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#1 of 29 Old 04-14-2010, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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...I don't understand why I seem to give so much and he just seems to demand more. I feel like it's never enough. He's nearly 4. I stopped work when he was born and have always been at home with him. Ds and I have a good relationship and never argue in front of him. He has a really stable homelife and I am careful to make things pretty predictable. I also plan activities and talk to him a lot.

Today for example, while dd (16 months) was napping we did some craft things together, then we all went to the park, then we made strwberry milk together. Yet whenever I leave the room, within a couple of minutes he's shouting 'why have you left me on my own, I don't want to be on my own', even when dd is in the room with him. He constantly demands things and often in a whiny voice that drives me crazy cos it's for things that I would willingly give him, like a drink of water. He's on the verge of tears asking for water, like I wouldn't give it to him.

Then bedtimes! Well I know they're a whole issue on their own but again I'll give today as an example, we did our routine as usual, I put him in bed, kiss him goodnight and take dd to breastfeed and put to bed in another room. He starts crying cos his teddy has fallen out of bed, I get go put it back, then he cries cos the door's closed, then cos he nose needs cleaning, then something else. After a while I find it so hard to stay patient and not resent giving him the attention he demands especially when it often seems to be to dd's detriment.

Is this normal behaviour? What is going on here?
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#2 of 29 Old 04-15-2010, 02:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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After a lovely afternoon in the park with friends, he cried all the way home and then for another half an hour because he didn't want to go home. I got by telling myself there'd be some sage advice waiting for me on mdc. But nothing! Any comments welcome, even really obvious ones like this is totally normal. I just sometimes wonder if I'm doing anything wrong. Most of my friends with kids work and have had them with childminders etc from a young age and yet they seem so much more easy going. With ds it seems the more you give the more he wants. He just can't be happy.
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#3 of 29 Old 04-15-2010, 09:26 PM
 
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I'm sorry you didn't get any responses yet.

I don't have any real input or advice. I have an older child (8) who is a bit like that -- especially the bedtime. No matter how much I "give" he will ask for more. It drives me crazy.

He isn't whiny, but he has always been my one child that asks more of me. If I let him, he would still have me do things for him that his younger brothers willingly do for themselves.

In my son's case, he has recently been diagnosed with ADHD, so I think some of his behavior is related to that (particularly the bedtime since he has a hard time getting his brain to shut off and calm down for sleep). Not saying that is what is going on with your son, though.

I hope you get some more useful BTDT advice. I just felt bad for you. I know how it is to anticipate getting some helpful advice.
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#4 of 29 Old 04-21-2010, 02:09 AM
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Hi, sorry I don't have any advice either. My 4 yr old dd is similar. She has always been this way. She just can't seem to really relax and just enjoy life. It is hard to explain and I really didn't realize the difference in her until I had my ds, he is just so happy about life, just seems to be able to enjoy what is happening at the moment.
For example I took dd out to ice cream for a special treat after the last day of skiing. So today she asked to get ice cream again and I said no, we will another time, it is a special treat etc... she throws a total fit! And she will do this multiple times. Same with night time book reading, I read her three books every night, the other night I went ahead and read four and now, every night since she is throwing a fit because I will not read her four books!!
It seems that the more I stick with a very predictable routine the better it goes but I feel sad sometimes because I would like to do something different and fun but feel I will have to "pay for it" for a week or so afterwards!
She also does not like to be left alone, i could go on....

I have found that the book Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka is very helpful, in fact I really have liked all of her books and found inspiration and help in them all.

Ok, so I talking about all this, I think I will go and read some now! hehe
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#5 of 29 Old 04-21-2010, 11:13 AM
 
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I think it might be in the range of normal, and I wouldn't blame the fact that you've been home with him. I've been working since DD was 14 months, and she's like that, too. I just think some kids are like this.

I also wonder if he's been worse since his sister was born. DD has definitely been needier since our second daughter was born a month ago.

Second the suggestion for Raising Your Spirited Child. Great, great book that helped me understand DD better.

