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Is she too young to understand?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I have a 16 month old daughter. Since day one, she's been a screamer. I can still clearly remember the nurses bringing her to me in the hospital and practically dumping her in my lap like they were afraid of her. Colic.. always colic is what they doctor would say. Hours and hours of screaming non-stop day and night. It slowly shifted from colic into a tantrum sort of crying. Up to this day, she has probably 10 "fits" a day. I'm a work at home mother and I don't know what to do anymore. I cannot and don't want to (call me a bad mother if you like, but I have needs also) spend every waking moment (and may at night) giving her 100% of my attention. I still don't get a shower every day and I still find it very difficult to find time to have a meal and by the time my husband gets home, I'm exhausted and worthless as a person. Let me explain.. my baby has tantrums many times because of something she cannot have.. but most of the time, it has to do with when my attention is elsewhere. If I need to answer an email, she has a meltdown fit... cries so hard she gags herself. If I have to go to the bathroom and I don't include her in the festivities.. she has a fit. If Iwalk out of a room for even a second to put something away.. she has a fit (even though she could easily follow me). I do my very best to spend time with her .. heck.. how could I not since it's just the two of us here all day.. but at this age, I feel like she should be able to spend 15-30 minutes without my undivided attention. She literally wraps her little fists around my skirt and just absolutly is devestated if I don't hold her right that minute. Yes yes, I understand that sometimes this is a NEED. We NEVER did cry it out for that exact reason... but more and more, I'm getting increasingly frustrated and angry with the lack of personal space I have. Sometimes it's just not possible for me to hold her.. dinner burning on the stove.. or simple chores need to be done in order to live in a sanitary house .. I could go on for ages.. nonetheless time for myself to do simple things like go potty. I've been just telling her "mommy loves you very much but she is very busy right now and will hold you when she can".. but the screaming has turned into major meltdowns. I put her in her bedroom and tell her that I cannot be near her when she is acting that way because it makes me very angry... or I say nothing at all.. but separate myself from her for a few minutes to regain my sanity. I guess my question is.. is she old enough to star to understand that other peopel have needs also and to learn that a fit is not appropriate behavior? If so, how do I go about teaching her this? I've done my very best to be consistent .. but how can I be when sometimes I'm able to hold her and cuddle.. and othertimes I'm simply not. I worked so hard to see physical closeness as a need and to fulfill that need in order that I have a child that feels very secrue and loved.. so I don't understand why she's so clingy. I want to be a good mother.. but I also TRUELY believe that in order to be a good mother, I must take care of my own needs also.. and right now, I don't know how to do both. I hate telling her no to something such as being held, but I also am starting to resent the time I do spend holding her intead of enjoying it.

post #2 of 7
Amber, you are not a terrible mother for wanting to have a shower, a meal, and a trip to the bathroom with some peace! It must be terribly stressful to hear crying and screaming much of the day.

I don't know if you go to a traditional ped but maybe there are some reasons for her screaming - she has allergies or some type of "silent" reflux. I think I would go that route and have her checked. I took my DD to a pediatric nutitionist when she was about 1 year old because I suspected a dairy allergy - the nutitionist was very helpful.

Also, I think you need to get out of the house (both of you) and do some things. She might be a little bored. Can you join a playgroup, go to storytime at the library or a bookstore? Do an art or music class? I know that my DD is a real "go go" baby - she likes to be out and about. Is that an option where you live?

The other thing that helped us was to have a scheduled day - not ridiculously scheduled but loosely scheduled. So in the morning we would have certain activities such as breakfast, floor time, art time, building blocks, then we would go out for a bit to the park or the library. I would bring her home for lunch, then it was nap, then we had some type of afternoon activity. I didn't get a whole lot of things done around the house but it was a more peaceful existence.

HUGS to you, I know how hard it can be. I hope this helped even a little bit.
post #3 of 7
Dear tippytoes26

Have nothing but respect for you. 16 months without a break. People like you make me realize I'm unworthy! Really.

From my (relatively comfortable ivory tower) point of view, you need to talk this over with DH. Make sure he's listening, but don't bite his head off. I have no idea how clued in he is to your situation.

Remember this. It is not because you cannot manage, (although you may feel like that), it is that you have been dropped running, and not had a moment to catch your breath.


The screeming.

Does she use a dummy? Does she have a favorite Teddy?

I have nothing but admiration for you. I'm a bit stuck here though. Can we reach the root cause of her condition? I have heard it mentioned on these boards that alergy and diet can play a part.

