19 answers

2 Year Old Crying, Etc.

I have a son who will be 2 next month. He has always been a happy and easy going toddler. Within the last couple of months he has started crying whenever he wakes up (overnight sleep and after his nap). He just wants to be held for up to an hour and if we put him down, he cries which often turns into screams. He sometimes wakes up the other two kids who are napping because I can't hold him that whole time. He doesn't sleep well at night either. He wakes up crying several times a night and needs to be comforted to fall back to sleep. He's never been a great sleeper, but the crying thing has gotten much worse since he started getting his molars in December. They are all 4 finally in now but the whining and crying hasn't stopped. I'm starting to run out of patience with him and am not feeling so sympathetic toward him anymore and don't know what else to do for him. I also have a 6 month old who needs me too.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

One thing that I didn't see mentioned was whether or not he's potty trained. He may be waking up because he's peeing/uncomfortable and not know why he's uncomfortable.

scanned the other responses; lots of great ideas; this seems to be missing:

chiropractic

a severe bump (or a normal bump while a kid is twisted, like trying to grab something and they fall) can throw their bones out of alignment, which can (among other things) contribute to jaw pain, headaches, a propensity to clogged (and infected!) ear canals ... or I had what I call a trick rib for years--like a trick knee, it didn't take much to put it completely out--and it wasn't just painful, it was painful to BREATHE.

In any case, remember kids always cry for a reason. Always. And if you can't stop the crying, then he isn't getting what he wants by crying, so you KNOW it is not about manipulation (which by two years old is a reason that has to be ruled out)!

Sometimes for me really consciously affirming that I am doing the best I know how helps me to not stress-react to the kids when they are acting out. I don't know if that makes sense to anyone but me :).

I hope this lightens up for you.

More Answers

Hi L.! What I am hearing is that you are tired and frustrated! A 6-month old *and* and 2-year old, plus another one! I'm sure that is a lot of work with very little *you* time!

My son has always had issues sleeping. We call him a little night owl, because that is how it seems to be for him. He's just a nocturnal kind of kid, and once I accepted that, once I acknowledged him for who he is and relaxed about it, it got better. I have found that when I work *with* him rather than *against* him, things are much more smooth. It's a challenge night after night after night to continue to be sympathetic, but I urge you to hang in there! It really will not last forever!

Both of my kids went through a phase of crying upon waking. My oldest (who is 5) does not do this anymore, and my son still does on occasion, but not as much as he used to. Around two was also when my little boy started having night terrors. He would wake screaming! It was deafening! But I was always there, to hold him, nurse him, take a little walk around the house with him, whatever he needed to feel secure. Now, at 3.25, he sleeps pretty well. I still use the sling when my arms are too tired to carry him. Perhaps you could use some sort of baby carrier and have him on your back during those times he needs to be close but you have things to do. Do you co-sleep? That might help with being close while you are still able to be with the littler one.

I encourage you, as I have recently encouraged others, to figure out what each of your needs are, and to find ways to meet those needs that work for and feel good to all of you. If someone is feeling like they are not being heard or validated (this means YOU, too!), then it often takes the form of anger, rebellion, lack of sympathy, temper fits, etc.
Your little ones will be little for such a short time, and it sounds like he is really needing a lot of comfort and connection right now. Do what you can to meet your needs, while also giving him the closeness and security he needs.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

First of all, those molars you are refering to are incredibly painful for most toddlers. They come in in two stages. Usually it take a couple weeks of pain for one side (two corners) of the tooth to poke through, and then a few weeks later, the other side (the whole tooth now) starts coming up and is painful for another couple weeks. If all of his molars are all the way in, then it could just be a habit that he formed while in pain. Next time, try using Motrin more often so they have an easier time, especially at night when the pain is the worst.

The crying could also be due to a toddler form of separation anxiety. He understands so much more now and may be scared to be alone. Try staying calm and not using body lanuage that suggests to him that you are frustrated or angry. This can often make it worse because now he is thinking you don't want to be with him and that will make him more frantic to hold on to you.

