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Help! with my toddler

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I need help. I said it. :) But i'm not sure what to do. I am fairly picky about raising my kids and somewhat opinionated (though i try not to voice it). But i need help. With my 18 month old.


I have two kids. An 18 month old and a 3 y/o. They are 18 months apart. My 3 y/o is the easiest child ever. Still naps 2 hours a day. Goes right down to bed. Is relatively obedient though he does spend some quiet time in his room for being bad and time at the wall for time out. He is fairly passive. Very independent, but not aggressive. 


Now my 18 m/o. He is a totally different story. He is agressive--violently. He learns from his brother and takes it to a-whole-nother level. And it's getting really hard. If i tell him not to hit, he hits more. If i tell him not to bite, he bites more. Honestly, if i tell him anything he does the opposite. No matter how nice or harsh the tone of voice. And i am going crazy. He throws everything--including sippy cups--anything-- and yesterday he MAJORLY connected with my head.


He's getting stronger and i am getting nervous. He is my cuddly boy too so it's a hard mix. He wants to be close, but i am nervous that he is going to eventually get mad and jump on my stomach or pound me--which is something he does.


We do tons of activities like coloring, painting, playing with Bubbles and usually he only watches 1 TV show a day, if at all (though it's been harder with pregnancy. Usually it was once a week... but i am finally feeling better). He wants my attention 100% of the time and it's just not realistic. I mean, i play with them ALL DAY! I haven't even caught up on my laundry from CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am doing EVERYTHING i can. 


He doesn't know how to go to sleep on his own which wouldn't be a big deal (we lay next to his crib each night) but now he wakes up for about 3 hours each night and if he wakes up without one of us beside him, he flips out and screams. I have read No Cry Sleep Solution and it worked wonderfully with my oldest... but it's not working with him. He doesn't nap enough. He is ALWAYS crabby. 


Anyways... here it is for rambling. I just don't know what to do. I want to raise loving, caring, SWEET, boys. I want them to love whatever they want to love and be happy... but i don't want to raise AGGRESSIVE boys. 


Have i ever spanked? Yes. Do i try my darndest not to? YES. I almost never do. I grew up getting spanked a lot and i have NEVER spanked the 18 m/o.


He really is a beautiful and sweet little boy but man i am at my wit's end. I just don't know what to do at all. From my experience children without discipline turn out to be awful little monsters who don't know how to obey their parents but i can't figure out the boundaries. Help me!

post #2 of 13

How much exercise is he getting? Some kids have more energy than others.  My DD1 is 4.  She was a low-key baby and toddler, very "easy baby", moderate energy level, enjoyed quiet things like coloring and playing with sticks and rocks outside.  My DD2 is now 2.  She's a handful- climbing, jumping, running.. she's a ball of energy that I was just not used to having!


It's hard to keep up, especially when pregnant.  All I can think of is make sure you give him adequate outlets for his energy.  Lots of opportunity to run outside (15 minutes, even in the colder months, can work magic), maybe an indoor trampoline with a handlebar?


A friend of mine has two sons who both have sensory seeking sensory processing disorder.  They are both very active, high energy, intense kids.  They crave movement and they love running around.  I know SPD is a bit different than your run-of-the-mill super active child, but some of the techniques for sensory seeking kids may still help burn off some of your DS's excess energy :) 

post #3 of 13

Make sure you are telling him what to do and not just telling him what NOT to do.  For example you could say, "gentle touches only" instead of "no hitting."  This will help teach him what is expected of him.  Also it sounds like he needs a very physical connection with people, which can be hard.  Maybe you could set aside 5 or 10 min. to play "rough" with him while going over your rules and keeping eye contact, to help him learn boundaries and to get him that contact that he seems to need.  My DS also craves physical touch, which I think is a big thing at night for some kids.  We still do co sleep with him on most nights, which works well for us and I think helps him feel more calm during the day because he has been cuddled at night.  Not sure if that would work for your family or not, but it has ultimately helped us during the day and night.  Also if you haven't already, the Gentle Discipline and the Toddler forum are great places to go where lots of knowledgeable parents who are in similar situations hang out.  hug2.gif

