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    Joined: Mar 2010
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    Hello everyone,

    I'm new here, and I'm hoping some of you will be able to help. My cousin is a faculty member at Davidson and he's told me all about the place, so I thought it (and this forum) might be a good place to start.

    I have a 9-month-old daughter. I don't know nearly enough to determine whether or not she's gifted at such a young age, but my wife and I do have reason to suspect that she's at least "advanced." That being said, she's presenting us with some unique problems, and we're completely at a loss as to how to deal with them.

    One problem in particular is tantrums. Over the last couple of months, it's become clear to us that she has learned to manipulate us with screeching, flailing, and generally complaining and being obnoxious. The issue we face is that she's apparently old enough to use a tantrum to get her way, but she isn't old enough for us to explain (in words, anyway) why this behavior isn't okay. In the past, we've been quick to change her environment somehow - e.g., new toy, different interaction, food, change of position, change of location - but we're thinking that that might be a mistake on our parts. By catering to her negative behavior, we feel we're only reinforcing it.

    But she's so young! We know that we shouldn't reinforce the tantrums, but at the same time, we know we should be giving her lots of attention and changes of pace (and we do!). We don't want to teach her that tantrums earn her what she wants, but we don't want to teach her that we're ignoring or abandoning her, either.

    We've tried time-out, but she's just so young. She does seem to understand that she's being corrected somehow, but she has so little control over her emotions that she becomes frantic if we leave her in time-out for too long, and she forgets why she's there.

    We just don't know what to do about this, so we come to you kind folks. Have any of you experienced similar behaviors with your own children when they were very young? If so, how did you learn to effectively handle it?

    Any help you offer will be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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    We had a really rough newborn/baby stage. I don't really have any great tips as nothing much worked until DS learned to speak. It's like he had so much to tell me but until he was able to he was just frustrated. I did what you did and gave him changes fairly often. I spend a lot of time holding him and talking to him as I went about my daily routine moving him around the house with me. That seemed to help a little bit.

    She is only 9 months so I don't think doing things to make her happy is a bad thing or is teaching her any bad behavior. She has no way to ask or tell you and she has such a short attention span that changing things up for her and giving her lots of attention is a good thing, in my opinion.

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    Yes, we've experienced tantrums from a very young age. I would first like to say that I come at this from a different perspective. I would never say DD is trying to manipulate me or is trying to be obnoxious but rather that she is trying to express her frustrations at whatever the situation is but lacks the words to explain that or the knowledge to understand why things are happening in a certain way.

    So coming from that perspective here's what we do. Prevention is best. Make sure your kid has enough sleep, isn't hungry, isn't bored, isn't being ignored etc. If there is something you know is going to set off your kid just try and avoid it (around 6 months DD was deathly afraid of a certain toy and would freak out when she saw it so we just avoided showing it to her or would try and introduce it to her very gently so she would know it wouldn't hurt her). Also some toys when taken away ALWAYS caused a tantrum so we either didn't introduce them to her too often or tried to prepare a very, very good distraction when they needed to be taken away.

    FWIW, I think 9 months is WAY too young for time outs. Actually, I tend to believe time-outs are rather ineffective and I don't like the philosophy that separation from parents is a punishment (especially since we already had a number of issues with separation anxiety at that age). Why are you putting her in time outs? Does she understand the reason behind it? I've always heard that it's supposed to be a minute for ever year of age so under a year is too young...

    Honestly, if you're dealing with a gifted child the easiest thing on everyone involved if following their lead. Provide a safe baby-proofed environment where your child can explore and there's not many things that she would need to be corrected on. Our apt is proofed to the nth degree. Granted, DD figured out how to get into a number of things very early on (all those electrical socket covers came off immediately!) so we rearranged a lot of furniture/toys so they weren't in her line of site.

    The one exception was the cat's litter box, it's in the bathroom and we started putting her on the potty at 9 months so it was an issue. We just never let her walk by it so she learned pretty quickly that we always picked her up and carried her past that part of the bathroom. Once she figured that out we let her walk by and just made it clear she shouldn't go near it and she never dos now.

    I'd also suggest to look at what your daughter is trying to tell and don't put age expectations on her (especially if she is advanced). We really had to think outside of the box with DD to help with her tantrums (like early potty training, moving her out of a crib/pack and play very early on, etc.) but things got soooo much better once we followed her lead instead of trying to do the "age appropriate" thing that every recommends.

    I also wanted to add that you might want to look into baby signing. It's helped DD a lot. Unfortunately, she's hit somewhat of a road block because of her fine motor skills but she's knows a lot of signs and will use them to communicate with me.

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    Originally Posted by doctorbighands
    Over the last couple of months, it's become clear to us that she has learned to manipulate us with screeching, flailing, and generally complaining and being obnoxious.

    That's GREAT. She's figured out that she can interact with her environment and that she can make things happen. Believe it or not, that is a wonderful thing. smile

    I wouldn't look at responding to her needs and desires as teaching her that tantrums are a good way to get what she wants. I'd look at responding to her needs as teaching her that she can and should communicate with her parents, who will be responsive and helpful if they can be. Right now, tantrums are how she communicates her strongest desires. No, they're not the most pleasant. But they're all she's got.

    Babies can have strong feelings without any control over them. It's not fair for you to expect her to learn to express herself in other ways right now. I would not attempt that at this point. Babies don't need discipline. They need loving and responsive parents.

