|Subject: (1) baby throws objects (2) baby
disturbs parents' sleep in family bed
I'm very pleased to come across your web site. We
have a wonderful daughter who will be two years old in August. She was
born premature (which we knew in advance would be the case). We've worked
hard to give her lots of love and attention and can truly say she is the
center of our world.
I have two questions I would appreciate your
commenting on. The first one is her reaction when we correct her on
something. She sometimes deliberately spills her milk/juice on the table
or into her bowl of food. We tell her not to waste milk/juice. She gets
angry and throws away the cup/spoon or other object across the table at
one of us. She doesn't aim at our heads thankfully! How should we respond?
Also, she's been sleeping with us since we got her
home. We enjoy the comfort and security it brings us to know she's
sleeping safely between us. As she gets bigger, however, she tends to move
around for portions of the evening and disturb our sleep. We'd like to get
her into her own bed (not her own room yet) but don't know how to proceed.
What do you suggest?
Thank you very much for visiting my site and for
writing. I understand how frustrating it can be when we can't figure out
what a small child's behavior is meant to communicate.
Your child is not yet two; still a baby. Babies have
few ways to communicate frustration. Throwing an object at someone is
simply a means of communicating an unmet need - it is nothing more. It is
not meant to anger you, it is not meant to cause damage, it is not meant
to be "bad", it is simply her baby way of saying, "Excuse
me, but I really need more undivided attention than I'm getting right
now." If she could communicate this way, she would do so. Gentle
parenting requires trust and a belief that the child is always
behaving as maturely as possible, given her experience and circumstances.
I'm glad to hear you have given her "lots of love and
attention", so I wonder if you have been extra busy or preoccupied
The best thing you can do is to prevent her from
needing to communicate frustration, by ensuring that her legitimate needs
for affectionate eye contact, gentle touch, and undivided attention are
fully met. If she does throw something, take the communication seriously.
When her needs for attention and affection are being fully met, she won't
need to throw things. Treat this behavior the way you would treat an
"empty" signal from the car gas gauge: meet the need.
It may seem to you that she has received plenty of
attention, but in our busy world, we are often called away by ringing
telephones, household chores, unexpected visitors, appointments, and so
forth. Trust your child to tell you the truth about matters like this, and
allow her to help you learn what she actually needs and when she needs it.
She is the resident expert on the care that she requires.
Regarding your thoughts about moving her from the
family bed, restlessness during the night can be a symptom of food
allergy. Allergies can also contribute to the need to express emotions in
strong physical ways - so I would recommend a visit to a naturopathic
Family co-sleeping has so many important advantages
that I urge you to consider other alternatives than giving this up. Some
families have dealt with restless sleep by making sure the child has had
sufficient exercise each day, and by limiting foods such as sugar,
artificial color, and caffeine that tend to disrupt sleep. One practical
solution is to place a separate bed adjacent to the parents' bed.
However, restlessness can also be a sign of worry,
so it would not be a good idea to separate her at this time, especially
when she is already communicating some anger and frustration. She
obviously needs more attention and connection with you now, not less.
I highly recommend the book The
Family Bed by Tine Thevenin.
Reasons to Sleep Next to Your Child at Night"
Critical Importance of a Child's First Years: a Baby Speaks"
I hope this is helpful for you. Give your little
girl a hug, and write again if needed.