Toddler Won't Even Pick Up a Fork Anymore
December 4, 2014 11:23 PM   Subscribe

My toddler (2 years old) has been regressing big time. She regressed on potty training a while back, but that's not what concerns me. Now she refuses to feed herself, she has stopped making verbal requests, she whispers instead of speaking aloud. I'm not asking why the regression, so much as how do I deal with it?

The regression seriously drives me nuts. She has one 10 month old sibling, and we moved about 6 months ago, but the regression started a couple of weeks ago. She just started her first daycare, but the regression started earlier.

What can I do to to get her out of this rut? How do I come to terms with this behavior? Does anybody have similar experience that can share?
posted by 90s_username04 to Human Relations (36 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not asking why the regression, so much as how do I deal with it?

Are you not asking "why" because you've already consulted with her pediatrician about it and they found no reason to suspect a developmental disorder?
posted by kagredon at 11:30 PM on December 4, 2014 [15 favorites]

Response by poster: No, it's to avoid armchair diagnoses.
posted by 90s_username04 at 11:47 PM on December 4, 2014 [11 favorites]

I repeat kagredon's question: "have you asked a professional to rule out any medical reasons for the regression?'

After, and only after, you have ruled out any health reason for the regression could you start, for example, to not feed her and to ignore anything not said in a 'normal' 2 year old voice.
posted by jazh at 11:55 PM on December 4, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Look, assuming they ARE actually developmentally normal (go check that with someone not on the green):

Kids are usually motivated by attention (so bad behaviour is often motivated by getting a lot of exciting attention where your parent yells really loudly and excitedly! So yeah, don't do that).
Attention, cuddles, you'll know your kid well enough to figure out what they're into.

If they've figured out being more independent just means that they'll get less attention, then, being logical little creatures, they'll often stop trying to be independent.

Try and turn it around. Spend some real one on one time, and sit and just 'cheerlead' them if they're doing something independently, and if they're deliberately regressing, then don't make a big deal about it.
Spoon feed them, but kind of deliberately hold your face away, then come back to giving them lots of exciting attention when they interact more.

If they whisper, then either act like you didn't hear it at all (I trained my nephew out of high pitch noises before he could even talk, because I just acted like I couldn't hear anything in a wince-worthy pitch), or whisper back. They may want you to talk to them in a quieter voice.
posted by Elysum at 12:01 AM on December 5, 2014 [10 favorites]

If getting your child to the doctor is a problem for some reason, or they pooh-pooh your concerns, contact Early Intervention without delay for an evaluation. It's free and you don't need to wait for a physician's referral.
posted by Soliloquy at 12:03 AM on December 5, 2014 [10 favorites]

Holy shit. Three very big things are going on in her little life:
  • "She has one 10 month old sibling"
  • "we moved about 6 months ago"
  • "She just started her first daycare"
If you are sure she has no physical ailments, no serious issues that require professional treatment, it looks like she is just under a lot of pressure (maybe you are, too?) and she is adjusting by acting like the little baby who is now stealing her mother's attention, the baby who isn't sent away from her mother every day to be with strangers. This regression trick is quite normal in such situations.

You will have to be extra patient and attentive until she adjusts to daycare/baby/home. If there is another trustworthy adult at home (do you have any family nearby?) who can throw some extra attention at her (or the baby) until everyone (including you) adjusts, that would be cool. She needs to feel secure, like the center of her mother's world.
posted by pracowity at 12:57 AM on December 5, 2014 [39 favorites]

These are too many fairly serious regressions to not seek the advice of your ped.
posted by k8t at 1:35 AM on December 5, 2014 [17 favorites]

Best answer: I work with kids and think I can help. First stop is pediatrician for your peace of mind and to rule things out because when toddlers lose speech around this age, it can be a sign of regressive autism. Regressive autism is pretty rare and sure, get it checked out, but let's assume it's not regressive autism because you're saying your kid hit all milestones normally and that's not usually the case.

What can you do? Assume that your toddler is feeling a loss of control because of the baby and is adopting more infantile behavior in order to get attention. It makes sense to them. The baby gets a lot of attention for being a baby, in their toddler brain it makes sense to also act like one. And toddlers do often regress with pottying, usually after parents have chucked out all their diapers. It happens.

