HELP! Defiant 15 month old! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 12-20-2002, 02:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Recently my 15 month old has become out of control. When we tell him not to do something, he smiles at us and proceeds to do it, smiling at us the entire time. We have tried redirecting his behavior/attention, but that isn't working anymore.
In a restaurant the other day, he went ballistic and we were at our wit's end. He wanted on the floor, we wouldn't let him. We tried to speak calmly to him, I offered the breast (which worked for about 15 seconds before he realized he *really* wanted to sit on the dirty floor of a crowded restaurant :
What do you do for correction for a child this age? Time outs? If you use time out, how do you do it exactly? (I'm a first time mom so I need explicit instructions!LOL!!)
Sometimes I think our "gentle parenting" is blowing up in our face
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#2 of 10 Old 12-20-2002, 03:31 PM
 
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It's probably not much help, but we just weather dd's "tantrums". That age (in my opinion) is really hard because they are old enough to start asserting their desires, but aren't really full speed on communication yet.

When dd (18 months) want something (like out of the grocery cart or whatever) first I try to think, "can she do this...is it a big deal?" and I try to let her if it is safe. But those times when it just not an option, I try to say something like, "I know you want to get down, but it's dirty. You can play on the floor when we get home." or something and then pull out a distraction. I try to keep a couple of super special toys in my bag.

If she gets upset, I just say, "I know it's disappointing...you want down...I'm sorry you can't get down now" and move right on. Sometimes she cries.

We don't let her melt down in restaurants...we leave. And I've left stores if she's too upset. It usually means it's nap time anyway.

So, to make a long story short (too late, I know) I verbally commiserate, but don't always let her have her way. I do try to catch myself from just saying no automatically though.

For times when she won't listen about not touching something or whatever, I have removed her physically while she kicked and screamed....soooo embarrassing! :

Good luck! I know it's hard!

Carolyn
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#3 of 10 Old 12-20-2002, 03:58 PM
 
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theedswife,

Gentle parenting is an approach that allows our children the opportunities to assert their wills and desires. Sometimes (dare I say most times) we can allow our children to explore and follow their desire. However, IMO there are times when limits need to be set. It's rarely easy to set limits - especially with assertive toddlers. And, depending on personality, often a tantrum will ensue. As parents, we must be confident in our parenting styles and our ability to set clear and consistent boundaries. It is age appropriate for your child to be willful. And, gentle parenting is not to blame.

I know it is hard. And, often I question myself and my approach with my ds. I mentally evaluate myself. It's a habit. And, I am always trying to figure out different ways to handle situations and be a better parent. This is the hardest job in the world.

And, one major lesson I have learned is... toddlers and restaurants do not mix

Good luck and keep the faith,
Laura
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#4 of 10 Old 12-20-2002, 04:39 PM
 
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Hey Theedswife. Just wanted to tell you we're right there with you -- Ds is 15 mos old next week and I find I am starting to plan my day based on what I think will cause a tantrum and what won't!

For instance, getting into the car now brings on MAJOR protests, so I feel myself getting afraid to even go near the damn thing, but I know I must be brave and weather this phase. I do the same thing as Rileysmom ("I know, you'd rather play outside right now and you don't want to get in the car. I know that's very frustrating for you.") and then I start singing "This is how we get in the car, get in the car, get in the car . . ." etc etc. And sometimes he even surprises me by NOT flipping out!

Gentle parenting is NOT to blame, IMO, it just gives you a kind way to deal with the inevitable and TOTALLY normal. Have you read The Magic Years by Selma Freiberg? I don't agree with all of it (she's WAY anti-cosleeping), but her antagonistic toddler section is good and quite funny. And I think all we can do right now is brace ourselves and try to have a sense of humor.

We WANT them to know what they want and ask for it, right? Even if it kills us!

Hang in there! And know we're going thru the same thing in NC!
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#5 of 10 Old 12-20-2002, 05:03 PM
 
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We're right in there with you! Some days are better than others with my 16 month old, but he certainly has a strong will.

This is my first go-round with parenting, too. I don't really have any tried and true suggestions. But from my teaching, I know that I want to raise my son in a respectful environment.

We do a lot of redirecting, and "removing" in public situations. We've only had to leave a restaurant once, but it was absolutely necessary. He was in the midst of totally inconsolable meltdown.

We don't use time-outs yet, and I'm not sure that we will use them at all. I do think that 16 months is too young to comprehend that kind of punishment.

Best of luck to you! Keep believing that you know what is best for your little one.

Elizabeth
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#6 of 10 Old 12-20-2002, 05:12 PM
 
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Oh yeah, I forgot to say that while I think Time-Out is ineffective as a teaching tool for preschoolers and school-age children, I think it is a TOTALLY inappropriate and not the least bit gentle way to deal with babies (and 15 mos is still a baby!). Time-Out serves to isolate the child and teaches them nothing about appropriate ways to deal with their anger/frustration/disappointment/exhaustion. Not that you could put a toddler in time-out anyway! LOL!

