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Can a 1 year old be spoilt?

(24 Posts)
LHReturns Sun 05-Jul-15 20:09:10

My DS just turned 1, and having been what I would consider a fairly placid newborn, we are suddenly seeing a dramatic shift in his attitude.

It started as a battle of wills over eating and drinking...nothing unusual there. Lots of whinging, eyes squeezed shut and chubby arms pushing me away. However recently he has become what I can only describe as a TOTAL so-and-so. The MOMENT he doesn't get his own way, he starts screaming and squeezing fat tears down his cheeks. If he can't open a cupboard, eat my apple, open the fridge door, feed the dog, put his hands in the TV, rummage through my bag, play with my iPad, watch doesn't matter what it is, whatever he wants to do at that moment, he goes beserk immediately and acts as if his life has been ruined. This happens all day long, and frankly I am exhausted at the end of the weekend.

I do say no, and move him to something new to do, but I find it difficult to do much disciplining of such a little baby, partly because I had pretty bad PND until he was about 8 months old, and have guilt that I wasn't a very good mummy during much of this. So now I am better I always feel I have ground to make up to him.

You may all tell me he is still a baby (which he is), that babies can't be spoilt and he is just communicating his needs the only way he knows how...which I will accept 100%. But I simply don't know.... and whether he is indeed spoilt now or we are on a slippery short slope to a little horror. I would appreciate advice on how anyone else has successfully dealt with this kind of thing when we are still talking about a very young baby. I was brought up with quite a firm hand and a lot of disciplining...but I have no family in the UK, and all my friends kids are much older, so I really am making this up as I go along.

Other things I have considered are:
- he is going through a major developmental phase
- it is his dramatic way of expressing separation anxiety, or fear of abandonment
- he is frustrated as he so wants to be able to communicate
- he is frustrated because he has just started to walk unaided and wants to be doing this all the time
- he is just a very stubborn, strong-willed little man(like his father), and will be like this regardless of how we manage him

He is essentially an only child; he has a half sister and half brother but they are 10 and 8 and he only sees them every other of course they spoil him too.

Both his dad and I work full time, and he is with a very loving live-in nanny during the day Monday to Friday. He does not appear to behave quite so cheekily with his nanny....saves the best for me!

Cynara Sun 05-Jul-15 20:25:20

I can't advise, I'm afraid, but I'll be watching this thread with interest because we have a similar situation developing here with our 8 month old. In the supermarket today I wouldn't let him hold a glass jar of pesto in case he dropped it and it smashed, but offered him multiple alternative options - bread, rice, anything non-breakable - but he was outraged by that and the tantrum that ensued was absolutely epic. He made it sound as though I was torturing him, I was mortified.

This kind of thing has been happening a lot lately, and it seems to me that it dates from him being able to confidently crawl and pull himself up to standing. I might be wrong but the impression I get is that now he's gained a measure of independence he wants more and wants it now.

I spend all day running after him stopping him from trapping his fingers/pulling the cat's tail/throwing himself down the kitchen steps and each intervention is met with howls of rage. So no advice but some solidarity, and let's hope someone who knows more will be here soon!

polkadotdelight Sun 05-Jul-15 20:28:50

Watching with interest here too Im afraid. I have a 9 month old who creates holy hell when he isnt pleased, lying him down for nappy changing/dressing is a nightmare.

callamia Sun 05-Jul-15 20:31:02

Pretty much ALL of those things you have considered are true to some extent. He's developing independence, and finding out that his wants don't always match yours. I can only suggest being gentle and as patient as possible, and get good at distraction!

It's honestly ok if he cries a little bit in response to being thwarted - it's the most effective communication he's got right now (wait til he gets 'NO!').

He's not spoiled, really - you're just demonstrating that some things just aren't possible for him (drinking bleach, running down steps, washing the cat etc). Don't worry - it sounds like you're doing the right things.

waterrat Sun 05-Jul-15 20:37:04

In the nicest possible way I think you are over thinking a completely normal developmental stage

You say ..He will be like this regardless of what we do. ..He is tiny and just grasping that he wants things in the should try not to project adult thoughts like him having a stubborn nature that will.never change !

It's completely normal...I am on my second child also age 1 and I know this time round how much the phases come and go...

It's really normal and do try to just see it as part of them learning to work out how the world works

In my opinion no a 1 year old can't be spoiled. ...A 3 year old can be you do have yo firm along the path of the next two years but do it with the understanding of how normal the tantrums are firmly in mind !

LHReturns Sun 05-Jul-15 20:38:05

Thank you Callamia, so much. And also very glad to know we are not the only ones!

