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Toddler induced exhaustion

(8 Posts)
TwoAndaHalfNeurons Fri 08-Jul-11 09:51:27

I would just like a few tips on how to cope really. I adore my children, but I feel a bit at the end of my tether.

I have an almost three year old (will be three in September) and a 5 month old baby. The baby is EBF, so I'm not getting that much sleep, which obviously makes things worse. The toddler is a sweet, funny affectionate little boy, but he is incredibly strong willed, and right now is into saying NO to everything.

Examples: he will not come down to eat his dinner, or go up to brush his teeth before nursery. He will not want to go to bed. He will REFUSE to leave the neighbours' house after playing with their children, to the point that I have to put down the baby and cart him out.

I try turning things into a game, I try explaining and reasoning "you need to have a bath because you are dirty from the playground and blah, blah, blah", and I also sometimes get angry (that is BY FAR the worst option with the worst results, but I just can't help it sometimes).

While all this negotiating, cajoling, bargaining and telling off is going on, the (sometimes clingy) five month old wants attention/boobie/is tired. As a result of the whining toddler and the crying baby and the slightly fuzzy head due to sleep deprivation I confess to occasionally sinking into despair. I also seem to be incapable of doing things on time and am late for EVERYTHING. His bedtime is also slipping due to all the shenanigans we have to go through before he will stay in his bed (story, song, cuddles, etc).

How do you cope with your wilful toddlers? Is there a way to make them a bit more compliant or is this just a case of "this too shall pass"?

SenoritaViva Fri 08-Jul-11 09:59:37

'this too shall pass' is a good mantra! I remember this age and it really is one of the most challenging. They are trying to exert the independence and want to do everything their way, it can be hell. It does get better! I used to do things like automatically take the yoghurt pot lid off and then there would be tears/refusal to eat said yoghurt etc.

I can't remember all the strategies I used but if you decide what it is OK for him to have control over and what is in your control then you are setting boundaries. Have you also get used to setting expectations far in advance. E.g. when going to friends house, before you leave your house you say 'we are going to X's house. When I say it is time to go then you must listen to me, otherwise we will not be able to go to X's house the next time they ask'. Remind him just before you knock on the door. Give him a 10 minute warning before leaving, 5 minute, 2 minute, 1 minute. It might not work the first few times but he will start learning. Also, if he doesn't behave 2 days later you can say X has invited us to tea but of course we can't go this time because you did not leave well last time. Then if/when(!) he does it right make a big thing about it, be very proud and give him a treat (10 mins extra TV or something). Also, do you use time out (some people call it naughty step or whatever). I found this helped (and still does) not just for them but for my sanity so that I don't get over the top cross.

Hope you get through this soon, to be honest you really sound like you are doing a great job, don't be too hard on yourself.

TwoAndaHalfNeurons Fri 08-Jul-11 10:13:46

Thanks so much for your comments. Your strategies are all good, and I just have to be clearminded enough to put them in practice!

Piccadilly Fri 08-Jul-11 10:14:40

I suppose the stock strategies are: lots of time outside - I used to have ds in a sling and then I could have adventures in the woods with dd. Don't worry about being late - try to avoid ever having to be anywhere at a certain time and just don't care! Can you also get a bit of help from grandparents??
I think explaining things to the toddler is the best you can do - and try to avoid difficult situations. But otherwise just let it flow over you. I think a lot of parenting is about patience and letting the kids get on with their development. Let go as much as you can: I think all kids have trouble changing activity - eg. going home from a friend's house. Warnings like SenoritaViva says and "saying bye bye" - even to toys they've played with etc.. - helps, but in the end there will always be times which are hard.
I do think though that "Playful Parenting" by Lawrence Cohen is an inspiring book which, even if it doesn't add a lot in terms of new techniques to use yet (your children are still very small), helped me a lot in terms of mindset.
Oh, and chocolate helps...! grin)

SenoritaViva Fri 08-Jul-11 10:24:17

Ah Twoandahalf, don't worry, your setting expectations and counting down will become second nature. After X number of tantrums I realised that I was just whipping my daughter out of a situation too quickly. She's now 4 and doesn't need so much structure with all that (just a 'we're off in 5 minutes' is normally fine) but I did all that for at least a year, so it does get better.

I don't have boys, but my DD's best friend is a charming boy with a younger brother very close in age. I always think his mum does a fantastic job and she once told me that you treat boys like puppies, 'feed them lots, walk them lots (i.e. lots of time to run around outside or do something super active) and make sure they get enough sleep'. It seems to work for her...

earshot Fri 08-Jul-11 14:25:25

Wow you sound so patient - I'm impressed. Also having toddler and baby hell day today so I sympathise. Not sure I have any answers but am watching with interest! DS is also only 2.1 and I'm scared for the future cos he can be difficult enough now. I have to confess I do all the explaining and trying to turn things into games but I have no qualms about carting him off under one arm with the 6 month old under the other in similar situations if nothing gets through and he's clearly trying his luck (like your scenario leaving the neighbours house - happens quite a lot!). I have a few things like teeth brushing that are totally non negotiable and I consistently reinforce this and again will (gently!) hold him and do them for him if he refuses. Not sure if that's possible with an older child!
But I'm pretty slack about tons of other things - like I let him wear t shirts instead of pjs to bed so we don't have the getting dressed tantrum in the morning (he's already dressed wink) and we spend every morning and afternoon outside in the park or at playgroup so he can run around, shout and play to his hearts content without me having to direct him or worry about him disturbing anyone or tell him off.
Someone also told me to treat toddlers like a demented old lady - explain everything that is going to happen in advance, clearly and repeatedly. It does help a little bit, sometimes!

FrumpyPumpy Sun 10-Jul-11 16:38:51

Oh I was about to write your EXACT post. Thank you for doing it better than I could. I have been in tears this afternoon for a good 2 hours. It is my birthday, and I can't cope with all the negotiation today. We get 'not' for everything, I have a 2.3y old and a 2 week old. I can't do the 90 minute bedtime tonight, I just can't.

We do the 10 mins, 5 mins, 2,1 and works well but struggling with the rest.

FrumpyPumpy Sun 10-Jul-11 16:41:09

Chocolate not an option at the mo as sugar sending him sky high - he 's already so highly strung!

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