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Hugo is 13 months old, and after having one nanny in new york for nearly all of his life until four months ago. We moved to Boston, and have had trouble finding a suitable full time nanny for him. We've let two go, and are now on our third. I'm not sure if it's his age (entering into toddler stage) or the instability that the nanny situation has created, but he's becoming a very, very whiny and unhappy child. He seeks my attention constantly and cries every time the nanny comes (and she's really nice!). He's not even super with his daddy anymore. In addition, he is teething his back molars. I've tried ignoring his loud whines/cries to no avail, catering to him, and am now resorting to scolding him loudly which seems to quiet him (and sometimes upset him as well). I don't want to be habitually raising my voice to him and using a negative tone. I simply don't know what else to do. He will start his baby care school in one month, which I think he will enjoy. But with his recent behavior, I'm worried about his adjustment there as well. Any advice will be so appreciated.


Jill Wodnick Replied: Good for you for acknowleding and recognizing the impact and influence of changing care givers is having on Hugo's emotional and physical body. Hugo's job is to be biologically programmed to want you more than anyone else, no matter how nice she may be, so he is truly doing his job is seeking deep connection and attention with you. I encourage you to commit to 4 20 minutes check ins of 'floortime' with him each day for 14 days (ideally, 21 days for the most accurate assesment) but lets start with this protocol: Determine when between getting ready for work/ feeding/ etc. that you can connect through sitting on the floor. Use the timer if you need to and commit to not answer the phone, be on the computer, make the bed etc. (even when he starts the baby care school next month,this protocol is vital to continue). THen, use sensory materials like legos, playdough, uncooked rice with tupperwear, board books, songs and truly be present and available on the floor. If you do this protocol four times a day for 20 minutes a time, I think you will see his adjustment being much calmer as more of his emotional needs are being met by you in his space and with materials that serve him. Have fun when you try this and remember how much I admire your willingness to write in this question. Please let us know after the first 2 weeks and then try for 21 days for the most optimal impact!
Posted On 2007-05-21 15:36:05
Trish Booth, MA Replied: The move and the changing nannies could be a source of stress that is fueling the whining. Your son is also at the age where he wants you to be near him. Your leaving or inattention can trigger a scene that your son hopes will bring you back to him. You are right, scolding him is not a good long-term strategy. Here are a couple suggestions to help him whine less: First, try hard not to reward his whining. When he is whining, calmly explain to him that your ears can't hear him when he is whining. If he wants you to hear him, he has to talk nicely. Model the volume and tone for him. Then, as soon as he speaks more normally, reward him by telling him, "I can hear you now that you are talking nicely." You don't necessarily have to give him what he wants. You just need to tell him that you can hear him. Throughout the day, reward your son by commenting on his nice voice when he is not whining. In the beginning, it can be hard to repeat over and over that your ears can't hear him. However, if you are relatively consistent, he will catch on. Talk to his nanny privately. Ask her what she does when he whines. Try to come up with a plan so that the two of you do pretty much the same thing. The consistency will help your son. It is important to consider your son's temperament when you introduce him to the baby care school. Does he charge into new situations or does he need to hang back and observe for a while? Plan to give him the time and support he needs to adjust to this new situation. Talk about the new things he will see and do. If he is people-oriented, stress the people he will meet. If he is a train or car enthusiast, talk about those toys. Then at the school, connect him with what will be of greatest interest to him as soon as possible. One year-olds don't really play together, they parallel play. That means it is easiest to set him up with his own toy near another child. You may want to be the one who helps him with the transition. Or, if he has developed a better relationship with the new nanny, it may be easier for her to be the one who takes him. With this arrangement, he doesn't have to give you up to join the others.
Posted On 2007-05-01 13:28:04
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