As far as the language goes, one of the simplest hacks is to just pretend you can't understand them unless they use their normal voice. When she whispers or doesn't speak (again, this is assuming your doc has given the all clear), tell her you'd love to help her, but she needs to use her words. That's it. No biggie. Just, "Use your words and then you can have what you want, honey." DON'T let this turn into you guessing and holding things up and asking if this is what she meant. It may seem minor but it will definitely set up in her head that other people will learn to read her mind and this type of refusal will get her things in life. It's a slippery slope. And one of the best things we can do as parents to girls is to teach them to use their powerful voices and make themselves heard in the world.

For the not feeding herself regression, ensure you're sitting with her at meals and making them enjoyable. You feed yourself, she feeds herself (again, this is assuming that she has already demonstrated that she can and there's nothing else going on). If she doesn't feed herself, she doesn't eat. She will eventually start to feed herself. It will also probably help if she has some say in what the meals are and helps prepare them. I'd be giving her a lot of positive reinforcement for being a sous chef and cooking delicious foods. To this day, my middle kid thinks she invented sugar and cinnamon mixed together with apple slices for dipping. It was her first recipe and still one of her favorite things to eat.

Lastly, I would absolutely add in some toddler and mom/toddler and dad only special times. She needs to have her own little spaces with her parents, without the baby. Go out for a walk, get ice cream, sit at the library, go to the Dollar Store and let her have $3 to go wild. Give her special 1:1 time. Let her have some personal attention.

(Oh yeah. I just remembered when my eldest insisted on using a bottle at the age of 3 when her sister was around 10 months old. Ugh. We went out and she picked out brand new big girl cups. She stopped asking for a bottle.)
posted by kinetic at 2:47 AM on December 5, 2014 [17 favorites]

I think before any sort of advice can be given for how you can handle this it needs to be determined that there's nothing physically wrong that's causing the regression.

First things first - rule out anything that needs medical treatment. Then it will be easier to consider all that's happening in her life and come up with some suggestions that might help. Since you said you just moved, you may not have a doctor for the kids yet. In that case, by all means call Early Intervention as Soliloquy suggested - they're incredibly helpful and they are experts at deciphering the strange behavior of little ones.

Please let us know what you find out.
posted by aryma at 3:19 AM on December 5, 2014

Best answer: What can I do to to get her out of this rut? How do I come to terms with this behavior? Does anybody have similar experience that can share?

So this is just my anecdotal-level experience...

Little Llama does this sort of thing when her body or life experiences are setting her up for a pending developmental leap, like she is getting a tooth or about to start school or just started school or suddenly aware of being a big kid rather than a little kid. She is six but this has been going on forever.

Suddenly she can't put her own socks on, or talks in a baby voice, or won't take a physical or social risk. Then when she gets her confidence back she returns to normal, and normal is a pretty confidant, thoughtful kid.

We treat this as a periodic need for reassurance that whatever leap is happening is a safe one and she doesn't have to worry that we're going to start asking her to drive us around or pay our mortgage or figure out how to fix the sink. So we roll with it pretty much.

posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:30 AM on December 5, 2014 [18 favorites]

Best answer: I agree it's worth getting checked out. Whispering + less eating sounds like a possible low-grade ear infection to me. (A mom, not a pro.)

A few other things: if your 10 month old is getting more and more mobile, grabby, etc., that often sets off a sibling reaction because the sibling's space is suddenly more invaded, louder, etc. The whispering might be a case of going against the shrieking baby's mode. So yes, extra time one on one with a parent might help a lot.

Both behaviors you're describing wouldn't bother me. At two their appetites slow down, so I'd feed a few bites and then leave her to sort the rest, and just whisper back.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:28 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm not asking why the regression, so much as how do I deal with it?

I think knowing the why will help you deal with it. And I agree this should not be an internet armchair diagnosis but speak to a IRL pediatrician or other health care professional that you trust.
When you know why the how to deal with it will be the next step, depending on what causes her behaviour.

For example the whispering - my son did this for a while at that age, simply because he found out he could do it! So I whispered back, and after a while it ceased. If he had begun whispering because of a sore throat, making a fun game of it would have been entirely inappropriate.
But this really just an example to show that the why needs to be addressed first (but not here on askmetafilter), and then figure out how to deal with it.