post #4 of 13

Hugs Mama!  I just want to remind you that a lot of times these things (hitting, throwing, sleep etc) are just phases.  That is something that has helped me when I am at my whits end with DD and feel like the world is going to end!  I second nelson's suggestion for telling your DS what to do intead of what not to do.  I find positive discipline is much more helpful than negative with my DD.  Also giving options like "do you have to play trucks or read books" is really helpful and gives DD a sense of control. 

post #5 of 13

hug2.gif Kelantan!  My DS sounds a lot like yours in many ways!  Although he is now 3 1/2 and as Ava's Mama pointed out, has outgrown those behaviors.  He will occasionally still hit or do the exact opposite of what I am asking but for the most part he is starting to learn how to appropriately convey his anger or frustration.  Your little guy is still too young to get that and it is incredibly difficult to stay cool when you are on the receiving end! 


One thing that has made a huge difference for us has been sleep.  Without proper sleep, I'd describe my DS as crabby all the time too.  After repeated suggestions by our pediatrician, a nurse practitioner, and a chiropractor, we finally tried melatonin and that has been life changing in our family.  I really didn't want to try it and I know that isn't necessarily a popular solution with everyone, but the behavior changes have been substantial.  I am not suggesting that you try that, but I am telling you because I bet that when you combine your DS's personality with lack of sleep, you get this behavior.  I wish I could suggest other ways for you to help get your DS to sleep better.  I also tried the No Cry Sleep Solution and found nothing particularly helpful.  But if there is any way you can increase sleep time, I bet you'll see a big change in DS's aggressive behavior. 

post #6 of 13

I second the sleep suggestion.  DD has always been a relatively easy kid, but we were slowly getting worse and worse behavior with her, and realized that she was really sleep deprived.  She was always up in the mornings before we were, so I thought she must be getting enough sleep or she'd just sleep in.  Apparently not.  We switched to an hour earlier bedtime and it was magical for her behavior.  I did find the No Cry Sleep Solution (for Toddlers) helpful, but if it's not working for you I'm sure there are other books out there...  

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thank you guys for being so kind and helpful. I really so much appreciate it! I have been trying to be more about telling him what to do and not just what not to do. The more i pay attention i also think he is frustrated because he can't communicate like his brother. (my 3 y/o has nearly perfect language skills) but i know that my LO thinks they are the same age. 


Can i complain? I am so upset. I posted this over in gentle discipline and i got one mother who just RAILED into me. Treated me like dirt. Like i was the worst mother in all the world and i should practically have my kids taken away. It really hurts. I am a fabulous mother (not to sound prideful) but i know that i am good i just want to be BETTER! Shouldn't i always be trying to improve? Anyways, it really really hurt and i am just ready to cry. 


Anyways, thank you for your kind ideas and i will be trying to incorporate them all in my life!

post #8 of 13

That's very sad to hear kelantan! I'm always hesitant about posting discipline questions or even just expressing frustration with my DS for fear of the judgy moms around these parts (NOT this ddc!). You are asking for help and expressing your feelings and there is NOTHING wrong with that. You sound like an amazing mother, truly. Try not to let others get under your skin, but easier said than done, I know. 

post #9 of 13

Ugh!  I have gotten a lot of help from reading through the gentle discipline thread... but there are quite a few women who seem super judgmental who are hanging out over there.  If I ask a question, I usually revise it like 100 times to make sure that NOTHING can be taken the wrong way and almost certainly I get at least one response talking about how punitive I am (lol...we don't even do timeouts in this house!) I am sure they are just really passionate about gentle discipline, yada yada yada, but there are often a few responses to each question that are really really demeaning and downright rude in some cases.  We are mothers!  When we are in trouble or are looking to change our approaches and looking for answers, we should be holding each other up, being supportive and encouraging...not snippy and snarky!  Sheesh! 


