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Thread: A Very Reluctant 4 yr old

  1. #1
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    Dec 2008
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    Default A Very Reluctant 4 yr old

    I am at the end of my patience with my 4 yr 2 mo old and his extreme attachment to breastfeeding. I feel like I should have weaned him when my milk dried up during pregnancy. I have been tandeming for 9.5 months and my health is suffering because as much as I try to limit him he is extremely persistant. I haven't even been successful nightweaning him, we all cosleep because he is has some developmental challenges and won't sleep by himself, and when I refuse to nurse him he cries so in order to save all our sleep (I'm already sleep deprived from the baby nursing) I just give in. How do you wean a child gradually if they are so persistant and nagging you all the time about it? Today I feel like my milk supply is low and he is complaining he is thirsty but he won't drink anything! I feel like we're spiraling downwards, he needs to eat more and drink more, but would rather nurse. He knows I will give in to him so he just waits. I am completely afraid that weaning him cold turkey will cause such emotional and psychical turmoil for him that I won't be able to do it! This is not how I wanted our breastfeeding relationship to end! Smack some sense in to me that weaning is not going to destory him or me and we'll get through it!
    Josiah born at home 1/26/2009, 50 months and counting , and Adlai born 6/26/12

  2. #2
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    Default Re: A Very Reluctant 4 yr old

    mmmm. I am fine with weaning. But I think it definitely SHOULD be a process. And it's not fair to your child to go cold turkey because you have not put boundaries in place for him. Do that. A 4 year old having a fit, especially at home is no where near the end of the world. And sometimes that is what they need to find and respect the boundary lines. Your nursing relationship with him is just that. It's a relationship. So don't wield him powerless by taking it all away. But DO demand respect for yourself and insist on nursing manners and boundaries. I do think that especially now with the baby they should be easy enough to carve out. And is he in preschool yet? Is there time away?
    Here are appropriate boundaries that IMO SHOULD be in place by now.
    No nursing outside the home ever unless there is an accident where there is sever physical pain on the part of the child.
    Tantrums are NEVER rewarded with nursing.
    If you want to nurse you come ask nicely. You do not stick your hand down my shirt.
    If I am busy I tell you that and we agree to meet on the couch in x number of minutes.
    Now I was trying to be done by 4. But we weren't done until 4.5. And a big one for us was nightweaning. And we still co-sleep with him now and he's 7. Is there a way that your DH and your son can co-sleep in one space while you co-sleep with the baby in another? Because that is what we did. When DJ was a baby we co-slept in a different space from my DH. But at 3.9 years when he started Pre-school he started co-sleeping with my DH in a separate space. And guess what? STTN AND nightweaning all at the same time! Because if they can't smell the milk the don't wake up. I would do that first. Like NOW. And then I would have a family meeting with your DH and your child and talk to him about how the baby NEEDS your milk all the time. But that he is a big boy and doesn't. So that you are going to have some set times during the day that you nurse and ask him what sessions are most important to him? So he feels like he is part of the decision making process. But do that AFTER you stop sleeping with him. Boundaries are important. And if you don't reward the nagging it stops. Like you can just acknowledge his feelings and say "I understand that you are upset that you aren't getting your way. But if you can't stop complaining you are going to have to go do that in your room. Come back out as soon and you feel ready."
    That's the greatest thing about waiting to wean until you have language. Getting to communicate clearly in a way that you both understand. And having them be part of the process.

    Way too lazy for formula

  3. #3
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    Default Re: A Very Reluctant 4 yr old

    Also I don't know if you are already doing this but We were talking about weaning and big boys not needing to nurse for like a YEAR before we actually weaned. Which was good because it created some ambivalence on his part. And YOU could really be talking about how no one is nursing in Kindergarten. Which is next year right? So yeah. FWIW we also had a weaning party. And we talked A LOT about that before we got there. It was the carrot that I dangled. And I let him pick the place and it was really a graduation of sorts. He was very very proud of himself. And he still remembers it.

    Way too lazy for formula

  4. #4
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    Default Re: A Very Reluctant 4 yr old

    I think with an older child, you talk, talk, talk, and reason, reason, reason, and you set limits that you and the child can live with.

    I agree that having your DH co-sleep with the 4 year old for a while, while you and the baby separate out, might be a good way to nightwean.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  5. #5
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    Default Re: A Very Reluctant 4 yr old

    i totally agree with djsmom about setting boundaries. there is no reason a 4 year old should get to nag you into giving in to ANYTHING, including weaning. to me, this is just a parenting issue, not a breastfeeding issue. if you don't nip this nagging/tantrum thing in the bud with breastfeeding, when will you do it? easier said than done, i know.
    DS1 6/7/11
    DS2 10/29/13

    Nursing, pumping, cloth-diapering, babywearing, working professor mama with the awesomest SAHD ever.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: A Very Reluctant 4 yr old