Cynara I am trying not to laugh but you wrote it so beautifully...precisely what would happen here. Yesterday I was eating a Pepperami (disgusting I know). My DS spotted this revolting skinny sausage (he had a giant tray of his own finger food at the time), and the scene that followed because he wasn't allowed any was pretty much hilarious. It went on and on, and every activity for about the next hour led to Pepparami-gate tears, and accusing glares...

teacupnic Sun 05-Jul-15 20:38:36

I've got this with my 11 month old at the moment. I think I find it important to remember that these tears are due to frustration/anger rather than any deep seated sadness. I find it helpful (although he doesn't understand) to talk to him about whatever it is i.e. 'I know you really don't want your nappy changed right now and lie down, but one minute and you can play'. It reassures me if anything. I also reassure myself that if he cries a little bit, he will be alright. It's bloody hard though.

LHReturns Sun 05-Jul-15 20:42:43

Thank you waterrat, I thought someone might say I was over-thinking, and I do tend to. And point taken re stubborn...I accept that, not fair on him.

I still think worth asking MNers, as I do sense that my DS is more angry and more dramatic than other babies I witness...I do look around when I am out.

Ok, one more question - when does a baby/ toddler actually understand 'NO'?

RattleAndRoll Sun 05-Jul-15 20:52:21

My DS is like this too, at almost 11 months.

captainproton Sun 05-Jul-15 20:55:05

They sound like tantrums, and some can be diffused by distraction or a good cuddle. Sometimes they reach the point of No return and the baby needs to get it out of their system somewhere quiet and safe with you nearby not giving attention. Because once past PONR any attention, cuddling, distracting just results in making the tantrum last longer. After it finishes give a kiss and possibly let them have a nap. 9 times out of10 full on screaming is a result of tiredness. Oh and expect things to get 10 times worse when they teething, when even looking at them and saying 'I love you', results in a nuclear strop.

You can tell when they understand no, usually when they are about to empty your kitchen cupboard on the floor when you're trying to wash-up. You say no, child pauses, tilts their head at you and smiles and carries on with their mission anyway.

Milkwagon Sun 05-Jul-15 21:00:59

This is totally normal. I can wholeheartedly recommend Babycalm or Toddlercalm resources & classes (Google them) and books such as 'What Every Parent Needs to Know' by Margot Sunderland. Understanding basic infant psychology has saved my sanity!

LHReturns Sun 05-Jul-15 21:07:25

I really am laughing out loud here. 'Nuclear strop', hee hee. These bossy little characters everywhere creating sheer havoc!

No doubt irrelevant but posters above have referred to a son as well. While of course girls can be just the same, after this weekend, I wouldn't mind a quiet play with a smiley girl!

LHReturns Sun 05-Jul-15 21:08:42

Thank you milkwagon, I will certainly do that...

willbillycome Sun 05-Jul-15 21:15:29

I try not to say no too much, save it for the big things. Im probably too lenient but at 1yo I wouldn't battle over food and drink, make sure everything on offer/in sight is fairly healthy and leave them to it, I am firmer with my 3yo but can't remember exactly when I became firmer. I don't eat things they shouldn't be eating in front of them, really just for an easy life, on the plus side it has made my diet healthier (when im not hiding my head away from them in the chocolate cupboard wink)

Ive babyproofed the dangerous things like chemical cupboard, glass items away, stair gate on the big stairs but let him get on with other things, they learn by taking a wee tumble/having a bump. I have a baby plates and tupperware cupboard that they are allowed to pull everything out of, and as he gets older he will be taught that everything pulled out needs put back in. If he tantrums because he can't do something (like open the fridge) I help him and do it with him, gives them the satisfaction of having done it whilst taking away the 'forbidden lure'.

As I said though, I am probably too lenient. My 3yo is in no way perfectly behaved, she is a handful who is desperate to do everything herself, but she still has all her limbs, and knows when I say no I mean it.

As for when do they understand 'no', a long long time before they let on they understand. At 1 he will definitely understand ime.

LHReturns Sun 05-Jul-15 21:24:12

Willbillycome, that sounds exactly how I would like to do it.

I agree, I think my 1 year old knows No, probably less from me more from my DP. He wants our son to begin to understand when he could be a danger to himself so he says No to him very sharply and sometimes with volume (like when he tries to get at wires behind TV etc). While Captainproton above may have been jesting slightly, the pause-head tilt-smile-continue thing is certainly happening here, and DS even heads for the TV the moment he spots his dad, with a big smile...I'm sure he knows it isn't allowed, and he wants the attention. The fear ain't there yet though!

captainproton Sun 05-Jul-15 21:30:26

I take a different approach WillyBilly I have 2 toddlers and another Bun on the oven. I have never let my kids grab things they are not allowed, or open doors and throw things around. Yes I do toddler proof the rooms they are playing/eating in because I only have one pair of hands and 2 kids, but the outside world is not baby proof. They need to know that they must not go near mugs, fires, hot radiators, open doors/gates. Saying no and stopping them from before they even know what any of it really means, makes it more likely that they instinctively know they don't do it. Also if I say 'no' I mean it, I might not be stern with a 1 year old, cuddle and kiss them when saying no, but as they begin to understand no, the consequences are real (immediate removal from the situation, a telling off with explanation and perhaps loss of a favourite toy for a bit). No is used for safety, or when they are about to damage property or another child. When I say it in my mean it voice, my kids mostly stop and obey. Ok sometimes they don't but they certainly get told off and lose a toy then. you have to take control of them, they are looking for guidance on what the rules of life are. A child who never hears no, or is introduced to no too late is going to find it hard to adapt in social situations, you will struggle to implement rules if you leave it too late IMO.