That being said, I have been thinking about this question since last night.  My dd1 sounds a lot like your ds2....a lot.  You have gotten a few good ideas already.  Brambleberry and Jend mentioned sleep...  That is probably quite a significant factor in his daytime temperament.  dd1 was also a terrible sleeper... she had a really hard time falling asleep.  One thing that helped was wrapping her up in a blanket really tight.  It just completely and totally relaxed her.  (As for getting him to fall asleep on his own, I didn't even attempt that with dd1 until she was a bit over 4!)  We also did the earlier to bed and it has helped tremendously!!!  dd1 would wake up at 6:30/7 every morning no matter how late she went to bed.  So, since she takes no naps, we slowly moved bed time earlier and earlier (by like 15 minutes every week or two) until her behavior settled down a bit.  That put us right around 7 pm bed time...everynight.  The nights she goes to bed late... let's just say we pay for it the next day. irked.gif


WindyCityMom mentioned exercise.  That helps dd1 too. On days that it is even semi-nice outside, I will go out with the kids and let them run around to their hearts content.  On cold or rainy days, I will try to put on really jumpy and fun music (I LOVE Raffi!!!) and dance around with them and then let them take over when I get pooped! Usually, they will go on for 10 minutes after I am done.  (That might be an alternative to watching a show, maybe...  lol.  That was me talking mostly to myself!  hahaha!)  Tickle fights are also a good energy outlet and fortunately, most littles can't really tickle you well. 


I like nelson's idea of positive reinforcement. Like "Gentle Touches, Please!"  One I used often was taking childs hands gently and saying, "We use our hands for good." 


I do think though that this is mainly a frustration with lack of language thing.  The hardest time with my dd1 was probably 15 months -22/23 months or thereabouts.  Once the words started coming, the violent outbursts started to decrease.  (And the talking back/yelling phase started...yeay! lol)


Mostly, I dealt with my frustrations dd1's behavior in as playful a way as possible.  Are you open to reading books?  Even just skimming a little of a gentle discipline book or cherry picking chapters (who has time to read and raise two boys and grow a fetus???   hahaha), has helped me a lot.  Some ideas: Happiest Toddler on the Block (I lOVE LOVE LOVED this book! Lots and lots of good ideas on how to talk to pre talking kids)... Louise Bates Ames series (You would need "Your one-year- old" I like her descriptions of childhood development A LOT... helps you really understand what is going on in your kids head.  Some of her suggestions aren't that helpful.  But the books overall give good insight into child)... Playful parenting....  Raising your spirited Child...  Also, I sometimes read the threads at gentlechristianmothers.com.  


Good luck, Kelly.  If it helps, dd1 is still quite high energy and high demand, but it is all sooo much more manageable.  That pretalking but mobile and 'independent' stage is soooooooooo hard.

post #10 of 13

Sorry to hear about your experience on the Gentle Discipline thread, kelantan!  I posted a question in the Night Time Parenting thread and had an incredibly rude response.  This woman told me that I caused a a "nightmare" situation for my son by being with him 24 hours a day and not allowing him to be independent - um, I work full time out of the home without my son.  This woman was completely out of line.  My feelings were hurt too.  I don't know why people are anything but supportive when someone reaches out for help.  Sorry you have to experience that!

post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thank you thank you thank you all! For your help! I just feel like this can all be so much more manageable now! Thank goodness!


Yeah, i am trying to get him to sleep better by himself. He already goes to be at 7 PM (we have always done super early bed times) but have let him kinda fuss (not cry but moan and groan) to help himself back to sleep at night and it is REALLY helping him sleep better! 


I am also trying to get them to be MORE active (they are SUPER SUPER ACTIVE!) and luckily SPRING is in full bloom here! YAY! He napped for a solid 2 hours after playing with a friend yesterday!   


