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Does anyone else have a high needs toddler?

(39 Posts)
EauRouge Mon 20-Jun-11 15:55:14

I'm feeling exhausted and I need to feel like I'm not the only one!

DD1 is 2.8yo. She has always been quite highly strung, she's never slept through the night, she is an incredibly fussy eater and she needs entertaining constantly. I love her to bits, she's very sweet and loving but she's very intensive. I don't want to do any kind of CIO/CC, naughty step or sticker chart with her as it's not my style.

At the moment she's going through a hitting/pushing phase which is quite stressful. I've stopped going to playgroup for the time being and tried to take her to places where she can let off some steam. I think she is feeling a bit insecure after the arrival of DD2. She loves her little sister and is fine with her but she has definitely become more easily upset since she arrived and scared of things that she used to love like dogs, insects etc.

Pleeease, is there anyone out there that is going through the same thing or something similar? Is there a support group I can join? grin

reikizen Mon 20-Jun-11 16:01:06

Every toddler is high needs! Just out of interest, what are your objections to a sticker chart/naughty step? How do you discipline her at the moment (makes her sound like a dog but you know what I mean!)

activate Mon 20-Jun-11 16:03:44

"I don't want to do any kind of CIO/CC, naughty step or sticker chart with her as it's not my style. "

is somewhat, though not entirely, to blame for

"She has always been quite highly strung, she's never slept through the night, she is an incredibly fussy eater and she needs entertaining constantly. I love her to bits, she's very sweet and loving but she's very intensive."

Sorry you're knackered but maybe you should consider doing some form of behaviour management / parenting with her to save your sanity

EauRouge Mon 20-Jun-11 16:11:15

Ooh, not sure I want to get into a naughty step/sticker chart debate grin I like to talk things over rather than punish or reward. I don't know why, maybe it's because I resented that kind of treatment as a child. I think she's probably a bit young to understand the concept of a naughty step anyway.

At the moment I am just trying to preempt tantrums by trying to make sure she's not hungry or tired (difficult since she doesn't eat or sleep), remove her from the situation, distract etc. So if she's throwing her toys around then I put them away, calm her down and tell her that she shouldn't throw them because they'll break or someone will get hurt.

I just feel like she's already said "mummy, I want X" about a hundred times before I've even managed to get breakfast. Sometimes she's not even sure and just says "mummy, I want... I want... I want..." and then just bursts into tears. sad

TrinityIsAShreddingFatRhino Mon 20-Jun-11 16:14:05

shes probab;y a little young to talk things over with

toddlers are all high needs and intensive

they lack some impulse control and are learning at such a rate it can be scary
if you dont want to train/discipline/ show her the way to behave fair enough

but good luck, you're gonna need it

reikizen Mon 20-Jun-11 16:16:53

I do know what you mean, but tbh reasoning with a toddler is a sure fire way to madness. Especially if you have a baby on the way, you just don't have the time or patience for the old 'darling, mummy thinks you should respect the human rights of other people and not invade their personal space by biting them.' Sometimes a more direct approach is called for, by all means reason with a 7 year old (sometimes!) but not a toddler. Her behaviour sounds pretty normal toddler stuff, but if you are dead set on talking everything out with her I'm not sure the situation will improve. My two responded well to sticker charts as it gives me a chance to go ott in praising good behaviour and focuses their minds on what they shouldn't be doing. I found I did a lot less shouting once the sticker chart got put up (when dd1 was 2.5 and dd2 was just born it all went pear shaped and they saved my sanity - have used them off and on since). Remember, you are the adult, and sometimes we just have to be the boss. Sorry, it's shit at times I know!

activate Mon 20-Jun-11 16:19:27

children like boundaries

they do not like to be endlessly talked at it confuses them

still your child your decision

winnybella Mon 20-Jun-11 16:22:14

What activate says.

smashinghairday Mon 20-Jun-11 16:24:54

All toddlers are --unreasonable little gits--high needs.

Pictish Mon 20-Jun-11 16:27:07

Yes, I have two high needs toddlers.

Perhaps you should try some form of discipline, rather than 'talking it out' with a 2 yr old?

cory Mon 20-Jun-11 16:30:10

I am not into sticker charts either; for one thing because dd was so strong willed that the moderately expensive treats she could get off a sticker chart never seemed more important to her that getting her own way.

But otoh I never got very far trying to reason with a 2yo- because they are going to want their own way anyway.

So I usually ended up just removing dcs out of trouble, taking them straight home if they hit and pushed, taking toys away if they were thrown etc.

Albrecht Mon 20-Jun-11 16:46:10

Hey OP, sorry you haven't really had any supportive replies.

I think the phrase 'high needs' gets some people's backs up. (And stating you don't do X is seen as some kind of criticism of those who do, so they feel the need to come on and tell you YOU are doing it wrong...)

You might find the Unconditional Parenting Support Thread helpful.

ds is not walking yet but is very intense / high needs / difficult / whatever. Has been since he was 12 hrs old and started screaming grin. I agree, its easier to start as you mean to go on, rather than begin explaining things to them at midnight on the eve of their 6th birthday.

activate Mon 20-Jun-11 16:53:07

I object - I didn't feel criticised at all - easy to sling that one around though isn't it?

I felt sorry for an obviously exhausted parent of a toddler and felt my experience of 4 children through to late teens and my professional experience of working with 'difficult' children may be of help

cory Mon 20-Jun-11 17:08:58

Albrecht, you seem to have missed that we didn't all say that we did use the sticker chart method- I specifically said I didn't.

