14 month olds...what works? - Mothering Forums
Gentle Discipline > 14 month olds...what works?
mrs.t's Avatar mrs.t 01:15 PM 06-20-2011

Everything I have read about the 13-18 month old age group is that they don't really understand lengthy explanations about why they shouldn't do something, or why they can't have something, etc., so the best bet is to redirect them toward something less dangerous or whatever. My 14 mo DS has become extremely stubborn when he wants something he can't have. Lately he's been erupting into whining, crying, and tantrums where he pounds the floor or says, NO NO NO NO! until I am ready to just give him whatever it is that he wants (I haven't actually done this, but this is the place the tantrums bring me to). Redirection is NOT. WORKING. ANYMORE. I tried the whole happiest toddler on the block technique which has had limited success. I'm not sure what to do anymore. He's been exceptionally irritable due to teething pain, but even when it seems to be under control he's still freaking out every time I have to say no. I have tried to make my house a "yes" place as much as possible, but obviously I have to say no sometimes. He fights me on every little thing, like getting dressed, getting out of the tub, changing diapers, etc.


Also, he's been super clingy and wants to be carried everywhere even though he's on the verge of walking, and had always been an excellent crawler/cruiser. This is also making me kind of wacky because I used to be able to put him down with a bunch of toys while I would do some light housework or something like that. He would follow me all over the house while I loaded the dishwasher, made the beds, etc., and find things to do in every room while I did my thing. Now he won't do that, he wants to be carried around the whole time. It's not just wanting to be held, he wants us to carry him into whatever room of the house he's pointing to or else he starts crying or whining. I can't wear him all day because he's just too heavy for that now, and I have back issues to begin with. I wouldn't mind if he just wanted to be held and cuddled but he wants to be moving, and only in the direction that he chooses.


So my questions are, is this normal for his age? If so, how do I handle those inevitable times when I have to say no? Is the desire to be carried around and the refusal to crawl due to his emerging walking skills and frustration with not being able to do it yet?



mamazee's Avatar mamazee 05:43 PM 06-20-2011
Well, most toddlers just have tantrums. He isn't going to be happy all the time. No kids are. No adults are, for that matter.

I'd try to be reasonable and fair, let go of control except where it is really important - like let him make whatever decisions he can practically make (which will be a bigger issue as he gets older), and then if something is really important and reasonable and outside of his control and he has a tantrum, just wait it out without shame or getting upset, maybe briefly empathize, "You wanted X. I wish you could have had it too", and then just wait, and when it's over give him love and go on as if it hadn't happened. He'll outgrow them eventually.

His tantrums aren't your fault or due to anything you've done. They're just a developmental stage. I try to think of them as a stage to get through rather than something to stop. The power struggles will get worse over the next few years though, I'm afraid, so I'd start now working on giving up power where you don't actually have to use it. If he doesn't want to wear a sweater, just bring it and put it on if he gets cold. If he wants his bath before X instead of after X, unless it's impractical for some reason, let it go. A lot of stuff isn't that important and there's no reason to dig our heels in. And it makes it easier to really hold strong on those things that truly are important when you haven't fought over bath time and a sweater and a dozen other things before the car seat issue comes up. Save your strength. LOL. Also, I think power struggles kind of multiply - the less in control they feel, the more power struggles they create, so giving up on stuff that isn't important might make some of the power struggles go away or become less intense for the things that are very important.

Oh and as to your last sentence, yes it could be. Toddlers can get very frustrated over lack of mobility, lack of verbalization to the extent they want, lack of power, all sorts of things. I can imagine how frustrating that would be.
transylvania_mom's Avatar transylvania_mom 06:16 PM 06-20-2011

each child is different, but we went through this with both my kids to various degrees. Dd is almost two and I still can't do much around the house. What helped at this stage was nursing and getting out of the house. At least when they are outside they tend to be busy with something else instead of clinging to you.


I found there is not much I could do about it. My house hasn't been dusted in a long time. I do the basic housework, cooking, laundry, putting stuff away (toys, dishes etc). When I absolutely need to do something, I just ignore dd's whining, or talk to her while I'm doing what I have to do. With dd is better, because ds can distract her for short periods of time, with ds it was a little bit tougher.