We (both husband and i) are trying to redirect our corrections not "don't" but rather what we want him to do. It makes sense. Have you ever done the "Don't Smile" thing and people almost ALWAYS SMILE becuase you are thinking about smiling. I can tell it makes my ds think a bit more.


Also all of your help just made me realize that this is probably a phase. He is really sweet and just acting out because he can't talk about it with me. I am also trying to work with a few more signs for him and really paying attention to what he says. I think sometimes since my oldest responds with words i might not really pay attention to my youngest as directly!


And i will add some of those books to my amazon list. Along with Spiritual Midwifery (i have her Guide). I love reading baby and parenting books! My hubby thinks i am silly! :)


THANK YOU AGAIN! You all really made me think and i am super excited to start putting these things in practice and work with our kids! I LOVE LOVE learning from people (i'm seriously the world's biggest people analyzer) and it helps so much! I really am just LOVING our DDC. I am going to die when we are all done haha!


(oh and i just let the whole mean comment do. I deleted the words of the comments and just said that mean judgments are not appreciated and left. I don't plan to ever go back).

post #12 of 13
Totally late to the ballgame here, but I find "Ages and Stages - Toddlers" to be a more helpful place to go with help with gentle discipline than "Gentle Discipline" IYKWIM. I mean, it's still Mothering mamas who are reading and commenting, but it's usually only people with kids going through what your kids are going through at the moment, and it tends to be a more sympathetic/pragmatic approach in the comments than a dogmatic/judgemental one.

I was going to suggest having really rough and tumble playtime with DH after he gets home and also maybe redirecting inappropriate agression into a more appropriate venue -- punch the pillow, not your brother, stuff like that.

Edited to add: We've had to do "bite this book, not dada" today :/
Edited by crystal_buffaloe - 2/25/12 at 8:59pm
post #13 of 13

He sounds a LOT like my second child, who has sensory issues. Are you familiar with the book Raising Your Spirited Child? I think you would find it very helpful. I also really encourage you to get or browse through The Out Of Synch Child. It will help you figure out if he does have sensory issues and what to do if you think he might. I have learned the hard way that it's sooo important to learn how to parent such challenging kids early and to do early intervention (which is not medication but often is OT) with sensory issues because without good coping skills they can get totally out of control. Such children feel everything more. They're just a lot. When they're happy they're very very happy and when they're angry they totally lose control so fast. Things that might not be a big deal to some bring incredibly strong feelings in spirited kids. Teaching them to express their feelings appropriately is important, though challenging. The book How To Talk So Kids Will Listen has been my best friend. If you're having another, I would recommend augmenting that with Siblings Without Rivalry which is the book with the same concepts that focuses on adjusting to a new sibling.


I know I'm throwing a lot of books out there and I don't want to overwhelm you. Raising Your Spirited Child and How To Talk So Kids Will Listen are the two easiest to read. How To Talk... is really super easy to read and does not even require much concentration, but I also think that Raising Your Spirited Child will be very liberating for you. It helps you see that there's nothing wrong with you or your child, the strengths in him being persistent and strong willed, and gives concrete ideas on how to handle it. It eases guilt, frustration, and resentment a LOT. Even if you substitute play time with reading time for a little while so you can read those, it will be worth it in the long run for your kids. 


It's hard to start with a laid back kid and think you've got things pretty figured out then have your parenting world shaken up by a spirited kid. I understand the feelings of frustration, resentment, fear, and guilt that come with it. I think that with these good resources (and I went through a whole lot of books etc before finding ones that were helpful, concrete, and confidence building) and some good support that you could feel a whole lot better by the time this baby arrives.


Please feel free to contact me directly for more support. It's a process with few quick fixes, but one that is so worth it for the connection and affection and fun that you can have with a spirited child. They're really such amazing children when you're able to regain some control and perspective.

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