That said, from what you share, she has had several major changes within a short span of time, and two years is big milestone in itself. So go talk to a pediatrician to rule out whatever you fear and/or the internet comes up with, and only then tackle behaviour.
posted by 15L06 at 4:49 AM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

She moved, got a new sibling, and started a daycare. All three are very stressful. Ruling out something major, your best bet would be to establish routines that are not compromised no matter what is going on. Find something easy like always singing the same song when you are buckling her up to go to daycare. Keep at the routines. Allow her soothing, repetitive activities. Do not cater to her whims. If she whispers, tell her that you cannot understand her when she speaks so softly. Do not feed her yourself. Once she gets hungry enough, she will remember how to use a spoon. Don't scold her for her acting out, just redirect in a calm and consistent manner.
posted by myselfasme at 5:27 AM on December 5, 2014

Best answer: Lots of great advice in this thread. I'll add two things that I haven't seen so far that have helped with my own daughter:
  • Look at my own behaviour. When she makes bids for my attention, have I been irritable/unresponsive/dismissive? (Usually the result of stress in my own life.) If so, consciously change my behaviour in all those little interactions.
  • Regularly (i.e. every day) talk with her in a reassuring tone of voice about the things causing her stress and how she might feel about them. Sometimes she finds it overwhelming just talking about negative emotions like sadness and anger, so spending time with a funny book about emotions like Happy Hippo, Angry Duck helps take the sting off and makes talking about them easier.

posted by clawsoon at 5:41 AM on December 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: When my daughter did this my therapist said to treat her accordingly. When she acted like a baby, wanted to be fed, whatever, I would feed her, coo and speak baby talk to her, hold her like a little baby and tell her I loved her when she's a baby and when she's a big girl. Don't tell her to stop acting like a baby, don't ignore her, but go along with it. That's what I was advised to do and it helped a lot more than trying to make her stop. She's fine, you're fine. Life with kids is a mystery.
posted by waving at 5:42 AM on December 5, 2014 [22 favorites]

Best answer: Also, re the ten month old sibling -- six to ten months is where they start to get really active and doing things rather than lying around in the larval stage -- so really, your attention likely is divided just for entirely understandable reasons and basically the new baby is more of a person and is doing more stuff and is more competition and less like a crying loaf of bread.

So really all together it paints a picture of a time when maybe if you're two you'd like to be the baby for a while longer.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:55 AM on December 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

Just a thought on the whispering: is there much talk about being quiet/not waking the baby?
posted by Lyn Never at 8:50 AM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

(She didn't just get a new sibling; she has had one for almost half her life.)
posted by Riverine at 11:57 AM on December 5, 2014

Elysum: If they whisper, then either act like you didn't hear it at all (I trained my nephew out of high pitch noises before he could even talk, because I just acted like I couldn't hear anything in a wince-worthy pitch), or whisper back. They may want you to talk to them in a quieter voice.
This... is brilliant.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:12 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Okay, I had included some relevant environmental info in my post. Does that lead to armchair diagnosis? Sure, I don't hold it against you but it's not exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks for suggestions and hacks with dealing with the 2 year old, it is very helpful!

Perhaps I was also looking for some camaraderie in dealing with regression issues. Then I realized that the majority of Mefites have never raised a two year old.

Regarding the pediatrician, we are happy to take her if we think this is a serious enough issue. Is it? Metafilter's usual brush off is to tell people see a doctor/lawyer/therapist, and then insist-insist-insist that this is the One True Solution and try to vilify anybody that seems resistant, and end the conversation there. (This is a true solution many times.) I'm not resistant, but it is helpful to advise why you think a trip to the pediatrician is merited, other than trying to strike irrational fear into my heart. Anecdotal evidence would probably be the most helpful. How do you know this is a trip-to-the-doctor-worthy event? I'm not being fighty, I sincerely would like to know!

I'm glad people suggested Early Intervention; future people reviewing this post may find this to be a valuable resource!

Again, thanks for the perspective and for the suggestions so far!
posted by 90s_username04 at 2:09 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Regarding the pediatrician, we are happy to take her if we think this is a serious enough issue. Is it?

