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my darling little angel has become a fiend! - has my baby turned into a toddler?

40 replies

bossykate · 02/09/2002 20:17

the answer is of course yes, and of course he is still my angel and not a fiend, but he is only 13m so i thought we might be safe from the following for another while!

*can be really whiny and clingy
*wants to be picked up, pick him up, he wants to be put down
*search and destroy missions around the house
*won't get in buggy
*won't get out of buggy
*has suddenly developed separation anxiety
*changing nappy becomes like a wrestling match
*has discovered the word "no" bigtime

is it toddlerdom or could he be unsettled by a recent holiday and move up a class at nursery? i'm sure he isn't ill.

of course, i love him to bits, and he has so many little achievements that i'm really proud of, walking so well, quite a few words, really affectionate, so lively and busy.

however, i would really appreciate some tips on the following:

*mess containment - is it possible?
*how to avoid saying "no" to him all the time
*any books people recommend?
*should i just ignore the tantrums?
*how can i maintain at least the facade of calm?
*what is the best way to deal with separation anxiety?

i know all this is perfectly normal, but would appreciate hearing about people's tips/experiences/comments.

thanks very much in advance

OP posts:

WideWebWitch · 02/09/2002 20:32

Bossykate, quick thoughts before dinner: I wouldn't bother with trying to contain the mess, it'll just stress you out and, in my case, I couldn't do it anyway so resigned myself to living in a pigsty until ds had gone to bed. Others may say different. I liked Toddler Taming -it made me feel my son was not abnormal, at least. Yes, you should try to ignore tantrums if pos I reckon but sometimes you can't. Don't worry if you sometimes lose it, I did. Try to cheer up and move on. Might post more later. But I know the feelings I think


batey · 02/09/2002 20:37

Just a quickie as I've not much time....
Whiny/Clingy-teeth? Or part of separation anxiety? It's normal to have this at this age as well as being more clingy if there have been changes going on. They want to be with the stable/ constant thing in their life-you!

Tantrums-sorry but usual advice works, ignore bad behaviour and praise good. Also, a bit of advice I was given when dds were this age was that they understand actions better than words eg. if they eat sand in sand pit, remove them to a "boring" place, no fuss/cross words.Do this each time and it's amazing how quickly they get the point

maintaining calm.......tricky! But if you really feel you're about to blow, count to 10, yell into a pillow, anything to release it! Just give yourself a few mins. to calm down. i find a stiff gin works wonders......!

Dealing with separation anxiety. There's not much you can do except go with it. Cant tell you how many dinners I've cooked with a dd on my hip!

Run out of time. HTH and good luck.


aloha · 02/09/2002 21:18

God, he sounds a clever little bugger. 'No' already eh? no probs with language development then! Personally, I think the 'just carry on as normal' attitude works best (used to do this as nanny, and I have to say, nannying is a LOT easier than parenting). Smile, be cheerful, but ignore tantrums, hysterical tears. LOTS of distraction, eg: crying because have to leave the house 'OOH! LOOK! TREES!!'. Only say 'no' when really necessary. It's better to distract, take away, etc. Ignore tantrums if you can. Don't feel bad if you can't. Praise any semblance of good behaviour, no matter how fleeting or vague. Drink a lot of wine after bed-time. Boast to all and sundry about his extreme cleverness to remind yourself how bright and brilliant he is and how much you love him really. Used to work with other people's kids, but then, as (I think we agree re: gf) it's easier when they aren't your own. The real test is when my very vocal but as yet pretty immobile 11mo old gets going.... Yikes!


Twink · 02/09/2002 22:34

Mega sympathy as dd was like this too. On top of the great comments already, only say no when you really, really mean it and there's no alternative and then don't change your mind. I know this is easier said than done, dd went through a very 'suicidal' phase around the same age and 'NO !!!' was the only response at times. Don't give up though, IME it passes (but I won't give you a timescale for dd !) The more consistent you are the better it seems to work. I found when nappy changing my leg over the tummy worked a treat although it upset observers in Mothercare...
Toddler Taming helped me (sorry Enid :) to realise she was normal but any advice on the facade of calm would be well received !


jenny2998 · 02/09/2002 23:13

I swear I'm not on commission (wish I was!) , but I am going to recommend this book AGAIN!