I think I would have been broken long before 16 months! Me? 16 minutes.

But you need some outside support to allow you to re-design you lifestyle a little.

Mum? MIL? Sister?


Leave it. No-one with a newborn/toddler has a clean and tidy house. No-one! These are jobs that DH or other supporter can deal with, or (if you are on your own) do in mass stints. ie 10,000 pairs of knickers. Next bras. Next T-shirts. Then one tub of socks etc. All this can be done with babe on hip.


Do it with her. Make it a fun fun fun event.


Do you shut the door when you go?


I'm getting increasingly frustrated and angry with the lack of personal space I have.

I know that you know that it is not dd's fault, but I also know that it is very difficult to restrain yourself when it is just you two together. You need a break. Get some.

I put her in her bedroom and tell her that I cannot be near her when she is acting that way because it makes me very angry...

You need to deal with this. And your post looks desperate indeed. I know putting the child in the room can save you in the short term, but you need to be looking for a long term solution. Stick around on this board.

or I say nothing at all.. but separate myself from her for a few minutes to regain my sanity.

Again, smart short term solution. But this is not good for the child long term.

I guess my question is.. is she old enough to star to understand that other peopel have needs also and to learn that a fit is not appropriate behavior?

Sadly, no.

Don't even think about it. The onus is on the parent to organise round the child, not the other way round.

Nobody ever can explain to a prospective family just how much their lives are about to change, and how much work there is to do. Even now, with children 4 and 7, I have to announce 1 hour ahead of time if I want to go out, and in that hour I need to do EVERYTHING, getting the sock on, getting the shoes ready, coats, juice, getting them onto the loo,... the list goes on and on. My children still need to cling to me at exactly the wrong moment, and unfortunatelly, even with the best preparation in the world, I can not get better than 15 minutes.

As for appropriate behavior, this is appropriate behavior for a child.

I could go on, but I fear I know too little about your situation. Please please use these boards to sound off.

with the greatest of repect

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for both replies. I think sometimes I need to gain perspective on a situation.. can't see the forest for the trees sort of thing. I makes it easier if i can see it from someone else's perspective. I read on this board somewhere to always act as if I'm being video taped or have an audience.. I think this is sage advice. Being a mom all day every day begins to take it's toll and I myself begin to get tunnel vision .. and my goal is often something totally unrealistic. I have to remember that this is my situation and I've got to find the best way to deal with it instead of looking for a way OUT of it. I needed that reminder and I appreciate you both being open and understanding.

A little more about my life just in case anyone else has anything to chime in. My husband does help... a LOT. When he gets home from work, he usually takes her while I turn into a blubbering ball of uselessness on the sofa for the next two hours *L*. It's a rare occation that I cook dinner from start to finish without his help. We have NO family here.. I think that's the hardest part. I get so tired of people saying " Well when I just need a break, I just take Zachary over to my mothers for a couple of hours".. we don't have that option. We also don't have any close enough friends that I would trust with my daughter. And the few friends we do have also have their hands full with their own brood, so I would way feel like I was imposing to ask them to take on my own clingy monkey on top of it all. In 16 months, my husband and I have been out exactly twice without the baby. Once my mother was visiting and we went to dinner..and once we asked the neighbors to watch her and we went to the movies. You just never KNOW what is happening to your child when you aren't around so beyond my own mother, I cannot place my trust in anyone. I have NO idea how mothers who have to use a daycare do it. As for food allergies.. she can't have milk, but she's on soy so I don't think that's it. As a mother, we can often tell the difference between an emotional fit and a physical fit.. and hers are totally emotional. I can be right there in her sight and even giving her all my attention, but if I'm not holding her, she's not happy. I've tried the sling so I could get things done, but she soon tires of being confined and wants out..but not down.

I needed to hear that she can't understand these things yet.... doesn't have the capacity to see personal space of others.. or needs of others. I guess it goes along the same lines as cry it out.. I absolutly don't agree with that because I feel like it's teaching the wrong thing.. it does teach and 90% of the time will get results.. but it's the lesson learned that I disagree with. Same here.. I need to be very careful about what I'm teaching her when I say no to holding her. Sometimes, it's just a fact that I cannot hold her. It's not a choice... I'm not denying her love or comfort because she's throwing a tantrum... it's that I cannot do it at that moment. I would, however, like to encourage her to ask for attention in a less dramatic way.. any advice on how to do this would be apprecaited.

