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Resources and inspiration for extremely active, "spirited" tots

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

Been lurking here a lot and searching old threads on toddlers and what to do with them...and I need alll your tips, ideas, methods, books, activities etc.


DD is 14 mo and extremely active, "busy", energetic, bold, intense, smart, focused, and...irregular. I know she's still very little, I KNOW all the books say kids her age don't need much besides a steady rhythm and maybe one outting and a few structured things like baking etc...but it's not working. DD is like a different child when at the park, or surrounded by other kids and adults...just people period. She seems to have a high level of energy and needs a lot more stimulation. She is also super irregular, so I am still really struggling with rhythm, although i think i may be onto something by planning more active play and earlier in the day. On any given day she may nap 3 hours or not at all for three days...she may sleep at 6 or not till 11, she may have 4 bm's or none for days, she may eat ravenously all day or not at all...anyway, I feel like what I do now is setting a foundation for her as well as for us as parents as we begin to emerge from just barely surviving as we were through the infant days. I don't want to put videos on very often but she gets BORED, even if we read, i am doing housework, we go out etc.


So, other than "raising your spirited child" can you reccomend any books or websites?

How have/would you structure your day(s) given a child like this? I am needing far less whining and also to be able to cook dinner and wash my dishes...it's getting rediculous

any other advice for me?

ETA: I am very aware of the "simples" like sand play, water play, lentils/beans/flour/sensory stuff/scooping, sorting, stacking, nesting, and all that good developmental stuff. We have tons of open-ended toys that i circulate even a dress up bin, kitchen,etc. though she mostly plays with a basket of river rocks, her rocking horse, rocking chair and somewhat with her doll and felt food...I "set up" play for her quite a lot...

post #2 of 12
Thread Starter 

please throw your ideas out there! Today I started using the playsilks and a few people and wooden animals to do a simple story which she loved and handed me things to add to the story...the problem was she didn't want me to stop...she is an only child and everything I find about her age seems to assume she is happy just watching me work or doing the simple things already mentioned. What can I do with a precocious child who is easily bored but not "there" yet in terms of a lot of imaginative play, the fine motor skills to paint etc.? What does one do with  a child between 1-18 months or even between one and three? Is there any info about this? did anyone else find this "gap" in the waldorf resources out there or is it just my zany kid?

post #3 of 12

my guy also loves to socialize, and our big thing was making sure that he got outdoors for at least two hours each day. At least. This made a huge difference for him and for us.


Also, the strong rhythm is important -- but I do know how hard it is. WE didn't truly get a strong rhythm until DS was 27 months! But, I would recommend really getting that strong rhythm for her, as it will make a huge difference. 

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

So...if you have a bedtime routine (dinner, bath, story, candle and soothing song, nurse, rock.... but they still won't sleep even with hours of outdoor play etc....or with nap, i don';t want to spend all day getting her to sleep...she resists so hard yet is miserable until she does nap...she has been skipping naps and being miserable all day lately. The weird sleeping times throw everything off...I know daily rhythms are supposed to be flexible and flowing but I'm thinking it needs to be  more rigid at first?

Should we be eating at the same exact TIME everyday (difficult given that certain hings are different some days...) or is it more important if it is in the same general time, but definitely the same order? I am just really struggling with rhythm when she seems so out of sync and whatever works one day will be a nightmare to do the next...how detailed should I be? I don't know why it's so hard for me...maybe I just need to be mroe organized and less sleep deprived.

post #5 of 12

I think how you feel is common with a lot of first time moms... I know I feel the same exact way right now. DS is 18 (eek almost 19) months and I'm so stuck with everything. He's at that in between stage where he's not a baby, but not able to do many big kid things. Things still go in his mouth, he has a short attention span, and gets frustrated easily when something is too hard for him.


I have the opposite problem that my child is super patterned. If he's 10 minutes late on nap, he'll wander around aimlessly with his blankets until I put him in his crib. It makes it impossible to do anything! It makes the daily rhythm easy, especially if we don't do anything outside of the house, but the bigger rhythms (and keeping my sanity) harder. You and I both could use some middle ground.