Littlef00t Sun 05-Jul-15 21:32:07

My 15 mo dd had tantrums from about 11/12 mo, but were v easily redirected. I have found it's become my mission to anticipate things that might set her off, in the hope that she won't spot something she wants to do that I don't want her to, so moving glasses, not having food she can't have around etc.

I don't give in when she does winge (most of the time) but try and make it seem like the other option is the good fun option rather than blocking what she wants.

I also noticed she went wingey and I'd immediately pick her up, "what is it? What do you want?" And she was defaulting rather than trying to communicate normally. She's a bit more verbal now which is helpful.

FixItUpChappie Sun 05-Jul-15 21:42:26

don't overthink it - this is normal toddler behaviour IMO. they are not known for patience or the ability to articulate frustration well.

He is so, SO little. toddlers can be easily overwhelmed with emotions. That is where you come in - to gently and firmly guide him to recognizing feels and helping him learn to manage them.

At only 1yr of age I would give him some limited options on inconsequential things so he can feel empowered, repeat what he says at all times so he understands you've heard him and have know what he wants, focus on recognizing positive behaviour - high-fives etc (make a real fuss over good stuff), gently say no on his level when correcting, redirect, distract and if he is hurting himself,failing that put him on your lap or take him away from the situation until he calms down.

My DS2 is a very strong-willed child compared to my first. iMessage when it doesn't go well are invariably times when my DH and I are not managing our own patience and frustration well.

I recommend the "happiest toddler on the block" book - great practical ideas.

captainproton Sun 05-Jul-15 21:43:39

Perhaps I ought to add there is only 13 months between my 2 dc, if I was dealing with the newborn and eldest was about to climb/fall from furniture I really needed her to understand no. Even at that age you'd be surprised what things they pick up. One of the first words mine have spoken is 'hot'. Because I was petrified of them touching the oven in our previous open plan house. From about 14 months they would point at the oven and say hot and not go near it.

captainproton Sun 05-Jul-15 21:46:41

Yes chappie, lots of free choice in other areas, clear boundaries for the must do/do nots, and lots of cuddles when they get overwhelmed you can't be a dictator or they will rebel!

willbillycome Sun 05-Jul-15 21:52:05

No I totally agree with you captainproton, I would never allow them to damage or throw around things that shouldn't be, or let them/help them use things that would be a danger to them or others-they are definitely firm no situations. I just mean I try not to say no to the wee things, like emptying out cupboards/washing baskets (with that as they grow I teach them the consequence of doing this is they have to tidy it), eating sand/sticks (they can figure out for themselves its not nice) climbing the small stairs (teach them to go down backwards but if they tumble its not the end of the world. I know what you mean the outside world isn't babyproofed and they do need to learn danger but it's nice to have a safe world at home where they can explore freely. Oh and congratulations on bun in oven!

agapimou Tue 07-Jul-15 12:41:16

I read somewhere that saying no all the time to toddlers is actually a bad thing and they will eventually just repeat it back to you when they get older and you ask them to do anything.

With my dd we try the ol' bait and switch such as "Mummy's coffee is not for babies, but the teddy bear is!" said in a stupidly enthusiastic manner. Getting her to lie down for nappy changes and dressing was also a battle so we change her in the air (dh holding her under the arms) or give her something interesting to hold/sing a song etc.

However dd is only just 8 months and has yet to throw a full blown paddy, so will bow to the experience of mums will older toddlers grin

TheGirlAtTheRockShow Tue 07-Jul-15 14:29:09

My DD is a proper drama queen and screams blue. Under if she doesn't get her way! She's 1, she's just discovered she has opinions and its her only way of communicating those opinions. She also screams when she's happy, it's hard to know the difference sometimes.
I just keep distracting her, move her away if it's dangerous. Let her get on with it if not.

captainproton Wed 08-Jul-15 20:12:26

Agapimou- in some respects you are right, saying no to everything is going to cause resistance. But the hot drink scenario, you may not have time to persuade your child to not reach out and grab it. nothing is quite as effective as NO! The tone and understanding the meaning of the word should hopefully be enough to stop them. They need to understand you in a split second that they must not do it. For everything else try reasoning and persuasion but you may also find after a while that scraping your child's dinner off the floor for the umpteenth time wears a bit thin. You have to say no at some point. Best to start whilst they are beginning to understand their environment around them, you don't have to be shouty just firm and guiding. 'no, we don't do that because....,' if that doesn't work follow with 'mummy said no, do that again I will take it away....' Then act upon your word and praise them when they do as instructed.

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