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19 mos old "needs" my undivided attention all day?

574 Views 11 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  HotSpotMama
Seriously. ALL DAY. He will only play "on his own" if I am sitting within a metre of him and not doing anything else. If I am reading / doing a puzzle / folding laundry he can not play by himself. He must remove my activity from me so that my attention is totally focused on him. When I am making supper he must be up watching what I am doing and "helping" or we have a total meltdown. And GOD FORBID I should choose to eat a meal while he is in the highchair instad of on my lap, or decide to cut vegetables and not let him up on the counter to see what I"m doing. I swear I"m going to have a bladder infection soon because I get so tired of having a little boy standing in front of me screaming while I pee that I"m just going to stop urinating between 5 am and 9 pm. At playgroup all the other kids run off and play, and my son sits on my lap, or insists that I come with him as he explores everything. And we've been going to the same playgroup for a year now. Even when I set him in front of the tv (once a day for 25 min) he must sit on my lap and any reading material I happen to have brought along is promptly removed. I am so tapped out. And he won't go to dad anymore for more than 15 min unless I leave the house. We don't have family in the area, so I have no releif.

Okay, so that's my problem. Now here's my question:

Am I just caving too easily? Should I just let him be on the floor while I cook and then eventually he'll stop screaming and thowing himself into sharp counter top corners and find something to do? He has always been really high needs, but I wonder if I'm just enabling him now that he's older. Any ideas? Solutions? Things that have worked for you?

Oh, and I do wear him, but I fractured my right collar bone about 6 months ago and it has healed, but both my sling and my mei tai irritate it if I wear him too long, because he's 30 lbs now. And I do let him up on a chair to watch me, but he's climbing now and will get up on the kitchen counter and try to grab the knife out of my hand while I'm chopping veggies.
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We're going through the same thing over here except ours is more related to boredom typically. Problem is he's bored most of the time!
Maybe it's something with these high need kids. Mine has been so extremely high needs since birth. Do they have more trouble regulating their own emotions? Are they more sensitive, more aware? Who knows.
One thing I noticed with mine, though, is that for a couple mos. back we had to night wean due to some dental issues and that caused a lot of problems. Over time (after about a month) he became very fearful, anxious, and clingy. It was so bad that he would scream if dh tried to take him from me. We have gone back to night nursing and things have been getting gradually better but he's still a high needs kid that needs entertainment/attention.
Sorry can't help you much, but I can definitely commiserate. High needs is so hard!!!!!!!!!
i have definitely been there. my son is so sensitive and very shy. he wants to be with me and a part of everything i am doing all day. at 19 mos he was very similar to yours. all i can say is that i just looked at him and i said this is what he needs. if i can give him this attention that he needs so much now, then he will grow out of it. he is almost 3 now and my gosh what a contrast. he is so confident, still shy, still likes me to go with him when exploring new places, but plays and "reads" to himself a lot. he is actually starting to like other kids and he doesn't need me always by him. what helped the most i would say was him getting an exstensive vocabulary so that he could explain what he needed/wanted. it also helps and helped him when i explained absolutely everything to him. a lot of what he felt nervous about was not really knowing what to expect. anyway, just give it time and he will grow out of it. the change so much in just a few months and tons in just 6 months. good luck!
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I have to agree with lucsmama. They're so small at this age and can't express all the emotions that they have and I think that makes them more needy. Our reversing the nightweaning for us means potentially more dental issues in the future but I knew that our son needed me at night so much that that was more important than possibly more tooth decay. I try to cuddle with him a lot. What drives me and dh batty is when we actually have to accomplish something (i.e. making dinner) and ds is screaming at my legs. That is where the high need aspect makes things even more difficult. If they were just needy but not "high need" perhaps they would be content in a back carrier. Nope. Has to be involved in the action, grabbing at things, esp. things that he shouldn't. I often feel I don't have any time for myself and the constant needing is wearing on me. But I do have a son with special needs (not in a traditional sense but in an emotional sense), and I do feel that he will outgrow this. I also feel that as he gets older and we can communicate it will be infinitely easier to set limits and help to self-regulate. What can you do when they're still such babies and don't understand?
Maybe some other moms have some suggestions for you. I know for mine getting him out with nice kids (not aggressive ones) to play with he loves. Or taking him to the children's museum where he can explore new things. When he's bored that spells trouble for us. We don't have family around to help, either, which would be an ideal solution. I get so frustrated and keep thinking "it's not supposed to be like this. We're not meant to live like this, two people alone with a needy child going crazy." If there were other people around to entertain him and occupy him I don't think we'd be dealing with the same issues.
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That is exactly how I feel a lot, too. Like I'm supposed to be enjoying having a child, and sometimes when he's exploring new things or playing a game with me, or saying new things, I do. But so much of the time I just feel constantly worn down and drained, and I think, "what's wrong with us that this is so difficult?". This is especially the case when I see other women with 2 or 3 kids and they seem to have so much more time and energy than I do, KWIM? Or when I have to say no to other things, and people ask me why, and I say "because my son really needs me to be with him" and they look at me like I'm crazy.

I do try to remind myself that he's not a drain, he's a syphon, and that he needs my encouragement and energy and attention now so that he won't have anxiety issues when he is older. And I look at my niece who was very high needs and is now a confident and very intelligent and talented 24 yr old and think, "okay, we can make it through this and maybe we'll get to that someday".

