DS is 15 months old. His new stage of development is really challenging for me. I have been told by other mothers that i have a "high need" and "active" little boy. I would agree. He is constantly testing my limits. I feel like I say no to him all day long.
He hits constantly. I try saying "that hurts mommy please don't hit," and showing him how to be gentle instead and show him how i am gentle to him. He just laughs and hits again soon. I'm ashamed to admit that lately I have been yelling no at him and putting him on the ground while he cries.
When i tell him not to touch something (the outlets & other things like that) he does it anyway. I have a lot of people telling me i need to be harsher with him and discipline him. The other day i flicked his hand after he wouldn't listen multiple times. This is not me. This is not the mother that i wanted to be. I don't know what to do.
The other thing that is hard is that he throws his food on the floor. I know that this is a normal developmental thing, and I hoped when i reached this stage that i could appreciate it for what it is, but the hard part is that i honestly cannot afford to replace the food that he throws most of the time. We are very low income, I am a single mother and a full time student. I am having a hard time deciding what to do about this, because obviously he doesn't understand that we have no money for food (lol).
Is there such a thing as discipline for his age? i never would have thought that before but now i am out of ideas, and be getting so frustrated that i blow up is obviously not a good option.
i feel like i abandoned all of the values i held so high when my son was born. I never could have imagined myself acting the way that i do towards him now with such a short temper and such little understanding. I need to get back to the way i set out to parent, I'm just not sure how to do that right now.
Food first, I would only give him a couple bites at a time on his plate so that if he does decide to throw something, it's just a couple bites. It's totally normal and totally aggravating, and all you can do is keep repeating, "Food stays on the plate!" (in a calm, gentle but firm tone, not a mean shouty tone) until he's older. Both my kids did this, but grew out of it. I've found making the statement in the positive (i.e., what you want him TO do instead of NOT to do - keep the food on the plate, walk with me (instead of running), etc.) - because what they hear is the action, not the "NO" or "NOT".
The doing something right after you tell him no is also normal. And the hitting is, too. It's impulse control and some kids take *years* to start to have it. They may *know* they should or shouldn't do something, they just can't stop themselves (yet). Not ALL kids do these things, but it's totally normal for them to do it. This is the age of "Get off your butt" parenting. WHen you ask them to do or not do something, and they do it anyway, you have to go over to them and physically redirect them while letting them know you get what they want. "You like to throw things! That car is hard and can hurt. Let's throw these soft socks instead!" (while walking him over to an acceptable thing). "OUCH, hitting hurts me. We can high five instead - high five!" or "OUCH, hitting hurts me. You can throw this soft pillow instead when you're mad." It's not enough to just tell a kid no - you need to tell them what to do instead to replace that action you want to get rid of. And you have to repeat it hundreds of times. It's not for the faint of heart parenting an active, strong willed kid - but they are fantastic kids in SO many ways.
Also: the bigger rection you give with bigger emotions, the funnier it is to the kid - either funny because it seems funny to see something so emotive from you, or nervous funny because you're really angry - either way, the laughter isn't mocking you, it's a natural reaction to seeing a big emotion from someone they're not used to seeing that from. There is a phrase, "robot zen mommy" that floats around, that I love. Calm, pleasant, kind, but firm and not engaging in "the fight". That's the presence you want to aim for.
DS went through a hitting phase. After reading some material on the matter(my favorite being the Dr. sears Diacipline Book) I came up with a strategy for what I wanted to do each time it happened and wrote it down to help me remember. Consistency is key, and after a month he stopped and rarely does anything violent these days. Reminding myself that he was experimenting with his body and with cause and effect helped me not take it personally or worry because I know it's not about violence or aggression. I think he'll probably have more hitting or biting phases in the future.. It's natural and if you have a plan and stick to it, it makes it easier.
As far as outlets and other things, I finally broke down and completely childproofed our house. I know some parents just want to teach their children appropriate behavior rather than lock cabinets, etc, and I did too, but I realized I was setting us up for failure by creating an environment that I was constantly having to restrict him in. We have much less frustration now. I avoid places where he can't roam freely and found new places to spend time.
Have you found a mama tribe yet? I found an AP parents group on meet up and boy, it helps so much, especially with dealing with the people who say things like "you're spoiling him," etc. It's just so nice to be around a group of moms who get it. Try to find some if you haven't!
In regards to conserving food: I put a clean splash mat down and then pick up what I can and put it in a bowl for tomorrow. Its gross, I know, but I refuse to throw it away. If it's fruit, I add it to the "freezer fruit Tupperware"(or a freezer bag) and use it to make smoothies. For things that are impossible to pick up, like oatmeal and yogurt, I just feed it to him with a spoon, I know it's against baby led weening rules but I can't afford to throw organic yogurt away! I try to give him things that are easy to pick up, like fruits, veggies, etc. He loves stuff frozen in the summer! Frozen corn and peas, and grapes and blueberries. I also stick a piece of watermelon on a Popsicle stick and freeze it, keeps hom occupied for a while, great for doing the dishes!
The most important thing is to be gentle with yourself when you make a mistake, we all do it, give yourself permission to start fresh.
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Just want to second many of the things that The4OfUS said. I completely agree that if you say "don't ______" they may only hear the "______" and take it as encouragement. Once I started saying what DD should do rather than what she should not, things got a bit easier. I also completely agree with the "off the butt" parenting thing. At 15 months, I might not say anything at all, just go over there and physically redirect. As he gets older, say things only once before getting (gently) physical.
And yes, babyproof. Not just things that are unsafe, but anything that you find yourself having to deal with over and over again. The less "discipline" you have to do, the better, for both you and your LO.
Good luck. This is a tough age with a lot of new things to learn, but it's also a really fun stage.
thank you so much for the tips and advice. It has given me a lot to think about, and I've spent the last week just trying to calm down and get back to the intentions i originally had with parenting! I've tried to analyze myself and the words i say/actions i take. this has helped some.
the4ofus-great advice about saying the positive action. that makes so much sense. I've already started to structure my requests differently. thank you! & its great perspective to read about the emotions thing. It makes so much sense, and its so easy to start taking it personally or think that he is mocking me, when clearly that is not the case. I've been working on finding that zen balance :)
bebestar7- I'm so glad to hear that i am not the only mama who has re-fed her child food that fell on the floor! i do the same thing with the fruit and smoothies. Great idea with the popsicle stick, ds is obsessed with watermelon right now so that might give me some time to get something done! I totally felt the same way about baby proofing at first. But yeah, i've come to the same conclusion. Why put a temptation in front of him that will just continually frustrate both of us? Learning to be a AP mama when you didn't have that example set for you as a child is really tough. this is where the real parenting starts i guess! I used to be involved with a lot of AP groups in my area but since i started school, its been really hard to get to the meetups. But i really should start to make that a priority. Community is so important for your spirit and your sanity!
thanks for the encouragement mamas. I sometimes do not know what i would do without this online community.
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