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Surviving Toddlerdom: When Your Baby Gets a Personality

Posted by Kristen on May 24, 2010 at 7:00 AM in behavior
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We gushed on and on about how The Baby was such a good listener. If we had been horrible parents, we may have even said that he listens better than his brothers ever did. You tell him "no," he stops about 75% of the time. That's excellent for a toddler and near perfection for a male toddler.

He would help me find his shoes. He sat pretty quietly when I put his clothes on. There was minimal trouble getting him into his car seat. And then two days ago, all of that changed. Baby Mason woke up with a personality and it was not necessarily a good one. When I don't respond the way he would like me to respond to things, he pinches me or hits me. In fact, he even gets a cranky face so I know to throw up the armor.

He is fourteen months old. He is starting to really talk but our comprehension of what he is saying is not meeting his needs. I can visibly see his frustration at not having his needs met and not understanding what he wants. I'm frustrated because he's lashing out. Here are some ways that we have handled the onset of toddlerdom in the past and tips for surviving it.

Praise is a big motivator. There is a lot of appreciation and positive reinforcement in very loud sing, songy voices in our house. It's annoying to everyone but Mason seems to like it. Sure there are still moments when he runs away with the clicker and hides it or tries to flush rolls of toilet paper down the lav but I have seen an improvement in his overall feisty behavior.

Remember it is age-appropriate behavior. I have a friend who is panicking about her child biting everyone right now. Well, her child is eighteen months old and is still at that stage where she is trying to talk but not everyone is understanding her yet. Her frustration mounts and she bites. My friend has gotten very good at seeing the warning signs and cutting her off at the pass but the 24/7 stress of keeping everyone safe from the biter is wearing her down. I just keep reminding her that in a few months, her baby will be able to communicate better and will be less likely to bite in frustration.

Enlist help
. My children love nothing better than to be in each other's business. I have recently used those tendencies to get a little back up from the older boys. I sat Ethan down the other day and explained to him how Mason was getting bigger and that he watches everything his brothers do all the time. I may have mentioned that if Mason is copying Ethan or Nathan's bad behavior, everyone will get in trouble. Now Ethan is on task to lead Mason in the way of righteousness. He makes sure that everyone is following the rules and he has designated himself as Chief Translator for the Baby (even if he can't understand anything Mason is saying either).

Know your child's limits. Mason gets cranked up when he is tired or hungry or hot. As my friend does with her biter, I try to make sure that I stay ahead of all the basic needs so that everything doesn't come to a head in the worst possible way. It amazes me how much a late lunch can throw all of my children into a tizzy. I'm getting better and so are my kids.

Do you have some tips or tricks to taming the wild bear? Please share.


Libby writes...

This is SUCH a hard stage for everyone in the family. I'm a firm believer in sign language for kids - it works great starting at about 12 months. The signs are easy to learn because they are built to mimic the object itself, and the parents don't really need to learn that many to be able to better communicate with their toddler. I learned 100 signs in a 2 hour community ed course! There are also tons of resources on the internet to go further with it, too.

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