My Toddler’s Behaviors Are Out Of Control

2d2f5af43e1601539f6e940c0684ff11Today is a bad day.

Honestly, I think the days have been progressively getting worse for a while now and I just didn’t want to admit it. I want Cooper to improve so badly that I think I have been lying to myself.

I read a quote on Pinterest that said, “It doesn’t actually get easier…you just get used to it.” Ding, Ding, Ding! That’s my life exactly.

Cooper’s behaviors are out of control. I am not going to sugar coat this on my blog. I sugar coat it in real life. I smile and act like it’s okay. Maybe I even lie. I don’t know what it is but here I am going to be real. And I’m not even sad anymore. I am so freaking angry. Jamie and I are really good parents. We LOVE our kids. And we are missing out. We should be enjoying Cooper. We should be laughing and playing. And we aren’t. We are holding our breath waiting for the next crisis to happen.

I watched Jamie in the nursery at church today with a bunch of kids. He was talking to a group of boys about flying to the moon.  They were laughing about rocket ships and the different planets. I think my heart actually broke. We are missing out on so many moments like that. Silly moments. The moments you write in baby books and remember to tell someone later. “You wouldn’t believe the hilarious thing Cooper said today….”

I look at Cooper’s ‘issues’ in two parts. There is the NOT talking and there are the behaviors. Trust me, I know they are related. I’ve read the other blogs. I’ve heard from  his therapists. But here is the deal. I can handle the not talking. I’ve honestly come to terms with it. I’ve cried, I’ve yelled, I’ve grieved. I have now accepted. It’s the behaviors I can’t handle anymore.

So what are the behaviors?

First, Cooper has stopped playing with all of his toys. He just wants to watch cartoons on tv, Netflix, computer or play on his Leappad. He has stopped playing trains and trucks. He will read books once in a while but other than that it is all technology based play. And we try so hard not to give in. We try to make him do other things. We try to limit the amount of time he spends in front of a screen. And why you ask? Because Jamie and I are not ‘screen’ people! We want to be doing stuff and we want our children to be the same way. Which leads us to the whining.

The whining is out of control. It will start the second he wakes up and goes until the second he falls to sleep. It’s high-pitched and it’s demanding. And I know this has to do with the lack of communication so I really do try to be patient. But it’s awful. I often wonder if Cooper is just a ‘chatty’ person. Meaning, if he was talking, I have a feeling he would be talking nonstop. But this isn’t even close to talking.

We brought Cooper to church again this morning and we spent the first half in the crying room. Cooper whined and cried and pushed over chairs. We brought him to the nursery to see if that would help. There were 8 other kids in there ranging from 3-10. Some were playing play dough and some were playing ‘rocket ship’ on the slide. Cooper wandered from toy to toy and knocked stuff over. He didn’t engage with the other kids and he didn’t play with any toys. It is so hard to watch.

And lastly, the lack of communication is really ramping up. We brought the boys to the mall yesterday in hopes of curing our cabin fever. We let Cooper run around and we pushed Sawyer in the stroller. Cooper was in his glory and so were we. Jamie and I have this mutual acceptance of Coopers arm flapping and whining when we are in public. It’s so hard when Cooper acts odd in public. It’s heartbreaking actually. But we get through it because we know Cooper is a great kid. We smile to each other in support. And it really helps that we are united.

As the mall began to close we told Cooper it was time to go home. It was like a switch was flipped. He didn’t want to go so he looked right at us, made eye contact, smirked, and knocked over a sign. And he was off. He ran from jewelry rack to clothes rack in full on destruction mode. He may be fast but I am faster. I caught him and tried to wrestle him in his coat. And in true Cooper fashion, he went limp. Eventually Jamie just grabbed him under his arm and took him to the car.

On the ride home from church Jamie and I talked about surviving right now. How are we going to make it through this. We always come back to the same thing over and over again. Everything is hard with Cooper. It’a all a struggle. Now yes, certain activities have gotten easier. Thank God. But, still, it shouldn’t be like this.

I need someone to tell us what to do. Please. Do we go to a hospital and start ruling things out? But honestly, what is that going to do? There is no magic pill for this. Do we never leave the house? Do we take away every single piece of technology in this house? What? I’ll do it.

