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How to deal with opinionated toddlers (or babies or kids)

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 18:39 2017
by antfancier
So I remember reading that some of you have offspring with 'strong' personalities. At our 15 month checkup, the pediatrician said "oh, he's very opinionated" and I was like "yeah, no fucking shit." But seriously, how do you handle it? All the advice seems to be that high need babies grow up to be great kids, but that does nothing to help me right now. In fact, it sounds like something you tell people so they'll continue to struggle through their current situation in the vague hope that it won't last forever.

Right now we're struggling with independent play. Actually he can play fine by himself if I'm in the room and not doing anything. But if I pay attention to something else, or actually try to leave the room, he gets mad and vocalizes his displeasure very loudly (no tears, more like a whining shout). Actually, he's been like this since he was he was born, but it's only now that I've realized it. I don't think it's separation anxiety (we have been through phases of that), but rather he just can't bear to miss out on something. He's really social, will hug total strangers and follow older kids (and animals) around the park. If he has attention from people, he couldn't care less where I am.

He just started daycare and is doing really great in every aspect, except he cries whenever an adult leaves the room. Today they told me he's even started crying if any of the other children leave too, and all the other kids are starting to copy his behavior! They've asked me to ignore it at home and continue doing my thing, which is what I've been doing all along but without any success in ending the behavior. He will only get more upset at being ignored and begin screaming, eventually working himself up into a state. I always tell him why I'm leaving and that I'm coming back, but it doesn't make a difference. Now when he hears me say "I'm just going to..." he grabs for my legs or tries to head me off at the door to prevent me from leaving. I feel like they think I'm spoiling him at home. I asked how long they let him cry, and they said 5 minutes which is laughable to me as I leave him upwards of half hour sometimes when I just can't take it anymore.

I mean, it's validating to hear that he really is a demanding child and it's not all in my imagination, but on the other hand I'm at a loss as to what to do - for both him and me.

Re: How to deal with opinionated toddlers (or babies or kids)

Posted: Wed Jul 26, 7:14 2017
by DarkOne
Not having read your post, but just the heading, my response was "wine." But after reading your post, I thought "wine." Juuust kidding. Mine had bouts of separation anxiety, but nothing that seemed out of the ordinary from everything I read. I don't recall either of them being as sensitive to my (or anyone's) presence as you describe, but your kid may still be within the range of normal separation anxiety, albeit in the extreme side of it. If you haven't already done so, I'd google the crap out of "How to treat separation anxiety in toddlers." It seems your kid is smack in the middle of the window when it hits (between 6 months and when language is understood by strangers). (This site seemed relevant, if basic: https://www.drgreene.com/articles/separation-anxiety/ ). If this window definition is correct, then something to do is work on his communication skills in hopes that window closes sooner rather than later.

Not having dealt with severe separation anxiety, this next stuff is more theoretical than experience based, but in your shoes, to address the specific issue of your boy being able to be by himself, I think I'd approach it as a weaning exercise. You can wean cold-turkey, which is the general "just ignore him" advice, but that doesn't seem to be working for you. So I'd attempt a gradual weaning. Some ideas: 1) Maybe start off doing something while you're in the room that allows you to split your attention, like idk knitting or mending clothes or perusing a magazine or polishing/cleaning something, cooking... The idea is that you are together but doing independent things. Occasionally show interest in what he's doing. Talk about your task while you do it. 2) If the room is big enough work your way to a far end of the room. 3) Stop announcing if you're leaving the room when you intend to come back shortly (i.e. drop the "I'm just going to..."), but do announce when you come back. The idea is to teach him "hey I was gone and the world didn't end."

It'll pass, but in the meantime sometimes it just seems like the next milestone will never come, doesn't it? Good luck!

Re: How to deal with opinionated toddlers (or babies or kids)

Posted: Wed Jul 26, 13:45 2017
by Keen
Discipline your kid to have his opinions but don't start screaming the second someone doesn't think it's right. That's the main thing is discipline your kid

Re: How to deal with opinionated toddlers (or babies or kids)

Posted: Wed Jul 26, 15:00 2017
by melsbells
I have a demanding toddler. Sometimes I'm told to use more positive adjectives, like resilient instead of stubborn and maybe that will make me feel better about the situation. We have a similar dynamic that the kid doesn't have separation anxiety (there's no problem when I leave for work or class) but if I'm around, the kid expects that we will spend all the time together and try to dictate the terms of what we do. Sometimes I need a break and say as much. This tactic hasn't worked well yet. So I try to get the kid to help me do things that I need to do. Which often results in screaming. But offering a special activity (play dough or sand) has been doing the trick usually. Oh, if the kid's grandfather is around, I am happily demoted.

Re: How to deal with opinionated toddlers (or babies or kids)

Posted: Wed Jul 26, 15:05 2017
by Keen
I garenteed a belt or a switch will fix that, fast. Or a ruler or just a regular spanking

Re: How to deal with opinionated toddlers (or babies or kids)

Posted: Thu Jul 27, 14:07 2017
by melsbells
Discipline in the form of belts, switches, rulers, and hands aren't going to help a situation that is ultimately an annoying developmental phase. I don't see them helping any situation unless the anticipated outcome is child protective services taking the kid away. I could see how someone might suggest that as a solution.

Re: How to deal with opinionated toddlers (or babies or kids)

Posted: Mon Jul 31, 19:57 2017
by rowan
Ooof. My kid is very social, needs to be around someone all the time. It's ... challenging, as you've found. It does get better as they gain their own interests. But it took a long time to get past clingy.
DarkOne wrote:
Wed Jul 26, 7:14 2017
Not having read your post, but just the heading, my response was "wine." But after reading your post, I thought "wine."
Yes. After bedtime.

Also, honestly the only way we made it through was we would take turns being the center of focus. We still do this, divide and conquer (and she's only one kid, hell). Also, I know people are like really limit screen time BUT if you really need to get something done one episode of e.g. Daniel Tiger or Paw Patrol or whatever isn't gonna be too bad. I think DarkOne has some good ideas too.

Good luck.