We did also recently night wean him, which might be part of the problem. I think I may just suck it up (I weaned him becuase I was tired of feeling so stupid and dazed all the time
) and start nursing him at night again when he does wake up.

It is good to hear that this is "normal" for a high needs toddler, though.

Also, nice to hear from you, TudoBem.
I've actually been thinking about you and wondering how you were coping with this stage.
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i definitely find that you need to have some strategies for when you're going crazy. If I'm not feeling well or am just too exhausted from chasing mine constantly I'll just lay in bed and let him nurse. Typically he'll start grabbing books and we'll read and nurse for a while. At least that way I can lay down! If I really need a break and either need to do something for myself or just want to read for 5 minutes I'll turn a 30 minute DVD on. Then I'll get myself a cup of tea and either watch with him or read (or surf the net) while he watches. I find it takes the level of intensity down and we both relax because he enjoys the show and I enjoy the downtime. Then afterwards we're both refreshed and able to do something else. I think the slowing down helps him in many ways and perhaps he just doesn't know how to calm down himself at this point so my directing this activity while we're still close together helps.
But by far the most difficult thing is when we're all burned out completely which makes ds escalate more and we don't have any family or anyone to turn to. That is what I struggle with the most. I hope that when my son has kids that dh and I can help them if they need us. Not having family want to or offer to help seems so incredibly wrong to me.
And regarding the women with 2-3 kids that seem like they're doing fine there are two points to consider. First, they may appear to be fine but most people with several kids are pretty burned out. Secondly, their 3 kids are probably easier than your one! I have a neighbor with two kids that are typical kids, which to me means easy compared to my high needs one. She can travel to places, run errands, visit friends. I'm so envious of her life of freedom! The kids just comply, sit in their carseats with little fuss, sit in the stroller, sit in the grocery cart, you name it. They may fuss a bit but they don't scream and thrash until you let them down and then run all over the store investigating every little thing. I like to tell people that my son as an infant was like having colicky quadruplets. There's just no comparison.
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You just completely described what my now 6 year old was like when he was a young toddler!!! I swear that could have been one of my journal entries. He was practically velcroed to me. It gradually got better and, by the time he was in preschool, at 4, he was (and is) one of the most self-assured little boys I have ever seen. He had not one bit of seperation anxiety when starting school. All the other moms were being dragged back into the preschool room by crying kids saying "don't leave". I took a minute to talk to the teacher, walked to my ds to say good bye, he looked at me and said "you're still here."

So, I know it is hard, but indulge it. I found that the best way to help him through it was to give in to it. And, I know it takes twice (or five times) as long to get things done with him helping, but try to let him "help" in anyway. Give him a washcloth to "fold" or something that is not hot to stir when making dinner. And, read, read and read to him. It is a great together activity and he will love it. I seriously didn't know what else to do with my ds because he wouldn't let me do anything, so I read to him ALL the time - lol. He became an early reader because of it and can now read Harry Potter.

My second ds is very different, much more active with running and climbing and trying to get away in public, etc. My first one would have never, ever done that.

Enjoy your little Cling-on!
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Another mom of a "cling-on" here
. I truly believe the best thing is to indulge him. I can relate with the bathroom thing. It wasn't so bad in the day, but if I had to get up at night, ds would wake up and I would have to carry him with me and hold him on my lap as I used the toilet. Ds will be 5 this summer, and is a great secure kid, though he does still love sitting on my lap.
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My son was like this too. Around 2 or 2 1/2 (I can't quite remember now) he became much more independent. I never thought it would happen but he can play by himself for an hour (sometimes more) now. It's most likely temperamental, alhtough it could be the nightweaning too. I know ds got really, really clingy after a babysitting incident where the babysitter didn't call us like she was told and ds had been crying for 2 hours...
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I think that it is a developmental stage. Both of my girls played independently more often around 12 months than 19 months. My theory is that, at 12 months, they were still learning about the objects around them and how they exisit in relation to the child. At 19 months, they have figured that out and are moving on the the beginnings of becoming social entities.

By the way, the only reason I had time to type this is because my 19 month old is napping and therefore not glued to me.
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You're doing the right thing by giving him what he needs right now. It WILL get better, I promise! My DD was like that and gradually began entertaining herself and letting me do things without her. I have two suggestions:

1) Let him "help" as much as possible. Give him safe jobs to do while you're cooking or cleaning. It keeps them happy and is great training! DD now does all kinds of chores by herself -- feeds the cat, swiffers the kitchen and hall, wipes down all the baseboards. . . it's great!

2) We didn't have any family either, so I hired a "big sister" for DD. I got a teenage girl to come for 3 hours at a time a few days a week in the summer when school was out. She played with DD, who LOVES her, and I got to get on the computer, take a bath, whatever. I didn't leave the house though until she'd been coming almost a year (during the school year she came one night a week and on Saturday mornings). She is pretty much part of the family now!

I know that stage is so draining and exhausting. Keep telling yourself you are doing a great job!
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"First, they may appear to be fine but most people with several kids are pretty burned out."

Amen to that. I seem to be half alive most of the time. Kinda awake but really sleeping in side, if you know what I mean.
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