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 Post subject: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 11:42 am 
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Walter is now 4.5 months old. I am with him 24/7, and I really need a break. When he was a newborn, I used to be able to go to the grocery store or walk the dogs while my husband watched him, and that time to myself helped me recharge and keep my cool. I'm noticing that when I go several days with no break, I lose my temper easily and am less cheerful in my interaction with Walter. Over the past month or so, Walter has begun having meltdowns every time I leave the room (if I even get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night I come back to crying), and he will not tolerate anyone else changing his diaper, giving him his bath, wearing him, rocking him to sleep (he screams and arches his back like he is in pain).

This is undermining my husband's confidence; he keeps saying he thinks Walter hates him. I need for my husband (or my mother, or eventually a babysitter...) to be able to deal with the baby, even just for 30 minutes in the evenings so I can take a shower without someone crying on the other side of the curtain. It's hard because my husband works so much--he and Walter don't get a lot of time to bond. What has worked for you in getting babies to bond with other caretakers? If we just force it, and let Walter scream for an hour while my husband holds him, will he get over it? I love my son but I am feeling smothered, and in order to be a good mother I need a break.


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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 11:56 am 
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Oh, mitten! I haven't dealt with this and don't really have any suggestions, but I just wanted to say HUGS because that sounds awful.


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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:05 pm 
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In the la leche book ("The Womanly Art of BFing") in an early chapter, they describe a lot of infants getting inexplicably strange (cranky in a nursing context, although I suppose maybe it's in general) around 4 months. Something about how their vision suddenly takes in a lot more of their surroundings, so they become more easily distracted, IIRC. Could this be what you're running into? Not that this helps you at all but they do describe it as being very temporary.. I recall reading elsewhere that separation anxiety usually happens a bit later (9-12 mo). Take all of this with a salt block because all I have is a fetus right now.


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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:40 pm 
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I have no suggestions, but I can commiserate. Lydia is nearly 6 mos old, and we're having the exact same problem when I leave her alone with my husband. I tried to go to the grocery store alone last week, and I came home to her full-on screaming in her dad's arms. She has screamed so much that she was starting to go hoarse.

My sister has offered many times to babysit so I get alone time with my husband, but I can't see that happening any time soon. Sigh.


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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:44 pm 
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I have no advice since I am still growing my baby, but I have a question. Do you think if you let other people care for your baby a lot that it will avoid this problem or are some kids just going to have the separation anxiety no matter what? I have met a couple parents that never let other people watch their children until they are several years old and I wonder if that causes more anxiety in the long run or if that is what normal parents do. (Can you tell I don't have a lot of Mom friends???)


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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:57 pm 
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I have a little girl in my class of two year olds who, as far as I understand, had never, or very rarely been separated from mom until she started here right after she turned two. This girl had the amazing ability to scream for hours, regardless of how much we tried to engage her or if we stood back to see if she'd relax on her own. This was straight up screaming to the point of making herself puke. It took three months, but she's finally gotten to the point where she's comfortable here and actually seems to enjoy it. Sorry this isn't super helpful, just wanted you to know there is hope, it might just take some time.


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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 1:00 pm 
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Kai was like that before I went back to work. He didn't want anyone to hold him but me, and even when I'd give him to my parther for a little bit he'd cry and cry. Not to belabor this work thing because I know you are missing that too, but the point is, the trial-by-fire did end up working for us. He cried a bit more the day I went in, but then after that it was like someone turned a switch. Ever since, he has been fine with other people! It really happened just like that.

So, it may not work to leave him alone with your husband, but then again maybe it will. I'm sure it would be painful for your husband if he did scream for hours, but it wouldn't kill either of them and there is no other way to find out...But of course, I only have this one experience. Hopefully someone else will have better advice! Sorry you're going through this, I definitely remember what it was like!

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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:00 pm 
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Aubade wrote:
So, it may not work to leave him alone with your husband, but then again maybe it will. I'm sure it would be painful for your husband if he did scream for hours, but it wouldn't kill either of them and there is no other way to find out...



This! I think it's totally worth it to keep trying. And, if it doesn't work, I still think it's reasonable to hand him over to your hubs and let walter cry a bit while you regroup.

I remember Felix having this kind of anxiety when he was about that age. It kind of just went away on its own. Then when he was older he started freaking out about being separated from his dad, who was at work most of the time (fun). There aren't tears that often when daddy goes to work anymore, but now he's the definite favorite.


And, as far as Littlebear's question of whether you can avoid it, I say not. Felix is rarely watched by other people (like once every couple months, and only that frequently since he's been over a year old), but he really likes it when he is. He doesn't get upset about being alone with other people. Whereas, he'll scream and cry like mad if he wants his dad, and I'm the only parent around. I'm kind of surprised by how social Felix can be considering what an antisocial parent I've been (a place I could really stand to improve), but I think it's just who he is. Even when they're babies, it seems to me like it's their personality more than your parenting style that ends up determining anything.

