Have I done this AP stuff all wrong??? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 29 Old 02-01-2010, 10:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So after an argument with my husband tonight, I am feeling very confused about the parenting choices I have made and the type of parent I am. I have been struggling with my 12 month old a lot lately. He is whiny (REALLY whiny!), clingy, fights sleep HARD, and (to me at least) just a very difficult, spirited kid who has a temper? I don't know. On the other hand, it appears that he's only that way with me! I put him in the church daycare this past Sunday and when I went to get him, the care provider told me that he was so great! That was until the very second she handed him over to me when the whining started! My MIL is always telling me how great he was when she watches him. I used to think she was just lying (she's the type of person to try to act like everything she does is perfect and gloat about it). What have I done to make him act like this with me??

So then I come on here and discover the "smothering" post. Now i'm concerned. Maybe I've done this all wrong? Because it seems my son is turning out to be exactly opposite of what AP parenting claims to do! I thought he was supposed less clingy because he's secure in the bond between us? I've never let him CIO (yet i'm becoming more and more tempted because i'm starting to think i've chosen the wrong path), yet I don't THINK i'm a helicopter mom (though I will admit, i'm very insecure as a first time mom and terrified of screwing him up somehow). I co-sleep (because i've tried getting him to sleep in his crib on multiple occasions and he's just not having it), I used to babywear but he's too busy for that now, etc etc.

I try to get him to play independently all the time and I let him explore without constantly intervening...in fact I WISH he would just go do that and leave me alone lol! But instead, he'll hover at my feet and want to be held, but not want to be held, and cling and whine and cling and whine ALLLLLLLL DAYYY. Sometimes i'll put him in his high chair or walker (he doesn't walk quite yet but close) with some snacks just to get 10-15 mins of freedom from him.

The thing is, when he is being clingy, if I put him down on the floor for a second to like go to the bathroom or something and he starts screaming because he doesn't want to be put down, i'll still go to the bathroom, but i'll do it REALLY quick and come right back to pick him up so he stops screaming. Is that the wrong thing to do? My husband seems to think that I just need to ignore him all day when he whines...like I am rewarding him for whining? I don't feel like ignoring him is meeting his needs - but maybe i've misunderstood the meaning of AP parenting.

Have I created this?? Is this normal at this stage and he'll just outgrow this? Why do I feel like all my mainstream friends have angel kids that will go to sleep without a fuss, play independently all day, etc etc...and my kid has become a holy terror?? I'm so depressed! I wish I could start all over.
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#2 of 29 Old 02-01-2010, 10:41 PM
 
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Deep breathes mama. He's a baby. Every baby is different. Some have stronger needs for attention than others do. At 12 months please don't think he is "turning out" into anything yet. He's got a lot of growing to do yet. : High needs babies are rough.
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#3 of 29 Old 02-01-2010, 10:49 PM
 
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Because it seems my son is turning out to be exactly opposite of what AP parenting claims to do!
Your son isn't "turning out" to be anything yet. He's still just a baby!

Hang in there, mama. Your son is high needs, and that's tough. I think it's especially tough for a first-time mom, because first-time moms are usually less confident (usually - I think I'm less so with each kid!), and more easily rattled by other people's opinions.

Your son knows he's safe with you. Maybe he's less secure with your MIL or the nursery?

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#4 of 29 Old 02-01-2010, 10:55 PM
 
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Your son knows he's safe with you. Maybe he's less secure with your MIL or the nursery?
I doubt it. A LOT of kids (including my own) are more demanding of their primary caregivers. DS tries to get away with a lot more from me than from DH or his grandparents or any of the other moms we do playdates with. I think it's pretty typical.

ETA: This is one of the ways you may be able to tell if you are headed down the road to "smothering." If you think your LO can't be without you EVER, or you're the only one who can meet his/her needs, you might be a smotherer. I realize I'll probably get called out on that, but it's the way I see it.
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#5 of 29 Old 02-01-2010, 11:03 PM
 
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The clinginess is totally normal for that age. And the reason he's difficult with you, and not with other people, is because he trusts you and knows you will accept him at his worst.

I would never expect a 12 month old to be able to play independently for any length of time. Maybe some can, but I don't think that's the norm at all.

Every child is different, and yes some people have easygoing kids that play independently and sleep through the night, but I doubt it's the result of their parenting choices.

