My 2 year old's been hard to manage inside the home for forever now (out of the house he's a dream), but now that our new baby, who is 2 weeks today, came along, his behaviors are through the roof.
I've read the books and the stuff online about "what to do" when it comes to positive/gentle discipline, but it is so hard to actually apply these theories correctly when you have a newborn strapped to your chest who you have to nurse 24/7 and who also has needs.
DH is still home for the next 2.5 weeks and even then, things are so difficult- every day I just keep asking myself, how in the world am I going to manage this alone?
The main problems we have are:
1) my son's energy level- which is hard enough to deal with, as he needs constant stimulation and pretty much tears up the house looking for stuff to do despite having toys and our attention. In order to deal, we've turned to TV a lot lately, unfortunately, and now that the weather is nicer I take him out a lot during the day, but obviously we can't be outside all day long.
2) the typical toddler stuff- his most-used words are no, mine, and now- that has escalated because of new baby. Everything is a struggle...seriously, it is a fight with him all. day. long. over every little thing, and the time-outs, which we've been using a lot now to manage him, result in blood-boiling scream sessions with throwing, hitting, etc. and that makes me feel sad that it's come to that. I've tried teaching him to wait, I try setting limits, I try ignoring and just focusing on his positive behaviors but no matter what, it is a constant battle.
I think a lot of the issue aside from the new baby is the huge change in routine- suddenly DH and I are both home, but I'm not devoted to DS 100% anymore...plus, DH has a slightly different way of parenting than I do. I am trying to be sensitive to that and I want DS to feel successful but I worry that he feels the opposite since he is pretty much getting warnings/TOs for his behavior all day long.
Help appreciated from anyone who has BTDT!
Thanks for your response. I guess the phrase "everything is a struggle" is a slight exaggeration, because we do allow him to have some choices, like you suggested, in order to give him some sense of power...but ultimately, even with choices, we often find ourselves struggling to manage a situation in the end. So the struggle is still the majority of the day. For ex: just this morning at breakfast, I asked him what he wanted to eat (we usually do this to give him the choice). He said waffles, so I made them for him, then 5 min. later when I sat down, he wanted my breakfast instead, which was a Lara bar (ha...lovely breakfast). I told him he needed to eat some waffle first...well, that didn't work, and ultimately just to avoid another meltdown for something relatively trivial, I gave him some of my bar...then when he wanted more and my bar was finished, he moved on to wanting DH's breakfast (this happened to be a morning where everyone ate something different, which doesn't always happen). DH gave him some and DS never ate his waffle. We didn't fight it, but this is just an ex. of how everything can turn into a struggle depending on the level of what we're dealing with (this happened to be something we didn't want to push). I feel stuck trying to be consistent and teaching him appropriate behaviors while balancing when to give in/let it go.
I did read something somewhere about turning situations into a "game" for distraction...I tried that yesterday, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. I do find the behaviors are getting better when we have visitors and when we go outside a lot...he does so well when distracted. We've been giving automatic time-outs for hitting just because he's been doing that A TON whenever he doesn't get what he wants or is told to wait...
Hang in there, it does get better! I've got a 4 mo and 31 mo and it took until the second month of DS2's life before DS1 got back to his normal self. My boy sounds a lot like yours; very high energy level compared to any kid I've ever seen, very verbal, an only child who got lots of attention.
What we found that helped was lots of one on one time for DS1 and me. Any spare minute I had, I would hand DS2 to DH and go off and play, read, or cuddle with DS1. It was pretty stressful becuase as a new mom you are still recovering and getting to know your new baby. Spending all your extra time playing with your other child instead of resting or basking in your baby's beauty was tough at times. But it truly was the only thing that helped. All that one on one time DS1 spent with DH didn't make up for time with me.
And yeah, when DH is at work now I do rely on TV a lot. DS1 isn't the type of kid to sit and read or draw but TV very much captures his attention. I only allow myself to turn it on when DS2 needs to nurse and fall asleep, which at this phase is much less often than your newbie! In the beginning DS1 watched LOTS of TV and that was hard for me to accept. Oh well. Now he watches maybes 1-2 hours a day and I'm trying to be okay with that. With the warmer weather hopefully things will continue to improve. Also, since DS1 isn't napping anymore, I did set a schedule for us that includes lots of time playing in the sink, painting, afternoon reading time (my hardest time of the day for us but dang it, we're going to learn how to SIT ), and a 4:00 bath. This gets us through the day until DH comes home. Also, my DS2 screams in the car so we stay home a lot, hope you don't have to deal with that!
So yeah, use the TV if you have to, it's really only for 3-6 months and then you can wean him off of it. It's what you have to do (if you have a kid like mine). For those highly energetic kids you gotta do what you gotta do. And spend as much time with your older child as you possibly can. I always used myself and not DS2 as an excuse so not "DS2 needs to eat" but "Mama needs to sit now". Or "I can't play now, I'm busy but I'll play later" not "DS2 needs his diaper changed". I hoped it would help DS1 adjust and like his brother better!
There was an amazing point around 2 months when I looked at DS2 and thought, hey, THIS is my kid again! This is who I loved before the new baby came. He finally started acting like himself again and it was wonderful. That doesn't mean things are magically easy now but DS1 doesn't scream and throw fits at anything and everything. Just at normal toddler stuff. And wowee does he love his brother, kissing and hugging him all day long. Most days it's still hard and at least once a week I want to quit my SAHM job but it's always getting better. Good luck!!
Me: Sarah, married to: J, mommy to: C (8/10) and E (11/12)
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