21 month old with bad separation anxiety or just tantrums??

Angela - posted on 05/24/2010 ( 8 moms have responded )

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Hi ladies, I need help...My son is 21 months old and in the last few weeks he seems to have changed or is at least going through a new phase. I work from home 2 days a week and am in the office 3 days a week and my husband is home with our son full time (he was laid off). It seemed to start during a bad week for him sleep wise, and I've noticed it's more when he's tired that this is an issue. Normally, he's a pretty independent child, can play by himself and is rarely upset about anything. But there are days lately that everything sets him off and he goes from mild tantrum (which normally would last less than 20 seconds since we don't pay attention to them) to a complete meltdown which leads to gagging since he always puts his fingers in his mouth when he cries. The only thing he wants is me to hold him. If I do, he calms down and things go back to normal. Until the next thing sets him off. If I don't, it escalates until he's thrown up or is completely hysterical and it's no longer a tantrum, he's really upset. I have no issues ignoring tantrums and my son knows that and corrects his behavior. He always has. But this is different and I'm not sure what to do. I should mention I believe in attachment parenting more than Ferber or other similar methods, although I do give my child a lot of latitude in becoming independent, which he normally is. I just believe if he's upset, it's my job as a mother to comfort him and make sure he's ok. He's not communicating verbally much yet either, but we can avoid most tantrums just by explaining to him what's going on. It's the times where little things set him off (today I didn't want to put my shoes on when he and Daddy were going to the store, I stayed home. I asked him if he wanted me to walk him to the garage door, he said yes and was fine, gave me a goodbye kiss and started to leave and then lost it again). In the car or eating out, he wants to hold my hand. If we're home, he wants me to hold him if he's upset. My husband says I need to be harder with him, especially since we're expecting baby #2 in a few months. I agree, but I don't want to lose my child's trust or make him feel like I'm not there for him when he needs me. Has anyone dealt with this? Is this just a stage or am I creating the monster by being there for him when he's upset...And what do you do when a tantrum turns into your child truly just being really upset? This is heartbreaking and frustrating all at once...

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Angela - posted on 05/27/2010

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Shannon - Thanks so much for your post. It's nice to know we're not the only ones dealing with this. I'm guessing it's a stage but really, how can you know? My son has also decided to cry when I leave his room when I put him down for the night too. He just wants to engage me in showing me things. My husband has started going in after me when he's crying and telling him that Mommy went nite nite and he seems content with that answer. This is the same kid who doesn't want to rock and cuddle with me anymore before bed! Last night he finished dinner before us and wanted down to play but he wanted me to go with him. I told him Mommy was still eating dinner and asked him to go play with his toys. He did. So it's just so odd that it's not all the time, you know? If you find anything that works, let me know!

Shannon - posted on 05/26/2010

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So glad to know I am NOT alone!! My oldest too slept right from day one. She would go to sleep at 9pm and sleep straight till 7am, and she was breastfed! My son on the other hand... never. Still doesn't at 21 months. He finally gave up his once a night nursing session at 18 months, and for the first few nights, he did great. Slept not all night, but he did go about 6 hours straight. He was a coside sleeper till he was 6 months since he still nursed about 4 times a night... now at 21 months, he is driving us all insane.
He learned to climb out of his crib last month... so the crib went. I put the gatre in his door to keep him from showing up next to me at random times of the night... so far so good. But, when he wants your (okay... my) attention, he screams. ANd he screams so loud that our neighbors came to the house one night to make sure he was okay.
He has tantrums and only wants mom.. I've actually had to leave work lately because they were so bad he threw up all over my house. Once I got home, he was fine. So, I am hoping myself that this is only a phase and will end soon for everyones sake.
And really... if anyone out there has any suggestions as to what to try... I am all for them!

Angela - posted on 05/26/2010

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I've heard the first born is always good to trick you into having another one. I'm really afraid of what this new baby is going to be like after my son! He's really laid back and pretty easy going, but he can be such a stubborn little boy too! Never would take a bottle, or a pacifier, nor did he ever suck his thumb. Cruised by 7 months old without any issues, but didn't decide to walk on his own until 13 months. Said Mama at 6 months but still isn't talking at 21 months. See a pattern? He does things on his own time...Lord help me when we start potty training! Anyway, 6 hours probably feels like a dream to you sometimes. I'm learning as I get older I need more sleep so hopefully you're able to function. And for the record, I think co-sleeping is a great way to bond with your baby, both by being close, and by Mommy keeping her sanity while getting some much needed rest! I did the same for as long as I could with my son...until my husband said it was time to make the move, and meant it. Anyway, I'm 26 weeks now, due August 29th. Thanks for the hope of a good sleeper! I'm not holding my breath, but it's definitely on my wish list. I asked my OB where I put in my order for a good sleeper...he just laughed. ;-)

Janine - posted on 05/26/2010

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Thanks for that. I have just become accustomed to only 6hrs straight sleep and most of the time he is sleeping with us or i'm in his bed which is such a bad choice on my part but at least we are both getting some sleep. Its really hard when our first one was such a cruisy sleeper, i have been told by a couple of friends that i'm being punished for having such a good one to start with so you may have a good one this time around. When are you due?

Angela - posted on 05/25/2010

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Oh my, you poor woman! I feel your pain about sleep and have no idea what I'm getting myself into with this new busy little bundle in my belly. My son wasn't a good sleeper, unless he slept with us, but was doing ok on his own by 12 months. Now he's having issues but generally is quite good going to bed and getting himself to sleep. I say he's not sleeping well for him and his behavior is affected and that's a huge issue for us, but we do know how lucky we are that he's still sleeping 10-12 hours a night with him getting up 1-3 times. We're just used to 13 hours a night without ever getting up. It's not the getting up that's the issue...it's the behavior that results from his lack of sleep that he needs. Regardless, I don't know how you do it...Keeping up with a 4 year old and dealing with a child that isn't sleep well. I don't do well with sleep deprivation...You're super mom!

Janine - posted on 05/25/2010

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Hey sleep is a major in our house. My first son slept really well and still does at 4yo, but Miles is a different story. In 21mths he has only slept right thru the night about 5x and 6hrs is about his limit in a row so keep persevering and he will be ok, fingers crossed anyway.

Angela - posted on 05/25/2010

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Thanks, Janine...I'm just not sure what's going on with him. I find it odd he seems to only do it when he doesn't sleep well and we're trying to help correct that, but man it makes for a long day! Thanks again!

Janine - posted on 05/24/2010

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Goodness, you do have something on your hands there. It seems that maybe he is starting to realise that there will be another little person in the family soon and that his way of coping. He may think that if he has alot of tantrums, you will be with him more. Thats all i can think of, especially if it has just happened. Kids seem to pick up on things like that faster than us and if he is quite sensitive it affects them more. I hope that helps.

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