May 21, 2010,
C.P. asks from Desert Hot Springs, CA on May 14, 2010
Super Active 15 Month Old Wearing Me Out...
What can I do to help my 15 month old son to nap and sleep better and become less frustrated and cranky before we are even done with one outing, chore or activity?
He is up everyday at 6 AM and hard to get to bed even by 9 most nights and sometimes 10 PM and he is very difficult to nap. He seems constantly cranky and rubs his eyes a lot throughout the day, and yet when nap time comes he fights it with a fury, and bed time too.
I have done all the "right" things. He is on a schedule, meals at the same times, baths at the same times, play time at the same time, all the time and even time with his Grandfather on a regular basis so I can have a break.
I feel like from the time he is up to the time I put him down I am doing nothing but trying to keep him entertained and I get nothing done. No chores, no personal time, no time for the business, nothing but what I can fit in 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there.He goes non-stop and is very hard to keep entertained. He doesn't much care for toys, there a a couple he likes but tires of very quickly.
He won't be read to, he tears at the pages and destroys the books. It is very frustrating.
He won't sit and use flash cards or play any learning games.
I know he is very smart, as he responds as if I know he knows what I am saying, and he he doesn't say very much yet and I feel like with his level of intelligence he should.
I teach him the best way I can by pointing everything out and telling him what it is a few times, I do this all day.
I feel like I am not doing a good job of parenting, but I have no energy, he is running me ragged and I am going a bit crazy.
I want to be a stay at home mom, so I can raise my child and not someone else, but I don't know what to do anymore. I know if he is this challenging at home, how much more challenging he would be for someone who is not his relative and I also fear how they would handle the stress.
I do well in not taking it out on my Son, but my relationship with his Father has become very stressful and hard on us both, we seem to always be at each other's throats. Personally I just feel stuck and incompetent.
I have tried weekly or bi-weekly outings to library, but he tears all the books off the shelves and then apart, tried all sorts of other activities, but he can't even get through a half hour grocery shopping trip without going into meltdown mode.
He is the sweetest and smartest boy, but when he gets into that mode, which feels like half the time, he just screeches and screams and throws a fit. He won't even ask for things he just screeches at me or whomever it is until we figure it out and I have been trying to tech him drink, eat and ask for these things since he was 6 months old at least.
I feel like I am incapable of caring for my Son the way he needs and unable to do anything for myself or the family and it is wearing on me physically. I also have Rheumatoid Arthritis, so I don't have an abundance of energy to begin with, besides him wearing me out, the stress of it all makes me physically feel worse.
Any advice or tips would be most helpful. Thanks.
So What Happened?™
Haven't had a chance to try anything yet, but I already feel better and all the advice ans support is much appreciated. I will continue to read these posts and I hope the other mothers struggling with the same thing find some comfort and help too. Thanks a bunch!
5/16-I just wanted to check back in with everyone who took such thoughtful time and energy to help me. On Friday I began with a very bad episode of my illness and have been in bed most of the last three days, but we did try and get him to sleep earlier last night and will keep at it, as I know you all said it may take a couple of weeks.
I will also be sure to try a lot of outdoor things with him, but swimming in our area this time of year is best as it around 105 degrees most days in the summer.
And of course have him evaluated for developmental hurdles, his next Ped. appt. is next week. So I will be sure to mention all this to her too.
Sleep does seem to be the primary issue, and I am sure he is becoming a bit spoiled, as I cater to him constantly. All your advice is very sound and I really needed it. Thank you all so much! Mommies unite!
D.W. answers from Gainesville on May 14, 2010
There are a couple of things I notice right off-you said "He seems constantly cranky and rubs his eyes a lot throughout the day, and yet when nap time comes he fights it with a fury' You have got a baby that is stuck in a constant over-tired mode. Not napping, going to bed way late are creating this problem. Babies who are over-tired will run wild. They get wired when they are over-tired.
When you note the first signs of being tired you take him in for nap. When little ones get over-tired they get wired and can not calm down and unwind for sleep. You have to break this cycle and it is going to take time and patience given that you are dealing with a toddler.