I think the order of things is more important than the amount of time. We're still working on our rhythm here... definitely not perfect. Funny though, we just had our second baby in March and he's already falling into the basic rhythm. It the first time I've seen how it gets easier. With the first, we're starting from scratch and there's just so many options. I'm trying not to drive myself crazy with it and really hoping that the constant effort will pay off. It can be so confusing though!


Oh, and I'm finding the gap as well. Especially with what do to outside now that the weather is getting nice, but not nice enough to use the kiddie pool. Sometimes I wonder why I'm doing what I'm doing. It would be SO easy to put him in front of the TV or get a bunch of toys that light up and make sounds to occupy him. We're the only people I know that don't put on kid shows for DS. I know I need to keep my focus, though, because deep down it is right I feel is right.


post #6 of 12

Hi there,


my son is almost 19 month old and very active as well.  What we did:  Our living room is a huge play area.  With pillows to climb on and cars to push around, etc.  I go out with him for at least one hour every day and try to stick to a routine, meaning order of events. 


Does she sleep through the night yet?  A lot changed when my son started sleeping through the night.  Not being sleep deprived makes such a big differences.  My son could always feel when I was exhausted and acted up.


I usually show him "how" to play with a toy and than praise him when he plays with it alone. 


Naps, if I know he is tired (showed signs), I try to get him to sleep, if I'm not exactly sure, I try for a little bit and if he is still standing and not trying to go down, I take him out.  Usually he is tired after 3 hours of activity time.  For him it is important that I start the wind-down process 30 min before he is really tired which means ca. 2.5 hours after he got up.  Morning naps were always easier than afternoon naps.  After his first nap I usually went out with him to make him really tired.  Have you thought about "classes"?  Music classes, yoga for baby classes?  Maybe there is a mom's group in your area?  Check on meetup. Does she like to play with balls?  You could tire her out by letting her run after ball.  My son loved to kick his balls around.  But make sure there is enough time for wind-down at home.  Maybe a snack before you put her down?  I've read that carbs are good to make babies sleepy :o)  My son also gets very stimulated if people get excited or if we play with him a very exciting game.  We have to stop playing with him sometimes because he gets all wound up.  How about music.  I sometimes play relaxing music (enya) for him if he needs to calm down. 


Sorry, I'm a first time mom too and struggle a lot with this.  I hope there was some info in my post that helped you... I know it can be very exhausting to not have a routine.

post #7 of 12

Just a few ideas/comments.


I have found the experience of a Steiner playgroup to have been very beneficial for understanding rhythm - and going once a week gives both the parent and child the experience and practice of the rhythm. When you can see how things flow, it makes so much sense. 


Re eating and sleeping at the "right" time vs doing things in the same order: I think both are true to some extent. If the child is very hungry, then what's the use of following the order. The options are: tighten things up so the order can be kept to within the appropriate time frame for the child (not always possible) or economise a bit on one or two things (or skip them completely). E.g our usual routine for midday nap after washing and changing nappy is short play in bedroom, a couple of stories (books) then lyre then song and bed. Well, if we've got home late and my son is super tired, then I'll skip everything except the song and perhaps the lyre music - he still has his sleep cues of sleeping bag and dolly and the fact he's tired. But I'm of the opinion that this only works once the rhythm/routine is firmly established. I would even consider putting him to bed before lunch on occasion but rarely necessary these days. Another example - at our playgroup, morning tea is often very late, in my opinion way too late for most of the small children, so the time issue here is important, yes - hunger is not something that can be ignored, so I just have to give him something to eat before playgroup or while the fruit is being cut up because his salivary glands are going ballistic inside is mouth when he sees it. 