He may be feeling pushed aside because the baby requires so much of your time. It seems that this all started when your baby was 3-4 months old. That is probably also when baby stopped sleeping and laying around so much and started demanding more of your attention and time. Try to make your two year old's bedtime routine one-on-one time and make it at least 20 minutes of cuddle, soft talk, gentle dressing, and story time. Be sure he isn't going to bed feeling short changed or pushed aside. Leave safe toys within reach of his crib and when you do come to get him, be truely happy to see him. Give him 2 minutes of cuddle and hugs after you pick him up and then suggest something fun for him to go do (eat, play with a certain toy, etc). If the issue is not getting enough attention, then it may also help to ask for him to help you more with the baby. Let him feed the baby, help put baby to bed, fetch diapers, etc. I know this sounds mean, but when my son was very young, I made comments to my older daughter to suggest that I didn't like the interuptions my son imposed on us any more than she did. I'd say "Oh man, Payton needs his diaper changed. I guess we'll have to stop reading. Too bad he can't go in the potty" or "What's he screaming about now? Doesn't he know we're busy?". She often felt more inclined to help because we were a team. She'd tell me "it's okay mommy, he just doesn't know any better. We can read again later". It was hard for her to think that we might enjoy spening more time with him than with her. I also helped her form a bond with the baby by saying things like "I bet he's crying because he wants to play with you instead of going to bed" or "Look how happy he is watching you. He sure does love you and think your neat."

Hope some of that helps. Good luck

Yikes. It could be worse. I had a five year old, three year old, an eighten month old and a husband with stage IV cancer. My middle child was having terrible dreams and anxiety during the cancer treatmen. I finally took her to talk to a councilor (recommended by our ped) who helped her (and me) work out what was bothering her. A lot of it was the stress and the act of being specificallly listened to (singled out for this time in a positive way) did the trick. She is now a VERY healthy kindergartener who has not been plagued by bad dreams since.

Dear L., It could be teething, but it kind of sounds like something has happened that scared him, and he is having dreams about it. I had a similiar experience with my daughter at about the same age (boy was that a long time ago she's 23!) anyway, it was as simple as something she had seen on TV but it took a while to get that out of her. Or, believe it or not, he may have created a pattern in his brain that that is how sleep goes, if that is the case, you would have to let him cry, tell him you love him and everything is alright, but he has to stay in his bed. Yup, you get no sleep, but it doesn't take long before this is his sleep pattern, staying in his bed and sleeping. It is a tough one because it effects everyone, I would talk to his doctor, and see what he/she has to say! Good luck, R.

One of the last advice responses mentioned chiropractic- I totally agree! My son is also 2, and we take him in to get adjusted at Rody Chiropractic in Puyallup (South Hill and Summit area). They do "Atlas Orthogonal" which sounds fancy but ends up being that they align one an area of the neck and not that whole back cracking thing other chiropractors are into. Yes, he may cry a bit since it will be a new setting, but the doctors will have you hold him to feel if he is out of alignment and then to set it into place takes only a matter of minutes and doesn't hurt.
The molars have been bad for us too- hang in there!

have you read the happiest toddler on the block? we used happiest baby on the block and it did wonders for our newborn without employing the cry it out method. http://www.thehappiestbaby.com/toddlers.html

good luck!

Have you had his ears checked? My daughter (now 2.5) would often get ear infections when her teeth were coming in or during cold season. The pediatrician said that the pain is worst when laying down. That's my suggestion. Let me know how it resolves. I feel your frusteration.

scanned the other responses; lots of great ideas; this seems to be missing:

chiropractic

a severe bump (or a normal bump while a kid is twisted, like trying to grab something and they fall) can throw their bones out of alignment, which can (among other things) contribute to jaw pain, headaches, a propensity to clogged (and infected!) ear canals ... or I had what I call a trick rib for years--like a trick knee, it didn't take much to put it completely out--and it wasn't just painful, it was painful to BREATHE.

In any case, remember kids always cry for a reason. Always. And if you can't stop the crying, then he isn't getting what he wants by crying, so you KNOW it is not about manipulation (which by two years old is a reason that has to be ruled out)!

Sometimes for me really consciously affirming that I am doing the best I know how helps me to not stress-react to the kids when they are acting out. I don't know if that makes sense to anyone but me :).

I hope this lightens up for you.

I hate to say this but have you tried Infant Tylenol before bedtime? I hated having to use it on my daughter but it helped with her teething. Also, make sure he's eaten before bed, but not sweets or anything that will keep him up. Also, make sure he's warm enough, socks, blanket etc. Does he have a nightlight? Does he have a fever? If you decide to medicate, use infant formulas, and you can get generic baby motrin and and tylenol for less $$. Alternate the meds. First use Tylenol, then the motrin. BUT don't use both at the same time of course. (Follow the directions on the bottle).
Lastly, my ped told me that the body can heal an ear infection on it's own. You don't have to run out and immediately get antibiotics. My daughter had an ear infection and it went away on it's own, but I had a prescript for antibiotics just in case. Another sign of ear infection is the child tugs on his ear.