Stacey teaching teens to read & write... Daddy plays ska, DD1 (7/05) loves trees & princesses, & DD2 (3/10) loves mommy-milk! Please get your kids tested for lead.
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#6 of 29 Old 04-21-2010, 02:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lovesea View Post
then we made strwberry milk together
A lot of people don't think about this, but the root of the problem could very well be his diet. Strawberry milk is chock full of artificial colors and flavors... these are common triggers for setting kids off. If he's consuming food like this on a daily basis, it could very well be all or part of the problem.

There are many people who have cut out preservatives, artificial anything, processed foods and have discovered that their previously unhappy and demanding children become happy, helpful kids. Seriously. Even children diagnosed ADHD can be even-keeled kids without medication if they are on an all-natural diet. Google "Feingold Diet" and you'll get a ton of information about it.

When we were living in Germany, (dd was toddler stage), I would let her have these Pez candies once in a while. She'd wake up with night terrors, be restless all day, and get horrible eczema on her legs. We really buckled down back then to make sure her diet is all-natural and we have not had any problems since then. Literally, she has never had a temper tantrum (well, she's 8 now, but she didn't ever go through the tantruming toddler stage). She will still, for example, get to eat cake at a birthday party, but she knows the results of it. She doesn't sleep well, and ends up with scratches on her legs from the itching.

Anyway, the strawberry milk jumped out at me and if you're letting that kind of stuff in his diet, his diet itself could be the problem.

Good luck!
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#7 of 29 Old 04-21-2010, 03:48 PM
 
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I think it might be in the range of normal, and I wouldn't blame the fact that you've been home with him. I've been working since DD was 14 months, and she's like that, too. I just think some kids are like this.

I also wonder if he's been worse since his sister was born. DD has definitely been needier since our second daughter was born a month ago.

Second the suggestion for Raising Your Spirited Child. Great, great book that helped me understand DD better.

I have to completely agree with this. Everything you described with your DS is what I experience with my DS (4.5). Reading the book, "raising your Spirited Child," was beyond helpful. My DS is very needy & spirited.

Also, I have to agree with velochic that food additives &. allergies can play into this. Good Luck!

Lola , loving my DH, Mama to & we &
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#8 of 29 Old 04-21-2010, 04:02 PM
 
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I Raising the Spirited Child (RTSC) too.

I've got a 5.5 yo who is always left wanting more regardless what IT is.

FWIW, we cut out much dairy and it didn't make a difference, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to try it for yours.

Some kids are just naturally this way....RTSC gives some good tips and will shed some light on these kinds of kids.
I was nodding my head, "Yes. YES. YEEEES! That's MY kid!!" the whole time reading it.

It's helped to teach the kiddo some boundries and patience. Though we still have persistance issues I try to put a positive spin on it and try to remember that I'm grateful that at least he's got ingrained determination! Lol.

Center
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#9 of 29 Old 04-21-2010, 05:09 PM
 
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Oh yes. And though we didn't cut out sugar entirely, we did cut down drastically and it's made a huge difference in her attitude. I can tell what kind of day we're going to have based on how much sugar she eats. (Making sure she has regular snacks that contain protein/fat has been helpful, too.)

Stacey teaching teens to read & write... Daddy plays ska, DD1 (7/05) loves trees & princesses, & DD2 (3/10) loves mommy-milk! Please get your kids tested for lead.
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#10 of 29 Old 04-21-2010, 05:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lovesea View Post
...I don't understand why I seem to give so much and he just seems to demand more. I feel like it's never enough. He's nearly 4. I stopped work when he was born and have always been at home with him. Ds and I have a good relationship and never argue in front of him. He has a really stable homelife and I am careful to make things pretty predictable. I also plan activities and talk to him a lot.
How much do you "play" with him? I'm not talking about crafts, activities, or other "organized" kind of stuff... I mean just basic, raw, no rules, active, run around like chickens with our heads cut off, fun, giggly play? Something really silly, that makes him just laugh and giggle his guts out until he can't take it anymore?


Quote:
even when dd is in the room with him. He constantly demands things and often in a whiny voice that drives me crazy cos it's for things that I would willingly give him, like a drink of water. He's on the verge of tears asking for water, like I wouldn't give it to him.
What we did with my daughter when she was in that phase was we struggled NOT to give in to her "demands" and "whines". If she started demanding, or whining, I would say out-right no, absolutely you cannot have a glass of water when you ask me THAT way. Try again in a nice voice.

