where can I get some help parenting this 17month boy? Someone I can talk to? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 68 Old 02-09-2011, 03:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a 17 month old and newborn (16month apart). Things are pretty crazy.  The toddler part is way more challenging to me, with situations that arise almost every minute of the day that make both of us (my son & I ) crazy and really frustrated.  I don't know how to deal with the situations, then he cries, yells, screams and whines, and I get mad and want to pull my hair out and slap him (some days I am that close to turning absolutely not loving to him). It saddens me that while I think this young age is such a precious time that I will certainly miss when they're grown (or even just a year from now), yet every day instead of cherishing and enjoying this precious time & age, I am going nuts getting mad at him.  I'm saddened that often times he seems unhappy & not having his needs met.

 

Who can I turn to and talk to about these daily life stuff and get some help on parenting him so that we (my son & I) can both be happier?  What expert would that be that I can get help from? Pediatritian? Doesn't seem like it.  An young child educator?  Where do I find one? And the other moms I know each have their own ideas about how kids should be raised & treated and so far I haven't found one whose ideas I agree with. I really need some mentorship and advice here...

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#2 of 68 Old 02-09-2011, 04:01 PM
 
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That's exactly why I spend so much time here on MDC! I can ask almost any parenting question & get a bunch of answers that often fit in perfectly with my parenting philosophies! smile.gif What kinds of issues are you dealing with? Can we help at all?

I don't know if there is a 'professional' who can help with parenting (and if there is, I somehow doubt they'd offer advice that jives well with your own ideas, if other moms' ideas aren't right for you). As far as 'real life' help, my go-to source for advice is my AP moms group. Are there any such groups in your area?

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#3 of 68 Old 02-09-2011, 04:53 PM
 
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I have a 2 yrs 4 month old and a 3 week old. I find it incredibly challenging as well! I don't have any suggestions as I am flondering a bit....


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#4 of 68 Old 02-09-2011, 04:59 PM
 
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It sounds like normal behavior to me for this age. They are exploring this new found ability to move around on their own and get in to things. My DD is 16 months and is the same way. She listens pretty well but at times will not listen and there are days that are much worse than others to where I too feel like pulling my  hair out or simply running away! This is my third child and my older two are MUCH older and I'd forgotten how tough they are at this age. It usually got better with my littles by the age of 3.

 

Are you involved in a Moms group of any kind in your area? Do you have any friends you can confide in or hang out with on a weekly basis and have park visits together (when warmer) or indoor play area visits together? Then you have time to talk. I don't know what to suggest other than finding someone in your shoes in your local area. Plus, if it's cold where you are then you probably aren't getting out much so in spring you can get out for walks with the stroller which will help somewhat I'm sure!! I'm looking forward to that myself. :)


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#5 of 68 Old 02-09-2011, 05:06 PM
 
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Can you let the 17 month old "help" as much as possible.  My kids are 22 months apart and the older one was constantly cuddling on one side while I was nursing on the other.  He would help pick out clothes and stand on a chair to watch me change diapers.  I wore the baby in the stretchy wrap while she napped and was able to hold and play with my son quite normally while she slept.   I really didn't worry about any non-essential housework and had DH do as many dishes and as much laundry as possible when he wasn't working. 

 

As far as finding people to talk to, definitely look for some sort of group in your area - LLL, story time at the library, we have a local message board in my town that organize play groups. 

 

Good luck!  And take it one day (or hour or minute) at a time if you need to. Some days I have to mentally start over multiple times!  And remember you attitude and his attitude feed off of each other and as hard as it is, it's easier for you to refresh your attitude than it is for him to do so.


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#6 of 68 Old 02-09-2011, 05:44 PM
 
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Hugs mama, that sounds hard. I know I am often exhausted and frustrated and lonely and I just have a 16m old.  

 

Have you tried posting in Finding Your Tribe here on MDC?  You might find some other like-minded mamas that are nearby.  Finding a LLL meeting is another great idea.

 

And try to remember what a short time this will be relatively speaking. I know it feel like forever right now and emotions are so strong during the first 6m PP (or they were for me), but very soon your LOs will be playing together!


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#7 of 68 Old 02-10-2011, 03:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies so far. 

 

Clarification: When I said "someone I can talk to", I didn't mean so much as a friend to chat/vent/socialize with, instead I meant someone more of a discipline and toddler expert who knows what goes on in their mind, how to handle their behaviors and how to meet their needs appropriately so that we're all happier, like a specialized counselor, educator or something, I don't know who that'd be.  For example, there are all these books you can read on this topic, but where can I find someone I can go to for specific situation handling mentorship, or how to apply certain things in certain books, etc?  Actually I don't even have any time to read so a person who i can ask specific questions about specific situations would be much more helpful than trying to find a solution to one situation by reading tons of books.  And I don't mean to find someone to talk to so I can vent, get away from him momentarily, and feel better, but I meant someone to talk to so I can learn about how to be with him and how to teach him.

 

Some situations that trouble me with the 18 month old:

 

1) Bored:doesn't want to engage in any activities of his own, tends to cling to me all day long while I'm holding, soothing, and nursing the newborn all day. I try to sit down with him and show him how to play with the train, other stuff, or read with him while holding the newborn but instead of getting into what I'm doing with him he appears bored and is tugging my legs, making noises and having all sorts of annoying and bored behaviors. This is when I'm able to simulatiously pay attention to him, when I'm really busy with the newborn and I need him to go do his own thing it gets worse - nothing interests him and he is very whiny.