On activity: do you have nice walks around your place? Can you take morning tea with you and make a picnic along the way? We have fire trails near us in the bush, and they are great for toddlers and take our three-wheeled stroller. Nice and wide, lots of stones to pick up and explore. I used to go down to an old golf course near our house with my first - there is a little wooden bridge there - we'd walk down with him in the stroller, sometimes he'd walk some of the way, then we'd sit on the bridge for morning tea, climb on the rocks and walk back again. Buy a large rain jacket with hood, gum boots and get out in the rain/wet. 


For cooking, washin up: can you have a dedicated box filled with cooking/washing up gear for them which you get out while you're filling up the sink as a cue - I don't have a play kitchen but I have a set of shelves set up a bit like a play kitchen with a low trolley which can be wheeled into the kitchen. I have a playsilk over it and four coasters for the stove and pots and pans. The trolley has a shelf so can also be used as an oven (used to have a TV on it).


When I start cooking or washing up my son naturally gravitates to his kitchen area or to our cupboards and starts stripping them bare. There's a lot of tidying away afterwards but it works sometimes! I have found with my children that when an activity is predictable, the children are so much more engaged, so it's worth trying a few things that appeal to their imaginations. And sometimes it doesn't take many repetitions - for example, I once put a chair and table in front of the stove for my son to watch the cheese being grilled on his toast (he didn't want cheese on toast but that's what was for lunch that day, so I just tried to make it more appealing). Now every time we have cheese on toast for lunch the table and chair are there, it's like magic. 

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 


xDaisyx -no she doesn't even come close to sleeping the night. In a good stretch she wakes between every 2-4 hours. In a rough stretch (like with teething) which most of the last 14 months has been, she wakes every 5-20 mins much of the night and every 45 mins if i'm lucky. This is even with advil and magnesium in her system....she often wakes in the middle of the night exhausted but unable to sleep. This is a HUGE part of what throws off our rhythm because it is so very tempting to sleep in if she is willing one day, then her nap is pushed forward, then she won't sleep till 11 pm, then she doesn't nap at all the next day...so some of it is needing to enforce things more.

***although even when i have been very consistent her irregularity throws the whole thing off too...


lyrebird- ok I've never really heard a lyre in action but I'm thinking it might actually help her sleep! So i'm looking into that..she loves music, i think if i played the same song...


Also, I have a few kitchen "tops" she rarely uses, I could move them into the kitchen....I do set her up with an activity, we even had an indoor sandbox for about a month but then she just was too little to know to keep the sand in it and we had sand in our beds and it didn't occupy her that long. I also set ehr up with bowls/beans, or playdough..it works for about 5-10 mins. any other kitchen play ideas? Our kitchen is removed from every other room so she can't really play (and doesn't want to) in the living room while i make dinner.


We don't have nice walks at all near us. What is near us are suburbs and malls and an industrial park with a stinky mill... I dont have car access...I do still walk the 40-60 mins to the nearest parks and it is ok but I couldn't do it every day. Especially in summer when it gets super super hot in my area. I have been considering taking the bus to a natural setting and i do but it is 40 mins each way which makes her restless.


So, my new *ideas*


get up at a consistent time (maybe 7 am, it varies by about 40 mins...sometimes more, we usually don;t wake her up....but maybe that would help ehr get regulated a bit?)

get dressed, make beds,

make breakfast/eat

(most mornings) pack a picnic lunch

head out the door by 9:30 at latest and walk to park or take bus to story time etc.

eat snack @10-10:30

either home by 11:20 and eat lunch or have picnic and home by about 1 at latest

noon: play outside in yard till tired

song and story

nap by 1-1:30

***would waking her up around 3:30 at latest be a good stretch for 14 months? When she DOES nap it is usually longer but then we have a nightmare of a night


play outside again for at least 20 mins

4:00 some sort of activity while mama prepares dinner and tidies up (this is where I've been putting ona  raffi concert in desperation...she is so fussy from 4-5 no matter when she's napped or eaten, any other ideas??)

6:00 eat dinner

6:30 bath, brush teeth, story, candle and lullaby

7pm nurse to sleep or nurse and then daddy rocks


this is my ideal. Ima thinking about getting a mother's helper for a few afternoons a week so I can study and have time to myself as the other thing that throws us off is me dallying on the computer (although sometimes in sleep deprived desperation looking for help) because i need a break from her. She is so high energy, and I'm not, and she's a total people/action lover and i need more time to process and be alone!