I think the on the go will help also. She is bored at home and loves to be out and about. The problem is I WORK from home.. have a business to maintain. It's funny because my MIL is always saying "you're so lucky.. my husband NEVER helped like Russell does. He's just such a huge help to you.. it must make things so much easier on you!".. and this makes me feel like a pathetic mother. I have it SO easy because he helps.. yet I feel like any job would be eaiser than this. Yes, my husband does help.. in any and every way he can.. but he's not here all day.. I am. I keep thinking that if I have a hard time dealing, how hard would it be without his help? Call my crazy, but I think I just have a child who's temperment is more of a challenge than perhaps hers were or she would have demanded more help from her husband as I have from mine. Mine just doesn't have an option if he wants a sane wife *LOL* I also feel terrible because he does work all day..only to come home and work harder. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy that I'm able to work from home and spend my days with my beautiful daughter.. I'm just coming up on that made-up time in my head that I'd planned and looked forward to when things would get better.. that I could start to feel like a person again. But I realize now that I'm expecting too much from my baby .. and it's me who needs to change my behavior.. and not me who needs to change her behavior. It's good to hear that this is normal and not caused from some mistake I've made as a mother by holding her too much or something crazy like that. I talked to our pedi. about it.. and she told me to put her in her crib and leave the room EVERY time she started to pitch a fit because she wasn't getting held.. that I would be teaching her that she can't have what she wants when she wants it.. that those aren't her decisions to make (which I agree with when it comes to wanting candy or knives .. but not love) and that throwing a tantrum is pointless and will get an undesired consequence instead of the desired one. Pretty much she told me that if I didn't do this I'd be raising a brat. I take ALL advice from our pedi with a grain of salt because ALL of it is opinion. The reaosn I broguht it up with her in the first palce was to have her rule out any physical problems that could cause my baby to feel like she needs comforting ALL the time. The doctor's general conclusion was that I'd taught her to scream in order to be held and that wasn't going to change unless I stopped holding her when she cries and punish her for it instead.

Ahh.. this mom stuff isn't easy. I thought I'd be so great at it.. but instead.. I find myself constantly questioning my actions and so unsure of my choices. We all want to do right by our children.. it would be so nice if we only knew what "right" was.

post #5 of 7
amber, big to you. i'll try to keep this brief because i'm trying to limit my computer time. i've been using it as decompression time and i think it's become too much of a crutch and i could find a better outlet (meditation, exercise, etc), but that has NOTHING T to do with your question.

anyway, i can relate in a lot of ways to your post. my dd is very snuggly, too . i'm trying not to use the "clingy" word about her 'cause i don't want to think of her that way and put any negativity on her. (was that even close to grammatically correct?) she's 27mo. i still can't close the door when i go to the bathroom unless dh is home and playing with her. i certainly couldn't at 16mo, even if he was home. half the time if i do sort of pull it mostly shut the darn dog noses it open so i don't get any privacy anyway! i gave up on it a long time ago.

it was really hard at first because she wasn't at all the kind of baby i thought i'd have : . i could never put her down. when she was little someone else could hold her for awhile, but there came a time when it was only mama. i fought it for a bit, but it was better when i just gave in to it. i think i read advice to that effect on these boards. that and the advice dr sears has about a need unmet during childhood just surfaces later as some other kind of need. so i just do my best to give her what i've got to give and it takes less effort on my part than fighting it when i can.

for example, today she was just incessantly begging to nurse after nursing and nursing in the bed when we woke up. my nipples are sensitive 'cause i'm pregnant now and i told her no that we'd had enough and it hurt and it just made her howl! we went potty and let the dogs out and back in and fed them (with protest on the part of dd all this time) and by then my poor nipples had somewhat recovered so we nursed some more and she was much happier. i think just the idea of "no, you can't have" it was what set her off. after a brief outing this morning i remembered some advice i had read here or got at LLL or somewhere and told her she could have as much milk milk as she wanted and she climbed up and nursed for about 20 minutes and fell asleep in my lap a much happier girl. i was able to put her down in the bed (that's something else i couldn't do when she was littler -- i had to be in the bed with her or she'd know i was gone and wake up) and have a little me time (which i have frittered away on the computer : ). i think as kids we sense when our parents are trying to pull away and that just makes us need them that much more desperately. as parents, if we can take a deep breath and dig a little deeper and open ourselves up more our kids can then feel secure enough to let go and not desperately cling to us. does that make any sense? i didn't come up with it, but it resonated with me.