Oh My! I have found someone just like me! I have a 6 month old, and a two year old little boy, as well as a 7 yr old girl. My two year old little boy is doing the exact same thing. I thought I was alone or the only one going through this. It seems so wierd, We give him anything and everything that he wants, during these fits, just to make it stop. Nothing works, and of course the 6 mo old gets woken up all the time. I thought that it might be teeth as well, but that wouldnt explain it just wen they wake up. I'm sorry you are have this problem too. I dont have a remedie or advice I just wanted you to know you are not alone!

I have no advice - I'm just in the same boat and wanted to tell you that you're not alone. My little girl will be two in a few weeks and is suddenly very clingy and cries if I'm not holding her constantly.

Sisters in arms!

Sounds like possible ear infection. Maybe go see your ped to rule it out.

First, have you taken him to the doctor? It could be something as simple as an ear infection or something. My kids don't usually show any signs other than extra grumpiness when they've had ear infections. I'm guessing he hasn't had a fever. I know it's a pain, but I'd still take him to the doctor to rule out any thing like that.

I think your 2 yr old is trying to tell you something. Have you had him to the doctor? I thought my duaghter was just a little clingy and liked to be held a lot. I called her my "cuddle bug" but she kept getting ear infections that would come up rapidly. When she was 5 we had her ears tubed and what a difference it made! She was suddenly independent and outgoing! I felt bad because obviously just hadn't been feeling all that good for so long! It's certainly worth a try! Good luck to you!
S.

Hang in there L.!

2 is tough. My boys are 17 months apart and I remember the pangs of trying to comfort one while the other was busting loose. Teething is terribly painful and unfortunatly, not so great habbits form while we are trying to help our children through their troubles. 2 is also when night terrors can begin popping up. There is also a heightened frustration on his part as he wants to tell you what is hurting, how he feels, what he wants but he doesn't have the words to share.... 2 is an all around tough time (for kids as well as moms).

My suggestion to you is to begin new customs for nap and/or bed time. Perhaps a snuggly blanket or a special book that is just for him (not something you and he cuddle with). And yes, letting your child cry/scream may be what it takes for a little while. He is growing like crazy, he has very few words, and he is experiencing pain that no one can help him with. 2 is not an easy time. Love him. It will be ok.

Have you talked to your doctor about night terrors? It sounds like it's possible that's what he's going through. Especially since you can't console him when he's screaming. My daughter (now 3.5) had them almost every night, sometimes multiple episodes, for about a year. Now they are very few and far between. It was a very tiring time for all of us because she would scream so much and I couldn't get her to stop until she calmed herself down. I hope all is better with your little guy soon.

My daughter did this same thing when she turned two and it turned out to be nightmares. I found that removing her from the room (taking her downstairs or wherever) and talking to her about all the people and things that could protect her helped her to snap out of it. Otherwise she would just cry and scream. To prevent the nightmares, I really monitored what she watched on TV. Even a scene in Beauty and the Beast with the Beast shouting could give my very sensitive daughter nightmares. Also, I removed a doll from her bed that seemed a bit scary to me (it seems to also had a positive effect, but I can't be sure). Good luck!

One thing that I didn't see mentioned was whether or not he's potty trained. He may be waking up because he's peeing/uncomfortable and not know why he's uncomfortable.

I have a 3 year old who was doing that for a while. Like some of the others said, it could be an ear infection. Or recently our 3 year was getting up crying, the thing is he can talk. Well, after a week or so of going through this, we would constantly ask him why he was crying and he'd just cry. No amount of consoling would help him. Finally, I asked him if he was hungry... of all things he stopped and said yes. So the next few days he was still doing his crying episodes I asked him if his stomach hurt... perhaps hungry. Sure enough he calmed down and said yes. So next we told him, he didn't need to cry like that just come say, mom I'm hungry. Wow, communication is great. Now he gets up chipper and says, Good morning mom, I'm hungry. :) I had a friend who told me her boy would get up doing same thing, crying and only way she calmed him down was feeding him. So that was why I tried it. And sure enough, it worked...so I thought I'd share it. Oh something else. Does he watch movies/news anything on tv? My older children use to have bad dreams of things they saw on movies and news, the thing is for us we wouldn't think anything of it but to them it was scary. So that might be something to observe. I know how you feel. I took on three little ones, when I got them they were 5 months, 2 and 3 years old and I had my own 3 children. Its tough but as the children get older, they'll learn to help if you teach them.

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