Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Fussy toddler will change and grow, say experienced parents
For Monday's mom of a fussy toddler, proof she's not alone:
Anonymous: For Maryland:
Hey, my kid is a whiny jerk too. Want to have a playdate? At least you'll feel better. (Also, he's much better than he was three months ago, and his Perfect Cousin is much worse. See how things are a season from now.)
Carolyn: Can't speak for Maryland, but I feel better.
Edmonton: Re: Maryland: I had the child no one liked, did not get invited back for playdates, etc. He is now 25 and one of the most social and charming young men you could meet. My family jokes that I traded him for another child when he was in his teens. This did not happen without years of counseling, being his advocate at every step in school and a lot of hard work learning to parent him differently from my other son. It was all worth it. He learned early to take responsibility for his own life and happiness.
Carolyn: Knowing about a happy ending can be a lifeline, thanks.
Anonymous 2: To Maryland: Give yourself a break. Cut yourself some slack for not feeling overjoyed every time you are with your child, and find someone you trust to watch your child and get some time to yourself.
I have four kids, and I've learned that I should take no credit for the easy ones and no blame for the more challenging ones. They are who they are — your job is to help them get along in the world and learn to like themselves for who they are. Those parents who think they have all the answers just got lucky to have a kid who plays by the rules.
Carolyn: Or fits their expectations. Otherwise, weeping with agreement, thank you.
Anonymous 3: So what if you know your kid is delayed — just hope he eventually catches up? Our son's social skills are lacking because of health issues. Is he getting better? Yes. Is he doing it fast enough to succeed socially? No. Will it be different later? Hopefully. But in the meantime, it's hard to see other kids tell him they don't want to play with him.
Carolyn: Don't just hope, get help. Your pediatrician, again, should be the best resource. Another is your child's preschool/day care. If he isn't in either of these, and if his health problems wouldn't rule it out, then consider enrolling him even for just a few hours a week.
Still, one of the key (and toughest) things to do is to keep your cool. Just as the days with little kids can seem endless, the problems can seem catastrophic. And then, suddenly, it's two years later and the "huge problem" is tamed or even forgotten. That's not always true, but it's common enough that helping a delayed child demands two approaches that seem mutually exclusive: active intervention plus all-is-well attitude.
Oh — and all kids struggle, and it's always heartbreaking. But kids don't obsess over every little obstacle, so neither should their parents. Kids look to parents, in fact, to gain confidence that the latest struggle isn't the end of the world.