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So flustered. Naptime, bedtime,eating, listening... help with a toddler.

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I have a 2.5 year old son, J. My husband recently got a job out of town, so it's just J and I, all day. We have always practiced attachment parents - babywearing, J still nurses, co-sleeping, the whole nine yards. I firmly believe it's the best start in life you can give a child to parent them this way, and creates the best relationships between parent and child. AT least, that's what I believe in theory.

J doesn't listen to me. From the little things to the big thing,s none of it. And when we are out with my parents or the in-laws, his behavior is just out of control. I'm sure I'm just over-exaggerating some of this because of my current mental state, but it feels like I can't get him to listen. I say "J, please don't dump your balls on the ground" and he looks at me as he dumps the bucket. Biting, hitting. Some of these I think are regressive behaviors because his dad is gone. But I need a kid who works with me, at least a little.

 

Sleeping times and nursing are becoming a problem, too. I am newly pregnant and nursing is really hurting. Because of my old working schedule, J pretty much nurses only at night, and at naptime when I'm putting him down for a nap. I wanted to let him wean himself when he was ready, but I'm beginning to think that's not possible. We've been doing"Okay, one milk on each side, then milk is going to sleep until the sun comes up" and he'll even repeat it to me, or tell me before I get a chance to say it, so I know it's sticking. It went great for 3 or 4 nights, and now it's nothing but a struggle. A 2.5 year old kicking and screaming and losing it when I tell him milk is sleeping. I just got done with a 1.5 hour struggle to get him to go down for a nap. This included a lot of nursing and me actually in tears because of the pain, but I just didn't know what else to do. 

 

Eating has also become a struggle. He used to eat all kinds of things, but now all he wants is rice, potatoes, and chicken. Vegetables are a true rarity, and fruits are shot beyond the occasional apple or banana. He is nursing so much that I don't think he is hungry, but I want him to start eating more and nursing less. We're having issues getting there, though. 

 

At some point, I've crossed over from a respectful AP relationship to being bossed around by a toddler. I cannot let him decide everything. I feel like I'm losing my mind. Whether that is early pregnancy hormones, being an essentially single mom of a toddler, or simply the truth, I don't know.

 

Any suggestions, or requests for clarification, are so, so very appreciated. 

post #2 of 11

Well it sounds like we are in the same boat, mama!  Everything you describe happens in almost the exact same way here, too.

 

I have a 2.5 year old son, also raised with mostly AP responsiveness, also husband gone for 14 hours a day, several days a week.  I was initially in disbelief at the way DS started acting around 2.  Very, very little listening (he'd hear me and then do the opposite), hitting me and slapping me when I held him to rock to sleep, ALWAYS running away from me and often towards traffic.

 

I wish I had some advice for you, but now that I've gotten slightly used to this behavior (sadly) I've learned to just really change my expectations.  I expect him to run away, so I am using the death grip on his hand whenever we are in public.  I totally expect that he is going to haul off and whack me when we snuggle, so I go thru in my head how I will respond (put him in the crib, walk away, come back later).  As for not listening, I've found occasional success with getting down to eye level and holding his hand and physically escorting him over to whatever task he needs to do.  So when he pitches all of his blueberries all over the floor AFTER  I say, "Keep the blueberries on the table" we get down from our chairs, I hold his hand, and pretty much make him walk to each one and pick it up.  

 

None of this is ideally what I wanted, but we are kind of making due for now.  I'm waiting and hoping that this passes before the baby comes, as I am due in March.

 

It does sound like nursing is causing a lot of heartbreak for you.  Don't be afraid to stop.  Really.  In the mothering forums, 2.5 years seems average, but remind yourself that it is far, far longer than so many babies get in the general population.  You've done a wonderful job, and it may be time to let it go.  

