I think my toddler is trying to break me....

(6 Posts)
Puffykins Sat 30-Mar-13 07:04:46

DS, who will be 3 at the end of July, is currently the most exhausting child in the world ever. He gets up every morning at 5.30/ 6 ish, and bangs on his bedroom door yelling for us until we let him out. He's then just go go go, immediately, running around the house, trying to play with things he knows he's not allowed to and then screaming like we're the most unreasonable parents in the world when we take them away from him, turning on lights, waking up the baby, etc. And everything is a battle - getting him dressed, putting on his coat and shoes etc. He gets plenty of exercise - we go out every morning and every afternoon - I don't allow him to have sugar or crisps or juice so the processed food is very limited (he often refuses to eat though. I don't make a thing about it, I just say fine and get him down from his high chair, and he frequently won't even try new things at all - he basically survives on cereal, yoghurt, toast, bananas, blueberries, apples, baked beans, chicken and cheese). He's well behaved at other people's houses, and at nursery, where he appears to listen and do what he's told . It's just at home. And he KNOWS when he's being naughty. He's on occasion said sorry BEFORE as he commits the crime (eg pulling a mug off the side in the kitchen and hurling it at the floor so that it breaks). But there is no remorse attached to the sorry, and he does these things all day long, and will find the next thing to do while I'm still clearing up the first. The baby is eight months now, so he's had time to get used to her, and he still has plenty of solo attention from me - we do a weekly swimming lesson together, I spend hours building train sets with him, reading him stories etc. Oh, he's also a nightmare when we're out, running away from me etc., going limp and refusing to walk, darting into shops and screaming "Hide and Seek!" Before he darts under/ behind furniture. I feel like I'm at my wits end. Is all this normal? How do I punish him so that he doesn't do it again? (If I put him in his room he destroys it, he won't sit on a step and stay there ....) Any advice very gratefully received!

Thisisanoutrage Sat 30-Mar-13 09:38:00

I could have written this! My DS is 2.7 and DD is 14 weeks. DS is like a tasmanian devil from the moment he wakes (6am). I deal with all of the above plus constant asking or things toys, sweets, treats etc. as well as bouts of violence with his little friends and now he has taken to loudly commenting about strangers...'she looks very grumpy'.

I'm not sure I can be much help as I'm in the same boat but days seem to be better when we get out more and also when I'm a bit more positive. He needs constant entertainment so everything has to become a game or a race. Who can eat their breakfast first, being silly getting dressed by putting pants on his head and socks on his hands. Then if all else fails bribery!

You are not alone and hopefully...this too shall pass!

MoreBeta Sat 30-Mar-13 09:48:57

Yes he is trying to break you. Its what they do. It will pass.

DS1 wasn't quite like you describe your DS but yes up at 5.30 and then full on activity all day. We used to plan our entire weekend around keeping him fully occupied with major physical excerise. Soft play for two hours, then football for two hours, then scooter for two hours and so it went on. We even had a written timetable and he used to demand what it was at breakfast and once we had finsihed one activity he would demand to know what was next!

It was like being on a treadmill. He used to go to nursery during the week and holiday clubs in holidays and staff used to tell us how they were exhausted keeping up with him and they were younger than us and childcare professionals. When every other child was tired and settling down to a video at the end of the day he wanted to construct a castle or climb a tree. Frankly by Sunday lunchtime I just wanted to cuddle a bottle of wine on the sofa.

JiltedJohnsJulie Sat 30-Mar-13 14:41:42

Sounds pretty normal, both of mine woke at that time at that age and were like Duracell bunnies, I thought that's what little ones just did.

Do you use a wrist strap or reins when you are out? Sounds like it will make your trips a lot less stressful.

Sounds like you are both in a negative rut at the moment. I know that you spend time with him, do you also give him lots of praise when he is behaving in a way you like?

Think you might like this book too smile

Iggly Sat 30-Mar-13 21:04:21

Have you spoken to nursery to see what tactics might work?

Ds responds to a challenge (eg can you get dressed really quickly - you have to sound really enthusiastic when you say this btw!). Also to ignoring - so if he won't get dressed I leave the room and tell him I'm not coming back or talking until he gets dressed. As soon as he starts, I give him specific praise (eg well done for putting on your pants, not "good boy"). I also get him dressed sometimes.

As for the baby - there will always be an issue there. Sibling rivalry never really goes away! It's only now dd is 16 months has ds calmed down a bit.

Do you have rules? Again ds responds to rules and having places for things. He also loves praise and the idea of getting a helpful sticker for something.

Puffykins Sun 31-Mar-13 23:15:11

Thank you, all of you. JiltedJ I think you were right - we were in a negative rut. The baby was ill and so I was extra tired and I think DS sensed that and played up more - actually I think he was tired too, as she'd been waking him up occasionally in the night. The past couple of days have been better, mainly because I've had more energy, and he is actually very sweet and loving and funny and polite as well a total nightmare in terms of energy levels.
I do praise him when he's good. I haven't tried sticker charts or anything. I read some book about Unconditional Parenting and had vaguely been trying to 'parent without rewards or punishment', but it's not really working for me. Actually, it's totally not working for me, as my parenting method is heavily reliant on bribery and distraction. So perhaps I'll try a sticker chart. He loves stickers.
I tried reins for a while when we were out, but he used to refuse to move and go limp and I'd be left dangling a toddler off a harness, kind of like a very small extra in a stage production of Peter Pan.
He lulls me into a false sense of security. For instance, today we were on our way home from church, and he was actually being relatively good, when suddenly he bolted in the other direction that we were walking in, cackling manically. He wasn't actually going anywhere, he was just running away for fun. The other day he slipped my grip, ducked into a cafe, grabbed a ribena carton and then ran past me up the hill towards home shrieking "Can't catch me!" Of course I did and took him back to the cafe and made him apologise, which he did charmingly and he looks like an angel so the woman running the cafe just laughed and chucked him under the chin and let him keep the drink.
In the mean time I shall just do as you all suggest, and remember that this too shall pass . . . .
Happy Easter.

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