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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:47 pm 
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Thanks everybody. It helps to know this is a fairly common problem. For now, it sounds like I'll just have to put in some earplugs and let Walter and hid dad figure this out on their own. The screaming is awful, but I will keep reminding myself that he is fed, dry, safe, and held by someone who loves him. Annak, I am going to my second LLL meeting next week, and those ladies seemed really nice last month, so maybe they'll have some ideas.


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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:52 pm 
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Dash seems to suffer from this on and off since around the same age as Walter. Most of the time he's fine with MrSneakers, though on Monday when I left for my riding lesson Dash fussed / screamed for about and hour of the 3 that I was gone. When we leave him with MrSneaker's parents for a while he spends the whole time screaming hysterically too. We have to leave Dash with others at least once / week because my grandma is in the hospital and on the same floor as a MRSA patient so he can't go with us, so I don't think it has anything much to do with frequency. At almost 6.5 months old he's still totally unpredictable and has been left with non parent people lots of times.

However, I have always made sure to hand Dash off to MrSneakers as soon as he's home from work and he pretty much looks after him the whole evening. All baths are given by MrSneakers as well. If I am going out (for at least a few hours) I leave MrSneakers with some pumped milk too. Food seems to work to re-engage Dash when he gets into meltdown mode, for the most part.

Sorry to hear that MrMitten is getting discouraged and that you are not getting any much needed alone time. Honestly, I would just leave for an hour anyway. Walter may or may not calm down, but you'll get some much needed space and be refreshed.


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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 3:55 pm 
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mittenmacher wrote:
The screaming is awful, but I will keep reminding myself that he is fed, dry, safe, and held by someone who loves him.


This is exactly right! One of the boys I used to nanny went through something similar at 4.5 months, and his mother couldn't stick around... He'd cry for a little while (okay, sometimes it was like 20-30 minutes, which obviously did NOT feel like "a little while"), and then we'd go back to him being his normally bubbly self with me-all-day.

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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 3:58 pm 
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yeah, we've JUST grown out of this with tzippy, who is almost 14 months. she never hated dad, but did fuss a lot more when he did things for her. she would NOT tolerate any of the grandparents or any of our friends holding her, or me leaving the room while they were there. it was stressful because i wasn't able to take advantage of family visits to get any time off from looking after her, and if i left her with her dad i knew if i was gone too long she would be screaming and unhappy by the time i got back. plus, i knew it hurt our parents' feelings that she didn't want to be with them at all.

anyway, they always outgrow it. it is a really normal developmental stage and starts when they realize that you, *mom* are a separate entity from them, and it is a very insecure feeling to realize that your greatest source of comfort, food and love is able to walk away from you! it passes when their brains mature enough to realize that you will come back, or that you are still there even when someone else is holding them. of course, it also lessens when they become a little more independent and don't need your presence with quite the same intensity. tzippy is now happy to go with grandma, or play across the room from me at playgroup... she is happy with two or three of my closest friends as well, and really loves playing with her dad too. there is nothing you can do to make them grow out of this stage quicker... it will happen when it happens.

definitely take the time you need to stay sane. for me, it wasn't particularly relaxing to know that tzippy was probably screaming while i was away, but i took an hour or two here and there and got through the worst of it. leaving her with her dad, i didn't feel so bad, because i knew she was secure with him, just preferred me. with family and friends though, i didn't leave her unless i needed to, because i knew her distress was genuine. just because *I* feel secure with my parents doesn't mean she would feel the same way about people she only saw every few weeks.

with your husband, a lot of walter's distress might be coming because he senses his insecurity with certain tasks. my husband was certainly not as practiced as i at putting on diapers, putting her to sleeping, swaddling, dressing, etc. so she would get frustrated or upset that he was taking too long or being too awkward or rough, which would make him anxious, which she would pick up on, and so on. maybe ask your husband to pick one thing to focus on doing, and have him do it as much as possible, and be totally responsible for that task when he is home (like, not you having to remind him or tell him when to do it).

but seriously, this stage will pass. and in a few months walt will be a lot more fun and easier for your husband to figure out and play with, and then suddenly you'll find yourself sitting on the sofa with a hot cup of tea watching your baby and husband making each other giggle hysterically while knocking over block towers and NO ONE WOULD EVEN NOTICE IF YOU LEFT THE ROOM!!!


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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 4:43 pm 
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i have been babysitting my niece a lot in the past few years, from she was very very little. at first, she would SCREAM for HOURS and it was horrible. but with time she got over it. it took a while for her to get used to not being with her mom 24-7, but she started to enjoy it a whole lot. i used to babysit for 3-6 hours at first, now i have her waaay longer, sometimes a full day, sometimes 24 hours, without much trouble at all. she just had to get past the stage of feeling uncomfortable with it.

oh, and sometimes it was complete hell (the first night i had her, she cried for 5 hours straight), but it was worth it. now i have this lovely niece, who LOVES hanging out with me. and her mom can get some free time!