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thank you for posting, Mariee! It is good to know, at least, that I am not alone. I'm working on just trying to adapt to some of these changes, and understand a lot of it is him acting out over his daddy being gone. But I miss my sweet little boy that once was. As far as nursing goes, I am trying to gently night wean him, and thus likely wean him altogether, but it is not going well so far. Not at all. I shouldn't be surprised. Hopefully, my patience holds out - nursing has been such a wonderful, bonding time for us that I don't want it all to end on a sour note for either of us.

post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momsthename View Post

Thank you for posting, Mariee! It is good to know, at least, that I am not alone. I'm working on just trying to adapt to some of these changes, and understand a lot of it is him acting out over his daddy being gone. But I miss my sweet little boy that once was. As far as nursing goes, I am trying to gently night wean him, and thus likely wean him altogether, but it is not going well so far. Not at all. I shouldn't be surprised. Hopefully, my patience holds out - nursing has been such a wonderful, bonding time for us that I don't want it all to end on a sour note for either of us.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mariee View Post

Well it sounds like we are in the same boat, mama!  Everything you describe happens in almost the exact same way here, too.

 

I have a 2.5 year old son, also raised with mostly AP responsiveness, also husband gone for 14 hours a day, several days a week.  I was initially in disbelief at the way DS started acting around 2.  Very, very little listening (he'd hear me and then do the opposite), hitting me and slapping me when I held him to rock to sleep, ALWAYS running away from me and often towards traffic.

 

I wish I had some advice for you, but now that I've gotten slightly used to this behavior (sadly) I've learned to just really change my expectations.  I expect him to run away, so I am using the death grip on his hand whenever we are in public.  I totally expect that he is going to haul off and whack me when we snuggle, so I go thru in my head how I will respond (put him in the crib, walk away, come back later).  As for not listening, I've found occasional success with getting down to eye level and holding his hand and physically escorting him over to whatever task he needs to do.  So when he pitches all of his blueberries all over the floor AFTER  I say, "Keep the blueberries on the table" we get down from our chairs, I hold his hand, and pretty much make him walk to each one and pick it up.  

 

None of this is ideally what I wanted, but we are kind of making due for now.  I'm waiting and hoping that this passes before the baby comes, as I am due in March.

 

It does sound like nursing is causing a lot of heartbreak for you.  Don't be afraid to stop.  Really.  In the mothering forums, 2.5 years seems average, but remind yourself that it is far, far longer than so many babies get in the general population.  You've done a wonderful job, and it may be time to let it go.  

I could have written ALL of these posts myself now or at one time in the very recent past. I'm right here with you.

It was a long hard and emotional struggle for us too, but we decided to wean. And I think it actually improved our relationship- we definitely both still miss it, but in the end I'm sure it was the right decision.

We have the same kinds of struggles over naps and bedtimes, running away, listening, you name it. I'm also just ending my first trimester and it has been very trying around here to say the least. We waited to get pregnant so that our son would be older when the second came, thinking that would be easier. But being pregnant with a hell-raising two year old must be the hardest thing on earth...or just about. I look at all the moms who are pregnant with a lovely non-mobile 9 month old or sweet obedient 1.5 year old and I'm rethinking our whole line of reasoning!

Anyway....no advice here....just commiserating. I just try to get through the best I can without putting DS on the next boat to Grandma's (she lives a continent away) winky.gif.

post #5 of 11

It will get easier with time.

 

On him not listening: get used to it. It's up to you to decide if you want an obedient child or a child who does good because that's what he wants and feels good to him. None of these choices is necessarily bad; me and dh were raised to be obedient, and we decided it's not what we want for our kids.

 

Not listening doesn't mean he gets to do what he wants. If he's dumping the balls in spite of being warned not to, I would take them and put them away.

 

Personally I would not wean because I found nursing to be a great help with tantrums and bedtime, especially with a toddler. He might be ready to drop his nap though.

 

My 7 y/o is still not an obedient child, but everywhere he goes everyone tells me how collaborative and helpful he is. I'm glad I didn't expect him to obey me (although I expect him to behave his age).
 

post #6 of 11

A few ideas . . .

Nursing to 2.5 years is awesome!  (I recently made it to 34 months myself, but we had night weaned and were down to once or twice per day by 2.5.)  