 

2) Try to get him to "help" or to be more self-sufficient (the idea of doing it "on my own" is appealing to him) but end up extremely frustrated myself. For example, try to get him to bring his own food to his own little table, sit down and eat - he takes a big mess playing with his food and not eating, he climbs on his little chair - things that cause me more work to clean up plus i have to physically go stop him by pulling him or using my hands while my hands are already occupied holding/feeding a 15lb newborn. (by the way, i do know about baby wearing but it doesn't work for me as a way to keep my hands free enough so I can actually go about my daily activities). I want to leave markers, crayons and certain things out for him so he can get them himself and use them but then I have to pay extra attention and be hands on with him so he doesn't get them all over the walls, couch, clothes, put in his mouth, etc. How can I get him to be more engaged in activities or doing stuff on his own?

 

3) Does not obbey. I tell him to drink his milk, eat, put this away, come here & put his pants on, come wash his hands, whatever simple thing it may be, be looks at me, says "no" and keeps looking at me while backing up away from me. Meanwhile I'm sitting there holding his pants, milk, food, shoes, etc just trying to hurry up so I can get back to attending the baby or other things (bathroom or feed myself or whatever the needs are at the time) or get out the door, and getting extremely frustrated that I'm taking the time to take care of him (get him dressed, feed him, clean him etc) and he is not coorperating but instead wasting my time. And I don't want to start the chase game where I have to physically go chase him in order to have him do anything (I don't think it's right & he really finds it fun if I start chasing him). Another example, he is fully capable of putting his toys away but when I ask him to do so he refuses with a "no" and the look again. I really think he is at an age when he should be doing these things that he is capable of, not to mention that most times when toys are all over the place it's not because he's been playing with them - it's because he throws them all over the place, doesn't even really play with them, and just leaves them.

 

4) Gets frustrated easily. Sometimes he gets stuck trying to push a truck somewhere, trying to take his jacket off, trying to open something that doesn't open, etc he gets frustrated in matter of a second and screams very loudly the moment the thing is stuck. And when I try to help him either by doing it for him or showing him, he continues to be frustrated and throws a bit fit over the matter, sometimes kicking the thing (the truck for example) or throwing it on the floor angrily and I have no way to calming him down or stopping his behavior. I don't know why he gets frustrated so easily but I'd like to know how to help him not be that way, and help him get enough paience to try it again instead of screaming instantaneously when something is stuck.

 

5) Really difficult to put to nap. He gets tired, I try to put him to nap (usually by laying with him onthe bed till asleep) but I'd spend an hour in bed, easily, and go no where.  He'd be getting up and down, making noises, saying stuff, needing a drink, getting distratec (or looking for anything to do but to sleep). Eventually I thought if he isn't going to nap I'm not going to waste my time doing absolutely nothing but laying in bed with him pretending to go to sleep with him so he'd sleep. Many days I simply got up and gave up so I can at least move on and go do other things.  But then that's when trouble comes - the tired child is still a tired child and he fusses, whines, throws tantrums, gets frustrated and becomes a real pain to deal with. It's frustrated to me because if he doesn't want to nap it's really his problem and I'm not going to waste my time trying to put him to sleep, but if I just let him be then it becomes MY problem when I have a tired whiny child and I can't do anything else either when he is throwing a tantrum from simply being tired.

 

This is just a start but many days I feel like pulling my hair every minute of the day. The worst part is that I get so angry, frustrated and annoyed with him that I forget he is my love and then I don't treat him very well. Then at the end of the day when he finally falls asleep for the night I look at him and feel sad about the way I was with him during the day, also feel bad that he's not getting my full attention due to his new baby brother. 

 

I want to know how to be better at handling these daily situations so I can be a better parent/guidance/teacher to him and most importantly, be more loving towards him and really enjoy this precious time I have with him (which will be gone all too soon).  :-(

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#8 of 68 Old 02-10-2011, 04:58 AM
 
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I have no real help to offer, other than to say that perhaps your expectations of your little guy are a little high. I know DS1 certainly wasn't capable of playing by himself at that age, or ''obeying'' requests like putting on pants or eating by himself. DS2 is 16 months old, and not anywhere close to that either. Toddlerhood is a very hard stage because they need you so much.

 

It is rough, but you will get through it. Don't be too hard on yourself or your little guy - it gets easier, it really does.

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#9 of 68 Old 02-10-2011, 06:12 AM
 
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After reading your reply, I have to agree that your expectations are way too high.  If I were to have my young toddler bring his own meal to the table and eat by himself, I would do it only knowing that it was a "time waster" and of course there'd be a big mess at the end.  Also - of course he is going to be super clingy right now, the bulk of your attention is on the newborn and that is really, really hard for him.  For napping, what about trying to put him down for a nap a little earlier, sometimes if you miss that tired time, you miss naptime completely.   I'm sorry you are feeling frustrated, but I really don't think there is much you can do about how your son is developmentally right now.  Everything you described sounds pretty normal to me. 

 

Re: Babywearing, have you tried a wrap?  It is completely hands free if you do it "right".


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#10 of 68 Old 02-10-2011, 07:07 AM
 
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Oh man.... he is still just a baby!!! I do think your expectations are very high... I consider my DS to be very 'well-behaved' and I don't think he could do ANY of the things you are expecting of your 18-mo. I do think there is a big shift as you get closer to 2yo... My DS just turned 2 and the last month or two has been SOOOO much more pleasant because he finally is able to play on his own for 5 minutes here and there etc. So I hope things do improve for you over the coming months!! In regards to your specific issues...

1) Bored:doesn't want to engage in any activities of his own... The clinginess is very typical of this age, and I would think even moreso when there is now a new baby occupying all the attention he used to get!! All I can suggest here is, go lots of places (i.e. library story hour, playdates) or have friends around his age come over...

