July 07, 2008,
T.W. asks from Berkeley, CA on July 04, 2008
16 Month Old Is Driving Me Crazy
so my 16 month old is driving me crazy. for the past few months she's been very needy, crying and whining when i put her down or leave the room (even if her dad is with her). i read somewhere that it's just a phase, and that it passes faster if you provide reassurance that you are available for them. but it has gotten worse. and she's started to whine. she does not do this as much with her father. needless to say this is super unpleasant and i wonder if being too available (i stay at home) is not making it worse. any advice?
1 mom found this helpful
C.F. answers from San Francisco on July 05, 2008
I think it's a normal separation anxiety phase. My nephew is 18 months and going through it. Only wants mama. My sister tells him when she's leaving and when she'll be back and who is going to stay with. Seems to help, but it's a normal phase that passes. Good luck! C.
H.D. answers from San Francisco on July 05, 2008
Two things to try.
When dad comes home both of you greet him at the door. Get him AND her settled and then say, "I am going for my walk!" Go out the door and be gone for 10 minutes or more, even if she throws a tantrum. Get her in the routine of seeing you away but coming back.
Two, have your husband take HER for a walk or out to play. Same theory applies. She won't like it very much at first but she will get used to it, you HAVE to give it time.
What you are experiencing is classic separation anxiety. She will learn that just because mommy isn't there doesn't mean you won't come back. Remember that kids live in "the now". Good luck. =)
J.B. answers from Sacramento on July 05, 2008
Maybe she is just tired and needs a nap. A sixteen month old needs two naps a day usually.
M.R. answers from San Francisco on July 05, 2008
I studied attachment theory in school and what your child is going through is called the clear cut attachment phase of separation anxiety. It usually begins 6 to 8 months and starts again around 18 to 24 months. Your child needs reassurance and the reason why she is reacting to you more than your husband is because you are her primary attachment figure. She is developing the connection that you are her secure base and this is very important for survival because as children reach the second phase and become more mobile they need to know that they have a safe place to go.
Be patient. Everything is is a phase and this is an important part of emotional development for her.
I would however (on the safe side) take her in to have her ears checked out and get a physical to make sure there is nothing physically wrong with her.
Remember try not to be angry with her, just reassure her and let her know she is loved and she is safe.
D.C. answers from Sacramento on July 06, 2008
Hi T.! I also have a 20 mo. old baby girl and I noticed that she would be very clingy, whiny and needy when she is starting to get sick. I can understand your frustrations becaue I'm also a stay at home mom. There are times when I just want to quit being a mom! But after finding out about my child's illness I felt guilty for being upset. Goodluck!
S.S. answers from San Francisco on July 05, 2008
I have a 25 month old boy. These are just phases. They pass and then you will miss this phase.
What I found helpful during this phase was to distract him with something he just loved. Like going to the park, giving him a new toy, taking him to the garden to "water" the plants... and then when I got back to the house I could leave him alone for some time.
S.R. answers from Sacramento on July 05, 2008
This also happened to me too. I was at my wits ends with holding my son all day and not being able to even step a foot away from him without him losing it completely. I ended up just telling him what I was about to do and then just walking away and letting him cry and deal with his emotions while I did what I needed to do. I was surprised that within an afternoon he was doing so much better! But he did cry one right after another for several hours until he got the point. After I returned from what I was doing I would sit next to him on the floor ignoring him until he stop crying then I would praise him like crazy and we would play. You have to be prepared for a lot of crying and it might not be your style but I worked wonders for me.
J.H. answers from Sacramento on July 05, 2008
It depends on how frightened a child is of her environment and/or how upset her stomach feels (sometimes as a result of being in stressed/frightened). I found that yelling/scolding at her regarding her condition only makes her more frightened.
My first child was a "cling-on" (i.e. in my baby bjorn baby carrier all day until she was almost 3 and then in my arms until she was 4). I was in tears one night when I was sitting on a rocking chair for 4 hours straight. I couldn't even go the restroom without her around. She had a really bad case of colic and will cry a lot...according to her pediatricians.
When my daughter was able to talk, I found out that she was allegic to dairy products and had a sensory disorder called tactile sensitivities. As a 7 year-old, she's still afraid to go into a dark room by herself. She says that she sees monsters. The more we discount the "monster theory", the more scared she gets. Along with her sensory disorder, she throws a fit if she has a tag on her shirt or seams on her underwear/socks. But, she's a straight A student and doing extremely well physically/socially.
After that experience, I decided to try stepping away from the cries when my second child arrived. I checked to make sure she wasn't hungry, wasn't in pain, wasn't cold/hot, didn't need to be burped, and didn't need to be diapered. Lacking the feel of mobility that I gave her older sister (i.e. the baby bjorn baby carrier), my second child almost became a vegetable and developed some serious gross motor problems. A mommy and me music/movement together class brought her back to life, so we immediately started music therapy to continue to fix her speech and gross motor. She's also seeing a physical therapist. Her fine motor skills have always been great though...from sitting on a chair by herself for so long. She's now doing extremely well socially, but we're still working on her gross motor diabilities.
A healthy balance of being with your child and stepping away is what I would do if I had a third child (assuming the child is not cold/hot, sleepy, or in pain...my oldest daughter was clearly in pain all during her infancy/toddlerhood).
Most importantly, moms model to their kids how to behave. Kids know that they need to cry to get moms attention to feed their inner sense of learning how to behave in this world. They are like sponges taking everything that the mom does, even though the kids can't communicate yet.
Most people would never do this to their child, but children who are left outside in the yard with the dog develops dog behaviors (barking, scratching for fleas, no speech, eating with their face out of a bowl, etc...). They've filmed documentaries on these children. The kids who are older than 6 years of age in these films remain the same into adulthood, but the ones who are discovered in time at around the age of 2 can still be helped out.
So, the first 6 years is really a true test of a mom's patience. Involve your child in your own activities/chores as much as possible, even if she makes a big mess, so she can learn from your own model of patience and learn that helping others/the family can be fun. Those 6 years will go by so fast, but forms the foundation of a child's behavior.
S.H. answers from San Francisco on July 05, 2008
I don't think that being too available makes the whining worse, but responding tot he whining does. Also, when teeth come in and growth spurts happen it makes them feel bad and need to be held. I usually respond but intensity level of the neediness. If she seems really needy, sometime is strap her in a sling and within 5 or ten minutes she has gotten her fill. If she is just being whiney I tell her how annoying it is and how much I hate it and let her throw a mini tantrum and when I don't respond she cools it a bit. It is different for each family though. I do work, and if i have worked three or so days in a row, I know it is hard for her and I spend the next day making it up with her by doing things with and for her all day. I don't know if that helped, but yes, the age is right for this sort of behavior. Actually, in the morning she is very grumpy and clingy, so I bring her out in her blanket (a security item really helps when they are at this stage) and put her on the couch with some juice and crackers and Plaza Sesamo (Sesame street in spanish) and she watches an episode quietly. This seems to help a lot with the morning grumpies. (I know the pediatricians say no TZ til 2, but this is really helping her spanish, at 18 months).