You need to literally do and say the same things for every nap and every bed time. It will take time but he will learn what is expected and what to expect. Babies have to be taught to sleep. They don't just know how. At 15 months he needs to be in bed waaaay earlier than 9 or 10 at night. Try to get him in bed by 7:30. Start the bedtime routine with dinner time. Keep things consistent with what you do and say. This is going to take time. It won't be corrected in a day or even a week but he will get it if you stick to it. You can also check out Dr. Sears sleep book for toddlers.
My son was a wild child as well. But we went to the library every week for storytime (I took his drink and a snack and that's how I got him to sit for the story.) Your son is young so you can't expect him to sit for the entire time but at least a few minutes. We also did things like mommy & me gymnastics or music class. It was very taxing on me in the beginning but it made a huge difference in his behavior. My son was a bit over 2 when we started these activities.
**Edited to add:
I missed the part about him screeching at you. Try teaching him sign language! It is amazing to watch. I've been signing with my daughter since she was 8 or 9 months old and it is truly amazing how much she uses it. The Signing Time series is great but any sign we don't know we just look up on line and start using it. Funny thing too is once my daughter would start using the sign she would also use the word!
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A.H. answers from Los Angeles on May 15, 2010
You have your hands full and are dealing with an awful lot. The only piece of advice I have is to put your son to bed earlier. Kids his age should be getting around 11 hours of sleep at night. Most kids his age go to sleep between 7 and 8pm. 9 or 10 is too late if he gets up at 6am. On top of that he isn't taking a nap . He is obviously tired if he is rubbiing his eyes and his behavior could definately be partly attributed to his fatigue. Put him to bed 15 minutes earlier each night. You'll have to tough out his crying. Once you put him to bed though don't go back in or you'll reinforce his crying. I can't emphasize this enough - use good sleep "hygiene". If you're not familiar with this term go on-line. I'd also consult your pediatrician. Good luck,
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J.H. answers from Honolulu on May 15, 2010
You got some great advice. My oldest was just like this (He's now four and has not slowed down much!) His energy level is EXHAUSTING - however, I do not think every child that is high energy has a "problem." Some are just blessed (and i do mean BLESSED) with the energy they will need later in life to tackle the problems that wear the rest of us out! I, too, read the spirited child books and found them very useful for giving me an aresenal to use to help ME deal with his energy level. My favorite quote from one of the books was, as parents we need to learn how to "use their superpowers for good rather than evil!" ;-D
Something else that we have done to help my son (and me!) was to get very involved in playgroups. Toddlers inherently have more energy than adults and seem to naturally know how to entertain each other infitnitely better than we do! Besides, we can't possibly own ALL the coolest toys in town - his friends have some, too! So we are all about letting the "experts" deal with it. I found our playgroups and activities through the local chaper of the International MOMS Club. (Google to find one near you.)
I agree to find parks, playgrounds, beaches, mallwalking, zoos, Discovery Centers, swimming lessons, Gymborree classes, music classes, and/or gymnastic classes - anything that will get kiddo out and running his legs. It will make him happier, he will have lots of opportunities for new stimulation, and if you are lucky enough to have a fenced-in park or playground you might get a chance to let him run (safely) while you take a break.
Also I agree that fighting the good fight earlier and more often for nap and night time is probably warranted. He does sound a little overtired. This will NOT be easy to start (read: maybe a couple of weeks) but it will be worth it in the end in that BOTH of you will have more rest and be happier with each other during the day.
Lastly, the time between when my kids got mobile and got verbal was the hardest time. It does get easier - especially after they start talking. Hang in there. You've almost turned a coner!
**** One more thing *****
As for reading to my son, that was a total DISASTER at this age. Don't worry about it. My oldest turned the corner on this when he was about 2 1/2 or 3. Something you can do in the meantime is to get books on tape/ipod. You can sometimes download them from the library. Get stuff you enjoy since he won't really know the difference and you can still keep your brain engaged. I got a couple of favorite books and play them a lot. He gets the exposure to the literature but he doesn't have to SIT for it and neither do I. Win/win. :-D
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D.A. answers from Los Angeles on May 15, 2010
one parenting ah ha moment I have learned recently and it seems so ellementary: look at where you are at ( exhausted, strung out, tired, over stimulated, thirtsy, axious.....) and there is a good chance the rest of the home is feeling the energy and responding accordingly.
