"Spirited" toddler... or is that BiPolar?! - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-26-2004, 01:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't know exactly what I'm looking for...
I am a single mom to two sons (11yr/o and 19m/o). My older son was the type of tot every mom dreams of - quiet, gentle, compliant, personable, "well-behaved", happy, curious and fun. He threw exactly ONE temper tantrum - when he was 2.5 - it got him nowhere and he never threw another. That was the end of it.
My younger son is throwing me for a loop - he is very intelligent, very curious and can be a very fun, happy kid - at home. When we are out somewhere and I have to limit his explorations, he gets furious! He throws full blown temper tantrums on an almost daily basis! He hits, kicks and head butts. He alternates between laughing and sobbing. I've tried not reacting to the tantrums, talking him down, singing to him, holding him (so that he doesn't hurt himself or me).
He headbutted & split my lip : while visiting my grandparents and my grandfather told me I should "take my hand to his butt and put an end to that!" He'd gotten upset because I was gently stopping him from (purposely) stepping on my grandparent's dog's paws and sticking his fingers in the dog's mouth (its an old dog and unused to kids). He does this whenever he is delayed or stopped from doing anything (he threw several fits yesterday b/c I wouldn't let him just run off - we were at an amusement park).
I don't hit him - I try talking gently to him and distracting him, but lately, he is of the age where he is *not* easily distracted from what he wants to do. He is not very verbal yet, but can follow simple, one step directions.
While at home, I let him explore and wander at will and I try to do the same when we are out - but obviously, safety concerns are higher and I also have my other child.
Any ideas??
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Old 08-26-2004, 03:44 PM
 
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Sounds like my ds, who was a very high-needs baby and is a very spirited (but introverted) toddler. If your ds is just learning language it is probably frustrating for him to not be able to verbalize what is on his mind; at the same time he is trying to be in control of as much of his world as possible, and probably doesn't like to be interrupted when he is in the middle of doing something (even if he is about to stomp on a dog's paw!). Diversion and distraction is important (you're doing this, I think) but also aiding in transitioning from one activity to another - this is harder, bc you have to figure out what object or action of transition will work.

As for hitting - I have zero tolerance for it; I tell my ds that it's alright to be angry but never ok to hit or hurt someone. Not an easy conversation to have in the midst of it, but something to talk about after it happens. While it is happening, I do everything I can to stop the hitting or head-butting or biting or whatever. I say while I'm stopping him "don't hit, it's never ok to hit" etc. and he will probably continue with the tantrum, but then I'll try to help him calm down and then talk to him about how he was feeling after it's over and about how he can handle his anger without hitting.

I don't know if this is helpful, but I did want to say that your son sounds spirited, and probably going through a developmental growth spurt with learning language;
and please don't spank him like your gf suggested! (that only teaches hitting).
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Old 08-26-2004, 05:33 PM
 
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Developmentally, 19 months can be very traumatic for a child. It is around the age where children begin to understand that they are a separate person from mommy (imagine how scary that is!). They are, all at once, furious to be separate and intent on exploiting that separation.

It can be a very difficult age, it was for me. I found that I had to completely alter my expectations and parent my daughter the way she needed me to parent her - tons of regiment, very little flexibility to her schedule and creative transitioning techniques which I had to use multiple times every day. I could never just scoop my DD up and say, "it's time to go!" - I had to figure out lots of different ways to get her from A to B.

