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John Rosemond is America's most widely-read parenting authority! He is a best-selling author, columnist, speaker, and family psychologist.

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3 year old likes her crib; Prepare toddler for move?

Q: My 3-and-one-half-year-old daughter still sleeps in a crib, loves it, and has shown no interest in sleeping in the big bed that sits, waiting, in her room. She's a great sleeper even though her favorite position is all scrunched up at one end. Is there any reason why we should make her move to a big bed besides the possibility of a permanently scrunched up neck?

A: I'm going to assume that the side of the crib is down and that your daughter can get in and out by herself. Indeed, it’s a tad unusual for a child this age to still be “cribbed,” but given that this is her choice and that a “big bed” is available to her, I don’t think this either is or will lead to a problem. If this was part of a general effort on your part to keep her in an infant state, that would be another story, but this situation doesn’t fit that profile, obviously. She will no doubt make the transition when she feels ready, when she needs more sleeping space, or when her friends begin asking why there’s a crib in her room. In the meantime, I’d not give it a second thought.

Q: Do you have any thoughts on when and how we should begin preparing our 30-month-old daughter for moving to a new house? Should we tell her a few weeks ahead of time or the week of the move?

A: Please take no umbrage, but this is the sort of issue to which no pre-1970 parent would have allotted the least bit of intellectual energy, much less agonized over. Today’s parents tend to believe that nearly every bump in the road (and mind you, this barely qualifies as a bump) contains within it the possibility of apocalyptic psychological consequences. In large part this has happened because with the post-1960s proliferation of professional child-rearing advice—of which this column is an example—parents began thinking too much.

As a result of all this reading and thinking, today’s parents have become sensitized to certain words that have taken on ominous psychological implications, an example of which is the word “transitions.” Once upon a not-so-long-ago time, a transition such as starting school or moving was regarded as simply part and parcel of the normal flow of a normal life. Any problems that might have attended a transition were practical, not psychological. For example, in the first ten years of our first child’s life (1969-79), my wife and I moved nine times during which he attended three different elementary schools. The major issue was not how Eric would react or how well he would adjust to these moves, but how we would pay for them. Perhaps because we did not have the luxury of worrying about his adjustment, he seemed to adjust just fine.

Then there’s that other word: traumatic. Supposedly, transitions can be traumatic. The new parenting vocabulary cascades from there into words like “trust” (a traumatic transition can disrupt a child’s sense of trust) and “attachment” (broken trust can lead to attachment problems) and “bonding” (disruptions of attachment can lead to permanent bonding issues) and so on and so forth. This sort of stuff is the stuff of absurdity.

I suggest that you say to your daughter, the morning of the move, something like this: “Guess what? We’ve moving today! It’s a wonderful day for moving, yes it is! We’re going to a wonderful new house, and we’re going to have a wonderfully fun time, and you can even help us move by carrying things!” Make it an adventure, in other words. Two-year-olds love adventures, and no 2-year-old I know of has ever suffered a traumatic disruption of trust leading to an apocalyptic attachment problem resulting in permanent bonding issues from having a family adventure.

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