The worst part about that was catching myself when I would just blindly give in without a second thought. In the beginning, there were several occasions when I DID give in, but then I realized what I had done, and I took it back and said in my playful voice "Wait a second... You can't have that! You forgot to use your nice voice"...


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Is this normal behaviour? What is going on here?
Yes, normal. What's going on here is he's figured out what works to get what he wants.

You have to change before he will change. Stop giving in when he behaves this way. Show him the right way to ask, or the right thing to do. At bedtime, I stopped giving in to requests after I left the room. If it wasn't "I have to go to the bathroom", then it wasn't important and could wait until morning.
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#11 of 29 Old 04-23-2010, 01:06 AM
 
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My DD1 (4, almost 5yo) is much the same way. I have always felt she takes much more energy than my toddler.
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#12 of 29 Old 04-23-2010, 07:05 AM
 
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I think it's a four-year-old thing and completely normal! From my experience four is when they really are in the process of learning to empathise with other people's needs, and they need others (i.e. their parents) to show them where their boundaries are (as in "Now I have given you this red cup, you will have to use that. I understand that you want a green cup, but I do not want to run around and fetch different cups all day - the red one is perfectly fine." Ok, not a horribly good example, but I hope you see what I mean.) They often demand very specific things and complain a lot!

Four years is a much more challenging age than two or three, in my opinion. There is a lot of social learning going on.

About disliking being in a room by himself, I have had that with two of my kids. It did pass. I don't know why they are more anxious all of a sudden at that age, but it does seem to be a sensitive age. I wouldn't make a big deal of it, just act calm and talk to him while I am out of eye's reach.

As for whining, I think a little different about that than I see that many others do. I do believe that the whining voice comes from feeling a bit sore, and sometimes I think it is the fear of being told off for whining that causes a sad, nervous voice, which is then perceived as whining. I can remember my parents telling me not to use "that voice", and the fear of failing making me almost cry, therefore sounding like I was "whining". And then (because I as "whining") they wouldn't give me whatever-it-was, so it was a self-fulfilling prophecy and the next time I was almost crying already at the outset of asking for something, since I expected the same thing to happen again. I felt that they didn't really care about my wants.

My approach is to sympathise and not make a big deal of it. Sometimes kids just need a little reassurance to feel better, and the whining disappears. It is not a crime to feel a bit out of sorts.
But if I can't take it, either because I'm a bit tired or because there is just too much of it (which very rarely happens) I just say "Do you think you could try to say that in a normal voice? Because it sounds like you are complaining and I get a bit tired from hearing so much complaining today."
We have very little whining, so it works for us.
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#13 of 29 Old 04-23-2010, 09:58 AM
 
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We don't give in to the whining either. I just say "try again" in my normal voice and now my 4yo knows to ask in a normal voice and with manners.

We are teaching our 2 year old the same thing, but with her I have to tell her exactly what to say. After a whiny demand like "I want water", I will say something like "No whining, DDname. Say 'Mama can I please have some water?' " And then she repeats it.

Perhaps try to teach him the normal voice by telling how to ask, and then you can move to a neutral "try again" when he whines.

BTW ... if anybody has a better term than "normal voice" I would love to hear it!! For some reason it puts me off a bit.
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#14 of 29 Old 04-23-2010, 11:37 AM
 
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I think Raising A Thinking Child by Myrna Shure is also a good book that helps teach skills at his age.

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#15 of 29 Old 04-23-2010, 12:23 PM
 
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A couple of more book suggestions - Playful Parenting really helps me both with techniques and understanding my kids' need to have me take part in their play. It also gives me the 'freedom' to say I'm done, once I've spent time letting them lead the play for a bit. 30 minutes a day can make a difference.

Part of it, I bet, though is personality. If he's an extrovert, he gets his energy from being with other people, probably you right now. So, he is extra needy. As his sister gets more interactive that might abate a bit. I highly recommend Mary Sheedy Kurcinka's books - Raising Your Spirited Child is good, but I also like Kids, Parents & Power Struggles. Both talk about the interaction between your personality and your kids'. Our dd is an extrovert and I'm an introvert (mild, but I still regain my energy by being alone) and when we're both tired, it's really really hard.