Hang in there, it will pass.



fishywishy's Avatar fishywishy 09:00 PM 06-20-2011

Omigosh, I am so glad you wrote this post.  I could have written it word-for-word!  My DS is the same age (they have the same birthday in fact smile.gif) and I am having the exact SAME issues.  When I have to take something away or remove him from a room and try to redirect his attention on something else - he has complete meltdowns.  Like collapse in the floor meltdowns.  I sometimes try to tell him why I took it away and just wait the tantrum out.  There for a while, all I had to do is say the word "no" and he would start freaking out...like you, I try not to say it much, but sometimes you have to use it.  Oh, man, there are times that changing his diaper really sucks - the minute he sees me heading for the changing table...freak out.  I dread changing his diaper.  Some days are better than others though.  He cries when I take him out of the tub too.  I think it all comes down to they don't like being interrupted.  

Yup, DS is super clingy right now also.  He is a walker (started walking on Easter Sunday) but he still wants me to hold him a lot and wants to direct me where to go so he can reach things up high.  It's like I am his roving stool.  He is fairly non-clingy in the early hours of the day.  But, come 4 pm, he holds on to my pants leg and whines or pushes me away from what I am doing (like the kitchen counter) and says, "uppy uppy uppy." There are times where it feels really great to be needed, but it makes it hard to get things done.  I know he is tired because we are struggling with naps at the moment.  Maybe when I get the nap issues ironed out it will get a little better in the afternoon hours.  Like you, it's rarely "hold and cuddle" moments now, it's like," hold and let me direct you where to go and don't even think about sitting down" moments.  I am trying not to sweat not getting as much done around the house now.

Maybe this is normal for their age - since what you describe is exactly like my son.  Hopefully it is a stage and will pass!


mrs.t's Avatar mrs.t 10:08 PM 06-20-2011

Thank you all so much for the replies. I was really starting to feel like I had failed somewhere in my parenting style. Sometimes the gentle discipline thing makes me feel like I'm just indulging his every demand which obviously isn't what I want to do. Finding the balance is really hard, and when he's acting out I feel like I did something wrong. So thanks for letting me know it's common with this age group...I guess we just have to live with it for now. uhoh3.gif

Piratelady2525's Avatar Piratelady2525 07:01 AM 06-26-2011
I am right there with you! DS is 15 months, and almost the exact same problems are going on in our house. Tantrums, clinging, and we've also added hitting me to the list. I really do believe it's a sign of frustration at inability to express themselves. It's also true that at this age, you can try to explain things to them, but they will forget it very shortly afterwards. My local parenting group has been working on techniques for controllig your anger and cooling down when all this gets too much for you. Maybe you could look into that? I try really hard to let the little stuff go and choose my battles, and breathe deeply through the rest. Good luck to u mama!
Hannah32's Avatar Hannah32 07:05 AM 06-26-2011

Toddler-ease is working for me for both diaper changes and nail trimming. I admit, I didn't think it would work, but it is. Sorry it's not working for you. My son is just over a year. 

Piratelady2525's Avatar Piratelady2525 07:28 AM 06-26-2011

what is toddler-ease?

Hannah32's Avatar Hannah32 07:55 AM 06-26-2011

It's from Happiest Toddler on the Block, which the OP mentioned. Basically, when they are having a tantrum, you verbalize what they are feeling with a short, repetitive word, said with genuine feeling. So when my son starts to fight and twist because he hates it when I change his diaper (it's cool when anyone else does though), I say: "BORING, BORING, BORING, NO, BORING, NO," etc. According to Karp, it's the frustration of not being understood that makes them so mad. So if you can "speak their language" and make it clear that you do understand, they tend to calm down. Then, you can slip in a "almost done" or "thanks for lying still" type of parental response. 

coffeegirl's Avatar coffeegirl 01:19 PM 06-27-2011

Originally Posted by Piratelady2525 View Post

what is toddler-ease?


I'd like to know this, too. My daughter is almost to the toddler stage.


