Teaching with a toddler in tow

shoes b&w

I am the Mommy police.  I keep small children from murdering each other in my house.  I negotiate compromises, mediate squabbles, and occasionally incarcerate offending perpetrators (time out, sheesh, what did you think I meant?)

When it’s time to learn, things get a lot harder.  The Princess is happy to color accompanying project pictures or dabble in play dough.  The Destroyer, on the other hand, lives up to his name.  Things crash to the floor, he escapes with a crayon (or worse, a marker!) in his hand, or sheets get crumpled in fat little baby fists.

I’ve tried giving him something to do at the table with us – nope, he wants to root around in everyone else’s stuff.  I’ve put him in his high chair and pulled out tons of fun toys – nope, everything hits the ground.  It’s attention he wants, not toys.

All my kids are needy, but this  is the one with the severe separation anxiety.  I can’t even go to the bathroom without him panicking that I’m not in sight.  And by panic, I mean him chasing me to the bathroom screaming at the top of his lungs.  If I reach it before he does – he’s fast! – he stands there and pounds on the door screaming “Momma, Momma!” or tries to reach under the door to get me out.

In case you didn’t pick up on it, we don’t go out often and leave a babysitter in charge.

So I carry him around a lot.  I hold him as we sit at the table and cut and glue things.  I cuddle him while we watch a video.  And if I have to, I put him in the spacious play area and ignore his 5 minutes of screaming until he calms down and happily plays with a toy by himself for a few minutes.

I’ve heard it all: “what do you do to these kids to make them need you so much?” from a nursery worker at church.  “He needs to adapt” from a friend.  “He’ll have to tough it out” from family when I worried about needing to go for surgery.  “Oh, you’re a stay-at-home mom, that explains it” from an acquaintance who wondered why he was so anxious.

We’ve learned that our kids eventually grow out of this stage – the older two did the same thing at his age.  Perhaps not so severe.  So we’re just toughing it out until he hits, say, about 3.  By then things should calm down.

Tonight crystallized things for me.  During his bedtime, we put on PJs and socks and a sleepsack to get ready for bed.  He worried at one sock despite my repeated attempts to fix it – he kept fussing about it.  I couldn’t get the seam to lie comfortably for him.

Red flags went up – we’ve been here before.  I have noticed a few other things, but this one made it more real.  I’m pretty sure the Destroyer has Sensory Processing Disorder too.

I hope I’m wrong.  I want my wonderful happy little boy who charges through life without fear to stay that way.  I don’t want him to scream at loud noises and run in panic from bathroom hand driers.  I don’t want him to pitch horrible tantrums because he can’t handle the sensory input and is just trying to cope with an overwhelming world.

Most of all, I’m not sure I can handle having two kids with issues.  If it happens I’ll deal with it.  I’ll figure it out just like I am now with his big brother.  But I really hope that maybe it is all my fault.  Because that’s fixable.







  1. It’s hard when one of your little ones needs more attention than the others. I read a book about highly sensitive children that shed some light on how I felt my oldest daughter behaved (fussing about clothes, fear of loud noises, hesitant in groups, picky eater, the list goes on) and she also hated me leaving the room when she was very little. My youngest was not like that but she is fussy about little things that can get blown out of all proportion too, not to mention she has a temper on her! Even at 3 I find it difficult sometimes to do a project with the oldest without her wanting to grab everything. But it has gotten easier and I know it will continue to do so.
    I’m offended for you that someone would suggest you have a clingy child because you stay at home with your kids. Nonsense! It’s a personality trait like all others and it will eventually get better like you said. Hang in there.


    • Thanks for your outrage 🙂 It’s not the first time I’ve heard that comment, and sometimes it comes from family. It’s so helpful to hear from other people who are either going through the same thing or have already and can promise that it gets better. Thanks for stopping by!


  2. You are right mom, you can and will figure it out. A lot of prayer, a lot of late night tears. There were are few years where my hair was really thinning because of stress. Please keep up the care of “you” as well. I really let that slide for about 10 years and am just beginning to pick up the pieces. It is so hard when there are so many other constant demands for your attention. I hope I am not coming across as presumptuous, I just know how hard it is with several little ones who need you constantly. Blessings to you!!!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.