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  1. #1
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    Default Is this normal toddler behaviour?*long post*

    My DS is 17 months old, full of beans and starting to get a bit bored at home, so lately I've been trying out a few 'structured' activities for the first time- storytime at the library, toddler music and swimming lessons, based on what he seems to love doing at home.

    Although I expected him to be his usual active-non-stop-toddler self at the above activities, I've noticed quite a big difference in his behaviour compared to the other kids (same age group) and it's got me a bit concerned.
    While the other kids seem to mostly participate and focus on what is happening, and try to do what is asked of them, my DS is the fully rambuctious ball of energy who won't sit still for even 5 seconds, throws the instruments away and speed-crawls or toddles off to play with the pram/the door handle/pat the younger babies/check out what all the other parents are doing/try and reach something he shouldn't. I calmly redirect and try to grab his attention- at the music classes I am on the floor with him, singing and doing the activities, playing the instruments that he refuses to touch- I might grab his attention for 5 seconds but then he is off and starts twisting away, yelling if I try to stop him. At swimming he is constantly trying to push my hands off him (trying to be independent), climbing out of the pool, not doing any of the activities and just generally trying to do his own thing and hating me trying to contain him. It's not an issue with not liking water as we go to the pool 2-3 times a week and he is uber confident in the water, goes up and down waterslides himself, we've taught him to climb in and out of the pool etc.

    So my question is... should I be concerned? Is this normal? I know I shouldn't compare him to other children but it's a pretty obvious and major difference. Do I keep trying with the structured activities or just wait until he is a bit older? Is there an element of self-selection at these classes where the parents with hurricane toddlers like mine stop going and those with more focused ones continue and I'm therefore comparing him to a select group of unusually well-behaved toddlers??
    I will add that I otherwise have zero concerns about his development and he is a very bright and happy little bub. But there is a family history of ADHD and that is lurking in the back of my mind...

  2. #2
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    My son is only 5 months so I can't comment on toddler behaviour from that point of view but I did used to teach infants and kids swimming and there is always a big difference between kids in the water and it's almost always due to how much the parents like water and how confident they are as a result. It's generally a good thing as a good teacher will have an easier time with a more excited kid, the terrified ones are hard to teach because they will never relax their bodies enough to float.

    I'd also be wary of pathologising his behaviour so early on, I work in mental health and as a teenager was medicated for ADHD, and I look back and think so many more questions should have been asked, strategies tried, before medication.

    The important rule of thumb with any mental health concern is: is the person/child able to enjoy and participate in life. If the answer is yes and their behaviour isn't restricting them significantly in their life then you don't need to be too concerned. So I'd say if your son just has more hurricane energy than the others then perhaps stick to more physical sports and activities to use the energy up.

    Also is it possible the other toddlers are slightly different ages, and perhaps have different routines (like maybe others are quieter in the mornings or have just had naps etc?)

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  4. #3
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    I think it's totally normal.

    I think he would be much better at the playground or play centre than trying to sit him down to do structured activities.

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  6. #4
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    The other children sound abnormal!

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  8. #5
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    Sounds totally normal to me. My DS is now 4 but I took him to a range of activities at that age and the difference between all the children is amazing. I also have a lot of friends with boys similar age and they are so so different, whilst one kid will be clingy to mummy and quiet and whingy, another will be climbing the walls and running across a road the moment his mother takes her eyes off him. I also think around the 18mth-2.5 yr age bracket toddlers can be very difficult, and be totally different from one day to the next. I seem to recall having issues with my DS in swimming lessons at that time, it was hard work (and he'd been happily attending since 6 months old so was very uncharacteristic behaviour). He would throw tantrums and refuse to participate. He grew out of it, and is now really well behaved at swimming and kindy sports. But is a boy and has his days where it's far more fun to much around with the child next to him than listen to what the teacher has to say.

    Try not to stress. If it's wearing you out, maybe reduce the structured activities to one per week only (ie swimming, which I think is important for consistency), and take up more the next term or when you feel ready to try again. Sometimes it's easier to just take them to a beach/park and let them run wild than try to force them into structured activities as they have VERY short attention spans at this age. But I do think there is benefit to some structured activities too 😊

    IMO it's way too early to be thinking about behavioural issues, he's still learning boundaries. But if you're feeling things aren't right in your gut then maybe get the opinion of a child health professional.

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    I don't think that the other kids sound abnormal at all! Neither does your child.
    My DD at 18 months was doing music classes and swimming lessons and always followed directions and would stay seated with me (still does at 2.5) BUT I think she's more the exception than the norm. She's very reserved and overly cautious so I think it's just part of her personality.
    I'd say 70% of the kids in her music class are running around squealing and sometimes DD joins in but the teacher is very good at redirecting that.
    So in conclusion, I'd say your child's behaviour is normal 😊

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  12. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Enough View Post
    The other children sound abnormal!
    Haha!
    See, this is what I thought initially, but my DS is clearly the odd one out!! The classes are also mostly girls- only one other boy. So maybe boys just generally have more energy at this age?
    I'm not worried about, or thinking that my son might have ADHD just because he is a busy toddler- just don't want to miss anything that could be a red flag for later on/school age iykwim. And due to my line of work I am almost definitely at risk of reading too much into normal child behaviour /looking for signs of pathology so I have to remind myself of that 😉.

    I'd happily not do anything structured with him but we would spend 2-3 hours a day outdoors/at the park or playground to try and entertain him/wear him out and it's just something else I thought he might like and breaks up the day a bit. I think perhaps he is just not ready yet.

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    Sounds exactly like my 17 month old DS

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    Adoralicious  (30-10-2015)

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    I could have written your post word for word. My ds1 is nearly 2 and I've stopped taking him to any structured activities as he has zero interest in sitting still and just wants to run around trying to open cupboards etc. Like you I also worry at times that it's not normal but also have no other concerns with him so I'm trying to relax and just accept that he doesn't enjoy structured play and at this age he has a short attention span preferring to play with lots of different toys.
    I just go to lots of playgroups where he can do what he wants. When they have a sit down bit at the end I don't bother trying to make him focus as he will just have tantrum and just let him carry on playing. Fingers crossed he's normal!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adoralicious View Post
    Haha!
    See, this is what I thought initially, but my DS is clearly the odd one out!! The classes are also mostly girls- only one other boy. So maybe boys just generally have more energy at this age?.
    Ummm yes!!! At the risk of over generalising, boys generally do have a lot more energy, need to move their bodies more, can take longer to learn and have shorter attention spans. Obviously a massive generalisation and there are exceptions as well as extremes. This does not stop at toddlerhood!

    My swim teacher actually separated boys and girls toddler classes for a while, (sort of intentional, sort of not) as they are so different. DS now has both boys and girls in his class and I notice how the girls all sit nicely and do as asked whilst the boys spit water at each other and giggle and struggle to sit still. Our teacher is very good at pulling them into line. But then remembering back to my own school days,... this is pretty much how it goes!! They have soooo much energy and if you have a super active one it can seem impossible to wear them out/calm them down. I think you're doing all the right things.

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