If you feel that transitions are your problem, I'd be happy to elaborate. And by "transitions", I'm talking about any and every transition - whether it's to a place, a diaper change, a meal, bedtime, etc.
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Old 08-27-2004, 11:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, I have no intention of spanking him - for just that reason. My gdfr is also the one who was complaining a few weeks ago that my dad and I were the only ones to call & wish him a happy birthday... neither of his other two kids nor their offspring did... gee, could it have something to do with his parenting style?
I do tell him "No hit. Hitting hurts mommy." while he is trying to hit me.
I am trying to encourage him to be more verbal - with him, I get the feeling it isn't so much that he *can't* talk more, but that he is simply choosing NOT to talk more. On occasion, he will come out with sentences: "I-wan-dat" "You-gimme-dat" "I-lub-you" "I-wan-up", but they are SO rare and so fast that I didn't believe I was hearing right until my mom heard him say them too. Most of the time, he only uses one word: "Up" "Hi" or gestures.
I just wish he'd talk more... the temper tantrums can be quite painful for both of us!
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Old 08-27-2004, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, please do.
I have noticed that some of his tantrums are transition related (of course) and diapering is a BIG PITA! Thankfully, he is starting to show potty-readiness and part of that is holding his urine/waste for hours before going (like an adult), so he will have a dry diaper for hours on end. I read somewhere that giving them something to play with - something special just for changing time - helps keep them still for changings, and sometimes that works for him and sometimes it doesn't.
A big problem is also when he wants to watch Barney (yes, I do let him watch Barney tapes - I need to cook & clean sometime - and sometimes I just need a few minutes to myself). I let him watch one tape and he immediately wants to watch another and will bring me a tape, saying "Bar! BAR!" and when I don't comply (I don't want him watching TV more then one tape per day) he gets very angry and throws the tape at me. This of course, doesn't get him more Barney, but that doesn't seem to make a difference. I do tell him that I know he wants to watch more Barney, but that he needs to play instead and no more tv.
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Old 08-27-2004, 12:15 PM
 
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Re: the Barney tape. Perfectly normal, albeit maddening! I suggest that you offer him an alternative instead of just saying no to the tape, such as, "can you help mommy fold this towel?" or "can you wipe off the cabinets with this paper towel?" (Boy, I'm big on the towel examples here!).

I found that transitioning was best if I not only gave a five, then three, then one minute warning, but also if I gave my DD an option of *how* she wanted to transition. For example, if we needed to do a diaper change, I would ask if she wanted to run to the changing table, crawl to the changing table or fly to the changing table (she always chose "fly"). I would scoop her up and "fly her" to the table with lots of turns and dips. While on the table I would engage her as much as possible with silly songs, stories, laughing at her toes, whatever it took to make it fun for her.

I also wanted to say that this type of behavior takes several months to quell - you are doing all the right things but it will take a lot of reinforcement. I promise - he will get it!
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Old 08-27-2004, 05:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I do offer him other things to do - mostly toys to play with, but he is.. *ahem* very stubborn... when he sets his mind on something, I herd of elephants dancing the polka in our living room couldn't distract him!
I will keep on doing what I'm doing and hope that he does start to "get it" sooner rather then later!
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Old 08-28-2004, 08:23 PM
 
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very stubborn = very persistent. sometimes a good thing.
i blame persistency for me still working on a doctorate. Sometimes it is a good trait (although right now I am 1 yr out from finishing and at times I am not so sure )

I read the raising your spirited child book right around 18 months and it literallyt changed my life. I think the book and workbook offer really good suggestions at ways to limit things that set off your kid. For instance, I always used to stop for gas on the way to daycare to pick up my dd, rather than right after. Somehow she is now kind of growing into being able to deal with in and out of the carseat a bit better so now we no longe rhave to do this.

I skimmed the above responses, but how much do you talk to him to let him know a transition is about to happen? That really helps us. As does a basic routine.

Diaper changes....have you tried having him stand for wet dipes? We went through this crazy phase when erin would roll from one side of the room to the other. Turns out she thought she was helping. So we started snapping up the dipes while she was standing. We also started lettting her help -- get the wipe wet, help wipe, and then wash hands afterwards.

gotta get back to work. hang in there.

Kristin -- mom of Erin (11/5/02) and Leah (9/29/05)
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Old 08-29-2004, 04:16 PM
 
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I agree you should read the Spirited Child book. I borrowed it from a friend and learned so much! Talia doesn't fit the definition of spirited at all. But, I think it's still extremely useful to any parent. For instance, while Talia isn't thrown off center by most transitions or stimulating circumstances, she does have her limit - we can't run too many errands in a day, and we're better in big stores at times of day when they're not too crowded. Part of that is my own reaction to overstimulation - I'm less able to react well to her when I'm stressed by crowds. And it helped me understand more about introversion vs. extroversion, and how to relate to people (and especially children) who fit on that continuum differently than me. I'm actually pretty well balanced between both, I have both introverted and extroverted tendancies sometimes, but find people on either extreme to be confusing sometimes...
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Old 08-29-2004, 04:58 PM
 