I need life to get easier. I need to enjoy this child. I need to enjoy Sawyer. I think the scariest part for me is that it might not get better. I thought for the longest time that Cooper might just snap out of this. We might wake up one day and he will start talking and wanting to learn and participate. That hope is gone. And I sure as hell don’t want to live in survival mode for rest of my life. It’s a scary place to be.

Cooper and mama

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30 thoughts on “My Toddler’s Behaviors Are Out Of Control

  1. This is probably not what you want to hear, but we had to take all technology away from Jonah a few months ago because that was ALL he wanted to do. Now, he does iPad with me during our work time together for about 10 minutes a day and that’s it. He doesn’t watch tv or use a tablet or anything else. We used to listen to music on the iPod but he would obsessively try to see the screen so now we don’t even do THAT. Only music in the car, or on a device that doesn’t have a screen. And it has helped SO much with both his talking, his behavior, and his playing with toys. Yes, it was hard, (my husband said, rightly, “I feel like we are taking EVERYTHING away from him that he likes.”) but it didn’t take long to see that it was the right thing. We did it in steps: TV first, then music on the screen, then making tablet time for therapy only. He has adjusted far more easily that I dreamed he would. And it REALLY has helped. But I know it does make it so so hard at first….maybe try the step-down approach??
    I’m praying for you…my first child, Joshua, turns ten this week and I often long, physically PINE for the carefree days of his babyhood and toddlerhood. He was perfectly “typical” in every way, and I miss the days when I didn’t even know what delays were. Hang in there mama bear.

  2. Oh honey, I hear you, I really do and my heart is breaking for you 😦 I know that feeling, I get it every time I look at Mercedes curled up on the couch while her sisters play and it makes me so angry – she is just a shell of the child she used to be.
    I wish I had the magic answer for you, I wish I could tell you it’s all going to be okay, but that’s not real. All I can offer is the reassurance that you’re not alone, that there are other mamas out there who share your frustration, your anger and your sadness. The truth is, none of us have the answers and I’m fast realising that even the so-called experts don’t always have it sorted either. Things are what they are, and some days I hope I’ll find peace with that soon, other days I hope I never make peace with it and vow to fight it til my last breath. It’s such a rollercoaster. Stay fierce mama xx

  3. I understand on a more personal level than you would think. It’s hard to keep your cool, I could tell you a few stories myself. I could give you all sorts of advice on how to deal with these meltdowns and ways to get him talking even. The truth is though that what worked for me may not necissarily work for you. The biggest thing I can tell you is take a time out once and a while, not Cooper, YOU!!! Take a bath, regroup, step outside and leave Cooper to his vices for even a 5 minute period (it will be okay). Please know that while at times things may seem hopeless, and you may feel alone in this your not! I’ve been there too, deal with it daily! And while my son now talks, he still shuts down and gets very self abusive and sometimes very destructive. Please feel free to contact me I’ll be glad to share what has worked for me.

    • Hello there. Thanks for the comment. I will definitely check out your blog for guidance. It’s funny you mention the self care because my husband and I were just talking about it yesterday. We are going to start doing more things to help keep us sane. This is the first time where I will admit I need more ‘me’ time. I can’t always be ‘on’ with Cooper. Thanks!

      • Taking time for your selft is so extremely important ESPECIALLY when your dealing with a special needs child of any level. Otherwise you’ll burn out, and that’s no good for you, or your kiddos. 🙂

  4. Awwww! Chin up, buttercup. 🙂 I know how you feel. Leaving the park today Jp scratched me and grabbed by glasses and threw them off of my face! Right in from of all of the designer stroller toting, macchiato sipping suburban housewives that were gawking. Le sigh. It’s a struggle and it totally sucks…but it’s our life. 😉

  5. Kate, this post just brings me to tears. I wish there was an easy answer out there for you guys and it breaks my heart that there isn’t. It’s not fair!

