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Help! Toddler won't allow me to chat and protests every time! Impossible stress!

(4 Posts)
bellbottom Tue 18-Aug-09 20:26:14


I'm a single mum and my daughter is 18 months old. Since she was about 12 months she makes a huge fuss if I try to chat with someone in her company, and this is getting worse. She now gets louder and louder and in the end throws a fit. Asides from that she's really a great girl, not much problem at all with anything else. But I find that in all my efforts to make ' compatible' friendships with other mums and toddlers, with playdates etc, it all ends with me feeling my nerves are frazzled, and thinking it's a waste of time trying. Feels like a losing battle for me and I feel bulldozed by her behaviour. When she protests I forget my thread of conversation completely and struggle so much to cope, and feel it's so awful for the other person trying to speak with me, and wonder if they'll ever bother meeting up with me again. I'm SO fed up, and wondering if I need to visit a child psychologist?!

My theory is it must be because I'm a lone parent, and she's used to having me to herself a lot and not sharing my attention. But in the last months I'm really trying to branch out and network so we have more of a life, and she can form friendships. These protests make it so hard for me to do that. Feels like a vicious circle.

I tried letting her know I'm talking, I tried involoving her in the conversation, I feel I tried everything.

Where am I going wrong? How can I best handle these situations? Is this common amongst other lone parents? I don't see it happenning with 2 parent kids, so I feel self conscious that it's a bad effect of me being a single mum.

I hope someone can help me with some of these questions. Would be a huge weight off my shoulder to have some feedback. Feel so alone in it.


MultiTaskingMum Tue 18-Aug-09 20:54:09

Hi, First I want to send you a HUG and say I think you are trying the right tactics and imo I'd guess you are right about her not wanting to share you. I'm not exactly a lone parent, but DH is away a LOT with work, so I often feel like it and am on my own at nearly all nursery/school events etc.
I'd like to encourage you to choose one way of dealing with her and be really firm about it, stick to it and totally ignore her unacceptable behaviour. At 18mo she is the perfect age for testing all the boundaries and imo if you lose now, you'll have lost for ever!!
When mine were small and did that I put a hand out to show then I'd heard (still do, youngest are 8), and if they kicked up a stink I'd hold them by the hand/arm for a couple of minutes, deliberately continuing my conversation and turning to them later. Part of the key is not to make a small child wait too long, 2minutes is eternity to an 18mo! I still wait a few minutes then say 'excuse me' to the adult and crouch down to look at the child and give my full attention to answer the Q/give some encouragement before turning back to the adult. At least the child gets short but spaced out bursts of attention and hopefully you get a conversation, albeit a bit fragmented!
By the way, don't worry about other parents, I've often talked with friends about the rarity of a whole conversation when you've little ones!
Hope that makes sense and helps a bit?! I reckon parenting is the toughest job on earth!!

FattipuffsandThinnifers Tue 18-Aug-09 21:06:49

Poor you, I know what you mean. I don't think I've had many uninterrupted conversations with ds (2) around since he's been born!

It's nothing you are doing - some children are just better at entertaining themselves than others imo. Please don't feel self-conscious about it being because you're a single parent. Yes I expect the bond between you and dd will be incredibly strong, but this doesn't mean she'd be any more willing to share you than if you were in a couple. I'm with ds's father but am a SAHM so spend every day with him (except nursery days) and have experienced all of what you're saying.

Can you try meeting friends at toddler groups where there is a lot more distraction for dd - drop-in toddler groups, music classes, playgrounds etc. I've found these a great way to meet other people - it's still not always possible for anyone to have a proper uninterrupted conversation but everyone's in the same boat, and the more there is for your dd to play with (toys, slides, ride-on cars, music etc) the less clingy to you she'll be.

Or can you meet friends over lunch? At least there'll be food for your dd as a distraction!

slowreadingprogress Tue 18-Aug-09 21:08:55

agree that everyone with small children knows that conversation is impossible often interruped!

I do think that adult conversation for children this age is utterly boring and basically it's just noise to them so of course it's a big learning curve for them to understand that sometimes it will mean they aren't responded to. Also don't forget she can only act the way that her stage of development allows her to; she's still a baby really and doesn't yet have the ability to delay 'gratification' - they're impulsive and act on the moment.

So as multi says, choose one way of dealing with itand stick to it because she just needs time to learn. With DS, I would keep snack time for when visitors came and dole out stuff for him to eat!!!

Might be worth ensuring you've got some fairly absorbing activities for her to do that you can sort of keep prompting her with each time she interrupts so that she is diverted as much as poss

Also remember most reasonable adults know and accept that a child this age needs responding to as well as diverting!

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