"How to Talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk" by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish (published by Picadilly press). It's just a great book. Lots of ways of coping with all kinds of behaviour and really communicating with your kids. I had it recommended to me and I seem to be recommending it all over the place


SofiaAmes · 02/09/2002 23:31

Sorry, I have to disagree. Say NO all the ds never listened anyway, but at least it made ME feel a lot better. It became his favorite word for a few weeks, but I don't think there has been any seriously physchological damage.
But seriously, my ds started with the same symptoms at around 13 mo. too. I found that distraction was the best tactic. I never got much in the way of tantrums, but those that he did have I would just ignore or occasionally imitate him which he found curious enough to stop and pay attention to. I was told that rather than the "terrible two's" in fact the worst time is just after a child learns to walk and lasts until they are able to talk well enough to express their needs to you. Which seems to hold true for my ds and his playmates. As far as the separation anxiety goes...I used to tell my dh that he had to cook dinner as I couldn't possibly do it with ds clinging on to my ankles....
Don't beat yourself up if you occasionally lose it and just shout at ds/dh at the top of your voice that you just can't take it anymore. You are only human....and they probably deserved it....again I'm sure there will be no lasting physchological damage...
Mess containment? what's that? I've heard that it happens at some point in a man's life....clearly, if my dh is anything to go by, it is certainly way past 41.


jenny2998 · 02/09/2002 23:48

SofiaAmes, I'm still waiting for the terrible twos with DS and he turned 4 today! I've been very lucky to have a wonderfully happy and contented child....I think it might be a different matter with dd (17months)...the beautiful little angel that she is


Pigwig · 03/09/2002 10:14

Bossykate, I would agree with most comments already made, tantrums are best ignored although sometimes they can't be. My ds is now 2 and has had about 3 very bad tantrums over the last year but to be fair they all happened at bedtime and he was extremely tired. In those cases distraction was the best tactic, once when he had worked himself into an awful state I took him outside to see the cars etc outside our house and spoke to him in a gentle reassuring voice, trying to make everything in the street sound very interesting and that worked very well. As for the mess containment, that's much more tricky however at ds's creche they make a big deal of children tidying up and cleaning table tops etc. Giving a child a task makes them feel important. I know at 13 mths this may sound a bit silly but I always give ds a baby wipe and tell him to wipe up his table (on his high chair) if there is a mess. Obviously I have to clean it latter again but it sets a standard. My ds likes to tidy up his toys (although not always)if asked, saying something like "can you help mum to tidy up all these toys/mess etc" makes a child feel important and useful. Begin by asking him and doing it yourself and he will eventually copy you and make sure you give loads and loads of praise when he does it.

I also went through the seperation anxiety thing, but it did improve with age. It's a viscious circle because you get anxious yourself as you know he is likely to get upset and I think children can sense your anxiety and that makes them feel worse. I used to sneek out of my ds's creche etc to avoid saying goodbye but now I tell him I going to work or wherever and will see him later. If I'm leaving him with dh or other I tell him I am going out and will see him later, eventually he got used to this. I once read that leaving a child without saying bye bye confused them and made them feel abandoned. So that is why I do things differently now. You may also find that he settles down very quickly after you leave, and the crying is for your benefit only. I know this is what happend with me, so now if ds cries when I leave (and he still does sometimes) I don't feel like an evil mum any more because I know he stops pretty soon after I've left.

Woooo! (Just coming up for air here), sorry to have gone on for so long, hope you find some useful advice among my ramblings.


WideWebWitch · 03/09/2002 11:43

Oh bossykate, one other thing that worked for me re separation anxiety when ds was going to playgroup/mils was to try very hard not to let him see that you are anxious. I used to look really really happy and cheerful (well, I was, getting a couple of hours off ) as I was saying goodbye and it seemed to rub off on him a bit. He was older than your ds then though but might be worth a try in the future?


emilys · 03/09/2002 12:06

Bossykate, i remember a time when i thought my ds was the worst behaved and unhappiest child in the world - what really helped me (although i know some people don't like it) is Steven Biddulph's The Secret of Happy Children - it can be a bit shmultzy and times and really is mostly common sense but it does lay out the 'common sense' things in a new light and for me helped a lot.