    You are AH-MAZING parents and I will continue to keep you in my prayers. Lots of love to you all. You are doing better than your best and Cooper is so blessed! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  6. It will be hard, but take all electronics away. For like three days it will be absolute hell, but then he will get over it and move on. Also, I’m not sure what state or location you are in, but it sounds like Cooper really needs a structured preschool program. Programs like Head Start and Bright Futures are available in some areas. I would look into it. He does not have to be potty trained. He will receive therapy through the programs, and he will get lots of structure and interaction. I know you structure things for him and try to work with him, but there is something about a room full of peers and a trained special education teacher that can work wonders. Most programs are only a few hours a day. I know it is hard and frustrating. We are in survival mode most days too, so I know how exhausting and hope draining it is, but it will not last forever. It will not. It will get better.

    • Hello there. Yes, Cooper will start a structured preschool this fall when he is 3 1/2. We know he needs it…Badly! Thankfully his daycare is very structured so we can see that helping. But, he needs more. It’s like he always needs more of something. And you are right…it is going to get better. For both of us! I know it!

  7. I agree with the structured preschool. Henry starting going to head start at the age of 3. We did not qualify because of income but because he did qualify for an IEP he got in. He had speech and OT at school went 4 half days a week. It was great for him and a needed break for me. It doesn’t change over night but it does get better. We went from the cops being called on us because my husband was chasing our son through traffic. Ummmm our son was out of control we needed to get him. To we went out of town this weekend and out to a restaurant and it was enjoyable. Just breathe.

      • We are in a town of 3000 and zero preschools double boo. I went through the local school. He was first going to get in strictly on speech or lack of speech but then discovered all the sensory items. He went in the mornings at age 3 and afternoons at age 4. Really got him ready for kindergarten. I went to school in Duluth till 3rd grade (Stowe elementary) till we moved to the metro.

  8. Hey – I have read through a few of your posts and here’s my 2 cents. I hope I don’t step on any toes. You mentioned being relieved that Cooper didn’t get an autism diagnosis and you seem to be really focusing on the apraxia. I totally get that feeling. But I also read about the hand flapping and behavioral issues and the lack of imaginative play etc. It would seem to me that he would fit on the spectrum. He may in fact have apraxia as well. Often times, there are co-existing issues. You said that a diagnosis wouldn’t help but it just might. Every area has different laws and ways of doing things, but here in NJ, once there’s a diagnosis, the kids can start “school” at age 3. They will have a plan in place and get therapy. I think it helped us and my son a lot. My son was in a class with 5 other autistic students and there were 2 specially trained teachers. For example,there would be none of those issues of teachers not letting kids use the bathroom due to lack of understanding. We weren’t out looking for a specific diagnosis when Jay was 2 or 3, but we did know that we needed help so we didn’t stick with the doctor who only told us what we wanted to hear. That didn’t help us. We tried 3 different pediatric neurologists before we found one that we were comfortable with. A diagnosis def gave us access to services that we otherwise would not have gotten. I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time now.

    • Hi there, no, you didn’t step on my toes. No worries about that. We recently met with a child psychologist in hopes for some answers. We felt that it was time. She felt, along with his speech therapist, that his behaviors, specifically social, were too high to put him on the spectrum. Yes, it was a relief but it DOES NOT make life any easier. Between you and me, it would have been easier if he was put on the spectrum. I think we could have got more help. I think we are in for a tough road ahead for a while. And it scares me.

  9. I really felt for you and have absolutely no advice considering that although my sons display slightly concerning behaviors, these are probably in the realm of hyper active tots (until we are told otherwise). What I wanted to say is how I have been thinking about your post for the last day or so and your plea about how going beyond survival. It feels to me that your family are survivors and it is a trait that you will always have. And I am truly humbled by your strength and honesty. Your honesty can be your savior and although it is hard maybe you should slowly share to people around you what you share on this blog. Maybe you can get some surprising help, perhaps not for Cooper but for you and your husband. xo

    • Aw, thanks lady. Your comment made me smile. Life is so funny. It’s great and hard at the same time. And so worth it. I looked at Cooper last night and his cute little smile and I thought, ‘wow, I am so lucky to have this naughty little stinker in my life! And you are very right. I am trying to get up the courage to share more with friends and family. I think it’s an important step!

