* Get support from your spouse - The reality of the rejection that Mom is experiencing needs to be acknowledged. If your significant other doesn’t sympathize, it’s hard to address the needs of your child.
* Earn Your Child’s Trust - The rejected parent must maintain a constant and consistent presence, meeting her child's needs upon demand.
* Feeding Is Key - Because food is so important to attachment, I strongly recommend toddlers be fed by a parent even if they prefer to feed themselves. Bottle feeding and rocking incorporate the important elements of food, touch, smiles, eye contact, and stimulation.
* Maintain Calm - While a toddler may not understand a parent's words of empathy, he can tell the difference between speech that is calm, accepting, and supportive, and a voice that is harsh with anger.
* Try Holding - I advocate therapeutic holding and recommend the process described by Dr. Martha Welch in Holding Time (Simon and Schuster).
* Be Patient - Neither punishment nor ignoring is an effective way to react to a child's rejecting behaviors. Time-out or other forms of isolation only confirm the sense of rejection. Empathy and restraint, however, will have an impact in the long run.
Rejection is difficult to deal with, especially if you are singled out as the recipient of your child's rage. However, there is every reason to believe that strong attachment will happen. Remember, falling in love is a process, not an event. Tolerance usually precedes acceptance. In the years since my son came home, I have gone from persona non grata to the object of his rage finally to being his beloved mama.
Explain why something is wrong eg Do not touch that it will hurt your fingers, then move on with distraction.
If a child is refusing to do something turn it into a game 'The first one to sit on the toilet, sit at the table is the winner' Works every time for me.
Do not ask your child to do something if they are into the 'no' stage. Instead of saying come and put your boots on, say something like 'I have got something to show you outside etc' Then think quickly about what it might be eg a pretty flower, cat, rainbow etc.
Use a visual reward chart (but never remove stickers for naughty behaviour).
At the end of each day go through the day about all the lovely things you have done.
Mum to BC (teenager) with complex medical/physical/emotional needs and AC who is full of life and energy (preschooler)
BREAKING THE PATTERN OF DIFFICULT BEDTIMES - advice kindly provided by LEO
Some things that have worked for us: - we now have bathtime much earlier, usually before tea, and then come back down in pyjamas - we choose (or Mummy chooses depending on the 'atmosphere') a bedtime story when we have a bath so it is ready - everything is already laid out before bathtime so there is no need for last minute faffing around trying to find things - clothes for the next morning are folded and put into the bathroom before bathtime - I close curtains, put nightlight on etc in bedroom while they are undressing or are in the bath - teeth are brushed for them (and to be honest, often left as really not worth the stress for any of us) - at bedtime, they are 'walked' into their bedroom - hand in hand - they have eczema so have cream after their bath but I also rub in cream on their hands or face at bedtime if they are a bit stressy (but have to judge this carefully because if they are too stressed then they can't cope with the sensation) - for ages we had a visual timetable of all the steps involved in bathtime and another for bedtime (that included a picture of me and them together again in the morning) - sometimes, when I've really been struggling, I have set a timer and said 'this is your time limit, you can choose whether we get dressed and into bed quickly giving us lots of time for huggles and story or whether you have only time for a quick hug'. (On days we only managed a quick hug I would always go back 5 minutes later for another quick hug - assuming at that time I wasn't still restraining them from the manic and violent outbursts) - for six months they slept in my room (little foam pull out beds on the floor) and this helped reassure them I'd still be ther in the morning. They still sleep in my room at times of stress and when they have lots of nightmares. - we use a 'talking button' (Talking products) that I record a lullaby and a short message onto each night so they can keep it by their pillow and play it as many times as they need to reassure themselves that I am still here, still love them - we still use baby monitors; they are reassured by knowing I can hear them - for the first year I sat in their bedrooms reading a book until they went to sleep (actually, for the first 8 months or so I think I was by the bed, holding them in it!) I then progressed to sitting in the doorway - probably another few months, then on the landing for another few months. Now I stay up stairs reading on my bed or hanging washing in the airing cupboard. - I have really worked hard on minimising transitions (at all times of the day but especially bedtimes) so they stay in one place as much as possible (bit tricky when they can't be together but also can't safely be left alone!) and everything we need is prepared in advance. It feels like a military operation sometimes but that seems to help maintain calm. - we follow an absolute routine for the order we do things which seems to help calm them - for months on end, Hurricane could not cope with washing/bathing at all in the evenings so I moved it to the morning and that worked for quite a while - having a chewy snack or drinking a smoothie through a straw before bath time also helped when we were at that stage - I know for some people, doing an action song or rhyme can help (but my two seem to get hyped by this) - one of my boys has a lullaby machine - like the ones you put on a cot but can turn the volume really low and you can set how long it stays on for; he is very easily over stimulated so we have it really quiet and have never used the light display on it - I used to do the 'I'll be back in one minute', then two, then three etc (actually, still do this but can now say 'I'll pop back in for a hug in ten minutes') - often used to lie with them as my body temperature and heart rate would help regulate theirs (much like with a young baby) and they could then calm down - each night at bedtime we talk about how Mummy will still be there in the morning and how I still love them and can keep them safe no matter which room of the house they or I am in - each night we talk about love for each other being in our heart and going round our body with each heartbeat - we then 'choose' something of each other to put into our heart each night as a special reminder that we love each other and we 'give it back' in the morning - so tonight Hurricane chose my smelly feet and I chose his gorgeous golden hair, Tsunami chose my 'sparkly brown eyes' and I chose his freckles - they have a photo of us together on their bedside table so they can remember that we are a family and we will still be one in the morning - I often used to (don't do it so much now - and really ought to now I've remembered it!) tell them one thing about them that I had particularly loved about them that day - when they'd been kind or thoughtful or managed to have a bath!
What a long ramble, sorry! Nothing has been a quick fix and we still have some nights of incredible chaos but we used to have that every night, for three hours a night at least. Lots of our issues - although I didn't realise it for ages - were around sensory stuff so when they were tired things just got so much worse as couldn't bear being touched for a wash, taking clothes off, getting dried... by doing bath time earlier we avoid a lot of those sensory and tiredness problems.
I hope something in that list is maybe worth trying; if not then maybe take encouragement from the fact that our bedtimes used to be truly awful and last for hours on end - and now I very rarely have that; they have learnt a bedtime routine and Hurricane at least can actually take himself off to sleep. Staying asleep? Well, that's a whole new adventure!