Don’t hold back advanced children

We have two grandchildren, a two-year-old daughter of our son and a two-year-old son of our daughter. The girl is four months older than her cousin. We adore them both.

Dear Annie: We have two grandchildren, a two-year-old daughter of our son and a two-year-old son of our daughter. The girl is four months older than her cousin. We adore them both. The girl is smart and emotionally, physically and educationally way ahead of our grandson. She speaks in clearly understood sentences and already knows her alphabet and numbers.

Our grandson, however, speaks very few words, cannot string words together to make a sentence and obviously is behind. They are both in preschool.

The argument is this. If our granddaughter continues on this bright path, she may test well for kindergarten ahead of her fifth birthday. Our daughter and my wife both think this would be horrible, and they want our son to hold his daughter back a year so that she will be in the same class as our grandson.

I say my daughter and wife are the ones being horrible. No child should be held back if she is ready. And furthermore, there is no guarantee that our grandson will be ready when he is five. Do they keep holding back his cousin? — Spinning the Wheel in Pennsylvania

Dear Spinning: Your daughter is jealous that her niece is so much more advanced than her son, but please reassure her that this is meaningless. Toddler girls often progress faster than boys in these areas. And when a child is two years old, a four-month age difference is enormous.

These competitive arguments are pointless. Your granddaughter should not be held back for her cousin’s sake. He won’t care unless his mother and grandmother foolishly make it a cause for resentment.

He’ll catch up. And the girl’s advanced knowledge may do her little good if there is no accelerated or gifted program. The kids should progress at their own rates. Now please tell your wife that the only wise decision is for the two of you to stay out of it.

Dear Annie: Did you know that an estimated 16 million youth participate in volunteer activities in the U.S. every year, and that by volunteering these young people will perform better in school? These amazing kids do everything from collecting gently used books and developing literacy programs to creating anti-bullying campaigns in school districts. All of these remarkable youth have a common goal: to raise awareness and solve the problems facing the world today.

To celebrate their ingenuity, idealism and passion, please remind your readers that Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) will take place April 11-13, 2014.

Last year, young people around the world came together and participated in nearly 3,500 projects. Additionally, thousands of community partners in more than 135 countries brought together millions of young people to strengthen their communities through the power of youth volunteering.

For more information, your readers can visit — Sincerely, Steven A. Culbertson, President and CEO, Youth Service America

Dear Steven Culbertson: Thanks so much for letting us once again mention Global Youth Service Day. Young people all over the world do such fantastic and helpful volunteer work, not only on this day, but every day of the year. Global Youth Service Day provides more opportunities for everyone to get involved. We hope all of our readers, young and old, teachers and students, will check out your website.

Dear Annie: Just wanted to add my opinion to “Em from Indy” on handling silverware, whether hand-washed or put in the dishwasher. I believe silverware should always be put in with the handles up. This is so that when you reach to put them away, your hands are touching the handles and not the fork tines, spoon bowls or knife blades. People don’t appreciate knowing that your hands were on the parts that go into their mouths. — From a Dietitian

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to

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