Tuesday, October 5, 2010

And the crying continues

This is one of those times where I openly solicit advice from my dear readers. I wrote last week about Sebastian's crying, one of those , "oh, being a parent is tough, huh?" kind of posts. But now I seriously feel like I have a problem. Or I think I do. I guess I'm not sure - that's part of the advice I seek.

Like I said in that earlier post, Sebastian has always been a crier. And when you have a baby, its so easy to chalk it up to being a "phase" or just part of that age. But it seems like with him, we never get out of it. To a certain degree, I can accept this. It seems that he is a just a sensitive boy. And he is allowed to be sensitive. I took up the advice I got in the last post and am reading some books on highly sensitive kids. Its helping, but truthfully, not that much.

Basically, I feel like I am not cut out to parent my son. And I feel like he can't enjoy "normal" activities because he gets so upset. I have brought up the issue with EI (a few months back) and they actually suggested letting him have his pacifier when he got upset. They said its age appropriate for a kid his age to have a comfort object and if that was his, and it's the only thing that helps him self-soothe, we should allow him to use it. So, he gets his binky whenever he needs it at home, in the car and in his crib. But I simply can't bring myself to let him have it in public. As if it's the scarlet letter of incompetent parenting. And it's in these public situations where we find ourselves in trouble.

Two good examples: First, we have been doing an EI playgroup since March(ish). The playgroup is very low key and parents stay the whole time. The first half hour is open play, which goes over quite well. No surprise there. The last half hour is circle singing time and that's when the crying starts. 6 months in, Sebastian still cries (and I mean wails, not whimpers or whines) every time we get to the parachute. No matter how much I prep him or remind him of what will happen, he loses his shit every time. And I know what his issue is: he wants to go underneath the parachute. But that doesn't happen until after we shake the parachute and after we go on top of the parachute. So he cries and cries and cries until its time to go underneath. Often, he is too upset by that point to even go under. I have tried holding him in my lap, reassuring him that it will be time to go under soon. I have tried ignoring him. I have tried removing him from the situation. I have tried counting down until its time. But nothing has stopped his anger over this.

The other new fit-inducing activity is gymnastics. The thing is, he likes gymnastics. He likes doing the obstacle course, walking on the balance beam, going down the slide. He especially likes the trampoline. And this is where things start to go south. Yesterday, he was on one the little trampolines. I told him he could have ten jumps and then it would be the next girl's turn. I counted to 10 (very slowly, something we do all the time at home with turn taking and has worked very well) and when I told him his turn was up he got off. But then he immediately wanted to get back on, demanding that it was his turn again. I explained to him that he could have anotehr turn when she was done. No dice. I explained to him that there was another trampoline in the room he could use. I even brought him over there and told him he could have a turn. No dice. He was completely distraught and not able to recover for about 20 minutes. Additionally, he got even more upset while we were in the big room because he didn't want to wait for his turn on the big trampoline. Like the parachute, this is an activity we do every week. Part of me feels like he should be getting used to it.

I'm at a loss. He wants to do these activities and have fun but he seems to sabotage himself. And I try to help him cope but nothing I do seems to make a difference. It would be easier if it were just about him but he has a twin sister and I can't do separate activities with them. I feel like we're damned if we do, damned if we don't. Lastly, it doesn't help matters that he is the only child acting like this. Others may cry from time to time but he is the only one who does it every time over the same things. It's hard to not feel like I'm doing something wrong.

Will we ever get past it? Or will we struggle with this at every stage of his development until he moves out?


  1. Sigh. I think you're right on to keep soldiering on but I know that it can be challenging, especially when there is no perceived improvement. I really do think that as he hedges closer and closer to two that you will see more capacity to self soothe. I can't remember, does he have a lovey? My guys take their lovies to play group (major trauma trigger) and to music class (mitigates the trauma of having to return instruments). I don't think that it is fabulous because I feel like the lovies get in the way but if it helps, so be it at this point. They also used to take their Schleich animals with them places (two a piece, left no hands free for hitting each other - added bonus!) and they helped.

    If it was me, I would also consider really pushing his EI therapist for more help on this - ideas, referrals, literature, assistance, whatever. If they can't help, ask them who can.

    He is also probably sensing your stress as you approach his "trigger" things which doesn't help. Easy to say, not at all easy to do but I might consider trying to really calm myself down before those kinds of things happen, so that he doesn't sense stress. Not at all easy though because you know what is about to happen.

  2. To be brutally honest, yeah, it's going to suck for a long time, yet. Yes, it gets better but only relative to what you see now. If you want to chat about it, send me a message via email or Facebook.

