21 month old always wants my attention & can't play alone - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 11-22-2011, 04:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My DD, 21 months, recently learned that she can grab my hand and try to pull me away from tasks that i am doing (usually something in the kitchen or laundry, or getting my make-up on or something) to try to drag me to play with her. If she isn't able to grab my hand she either will fuss at me, ask for certain snacks i usually don't want to give to her because i am currently preparing food for her, or the one she is doing most recently is getting into cabinets she knows she isn't supposed to be in to get my attention. How do i cope with this in a way that is appropriate for her age and isn't to harsh? Thus far i am mostly just dropping what i am doing and playing with her for a little bit until i think she is distracted by something else and then trying to sneak away. It takes me a while to get things done this way but eventually it gets done. Sometimes distracting her with TV works but i don't like using it all of the time. Anyone have pointers? Or possibly is this just typical toddler behavior that she will outgrow and there isn't anything i can do about it? I know she is pretty young to know how to play alone but shouldn't she be able to play alone for 15-20 while i am doing something else? She seems bored with all of her toys and will usually only play with them if i encourage her to. She is my first and only (if you can't tell) so i often feel very lost and wonder if i am doing things all wrong! Thanks in advance!

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#2 of 17 Old 11-22-2011, 05:02 PM
 
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I'm struggling with the same thing with my son who will be three in feb and I'm nine months pregnant..........hoping to get some good replies!

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#3 of 17 Old 11-22-2011, 05:04 PM
 
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Totally, totally normal and frustrating. winky.gif When DS was in that stage, I figured he's only going to be like this for a short while and eventually they do play by themselves. DS now plays independently for a long time. My house was pretty messy during that time and I wasn't able to get a lot done, but it really doesn't last forever. We did a little TV too, but I saved it for times when I really needed 15-20 to get something done.


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#4 of 17 Old 11-24-2011, 03:25 PM
 
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DD is 23 months and when I have to get something done and don't want to resort to Elmo on Netflix I sing and talk. I basically comment on everything she is doing. Something like "Oh you are pushing your wagon" ... then I sing a song about it where I repeat a bunch of words. If I talk to her while she is doing something it reinforces the activity and also teaches her some verbal skill.

 

As a result she talks a LOT.


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#5 of 17 Old 11-24-2011, 05:56 PM
 
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My 21-month-old is the same way!  Since I work at home, I sometimes get frustrated by her constant interruptions.  What I started doing was teaching her to respect the words, "I'm busy."  (She doesn't care about "no" lol)

 

I started it by telling her, "I'm busy. I'll do that later." and going back to my business.  When she would pull and grab and yell, etc. in response, I would calmly stop what I was doing, pick her up, and take her to her room.  I put the baby gate up so she can't escape and I tell her, "I'm busy.  You need to play in your room for a bit.  I will play with you when I'm finished."  Then, I would go back to my task.

 

At first, she would yell and try to get my attention in various ways ("I need the toilet!" is the current fave, actually), but over time, she stopped doing that as much. 

 

I would also stop what I was doing intermittently to go check on her, give her a kiss, and tell her she is doing alright (she values verbal information). 

 

This has taken 2-3 months and it works for both of us.  She doesn't really like to be in her room very much (because she prefers not to be alone), so now if I say, "I'm busy."  She'll just reply, "You're busy?", I'll say, "Yes.", and she'll wander off to watch Caillou or play or get into mischief (she immensely enjoys taking all the pillows off the couch and nose-diving onto them). 

 

It's important to actually go and play with the kid after a certain period of time has passed.  They just like to be with us, is all.

 

If you can, I'd suggest blocking off the rooms you don't want the kid in.  We recently moved, so I can't keep mine out of the kitchen anymore.  Not without spending hundreds on a fancy gate.  I've taken to constantly telling her, "You are not allowed in the kitchen." and removing her to an area she *is* allowed in.  It works.  She doesn't go in nearly as often as she used to and mostly only when I'm in there, too.  We've been here less than a month, so I think that's good progress.

 

Good luck!

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#6 of 17 Old 11-25-2011, 09:20 PM
 
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My DS was exactly this way. Now at 24 months, he is a bit more independent, but still loves to be involved with what I am doing. I dealt with it by getting him involved in everything I did.  Well, not make-up, lol.  He "helps" me with laundry, making muffins, sweeping, putting away laundry, raking leaves, making beds.  Everything takes so much longer, especially when that young, but it teaches them so much, and you can add play to lots of it.  When making beds, we play with the sheets, play hide and seek, etc.  Some days he doesn't spend much time with his toys because he is too busy "playing" with all my work around the house.  He climbs to the top of clothing piles.  He messes up my laundry and then "refolds"  (wads them up).  I'm OK with all of it, because in the end, I get things done.  We laugh a lot and have loads of fun.  He doesn't watch much TV because he is too busy.  I do like it now that he is more independent.  But, I loved my velcro baby. 