YES. I've raised kids and seen a friend have two children regress and there were deep neurological issues that caused it both times, and catching it as early as possible was the best way. I would go to a pediatrician immediately for this, regressing is a humongous red flag among all the family psychologists and doctors I know.
posted by mathowie at 2:33 PM on December 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

> we are happy to take her if we think this is a serious enough issue. Is it

It might be, it might not be, and none of us know. Since you've got two teeny kids you're always at the doctor anyway (and here I wave my credentials as someone who has raised two-year-olds), so why not schedule the next well baby appointment to be a bit sooner?
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:45 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

How do you know this is a trip-to-the-doctor-worthy event? I'm not being fighty, I sincerely would like to know!

The thing in your post that really set off alarm bells for me was that you were describing persistent regressions in multiple areas (speech, toilet training, self-feeding) of development. It's true that it's pretty common for toddlers to regress temporarily in one area or another in response to stress, as a way of testing boundaries, etc. But when that regression lasts for weeks and more regressions in new areas start to appear, that can be a sign that something's wrong.
posted by kagredon at 2:46 PM on December 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I have a 4 year old and we have recently seen some major regression, which occurred in conjunction with a number of major life events. These are ours: He moved from his lifelong daycare to preschool this fall, his baby sister got mobile, and his dad has been traveling on an unpredictable every other week (ish) schedule.

For our child, "Baby sibling becoming mobile" was a MAJOR LIFE EVENT on par with birth of sibling. It may be for yours as well. SHE STARTED TOUCHING HIS STUFF, DUDE. CAN YOU IMAGINE? :)

I think it's worth a check with your pediatrician because as some have indicated, there are some major diagnoses that can come along with these symptoms, but I don't think you have to be panicked. We checked with our pediatrician, and she recommended we have an occupational therapy evaluation done (our son has some longstanding sensory and behavior issues that have always seemed sensitive-end-of-normal, but sometimes problems emerge as kids move to more structured and complicated environments) She also suggested we consider a seeing a family therapist. I initially shied away from this, but then I had a conference with his teachers at school yesterday and his teacher said she'd known therapists teach kids to use a "green-yellow-red" scale of describing feelings and teaching them to regulate themselves, and we tried it out, and damned if the kid isn't in love with the idea. So even though your kid probably doesn't have anything pathologically wrong, maybe some professionals who've dealt with these issues before have some tricks in their pocket that will make your life easier. "Talk to your pediatrician" doesn't automatically translate to "something must be terribly wrong".

The regressions we saw with our son were: he quit dressing himself and refused to make any effort, started having constant meltdowns, and while he didn't quit speaking, there were enough times when he wanted me to pick him up that he'd stand in front of me with his arms up making angry grunting dying moose noises. I started having to spoon feed him his dinners.

A lot of it seems tied in with physical and mental exhaustion from school and just from coping with all the shit going on in his life. I don't know if your daughter is ready for this, but we just recently got him this task chart for getting ready in the morning. I swear to god it turned our mornings around overnight. Something about recording the incremental progress really works for him. He is putting clothes on again! I assume you will understand what a breakthrough this feels like.

We've always had eating difficulties with him, but I came up with a few tricks to make dinnertime fun and that got him feeding himself again. He love love loved "crazy toothpick dinner". I put out cubes of things - rolled up ham, cheese, olives, tomatoes, apples, cucumbers, some other crap - and issued each person five toothpicks. We each got five toothpicks' worth of things, ate them, and refilled our toothpicks. It was a smash hit and the damned kid has eaten every dinner off a chopping block for the last two weeks.

Another thing we did around the time the baby got mobile was to gate off a permanent "big kid zone" in the living room so he had a place to escape to. This reduced a lot of screaming, and solved some of the small-toy safety issues. Plus the big kid zone happens to include the stairs, so win.

Potty training trouble at 2 is not the end of the world. My son was almost there and then he turned into a stubborn recalcitrant mess until 3 years and 3 months, at which time we really got serious and then it was ....a non event. Our post potty training issue was poop withholding, which we solved with the almighty Playmobil Advent Calendar. Get yours now while they're in season. We got a pirate one, and each day that he pooped, he got to open a number. Swap out for your potty training goal as needed. You get rapid gratification, delayed gratification as you build up the big awesome scene, and by the time you've had success for 24 days you've probably got some good habits in place. (We kept it up on a counter that he could see but not quite reach to prevent the pieces all getting lost).