OP-- I don't have much advice for the rest, but for the wanting to be carried from room to room, etc., here's my take: I would personally just stop doing it. For instance, if we're in the living room and I go into the bedroom and he starts crying for me to carry him because he wants to go into the bedroom, too, I would just leave him in the living room. You know and he knows that he's capable of crawling in there if he wants too. I'd let him fuss it out....maybe you can even call to him from the bedroom to encourage him to come....and after a few times of him seeing that you aren't going to carry him around when he can otherwise crawl/cruise/walk, then he'll have no other choice but to either stay where his is or get himself in the other room where he wants to be.


ETA: Hannah, just saw your post explaining toddler-ease. Thanks. :)

Quinalla's Avatar Quinalla 01:21 PM 06-27-2011
My daughter is 19months and had and has these types of moments. For me, some things that are helped are like the PP verbalizing her feelings and explaining what I am doing and why. Kids understand a lot more than adults give them credit for, so I speak to her and explain things. I don't think she understands it all, but at least I do think she understands that I have some reason for making her do things she doesn't want or taking things away and so on and it does seem to help a bit.

The other things I have been trying is giving her some transition time. If she is playing and I need to go get laundry from the basement, I will say "Let's go to the basement." and she will sometimes say no. What I have been responding is, "Ok, one more minute (holding up one finger) then we stop playing and go to the basement." Then after whatever amount of time (I don't worry about timing it exactly right now since she doesn't grasp time too much yet) I will say again "Time to go to the basement" then count backwards from 5 to 1 on my fingers and out loud then pick her up and we go. Sometimes she still doesn't want to go, but most of the time she is ok with it and it does seem to help to give her a bit of a warning and transition time. Sometimes I skip the one minute and just do the counting part.

Beyond that, distraction still helps at times, but most of the time I just listen to her tantrum and talk to her through it naming her feelings as best I can. When it is something she isn't going to like and it has to be done, I just try to do things as straightforward and efficiently as possible. I think the no-nonsense attitude helps some as at least it makes it clear that whining and whatnot will not make a difference in what needs to be done, but also that it is ok for her to express her feelings in appropriate ways. (I try to say things like it is ok for you to be upset, but we still have to do X. I don't think the exact words matter too much right now, but they will and it is good practice for me and the intent still gets across pretty well.) As for the wanting to be carried everywhere, sometimes DD does too, but I have started saying no to that more often because she needs to learn to walk on her own more as she is only getting heavier. For things she really hates that can wait a bit, I try to catch her when she is in a good, mellow mood. She does not like to sit still for nail trimming and since it doesn't have to be done right now, I do wait to catch her in a good mood if at all possible.

Oh, last thing is I try to give her options. If she wants to get down from her highchair with her blueberries, I would tell her she could either stay in her chair and finish them, or put them down and get down, or she can have one of the items I do let her run around with and eat (cracker, goldfish, etc.) and get down. She still doesn't like it, but at least she has some control.

Oh and I wanted to emphasize that it is totally normal! I too look at it that they just get so frustrated at times. They have so much they want to do and communicate and so much that they can't do because of their size, strength, coordination, adults stopping them (for good reason, but still) etc. and so much they can't tell you. I know how frustrated I get when trying to explain some things to my DH for example and we both speak English perfectly fine smile.gif and how much I hate when I can't do some things for myself, so I can only imagine the frustration of a toddler, it is a wonder they don't tantrum more honestly.
mrs.t's Avatar mrs.t 04:26 PM 07-02-2011

Thanks! These replies have been very helpful. For the most part I am doing the things that you all suggested, but sometimes I feel like it's not working!!!! I just needed a boost to know that I am doing the right thing even if we still have tough days.

pianojazzgirl's Avatar pianojazzgirl 03:35 PM 07-03-2011

Just chiming in to say TOTALLY NORMAL!!!!  This is so the age.... clingy and freaky-outy (lol).  It will pass (and morph into other things.... best not to think about that too much, lol!).  Distraction, re-direction, honouring the impulse, naming the emotion, etc. are all great tools.  As is getting enough "me time" (for mama!) so you have the emotional reserves to deal.  Learning to walk and becoming verbal will lessen frustrations and help in a general sense as well.