August 25, 2007,
S.S. asks from Saint Paul, MN on August 24, 2007
How to Keep a 21 Month Old Busy?
I should really be good at this by now, but I'm having a very hard time figuring out how to keep my 21-month-old busy. He's into EVERYTHING and doesn't seem to have any interest in toys. He'd rather climb on the tv, play with the light switches, go in every cabinet he's not allowed into (they do have locks, but he tries to sneak his hand in anyway), climb on tables, push chairs around to get to the counters (and whatever's on them), pull books off shelves, touch the stove, empty the wipes box, etc. You get the picture. I realize he's doing this for attention and because he's bored. My almost four-year-old is home with me and she does try to play with him, but he's something of a bully, too, and he hits her and takes her toys. Plus, she's more into baby dolls and tea parties and he's more like Godzilla. I have a six-year-old son, but he was not like this at all. My youngest is very physical, very destructive, very hard to focus and entertain. And I don't really think it's my job to entertain him every moment of the day, although I certainly do play with him a lot during the day. But the only things that seem to interest him are things I don't want him doing. Argh!
The kids each have their own toy cabinet and we have tons of books. But even when I point him to his cabinet, he doesn't want to play with anything! And the kid can't stop moving. My husband asked me what I did when the older kids were this age (my daughter was and is very active), but I can't remember! It wasn't that long ago, but I was pregnant with this one when she was this age and it was a really hard pregnancy, so all my energy went into surviving. And my son was a huge help, but he's in school now and so is gone all day. For health reasons, I don't have a lot of energy and sometimes I get really frustrated with how persistant he is in his destruction. I feel like I'm always telling him "No," "Stop doing that," "Don't touch that," "Be gentle with your sister [brother, the cat, etc.]," and on and on. He doesn't talk at all yet, either, although his comprehension is quite good.
Anyhow, after making a short story long, does anybody have ideas for amusing a very active little boy? (And yes, I know he's spoiled. He's the last baby and I sacrificed a lot, including my health, for him, so I know that's part of his problem!) This is stressing me out a lot and while I absolutely adore this child he also frustrates the dickens out of me!
Thanks a lot!
B.F. answers from Minneapolis on August 24, 2007
did you just explain my 20 month old??? LOL. He's the same way. Make sure he is fed, not thirsty and isnt overly tired. Those are the first indicaitons that a melt down is on its way in our household.
Get him outside more, different activities outside will wear him out. Fresh air is good for everyone, including us. Give him different tasks or toys to play with and continue to switch activities after about 10 minutes or so. My son doesnt even acknowledge the half million toys we have anymore because hes bored. I often have to take toys and put them away for a few weeks and bring them back so he is more interested in them.
Also my son loves to color or paint. He does it more on himself but he loves it. Its a good activity to learn to sit at the table and be focused on something. It may not last long but it works.
I also have different sized bins I bring outside and one day we might fill it with water or sand or noodles or rice, etc. He loves to feel the different textures.
Taking him outside and letting him run around should do wonders for him.
Good luck and hang in there. keep in mind that theres others that are in the same boat. Our homes look tornados came wipping through and were exhausted trying to keep our kids entertained.
B.H. answers from Minneapolis on August 24, 2007
Try different activities you can sit down with him and give him attention.
Take him outside for atleast 1 hour or longer before lunch everyday regardless of the weather unless it's dangerous weather. Let him get some fresh air, and wiggle all that engergy out.
Rotate toys, have a bin of toys for every day of the week and pull today's toys out and put yesterday's away eachday so he's not bored with toys and it's a little bit of a surprise.
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J.O. answers from Minneapolis on August 25, 2007
This is my 24 month old daughter exactly. You took the words right out of my mouth. I have done some research and apparently she is a spirited child, but this doesn't help me figure out how to keep her occupied either. If you find anything out, let me know. -J., mother of 5 and 2 year olds.
