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Dear Abby: My son is almost 3. He is the light of my life. I love him more than I can describe, but sometimes I can’t handle his energy. We carefully monitor how much sugar he eats and we are sure his diet is not what’s causing the problem. Mostly I think he is just a rowdy little boy.

The problem is, we can’t take him out without dreading that he will act up. His refusal to listen to our requests – or listen to us when we speak to him at all – has put a strain on our marriage and we both feel like “failure” parents.

What are some things we can do to help our son channel his energy in a positive way, while getting some relief from his nonstop go-go attitude?

– Needs Relief In Kansas

Dear Needs Relief: This may be a phase your son is going through; however, it would be a good idea to discuss this with his pediatrician to make sure. While little children can be human “Energizer bunnies,” I am concerned that you say the boy doesn’t listen when you talk to him. Tell the doctor and ask if a hearing check is in order.

As to your son’s acting up when you take him out – he should be told the rules and the penalties for not following them before you leave the house. If he doesn’t obey the rules, it is important that you follow through, whether that means he will be taken outside for a talk or taken home. Remember, consistency is the key. That’s the way children learn.

If you are older parents and not active, consider enrolling the boy in sports activities, such as swimming or kiddie gym. I am told there are even karate classes for children your son’s age.

I read a book recently that could be helpful. The title is “Raising Children That Other People Like to Be Around” by Richard Greenberg (published by New Generation Publishing, $14). The advice is worth every penny.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillip. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 60069.