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I would also take a lood at "The Out of Sync child" which deals with sensory issues. One thing our pre-school director told us is that kids who are better behaved at home than out often have sensory issues that need to be dealt with. I don't know if your ds is one of them but this book might be worth a look.
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Old 03-02-2005, 06:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Read it (Raising your Spirited Child) and it did help.
Update on us now - Trystan is still very spirited and persistent...
Now that he is developing more language skills, however, he is less violent. We still have some issues of hitting, but they are mostly an expression of anger (he gets mad a t me and hits his big brother). I've been responding to this by sitting him on my lap and restraining his hands and repeating over and over, "No. Hitting is bad, Hitting hurts bro-bro. Hitting is a no-no. We do not hit. Tell bro-bro sorry, please. " He has never yet told him sorry (nor my alternate - please), but at the end he will get up and go over to give his brother a hug and kiss... it is progress.
What a kid, though... *whew*
I'm starting to see more calculated open defiance as well.
He's going to keep me on my toes, for sure.
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Old 03-02-2005, 08:18 PM
 
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Have you considered teaching him to sign. This worked wonders on our crew.

Rebecca wife of Megan...moms to six crazy kiddos! Seth (15), Madison (13), Zachary (12), Trevor (12), Alex (10), and Nicholas (9)
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Old 03-02-2005, 10:19 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynbow
Oh, I have no intention of spanking him - for just that reason. My gdfr is also the one who was complaining a few weeks ago that my dad and I were the only ones to call & wish him a happy birthday... neither of his other two kids nor their offspring did... gee, could it have something to do with his parenting style?
I do tell him "No hit. Hitting hurts mommy." while he is trying to hit me.
I am trying to encourage him to be more verbal - with him, I get the feeling it isn't so much that he *can't* talk more, but that he is simply choosing NOT to talk more. On occasion, he will come out with sentences: "I-wan-dat" "You-gimme-dat" "I-lub-you" "I-wan-up", but they are SO rare and so fast that I didn't believe I was hearing right until my mom heard him say them too. Most of the time, he only uses one word: "Up" "Hi" or gestures.
I just wish he'd talk more... the temper tantrums can be quite painful for both of us!
My dd started talking later than I would have expected becase she waited till she could use three word sentences before talking. Sounds like you ds is similar.

I have to tell you that your ds sounds like a run-of-the-mill spirited child. My dd is spirited and started having tanrums before 12 months, "terrible twos" started around 19 months. I'm very lucky to have a day without a single tantrum now, and she's doing WAY better than 20-30 months. Since she's my first I don't know any different though.

Anyway- sounds like you got lucky the first time around. Good luck!
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Old 03-03-2005, 03:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, I did teach him a few signs, but he has no more interest in that then in speaking verbally. He *can* speak very well - when he chooses to, but he just doesn't want to very often...
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Old 03-03-2005, 06:22 PM
 
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Hi there! My 2.5 DD is pretty spirited too - has been since Day 1. I've noticed a definite correlation between conquering a developmental milestone and "spirited" behaviour. It usually lasts a couple of weeks, then she becomes much easier to be around. Every time we're in the middle of one of these, I want to pull all my hair out, think it's going to last forever, "what happened to my loving angel?", then it seems to be over - till the next time! She's still a spitfire inbetween, but at least she's not doing a rendition of 'Rocky IV'! kwim? I try to keep in mind that the qualities that are sometimes the most tiresome to me now are the ones that are going to make her a very strong successful woman in the future. You want your child to think for his own and be steadfast in his opinions instead of just "going with the flow" all the time. I picture my DD being better equipped to deal with peer pressure in her teens due to her inherent personality. Gets me through some of the tough days! Hang in there!
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Old 03-03-2005, 06:33 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by addiesmom
Hi there! My 2.5 DD is pretty spirited too - has been since Day 1. I've noticed a definite correlation between conquering a developmental milestone and "spirited" behaviour. It usually lasts a couple of weeks, then she becomes much easier to be around. Every time we're in the middle of one of these, I want to pull all my hair out, think it's going to last forever, "what happened to my loving angel?", then it seems to be over - till the next time!

wait a second....did you steal my dd? :LOL

One thing that stood out as I was re-reading this thread -- re: barney tapes ---> I've found it helpful in the past month or so to go over the expectations before, during and after something happens. As in we are going to watch one barney tape.
during tape: when this tape is over, we turn off the tv.
tape over: erin, tape's over. Would you please turn off the tv?

Kristin -- mom of Erin (11/5/02) and Leah (9/29/05)
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