Good luck. This is maddening. It is beyond maddening. Things go best when we manage to be excruciatingly calm in the face of the regression. Robotically calm. Decide which babyish behavior you're willing to lovingly indulge, and where you draw lines in the sand. (Carry him to the car? Sure, with a kiss! Accept requests in the form of dying moose noises? Hell no.) When you have to put your foot down, you are calm. The house rule is that one must ask politely to be picked up and you are sorry he is upset but you cannot pick him up until he asks with words (in this scenario he would usually be laying on the sidewalk screaming). And then be consistent. Our child needs to know exactly what is and isn't permitted or his head will explode from the anxiety and anticipation of whether he can do or get X this time. We have to have universal rules for everything and those can be hard to craft. Example: he may use iPad only at the doctor's office and on long trips. Give it to him at any other time and you're signing up for a few days of screaming fits.

So, whether you have a meltdown kid or not, I think in the face of regression, the more structure and consistency with the rules you can have the better. Set the bar relatively low so that she has lots of chances to succeed, but you don't have to set it at zero either.

And then? When she does something right? PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE AND PRAISE SOME MORE. And of course then ramp it down slowly over time because you don't want to be that parent throwing a ticker tape parade every time your kid puts their underwear on for the rest of their life, but right now? Let it ring. (But remind her too that you love her no matter what - you love her when she uses great manners, you love her when she's being a total shit, you will always love her and nothing can stop that. My child needs to hear this explicitly or he gets anxious that my love is conditional on him being a Big Kid.)
posted by telepanda at 3:04 PM on December 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

Then I realized that the majority of Mefites have never raised a two year old.

I've raised several and am grandmothering several more.

1/ get her checked out by the paediatrician.

2/ Every generation thinks it has discovered a more rational way to raise children than the last one. I was raised without concessions to being babyish, which I carried on with my own kids. My daughter, reading all the books, is far more relaxed about her toddler showing developmental independence (ie she's perfectly happy babying her sometimes when the kid seems to want it.)

Looking at this from my perspective I think she's going to end up with a happier, more self-confident child than not. It's like, 'I'm helpless, look after me!' might be a plea for more mothering - your daughter's only two, you are her mother, there's nothing wrong with giving her that, maybe she needs it. Some people's perfectly normal two-year-olds are nowhere near being potty-trained or speaking or feeding themselves.

So to sum up, I think waving and A Terrible Lama make good points.
posted by glasseyes at 3:15 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Regarding the pediatrician, we are happy to take her if we think this is a serious enough issue. Is it?

After two weeks and some potty training regression? I wouldn't, but keep in mind I'm the one upthread 'rolling with it' and who knows what my kid's therapy bills will look like.

I don't know -- I think you kind of get a feel for this stuff and at two I don't think I'd have felt as confidant about 'rolling with it' as I do now.

I was probably annoyed (to be honest) and kind of frustrated and worried at the time. But since this has now happened a bunch of times, I feel like I can comfortably say 'oh THIS thing again' and react with compassion and empathy, and yeah, I too would love some extra hugs when life starts to ask more from me than I'm sure I can handle. I think there's a part of a lot of us that stays a small child--Can I really do this? Can I really take care of my parents when they're sick? Buy this house? Be a parent??? Etc. I think that's the grown-up version of "Oh Christ, I'm not ready for this."

But what the hell, sure, take her to a doctor if it rules that little bit of uncertainty out. But I would also keep in mind that she might be having a really sensible emotional response and simply feeling needy and wanting attention, which are valid feelings and should probably be answered with some extra hugs and attentive eye contact and some fun and games and everyone cutting everyone some slack.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:29 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Can't write much cause I'm watching my 21 and 4 month olds, but my in your shoes my gut would be that she has a lot going on and needs some extra attention and loveys.

We had some mild regression with our oldest when I went back to work recently. He wants to sit on my lap during dinner to eat (which isn't going to happen because greasy baby fingers) and doesn't want to use silverware. Oh and the pacifier, all the time. I'm pretty sure it's bc he misses me, so we're in the rolling with it school.

Good luck. It can be maddening, but it's how they tell us they need some extra attn sometimes. Now I'm going to go give my screeching toddler some hugs!
posted by pennypiper at 3:56 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Regarding the pediatrician, we are happy to take her if we think this is a serious enough issue. Is it?


Let me put this out there: can your daughter still do things as she once did, but she just now prefers to act more babylike at times or is this a 100% permanent regression?

