It seems that taking care of Cooper got pretty difficult from about 9-12 months. This is really mostly my fault. I lacked structure to our day. Other than I knew what time he was suppose to eat and sleep, the rest of the day was a free-for-all. I had all his toys in random boxes and bins on the floor in his playroom. He could basically grab any toy he wanted to play with at any point. The result from my lack of structure in his day and his toys laying around at his disposal- a clingy child who did not know how to self-play or entertain himself for long. He also lacked discipline because I was not trying to create boundaries and guidelines to his day.
When Cooper was a baby, I had done Babywise with him to train him to sleep through the night. He slept through the night, 7-8 hours stretch, from about 9 weeks old. He slowly increase his sleep. By the time he was 5 months old he was sleeping 10 hours at night and by 6 months old he was sleeping 12 hours at night. He had regular nap times and things ran smoothly. Thank you Babywise! Babywise is a book meant for parents of infants 0-5 months old. Then the next book in the series is Babywise II. I bought the book and read it, but decided that I really did not need to implement all the things that the book suggested. One of the recommendations was that you put your 5-15 months old in a pack n play daily for a short period of time with a few toys. This structured time was suppose to teach a child how to play on his own and to develop mental focus since there are not a lot of toys. However, I decided not to follow this recommendation, because Cooper hated to be in his play pen or pack n play. Man did I pay the price for this later!
So anyways, I found myself with a cranky, clingy, can’t play by himself, undisciplined child and it was about to be the end of me. I decided that perhaps I should revisit Babywise II (5-15 month olds) and buy the next couple of books in the series, Pre-Toddlerwise (12-18 months), and Toddlerwise (14 months through 3 years-old). I also stumbled into a group on http://www.babycenter.com for mom’s who are currently implementing the babywise and other wise programs with their children. Between the books and the group I joined on babycenter.com, I have learned so much about how to structure Cooper’s day and disciplining him. Cooper is doing such a better job playing independently, he minds Chris and I much better now, he does not cling to me as much, and he seems to be in a better mood and happier!
Thoughts on discipline:
Before I reread Babywise II and picked up Pre-Toddler Wise. My main form of discipline was telling him “no.” If that did not work, I usually would look him in the eyes and gentle squeeze his hand to get his attention (not to the point of pain). The gentle hand squeeze did come from babywise. If that form of correction did not work, we did time out in his mini-pack n play for 30 sec to a minute. That would usually do the trick. I will say, even with all of those strategies in place, my discipline was still not working effectively. The problem was with saying, “no” over and over again. After reading through Pre-Toddlerwise and Toddlerwise, they speak about first time obedience. I am not going to get into that topic to much, but I will say that if Cooper does not respond after the first no, and I give him time to comply, then he get a brief time out. This quick and easy discipline strategy has saved me and Chris from saying, no over and over. He will 70% of the time obey us with the first no. He knows that certain things are off limits in our house too, such as the tv buttons, the stairs, and outlet plugs. He is usually good about not touching them! This is saving me a lot of piece of mind so I don’t feel like I am running around disciplining him all day long.
Thoughts on Structure:
As I mentioned earlier in this post, the only part of my schedule that I had down was the time Cooper ate and slept, the rest was free and open to whatever happened. The lack of structure created many discipline problems because he was allowed to roam around the house too much, and touch too many things. Pre-toddler and Toddlerwise would call this- allowing your child too many freedoms. I also had way too many toys out which was over simulating and he was not able to concentrate and just play with one toy. After reading the three -wise books, I made some adjustments. The first was, get all the toys off the floor and into bins. I only allow Cooper to play with a select few toys at a time. I also rotate the toys he is allowed to play with so he does not easily get board with his toys. The next thing I did was structure his day better. To fill in the times between eating and sleeping, I created the following activities: independent playtime, outdoor playtime/ walks, blanket time, table time (which is done in his highchair), TV time, story time, structured play/ learning time, family play time, free play time, bath time, and time to run errands. I have been following this schedule for about a month now, maybe a little longer, and it is great! Keeps Cooper from getting board, keeps me from going nuts trying to entertain him all day long, and has taught Cooper how to self-play and respect boundaries.
The two actives I cannot live without:
Independent play time and blanket time have been a wonderful addition to our schedule and have helped Cooper learn to self-play, develop better mental focus, and respect boundaries and my authority. Cooper plays in his playard every morning for an hour, I select the toys he plays with and rotate them so he is not bored every day. For the first week he cried a lot during independent play time. The crying slowly decrease and I am happy to report that this is the first week where I can put him in the playard and he happily starts to play with his toys! I think he even looks forward to this time. Blanket time I have only been doing for two weeks, but I think it is great! Cooper is told stay on a blanket that is no bigger than 3×4 and I give him very few toys. He started with 10 minutes of play and now we are up to 20 minutes of play on the blanket. It only took 2 days of me picking him up and telling him to stay on the blanket for him to stay put. He cried for about a week, but now no more tears and just play! I went to a restaurant last week and sat him on the ground while I was paying the check. I told him to stay put and Cooper did not move for 5 minutes. It was a very crowded restaurant with lots of temptations to allure Cooper, but he was able to resist them and obey me. I owe this to blanket time.
I am glad I decided to crack down on discipline and structure his day! With twins on the way, I wanted to make sure that Cooper was a happy, compliant child. I did not want to chase Cooper around or having him cling to me throughout the day while I was busy with the twins at various points. I am able to get more done around the house such as laundry, cleaning, and kitchen stuff now because I do not have Cooper constantly clinging to my pant legs and wining or me running after him telling him “no” all the time! So thank you to the -wise series. You have saved my sanity and helped Cooper to be a happier child!
Babywise (0-5 months)
Babywise II (5-15 months)
Pre-Toddlerwise (12-18 months)
Toddlerwise (14 months – 3 years)
Related Posts that may be of interest:
Structuring Your Toddler’s Day
Independent Play Time
Free Play Time
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