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Toddler (22 months) cries when being told off and asks for cuddles before I’ve finished

(26 Posts)
changedtempforprivacy Mon 15-May-17 13:48:28

Some advice please on what to do about my 22 month old. She’s always been quite independent and is not afraid of strangers etc. She started nursery in January after being cared for by my mother before that after I returned to work when she was 7 months. She is very happy at nursery.

She speaks very well for her age, so understands everything

In recent weeks she keeps asking for cuddles and to be picked up, especially when I am doing something and she doesn’t have my full attention– e.g. hanging out the washing. She will grab my legs and ask to be picked up so I have to stop what I am doing. If she is told off for being naughty, she cries even before I am finished telling her off, and shouts “cuddle, cuddle, cuddle”. I see my character in her – I really hate conflict too, but it is making it hard to discipline her to stop her doing usual toddler stuff – throwing food, touching things she shouldn’t etc.

My mother (who still looks after her a lot) thinks the clinging and not being able to bear to be told off is because she misses me (I am at work full time).

I’m not sure how to handle it – the issue is- she doesn’t listen to what I am trying to tell her. She knows what she is doing is naughty – eg pinching, but if you even tell her calmly – “we don’t pinch” as soon as she senses the disapproval, she demands cuddles.

I know at nursery she gets lots of cuddles from the staff who seem to really like her! I’m going to talk to them about it at nursery parents evening, but I’m wondering if I should “give in” to these demands for cuddles – or finish reprimanding her?

I’m a single parent, so it’s just the 2 of us most of the time – apparently she’s an angel at nursery/for my mum/ sister.

I just want her to be able to tolerate someone being cross with her without trying to appease them – as I really hate conflict and discord. I want her to be able to deal with it better than me..

Any ideas/ advice? Is this just a phase they all go through? Obviously, she is only going to get “naughtier” in the next few years so I’d like to start off on the right foot…as I need to start enforcing consequences for naughtiness at some point ( nursery don’t do discipline, just distraction). She is like me - wilful, stubborn, seemingly independent but keen to be approved off. I want her to turn out better than me!

EveryoneTalkAboutPopMusic Mon 15-May-17 18:39:03

The examples you give, like touching something she shouldn't don't seem that naughty to me. How exactly are you telling her off. How often are you cross with her?

Have you read the No Cry Discipline Solution?

SamoanSamosa Mon 15-May-17 18:46:20

I would finish discipline then cuddle after. It could be an avoidance technique that she's using to try to stop you telling her off. If you are clear and consistent about your rules then you may find she doesn't get nautier at all. I certainly found this with mine.

popperdoodles Mon 15-May-17 18:50:45

At 22 months she will not understand a lengthy telling off. She may speak well but that doesn't mean she has the cognitive ability to understand your point of view. She senses your disapproval and this makes her feel anxious and upset. The only way she knows how to deal with that us to cry and need a cuddle. You are expecting far too much of her imo.

chopsticky Mon 15-May-17 20:16:26

How long are you telling her off for that she has time to interrupt? Isn't a simple "no - we don't do that because etc" or whatever and then move on fine at that age? Admittedly I only have an 18m old so she is a little younger. A cuddle straight away afterwards is fine imo.

OuchBollocks Mon 15-May-17 20:21:53

I sometimes tell off DD whilst cuddling her. I'm not soft, she's well behaved and knows that no means no, but when they're that little I think its hard for them to understand you can be cross about an action but still love them.

Anyway at 1 year old it's more about teaching desirable behaviour than telling off. She doesn't always know what is and isn't good behaviour. Can you try, rather than telling off, modelling a good alternative? So if she's pinching, say "DD we are gentle with our hands", if she goes to throw food stop her and day "food stays on plates" etc?

MuchBenham Mon 15-May-17 20:31:57

She is still really little. I wouldn't worry too much about the telling off, and would focus more on the cuddles I think! The most important thing IMHO is connecting with them. Agree just a short statement eg "remember, we use kind hands" (or whatever your mum/nursery would say) as PPs have said, is enough at that age. I know you said her vocabulary is very good, but I just think in the heat of the moment, when they have just done something like pinching or whatever, isn't the best time to reason/explain why she shouldn't do xyz. It sounds so easy when I write it down, and I know it isn't that easy in the moment! But cuddles will reinforce how important she is to you IMHO.

changedtempforprivacy Mon 15-May-17 21:25:32

I typed and lost my message!

changedtempforprivacy Mon 15-May-17 21:28:28

Thanks for all the replies!
My telling offs arent lengthy..just -we don't throw food. ..
We don't pinch..we use gentle hands..

We don't go into nanny's handbag. ..
Etc
Glad I'm not being a soft touch then. .
I sometimes feel the asking for cuddles is an avoidance of being told off..

I wonder if it would be better to introduce rewards. ..ie stickers for good behaviour instead?

ssd Mon 15-May-17 21:31:15

I know you will take this the wrong way but my gut tells me you arent spending enough time with her to realise what a 22 month old actually understands

EveryoneTalkAboutPopMusic Mon 15-May-17 21:33:17

All those sound good and you are right, she could be asking for cuddles as an avoidance tactic, clever girl.

Do you give her lots of praise when she's behaving well?

MrsDustyBusty Mon 15-May-17 21:33:54

Mine is 2 next week, she's not fool but I can't imagine how she'd understand a reward chart and tailor her behaviour to it.

myusernameisnotmyusername Mon 15-May-17 21:34:56

My dd was like this. I would tell her and she'd cry and say 'are you still happy mummy'? It was upsetting but I'd just say 'I am darling but I'm not happy when you do xy and z. Mummy loves you'. That kind of thing. She's now 4 and still hates being told off but doesn't have to be told off that regularly.

