We just don't know what to do anymore. It seems there is no way of keeping him happy.
Of course I read about toddler tantrums, but what he is doing seems so untypical. I will try to describe it the best I can and HOPE someone can tell me what is going on and what we can do.
From birth we have been doing what is referred to as "attachment parenting". We just naturally started parenting that way. My son has been sleeping in our bed since birth, and he was worn or held all day before he started crawling.
Up to 5 months, he was very fussy, even though he did not have any problems like gas, reflux etc. The only thing that calmed him was to constantly walk around with him and show him new things, leave the house very often and rock him constantly. Placing him down even for a minute or even sitting down while holding him, would have resulted in a disaster.
When he got older we felt he grew out of it and believed we made the right choice by catering to his demands no matter what he wanted. We have never done any sort of "training". He was not very interested in eating solids before 11 months, so that was when he slowly started to actually eat and try to swallow foods...
We offer plain, not seasoned meats, veggies or fruits (no grains, rice or dairy), and he was not picky about trying different things.
He was fussy at all anymore and gaining independence while still maintaining a lot of closeness. We were very happy.
But, for the past months...things have progressively gotten more difficult. I understand it is his age, but I was not prepared for this much drama.
It starts with him wanting everything he can't have. There is no way to trick him or bribe him anymore. If I drink from a glas, he wants exactly THAT glas. His cups and spoons are not wanted anymore.
Same goes for food. he wants exactly what I have, from my plate, with my fork. I can't let him have those things because he will make a huge mess, throw things, break glas.
But if I don't let him, the next 4 hours will be hell, and he will be screaming his lungs out to the point where he gasps for air, gets choked up or loses his voice.
We try to distract him from things he can't have, we try to redirect, play....this used to work, but not anymore. He gets so worked up, there is no way of calming him down for a long time (longest he actually screamed in one piece was 20 minutes but he will be fussy, crying on a off for 4 hours).
It has been getting hard to take him places, we are used to him not wanting his stroller, but now he wants to walk all the time, and when we pick him up he will scream and twist and fight so bad that pedestrians stopped us because they thought we are harming him.
He won't let us change his diapers anymore, and he does not want any other foods than sweet fruits (grapes, apple, banana), he was not eating a lot of solids, but when I gave him something he ate a small amount a few times a day. Now he just plays with his food and throws it. He gets 90% of nutrition from breast milk.
He also wants to be held all day again. Holding 24 lbs all day and standing up while doing this is hurting my back and wrists. he will play on the floor a little if I play with him, but as soon as I need to do something for me he wants me to hold him. I can't eat, clean, wash myself, even use the bathroom without him throwing a fit, I also work from home and I can't even do work when daddy gets home, because he does not want daddy, ever. He just wants ME all day and all night. No matter how fun daddy tries to be. He will push daddy and cry if he gets close to me. It also hurts my husbands feelings.
We don't yell, discipline or actually "forbid" things, we try to teach him by explaining calmly, over and over again why he can't have something by gently moving him away from the object, often in a playful manner. I don't react mad towards him, I am neutral when he throws a fit and nice as soon as he calms down. I wonder if what we are doing is wrong...
When I was bad as a kid I got beat and I was too scared to ever act up or even say anything bad. I don't want to raise my son like that though, because it caused me a lot of emotional damage.
The only thing that is always good and problem free is nursing. He has been nursing more often (also at night) and really developed some affection for my boobs. I let him nurse on demand since it seems to give him comfort.
Does anyone have advice for us? It would be so appreciated :(
I think you have to accept that fact that he isn't going to be happy all the time and it isn't part of your job to make him happy. It's really not. He's going to scream for a while.
I suspect that trying so, so hard to make him happy has made the problem worse, not better. He is old enough to develop a concept that no means no and that not all crying needs to be comforted. (some crying just needs to get out of one's system. In the toddler years, I found a cool wash cloth to wipe off their face helped them transition at the end of tantrum back to normal life)
Are all his milestones on target? Does anything in particular set him off (loud noises, too many people, etc.)? Do you have any reason to suspect food sensitivities? Are there any signs that the screaming could be related to any other issues?
Some kids are just higher drama than others -- one of mine is like this. She was a high need baby, and intense toddler, and is still intense as a teen. She is also gifted, talented, beautiful and amazing. But if I thought it was my job to keep her happy at the time, I would have gone crazy a long time ago. She feels things deeply and expresses it to everyone.
Keeping our kids happy is not part of our job. They are little human beings, so like all human beings, are happy sometimes and sad at others. Giving them the message in any way that they are supposed to be happy at the time or that we are responsible for their happiness is not helpful to them.
but everything has pros and cons