If you bribed her to use her previous speaking voice, could she or has she physically lost that ability?

If she's able to turn it on and off, I'd still check in with the doc but I think she probably just wants more cuddles and reassurance.

If she truly has lost her speech and other abilities, I would get her to the doc asap.
posted by kinetic at 4:09 PM on December 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Addendum to the novella above:
How's your daughter doing at daycare? If she's doing ok there and regressing at home, it's probably a more-hugs situation.

If she doesn't dislike it, maximizing physical contact is a good idea - snuggle, roughhouse, whatever works for you. When kids potty train and otherwise gain independence, physical contact drops off, and it can be good to compensate.

Invent games the whole family can join at their level. We had a glorious evening the other night with a pile of beanbags - put one on the baby's head and watch him be confused. See how many you can stack on the toddler's head. On your head. Put them in the dump truck faster than the baby can pull them out. Make it rain beanbags on each other's backs. Dance in the scattered beanbags. Active silliness with opportunities for physical contact that leave everyone feeling happy and grounded. It's not an immediate solution but it can both help the toddler feel happier and you feel less frustrated.

Finally: find a safe place to vent your spleen. A well vented spleen is an essential tool in the parent's arsenal of sanity preservation tools. Memail me if you'd just like to bitch about how she's driving you batshit crazy - it helps you be the calm, caring loving parent she needs to help her sort through the challenges of being 2. Or, it helps me, anyway.
posted by telepanda at 4:28 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think people are jumping to "early intervention, now" because of the part where you said "stopped making verbal requests." I'm assuming that you just mean she's started screaming instead of saying please (within range of normal toddler behavior) but the other folks think you're talking about actual loss of language skills, which WOULD be serious.
posted by yarly at 6:39 PM on December 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

People are suggesting that you run this by your pediatrician, at least in part, because regression is believed to occur about 1/3 of the time with autism. There are also other potential causes.

With an issue like this, the earlier it's recognized, the greater the chances of reducing the severity in the long-term.

Of the answers I read, I didn't see any that did armchair-diagnose... your description has just enough that, depending on the details, might be indicators, people are leaning on the side of "run it by your doctor".
posted by stormyteal at 8:55 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: No problem suggesting a trip to the doc, that's not a diagnosis, it's a helpful suggestion. I just wanted some data points by which I could make that decision if it was suggested.
Finally: find a safe place to vent your spleen.
Yes! Thanks telepanda. Anybody else know how frustrating it is to raise a little person that is just barely teetering on the edge of reason? Kids this age seem to mostly work on incentives and positive reinforcement, not as much on logic or planning ahead or next steps. So what happens when the usual incentives aren't working? Time to scream into a pillow.

So last night the toddler was bawling, nothing seemed to calm her down. We left her in her room while we gave the little one a bath. We have this cute little plastic floating turtle that beeps when the bath water temperature is too high or low, but it's borked and probably needs a battery change. So in one ear the high-pitch beeping turtle, the other a crying toddler. I tell my wife, "It's like some form of psychological warfare on us." And I started laughing. And she started laughing. It felt absolutely absurd in the moment. We could not stop laughing.

As waving said above, life with kids is a mystery. Things often don't make sense. Their tiny minds work in beautiful but odd ways. Laughing while your toddler is crying seems sociopathic, but it was oddly therapeutic. To be clear, our solution is not to laugh while our child is crying, but laughing at that moment was a way to put things into perspective. A way to not let frustration get the better of us.

For people that suggested that changes to the two-year old's environment, including a maturing little sister, was a likely catalyst: yes, this does seem like the likely "why".

For people that suggested a trip to the doctor: sure, but the regression is probably not as bad as you are making it out to be in your minds. We will schedule an appointment if the regression is persistent. This is our first time dealing with regression, and I'm going to guess that it takes some time to return to normal, and some effort on our part. I'll give it another few days to improve, and if it doesn't, then we'll make some calls.

This evening little lady spoke in words. She fed herself, with her fingers instead of a fork, but she did not insist on being spoon fed. She did try to use the spoon, but the rice fell in her lap. That's okay, spoons are hard.
posted by 90s_username04 at 10:59 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I tell my wife, "It's like some form of psychological warfare on us." And I started laughing. And she started laughing. It felt absolutely absurd in the moment. We could not stop laughing.

