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30 May 2012
If you missed our Wednesday Lunch Club Q&A on the askamum Facebook page with Claire Burgess, early years education expert, read the questions she was asked and her answers on baby and toddler behaviour, below.
Q: My 21-month-old has just this week started to wake up in the night and won't go back to sleep! He demanded to come to our bed on two occasions which my husband stupidly let him. Now he expects it. Any tips on stopping this?
A: Based on the information you have given me, you need to try and break the cycle. Your little one needs reassurance that you are listening to his needs. Explain (he will understand) when he wakes that it is night time, this is his bed and the other bed is mummy and daddy's bed. Lie him back down and give (brief) reassurance that in the morning it will be time to get up, tell him that mummy is going back to her bed to go to sleep and leave his room. He will probably call out or get up again (I'm not sure if he's in a cot or a bed?), if he's calling, leave him for a couple of minutes then go back in and repeat as above. The next time he calls / comes in, take him back to bed but this time don't talk to him. Resettle him (remember no talking) and go back to bed. Then repeat leaving for a minute or so longer each time (the maximum time I suggest you leave him is 10 minutes). This may take at least a couple of nights to break the cycle, but you must try to be consistent and explain to your husband what you are doing and why so you have a united effort. It will be difficult not to give in but it is the only way to break the cycle - have faith that as long as you follow these steps and try not to falter(!) it will work. If you do give in, don't be hard on your self, it is only natural and start again the next night.
Q: Any advice on 22-month-old being a bit shy? Also how do you think such a young toddler will respond to moving a house? We speak to her in two languages, does it mean she will speak later?A: Being shy is completely natural and may just be part of her character. She is still learning and how she is feeling can be influenced by change (it sounds like you are thinking about moving house?). Encourage her, but don't force her to speak to / interact with people but give lots of opportunities and lead by example. Groups may help where she can get used to meeting the same people each week - you may find she warms in to these. This would particularly help to join groups in your new location (for you and her). Moving house - To prepare her for this a move, explain what's happening, keep things consistent (e.g. the same bedroom furniture, bedding, toys, layout of room etc) to eliminate too much change. Take her to see where you are going e.g. area, house so she is able to familiarise. Go to the library and get children's books out about moving house and change so you can look at these together. Languages - this is very dependent on the individual child and the 2 languages the child is learning. Allow her time as it may take a little longer for her to be fluent in both languages, but language should develop and it can only be positive that she will have the wonderful skill of being bilingual!
Q: My nine-month-old is waking up halfway through the night and starts rolling around her cot or pulling herself up! It takes about an hour to settle her down again, usually ending up with her fusing and crying. Not sure whats best to do because she was always good settling herself back to sleep and I don't want her getting used to me comforting her!A: You are quite right to say that you don't want her to learn that you will 'comfort' her if she wakes. It sounds like you have a good routine and that this is just a change - she is trying out her new skills and wants you to know ...about it! You are doing the right thing, but when you go in just lie her back down and walk out again, leave her for a couple of minutes (she will probably get back up again) and repeat. This may take some time and you will certainly have to do this for a few nights, but it should settle back down. If she starts to fuss and cry just keep repeating, extending the time between each settle, but don't leave her to cry for any longer than 5 minutes before returning to her to resettle.
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Q: How should I go about disciplining my 17-month-old? He's such a mischief and is constantly causing mayhem. He throws things, climbs on everything he can and his worse thing at the moment is trying to wobble the tv!!. I'm so worried whenever I leave the room in case he gets stuck trying to get at something, or falls off the sofa etc etc. I don't remember my older two being quite as bad as he is. A: It sounds like you have a very active 17 month old! In the first instance it's really important to eliminate risk so could your television go on a higher / more stable stand? This may be stating the obvious but I just have to mention it. I think his adventurous side needs to be channelled, getting him outdoors as much as you can will help - at the park, in the garden etc. Do you go to groups at all - activity based groups for toddlers are ideal for a child with these interests. Within the home environment he needs boundaries as to what is and is not acceptable particulalry regarding safety. Children are never too young to explain what is dangerous. So, in a practical example if he climbs on the sofa remove him from the danger, explain that it is dangerous and if he was to get hurt it would make mummy sad. Then explain things that make mummy happy and encourage this positive behaviour with different activities to distract him. I hope this helps
Q: My daughter has always been brilliant but lately has started slamming doors and hitting out at me and just not listening in general. She is two and a half and only does it to me she has never done it to another child or family member. I put her on the naughty step and she loves it so much she won't get off again, same if I put her in her room. She won't tidy up or play on her own anymore. Help please!
A: This is completely normal behaviour. Your daughter is testing her boundaries and I assume that you are her main carer so this is why she is 'doing it' to you. You must ensure (as I am sure you are) that you are consistent in the way that you deal with these outbursts - you need to look at the behavour and decide on what is totally unacceptable - choose your battles... Avoid the use of 'no' as much as possible and use positive language and feedback where ever you can. It is very easy to get hung up on negative behaviours and she will find that by ensuring that you praise her as often as possible and use positive language towards her, she will want to do things that provoke a positive reaction in you. Think about her language and encourage her to use words and pictures to express how she is feeling e.g. happy face, sad face. The other thing I would do is to stop time out (naughty step) as it sounds like this is no longer having any effect. Replace this with reward for positive behaviour - perhaps using a reward chart. It's also about you having special time together - which may encourage her to talk about when she feels cross/ happy / sad etc.
Q: My 18-month-old daughter has recently entered the tantrum phase. She used to get upset when we told her no and throw herself on the ground to get attention. Now she gets angry and grabs and pulls / squeezes whatever is closest to her - including my face and hair. I'm happy enough dealing with this at home (naughty mat) but unsure what to do when we are out in public. What would you recommend?