Just that it was my experience that reasoning with toddlers is a waste of time because they want their own way- at least mine did. And I am told I was the same as a toddler. I had rather have my way even if it did upset other people than do it my mum's way and keep everybody happy. So gently pointing out that it was better for somebody else to do it my mother's way simply didn't cut any ice with me.

I remember dd aged 2 telling me quite cheerfully that when she was grown up she wouldn't need to love me because I would be dead then. Very good verbal development, not quite such early emotional development. grin

Both I and dd did eventually go on to develop empathy, we just needed time.

Albrecht Mon 20-Jun-11 17:23:04

sorry cory but I x posted with you. (ds is ill and upset so took me an age to type.)

I just felt a bit sorry for op that she has been told its her fault her child is this way. Who knows how any child would be if they had been born to other parents.

Personally I want to think about the long term too, getting an easy life today might not always be best. Obeying the boss is not always a good thing. Just my opinion though - I wanted op to have a little sympathy and support - that's all.

cory Mon 20-Jun-11 17:46:31

Yes I see what you mean, Albrecht.

And fwiw I do believe that some children are higher maintenance than others simply because they are born that way.

Dd was far higher needs than ds, and now that she has grown into a teenager I can see my own mother in her: highly intelligent, highly creative, great imagination, but also very up and down, always seeing the world through her own emotions, capable of being absolutely petrified by fear or stress, or completely on cloud nine, just very very intense. Ds seems so much more reasonable.

I remind myself that there are upsides as well as downsides: people like dd and my mother are exhausting, but they are also great fun. Dull people like me need people like that or the world simply gets too predictable. Having said that, dd has needed to learn that she has to follow rules: if I allowed her to be governed entirely by her emotions, life would be impossible for the rest of the family (and I seriously don't think little brother would be alive today). I think boundaries can be quite reassuring too, particularly for high intensity people.

The problem with dd when she was younger was that when she was angry she did not want to be gentle with other people: she wanted to hurt them! So repeating that you mustn't do this because it will hurt little brother was pointless, she was quite capable of replying "well, that's exactly what I want". Not because she did not love him most of the time, but because that was how she felt at the time and her emotions at the time were always so overwhelmingly strong that they blotted out everything else. So there was no other sensible response than "yes, I can see that you want to hurt him, but I can't let you do that, I am going to make sure you don't".

smashinghairday Mon 20-Jun-11 20:32:41

Having been reading Unconditional Parenting stuff for the past decade, there does seem to be a disproportionally large number of people who parent in this way with , " high needs" kids.

Call me old fashioned but children need routine, boundaries and firm but fair consequences to their actions.

I do wonder how " high needs" these kids would be if they were given a bit of old fashioned, tried and tested parenting hmm.

With my four, a firm, " No! We do not hit!!" followed by swift removal to another part of the room/out the door soon knocked that phase on it's head.
The only explanation a toddler needs or understands is, " We don't do it!"

I think it's all too easy to overthink being a parent with a load of liberal hand wringing.

You're the parent - you make the decisons. You don't have to justify or explain to a kid every decision you make.

Allow, " Because I said so! " to become your friend.

winnybella Tue 21-Jun-11 00:07:02

Hear, hear smashinghairday.

I don't rule the household with an iron fist, but trying to explain things to a toddler....I'll just say 'no, don't hit x. It hurts' and remove. I doubt toddlers can process more info, tbh.

PenguinArmy Tue 21-Jun-11 06:55:40

"high needs' start when they are babies, so parenting surely doesn't come into it at that point.

Indigojohn Tue 21-Jun-11 08:27:06

Define " high needs".

Albrecht Tue 21-Jun-11 08:53:40

Indigojohn See here.

smashinghairday You're old fashioned. Hope that helps!

grin grin grin grin grin

cory Tue 21-Jun-11 09:44:54

smashinghairday Mon 20-Jun-11 20:32:41

"Call me old fashioned but children need routine, boundaries and firm but fair consequences to their actions.

I do wonder how " high needs" these kids would be if they were given a bit of old fashioned, tried and tested parenting .

With my four, a firm, " No! We do not hit!!" followed by swift removal to another part of the room/out the door soon knocked that phase on it's head."

I can answer that for you. This is pretty well the way I have parented. It is also the way my mother parented before me and the way her mother parented before her.

The result? Roughly one child per generation (1 out of 2, 1 out of 4 and 1 out of 2 in the last three generations) is still high needs in the sense of being quite dramatic, clingy, defiant, emotional. Not out of control, but definitely harder work than the rest of us who tend to be stolid and sensible.

If it was all about parenting, it would be hard to explain why it only crops up now and then.

cory Tue 21-Jun-11 09:49:08

And yes, it was very apparent in dd from her first months onwards (hard to give consequences to a 6 week old baby). It hasn't stopped me being firm. She is well behaved at 14. But a very different personality type from her younger brother or her cousin.

nethunsreject Tue 21-Jun-11 09:49:31

Rofl at those saying UP is easy ride.

I'm not an UPer myself but those who practise it (that I know) work a damn load harder than me and have fantastically behaved children.

Agree that all 2yr olds are hellish, but yeah, some are more hellish than others. Sears is good on this.

fuckmepinkandCALLmegoran Tue 21-Jun-11 09:52:41

I am sorry OP but you need to give a toddler boundaries and consequences or mayhem will ensue (as you are finding out to your cost). And IMO if you don't sort this now, you will end up with a child who has problems adjusting to the rules and behavours expected at nursery and school.

However, feel free to ignore me as I am old and my parenting mantra is "Do what you're told, when you're told, the first time you're told"

I have had a high needs toddler btw, she's still highly emotional and highly strung but that doesn't mean she gets away with things that the others wouldn't.

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