My other ideas: toddler yoga...there is a class we could try or maybe i could watch a dvd and figure it out.

What kinds of things woudl you do for finegr plays and songs for a veyr active baby/toddler? Any books/websites I can look into?


post #9 of 12

Hi doulawoman,


Oh, that sounds sooo familiar! My son woke up every 2 hours at that age.  But, waking up every 20 minutes can't be restful for neither of you.  I honestly couldn't function with that kind of sleep - you are amazing! bow2.gif.  You may want to think about how both of you can get more sleep during the night.  I'm sure that will make a difference on both of your energy levels during the day.  Btw, we're the same way, my son (and husband) are both extroverts and I'm the introvert who needs a lot of alone time.


Looked at your schedule, she would be awake from 7am - 1pm.  That's 6 hours.  You may want to see if you can build in a nap at around 10ish.  This is what our schedule looked like (as far as I remember):


7am - wake up & nursing

7:30am - breakfast

9:30-10:30 nap

11:30/12 lunch

2-3/3:30pm nap

3:30 snack

5pm dinner

play/winding down

7pm in bed


However, his schedule is flexible.  If he woke early, I would put him down earlier depending on his tired signs... If he skipped the afternoon nap, I would put him down at around 6:30pm.  At that age it feels like, there is not so much time between sleeping and feeding.  They are constantly eating and sleeping.  We couldn't and still can't do a lot of things that require time away from home unless my son sleeps in the car.


When my son is over tired, he actually becomes super active!  Not saying that your daughter is the same way, but thought I just put it out there.

Re kitchen toys, can you have her watch you in the high chair and give her something to play with (there are toys that have sucktion cups on the bottom - I know not very Waldorf...)?  Can you use empty containers (butter, yogurt, etc.) and lids and have her play with those?  We also fill a oatmeal can made out of metal with some coffee beans and it makes lots of noise an occupies my son.  But, I still need to play with him or stay engaged the entire time he is with me.


Have you tried balloons (maybe not in the kitchen)?  My son loves playing with balloons. 


Oh, and my son sleeps to "waves breaking on the shore"  music.  It's like white noise smile.gif 


Sending you lots of energy!



post #10 of 12

Mama I have nothing for you but a hug and support.  My daughter is the same way and we're still struggling with it.


post #11 of 12

Just wanted to give all you mamas of toddlers a big ole hug!!!!  I think being a first time mom is sooo hard.  After having 4, and my youngest is about to turn 2, I can tell you that this is all normal!!!  Toddlers have extremely short attention spans and are notorious for bouncing from one thing to the next.  I also want to say that it will get easier (sort of...ha ha).  She will grow and mature and begin to engage herself in an activity long enough for you to do something (quickly, at least).  All four of my kids had their "witching" hour at 5.  The only thing that saved me was to wear them while I cooked.  I suggest that you get yourself outside no matter what!  Can you set up a nice playspace outside?  Heaven on Earth has some great suggestions for this.  As far as rhythm, it will come.  My dd was also "late" to fall into a rhythm.  It definitely balanced out more once she hit 18 months.  Try to keep meals and bedtimes as consistent as possible.  You say some days she doesn't take a nap...on those days, try to have a very quiet activity/activities to take that place (massage with lavendar oil, reading of books, just rocking/nursing and singing).  I would also try to figure out a better night solution.  I am not saying she should be sleeping the night, but all that frequent waking isn't good for either of you (I wish I had more advice than this!).  Do you co-sleep?  When did she transition from two naps to one (or has her naps always been all over the place?).  I think a lot of your "issues" will fall aside if the sleeping works itself out.  Other than that, you just do what you can to survive!  And remember...this is only a season!!!

post #12 of 12

By the way, this is a great blog for the 1-5 age group:  www.joyfultoddlers.blogspot.com

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