I found that most the time when ds was playing up if i just sat down with him - ignored the phone, washing up, doorbell, salesmen, kitchen floor, whatever ..... and spent some time completely focused on him whether it was making a castle out of building blocks, reading a book, playing in the park / garden he automatically became much happier. Most of his tantrums are just a need for more attention, once we were settled, sometimes i could leave him playing in with what we were doing quite contently on his own. He quickly became much happier - i think there is so much to do that soemtimes we forget about the most important things. The book also makes you watch your language eg. saying 'don't run so fast you'll fall over and hurt yourself' (which they will then do) saying 'slow down and look at the trees' (for example!), if you say 'don't touch the telephone' they will register 'touch' & 'telephone' in their minds and it'll be the first thing they do, instead find a toy phone and make that more fun. I think i'm rambling a bit but the book did make sense to me and really made me watch they way i approach situations / communicate with ds and deal with problems. In the evenings we try to find 1/2hr when dh, ds and myself can play together - even if it's while he's in the bath - just some fun time together. I know it can be logistically difficult in some households to do this but if you can find the time it helps. Having said all that he has had a few tantrums and if there is just no way of dealing with them i walk away, if he says no to everything i try to do - we're not going to get anywhere so i let him get it all out and then calm down on his own.

i also agree with limiting the no's - there is no point saying no to everything so priorisie what is a real no-no. otherwise the word loses it's meaning.

Finally (sorry everyone!!!) i am forever indebted to my ds' childminder who taught him quite early on about 'tidy up time' - she made it a game so that before moving on to something new they would run around the room clearing up, chucking toys in to the box, chasing eachother and seeing who could get the most cleared away the quickest (accompanied by loud music). Now he loves tidy up time, weirdo!


bells2 · 03/09/2002 13:37

I agree with a lot of what you say Emilys. I have just had three days with my 2 children on my own as hubbie was off on a stag weekend to Ibiza. I cooked all their food in advance and had no household chores to do.

It was so wonderful just to spend three days 100% focused on them and my three year old son's behaviour improved enormously. No tantrums, no complaining about being denied ice creams etc and he even happily ate things such as poached salmon and spinach (normally a real battle). At the end of the weekend he announced that as I had been such a good mummy he was going to give me a present and eventually returned from the top of the house with his prized 5 foot long Tonka transporter which he handed over with the words "You're my angel"!.

It really made me realise how much of our time I spend cooking, washing and cleaning etc and how much I want to cut down on all this going forward.


bundle · 03/09/2002 13:43

bells2, what a lovely little boy! that's a really heartwarming tale.


JayTree · 03/09/2002 14:01

I have total sympathy - my 15 month old is just the same. I agree with all of these ideas - distraction and a variety of short activities are a help.

As for trying to avoid saying no all the time - I think we all suffer with this one.It is so easy to turn every bit of instruction and parental teaching into a negative - not good for either of you. I try (don?t always succeed...) to turn it all around. I think it is my teacher training coming out, but it is possible to change the way you deal with behaviour that needs modifying with a bit of effort :

e.g. baby tips drink all over the floor to watch your reaction, instead of the normal "No! Don?t do that, look at the mess.... etc.", try llloking concerned : " hold your cup up like this (do it for him) and then immediately smiling with plenty of praise when it is upright followed by a change of activity. It really does work with perserverence, even if it is hard going. Sorry if this sounds obvious advice, but I find it tricky but worthwhile - makes me feel better about my handling of trying behaviour patterns. After all, most "bad behaviour" at this age is just down to experiementation and lack of understanding rather than real naughtiness.... Good Luck


jodee · 03/09/2002 14:49

Bells, what a lovely story, I would have been moved to tears!