it's rude. and I can't stand this reality because it's my role as a mother to be exhausted, torn in every direction, disppointed because the activities I plan didn't stimulate and now there is a big mess. I struggle often.
but I am coming to understand that a happy mom is a happy family. focus more on your needs. if you need a rest, you can count on it that your son does too. if you get frustrated reading a book to him, I doubt he enjoys the event either. find a good place for the two of you. my daughter is active like your son and outside is where we both win.
good luck. 15 months is tough. 22 months is tough. 2 1/2 is tough...... ( I was so nieve when I was pregnant. all I smelled was roses. parenting is down right aweful at times. and then you learn to adapt again and enjoy it.)
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S.F. answers from Santa Barbara on May 15, 2010
Our first son was/is like this. Super active and super destructive if not fully engaged. The only sure-fire solution has been to take him out in nature (somewhere near a creek is ideal) where he can wander around and touch everything. I cannot tell you how amazing the difference is after such an outing. He is calm, he is happy and he sleeps!! If you are not comfortable out in nature by yourself, maybe you can rally a group of moms with similar aged kids. Best of luck.
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P.P. answers from Los Angeles on May 15, 2010
There is a great book series on child development by Ames called my 1yr old, my 2 yr old, 3 yr old- you get the idea. Irt does a great job of describing where they are denelopmentally and how that affects their behavior. It really helped us with our very active now 6 yr old daughter when she was younger. We get the next book each year just before her birthday to prepare. They have the books at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
Also i learned when she was little that gross motor movement -running, jumping, climbing turns on the whole brain for taking in input and also rlaxes the body. Maybe the park right before naptime...Good luck. You can do it!
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M.B. answers from Dayton on May 14, 2010
I would work on the sleeping issue first and you may find that the other problems go by the wayside when he is well rested. Just like you or I are cranky and irritable and don't concentrate well when we are tired, neither will a little one. I love the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child." I highly recommend it to any parent who is having sleep issues - it worked wonders for us and lots of other parents I know.
As for flash cards and not talking enough yet, don't stress too much. It will come. Really, I'd put the flash cards and learning games away until he's older and just do the books for as long as he wants to - don't force it or else it will become a battle and not enjoyable for him (or you). At this age, exploring the house and having you talk to him like you have been is the best learning game he can have.
Do things you enjoy to do with him. You will be a better mother when you are happy and relaxed. If that is just a walk in the park, great. He's seeing things for the first time and taking in more info than we can imagine - good exercise/stress relief for you and learning for him. Everyday activities are learning experiences for kids this age - you don't need to stress anything more structured than your daily routines. If you need to fold laundry and he wants to be with you, give him a basket of clothes to throw on the floor while you fold on the table. Also, get him interested in something and walk away. Learning to entertain himself is one of the best things he can learn at this point. He'll scream and throw himself for a while, but if you ignore him he'll either stop and play by himself or fall asleep - win/win situation.
Really though, I would work on the sleeping first because that may solve many of your problems. Having said all that, I'm on my 3rd 15 month old and I have to say that this is my least favorite stage. They want things but can't have them or express what it is. They are into everything and don't understand more than a stern no and swat on the hand and on top of that they give up that second nap. Luckily, this stage doesn't last for too long, and they get so much more articulate and independent very quickly. Good luck - this is a trying age for many mothers (me included).
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S.S. answers from Los Angeles on May 15, 2010
I echo a lot of what was said-he sounds waaaaay too tired. As for naps, try laying down with him know this will be annoying later on, but first things first, he needs to sleep. My son would sleep 15 min if I laid him down but 2 hours if I laid with him.
The thing that saved me at this age was my sons bike. I found him one that fit and we went for walks every afternoon, for hours, and looked at the bugs and plants and birds and clouds. He learned the alphabet from license plates and colors from the houses and cars parked in the neighborhood.
He may be a people person too, my son would do anything to get people to pay attention to him-starting at about 2 mo old. Take him to the park where he can at least be around other kids and get some energy out while you relax for a moment. You don't have to stand there, you just have to be ready to respond when he's gotten himself somewhere he needs help. Give him some with mom time, without you being right there.
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