    Yeah my DH has been getting on me about boundaries for a LONG time. It really is quite pathetic on my part. He has a lot of Asperger like characteristics and I used breastfeeding as a parenting tool far too much. I stopped nursing in public a long time ago so we set the boundaries for outside of the house, I just had trouble when we were just sitting at home everyday not to mention he woke up to nurse multiple times during the night for years, so I was always so drained of energy and motivation. This whole experience has really developed me as a person, and I will definitely do better with my 2nd. We tried to nightwean a few weeks ago with giving him his own room and having DH sleep with him, but neither one of them were getting much sleep, so we didn't know what to do but to let him back in our room (on his twin bed next to ours). I definitely want it to be a process, but he has trouble understanding things, and communicating his feelings, when I say 'you are a big boy now and don't need 'nuns' all the time anymore' he doesn't acknowledge that he understands what I'm even saying. He just keeps saying 'I love nuns'. So maybe I just need to figure out how to get through to him in a way he understands. We don't get much time apart, and I am considering homeschooling. Thanks everyone for helping me understand how important it is to keep this a process and not stop altogether, which is what I wanted to do from the beginning.
    Josiah born at home 1/26/2009, 50 months and counting , and Adlai born 6/26/12

  7. #7
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    Default Re: A Very Reluctant 4 yr old

    If verbal communication is a problem, how about making a picture book? "Here is you when you were a baby. (Picture of him as a baby) Here you are now. Look how big you are! (Picture of him now) At night, brush our teeth. (Picture of him brushing his teeth). We get into pajamas. (Picture of him in pajamas) And we all sleep. (Picture of everyone in bed). The sun goes to sleep. (Picture of sun, setting) Mommy goes to sleep! Baby goes to sleep! Nuns go to sleep! Everyone goes to sleep! And they sleep all night long. (More pictures of everyone sleeping) In the morning, when the sun comes up, everyone wakes up! (Pictures of everyone awake) The children have nuns and then everyone has breakfast. (Picture of breakfast)"
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  8. #8
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    Default Re: A Very Reluctant 4 yr old

    Bribes (you can nurse or you can have a cookie) and father-son camping trips? They say don't talk about what you DON'T want a child to do, but what you DO want them to do. So think of incompatible behaviors to breastfeeding that you can encourage. When the baby nurses, he should ride a bike, or have a snack or some other pleasant activity that replaces the undesired activity. Final thought is that if you are at the end of your rope, I'd bet he's coming down with something or about to make a developmental leap. Only in hindsight to we realize there was a reason for whatever behavior was driving us to the edge. So hang in there.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: A Very Reluctant 4 yr old

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mommal View Post
    "Here is you when you were a baby. (Picture of him as a baby) Here you are now. Look how big you are! (Picture of him now) At night, brush our teeth. (Picture of him brushing his teeth). We get into pajamas. (Picture of him in pajamas) And we all sleep. (Picture of everyone in bed). The sun goes to sleep. (Picture of sun, setting) Mommy goes to sleep! Baby goes to sleep! Nuns go to sleep! Everyone goes to sleep! And they sleep all night long. (More pictures of everyone sleeping) In the morning, when the sun comes up, everyone wakes up! (Pictures of everyone awake) The children have nuns and then everyone has breakfast. (Picture of breakfast)"
    Great story! I made one for my 18 mo yesterday and I think it is helping. I added a bit about toucans and bears going to sleep too, since she loves pictures of animals. My parents thought it was a hilarious bit of propaganda.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Default Re: A Very Reluctant 4 yr old

    Hey mama. I don't have experience with weaning but I have loads of experience with children on the spectrum and will try to offer suggestions from that angle. As I'm sure you know, one of the hallmarks of Aspergers is resistance to change. Weaning is a huge change. Also, although he may be 4 in age, he likely presents as emotionally younger. So, even though he's 4, he could be closer to an older toddler emotion-wise. PP advice to use picture cues is right on target. In fact, you can create a Social Story for him to help aid in the process. A SS follows a particular format and is always presented in a positive, personalized (sleeping toucans!) way. Here is a brief Wikipedia overview: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Stories

    Also, people on the spectrum tend to respond well to written-out schedules and plans. If you break down weaning step by step, with corresponding visuals (because spectrum or not, he's 4 and most 4yo respond well to visuals), short-term reinforcers and long-term goal/reward - with his input along the way - you can really set things in motion. Make the steps initially easy so he finds success. Also, consistency, consistency, consistency (reward and stand your ground consistently) and as mentioned above, boundaries and rules (kids on spectrum also respond well to concrete rules, btw). Again, corresponding visual reminders can help if you feel he's not "getting it."

    Finally, a replacement for nursing may help. This would depend on why he nurses and figuring out what he can do to fulfill that need in an alternate way (don't forget to get his input!). Use this in conjunction with the schedule and reinforcers, as well as written in the social story (eg, instead of nursing I can draw a picture or give mom and dad a big hug).

    I hope that helps. Good luck mama!

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