 

Oh, and in the kitchen, I still put him in the sink with a bit of bubbles and things to pour with.  I work around him and make sure he stays safe.  It takes a lot of teaching.  (Let's keep the water in the sink.  OK, mama can't handle the water everywhere.  I think we're done for today.  Let's try again tomorrow.)  But, it teaches them so much.  And did I mention that it's fun?  winky.gif

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#7 of 17 Old 11-26-2011, 08:10 PM
 
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I was about to post almost the same thing!  I'll be eagerly looking for suggestions--it can be so hard!


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#8 of 17 Old 11-26-2011, 10:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by balancingact View Post

My DS was exactly this way. Now at 24 months, he is a bit more independent, but still loves to be involved with what I am doing. I dealt with it by getting him involved in everything I did.  Well, not make-up, lol.  He "helps" me with laundry, making muffins, sweeping, putting away laundry, raking leaves, making beds.  Everything takes so much longer, especially when that young, but it teaches them so much, and you can add play to lots of it.  When making beds, we play with the sheets, play hide and seek, etc.  Some days he doesn't spend much time with his toys because he is too busy "playing" with all my work around the house.  He climbs to the top of clothing piles.  He messes up my laundry and then "refolds"  (wads them up).  I'm OK with all of it, because in the end, I get things done.  We laugh a lot and have loads of fun.  He doesn't watch much TV because he is too busy.  I do like it now that he is more independent.  But, I loved my velcro baby. 

 

Oh, and in the kitchen, I still put him in the sink with a bit of bubbles and things to pour with.  I work around him and make sure he stays safe.  It takes a lot of teaching.  (Let's keep the water in the sink.  OK, mama can't handle the water everywhere.  I think we're done for today.  Let's try again tomorrow.)  But, it teaches them so much.  And did I mention that it's fun?  winky.gif


 

Yes, I totally agree with this. It doesn't work every day and with every chore but if you can get your child involved it will really help their self esteem. There are many Montessori activities to do. Spending that extra time can be a blast. There is an awesome "learning tower" that elevates toddlers up to the counter safely that is on our Christmas wish list.

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#9 of 17 Old 11-26-2011, 10:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UmmZen View Post

My 21-month-old is the same way!  Since I work at home, I sometimes get frustrated by her constant interruptions.  What I started doing was teaching her to respect the words, "I'm busy."  (She doesn't care about "no" lol)

 

I started it by telling her, "I'm busy. I'll do that later." and going back to my business.  When she would pull and grab and yell, etc. in response, I would calmly stop what I was doing, pick her up, and take her to her room.  I put the baby gate up so she can't escape and I tell her, "I'm busy.  You need to play in your room for a bit.  I will play with you when I'm finished."  Then, I would go back to my task.

 

At first, she would yell and try to get my attention in various ways ("I need the toilet!" is the current fave, actually), but over time, she stopped doing that as much. 

 

I would also stop what I was doing intermittently to go check on her, give her a kiss, and tell her she is doing alright (she values verbal information). 

 

This has taken 2-3 months and it works for both of us.  She doesn't really like to be in her room very much (because she prefers not to be alone), so now if I say, "I'm busy."  She'll just reply, "You're busy?", I'll say, "Yes.", and she'll wander off to watch Caillou or play or get into mischief (she immensely enjoys taking all the pillows off the couch and nose-diving onto them). 

 

It's important to actually go and play with the kid after a certain period of time has passed.  They just like to be with us, is all.

 

If you can, I'd suggest blocking off the rooms you don't want the kid in.  We recently moved, so I can't keep mine out of the kitchen anymore.  Not without spending hundreds on a fancy gate.  I've taken to constantly telling her, "You are not allowed in the kitchen." and removing her to an area she *is* allowed in.  It works.  She doesn't go in nearly as often as she used to and mostly only when I'm in there, too.  We've been here less than a month, so I think that's good progress.

 

Good luck!


This makes me sad. We were at the doctor's office and this little girl was sitting at a play table and yelling at everyone to "hold on" I'm sure she heard it from her mom. My 23 month old needs interaction and I couldn't imagine gating her off in a room. She wouldn't understand. I do sneak away when I see her engaged in something but when she calls for me I go to her. I read somewhere it is like feeding a meter. Please consider a "yes" environment.

 


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#10 of 17 Old 11-27-2011, 02:21 PM
 
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DS is 16 months.