  10. I can hear and feel your emotional pain in this post. It’s not often that I can say and mean “I understand”. But with this, I understand and I’m sorry. As I mentioned in another comment to you, it’s okay to vent. It’s good for you. It’s needed. No one expects you to do this alone or skip through it like it’s a walk in the park. It’s not. BUT, it will get easier. Just hold on, keep taking steps forward and never stop moving. Remember each day, that tomorrow will be a new start. “Just a few more hours…” Waking up each day with that thought helps the day to, at the very least, start off well and with a positive mood. Kids pick up on our moods, our tension and our anxiety. Then they behave accordingly. Stay calm as much as possible in front of him (even if you’re faking it). It took me years to learn that with my son. I wish I would have learned that sooner, when my son was Cooper’s age. So, hopefully it will help you.

  11. Hi! I’m glad you found me online. I will be following your blog. I for one don’t think you overshared! I know exactly what you are talking about. Exactly. Living in survival mode; wondering if it will ever change; feeling like you’re missing out on the best parts of parenting; shaking your head while loved-ones tell you “He’ll be fine!”

    It’s hell on earth. Our son, Justus, has had a speech delay (and other issues) for a long time, but after his 2nd birthday, his behavior and overall demeanor started a downhill spiral. By age 2.5 (December 2013), he was constantly fatigued and depressed. He wouldn’t get off the couch. He didn’t want to play with people he used to love. He whined and screamed to watch TV all the time. He woke up 2-4 times a night, having screaming fits that could last up to an hour. I’ve written about most of this on my blog, although I think I tend to under-share this side of things. I applaud your honesty. Reading this post affects me deeply, because I’ve been there!

    I encourage you to read more about our story, if you haven’t already. After such a sharp decline in his health, we have recently seen MAJOR results in his overall well-being through diet. He’s making some progress in speech, but the real change is in his demeanor. He is so happy and energetic! He’s hyper like a 2-year old should be!

    You said you’d try anything, right? 🙂 Read everything you can online about GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) and then BUY THE BOOK. We got it for Christmas and it has changed our lives.

    There is hope! In the meantime, what your son needs most of all is your love. Keep doing what you’re doing.

    -Josiah

    • Hello Josiah,
      I just read a few of your posts about your son and WOW I could relate. Especially when you talk about your wife being at home with a new baby and not getting a lot of visitors. That was me last winter. I totally get it. The only different between you son and my son (they seem so similar) is that Cooper is NEVER fatigued. He is a ball of hyper energy. We had an OT eval yesterday and she comments on how he never stopped moving. YUP! Welcome to my world lady! I have heard amazing things about the GAPS diet. My cousin actually does it with her 4 kiddos. I will definitely check it out. I personally do a lot of ‘clean eating’ just because I kind of have a funky stomach. I would love if I could clean up cooper’s diet as well. He isn’t necessarily a picky eater but meals are often a struggle. A lot of bribing. Thanks for stopping by!

  12. Kate, wow you are such a great writer! If only we lived closer. Patrick and Cooper sound very similar. One thing I am terrible at, but notice if we do it more, is providing transition time. We have to do the countdown. If the bus for school comes at 830, we start at 730 with almost school time but not yet. And keep saying it every 5 minutes. Dramatic, yes. But does it help, absolutely. For whatever reason, these boys need more time to process the change than everyone else.

    • Thanks lady! I wish we lived closer too. I bet our boys would have fun together. Have you tried an egg timer? Another awesome mama on here recommended starting with a timer. I loved that idea. Coopers transitions are only bad when it involves technology. I HATE it. He just can’t give up what he loves. I do a lot of bribing with food treats. Chocolate chips do wonders and I only have to give him a few!!

  13. Just got a call today about Patrick’s terrible behavior today from his speech teacher. So upsetting. She wants us to call and get another eval and possibly request wrap around service to get an aid to be with him or us part time or full time. It’s so terrible when you feel so helpless and you can’t get things to change. I feel your pain more than you know!

    • Oh Claire. I am so sorry. My heart is broken for you. I totally get it. For me it’s the NEED to get control. The helpless feeling is brutal. I am home sick in bed right now. My whole family is sick! I need more details about this. I’ll email you as soon as I can function:-) hugs mama. I’m here for you.

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