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#6 of 29 Old 02-01-2010, 11:06 PM
 
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I doubt it. A LOT of kids (including my own) are more demanding of their primary caregivers. DS tries to get away with a lot more from me than from DH or his grandparents or any of the other moms we do playdates with. I think it's pretty typical.
Yes, it's typical...and there's a widespread belief that it's typical because children feel more secure with the primary caregiver. They don't feel any need to be on their "company manners", so to speak.

Quote:
ETA: This is one of the ways you may be able to tell if you are headed down the road to "smothering." If you think your LO can't be without you EVER, or you're the only one who can meet his/her needs, you might be a smotherer. I realize I'll probably get called out on that, but it's the way I see it.
Maybe. But, high needs kids are high needs kids. Meeting their needs can be really difficult, very draining and take a lot of time getting to know what's going on with them. Mind you, I can see your point, especially if someone isn't even okay leaving the child with the other parent (barring flat out abuse, of course).

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#7 of 29 Old 02-01-2010, 11:18 PM
 
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Quick reality check, are you talking to him? Sounds silly, but it doesn't come naturally for everyone. So with going to the toilet, I've actually set up DDs main play area so it's line of sight from the toilet if I stick my head out, even if she's playing quite happily, she almost always fusses if I go in there, but if I actually tell her what I'm about to do, it works out better!

It may also be that MIL and church daycare are "good" times of day which you don't notice so much if you are with them all day. Different environments help too, everyone comments how smiley and happy DD is when we're out and how they've never seen her cry, I think she saves her crying for home and in the car!

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#8 of 29 Old 02-01-2010, 11:27 PM
 
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Couldn't read and not reply. We're in the same boat, I can assure you of this. My daughter, who has always been quite high needs, has become very spirited on top of that lately. I have no answers, but at least I can commiserate! I am not a drinker, and I crave a stiff drink every. single. night. after I put her to bed.
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#9 of 29 Old 02-01-2010, 11:36 PM
 
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I'm right there with you and posted a similiar question last week. I think you know in your heart you're parenting him the way he needs to be parented, it's just some days are more overwhelming than others. My DD has been very, very, very high needs lately (even more so than usual) and requiring every drop of patience I ever possessed. Yesterday, she woke up and walked down the hall like it was something she'd done every day of her life!

I think high needs babies get even more so as the approach major mile stones. Just try and relax a little (also, please remind me that I said that the next time I post!).

Good luck to you, mama
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#10 of 29 Old 02-01-2010, 11:59 PM
 
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Have you considered/used sign lanugage? I found that giving my children a non-whining way to communicate their needs and wants made that age/stage a LOT easier. Then if they'd whine, I'd help them do the sign or do it to them and they'd stop whining and do it back.

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#11 of 29 Old 02-01-2010, 11:59 PM
 
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12-month-olds are still very much babies. They haven't "turned out to be" anything, and they are at the height of separation anxiety so it's not an easy stage. Be patient, mama!
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#12 of 29 Old 02-02-2010, 12:27 AM
 
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[Have I created this?? Is this normal at this stage and he'll just outgrow this?

I would have to say NO and YES. Your not doing anything wrong at least from what I read in your comment. And he just might wake up one morning and start playing by himself in his crib.
My son who is 18 months now, went through very similar problems only I had to take him with me to the bathroom cause he would just get hysterical when I closed the door. He would cry when I was on the phone, he would cry when he was in his high chair, when I was doing dishes etc... he wanted to be with me all the time.
Than one day he just stopped. Now he plays by himself, shuts me out of rooms, asks to get into his high chair and is very pleasant most days. I don't know what happened but just know it will pass. We still have not resolved the sleep issue, but I think that will get better soon too.

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#13 of 29 Old 02-02-2010, 12:54 AM
 
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I think the almost-walking explains a lot. Babies (even the most independent) seem to need mom a lot more right before they make a big milestone like walking. Almost like "Ok mom, I'm thinking about doing this, but it's kind of scary. You have my back right?" Two steps forward and one step back. So I would take hope that this 'phase' means he'll be walking soon!

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#14 of 29 Old 02-02-2010, 01:13 AM
 
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Just to second what everyone else is saying:

Developmentally, this is normal. It's separation anxiety. He can let it all loose with you because he feels so comfortable. The fact that he can happily stay with others is also a testament to his strong attachment to you.

