And I can't figure out discipline at all. Redirection doesn't work anymore, reasoning only works 25% of the time, logical consequences & natural consequences are only about 10% effective, if that. Lately I've been making crazy & unreasonable threats (like, "If you can't be quiet, we are never coming back to the library again!") and obviously they don't work but it's just my frustration level is so high that I don't know what else to do. Time-outs would traumatize him because he is terrified of being away from me (when the discipline involves him being rough with me or something, DH will take him into another room to get him away from me... he can't seem to be in a room by himself even for a few seconds, he is truly too scared). Time-ins just make him silly, he thinks it's a game. Reading calms him down almost instantly but in many situations just doesn't feel appropriate (too much of a reward, I guess?) He won't get dressed, won't brush his teeth, won't stop damaging & destroying the house, won't stop screaming, won't stop climbing on me, won't stop doing dangerous things, I feel like we have absolutely no ability to keep him somewhat well-behaved & respectful of personal boundaries & property. It's hard to feel connected with him because I feel like he's operating on some completely different plane. He is highly verbal & has great comprehension and an amazing ability to read between the lines & decipher what DH & I are saying when we're trying to be subtle or secretive. So I know he understands what's expected of him & why and what the consequences might be & all, he just doesn't seem to care.
The attention span sounds developmentally appropriate, honestly. A lot of kids don't like to sit and color and play games.
One thing I will say, is that you are not responsible for keeping him entertained, and that it sounds like you are trying to find ways for him to be entertained, but that is really his work.
What about a big bin filled with rice or beans, with little hot wheels, animals, etc.? Sensory experiences like playing with shaving cream, clay, home made play dough? Having an eye dropper of colored water and dropping it into a clear glass of water?
What about books on tape/books on cd? My kids loved to listen to stories and folk song stories at that age. Pete Seeger --Abiyoyo! We go to the library for new stuff, and if we find something good I burn it. Shell Silverstein has a few CDs of him reading his poems and those are a big hit, too. Burl Ives....
Do you have a yard where he can wander safely by himself? What about a bunch of bamboo or other sticks to build a fort? Or some sheets to make a tent? Block stilts? Making obstacle courses?
If he loves music, how about a lap harp?
Other open ended toys without a purpose such as blocks and train sets, play silks, etc. are fun, too!
As far as behavior, I don't know if he has chores or responsibilities, but maybe having a few jobs will make him feel more in control of his environment and more a part of it.
Also, Check out this book from the library
I get these whenever my kids turn a new age. They have been so helpful in explaining the developmental planes of each age... They are from the 50s so some of the practical advice is dated, but the details about what is happening in my kid are so helpful.... sometimes just knowing that this is going to be a rough phase, and my kids will be very different in 6 months is so helpful!
He does have a lap harp & he is getting a guitar for Christmas. I'm hoping the guitar will entertain him for stretches of time but who knows. It's the only thing he asked for. We do have audio books & he does enjoy them. It seems like all wants to do is sit & listen to things. He doesn't really want to move or participate in anything.
If he loves books, do you have any that he can look at on his own? My son loves the big lift the flap books that explain how things work. Also any book with trucks. My ds will also sit and read for hours at a time, but he will read to himself.
I will say though, that I had to teach my son to play by himself - as a single mom I just can't get everything done that needs to get done if I'm paying attention to him constantly. When I'm cooking, he can be in the kitchen but I can't play with him - thats what his cars and toys are for.
I'm not sure what you have tried as far as getting your son to play alone, but it might be time to nudge him in that direction. I'm not sure how you would feel comfortable doing that, but when my son threw a tantrum because I wasn't paying attention to him I just let him throw the tantrum. I couldn't get dinner ready if I was playing with him, yk? He had to figure it out, and he did. It took time, but he started playing alone (we had to do this at about 18mo - not ideal but I needed to feed us both!).
We have worked on getting him to play alone, with the help of EI... we have done things like gradually expand on the length of time we leave him (we're never really able to get past a minute or two though) and no-pressure rewards for completing activities on his own, things like that... and of course there are times when he just has to cry while I do whatever I need to do, but those don't help him play alone more in the long run. The few times he has played alone, he has spent the time destroying things. Most of the time he just follows us around & I don't really know how to avoid that -- like if I'm cooking, he'll drag his chair into the kitchen to climb up & "help"... no matter how many times I move the chair back to the table he just keeps dragging it back, screaming the whole time, you know? Unless I locked him in a room (which I can't do, his anxiety is too high, it really would traumatize him), there is no way to get him to be by himself.
But really, I've kind of mentally given up on him playing alone because it feels like such an unreachable goal. I'd be happy if I could just get him to engage in anything with me present...
I kind of feel dumb posting about all this, I know I sound crazy or something.
He doesn't eat much sugar.
Another vote for a food or foods he is sensitive to. Can you keep a food-behavior journal and look for links?
How is his intake of Omega 3s, choline, B-vitamins, ...all those things needed for good brain functioning?
DS, 10/07. Allergies: peanut, egg, wheat. We've added dairy back in. And taken it back out again. It causes sandpaper skin with itchy patches and thrashing during sleep. Due w/ #2 late April, 2012.
Fish oil *really* helped my LO be less anxious. I mean, big time!