i know it's more difficult in your situation since you're working from home. i don't work from home, so i don't have to contend with having to get stuff done. that must be hard. our house is a pigsty, but dd will help out now if i ever get around to breaking out the broom to do a little sweeping. i love the sig someone has on here --"my idea of house cleaning is sweeping the room with a glance." that's our place! :LOL

we nurse a lot and i hold her a lot. i learned i can do amazing things one handed, although my dd holding shoulder has been giving me grief for the past two weeks. i can cook, sweep, vacuum (although dd hates it right now, so i usually sweep), etc.

it does get better, though. she plays happily with her toys now while i cook supper (my break) and will often entertain herself during the day while i'm working on something nearby. she gets bored with me sitting down and being on the computer, though (another reason to limit it) and often asks to nurse. she loves going out and going shopping. : i'm not much of a shopper, so i think if there's something genetic there it must be dh's side of the family.

when things are getting to be just too much, can you take a break and instead of giving yourself a time out in your room take dd for a short stroll outside? my dd has always loved going outside and it's good for my psyche, too.

have you posted in the "finding your tribe" section? i hooked up with some great mamas and kids that way and we've since expanded our playgroup a lot. i know i could count on one of them if i needed desperately to leave dd with someone. i never have, but i know i could and could feel confident that she was doing her best by dd.

another thing that might help is looking into getting a mama's helper -- a teenager or other mom or whoever who could come over and play with dd while you did some work, but were still there at the house.

home some of this helped
post #6 of 7
Originally posted by beanma
another thing that might help is looking into getting a mama's helper -- a teenager or other mom or whoever who could come over and play with dd while you did some work, but were still there at the house.

Brilliant! Why didn't I think of that?

I'm glad to hear that your DH is so co-operative. Unfortunatelly, a child is a full time job, and there is no escaping it.

Is it actually really necessary for you to work while she is up/ daylight hours? Do you have to work at all?

I'm strongly enclined to say, let her lean on you now. If you are thorough, she'll give you much more time later.

Even now, I don't think DW and I have "been out" since they were born. We take them where-ever we go though.

post #7 of 7
Oh sweetie, I could have written your post! I have a 19 month old daughter, and what you have described is so familiar to me! I had to laugh at the bathroom comments- I never thought that I would become so good at "doing my business" with an audience. We shower together a lot too, just to avoid the little person opening up the shower curtain and peering at me, pointing at and naming various body parts while I'm trying to shower.

I think that something really important for you is to find a way somehow to get some time for youself- even if it's just mantal time. When Abby was younger, people would tell me this and it made me want to cry because I dind't know how to take time for myself. Even if dh came home and sent me away to do something, I would do things like go to the bookstore and look at the latest child-rearing books, or go shopping for kids clothes. It was so frustrating to not be able to "turn off" so to speak. I have learned that even if I can't take physical time to myself, sometimes in the course fo a normal day, I have to find a way to have some mental time to myself.

Let me see if I can explain. I may get flamed for this, but I don't think that it's emotionally healthy for a woman to constantly put her needs on the back burner to her child, especially if that child is "high needs" "emotional," "spirited," or whatever. I like a quote in a Dr Sears book that said something like "What our daughter needs most is a healthy, happy, well-rested mama." I know that a lot of families here at MDC don't use TV, but we do. There are times that our Elmo dvd, or having hte Wiggles on for twenty minutes or so is literally a lifesaver. It gives me time to load the dishes in without her trying to pull all the knives out, take a shower without someone else watching me, or just trun off my brain for a little while. I don't sit her in front of the tv for hours and hours, but we do use it as a tool, and it works.

Another thing that I try and do is find outings that are enjoyable for both of us. We have a community fitness center, and before I got so massively pregnant, I would leave her in the daycare for about forty-five minutes while I walked on the treadmill or whatever, and then I would go and get her and we would get in the pool. she loves being in the water, and it 's relaxing for me. Dd also loves being outside more than anything, and now that our weather is getting warmer, we spend some time outside everyday. We have a fenced in yard, and a big dog that is her best friend, and I can set up a chair and watch both of them run around for the better part of an hour without a whole lot of interruption. I've gotten a lot of reading done this way, and it does wonders for my mood to be outside.

I'm not sure that any of this is helpful, or even coherent. I just wnat you to know that you're not the only one. Dd has gone through several stages where she has needed me more, and then has had some times where she is more independent. Hang in there! You are doing the right thing by loving her- and never, ever feel bad for wanting to take some time and energy for yourself.
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