  3. Sorry for the really negative spin on things. We are having a brutal week right now. Daddy is out of town and the girls aren't coping well at all. Things will be better next week, and I'll be able to spin you some positives. :)

    H. and S. are both sensitive and "spirited" and it is tough. But their teachers LOVE them and they do really well at activities without me, now. They save the big meltdowns for Mom and Dad and we mostly see spillover tantrums unrelated to the actual trigger. My husband and I have similar personalities so we understand them even when coping with them kind of sucks. If you don't have a similar personality it must feel so foreign to you. As a former highly sensitive child and highly sensitive adult, I can assure you that over the long haul, he'll turn out okay.

  4. I believe that you will get past it. I didn't think we'd ever get Jessica to put shoes and socks on without the world coming to an end, and now she puts them on herself, THE RIGHT WAY OUT, and only flips out once every other week or so.

    I'm the kind of person who flips out when things aren't exactly as I anticipated, so I think Rhonda has a point. Perhaps you could spend some time with an adult who has a similar perspective on the world to Sebastian, and see how they handled/handle things.

    I'd offer myself up as an example, but I know that e-mail or phone may not be the ideal way to communicate. Still, I'll send you my phone number in case you want to chat.

    You are a great mom, and the fact that you're reaching out for help proves that you are, in fact, quite well suited to raise all three of your lovely kids.

  5. My son was always - not coping - at that age. It was trying because my daughter was also different (leaving me ill prepared for it). He was the only one running out of buildings, running in parking lots, having spinning tantrums, creating arguments for no apparent reason (as he got a bit older and could communicate more. We left playdates, we left stores, and we left classes.

    He was not easy, but by 2.5 things got much better- more manageable (still not easy at that time). It is a bit harder when you see others can get over it easier, but don't let that influence you too much. Everyone seems to have harder times with their children at different times (i.e. for some it's eating, others sleeping, others separation, others it's teeth brushing, sitting still, etc).

    There is nothing wrong- it's just his temperament. My son (now 5) has really blossomed into a great boy. He still has a strong will at heart, but maturity and communication have allowed him to keep it at bay. Again, there is nothing wrong.

    No doubt it's frustrating and continue to try techniques that may work for him, but don't second guess his abilities. Enjoy the positives in him and time will make it better (how much just really depends).

    Also, as you know the crying may be increasing because of the baby (kids show their responses in different ways and kids don't always react badly at first). Howeve, i get that it's not just the baby.

  6. First of all, I don't think you are doing ANYTHING wrong. All of our kids have their own little issues, right?

    Are they getting close to turning two? The reason I ask is because I personally found the 2-3 moths leading up to two incredibly frustrating. It was across the board. Sleep, naps, eating, tantrums, whining, fighting. It felt like everyday there was "something" and I wasn't particularly enjoying them too much. I wouldn't necessarily categorize my kids as overly-sensitive, but one is definitely more sensitive than the other. And, as it turned out, she was the one who gave me more "challenges" during that period.

    I don't know what happened, but right around the time they turned two, it started to get better. Looking back on it (hindsight is always 20/20 right?) I can see they made HUGE developmental strides between 18-24 months. So, it kind of made sense that they had so many issues. Don't get me wrong, we still have are starts and fits. But for the most part as we close in on 2 and a half, these little phases are just that, phases. They last a week or two and then I get my happy, funny kids back.

    It sounds like Sebastian might need you to have a different perspective from time to time and maybe you aren't used to that. But, you obviously know him better than anyone and as his mom, there's no better person to help him get through this stuff!

  7. So, so hard to have such a reactive child. Daniel is a bit like that. Different in his own way, but I recognize what you're saying. It's really challenging to feel that INTENSE all the time. I read a bit of "Raising Your Spirited Child" and even the small amount that I got has helped me look at Daniel's reactions a little differently, at least some of the time. I try to remember, as frustrated as I am, it has to be hard on my little boy to feel things that intensely that much of the time.

    I also agree with Kara - I found there were several REALLY HARD phases between 12 and 24 months, and they all really seemed to blend into one another. But it did improve, eventually.

    Hang in there. I wish I had the magic answer.

  8. A challenging child---especially in public--is so, so hard. I always find it easier to struggle in private than than in public--the embarrassment factor gets to me and makes it harder for me to parent in the way that I want to.

    I would think about pushing EI for some more suggestions, although honestly I found them less helpful for this kind of stuff. And I'd be wary of the paci if you aren't going to use it public (I totally wouldn't either, so I get that) because if that's how he's self-soothing, it's going to be that, that much harder to soothe without it.

    I do think it got easier for us after two, especially my more challenging child. Limits are easier to understand and they have more cognitive capactity to wait and understand the rules. I hope you find this is true for you too.

    Maybe come to BigKid Cope and throw out the question to the group? Someone's bound to have a good solution, right?


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