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My son is 2 1/2 years old. Overall he is a well behaved kid except when it comes to transitions. He has a fit when it is time to leave any social outing like the mall, gym class, restaruants, play groups,etc. He cries, drags his feet, kicks, flails his arms and sometimes lies on the floor. I am 7 months pregnant and it is becoming increasing difficult to carry him to the car and and strap him in his car seat when he is behaving like this. When we arrive home, he sometimes has another fit from the car to the house. Before we leave any social outing, I always give him a few warnings letting him know we are getting ready to leave. I don't know what else to do. I am so frustrated and feel like I need to be confined to my house with him. I know that is not the solution. He never behaves this way for my husband. When he is out with my husband he does complain about coming back home but he has never gotten physical or had a tantrum. I don't enjoy spending time with my son outside the home anymore.


Margaret Heffernan Replied: What a horrible situation to be in. My own son - now 13 - is bad at handling changes and always has been. What I have found helpful is to be very clear and detailed in explaining what is going to happen - and then making sure that that is what happens. I also make it clear that this isn't a negotiation. It is what we are going to do. I know this sounds awfully hard but I think the only thing to do is what you are doing. Don't let him imprison you in the house. He has to learn that he can come and go with safety -- and you have to be able to get out! Also, of course, discuss the situation with your husband and try to understand what - if anything - he does that is different. What is it like when the two of you take your son out? It might be an idea for your husband to be with you more often so that your son also learns that he cannot divide you. As tough as it sounds, I think the 2 of you have to stand firm together so that your son learns that these things aren't going to change and they aren't risky. You probably also want to discuss together what you will do when the new baby arrives. If your son doesn't like change much, you need a strategy to prepare him for what will probably be the biggest change in his life!
Posted On 2007-08-22 13:20:50
Trish Booth, MA Replied: Transitions are often hard for toddlers and preschoolers. Parents and children can easily fall into a pattern of a child meltdown when it's time to leave. You are on the right track about giving warnings that it will soon be time to leave. Unfortunately, 2 Ā½ year olds don't have a good sense of time. The key is to have a structured plan to move him through the transition: * A notice * An activity he has control over * A definitive end * A transitional focus. Try limiting yourself to just two warnings. The first one is just an announcement, "We will have to leave in 5 minutes." After this announcement, do anything you have to do to get ready to leave. Then in about 2 minutes (or when you are done getting ready yourself) say, "It's almost time to go. What do you want to do before we leaveā€”go down the slide or swing on the swing? (Give him the choice of only 2 things to do.) After that activity, state firmly, "Now it's time to go." Take his hand and start moving toward the exit. You may be able to head off a tantrum by giving him a task, such as carrying something or looking for the car in the parking lot, or talking about an upcoming event. ("It's lunchtime. We're going to have _____.") Be sure to praise any cooperative behavior. Although children often behave differently with each parent, you might be able to use some of your husband's techniques or phrases. Ask him to describe how he handles transitions. It may also help to explain your expectations just before the activity itself. "We have to leave right after gym class. When the class is over, you'll need to put your shoes on and go out to the car. I expect you to ___________." Then follow that routine at the end of gym class. The hard part is sticking to the routine. It will take many times of responding firmly and sticking to the plan without using empty threats or bribes for him to learn that tantrums aren't as effective as they once were. When your son realizes that you and he will leave when you say, his tantrums will diminish even though his verbal protests may not. Finally, some of what is driving your son's behavior may be your pregnancy and the changes that has brought. This can make your son push boundaries as he tries to find the new limits. If you feel that your relationship is beginning to center around tantrums, take a few extra minutes of quiet or cuddle time each day to enjoy being together.
Posted On 2007-08-20 12:00:31
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