If it helps, I disliked the toddler stages. Once they got a lot of language, life was a lot easier for me and them. But the 12-16 month old period where there are strong feelings, big developmental leaps and not enough language was hard on us.

The older my kids get (they're 5 and 8 now) the more I see the benefits of that early attachment. They're happy, confident kids. They're kind and responsible. They're not perfect, but they're good kids.

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#15 of 29 Old 02-02-2010, 01:14 AM
 
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after working in the infant room at a daycare for years, ive noticed babies get sort of crazy around the 1yr mark. i call it 1yr old puberty, lol. there is so much going on, and they get so emotional, its almost like having a preteen i think

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#16 of 29 Old 02-02-2010, 01:30 AM
 
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You have just described my entire first year of parenting my son. He was extremely high needs, usually responded that way mostly to me (but I'd pay for it later if someone else had him), and I was getting a lot of flack.

Relax, it will smooth out. You're being the best mama you can to him, by being responsive to his needs. And respectfully, you can't let anyone else's opinion, criticism, or attitude sway you from parenting from your heart.

It is hard, and sometimes seems scary and not worth it. But someday you'll turn around--like I just did tonight--and see an almost-6 year old looking back at you telling you he loves you before scampering off to play. Then you'll know you've done it right.

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#17 of 29 Old 02-02-2010, 02:16 AM
 
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But instead, he'll hover at my feet and want to be held, but not want to be held, and cling and whine and cling and whine ALLLLLLLL DAYYY.
This sounds a bit like boredom. Are you two getting out and doing things? Taking walks, going to LLL meetings, etc. My DS had a very high need (still does at almost 4yo) for stimulation.

ETA: we started Music Together classes at around a year and DS loved them.

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#18 of 29 Old 02-02-2010, 03:12 AM
 
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Whatever happened to longterm goals in parenting?

If this all came from stuff your husband says, I assure you he's jumping the gun at least nineteen years too soon.

I'm pro-adoption reform, but not anti-adoption.
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#19 of 29 Old 02-02-2010, 06:22 AM
 
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Whatever happened to longterm goals in parenting?
Yes, yes, yes. To me AP is difficult in that it takes more patience and is a longer process. We went through a stage with DS when he would have terrible tantrums multiple times daily. There were plenty of days I questioned whether our process to help him learn to use appropriate words, work through the problem, etc. was ever going to work versus being mean to him or punishing him. Eventually it did work! Plus now I can see that compared to most non-AP peers I've seen, he's better at working through problems whereas they tend to be focused on not getting in trouble. So...that's a long way to say that AP I think feels more painstaking sometimes, but it's definitely worth it in the long run.

As for your specific little guy, remember that he's only 12 months old. He's still tiny! Don't feel badly about going to the bathroom without him. Put him somewhere safe and go to the bathroom. Gentle reminders that you'll be right back are fine. He may very well be upset. That's okay, but it's a learning process for him that 1) others have needs that get to be met, too, and 2) you'll come back to get him.

Many little ones are on their best behavior when they're in new situations - i.e. the church nursery. They're unsure about what's going on, what's expected, and they tend to be really subdued. It's not a sign of the quality of their care versus yours - more an expression of his comfort level. As for Grandma, I know my MIL is likely to say the kids were "great" because you know, she's Grandma. She just sees them that way, so I don't necessarily take my MIL's report as gospel but just trust that she'll tell me about any major problems they had.

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#20 of 29 Old 02-02-2010, 09:24 AM
 
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I would say the fact that he did well with the church daycare and your MIL points to your doing something right!

I only have one DD, and her stages and changes always surprized me. I think you should be responsive to your baby, but keep in mind that changes come--one month he might need you all the time, the next month he might grow a bit more independent. Try to stop and think sometimes about whether you are picking him up because you always do, or whether this is something he can try to do on his own.

Whining is the pits--I second the person who asked if you are talking to him? I think it's ok to let him know that whining isn't acceptable. Just say "No whining! Say Mommy!" or I'm hungry! etc in a non-whiny tone of voice. It might even help you to verbalize what he's feeling.