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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 4:46 pm 
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oh, and the way we handled it was with the mom leaving. in the start she couldn't deal with it at all, but i convinced her it made it a whole lot worse that she came back when the kid cried -then it actually seemed like it made sense to cry, because it made mommy return. if she just left, she would cry and scream and then get over it.

and now she totally doesn't want to leave when her mom comes to pick her up :)


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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 5:15 pm 
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I was terrified of my dad (and anyone else who wasn't my Mom, my brother, and people in costumes), as per my Mom's descriptions. She'd leave me with him to go shower and come back and he'd have me at arms length screaming my head off at him. It made my dad feel like crepe, but I did grow out of it, and now I'm very close with my Dad, so these things have a way of working themselves out.

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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 10:15 pm 
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It's a bit blurry in my memory, but I think we went through the same thing around that age. Sounds very familiar.

Someone at a support group pointed out to me that there's a big difference between leaving your baby crying alone somewhere and letting him cry in the company of loved ones. I think babies figure out that they're still safe, loved, cared for etcetera with practice. The only reason he knows he's safe and loved with you in particular is that you're the one who has spent the most time with him!

I think that for your sanity, you have to keep pushing to let him work it out with his dad and others too. It's easier said than done of course... But mama's gotta get a shower.

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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 12:57 am 
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coldandsleepy wrote:
It's a bit blurry in my memory, but I think we went through the same thing around that age. Sounds very familiar.


I think so too, but yeah, that whole early time is a blur of lost sleep and sort of "whoa man, we made a PERSON" mental freaking out. I seem to recall lots of time spent feeling pretty bad that the Emperor didn't like me.

He did get past it, though, and now is all happy to see me when I've been at work or something. It was pretty awful then, but it got a lot better.

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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 12:44 pm 
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Thanks, guys. That all makes a lot of sense. Like I said, Walt's dad works a lot, and most weekdays they only see each other for ten minutes before Walter goes to bed, when he is at his grouchiest. I've told my husband that I need at least an hour to myself every three days, or I will become mean and cry a lot. I'm going to try to go out during the day this weekend, and they will both survive, even if they are miserable. It helps to know that this is just a phase and that other families have passed through it!


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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 2:28 pm 
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That sounds like a good plan. It reminded me of something else too - before when I was home on leave, my husband still felt really awkward around Kai. Since then he takes care of him for 2 hours 2 mornings a week, before the sitter arrives. I think those short bursts of the 2 of them being completely alone together has really helped a lot with dad's confidence. I think it just isn't the same when someone else is around - too easy to ask them what to do. When you're alone you're forced to learn.

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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:08 pm 
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have you thought about pushing walter's bedtime back a bit? maybe it's not something you want to mess with, but for us, a bedtime of 9pm or so has worked wonderfully. tzippy's dad has plenty of time to spend with her in the evening, we get to eat dinner together and we aren't trapped in the house all evening with a sleeping baby (nice in the summer when it's light out late!).

i hope you do get to take some time off this weekend regardless... i'm 100% sure that they will both survive and even maybe enjoy themselves!


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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:10 pm 
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annak wrote:
In the la leche book ("The Womanly Art of BFing") in an early chapter, they describe a lot of infants getting inexplicably strange (cranky in a nursing context, although I suppose maybe it's in general) around 4 months. Something about how their vision suddenly takes in a lot more of their surroundings, so they become more easily distracted, IIRC. Could this be what you're running into? Not that this helps you at all but they do describe it as being very temporary.. I recall reading elsewhere that separation anxiety usually happens a bit later (9-12 mo). Take all of this with a salt block because all I have is a fetus right now.



totally this. went through this with both kids. spoiler: it resurfaces around teething time too.

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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 3:41 pm 
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Does it make any difference if Walter/dad are the leavers? That is, can daddy take him for a walk to the park, etc?


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 Post subject: Re: How do I get my son to tolerate other people?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2011 10:04 pm 
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refinnej wrote:
Does it make any difference if Walter/dad are the leavers? That is, can daddy take him for a walk to the park, etc?


That is a really smart idea. Dad has not found a baby carrier he likes yet, but this makes me want to keep looking. Maybe he can takeover walking the dogs and baby so I can take a quiet shower!

littlebird wrote:
have you thought about pushing walter's bedtime back a bit?


We are actually working on this. For the past 2 months, he's been asleep by 7pm. It worked well for about a month, but lately he's been waking up after 30 minutes and staying up until we go to bed anyway, as if he were taking a nap at 7. This week I've kept him up until 7:30, next week I'll try 8pm, and we'll just keep going until I find the right time (where he's not grouchy and overtired but also tired enough that he stays asleep). Once he's having dinner at the table with us he'll need to stay up a little later, anyway.

Thanks everybody for your advice and ideas!


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