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    You could teach her some sign language. My son was having massive tantrums at a very young age and we figured out it was from his frustration due to lack of ability to communicate with us. he had SO much going on upstairs but had no means of conveying it to us.

    I think we were driving him bonkers!

    There are some very basic signs you could use and she's at the perfect age. I saw it work wonders with friend's babies as well. I knew this one little boy, he would walk along behind his mom signing like crazy - he was well under a year old! He was amazing! Good luck!

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    I second the whole idea that it isn't often about manipulation, but just frustration. Imagine how frustrating it must be to know exactly what you want to do, but be unable to do it or even tell anyone else what you want done. Even if it is 'manipulation', if she is smart enough to have a tantrum to get you to do something, she smart enough to abandon that idea when she can do something better.

    Often tantrums in my house were related to tiredness, hunger etc. My oldest in particular can NOT be hungry, and both would often be very tired but not showing any of the signs they were 'supposed' to show. It was much more interesting to be awake!

    Don't worry too much about problems in the future, often the children change or develop and what you thought would be a problem isn't - and the problem is something completely different laugh

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    First of all, thank you all VERY much for the helpful responses, and so quickly, too!

    I feel I might've come across as insensitive or harsh in my first post. I want to stress that I absolutely DO NOT mean to be so, and I try my best to be as understanding and sensitive to her as I can be. That is, after all, why I'm here! Plus, she has an advantage: I, myself, was a "gifted" child; my mother never knew what to do with me, and I feel I missed out on quite a lot as a result. I'm trying really, really hard not to make similar mistakes with my own child. Perhaps I'm being TOO careful sometimes, but again, that's why I'm here trying to work things out. smile

    As frustrated as she is with her inability to communicate effectively with us, we feel equally frustrated in return. We want to be able to let her know that we're here for her for anything she needs, but we'd also like to let her know when she's stepped over a line. It could well be that she's simply too young for us to establish clear "lines" with her; if so, we can adjust our philosophy accordingly. It's just hard to know at what age her tantrums cross the line from "desperately trying to communicate" to being a selfish, spoiled little turkey. In other words, when/how do we know if she IS trying to manipulate us, as opposed to simply attempting communication to overcome a language barrier? To put it yet another way: We want to avoid teaching her that she can have whatever she wants, whenever she wants, if only she complains loudly enough. The trouble is knowing when she's old enough to begin to teach that lesson. I see now, from the feedback from you all, that she's too young for that yet. Thank you for that insight.

    To newmom21c: I agree with the idea of prevention. My daughter, at 6 months, was aware of and afraid of shadows - ours and her own. We took proactive steps to ensure that she avoided having to see them or, at other times, trying to express that they weren't scary. Since then, she's come to accept shadows as normal, and doesn't seem to be frightened any longer.

    As for the time-out situation: It was simply a last-ditch effort by totally lost first-time parents to deal with an ostensibly volatile situation. We have discovered ourselves that it's clearly not the best method of dealing with these issues, and we've stopped attempting it.

    "don't put age expectations on her" - This one's going to be a really tough one, but not for the reason one might expect. I'm sure I don't have to tell all of you, but it's already been hard feeling obligated to explain to others why we're doing things differently with her than they did with their children. People around you, especially relatives, have that expectation that "their way is the right way," and since we seem to be deviating from their ideas of "normal," it's caused heartache already. It's going to take serious adjustment by myself and my wife. We're not the most "mainstream" folks to begin with, though, so we'll pull through. smile

    To no5no5: I like the way you think, and I agree with you entirely. I am elated at the thought of my daughter interacting with the world around her, especially so effectively. Kudos to her for discovering, at such a young age, how to manage to get what she's after, right?

    As to her need for loving and responsive parents: That's what we're trying our hearts out to be for her! We're new at this, and having an advanced child for your first one is a particularly challenging curveball, but we're really trying. In the end, even our pathetic attempts at correction are our way of caring for her and being responsive.

    Several of you mentioned sign language, and I'm glad you did. My wife has been an advocate of baby sign since her pregnancy, and we've both been attempting to teach her some rudimentary signs ("eat," "more," "no," "yes," and "up" spring immediately to mind). There are clear indications that she understands the signs, but she's been reluctant to sign back to us very often. She'll get there. Anyway, I have a very close relative who has been skeptical of signing, despite my wife explaining the benefits. It's good to have some reinforcement from you folks on that point.

    Thank you again for all of your help. If you have further suggestions/advice/wisdom, please keep it coming!

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    Originally Posted by GeoMamma
    ...if she is smart enough to have a tantrum to get you to do something, she smart enough to abandon that idea when she can do something better.

    This is actually an extremely comforting idea, and one that hadn't dawned on me at all. Thank you!! laugh

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    Originally Posted by doctorbighands
    I feel I might've come across as insensitive or harsh in my first post.

    Not at all. You sound like every new dad parent I've ever met: concerned, clueless, and loving. grin Welcome to the board.

    Last edited by no5no5; 03/26/10 04:55 PM.
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    Originally Posted by no5no5
    Originally Posted by doctorbighands
    I feel I might've come across as insensitive or harsh in my first post.

    Not at all. You sound like every new dad I've ever met: concerned, clueless, and loving. grin Welcome to the board.

    No doubt about those. smile

    Thank you.

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