He's too young to play alone--but I notice you mention putting him in his walker like that's a bad thing. If he is HAPPY there, listen to that. My daughter had a vibrating seat that soothed her that she loved--I didn't keep her out of it because I thought it was more AP to have her in the sling, you know?
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#21 of 29 Old 02-02-2010, 09:59 AM
 
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You've had a lot of great replies about how typical this sounds for a baby of this age. And I share the empathy that others have expressed for the mother of a high-needs baby. It is HARD to believe that your baby's high-needs-ness isn't entirely your fault, when everyone around you seems to have easygoing babies.

Something I hear in your post that stands out to me is the part about how you are "anxious" and "terrified of doing something wrong." I believe that babies, especially the intuitive ones who lean naturally more towards high-needs, pick up on this. I don't think you need to change your foundation parenting strategies (closeness, parenting to sleep, etc.); I think you need to change how you feel about them. When your baby cries when you go to the bathroom, for example, if you communicate to him (whether verbally or physically) that you are nervous about his crying or uncertain about the situation, it will only make it worse. He needs you to be the leader. He needs you to be the leader. He needs you to be solid and confident.

I know that many parents interpret this as baby "needing" them to "let" him CIO, or "needing" them to ignore him when he cries/tantrums. I would NEVER advocate those practices, just to be clear. I'm talking about keeping on doinf the compassionate, empathetic things you've been doing, but with a healthy dose of, "Hey baby, it's all right!"

In order to get to this place within yourself, I would suggest doing as much reading and posting as you find helpful. But the other thing I'd suggest is finding some sort of IRL tribe. IME, what relatively insecure babies often benefit most from is two or more adults (the more, the merrier) doing meaningful adult work while peripherally, but not primarily, caring for them. Bonus points if there are other children (mixed ages, preferably) to form a little children's tribe.

I know it's sort of counter-cultural to say so, but I believe there are some babies who suffer from *too much* attention. It winds up making them feel uncertain, like, "What's up with everyone watching me?!" IMO, some children feel very insecure when they want you to be doing your thing, showing them the way, and instead it feels to them like you're waiting for *them* to tell you what to do next!

On the days when a tribe is hard to come by, try putting ds on your back and just doing your thing. Keep busy, do housework, go for a walk, etc.

Reading I'd suggest: The Continuum Concept, Scott Noelle's Faily Groove emails (google for link, no time right now to look up!)

HTH!

Bold mama to Georgia and Penelope.
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#22 of 29 Old 02-02-2010, 10:32 AM
 
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One of my petpeeves about AP books like Dr.Sears and big AP advocate is sometimes they seem to give the message (I'm sure it's not on purpose, just in the way the message is given) that if you babywear, co-sleep and breastfeed, then you will never have a problem with your child. Ever.

That is a very unfair misconception for parents. Parenting is hard, no matter what philosophy you adhere to.
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#23 of 29 Old 02-02-2010, 10:38 AM
 
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You're where I was at 12 months. It is still SO little, and truly, babies seem to go through a super clingy stage from 12-15 months, +/- a few months on each side. It is normal. Twelve month-olds do not "play independently", no matter what our moms insist we did at that age.

My son was a HN baby and a HN toddler, and his sister arrived when he was 15 months old. She was HN in that she really only wanted to be with me 24/7, and if she could have climbed back into my uterus every afternoon, she would have. She never took a bottle from anyone (I tried!), never took a pacifier (I tried that, too!) to sit with someone else while I took a shower, and in general, pretty much didn't leave my side for 18 months.

They are 4 & 3 now, and have very gradually grown into a marvelous independence and confidence.

I promise you, it gets better. You aren't screwing them up, you aren't "doing this wrong", you aren't ruining them for life. You are parenting a 12 month old baby! ...which is so hard, and I promise you it gets better.


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#24 of 29 Old 02-02-2010, 11:55 AM
 
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ETA: This is one of the ways you may be able to tell if you are headed down the road to "smothering." If you think your LO can't be without you EVER, or you're the only one who can meet his/her needs, you might be a smotherer. I realize I'll probably get called out on that, but it's the way I see it.
I don't know about that.....DH and I are with him nearly 24/7....in the early days (up until about 18 months) DS only wanted to be with me and would freak if I left....DH could be there too of course but mommy had to be there too....at 18m I went back to work pt time and he learned to have fun without mommy. I don't think I was smothering him....it's just that I was there all the time.