2) Try to get him to "help" or to be more self-sufficient... He's not going to be self-sufficient at this age! It's great to start to introduce the concept but you have to do it expecting a mess etc. to deal with as well. Having him "help" now is not about actually helping you, it's about entertaining him, beginning to teach him about personal responsibility, etc.

3) Does not obey.... I would look into playful parenting, and spend some time on the Gentle Discipline board here on MDC. Right now, the more 'fun' you can make it, the better, and there are lots of little tricks, i.e. singing songs, making it a game, etc. that can help with specific situations. This part that you wrote concerns me most, though:

"Meanwhile I'm sitting there holding his pants, milk, food, shoes, etc just trying to hurry up so I can get back to attending the baby or other things..."

He is your baby too!! He needs to be attended to just as much, if not more, than the newborn. I'm sure that's NOT what you want to hear right now, seeing as you already have your hands full, but if you go into it expecting to invest a lot of time & energy, maybe it won't be such a letdown when he doesn't cooperate? It is totally possible (from what I've seen of friends!) to take care of two very young children simultaneously, but it is HARD, and I know some people chose to get help -- sending the older child to preschool a few mornings a week, for ex., or having someone come over to help... is that something you'd be interested in? It would certainly free up more time for you to focus on the newborn! I also agree with the pp that maybe trying some different options for babywearing will help, because if you find the 'right' option for you & your newborn, you should be able to have your hands free, it just may take some trial & error to figure out what works best for you.

4) Gets frustrated easily... Again, this is typical... I'd try to coach him through things verbally, "Try backing the truck up," etc., and also give him the words he can use to ask for help when he's frustrated. If he's not yet verbal, screaming is how he asks for help... but if he is talking some, you might be able to help him say, "Help please" or something rather than screaming. You can try stepping in JUST before he gets to the screaming point, as well.

5) Really difficult to put to nap... My DS would never ever go to sleep if I just laid down next to him & pretended to sleep. I've certainly tried it out of desperation, but it doesn't work for him & it sounds like it doesn't work for your DS either. Getting himself to sleep is NOT his responsibility yet, it's still yours. That doesn't mean you always have to follow through & "make" him nap if you can't, but it does mean you should probably expect to invest a lot of time & energy into the process if you do want him to nap. DS needs a lot of rocking & singing the same song over & over for 30+ minutes straight before he'll fall asleep... he also is still nursing so often he falls asleep that way... He does way better with white noise & minimal stimulation (dark room, blanket just right, something to hold (me or his stuffed monkey), etc. But the majority of the effort is me either nursing or singing to him. Something else might work better for your DS -- perhaps reading or playing a CD or whatever -- but the point is, if he's not falling asleep on his own, and he's getting overtired, it IS worth the investment of time & energy to figure out how to get him to sleep, not just for your sake but for his as well.

I really hope this doesn't come off sounding harsh... And I know when I'm at the end of my rope, I'd write something very similar, and get so annoyed that people would tell me it's 'normal' etc., but all of this really is. Do you spend a lot of time around other moms & kids? That really has been my saving grace, just witnessing how other kids DS's age act, how the parents interact with them, what works & what doesn't, what I could try myself vs. what I swear I will never do, etc... I know you are looking for a 'parenting expert' but IMO the true experts ARE the parents, the ones living this life day in & day out, the ones that tune in to their children and figure out how to interact not based just on books and data but on their child's unique needs and personalities...

BIG HUGS... You will get through this smile.gif

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#11 of 68 Old 02-10-2011, 07:43 AM
 
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I agree with the posters who have said that your expectations are not reasonable for a child his age. I know it feels like you need him to be more mature now, but he can't be.

 

Your One-Year-Old by Louise Bates Ames might be helpful for normalizing his behavior for you.

 

I was never any good at getting much done with an infant in a sling either. My arms aren't really long enough. I think when I was at the point of having two babies (though my first was just past two when the 2nd came, I personally think that toddler starts closer to 2 than 1 and doesn't have so much to do with mobility), my goal for the day was to have everyone fed and clean. And that's it. Bringing myself back around to that thought on days when it felt like we got nothing done was helpful -- I was always able to get us all fed and dressed, no matter what else fell by the wayside.

 

One thing I might do is to get down to one basket of toys. Both of my kids seemed to react to lots of anything, be it toys, food, whatever, with dumping, tossing, throwing -- almost like they were overwhelmed -- but give them a little bit at at time, and they would focus more.

 

He is not "clinging" because there is something wrong, he is clinging because he is a baby and that's what they do. I promise that it will not last forever. A lot of what you are accomplishing right now seems invisible, but is very, very important; you are building relationships, and it's the hardest work ever.

 

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#12 of 68 Old 02-10-2011, 08:38 AM
 
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i agree with the others.  too high expectations.

i would think getting involved with mom type groups would be great for you.   a chance to see how others parents (what to do and/or not to do) plus it might entertain your toddler and/or play with the baby.

 

my biggest suggestion is to totally child-proof your house.  don't set yourself up for messes.  non messy foods (no tomato sauce pasta, soup, etc) no messy toys (play-dough, markers, etc)


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#13 of 68 Old 02-10-2011, 05:11 PM
 
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I have a 2.5 year old and a 3 month old. I was really astounded, and emotionally shattered, by how much my relationship with my older child (who was 26 months at the time) changed. I still haven't gotten my footing yet and I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water. I've done horrible things I said I'd never do. I've had screaming matches with my toddler, I've pushed her down, I've shut myself in the bathroom, I once resorted to spanking. It's terrible. It's the worst, the hardest thing I've ever dealt with and I've dealt with a lot. So what I'm trying to say is, you are not alone. 