DS is asking for the same attention. When I'm doing a task or finally relaxing after a long day he'll take my hand and pull me to where he wants us to go...to a toy, to the kitchen to play in the fridge or make a snack, to the front door to go sit on the porch together. It's annoying but really, it's a NEED for him to be with me. Little ones have a primitive part of their brain that tells them to make sure mama is close by so that they don't wander off into the wilderness and get eaten by a lion. So I let DS lead me where it is he's wanting to go and we'll play a while. Normally he can really get into playing enough where I can scoot away and get back to my chore or if I was relaxing I'll get some toys that are able to be played with as I hang out on the couch. For most chores though I've found that DS can easily help me if I just give him the chance and accept that it'll take a little longer. This afternoon he sat on the counter directly in front of me and he 'chopped' veggies with a plastic knife as I chopped mine with the real knife. He can empty the dishwasher and hand me the dishes, no more bending which makes this preggo mama thrilled!! He can put things into the trashcan. He can climb up to the table and set our silverware and napkins. He wouldn't have any idea how to do these cool things if I didn't give him the chance to learn how to do them. And at the end of the day I can feel good knowing that he got great mama interaction. He does this with DH too. DH was installing a new phone line into the wall and DS helped with holding the screwdriver and drill, throwing away the trash, talking about what they were doing, etc. Ya, it took twice as long to get the job done but now DS knows how to use a screwdriver, which I think is pretty cool, and he was given awesome one-on-one interaction with DH. Because DS is so in love with helping it also gives him a great chance at working on attention span. He'll play alone with a toy for maybe 5 minutes but he'll sit and 'chop' veggies with me for as long as I'm doing it too. 

Sad to hear of kiddos being gated off. greensad.gif

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#11 of 17 Old 11-28-2011, 03:56 PM
 
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This makes me sad. We were at the doctor's office and this little girl was sitting at a play table and yelling at everyone to "hold on" I'm sure she heard it from her mom. My 23 month old needs interaction and I couldn't imagine gating her off in a room. She wouldn't understand. I do sneak away when I see her engaged in something but when she calls for me I go to her. I read somewhere it is like feeding a meter. Please consider a "yes" environment.

 

Kids go through phases where they constantly repeat something they only heard once.  So, making assumptions about a parent/child dynamic when you don't know the full picture isn't always the best decision. 

 

I think the one big mistake AP advocates tend to do is act like we must be available to our children 100% of the time (or close to it).  There are times when my daughter needs to understand that I am busy and that is all there is to it.  If that is not going to work for another mother, she shouldn't do it.  But, I spent many years giving, giving, giving.  Yes, I had fun.  I'm not saying parenting should not be fun.  But, it's also important for children to learn the discipline of patience and waiting.  They don't have to have everything they want all the time.  It's unhealthy, IMO, to teach my child that my world will stop because she wants something or my life revolves around her.  It's also not healthy to program mothers that they should be with their children, happily engaged practically 24 hours a day.  That doesn't work for everyone.  I don't even think it should work for everyone. 

 

Please consider a less condescending environment in your heart. You have no idea what my daughter's entire day looks like based on anything I have written here. 

 

I thank God for the baby gate.  I have an extremely active toddler.  Perhaps I can find someone sad enough to offer free babysitting for me around here. ;)

 

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#12 of 17 Old 11-29-2011, 08:26 AM
 
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Here's a great article about independent play:

 

http://www.janetlansbury.com/2010/04/baby-interrupted-7-ways-to-build-your-childs-focus-and-attention-span/

 

I believe in attachment parenting, but I really like some aspects of RIE.


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#13 of 17 Old 11-29-2011, 12:24 PM
 
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Thanks for that link, Ginger Bean.  I'd never heard of RIE.  Fascinating. 

 

And, I am an AP parent.  Have been for many years.  I do think, though, there are some shortcomings in the behaviors/thought patterns espoused most by many APers.  At the same time, I don't think what I've seen on Janet's blog, so far, is in any way out of line with AP.  AP is not a blanket way of parenting.  It's a parenting philosophy that should take into consideration the needs and personalities, as well as desires, of those in the parent-child relationship itself. 

 

That's how I see it.  As a younger parent, AP and this discussion board really helped give me a template for how I wanted to parent.  As I've gotten older, I've had to remind myself that it is a template, not a rulebook.  And, AP is not going to look the same in every household, nor does it need to. 

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#14 of 17 Old 11-29-2011, 03:23 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UmmZen View Post

Kids go through phases where they constantly repeat something they only heard once.  So, making assumptions about a parent/child dynamic when you don't know the full picture isn't always the best decision. 

