My son – who is my second child – recently turned two, and just seems to cry really easily. I try to be patient and give him ‘loving guidance’ but it seems that as soon as anything happens that he doesn’t like, he just bursts into tears. I’m afraid I’m getting a bit sick of this, and I don’t remember my daughter being like it, though she was weaned by his age and he’s still breastfeeding at least a couple of times a day and once or twice in the night. Have I made him into a miserable person by mollycoddling him for too long? LLL Member
Response: First things first, he is a completely different child with a different personality and different thought processes so he will never react the same way as your daughter! It’s more likely that he is just needing a bit more time to process things and his instant reaction is to cry although it’s actually frustration because he doesn’t understand why. He will see you as parents react one way, and his sister a completely different way. It may be that your daughter is allowed to do things that he can’t yet? Two and three are really difficult ages in the growth process where the world and surroundings really stand out, with lots of ‘NOs’ as your son starts to see boundaries and attempts to push them. The comfort you continue to give your son through breastfeeding is giving him time to be calm and reflect on things….. I suspect you could have an even angrier toddler on your hands if you didn’t have this as a tool! It is tiring and wearing but just hang on in there with the gentle encouragement and reassurance. It may help to explain your reasons at the time? Well done, you are doing a great job as a mum. Victoria, LLL Leatherhead
Response: Does your little boy get really upset and clingy in new environments, different sounds/stimulation? It could be that he has stimulation overload and feeds more often as this makes you stop and secure his environment making him feel safe. If you have baby massage classes in your area these can help however careful instruction would be needed to ensure that he was not overstimulated. Most Sure Start centres run then for little or no cost. Laura, LLL Oxford
Response: I think it’s just the way children are. My partner is very up and down, and our daughter seems to be the same. My emotions are generally a bit more predictable! There are times when our daughter is more emotional than others because of what’s going on (tiredness, illness, too much going on etc.) and then sometimes it’s something that lasts a short time and then is gone. In time you start to learn the triggers (though not always!) and so that helps as you can prepare in advance or avoid, depending on what is needed. Two is the age children start to learn so much, yet are still so dependent, they see so much they can’t have or do and they are just beginning to learn that they are a separate person from mum. I think at those times when all this becomes too much, breastfeeding is just what’s needed to calm everyone down, reconnect and then try to sort the issue out when everyone feels better. Cheryl, UK
Response: My three year old is a very emotional boy and always has been. When he doesn’t cry he surprises himself. He was able to communicate effectively at an early age so it’s even more infuriating when he shuts down. I now ask him to use words instead of crying and most of the time he just says he’s scared. His little brother is breastfed so we devised a booby cuddle for him which he asks for when things really get to him. I’m sure people think I’ve mollycoddled him too but it’s his personality and development. He’s a worrier and shy. His brother on the other hand is confident and very social. Nothing you can do to change it; just be there for him whenever he needs you. Emma, UK
Response: I would like to share that I have had not one, but two ‘mollycoddled’ sons. I firmly believe that all the years of feeding them, holding them, listening to them and just being there as a constant, is why they are now 14 and 16 year old young men, who are pretty stable. We have had a few teenage storms to ride, but not many and I see the attention I gave them being given now by them to others, with just as much devotion—and that is really something to behold. Keep trusting in your relationship with your son—you know him like no one else. Benaifer, LLL Chilterns
Edited by Emma Gardner.
This Mum to Mum column was originally published in issue 204 of Breastfeeding Matters (Nov/ Dec 2014).