 

I am going to be brutally honest, here. You are expecting way too much out of a 16 month old. My 2.5 year old does none of the things that you said. She does some things some times, but never consistently and that's because she's still learning. Secondly, you are asking if there is, "...someone who will a discipline and toddler expert who knows what goes on in their mind, how to handle their behaviors and how to meet their needs appropriately so that we're all happier..." That someone is called MOM. It is your job. I guess a mentor would be called grandmother, or aunt, or whatever. Anyway, you are essentially asking someone else to do your job for you. You can always get advice from other moms who have been there before, but the only person who can integrate it into your life is you.

 

My advice is to not only lower your expectations but get rid of them entirely, it just makes life a lot more enjoyable. Also find a group of mothers who have children your son's age so you can share strategies but more importantly so you can see the scope of normal behavior for that age group.

 

This is the thing that has helped me the most, don't fight against your child's behavior. Like labor and delivery, it all goes much more smoothly when you swim with the current. Not that it is easy to learn how to swim, though.


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#14 of 68 Old 02-10-2011, 06:15 PM
 
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Huge hugs to you mama.  hug2.gif   You are going through such a tough time - tough transition - right now.  My kids are fully 3 years apart and I can still relate to a lot of what you wrote.  I can only imagine life with an older dc only half that age.

 

After having read the other responses you probably won't be surprised to hear that I too agree with the other mamas that your expectations are much too high.  I remember when ds was born and suddenly dd (who was 3) seemed SO BIG and so old, and like she should be so capable, yk.  I imagine you are probably experiencing something similar.  I remember my doula warning me that that would very likely happen when my 2nd was born, and at the time I couldn't imagine feeling that way, but sure enough I did.  I think it's a very normal reaction.

 

So... thoughts...

 

- beyond the very basic I would eliminate all expectations of what your ds *should* be doing/be able to do.  Though he is much bigger than your newborn he is still a baby.  He has practically no impulse control.  What he wants to do he does - often even if you're standing right there saying "no!".  He's just not able to stop himself, yk.  At this age the best disciplinary tool you have is redirection.  He will not simply "obey" (and he is not being malicious in his intent).  If he is doing something dangerous, or otherwise "out of bounds" you need to step in and redirect him to something else.  Try to "honour the impulse" if you can, by redirecting him to a similar (but safe/ok) activity.

 

- simplify your life.  Like a pp mentioned try to reduce toys to the bare minimum.  Put up baby gates.  Babyproof to the max.  To the best of your ability try to make your house a place where he couldn't do too much damage (mess) even if he tried.

 

- re. meal time.  Don't serve messy foods.  Make snack trays where you put a bunch of non-messy finger foods for him to graze on throughout the day.  Better yet get your dh to make up a big snack tray for him before he leaves for work in the morning.  Or, another approach, if he decides that the snacks are more fun to play with than eat, is to only give a very small amount of food at a time.  No big plates of messy food... rather a quarter sandwich at a time, or a couple of carrot sticks, or 1 cracker with cheese on top, or whatever works for you guys.

 

- don't worry about teaching him stuff, just try to have as much fun as you can.  Ha - crazy I know, lol!  Right now you are in survival mode, and you are in a place mentally where you're feeling very overwhelmed and frustrated by your LO's behaviour.  My suggestion is that, for now, you put concerted efforts to teach things (tidying up messes was one example you mentioned) on the backburner.  See if you can make a priority instead to keep things as light-hearted and fun as you can.  This goes hand-in-hand with getting rid of ALL expectations (beyond the bare minimum), and involves trust that a) when he gets older he will be able to learn these things (like self-sufficiency), and that b) your life will get easier and you will get back to that place of being a "teacher" to him.  Let go of any feelings that you need to "stay on top of his behaviour" or "not let him get away with things" or anything like that.  Everything will work out in the wash, I promise.  As long as he (and the people and stuff around him) is kept safe then you're doing good. 

 

- Have a basket or shelf of stuff that is kept out of his reach that is cool and fun and whose novelty factor, when you bring it out, will keep him distracted for those moments that you really need him to be distracted.  I still do this with my 3yo (and my 6yo now that I think about it, lol).  For us it is messy stuff like face paints or the big box of tiny Legos or whatever.  For him it might be toys that make noise or light up, an old phone, a bin of dried beans and some scoops (to make a kind of indoor "sandbox"), etc... basically whatever would be really exciting to him and maybe a little "out of bounds" (ex. playing with an old phone might make him feel like he finally got ahold of the *real* phone, yk).

 

- put up some pictures of him as a baby, or him sleeping so sweetly, or other lovely moments from his life and when you find yourself going to the super frustrated headspace look at those pictures and try to recapture that feeling of him being your "little baby".

 

- think about checking out a meeting of your local babywearing group.  First of all it's a good place to meet (hopefully) like-minded mamas.  Second of all there should be a library of carriers to try out and some experienced volunteers who can help you find a truly hands-free carry for your newborn.