He sounds like a perfectly typical 2-year-old.  

You might want to start playing the big boy card, especially with a new baby coming.  Can you emphasize something that will replace nursing him?  Maybe a special book to read together while you cuddle?  A stuffed animal to hold onto?  Something you can read to him while nursing the new baby?  Putting some emphasis on all the cool things about growing up could help.  I got my son a balance bike.  I'm trying to give him more autonomy, too, letting him do more to put his own clothes on, help with basic chores like clearing a plate or helping with cooking.  And praise the heck out of cooperating and listening (or in Alfie Kohn style -- "I noticed that . . ." "I felt happy when . . ." "You must be proud of yourself because . . ." "Your friend probably feels happy because . . ." "We get to . . . because . . .")

Is there a local Moms Club or similar group you could join?  I wouldn't make it through the day without seeing a few friends at story time or at the park.

post #7 of 11

Oooh, the MOMS club idea is a really good one.  I love being a member.  Everyone is remarkably different in their parenting styles and yet we all have something in common.  

 

I'm still marinating on all of this and thinking about you.  Mostly I'm trying to think about what HAS been working for us...... 

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the suggestions and comisserations, everyone. The moms group is a good idea, but I haven't been able to find one anywhere around. I do have a good friend with a daughter about J's age, but our schedules don't line up very often. 

 

For the moment, I'm trying to stick with nursing. I' just need to figure out where to go with it once I have the baby - tandem nurse, wean J?Things have calmed a little bit. Though it's still not perfect, I am back to being able to stand him again, which is good because I love this little guy more than life itself.

post #9 of 11

Try this?

http://www.momsclub.org/

 

And what about a MOPS group?  (moms of preschoolers)

post #10 of 11

I also think the shorter you keep the talking, the better. I like Karp's Happiest Toddler on the Block "cave man" talk: instead of "No balls on the floor, please," go with "Balls on the table! ALL balls on the table! Here, now!" I think we often sound like Peanuts teachers blah-blah-blah to toddlers, and the more we cut to the chase the better.

post #11 of 11

Sounds like a 2.5 year old to me.  Pretty much every kid we know around my son's age (both from AP families and more middle of the road families) started a bunch of new, challenging behaviors about a month after they hit the 2.5 year mark.  We're almost to three years old now, and most of it has gotten better, through a combination of him settling into this new developmental stage, us learning new parenting tactics through trial and error, and my addressing the resurgence of my depression during the worst of this period, which was making things harder than they had to be.

 

I find that if I can make physical contact and/or ask for and get eye contact, his listening is much, much better.  As for nursing/weaning, we're in kind of the same boat.  I had to back off on actively weaning him because it just seemed too stressful on him, and I was going to wait until his birthday to get back on that, but this week I started trying to consolidate feedings again, because I'd just had enough.  I'm not ready to wean completely, but it would be really nice just to get down to once or twice a day.  I'm trying to get into the habit of reading chapters of longer books to him or poetry books when we're nursing, in the hope that snuggling up with a book will replace it naturally, and that reading will pick up some really comforting subconscious associations for him that will last after he forgets breastfeeding.  And reading aloud distracts me from the trapped feeling.

 

I'm also noticing an increased need to know what's going to happen and exactly how it will happen, and I think his behavior is better when we really talk about what's going on.  Similarly, when I'm having a really hard time, if I explain why I need him to work with me and how not working with me will affect both him and myself, he now will sometimes be fairly open to accommodating my needs.  My back went out this week and I was shocked when he agreed to change his pretend play so that I could play it with him from where I was lying on the bed.  Before, I think he would have either given up on his game to be with me or gotten upset, but now he seemed to start to get upset but then quickly come up with an alternative way to get what he wanted from me.

 

Here's an article that may be helpful:  http://planningwithkids.com/2009/02/10/characteristics-of-two-and-a-half-year-old-behavior/

 

Good luck!  It's a rough and wonderful stage.

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