Friends of ours have a three-year-old boy who is charming, intelligent, and in many ways quite exceptional. The boy, however, has formed a new habit. He has become addicted to the iPad.

What began as a way for his parents to soothe the child and offer a temporary distraction at certain moments has morphed into an addictive focus for the boy. Any attempts at removal of the iPad creates a tornado of a frustrated fit with arms and legs flailing, tears flowing, and high-pitched wailing.

My friend is faced with a dilemma parents have faced for eternity. Endure the short-term pain of the child's outburst, and break the habit, or relent and allow the child to keep the object that has become his sole focus. The decision has consequences either way. Everyone will feel short-term pleasure if he allows the child to win and keep the iPad because the crying and wailing will stop, and peace and harmony will be restored. The child will be happy and the parents and everyone else will find peace. That choice, however, opens the door to the risk of progressively more pain down the road with fewer good options. The more addicted the child becomes to the iPad, the more difficult it will be for the father to remove it from his son's clutches and the more likely the child will have developmental problems down the road.

The job of a parent is to look out for the long-term health and well-being of our children regardless of their disagreement. Of course, the more the father relents in ...

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