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#25 of 29 Old 02-02-2010, 12:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by eepster View Post
This sounds a bit like boredom. Are you two getting out and doing things? Taking walks, going to LLL meetings, etc. My DS had a very high need (still does at almost 4yo) for stimulation.

ETA: we started Music Together classes at around a year and DS loved them.

I agree. Whenever I notice that my dd is getting whiny and extra demanding it helps to go do something. Several times I have taken her to the mall just to walk around or let her play on the indoor playground there. There's also story time at the library. Even if your DS is too young to understand the story there's lots of new things to look at and new places to explore. Our library also has storytellers that use drums and music and my dd LOVES that. I've also been known to go to the local Chick-fil-A and buy a large tea and just allow dd to explore their awesome playground for a while. I don't know what the weather is like where you are, but even a walk around the neighborhood, either wearing him or with a stroller, can be a nice distraction.

Sometimes changing the environment can make a big attitude change.

Kristy, wife to Josh proud mama to Katie: since 3/08 and Emma since 8/12.

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#26 of 29 Old 02-02-2010, 12:29 PM
 
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Don't have time to read all the replies, sorry!

DS was exactly like that from 12-18 months, then slowly tapering off since (almost 3), but a lot better now. I starting wondering, too.

Here's what I've come up with:

1) the age, for sure

2) the temperament, high needs and what not (DS is showing signs of being gifted, I think its all related).

3) our very unique way of parenting in this culture. Through 99% of history, large families/tribes lived communally and there were always other people around. Older kids helped raise younger kids, little one's had aunts and uncles, grandparents, etc. all around them and helping raise them. This whole mommy-all-the-time that we stay at home moms are doing is very strange historically speaking, I think it leads to what we are experiencing. I am a total AP/SAHM/homeschooling mom, but I am wracking my brain to figure out ways to get DS around other people regularly in a non-school/non playdate/non-activity for the kids kind of way--just regular life. No idea how--other than moving to a commune (which I ponder). BTW-I don't think daycare is much better in this regard--but a little, and worse in others--its just that the all-mommy time of the SAH kids (esp. only kids) compounds the issue at hand (while being great in many other respects, of course!)

I'm still figuring it all out (okay, I'm about 5% there, and I don't expect to get much further!)
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#27 of 29 Old 02-02-2010, 10:09 PM
 
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12-18 months was brutal.

No, it's not the AP. As people have said, you'll probably know if you're going to extremes.

If you need solutions I second the sign language and the getting out and about, but really - I think this too shall pass and you're doing fine.

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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#28 of 29 Old 02-03-2010, 01:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by liliaceae View Post
The clinginess is totally normal for that age. And the reason he's difficult with you, and not with other people, is because he trusts you and knows you will accept him at his worst.

I would never expect a 12 month old to be able to play independently for any length of time. Maybe some can, but I don't think that's the norm at all.

Every child is different, and yes some people have easygoing kids that play independently and sleep through the night, but I doubt it's the result of their parenting choices.


I have many attachment parenting friends. Some of them have high needs babies and some have easy going babies. My best friend and I basically parent the same way and her son needed CONSTANT entertainment until at least 18mo (unless he was out of the house doing something fun). My baby is hardly 6mo and will sit and play by herself for 15-20min easily while I shower, etc. It's so much more about personality than parenting style. Yes, good parenting definitely makes in impact in the long run, but over all you're born with your personality.

I think there is certainly an age when you shouldn't stop EVERY activity just because your child is whining. The age is going to vary for each kid, but it's usually somewhere between 1-2. What I mean is, it's okay to take a shower, even if your kid whines at the edge of the tub for 10 minutes. One of hardest parts of parenting is determining what's age appropriate and when to change up your technique.

Abra, Married to George, Mother to DS 12/03 & DD1 08/09 & DD2 12/11.  We are planning our next adventure to South America in April 2014!
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#29 of 29 Old 02-06-2010, 03:29 PM
 
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I was thinking it is separation anxiety too... right around the 9-12m age.

I think your doing just fine mama!

Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
Just to second what everyone else is saying:

Developmentally, this is normal. It's separation anxiety. He can let it all loose with you because he feels so comfortable. The fact that he can happily stay with others is also a testament to his strong attachment to you.
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