I agree that acknowledging and naming the feelings and allowing them to unfold in a safe place (i.e removal may be necessary) is the best bet. (Loved that article on tantrums in the last Mothering mag!) And then redirecting when you think the tantrum is starting to feed itself!
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#7 of 10 Old 12-20-2002, 05:35 PM
 
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I'm in the same boat as well, dd (15 mo) knows what she wants and tries everything in her power to get it. I think she's too young for the time out etc things and deal with things a couple of ways.

If what she wants is safe, isn't going to hurt anybody I usually let her do it. Stuff can always be cleaned up, postponed etc. It is frustrating when she wants to walk somewhere and I want to do something quickly but at the end of the day, it's usually no big deal. I try and ask myself if I don't want her to do it because it's unsafe or because it's inconvenient for me.

If it's a situation where what she wants is simply impossible, I explain to her whay she can't have it and carry on. Sometimes things just aren't negotiable and you have to be firm, we all have to do things that we don't want to from time to time.

And like the others if we're in restaurants and she's miserable we leave, ditto for shopping, visiting etc.

Sometimes, when she's tired or in a bad mood etc, we do have tantrums, at the moment they seem to be brought on most often by closing the stairgate. If appropriate, I try to distract, comfort etc but more and more I find that she just wants to cry and get her anger out. As hard as it is, I let her do it. She's not frightened, or alone, just angry which is just as valid an emotion as happiness. I don't think correction is the way to go, especially at this age, IMO she's way too young to understand.
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#8 of 10 Old 12-20-2002, 05:56 PM
 
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redirection and removal are all I can manage at this age (dd is 14m). Creative redirection (like the songs) and deciding about what behaviors are really important to you are what helps me. I explain, but with no expectation that she will understand or respond (that's why timeout is inappropriate...your child cannot understand timeout.) Those things, and managing expectations. This is the #1 issue of kids I see melting down in public. (a looong checkout line after shopping for an hour, with no entertainment is a formula for trouble. Too long a day, too many stops, or not allowing for naptime or snacks are other issues. Expecting a 15 month old to sit in a highchair at a restaurant is not, usually, reasonable. (seating, ordering, drinks, appetizers, dinner, dessert). No way! Think of alternatives. A buffet restaurant is faster...maybe you could get through that. Order take out. Go with more than one adult. One of you place the order, while the other one walks around and explores outside or in a more public part of the restaurant. Only sit in the highchair for eating. When the food comes you might take turns eating. No appetizers or dessert. Ask the waiter to bring his food first, or pack your own. If he runs out of patience, alternate "sightseeing" while each of you finishes eating. Bring special not usually seen toys. Bring your own more comfortable booster seat. You probabkly donlt need to do all of these but a few will probably get you through.

What I do. DD sits in her high chair for meals only. I only give her a small amount of food at a time so she's not tempted to throw too much or make a huge mess. I sit with her and eat, too. I only feed her small amounts and only when she's hungry. When I can see she's done eating and is not content, or is starting to throw things, we get down. Sometimes, we'll picnic or have finger food in the living room, but normally, meals are at the table, snacks more freeform.


Thinking of it as "defiance" I think only makes you angry, and doesn't fix the problem. And since it's a totally normal behavior, I think it's a bad description. You child is trying to communicate something. Doesn't mean you have to agree!
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#9 of 10 Old 12-20-2002, 08:08 PM
 
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Thinking of it as "defiance" I think only makes you angry, and doesn't fix the problem. And since it's a totally normal behavior, I think it's a bad description. You child is trying to communicate something. Doesn't mean you have to agree!
Clarity, that was the real turning point for us, figuring out that he's going to do things to test his limits and explore his world, and that we shouldn't take it personally or look at it as a behavior problem.


theedswife, what kind of things do you take with you into a restaurant? We found that about that age, DS started needing more interactive things, like stickers, his favorite books, a little bulldozer he could drive around on the tabletop. It really takes a lot of energy and focus to keep a toddler content in a highchair.

Timing is so important, you just can't expect a toddler to sit still for long, and especially not if they are tired, hungry, restless, or have been running errands all day.

I think your correction is simply that you don't let him sit on the floor and be matter-of-fact about that, but have good distractions or be willing to leave. It's only a stage, you'll be able to sit down in a restaurant again some day
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#10 of 10 Old 12-20-2002, 11:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sahara


Clarity, that was the real turning point for us, figuring out that he's going to do things to test his limits and explore his world, and that we shouldn't take it personally or look at it as a behavior problem.


theedswife, what kind of things do you take with you into a restaurant? We found that about that age, DS started needing more interactive things, like stickers, his favorite books, a little bulldozer he could drive around on the tabletop. It really takes a lot of energy and focus to keep a toddler content in a highchair.
Clarity--"defiant" probably was a bad choice of words. I don't get angry, I just get frustrated

Sahara--He won't even sit in a highchair in public without throwing a fit the minute I sit him in it. He sits on my lap if we're at a table, or next to me if we're in a booth. We gave up on a highchair in restaurants about 6 months ago :

Thanks for your replies. I know that he is testing us and his newfound independence. I was curious to see how others handled it.
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