by Janis Theron (South Africa, Cape Town)
My son Jordan will be 2 next week. He is a real joy and has always been a real good baby who does not miss a thing around him. He is quiet and concerned and seems in tune with what goes on around him.
But suddenly he is breaking his boundaries and wants to do everything his way.
I understand this as this is what toddlers do and they want to express their every emotion. They want to develop their physical skills and show that they too can do what mommy and daddy do.
But now how do I remain calm and patient when my entire day is spent doing what he wants to do and I have so much other stuff to do too?
Also, I cannot wean Jordan 100% because he gets so stressed about it when I do try that I
have put it on hold yet again – he still wants to breastfeed at night to put him down and
during the night at least 2 to 3 times.
Sometimes in the day when he feels anxious about
something he wants to feed too… please advise what I can do – he has never had a bottle or
dummy so that won't work!
Thanks so much!
Parenting is wonderful, and it can be a real challenge. All children, even sweet and mild-mannered ones, want to get their own way. And all of them tend to get pretty ill-natured when they don't get their way.
It is part of our job as parents to help our children learn unselfish behavior.
As a mother of four I've realized that having a child-centered life does not help me, and more importantly, it does not help the child.
Before I go on, let me say I do not mean we shouldn't consider our child, or that we shouldn't do what our child wants. We should consider the child and we should sometimes do what the child wants.
But in general, children are happiest when they are part of our life and not living in a life that is constantly focused on them.
I'm sure you've seen mothers standing around trying to console their toddler or preschooler – and the child just carries on and on and whines and dissolves into tears repeatedly.
These little ones are unhappy (and certainly their mothers are unhappy!)
Children do best in a life that includes them but does not center on them.
I suggest you include Jordan in your day. If you need to be cooking, then let him rip up lettuce for the salad. Or place a towel on the floor and let him pour water between measuring cups as you cook. When you are sweeping, let him use a little broom too. When you make the beds, let him help (and play for a moment “peek-a-boo” with the covers) Let him help throw clothes into the washing machine or dryer. Teach him to fold a wash cloth or pick out two matching socks.
These are just some examples of how to include him in your day. You'll feel much better getting things done, and he'll feel happy following you around and “helping” (even if he is not much help!)
You can spend time reading him stories and playing games he'd like to each day, too. But let the majority of your day be spent taking care of household and life tasks, with him going along with you.
If you need to do paperwork or other “sitting” work, I recommend you do that after the other tasks, so he's had some time to spend being active with you. Then you can have a box of toys that only come out “while Mama is working” and he can sit and play with those for a little stretch of time.
It's very natural for him to test boundaries as well. In my experience, it helps for you to sit down and decide just what the boundaries are. Then remain firm in those things. If he's not allowed to go in the street then you must never allow it.
But if it's something he doesn't know, you must teach him before you expect it of him. So using the above example you must teach him the street is a “no-no” before you expect him to stay out of it.
Little children can learn boundaries but they cannot learn them if A. you don't teach them and B. if you keep changing them (so decide what the boundaries are and stay with them!)
Examine boundaries and decide what you are ok with. Remain calm, but firm (think like a law officer is relaxed and calm, because he is the officer. He doesn't get angry or lose patience – he knows he's in control).
And do decide things you're OK with – maybe you don't mind if he pulls out all the pots and pans, and you two put them away together at the end of your time in the kitchen, for example.
Examine your day and decide things that you can do with Jordan alongside you “helping” – even if he's not much of a help. One day, he will be a big help. So include him now.
You need to examine carefully how you feel about weaning, but at 2 Jordan is old enough for you to set some boundaries.
If you would like to stop the middle-of-the-night feeds, for example, you can tell Jordan that there will be no milk then. You can try offering a sip of water, or singing him a song when you put him back to bed. Or something along those lines. But be clear and firm that there won't be anymore night feeds. He may protest at first but he will learn that this is just the way life is for a “big boy.” 😉
If you really feel he needs to continue those feeds then you can let him, of course. But if it's not working well for you, it's ok to set boundaries.
When my third child was a little over two he began to want feeds constantly – almost every hour! It was wearing me out. I decided that I would let him nurse after each meal and before bed. I told him he could have a feed after breakfast, lunch, and supper, and for bedtime but that was all. He was grumpy for a few days but quickly learned to look forward to when he could nurse. I felt much better, too.
You're at an advantage because at Jordan's age he can learn to compromise a little for you!
I believe in child-led weaning, but I do think you need to take into account both your feelings and your child's feelings. If you are unhappy then think about what changes you could make and if it would help you to stop certain feeds (such as the night nursing)
Best of luck in your adventures with Jordan!