Bossykate, I can only echo what others have said about distraction being the key to diffusing any tantrums, and talking positively, showering him with praise when he does something well.
I found messiness with food - ie throwing it - started around that age; I found it maddening! but tried not to show it, and it does get better!


emilys · 03/09/2002 16:16

bells i love that story - how sweet. maybe now it's your dh's turn to be perfect daddy for the w.end while you go off! But seriously, it is the best thing when you can put all the 'stuff' aside and enjoy each other.


bells2 · 03/09/2002 16:35

I found it incredibly moving. But it also made me feel very guilty because as well as always being busy with housework and so on I know I have been subconsciously favouring my 9 month old daughter who is just the sweetest, easiest baby. I have done far too much "you take him out to the park and we'll just stay here and have a nice time". Anyway, hubbie was most bemused to return home to find my son and I involved in a full blown love affair and my daughter cruelly tossed aside...


sobernow · 03/09/2002 18:15

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bells2 · 04/09/2002 08:00

ha ha Sobernow - I would be only too delighted!. Now my only worry is that after 3 days in Ibiza with 10 other blokes, dh remains insistent that he didn't talk, dance or otherwise communicate with any females except to order drinks etc. I thought the whole point of Ibiza was to rave on the beach with 16 year olds from Solihull so I am extremely suspicious.


sobernow · 04/09/2002 09:29

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bossykate · 04/09/2002 12:45

thanks so much everyone for these fantastic comments and tips. it's reassuring to know others find this stuff wearing, and have the same reactions, and also to feel that i haven't been too wide of the mark in the steps i have taken so far. we will definitely be implementing many of the ideas here, and another trip to amazon is called for. this will have the added benefit of extending the range of "gurus" whom i can critique!

bells - i loved your story! i wonder if ds was writing this thread he would have entitled it "my angel mummy has turned into a shouty monster!"

i wonder if i could presume on people's good nature a little further and ask for some more advice?

i have considered a moratorium on taking him to friends' houses which are not geared up for toddlers, likewise restaurants etc. what do people think? i hasten to add we take him out plenty of other places... i'm thinking of it more from the perspective of my own and dh's enjoyment...(not to mention the friends and restaurant proprietors!)

thanks again everyone - this has been so useful.

OP posts:

sobernow · 04/09/2002 12:52

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bossykate · 04/09/2002 13:04

sorry, also meant to say, i'm also guilty of seeing his behaviour as a barrier to housework, rather than an opportunity to give him more attention, spend more time with him. think i would get late onset pnd if the house went completely to pot - but should work on a better balance probably.

OP posts:

WideWebWitch · 04/09/2002 13:40

Bossykate, don't blame you for not wanting to take ds to houses or restaurants etc if they're not geared up for toddlers. Damn stressful! Remember various family gatherings in unsuitable pubs etc and finding them sooo awful to the point that I wished I hadn't bothered going i.e small smoky pub with big car park on a slope and no outside tables or grass - my family arranged a 2 hour meal and I spent most of it chasing ds around the car park and keeping him alive. Not fun and I didn't get to talk to anyone anyway so what was the point? Now a pub with loads of space, a swing, grass, fences etc would have been a different matter entirely. So I'd agree based on my experiences. Also friends houses with precious things at toddler height are stress city.


bells2 · 04/09/2002 14:04

Wherever possible, I too try and avoid visiting houses filled with fragile ornaments at toddler height and restuarants which I know are likely to be full of disapproving staff/diners - it is just too stressful. We tend to invite people to our house for meals more than we have done in the past as despite having to cook, I find it the easiest option.


Rhubarb · 04/09/2002 15:36

I am at the end of my tether with my toddler today! I took her to the park, she wouldn't play football, wanted to stay in her pram all the time, cried when I suggested we play 'catch', clung onto me whingeing if anyone came near (i.e. 100 metres), threw a panic over one of the park keepers mowing the grass, went into hysterics when I suggested we walk a couple of paces to the goldfish pond, whinged and whined constantly, got back and she threw a wobbly because I mentioned lunch, wouldn't let me take her nappy off, kicked and banged the table with her fists, wouldn't eat her food, and then when my back was turned she proceeded to eat mine instead. Aaarrrrggghhh! If I have to put up with anymore whingeing/whining and temper tantrums I'm going to leave her outside the police station!!!

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