Finally, why are you doing the bedtime routine alone? Is it possible for your dh to help? When our kids were that age, I'd do one child and dh would do the other. Then we'd switch. We found that 2 nights with one, and then 2 nights with the other worked better. I know you're nursing, but I bet you can work something out.

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#16 of 29 Old 04-23-2010, 04:48 PM
 
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Yet whenever I leave the room, within a couple of minutes he's shouting 'why have you left me on my own, I don't want to be on my own', even when dd is in the room with him.
This strikes me as an extrovert thing. My ds could play happily by himself for hours. DD is on my heels every moment. Personality can make a big difference.

He constantly demands things and often in a whiny voice that drives me crazy cos it's for things that I would willingly give him, like a drink of water. He's on the verge of tears asking for water, like I wouldn't give it to him.

My method is empowering my kids to do it themselves. Thirsty, okay get a drink. Put a child size pitcher out so he can pour it himself or a stool by the sink. If it isn't something he can do instead of correcting whining I just say what I would like to hear and 9 out of 10 times it gets parroted back to me. Eventually it will stick.

Then bedtimes! Well I know they're a whole issue on their own but again I'll give today as an example, we did our routine as usual, I put him in bed, kiss him goodnight and take dd to breastfeed and put to bed in another room. He starts crying cos his teddy has fallen out of bed, I get go put it back, then he cries cos the door's closed, then cos he nose needs cleaning, then something else.

Bed times are non-negotiation times here. For the little things like you mentioned my ds is expected to take care of himself. If he is feeling insecure I will let him know I will come back and check on him. And I do keep checking until he falls asleep. There is no exchange of words usually but I make sure he sees me looking in.
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#17 of 29 Old 04-23-2010, 07:12 PM
 
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I don't have much to add, but when I saw the title of your post I said to myself "I bet he's 4!" I am struggling with 4yo twins who are both having varying degrees of this type of behavior.

~helen~ mama to 5 yo twins jonas and micah and my 2 yo baby boy eli
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#18 of 29 Old 04-24-2010, 04:06 AM
 
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when I saw the title of your post I said to myself "I bet he's 4!"
Me too!
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#19 of 29 Old 04-26-2010, 10:38 AM
 
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As for whining, I think a little different about that than I see that many others do. I do believe that the whining voice comes from feeling a bit sore, and sometimes I think it is the fear of being told off for whining that causes a sad, nervous voice, which is then perceived as whining. I can remember my parents telling me not to use "that voice", and the fear of failing making me almost cry, therefore sounding like I was "whining". And then (because I as "whining") they wouldn't give me whatever-it-was, so it was a self-fulfilling prophecy and the next time I was almost crying already at the outset of asking for something, since I expected the same thing to happen again. I felt that they didn't really care about my wants.
If your parents had said something to you like "I'd LOVE to be able to help you, except that (and then lowered their voice to a playful whisper) you used that voice again... Try again in a normal voice."

Do you believe you still would have felt that fear of failure?

I agree with you to a certain extent. I believe that the WAY we tell our children not to do something makes all the difference in the world. And our attitude at the time also has a huge influence on their moods and attitudes towards being disciplined. Discipline doesn't have to be a bad 4-letter word, it can be gentle, kind and motivating.
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#20 of 29 Old 04-26-2010, 11:06 AM
 
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My ds (8) is exactly like this and he's been that way since birth. Yes it's normal, yes it's his personality and yes it's tough to deal with. I have had to take great care in setting up personal boundaries so that he does not suck me dry, emotionally, physically and spiritually. With varying degrees of success.

I have and have read all the books suggested and they do give you some perspective on the problem. The best advice I was ever given was that it's not my job to make him happy. That's his job. I do my best to give him what he needs without giving more than I'm capable of giving. That's all he can ask for.

Things do get better with age and awareness. I can now rationalize with ds more than ever and it does help. It doesn't eliminate the problem but he is more able to accept that he's asking too much of people at times.

