her school.  I really worry about her self-esteem!  However, I do not think fighting solves any problems, so how can I help her stop the bullying?


Baffled in Texas"

Dear BiT,

You don't think fighting solves anything?

You….really….don't think …. fighting solves anything?

My gosh, another bleeding heart liberal parent.  Sigh…..

Allow me to give you a brief wee bit of an alert; you have roused up MamaBear and riled her up more than a Soccer Mom whose darlin' little angel just got sidelined for kicking the coach.

You've been warned….

Well now, isn't that just peachy! 

You see the pain and agony your child is going through, but because of your own personal values, you choose to forbid her of the one action that might actually do some good.

Why not simply give the kids who are tormenting your child a couple of iron bars to complete the beating, aye?

Right now, it seems like you're laboring under the delusion that 11 year olds can be reasoned with and be expected to behave like normal sane human beans.

Lady, from what planet of milk-toasted-ness do you hail??

The plain fact is – bullies look for victims. 

Victims are kids who cannot or will not defend themselves.

With me so far?  Yes?

Well then, allow me to deliver the following startling fact into your pollyanna life, okay?

Bullies will take things to the nth degree, even up to causing the victims to commit suicide, unless they are stopped.

You don't want a dead kid, right?

Didn't think so.

I'm assuming you've already gone to the principal and board of education to demand action. 

But even that….that's kinda sorta useless because bullies can accost your child in the bathroom, after school, before school, on Facebook….anyplace where your kid is unprotected for more than a few seconds.

Some bullies can *only* understand physical retaliation.  Let me tell you a brief story; I was bullied like you mention when I was 12 years old.  I was told by my idiot school counselors that "Fighting wasn't allowed" and that "I'd get suspended" if I punched back.

My parents, bless their souls, told me:

Listen.  You fight back, you get suspended, we'll reward you.  Case closed.

The next day, I crazily beat the hell out of the ring-leader…and they stopped picking on me from that day forward.


I think not.

BiT, kids who bully are vultures.  Plain and simple.  They're scum of the earth.

You owe it to your child to give her permission to fight back and permission to stand up and say to herself, "I will *not* accept  this treatment."

You cannot save her nor can you stop the bullying.   It has to come from within *her*

Here are some resources for dealing with bullies:

And here are some videos to watch.

Bullying is a serious, serious *serious* problem…and you simply have to give your child to answer the bullies in ways they *understand*.

And none of this sparkly rainbow "fighting solves no problems!" junk; that will be a real comfort to you if your kid decides to escape it all by suicide.

You are your child's main source of strength and inspiration.  Give her the tools she needs to *stop* being a victim and *start* discovering her own inner greatness.

It will stay with her for a lifetime.

Thus speaks….Mama Bear

“My child runs away from me at the mall. Help!”

From the mailbag:

"Dear Mama Bear,

My 5 year old boy Jerry is so stubborn and he has a mind of his own!  Whenever I call him at the mall, he giggle and runs in the opposite direction.  What should I do?

Signed, Confused"

Dear Confused,

This is one of the spine-tingling joys of being a parent; you're the one in charge, not your adorable free-spirited son Jerry.  Why the heck are you even giving your son an opportunity to mis-behave?

You have to remember:

Spending time with you in the mall is a privilege, not an automatic gift! 

And if your son is disrespectful enough to ignore you in public (you!  The parent!), then your child simply does not deserve to mingle with the rest of humanity.

I'd suggest duct-taping your son to a stroller or perhaps attaching a 1,000 pound pull leash, but for some reason, society tends to balk at such simple methods. 

Sad, that.

Have you spelled out any consequences and then (most importantly) followed though when necessary?  For example, take your son's favorite toy or plushie and tell him:

"If you run away, your toy will be sent to jail, and you will lose XYZ (XYZ being his favorite activity, treat, etc.)"

That way, he can proactively *see and experience* that when he misbehaves and ignores you, he ends up hurting much longer after the situation has passed.

It's called "consequences" and if you do not start now, it will only get worse and worse.

The *instant* your son runs away, *stop* your shopping, grab him and take him *home*.

Implement the consequences. 

Make them emotionally painful so that he *remembers* them.  That's the goal of consequences, no?

It's 'way better that you nip this in the bud at an early age; if he ignores you now, it will only increase in severity.  And you sure as hell do *not* want to deal with a disrespectful teen in the later years.

Trust me on that!

Thus speaks Mama Bear.