 

- get out of the house.  Be around other mamas.  Find your tribe.  I know you were not asking for *that* kind of advice, but in fact I think it pertains directly to what you *were* asking about.  In fact being around someone with whom you "can vent, get away from him momentarily, and feel better" is invaluable in getting you to the headspace in which you need to be to cope with all of the frustrations, and get back to that feeling that you get when you watch him sleeping at night.  You have no power to make him be older or at a different stage of development than what he already is, but you do have the power to work towards re-fostering that feeling of "mothering a baby" in regards to him.  Nurturing yourself, and finding community with like-minded mamas who have BTDT will help your state of mind, and will help you be able to nourish those sentiments.  The reality is that he is very young and is not independent and does need you to do almost everything for him.  I know it is frustrating... I really do.  I've been there with those feeling (and mine are even much farther apart in age).  Your best bet - for you - is to find whatever helps you to let go of that frustration.

 

Good luck mama.  Hugs to you!

 

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#15 of 68 Old 02-10-2011, 06:24 PM
 
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This is a trivial detail, but I did want to suggest that you check out getting an Aquadoodle mat, or Crayola colorwonder markers and paper.  Aquadoodle lets them draw with a pen that's just filled with water (on the special mat), and the Crayola markers only work on their special paper.  For that matter there's also Magnadoodle.  All are ways of having drawing material available to him that you don't need to closely supervise. 

 

(just in response to something you mentioned in one of your posts...)


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#16 of 68 Old 02-10-2011, 06:27 PM
 
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Nap idea: can you put him in the stroller and wear your newborn and go for a walk?  Will he sleep in the stroller?


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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don't worry about teaching him stuff, just try to have as much fun as you can.  Ha - crazy I know, lol!  Right now you are in survival mode, and you are in a place mentally where you're feeling very overwhelmed and frustrated by your LO's behaviour.  My suggestion is that, for now, you put concerted efforts to teach things (tidying up messes was one example you mentioned) on the backburner.  See if you can make a priority instead to keep things as light-hearted and fun as you can.  This goes hand-in-hand with getting rid of ALL expectations (beyond the bare minimum), and involves trust that a) when he gets older he will be able to learn these things (like self-sufficiency), and that b) your life will get easier and you will get back to that place of being a "teacher" to him.  Let go of any feelings that you need to "stay on top of his behaviour" or "not let him get away with things" or anything like that.  Everything will work out in the wash, I promise.  As long as he (and the people and stuff around him) is kept safe then you're doing good. 

 

 

This is some of the best advice I have ever heard.
 


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#18 of 68 Old 02-10-2011, 09:29 PM
 
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It sounds like a hard situation, but I don't think any mentor/toddler expert will be able to get your son to overcome all those issues at 18 months.  My 24 month old is quite compliant for his age, but still couldn't do a lot of what you expect.  I have a newborn too, so I know a little bit of what you're going through (though I'm lucky to have more help around a lot of the time).  Is there any way you could wear the little one on your back?  With a baby securely on your back, you really can get a lot done.  And what activities did your toddler like before the new baby?  Maybe you could find some way to do a modification of those.

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#19 of 68 Old 02-10-2011, 10:26 PM
 
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The car nap was all that kept me sane when my first two were little. Every day at 1 (or whatever time the older one wanted to nap) I'd drive until they were both asleep, find a place to park, and knit/listen to the radio. I would get two hours of peace that way, generally. Not ideal, but neither is insanity. 

 

I used to look for fool-proof methods. I was sure there was someone out there who had the BEST solution for whatever problem I was encountering with my LOs. The most important thing I learned: there isn't. YOU are the expert on your child. Take a deep breath and look inside yourself. Yes, it does help to have reasonable expectations (my 4 y.o. doesn't "obey" all the time - I can't imagine getting my 15 mo old to...).

 

One book I really felt helped me become my own expert was Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld. It's not a discipline or how-to manual. It's about keeping your kids attached to you - focused on you - so that they want to follow your lead. It doesn't mean your kids will act perfectly all the time - we're all human and display emotions in a variety of ways - even toddlers :) Especially toddlers.

 

Also, FWIW, the clinginess is TOTALLY normal for that age - especially as they go through changes. My dd is going from speaking single words to longer sentences and she has days where she is super-clingy. Just do your best and try to find a balance. YOU are the expert on your family. You have the knowledge within you - you just have to figure out how to listen to it.


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#20 of 68 Old 02-11-2011, 07:32 AM
 
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What about Parents as Teachers? Obviously, they deal more with the education of the child, but I've heard mothers mention that they included the child's emotional and behavioral development in their visits. Or, in the small chance that you're military, a life counselor? I went to a therapist for awhile who was also by chance a child therapist. She was welcoming of my toddler during our visits if I couldn't find or afford child care. Finding a therapist or counselor who contends with both spheres, the adult and the child, could be your best bet. With all respect, it seems to me that you're the one who needs someone to talk your emotions and your parenting choices through with someone, rather than having your child's behavior addressed as problematic. But I'm pretty sure you know that. You need someone to vent to and to inspire you, and that's why I think a general counselor/therapist that also meddles in children's psychology would be the more productive option.

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#21 of 68 Old 02-14-2011, 05:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the responses so far. Some thoughts after reading the posts:

 

My expectations of him might be high. It came from reading about Montessori life skill teaching and hearing from Montessori school staff saying what their 18-month olds do at their schools. But I don't want to get off topic with Montessori concept here. To stick to the toddler thing, if I were to not expect anything of him, what would that look like?  What would he be doing and acting like all day?  What would our day look like?

