Taking away child's sense of power - how do I replace it? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 08-24-2010, 01:58 AM - Thread Starter
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My dd turned 3 in June. She feels increasingly powerless now that I've recently started limiting her nursing sessions and I'm trying to understand her feelings and find a solution for all of us.

I have nursed her mostly on demand, including through a recent one year stint as a working mom (now back at home getting ready to start a business). I want to let her wean at her own pace and I'm really happy to continue BFing a few times a day, but for reasons including my sanity and upcoming business schedule, have recently started putting more boundaries around nursing instead of letting her go at it 20 times a day.

The problem is that I think she feels increasingly powerless the more that I restrict her access to something so important to her. I tell her we can't have "mo" yet and offer hugs, snuggles and other connective activities. She cries and pushes me away while simultaneously trying to pull up my shirt. I totally realize a certain amount of frustration is to be expected here and I'm sympathetic to her plight and attempt to communicate my love and concern, but she so far has resisted any substitutes. It probably doesn't help that I haven't been 100 percent consistent with timing -- we don't have scheduled times to nurse, so sometimes when she asks I say yes, and sometimes I feel like it hasn't been long enough, and I say no. I'm going to work on being more consistent and perhaps designating set times like after breakfast, before her nap, etc.

I'm looking for a GD way to help her regain a sense of power and connection, or any thoughts on how I am going about this. We have really valued cooperation over authoritarian approaches to being a family thus far and it just doesn't seem to be working here. Has anyone used play or other similar approaches in cases where you find yourself taking away your child's decision-making power and autonomy, or am I looking at this wrong?

Posting here because I think it's an emotional issue that includes BFing, as opposed to a BFing issue - mods please bump if there's a better forum.
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#2 of 5 Old 08-24-2010, 11:15 AM
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I understand that it can be helpful to designate a nursing place, and explain that from now on you'll only nurse there. Is there any chance she has reflux? Wanting to nurse all the time can be sign of that, because it helps with the pain.

I might also start talking about her being a big girl and give her more independence in ways that she might enjoy-- whether it's helping cook dinner or whatever. I wouldn't specifically tie it to the weaning, but I would make sure that I was giving her age appropriate responsibilities and freedoms, so that she has a role to grow into as she moves away from the baby role.
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#3 of 5 Old 08-24-2010, 02:10 PM
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I think it's time to set a nursing schedule so she can predict when she can ask. Right now it feels to her like she's playing the nursing lottery: mostly I lose, but sometimes I hit the jackpot! Intermittent reinforcement has been scientifically proven to be the most powerful reinforcement there is. It's going to make her more persistent and drive both of you crazy. Believe it or not, a schedule will give her intellectual (if not physical) control of the situation.

another idea would be to give her nursing 'coupons' (something sturdy and tangible) for how often you are willing to nurse. Then she turns one in and you nurse. The danger is that she's 3 and so she most likely doesn't understand about making things last. I can easily see her using up all her coupons in 2 hours and then you both having a really really hard day. So I'd try a schedule first.

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#4 of 5 Old 08-24-2010, 04:40 PM
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This is a little different from your situation and doesn't directly address the nursing issue, but the underlying issue may be similar, When my DD was around 3.5, DS (around 11 mos) started walking and needed much more supervision and attention. Prior to that, I had been willing to read books with DD pretty much any time she wanted and for as long as she wanted, because DS would just happily play nearby. Once he was mobile, that just wouldn't work. I couldn't keep him safe while sitting on the couch reading all day, so I had to limit book reading to times when DS was nursing, asleep, or when DH was home to help. DD was NOT happy about this and we did see an increase in acting out/attention getting behaviors.

One thing we did was to try to have a regular time when DH could be with DS and I could spend one-on-one time with DD, even if it was just an hour a week. I think she was really missing that attention and that helped a lot. Also, we tried to acknowledge her feelings a lot, e.g., "You're feeling sad/angry/disappointed, etc. that Mommy can't read to you right now" or "It must be hard to have to wait for Mommy's attention sometimes," that kind of thing. That has also been very helpful. Also, just giving it time helped. Like everything else, it changed with time.

Hope this helps!
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#5 of 5 Old 08-24-2010, 06:25 PM
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When I started limiting nursing my dd moved back into my bed, she had been in her own room and her own bed for 6 months before I started. I found that this gave her the right balance between getting her need for comfort from me met without needing to nurse. The don't offer don't refuse method may also work. I found that getting dd out of the house and active also worked very well because then I didn't have to refuse, it just didn't come up because we stopped nursing in public (except for in a really extreme case) when she was almost two.
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