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18 month old's sudden behavior shift--struggling with new need for discipline

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Okay, so background...

 

We have an 18 month old DS, our biggest challenge in the past 18 months was his colic, but once that was done with (thank heavens!) he developed a sunny and easy going personality.  Lucky us.  So, his behavior over the past couple of weeks has really been atypical for him (based on what we formally assumed about his personality).  

 

From gentle kissing and pets of our dog and two cats (behavior which we have always taught and reinforced) he has started grabbing their fur, tails and trying to sit on them (all of which are totally unacceptable).  So far we've handled this by removing the animals from the room (they can go into the kitchen where he can't see or get to them) and we explain that if he's rough and hurts the animals that they have to go bye bye in the other room.  Tonight after he tried to grab the dog I told him "no" and held him in my lap so that the animals could be put away without him trying to chase them.  He cried and struggled but I held him while explaining that he could get down when the animals were put away.  And, that if he was rough he couldn't play with them. 

 

Also, he has started hitting/biting/pulling on us.  Tonight he came up behind DW (while she was sitting on the floor) and pulled her hair so hard that she fell backwards.  Once again, unacceptable.  He was startled and we told him "no, that hurts mommy" and then had him give her a hug (not thrilled about the idea of forced apologies-- but it felt like some sort of positive physical affection needed to happen).

 

Lots of whining, lots of demanding behavior in general and since he is non-verbal we spend far too much time trying to guess at what he wants.  We are going to be upping the ante on signing--he can, and does, sign for more, nursing, water, all done and please (oh and siren and ball :)  

 

We don't allow artificial coloring/flavoring--there have been no food changes lately--sugar is fairly minimal and when offered fairly hight quality (a Tbs or 2 of vanilla ice cream every couple of weeks is about it).

 

Any other suggestions?  Is this kind of major behavioral shift typical for toddlers this age?  What other tools (apart from the gentle physical restraint, used only to ensure the safety of moms and animals) would you suggest?  We have Happiest Toddler on the Block and do implement some of the suggestions and we use Playful Parenting as well.  

 

All that said--are 18 month olds just like this?  And, if so, when will our mellow, happy boy come back?!

post #2 of 7

I don't know, my perfectly normal dd2 didn't take her first steps til 18 months.  She was sweet as pie... until she could communicate with her fists.  Daycare provider said the big kids were scared of the little hefer!  And they were she was a meanie.  Just testing boundries mama.  Be consistent, you will survive this.

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the response!  Things seem to be easing up a bit--we've started to redirect the physical stuff by having him be rough with stuffed animals instead, which seems to work.  

 

I just wish his language skills would pick up--mostly because he "thinks" he's telling us exactly what he needs and wants!  Do you think 18 months is a particularly challenging time?  Or is it just us?

post #4 of 7
I would say that his behavior is totally normal. They can do all these new things and they are testing everything constantly.
post #5 of 7

My ds, at about that age, needed more rough-housing.  Dh was deployed, so I taught ds the old daddy/son game of trading punches.  We went back and forth a few times, and then his face broke into a huge grin and he gave me one of the best hugs of my life.  His demeanor changed immediately for the better.  From then on, I can induce an immediate attitude adjustment with a little rough housing.  Consider some pillow squishing games, knocking him over with stuffed animals, rolling over and over on the floor and rolling (gently, but with pressure) over him, and/or making a fist and drilling it into him in various places like a vibrating tickle machine.  Don't be too "mama" about it...they like rough.  Also, you can lay on your back and let him lay on your lower legs (with your legs pulled up).  Then, holding on to him, flip your legs and flip him over your head.  Or, let him fly like an airplane, or try to balance on her hands.  A little rough, and a little danger.  Little boys just need that stuff. 

 

 

 

 

post #6 of 7

Girls too!  DD1 used to hide on the couch and wait for daddy to walk by then she'd jump out and I guess expect him to catch her.  More times than not she would get caught.  Or she wanted to practice her Ninja moves.., lord help us when that one started!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Just1More View Post

My ds, at about that age, needed more rough-housing.  Dh was deployed, so I taught ds the old daddy/son game of trading punches.  We went back and forth a few times, and then his face broke into a huge grin and he gave me one of the best hugs of my life.  His demeanor changed immediately for the better.  From then on, I can induce an immediate attitude adjustment with a little rough housing.  Consider some pillow squishing games, knocking him over with stuffed animals, rolling over and over on the floor and rolling (gently, but with pressure) over him, and/or making a fist and drilling it into him in various places like a vibrating tickle machine.  Don't be too "mama" about it...they like rough.  Also, you can lay on your back and let him lay on your lower legs (with your legs pulled up).  Then, holding on to him, flip your legs and flip him over your head.  Or, let him fly like an airplane, or try to balance on her hands.  A little rough, and a little danger.  Little boys just need that stuff. 

 

 

 

 



 

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the good ideas!  We've been doing lots of "London Bridge" with catching him up and jiggling and "Ring Around the Rosey" with falling, as well as some swinging around upside down fun! These seem to be re-setting for him!  We also have a "Rody" like dog toy, and when he's being rough with animals we redirect him to be rough with "blue dog" and bounce.

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