 

Ok, I can drop my expectation that he does anything at all on his own, no problem.  But I do not expect him to whine and cry all day about every little thing.  What can I do about the whining and crying?  Whines when something he thinks of or wants isn't instantly in front of him. Whines at everything I take out that he sees and cannot have - my toothbrush when I brush, my phone when I talk, the broom when I clean, my food when I eat. He has his own version of all of the above except that he only wants "MINE" WHEN I NEED TO USE IT. The minute I let him have it and move on to do something else, he drops the first thing on the floor and comes after my next thing with whine and cry again. Some things for safety & mess he simply cannot have. What do I do?  This makes me feel like I cannot do anything at all because everything I take out he fights for and I have to either give it to him or deal with the tantrum. Sometimes his wants are his legitimate needs (milk, whatever) but he cannot wait for fraction of a second for the thing to show up in front of him. The whining (on top of the needs of a newborn, which also has to be quite instant) is killing me!  All day long I'm running back and forth trying to get both their needs met except my own.

 

On mom friends & groups - I do have and belong to a couple. It does make me feel better when out with them but it also take a huge effort to go out and I simply can't be out all the time.

 

more comments but

 

oh oh gotta go, will come back for more.

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#22 of 68 Old 02-14-2011, 06:23 PM
 
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As far as the whining and lack of patience, I deal with this too.  Sadly, the only solution I have found is telling him he has to wait, no he can't have that now, and offering him a place to safely throw a fit.  He doesn't get what he wants while he's throwing the fit, but rather when he can calm down.


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#23 of 68 Old 02-14-2011, 07:19 PM
 
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I have a 16 month old and a 6 YO, so I've been through this and am currently going through this. I could not imagine having 2 babies right now b/c my 16 MO is so needy. I remember from my dd that things calm down more and more each month. Does it help to know that all of this whining is completely normal and expected? Especially with the major upheaval of a new sibling coming along. For 16 or 17 months or so, he was your main focus, and you were able to tend to his needs faster. He doesn't have the ability to tell you he's feeling uncertain, frustrated, etc.. All he has is whining. And it's normal for him to want to have your toothbrush, phone, ect. and move on once you move on. It's actually a good sign that he is so interested in what you are doing and wanting to do exactly what you are doing right when you're doing it. It means you are his world, and he wants to be just like you. My mom and I still laugh about my older dd and how hard it was to color with her. She wanted whatever color you were using and she wanted to color on top of what you were coloring at that exact moment. There would be tears and frustration.

What you're doing right now... taking care of 2 babies is HARD. Ask anyone and they'll tell you it's really, really hard. Many say 2 kids about a year apart (and you aren't far from that) is harder than having twins because at least with twins, they are at a similar stage at the same time. And they are used to sharing momma from birth. I don't know if that's true-- I only handled babysitting my brother's twins as toddlers, and it was a ton of work. I have heard that you pay your dues now, but later they will be great friends and keep each other entertained.

Teaching a toddler to do things is a lot like explaining to them what to do as you take them by the hand and show them... if they are willing. If not, then you drop it and look for the next window to teach them. Dropping the expectations doesn't mean that you give up on teaching. It means you shift gears and provide more support for them to learn the skill without frustration or judgment if they don't do it. That includes frustration with yourself. It''s a marathon, not a sprint. And I taught kindergarten and first grade and can tell you that there are first graders who cannot handle the things you are expecting. If he can't do it by then, well then you have a problem to address. :-)

Right now, just do what you can to get by. Feed them, diaper them, talk with them, spend time in a child-proof gated off room on the floor when you can and just try to take it easy. When you're up for it, get out of the house. My dd was high needs, and I had a friend that I talked to most week days and that helped me keep my sanity. We'd talk when her son was going down for nap because laying with him as he took hours to unwind made her crazy. That was also when I did my housework which makes me crazy. Also, there is a huge difference between 16 and 18 months and 18 and 20 months. He'll grow leaps and bounds, and if you can find a way to keep yourself focused on staying calm (Let me know because the whining is making me crazy too LOL), I mean... he will be calmer and when he's upset, just put words to it and explain over and over we'll do this and then momma will get ___ for you. I know you are mad because you want ____. Mommy is going to get that for you after ___. I just went through that with my LO. She didn't want to get jammies on before milk.

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#24 of 68 Old 02-14-2011, 07:50 PM
 
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My DS is 18 months old.  He can drive me up a wall at times, the screaming and the whinning.  He is miserable at home.  I was taking him out every morning and every afternoon.  When he's out, he's a happy camper, but in the house, he's miserable.  I don't know if this is a good mothering.com answer, but I found a good "Mother's Morning Out" program.  Now they call it a preschool.  But, he goes 3 mornings a week and he loves it.  The issue at home is he's just bored.  He has so much energy and wants to do so much and it's hard when I, as you are, at times to frustrated and so overwhelmed and so busy that it's hard to give him all the attention that he needs.  But, in his class there are teachers with tons of energy to handle him and they do all the activites that I wish I could find the time to do with him, but can't when I was in survival mode.  They do music, dance, art, playtime, stories.  They let him paint with his feet, may clay molds of his hands, all kinds of stuff that he and I love.

 

I started this when I was in 100% survival mode at around 14 months.  Now at 18 months, he is much happier and I am much more happy.  I have more energy to keep up with him, be more patient and understanding and to teach him new things about life and handle his behavior better.

 

Before the class, we did playdates a lot and those were total lifesavers as well.  But, having this real break with someone else taking care of him for a few hours a week has made all the difference for me.  I would say, having one toddler is an overwhelming handful, I cannot imagine having two.  If you had someone to help you that would be awesome, someone you knew.  But, I found friends and family were always so busy, so that's why I chose this program.

 

I just think we're not meant to go it alone.  A child is a lot of work.  "It takes a community to raise a child" is an expression I've heard.  I think it's too late at night now for me to come up with a good closing, so if you like this advice fine, if not, ignore it and that's fine too.  Good luck!  It's hard, but you'll make it.