That's my take on things.
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#21 of 29 Old 04-26-2010, 12:14 PM
 
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oh lovesea, i'm afraid but i have to point out to you that you need not attend to him too much. he had developed expectation from you because you respond well to him. hence, he demands more. at the age of 4, he is surely capable of simple jobs like picking up his toy, opening a door or nose cleaning.

i also noticed that he is likely to be jealous because you are giving attention to your daughter. pls gently tell him that he is a big brother now and can be independant and understanding. tell him that you love him but sometimes need some time for little sister.

shouting is not allowed in the house and if it persist, put him in the time out corner for 4 minutes (even at bedtime).

it takes some patience as he already had developed this behavior. give yourself sometime and develop some skills to handle him. hope this help.

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#22 of 29 Old 04-29-2010, 02:45 PM
 
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OP, I also recommend the book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. I checked it out of the library a couple of months ago and couldn't put it down -- it's wonderful. I used to nanny for a couple of children slightly younger than your DS, and one of them was very much the way you describe your DS in his behavior. When I read this book, a lot of his behavior "clicked" for me -- much of his whining and controlling, demanding behavior was a reaction to low-level stress in his environment causing anxiety for him. Payne recommends ways to identify these low-level stressors that cause anxiety for children, and simplify the environment so that high-strung children can relax a bit more. It might be worth the read, to see if his recommendations "click" for you. I know it made sense to me...

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#23 of 29 Old 04-29-2010, 03:25 PM
 
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OP, my now 5 yo dd is very much like what you describe. Her 2 yo sis is pretty much the opposite. We always think of our dd1 as the high needs, highly sensitive anxious kids who demands more, is more intense...and it is not easy being her mama although I adore her and she makes me smile and laugh everyday. I am constantly struggling with setting boundaries etc. 2 things have helped us: 1) magnesium supplements to deal with the anxious energy 2) Her sister just turned 2 and now they can play together!!!! woohoo!! This is making such a huge difference for our little extrovert now has an adoring playmate. But I won't joke her 3rd year was ROUGH, 4 was a bit better...not sure about 5 as she just turned 5 a week ago! Take care of yourself & be sure to get lots of rest.


I'm really interested in reading Simplicity Parenting--going to check it out.
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#24 of 29 Old 04-29-2010, 09:32 PM
 
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Proudmama- can you tell me about the magnesium supplements? I've never heard of this, sounds interesting.

~helen~ mama to 5 yo twins jonas and micah and my 2 yo baby boy eli
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#25 of 29 Old 05-05-2010, 07:40 AM
 
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If your parents had said something to you like "I'd LOVE to be able to help you, except that (and then lowered their voice to a playful whisper) you used that voice again... Try again in a normal voice."

Do you believe you still would have felt that fear of failure?

I agree with you to a certain extent. I believe that the WAY we tell our children not to do something makes all the difference in the world. And our attitude at the time also has a huge influence on their moods and attitudes towards being disciplined. Discipline doesn't have to be a bad 4-letter word, it can be gentle, kind and motivating.
I do agree that discipline can and should be gentle and that you should always talk to your children with respect.

But I do think it is often unfair to pick on the way the child said something instead of listening to what the child is trying to say. It is always possible to consider whether there could be a reason why they sound unhappy. Then the whining can be addressed after you have acknowledged that you understand where the child is coming from.

That said, I know that listening to whining can be very draining.
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#26 of 29 Old 05-06-2010, 02:44 AM
 
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Originally Posted by HappyMommy2 View Post
BTW ... if anybody has a better term than "normal voice" I would love to hear it!! For some reason it puts me off a bit.

The whiny voice gets on my very last nerve!! When (just turned 4 yo) ds makes a request in a whiny or demanding tone I ask him to "please find a more polite way to say that" - when he was younger I'd phrase it as "a more polite way to say that would be xyz, can you please try again?" but he now has a good idea about what that entails and I don't usually have to model the words anymore. I use a very neutral tone and don't insist that he rephrase something if he's upset or in urgent need, but generally he just rephrases the previous request and we move on. I also try to model making polite requests when addressing him, (though they get progressively less polite the more times I have to ask!!)