Have you ever watched Under the Dome? It's quite possibly the worst show ever, one of those shows where you keep watching because you think you must be missing something because it couldn't possibly be that awful. You can see the actors cringing at their own lines. Every once in a while you lose a character because their contract is up or whatever and you just imagine their hearts soaring as they leave the set and step into a future toothpaste commercial, like, 'Finally: some integrity.'

We love it in our house. There's voiceover narration at the beginning of the show which intones, in part, "Every day, the dome tests us." which is a catch phrase in our house for the moments when the kid is behaving awfully and the dog pees on the rug and the cat knocks over a vase and each of us receives half a dozen emails before 8 AM from entirely different people about entirely different work crises. A deadpan, 'every day the dome tests us' is probably invoked by one of us every day.

Finding things that you find hilarious, especially that you find hilarious together, really helps. It doesn't matter how inane it is. In fact, the dumber the better, because odds are you will be finding it difficult to complete a thought so you don't want to reach for the stars.

In short, I think you should be watching Under the Dome.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:04 AM on December 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

To lighten up moments of unsuccessful attempts at independence, especially if kid looks upset (tried to use spoon, spilled rice in lap), we typically scold an inanimate object:

(With exaggerated mock irritation): "YOU SPOON, you are not supposed to spill rice in my kid's lap! You are supposed to put it in her mouth!" (To kid:) "That silly spoon. They do crazy things sometimes."

Acknowledges her frustration, sets up you two as allies against the spoon, plus hopefully it makes her laugh. More laughing is good. The more you can laugh the less often frustration will get the better of you.

We also scold the clock a LOT at our house. "You clock! You are making this kid go to bed and he doesn't want to go to bed!" Et cetera.
posted by telepanda at 8:37 AM on December 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Sorry to be so late back. I read your update!

I suggested the doctor because a lot of times when my (stoic) kids (I have had 2 2 year olds! My youngest is turning 4 next month!) it was the start of some thing they were not able to express, especially ear infections and UTIs. :) Not because I was trying to diagnose anything. Sorry for being unclear!

I was guessing your child might be getting closer to 3 than 2? My dear fellow Mefite, I hate to tell you that the aptly named Louise Bates Ames' book "Your Three Year Old: Friend or Enemy?" suggests as many babysitting hours as you can afford for a reason. At 2, they throw tantrums and do crazy things because they cannot control themselves. At 3, they do it because they know it drives you crazy and that is a Thing They Do. And sometimes, so sweet. :)

If you want reinforcement...yes they are weird. Yes, you will get through this. Don't be afraid to get help for breaks, help from your doctor, or whatever. Personally as I said above, for me some of the thing was to...let it go. I do not know any 20 year olds who call their mothers to feed them, wet their pants unless there is a serious medical issue, or insist on whispering, so I think you're good there.
posted by warriorqueen at 1:26 PM on December 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Perhaps I was also looking for some camaraderie in dealing with regression issues.

My son did a sort of "regression" (my own armchair diagnosis following to much internet reading) around his 4th birthday (incontinence, baby talk, claiming he forgot how to dress, etc). It was scary as hell. Not to say annoying and drove me batty and made me angry.

But this is also exactly why I think talking with someone in real life who knows your child and you, and is knowledgable about pediatric health will be helpful - for me this is our pediatrician (but then she is a lovely and mature person who has known our son since birth, not just someone in an ER trying to cover their ass) and helped put things into perspective. In addition I spoke to a parenting counsellor I trust, also very helpful.

The questions both the pediatrician and counsellor asked made me realise that nothing physical at all was wrong, and there was no battery of tests etc needed (although both said if I was more comfortable doing that they could aid in setting it up but saw no need which was so reassuring).
It was simply talking to a health professional who knows my child (that is important) put things into perspective and helped assuage my fears.

Then I found ways to deal with the behaviour, but the ways to deal with it came from knowing it was a his way to cope with certain stress factors in our lives, not a neurological or physical problem.

The most comforting thought gleaned from those early years: now that my son is 6 years old, if some odd behaviour crops up, I know that this too will pass... Children at that age change so much and so very quickly.
Not to belittle your problems in the least, but what is a huge problem today, will most likely be forgotten in 3 months, honestly.
posted by 15L06 at 3:12 AM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

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