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#25 of 68 Old 02-15-2011, 06:13 AM
 
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How is his vocabulary? We didn't deal too much with whining but I'm guessing it's because DS had a huge vocabulary early on, so the better your DS learns to express himself, the less he'll be likely to whine, at least IME. (I was also able to devote 100% of my attention to DS though since he's my only, I'm sure it's not all about speech!!) Is there a way you can anticipate his interest in what you're doing, and give him something right from the start? So give him the dustpan whenever you take out the broom, or sit down with your plate expecting to share it with him, hand him a spare phone to play with while you make a call (or let him play with your phone before you dial). Another thought is, it sounds like he really wants to be with you & wants your attention. Have you tried wearing him, rather than (or along with!) the newborn?

I don't know all that much about Montessori but there are definitely SOME things my DS could do on his own at that age -- put his laundry in the hamper, his plate on the counter, unload the unbreakables from the dishwasher, put things in the trash/compost, etc. However, it was entirely on his terms and not something I'd "expect" from him... If I asked him to do something, it was with the full expectation that about 30% of the time, he would refuse & I'd have to do it for/with him, or he'd want to do something else (also helpful, but not what I requested). I guess what I'm saying is, at this age they most certainly *can* do life skills but not necessarily consistently, nor in a way that actually HELPS you. There's a huge difference from a toddler at school learning how to fold napkins just for the sake of it, and a toddler at home being required to fold the napkins before every meal. Also, at home the element of peer reinforcement is non-existent.

Anyway... like the pp said, there's a huge difference from just-under-18mos and just-over-18mos... and another huge jump when they near 2yo... so it WILL get easier!! I have to say, the last few months (DS just turned 2 last week) have been the only months I've really ENJOYED having a toddler... it just got so much easier as he got closer to 2!! He's now more reliable & consistent with things, more independent with play, etc. Of course he's also more willful & defiant, so there's always a trade-off lol.... but it's amazing to me that DH & I can be in separate rooms just doing whatever and DS will actually spend 20+mins hanging out in another room playing and just checking in with us every so often!!!!!!!!!

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#26 of 68 Old 02-15-2011, 06:30 AM
 
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I think, given his age and the adjustment of a new baby in the house, you're going to see a ton of whining and defiance and clingyness no matter what. 

 

It's likely that your DS is really feeling the want of your attention, and that a little one on one time would help a lot (and the baby might benefit from some one on one time too).  Can you get a mother's helper to come over one or two days a week?  Or work out a baby trade with a friend so that you can spend some time with DS?  Or work out a baby trade so that you can take a nap?  Mother's morning out programs aren't a bad idea either.

 

My best strategy for dealing with kids this age is to sit on the floor and conserve my energy.  I have boundaries, and they need to be as firm and uninteresting as possible.  That's why gates are awesome.  I have spent hours on gated playgrounds.  We play "fetch", where I roll the ball across the floor and they go get it.  We play Floor Tennis, where we hit the ball back and forth across the floor between us (bonus:  one handed!).  I pick up toys, point them at the kid and say things like "Meow," and "vrooom."  I'll put a tarp or a bunch of old newspapers down so that I can dump a rimmed baking sheet, a cup of water and some stray tupperware on the floor to be distractions.  I am not above letting a child splash for half an hour in the bathroom sink.  My MIL gave us a Fisher Price activity table, and I was initially appalled, but then I managed to knead bread all by myself with no one clinging to my knees and now I'm a fan.  If we're not going out, we don't really need to get dressed.  If we are, I offer the outing as an inducement.  I have gone ahead and spent money on toothbrushes with Dora and Batman on them, because it got DS less obsessed with my stuff. 

 

Just getting by is not a small achievement.  Do what you need to do.

 

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#27 of 68 Old 02-15-2011, 11:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
 

As far as the whining and lack of patience, I deal with this too.  Sadly, the only solution I have found is telling him he has to wait, no he can't have that now, and offering him a place to safely throw a fit.  He doesn't get what he wants while he's throwing the fit, but rather when he can calm down.

 You see I've tried exactly that and it didn't work. He didn't get it.  I ended up dealing with an hour long tantrum over a little situation (he never stopped throwing a fit or crying until he was absolutely tired and already forgot what he was crying about). He just didn't get the point and the whole thing was a waste. Then the next situation arised same day I took the same approach and there it goes another hour of him screaming and crying, and another one again later that day, and another one. He never got it. And when I try to tell him something like "stop crying first, then you can have it" he just screamed & cried louder over my talking, I dout he ever heard me.  I can't get through him when he starts that. Seems like when it's just whining (and not escalated to full blown melt down cry & scream yet), he only whines louder as I talk to him (or if I ignore him completely and walk away).  I'm really out of ideas on the whine & cry.

 

My continued unfinished comments from yesterday: 

- I'm not looking for him to change his behavior as if he was logical and reasonable - I'm maining looking for me to get some help "learning how to deal with his behaviors", and make things better for us.

- t's great to hear from all of you that DS is totally normal, and I think I did expect that everything he does falls into the normal toddlerhood challenge. So I wasn't really questioning him or complaining about him, but what should I do about all this is the question.

