Toddler testing boundaries

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Toddler testing boundaries

Postby Brigitte » 28 Jun 2013, 17:06

Sometimes when I'm nursing, my toddler will very deliberately do something that's not allowed. She's obviously testing me. So...what to do?

On the one hand, I need to keep feeding the baby. She's fussy with latching, and once I've got a good latch I am loathe to break it. However, I don't think my toddler (26 months) is old enough yet to understand delayed consequences, so if I don't intervene in the precise moment she is breaking a rule, it's as if I haven't done anything at all.

I feel I'm pretty good about simply imposing rules without turning it all into an attention game (as much as anyone can), so that's not really my issue. My issue is deciding when to prioritize the baby and when to prioritize boundary-keeping with the toddler. Any tips?
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Re: Toddler testing boundaries

Postby LittleBethlehem67 » 28 Jun 2013, 19:18

Tricky. Does she just push the boundaries when you're bfing or is it all the time? If it's just when you're feeding (or worse when you're feeding) it might be an attention thing and therefore by stopping bfing she's getting the desired result even if you give her minimal attention. If it's all the time (my little boy did this when about 2.5 and my baby was 3 mth) it's a tough call. She has to learn that sometimes the baby's needs come first but that is a difficult lesson to learn. Depending what she is doing could you give her a verbal warning/explanation and then leave the room with the baby still feeding so she doesn't have an audience/attention?
Personally I wouldn't keep unlatching the baby unless her behaviour was dangerous/ destructive as I think by not prioritising her constantly she will learn the behaviour is unacceptable/ unwanted. Also could you talk to her about her behaviour after the event and explain why it's unacceptable and how it makes you feel etc to see if that helps?
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Re: Toddler testing boundaries

Postby issi » 28 Jun 2013, 20:47

Can you pre-empt by having her sitting near you, engaged in something with you while you're feeding? Books, sticker books, duplo... we had a megasketcher that Snarfy loved at that age - great for mess free drawing and he didn't care that my left-handed-while-feeding-baby drawings were rubbish!
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Re: Toddler testing boundaries

Postby ches » 28 Jun 2013, 22:28

Send her to choose books while You get latched on and read during the feed. Some people have had special nursing toys. She is just feeling left out. Address that and give her positive ways to communicate that she needs attention. She isn't pushing boundaries, she is doing what works to get your attention.
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Re: Toddler testing boundaries

Postby Brigitte » 29 Jun 2013, 03:25

Well, I can certainly try harder to get her engaged in some fun activity. However, she's a really active and curious kid, so it won't work more than half the time. She's definitely doing it with that glint in her eye to see how I will react. Unfortunately, she often chooses unsafe things like climbing the bookshelves. They are tethered to the wall, but it's really not something I want to let her get away with. I'm not really sure that a chat after the fact would connect, she really needs immediate consequences or it doesn't mean much to her.

Moving to another room would certainly mean losing the baby's latch, and besides, the toddler would follow me and just do something new in my field of view.

My toddler gets plenty of attention while the baby is sleeping, but maybe she also needs to see that I can pay attention to her while the baby is awake. Perhaps I should point out to her more whenever the baby needs to wait while I pay attention to her, so she can see that it goes both ways.
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Re: Toddler testing boundaries

Postby StJuniper » 29 Jun 2013, 03:50

Possibility of play in a confined space while you're nursing? Probably not every time, but some of the time? In her room (assuming its child proofed) with a gate, with a special box of nursing-time-only toys? This would be my first move for at least one portion of the day. P will be about that age when the tadpole makes an entrance and I think I'll aim for something like a morning nurse with P's slideshow or some YouTube learning videos playing on the bed beside us, a nursing session while P has room time, one while he has a snack beside us, Daddy taking charge during all evening nurses... Definitely it sounds like a good plan to show her baby has to wait sometimes too, though.
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Re: Toddler testing boundaries

Postby CumbrianR » 01 Jul 2013, 12:27

I have a similar aged baby and have had a bit of boundary pushing although not generally unsafe things (although I did just have to stop a feed to get DS down from standing on top of the piano stool). We made sure we told DS when he was doing things well and doing what he was asked (for us it was about getting strapped into his car seat and nappy changes - whenever he sat/lay nicely we told him well done and gave as little attention as possible when he was playing up). Having a laid back baby I'm able to give DS some attention while she just lies on the floor and wriggles so he sometimes gets my full attention while she's awake and sometimes she has to wait while I deal with DS (wouldn't have got away with this if I had another child like DS). It definitely seems to be a phase that keeps coming and going, but not as bad as between weeks 4 and 8 which I found really hard going. Hang in there - it'll get better.
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