EsmesBees Mon 15-May-17 21:42:14

Mine is slightly older and has just gone through a similar phase. She wanted a cuddle at the first sign of disapproval. We just persisted: 'you can have a cuddle, but remember, we don't throw food' etc. and she's stopped doing it now.

KatherinaMinola Mon 15-May-17 21:45:30

nursery don’t do discipline, just distraction

I think nursery has the right idea.

frazzlebedazzle Mon 15-May-17 21:53:15

I agree it sounds like she can sense your disapproval.

What is she doing that you term as 'naughty' and what are you saying to her when she is 'told off'? Is it possible you're going a bit OTT? The examples you mention are throwing food, and touching things she 'shouldn't'. Both completely normal toddler behaviours not naughtiness. At her age she knows she's not supposed to do them but she hadn't yet learned impulse control. Again, totally normal.

She throws food - end meal/snack after one warning - she's telling you she's done eating.

She touches things - this is your fault for allowing her access to things you don't want her to touch. You can't expect her not to be into everything, that's a toddler's job. Either child proof things or have a safe gated area for her. If it happens, you just let her know you're going to take it away/remove her.

No need to 'tell her off' just set the limit and move on. That might help with her feeling more secure.

changedtempforprivacy Tue 16-May-17 09:02:06

Thanks all, I will step up the praise for good behaviour. I have child proofed the house - but I am trying to discourage her from touching visitor's handbags, taking other children's cups at play date etc

I think she can understand a lot!

I know everyone thinks their child is a genius but nursery comment a lot to me that her speech is really good and her understanding is very good..so maybe I am asking to much of her. It breaks my heart seeing her cry, but I do think she's alert to this and using it as a way to avoid being told off..

OuchBollocks Tue 16-May-17 09:21:05

It's ok to let them cry sometimes. Just acknowledge whatever they're feeling - "I know you're angrt/cross/upset because you want the cup/bag/whatever" - and let her work through it. She'll feel negative emotions throughout her life, at least if she starts now you can help her learn that being sad isn't a disaster and it will pass.

waterrat Tue 16-May-17 10:21:18

Gosh she is just a baby ! Of course she wants cuddles from you when she doesn't see much of you. I also really don't think a 22 month old can understand anything beyond no or use gentle hands please.

Why don't you try forgetting the discipline for a bit and just say a calm no and then distrsct. I think you are really over thinking things by saying she can't cope with someone being cross. It's completely natural for a child between 1 and 2 to be extremely clingy. Both of mine were and I didn't work full time. It's just natural at that age.

frazzlebedazzle Tue 16-May-17 12:56:36

Of course a 22 month old can understand simple instructions (regardless of their speech) - it's not about not understanding what you're saying, it's about not having impulse control.

I think it's odd to tell her off for the things you mention. Just put those things out the way or let it go.

Whatsername17 Wed 17-May-17 08:28:42

Speaking well and comprehension are two different things. Sit her on your knee and tell her off whilst cuddling. She is feeling insecure (it's developmental and nothing to do with you working) so reassuring her is exactly the right thing to do. Try engaging her in helping you when she wants your attention. If you are doing laundry she could pass you the clothes etc

chloechloe Wed 17-May-17 09:56:25

My DD is a similar age and I would also say she has good speech and comprehension too. But at this age speech is more about expressing basic needs and wants - hunger, thirst, dirty nappy, a particular toy etc. They don't have the maturity or vocabulary to express how they're feeling, so they express that physically instead. If she wants / needs cuddles then give them to her. I'm not saying turn a blind eye to unwanted behavior. But I agree with PP that it's better to model good behavior and remove from the situation rather than saying no repeatedly.

I know it's hard to see a child cry but it's a normal and healthy part of development. Children need to learn with time that they can't have everything they want and how to deal with disappointment. It's not a bad thing - crying is just their way of working through issues they can't articulate yet. You can help them though by trying to give them words for what they're feeling - I.e. "I know you're sad because we have to leave the park but it's time to go home now for dinner etc."

FatLittleWombat Wed 17-May-17 12:19:34

You really need to stop projecting your feelings about your character onto her. she probably has inherited part of your character of course, but she is not a carbon copy of you. You are overthinking the whole issue, desperately trying to correct what you perceive as a flaw in her character.
It sounds like you may be going overboard with the disciplining, toddlers that age don't really need to be disciplined, they need distraction accompanied by one short sentence "we don't throw things" said in a kindly tone of voice. Do that a million times and they will get the message sooner or later!

SueGeneris Wed 17-May-17 12:32:16

I wouldn't worry too much about 'discipline' in that sense at this age. As others have said, guidance and repeated setting of limits are all that are needed. I often cuddle my 2yo while telling him he can't do something. If she throws food remind her we don't throw food and ask her to help tidy the mess and give lots of praise for that.

2 (and all of childhood?!) is a very emotional age and they need a rock to be there for them while they experience those emotions to help them feel safe and learn to handle those feelings.

It's tricky! I have three and I've still no real idea if I'm getting any of it right.

SueGeneris Wed 17-May-17 12:36:03

Also, it's easy to feel that because their language and comprehension is good that their emotional maturity is equally advanced. I had overly high expectations of ds1 (first dc) when he was 2 and look back now and think I was way too hard on him!

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