- By the way, most things I mentioned in my original post which many thought were too high expectations from my 18-month old, are things he is capable of doing - I have seen him doing that before (not talking about things like dressing himself entiring, but talking about things like cooperating, at least come to me when I'm holding up his pants for him to put on, and he does/did also try to do as much of the dressing on his own as he can, he wanted to). Anyways, again I don't expect him to feed himself or dress himself, but my problem is with him running away from me when I'm trying to get him fed or dressed or diaper-changed. I put my infant down for a mintue so I can take care of my toddler hands-on (change diaper, feed, help him with whatever, etc), then my toddler runs away, or looks at me saying "no", or just waits there to see what I'm gonna do if he doesn't come/cooperate, basically making me wait for him, meanwhile I've got my infant crying and escalating while I'm (for example) holding up my toddler's pants or food waiting for him to come dress or eat... you know how frustrating that is?  Feel like telling him "go be hungry, dirty, cloth-less and whatever, I'm not going to wait for you and I've got better things to do such as tending to your baby brother who has been crying this whole time and who actually needs me and wants me to help him!"  Don't get me wrong, I don't expect that he understands what I'msaying here but this is just my frustration with him.

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#28 of 68 Old 02-15-2011, 12:15 PM
 
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I have to agree with everyone else..your expectations are too high. My 26 month old cannot even get himself dressed. He can take his food to the table and eat himself. He likes to do things himself most of the time and doesn't want help, but then again, he is over 2 so he's older than your kiddo. Give it some time, and please, try to relax and realize that you are the best "teacher" for your child. No professional will know how to discipline, care for your child more than you do.. There are some general guidelines that you could probably follow, but every child is different, and has unique needs and learning capabilities. Honestly, the best advice you are going to get is probably on mothering from other mothers that have been through it and have the same parenting philosophies. Sometimes just letting go and realizing you cannot control how responsible he is can be the best coping mechanism. Do realize that he is still a baby and should not be expected to do too much. I am sure I will have a post like this pretty soon though, and I'll go back and re read my own advice, since I'm due with #2 in May :) Oh, and your baby is only one month old right? He is still probably trying to get used to the adjustment of sharing attention. I'm trying to prepare myself for this as well. He was your baby for 16 months, and now all of a sudden he's sharing you. Not the easiest thing to get used to right away, I'm guessing!


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#29 of 68 Old 02-15-2011, 12:21 PM
 
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I put my infant down for a mintue so I can take care of my toddler hands-on (change diaper, feed, help him with whatever, etc), then my toddler runs away, or looks at me saying "no", or just waits there to see what I'm gonna do if he doesn't come/cooperate, basically making me wait for him, meanwhile I've got my infant crying and escalating while I'm (for example) holding up my toddler's pants or food waiting for him to come dress or eat... you know how frustrating that is?  Feel like telling him "go be hungry, dirty, cloth-less and whatever, I'm not going to wait for you and I've got better things to do such as tending to your baby brother who has been crying this whole time and who actually needs me and wants me to help him!"  Don't get me wrong, I don't expect that he understands what I'msaying here but this is just my frustration with him.


My DH gets like this too with DS (and we don't have a newborn to deal with as well!!) but when he gets into it & makes it a game, he has more patience with him. So if DS ran away from DH, he'd run after him and say in a monster voice, "I'm gonna get you!!!!!!" etc. Just make it fun. I totally get that it's annoying & frustrating because you have a little one that needs to be tended to but this likely is how your DS is asking for your attention. If you can make it fun & value it as part of your bonding & interaction, rather than viewing it as just something to "get it done", maybe that will help?? And really, really try finding a good babywearing device that will allow you to hold the baby & tend to your toddler... It took me a while to find the right BW'ing solutions for me -- don't discount it just because the things you've tried haven't worked... I tried slings & other SCC's and HATED them and when I found the right things (ended up being a homemade Moby and an Ergo, depending on the situation) it was awesome!!!

hug2.gif I'm sure you are handling things way better than you think you are. I can't imagine how tough it is to have 2 little little kids to take care of all day on your own.

Co-sleeping is really wonderful when your child actually SLEEPS!! familybed1.gif
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#30 of 68 Old 02-15-2011, 12:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mamaluu View Post
- By the way, most things I mentioned in my original post which many thought were too high expectations from my 18-month old, are things he is capable of doing - I have seen him doing that before (not talking about things like dressing himself entiring, but talking about things like cooperating, at least come to me when I'm holding up his pants for him to put on, and he does/did also try to do as much of the dressing on his own as he can, he wanted to). Anyways, again I don't expect him to feed himself or dress himself, but my problem is with him running away from me when I'm trying to get him fed or dressed or diaper-changed. I put my infant down for a mintue so I can take care of my toddler hands-on (change diaper, feed, help him with whatever, etc), then my toddler runs away, or looks at me saying "no", or just waits there to see what I'm gonna do if he doesn't come/cooperate, basically making me wait for him, meanwhile I've got my infant crying and escalating while I'm (for example) holding up my toddler's pants or food waiting for him to come dress or eat... you know how frustrating that is?  Feel like telling him "go be hungry, dirty, cloth-less and whatever, I'm not going to wait for you and I've got better things to do such as tending to your baby brother who has been crying this whole time and who actually needs me and wants me to help him!"  Don't get me wrong, I don't expect that he understands what I'msaying here but this is just my frustration with him.


It can be really, really frustrating. I remember similar things happening when DD was a baby and I remember feeling helpless and so angry. Mine are 3.5 years apart, and I remember expecting a lot out of my DS when DD was born, and now I look back and think, "OMG, he was only 3, still practically a baby himself!" 

 

Regarding the expectations, I don't think anyone is saying that your DS is incapable of being more independent at times, or of being cooperative at times. But expecting him to be that way all the time, or even most of the time, is the "high expectation" part. 

 

This may have already been mentioned, but can you get a mother's helper to come help out with the baby for a few hours a week so that you can spend quality one-on-one time with your older DS? He might really benefit from feeling like he still gets his mama all to himself sometimes. 


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