Toddlers with Object Obsession: Swiffers Rule Our World
My son is obsessed with his swiffer. He wants to swiffer the walls, the dogs, and the carpeting. He wants to climb up the stairs with it, taking it into his crib, and refuses to share it with anyone. I am wondering if this is an actual diagnosis: toddler object obsession. It can result in extreme tantrums or serious love fests (the former when I remove the swiffer from his kung-fo grip, the latter when I present him with it). My dad has even shortened the handle on it to make it toddler size, enhancing the delight of using it!
How to handle toddlers with object obsession? A few things we’ve tried:
1) Hide it.
As with all things that bring on tantrums, the less the child sees the object, the less he can obsess over it. The swiffer lives in our pantry in the kitchen. I should say lived as now it lives in the basement. After many episodes of toddler-running-to-pantry-to-get-it and then hitting-dog-mama-stove-etc, it was time to remove the accessibility of the weapon!
2) Ration it.
My dad comes over and gets out all the “fun” toys–swiffer, vacuum, anything that can move easily and make noise. J loves his Baba. Swiffer gets rationed naturally then, as it usually gets a few times a week play time with my dad. Also, by rationing the obsession object, it stays a good distraction as it’s fresh and not the every-day object. I’m hoping it will temper J’s love of the swiffer as well!
3) Why giving in hasn’t worked.
Letting J have unfettered play time with a toy he abuses his environment with hasn’t proven to be a successful parenting model. Especially when he wants to crawl up the stairs while holding it, and then brandish it above his head once he reaches the staircase landing. If your child is obsessed with playing with an object (without allowing you to direct him or her), you have know the simultaneous frustration and relief that a distraction of this nature can offer. It’s great that the child has something that transfixes him, but it’s terrible that he wants to play with it in his way without regard to safety. Our poor dogs!