I agree with another poster that this kind of parental request can be interpreted as punitive and ignore the underlying message, so I try to keep it to a very low key reminder about manners when making requests of other people.

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#27 of 29 Old 05-07-2010, 09:06 PM
 
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My DD is still like this, and she is 7. Part of it is her being extroverted. And part, I believe, is that her love language is having people care for her (i.e. get her a drink when she could get one herself).

I find the more time/attention she gets from me, the harder she finds it to transition to being alone. What helps with that, for us, is warning: "in 1/2 hour, I am going to cook dinner. What are you going to play by yourself while I do that?". "What are you going to read/draw before lights out tonight?" etc.
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#28 of 29 Old 05-08-2010, 02:12 AM
 
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My son was like this too. He's a very smart kid, and very sweet. But sometimes he can be very moody and demanding. If you have factored out all physiological possibilities (is he tired, hungry, thirsty, overstimulated?) and you have had your fill of his demands, you can tell him so. "Hon, I need some time to myself right now, why don't you sit and play quietly?" I know this sounds like a pipe dream, but when he starts to get upset, you can simply pick him up and put him in his room, explaining "you can come out when you've calmed down and are ready to play quietly." Seems harsh, but IMO kids do need to understand that adults have needs too. In fact, everyone else has needs too! We are not meant to be slaves to our kids.

I was very against isolation for quite some time, thinking "how does this show kids how to cooperate with each other?" I had it in my mind that "time out" (which is not what we call it, and isn't really the point of it) would result in adults who would sit and stew instead of talking things out and dealing with their emotions. Well my kids aren't adults yet, but I was dead wrong. When my high-needs son starts getting out of line (becoming too demanding for my patience, or just really moody/reactive), after a warning about his behavior and how it's affecting others, I send him to his room. When he comes out (he determines when he's ready to come out, but if he starts the same behavior I send him back in again), he has usually found a solution to whatever problem was going on, or tells me that he's ready to talk about it (which is a true discussion about my observations and what he says his motivations were), and we are usually able to cooperate. Now, do understand that my son is 6, but we started around 4 and his ability to understand the impact of his behaviors has evolved over that time period.

At first, I would lead the conversations in a patient way: "when you did this what were you hoping would happen? what did your sister say when you did that?" etc. and give suggestions about how his behaviors affected the other person (or me) and give suggestions about what I would have liked. We do this with my 3 year old daughter now, and when she starts to throw a fit or get really moody she goes to lie down in her bed for a little while (without even my suggestion), then emerges a little while later either to talk about it or to simply get on with her day.

I just wanted to point out that, like adults, some kids are just more introspective than others. Sometimes they don't realize that they need to think about something or just need some quiet time alone. This was the case with my son, though I didn't really realize it until I was at my wit's end. On the other hand, it's also possible that this is just a stage for your son, and he's feeling really clingy for some developmental reason. It's also possible that there's some sort of underlying physiological or psychological reason for his behavior, or that something had changed and he hasn't come to terms with it yet. Be sure to give him lots of attention at other times, but when you're done let him know in no uncertain terms that YOU'RE DONE and it's time for you to do x,y,z.
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#29 of 29 Old 05-08-2010, 02:41 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazy_canuk View Post
The best advice I was ever given was that it's not my job to make him happy. That's his job. I do my best to give him what he needs without giving more than I'm capable of giving. That's all he can ask for.
YES!! Letting a kid believe that we are here to make them happy is a sad and false message. They will never be happy if they rely on others to change their mood, and I think that lesson is something that they learn while coming from the totally dependent baby stages into the mostly independent child stages. Not only do I believe this, but I also tell my kids often "It's not my job to make you happy (or entertained, etc.)" If you are bored, it's your responsibility to find something to do. Obviously, if there's something that I can do, I try to do it (sometimes I suggest activities or help problem-solve as to why he's unhappy), but the message is that I'm helping him solve his problems, rather than doing it for him.

Another idea is to swoop in when he says that he's feeling alone, and smother him completely with hugs and kisses until he squirming to get away. You could try chasing him around the house maniacally screaming for kisses. Sounds crazy, but just a "Playful Parenting" inspired idea.
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