 

I think the one big mistake AP advocates tend to do is act like we must be available to our children 100% of the time (or close to it).  There are times when my daughter needs to understand that I am busy and that is all there is to it.  If that is not going to work for another mother, she shouldn't do it.  But, I spent many years giving, giving, giving.  Yes, I had fun.  I'm not saying parenting should not be fun.  But, it's also important for children to learn the discipline of patience and waiting.  They don't have to have everything they want all the time.  It's unhealthy, IMO, to teach my child that my world will stop because she wants something or my life revolves around her.  It's also not healthy to program mothers that they should be with their children, happily engaged practically 24 hours a day.  That doesn't work for everyone.  I don't even think it should work for everyone. 

 

Please consider a less condescending environment in your heart. You have no idea what my daughter's entire day looks like based on anything I have written here. 

 

I thank God for the baby gate.  I have an extremely active toddler.  Perhaps I can find someone sad enough to offer free babysitting for me around here. ;)

 

 

I apologize for any tone that I gave in my response to you that seemed condescending. It was not my intention. I also do not advocate for 100% of time to be available to the child. I have time to myself, most frequently in the evening and during naps but more recently I've begun having longer stretches during the day due to my techniques that I will elaborate on below. Please understand that I am taking some of my valuable solo time to communicate with you and in no way wish to spend it by taking virtual jabs at each other.

 

I did not have time earlier to elaborate on this "yes" environment because (surprise) my daughter woke from her nap and needed me. What I would have said if given more time would be to structure your home to allow your child to free range with you instead of isolating the child in their room. It sounds like the child wants to be near you with all of the calling out and requests. At this age I strongly believe they are incapable of comprehending such abstract concepts like patience. This is the age of responding with empathy and respect so the child will feel understood. Gating a toddler off in their room alone when they are not happy being alone is very sad to me. There are many other attached options. You might find after a couple of weeks working around your child they will become less clingy because their needs are being met and in turn you will have more independent play. It is an exchange. Independent play and AP are not in conflict.

 

On that note I have to say that there is nothing selfless about my AP style. I am doing it all for purely selfish reasons so I don't have a bigger mess on my hands down the road. AP has always been a preventive parenting approach for me. I'm doing all of this so my child can be as emotionally adjusted as possible to stave off as much garbage I have to deal with regarding independent play, potty learning, bedtime and eventually the teenage years for my own convenience. I'm not a martyr because I'm going to get back on this investment--tenfold.

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#15 of 17 Old 11-29-2011, 03:34 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UmmZen View Post

Kids go through phases where they constantly repeat something they only heard once.  So, making assumptions about a parent/child dynamic when you don't know the full picture isn't always the best decision. 

 

I think the one big mistake AP advocates tend to do is act like we must be available to our children 100% of the time (or close to it).  There are times when my daughter needs to understand that I am busy and that is all there is to it.  If that is not going to work for another mother, she shouldn't do it.  But, I spent many years giving, giving, giving.  Yes, I had fun.  I'm not saying parenting should not be fun.  But, it's also important for children to learn the discipline of patience and waiting.  They don't have to have everything they want all the time.  It's unhealthy, IMO, to teach my child that my world will stop because she wants something or my life revolves around her.  It's also not healthy to program mothers that they should be with their children, happily engaged practically 24 hours a day.  That doesn't work for everyone.  I don't even think it should work for everyone. 

 

Please consider a less condescending environment in your heart. You have no idea what my daughter's entire day looks like based on anything I have written here. 

 

I thank God for the baby gate.  I have an extremely active toddler.  Perhaps I can find someone sad enough to offer free babysitting for me around here. ;)

 


I'm with you. If I'm cooking and there's hot stuff on the stove, my extremely active toddler can't be in there. It's just not possible. So I put the gate up and he can watch from the hall while I prepare his food. You have to eat and babies around a used stove isn't an option. 

 

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#16 of 17 Old 11-30-2011, 01:15 PM
 
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This is pretty normal. Start the day off by filling up the "love" tank by cuddling, playing, reading books for the first 15-60 minutes, depending on what your day is like. This should buy you some time where she doesn't need your constant attention.

 

throughout the day refill her love tank with some play. You can do this as time allows and as needed by her. Some days will worse than others.

 

If she balks at you leaving the room, bring some toy with you so she can play near you ie make up or cooking. I use the stove all the time with my son around (not the oven though I make sure he's distracted in another place before I open the oven). But with my small family the back burners are the only thing used so he can't reach even on a stool.

 

If you can use toddler help. My son can take the cutlery (knives removed) and toss it into the cutlery drawer. It's never in the right "holder" spots, but it keeps him busy while I do the rest and he gets to feel useful.

 

 

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#17 of 17 Old 11-30-2011, 08:33 PM
 
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Haha, Love Tank...I like that!


 
 
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