A: This is your daughter's way of trying to communicate. Her language development will be going through a steep learning curve at the moment. It is important to encourage her to use words rather than actions to communicate with you.... When out in public, think about what is triggering it - is it that she doesn't understand what's happening? So...what will help is lots of communcation about what's happening / going to happen before it does e.g. we are going to....now we are here....this is what we are going to do etc. Use questions such as "are you happy / sad / cross" - although she may not be able to answer at this stage, it will give her recognition and will start to help her to manage her emotions which at the moment are all being diaplayed in a 'tantrum'. When she gets angry and grabs, pulls, squeezes, could she have a 'special' object which she holds when she starts to feel angry / you recognise that she is starting to become frustrated. It's also worth looking at her general routine becuase sometimes it can be food / tiredness / dehydration. So, for a couple of days log times when she is having 'tantrums' against her general routine to see if there are any patterns. In terms of dealing with the 'tantrums' outside of your home it can be really distressing to have to deal with your child's outbursts and I can understand that you will find this hard. However as hard as it is you must try to be consistent with your approach - perhaps return to the car, take her to a quiet space away from where the 'tantrum' starts - this will help both of you feel calmer. All the time you do this you must keep communicating with her calmly asking her the questions as above and listening to her responses.
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Q: Any top tips to get my almost 28-week-old to sleep throughout the time? I find it really hard to get him into a routine with a four-year-old as well. He goes to sleep between 7-7:30 and will wake up for a bottle at 11ish and wake up for another bottle at 3ish. Have tried not to give a bottle but nothing else will calm him down. Yes he is on solids he has three meals a days and has six/seven ounces of milk
A: From what you say it sounds like he is using the feeds at night to resettle as he shouldn't need the food element of this according to what you say about his daily food intake. You need to break this cycle, for all of you. Work from your 4 year old's routine and fit your baby around this. Start by establishing the day time routine. So try to have baby's mealtimes with your older child, bath time, story and bed time (with a feed for the baby) all at the dsame time as your four-year-old). Then, for the first week of your new routine try a 'dream feed' before he wakes, perhaps at 10pm sso that he doesn't wake and need resettling. If he does wake following the 'dream feed' you will know he does not need food so offer water, which he may or may not take, and begin resettling. This is very repetitive but with perseverance you will really start to notice a change. There will be several nights where you will have disturbed sleep to get your baby into a 'sleep through' routine. Try to choose a time which will have least impact on the family e.g. when it is a quiet time at work / home etc. When the baby wakes, go into him, reassure but don't pick him up. Use reassuring sssshh noises but don't speak. Leave the room for 1-2 minutes and if he doesn't settle go back in and repeat - increase the length of time you leave him by a minute each time but never leave him to cry for more than 5 minutes (due to his young age) and then repeat every 5 minutes. This may take some time and you and anyone else who goes to the baby will need to have a consistent approach to make sure it works. If you find that you give in one night, don't lose heart, just try again the next night.
Q: My daughter is two years, nine months. We've recently started to cut out her daytime nap as we found she wasn't settling well in the evenings. She's settling much better now at around 7pm but has been been waking up at 5.30, any ideas what might be causing this and how we can get her to stay in bed when she does wake up early?
A: This is completely natural and many people and especially small children wake early - it may be that this is just what sort of pattern she has at the moment...however - do you have a black out blind? The light of the summer morn...ings may be waking her. You could perhaps also give her a special clock to encourage her to stay in bed until a set time - if she recognises numbers you can use these but don't ask her to stay in bed until she sees 8 or 9am! It will be a gradual thing so perhaps talk to her about calling you to get up when she sees 6am and reward (wth praise and /or your usual reward process), then gradually move to 7am - this will be a slow process so don't be discouraged. There are specific children's clocks if these will work better than using numbers
Q: My two-and-a-half-year-old has a speech delay for which he is just starting speech therapy. However he is showing every sign of needing to potty train. We have had a few messy situations when he has whipped off poo filled nappies. Do I have to wait for language to catch up or is there any way to potty train now?
A: There is no need to wait to potty train if you feel he is ready. He is likely to understand what you are saying but you need to work with him so that you can communicate in other ways. Try using pictures or signals to communica...te for example you say "do you need a wee / poo" whilst doing a thumbs up or thumbs down signal. This should encourage him to then use the same signal to communicate to you. It will need repitition and if sucessful using the thumbs up signal, reward (lots of praise and perhaps a sticker chart). It's important to keep talking during this time to ensure his speech is encouraged - don't rely soley on non verbal communication for both of you, keep encouraging him to talk too. Go to the library and get some children's books which discuss potty training with pictures to support the process. Let him choose his pants and potty / toilet seat. Lots and lots of encouragement and prasie is so important.
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Q: My six-month-old daughter slept through the night from two weeks old. The past few weeks she has been waking with an ear piercing scream and remaining awake for hours. She is awaiting test for hearing. Does anyone have any ideas what Ii can do to stop this.
A: It sounds like you are having a hard time of it. The way that you describe the cry of your baby makes me unsure as to how to answer your question particularly because of the hearing test she is waiting for. I suggest you speak to your GP or health visitor to elimiate any underlying causes for the crying and waking to make sure that you have the correct advice.Read more...>> Q&A on sibling rivalry with Georgia Coleridge>> Q&A on fertility with Miriam Stoppard>> Q&A with child behaviour expert Claire Halsey>> Q&A with relationship expert Susan Quilliam>> Q&A with child development expert, Dr Amanda Gummer>> Q&A with early years learning expert Sue Gascoyne
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