K.H. answers from Minneapolis on August 25, 2007
I have twins girls this age and a 3 year old who is still very much like you discribe. So I feel your pain:) One of my tiwn girls is very, very active and although she will play with toys its usually one she stole from the less aggressive twin. I just bought a book and although I don't have tons of time to devote to it I really like what I've read so far. Its called the Toddler Busy Book and I went ahead right away and got teh Preschooler Busy Book when I saw it at a garage sale. They have TONS ans tons of good ideas to keep little toddler hands busy. I have done a few of them and because we are outside a lot I plan to resort to it a lot more often once we are stuck inside during the long winter months ahead. I am sure if you look at a bookstore or amazon.com you'll find a lot more like it.
Obviously one little book isn't going to cure all or even most of your troubles with a busy guy like that but every little bit helps right:)
Cut yourself some slack too, it sounds like you kind of balme yourself for his over -activity. I have twin girls born the same time getting the exact same attention and one is a bit of a terror and the other one is the opposite. I ALWAYS seem to be reprimanding the one and have not much need to with the other. So chalk most of it up to personality and genes and don't get too down on yourself when he seems so distructive and busy.
J.R. answers from Minneapolis on August 25, 2007
Haha, that's funny because I could've written that myself. My youngest of 4 is 21 months and he's quite the handful too. If it's not climbing or digging it's pitching a fit because I told him no. He actually climbed out of his crib at 18 months! I had to cut a few inches off the crib legs, remove the spring piece and drop the mattress on the floor down inside. And this is a boy that's only at the 40th percentile for height! He's just a little muscle man and nothing hurts him, he just rolls out of it when he falls like a little monkey :o)
I finally just babyproofed the kids' bedrooms so he can go in there and play with the older kids' toys too. That's seems to entertain him because now he's got a ton of toys play with. His current favorite is his brother's Doodleboard. He drags it all over the house by the pencil thing :o) Good luck, this too shall pass, and then we'll do it again, LOL.
One thing I have found is that if I leave some little storage containers, laundry baskets, hats and things like that that aren't really toys out for him he loves it. Everything on the head, even the laundry basket.
Mom to 4 wonderful kids ages 5,4,3 and 1 and looking for #5.
G. answers from Minneapolis on August 24, 2007
That sounds exactly like my 25 month old little boy. He's so destructive when he's bored. The only way I have figured out to help him is to take him outside and play. I have to totally wear him out. Sorry I couldn't offer any more advice. I'm interested in seeing the other replies, too!
H.H. answers from Minneapolis on August 24, 2007
I know how frustrating it is for you because I have a 26 month old. But that is there way, that is how they learn their surroundings. That is just part of their development. I will put everything in the middle of our table so he can't get it and 5 seconds later, somehow he got to it and has it all on the floor. But I have grown to think of it as something he will do for a phase of his life and he will get over it soon. Good luck
B. answers from Minneapolis on August 24, 2007
I'd say that he needs more appropriate activity. Little boys have LOTS of energy and they need to burn it off in appropriate places - like running outside, climbing on playground equipment, etc. It sounds like your son needs even more of that than most. I would take him outside to a park right after breakfast and let him run his little heart out (bring balls that he can kick and chase). After he's had a lot of exercise, he should be more content to play somewhat more quietly in the house.
I would also check his diet - is he eating much sugar? That can also have a real impact on behavior. I'd start him out with a filling, healthy breakfast (slow cook oatmeal, low sugar cold cereal, eggs and toast) and make sure that his lunch is similarly low-sugar (beware of hidden sources like juice and sugared yogurt). Also, how does he sleep? Kids who aren't getting enough sleep often are hyper. I'd make sure he was on a predictable schedule with plenty of time for exercise and a routine naptime.
When you are expecting him to play inside, I would take a few minutes to read him a story, play with him or set him up with an activity (and realize that a 21 month old won't be able to do anything for more than about 10 minutes). If you periodically check in with him, he might be more content to play independently.
Good luck - if you try all of this and he is still bouncing off the walls, I would talk to your pediatrician.
Momma to a 21 month bundle of energy