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Toddler behaviour - ideas or child psychologist recommendations?

(11 Posts)
TakeFive Wed 28-Nov-12 13:23:28

We are thinking of consulting a child psychologist about our 18 month old ds's behaviour, as we are struggling to cope.

He just constantly whines, gets frustrated and upset about almost everything very easily and just generally spends a large portion of the day shouting/moaning. I know all of these things individually sound like normal toddler behaviour but I think the frequency/intensity is unusual. I have previously posted about his eating - he is obsessed with food and constantly asking for more to eat, and a fair amount (but not all) of the whining is about that. We actually went to see a dietician and now have a food plan that we stick to and thank god he isn't actually overweight although he is at the top of the scale.

Anyway I would be really keen to try and get some strategies for dealing with this behaviour. Ignoring him doesn't seem to work as he just gets more upset but then equally I don't want him to learn that moaning/screaming is the best way to communicate with us.

He is only like this with my and my DH, he is absolutely fine with our lovely nanny who has him 2 days a week while I'm at work.

exoticfruits Wed 28-Nov-12 13:41:12

What is different about the nanny?
I would wear him out-lots of open air-getting muddy, running, parks, walking, kicking balls etc.

capecath Wed 28-Nov-12 13:54:21

Hey, this might not be what you are wanting to hear but I do think this might be a phase he'll grow out of. Sounded similar to our DS around that age. Improved with his vocabulary when it ramped from 18 months and he could communicate better. It also seemed like he was obsessed with food. I went with it, as long it was all healthy. He is now 2.3 and his appetite has slowed down drastically. He has also shot up in height and has gone from being podgy to being a bean pole. Food wise, aim for three meals plus two snacks, or four meals, and then milk. I'd agree, try to get out and about, distractions. DS tends to ask for food when watching tv or when he is bored. He is probably starting to get towards those lovely terrible twos smile when he realises he doesn't have to go with what you want and can say No!, tries to get his own way. Stay calm, be patient, be consistent, pick your battles. It is definitely better for us now that we can reason with him a bit more.

capecath Wed 28-Nov-12 13:56:02

Thinking that not moaning and screaming back at him, but staying calm, but firm and consistent is key to setting the example and how to behave.

TakeFive Wed 28-Nov-12 14:09:17

Thanks all. We do try and get out and about a lot, most mornings and afternoons (groups/park etc) but that still leaves a few hours each day in the house when we have to try and keep him happy. I do try and stay calm although I do struggle at times. DH is very calm and patient however, and DS is the same with him as he is with me. I think the only difference with the nanny is that she is not us - he's the same with my mum and the odd babysitter he's add (ie. absolutely fine with them!). Praying it's going to get better soon, he has been a quite high needs since birth. capecath - interesting what you say about your DS and food, hopefully my DS will be the same. Am really hoping that things will get better once he can say more!!

PoisonMountain Wed 28-Nov-12 21:04:06

Have you tried offering him water instead of food. I'm sure that half the time DS asked for food he was actually thirsty but didn't know the difference. (He will eat until he vomits, so I have to watch what he eats like a hawk. He's getting better now though.)

I got through the constant asking for snacks/food by offering him plain rice cakes. I knew he would eat them if he was hungry, so if he refused he wasn't hungry and I told him that. That's all there is, if you're hungry you'll eat it. Now when he asks for food (it's tricky as I cut out snacks, but now DD needs something so he wants it too) I tell him e.g. he has to wait until DH is home so we can eat together which seems to work well then as soon as DH is home he doesn't say hello but runs and sits at the table

stargirl1701 Wed 28-Nov-12 21:07:13

Children are smart. He behaves this way with you because it works. He must get something from it. He chooses not to behave that way with others because he has learned it doesn't work.

Observe the nanny with him then video yourselves. Try to look for patterns. Or ask a friend/family member you trust to observe your dynamic. See if anything jumps out.

SenoritaViva Wed 28-Nov-12 21:16:23

Do you have a routine, or are you so busy keeping him busy that every day is different? Perhaps he'd rather know what is coming up?

In any event you need to explore the nanny and how she does it. Since his behaviour isn't consistent with everyone I doubt that it is a long term problem but asking for some help and advice for your own sanity (perhaps the nanny can help?) would be a good idea.

TakeFive Wed 28-Nov-12 21:21:47

Thanks PoisonMountain. grin at your DS running to sit at the table when your DH comes home. That is exactly what my DS would do if he had that level of understanding! I am really hoping things will improve once his speech/understanding improves enough for him to understand that it's ok to wait for things sometimes. The dietician recommended sticking to a fixed schedule of 3 meals and 2 snacks at the same times each day, so I'm going to do that for a while and see how we go. He does drink a lot of water actually, and sadly it does not stop him asking for food. I use plain rice cakes too, the boring adult ones. He still seems to like them though! Gawd it is so tough though!

TakeFive Wed 28-Nov-12 21:26:22

Sorry x-posted with stargirl and Senorita. Stargirl - that is what I'm worried about, but I really don't know what we are doing differently. I have worked from home a few times when the nanny is here and shut myself away so that DS doesn't know I'm here and I can hear them pottering about and he is just completely different from when he's with me and/or dh and I can't hear her obviously doing anything different. I have asked her but she doesn't really have any explanation of what she is doing. He's also the same with grandma, babysitter etc. This is why I was wondering about trying a psychologist for some insight.

Senorita - we do have a fixed routine, same mealtimes and nap times and an activity most mornings and afternoon. I hope you are right and this isn't a long term problem. That is what I am holding onto!

stargirl1701 Wed 28-Nov-12 22:28:59

Often observing is the key. I find it useful to video myself teaching now and again. It makes me realise I'm doing things that I'm consciously unaware of. Would the nanny allow herself to be recorded? Weird request, I know! grin

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