Category Archives: Crankypants

Q&A: why do 4-year-olds suck so much?

Melanie writes:

"Why do 4-year-olds suck so much? My daughter is like a mini-tyrant who throws a tantrum every time I say anything. A-ny-thing. I offer her food–she freaks out. I tell her I love her–she freaks out. It's making me feel like a crap mother. The only "good" thing is that all the other kids in her class are doing the same thing. All the moms hang around after dropoff and just complain about how mean our kids are now. Why? And how long is this going to last?"

So publishing this letter is completely self-serving. My own 4-year-old is also acting like this, to a certain extent. It's definitely some Jekyll and Hyde behavior, because he can be the funniest, sweetest, most loving little sprite, but then in an instant he just wigs out at some imagined or minor injury.

It's like living with one of the Real Housewives.

I remember when my older son was going through this. It was milder with him (because of his personality), but I absolutely noticed the moodiness and a sort of brittle quality to him and the other kids in his class.

The other thing I noticed (and the other parents noticed, too) that made me think about what was going on developmentally was how weird the kids got about social things. Birthday parties were crazy, because the kids would get all excited, and then at the last minute scream and cry that they didn't want to go. It seemed like they were becoming aware of themselves as social beings, and this was stressing them out.

So I wonder if this isn't part of it–the boundaries. In order to establish and enforce their own boundaries, which are confusing the heck out of them, they need something to push (flail wildly) against. And that's you.

Now, bear in mind that this is all just out of my head (ahem) based on observing two sets of kids go through this. But we'd all probably do well to get the Ames & Ilg book on 4-year-olds ("Wild and Wonderful") to see what they observed with hundreds of kids.

Now, what I do know is that this phase doesn't last forever. And it really has nothing to do with you–you just bear the brunt of it because you're the one your child feels most comfortable with. So if you can try to stay above it and know that it's something your kid is trying to work out, and not a battle that you have to emotionally invest in, you might be able to come out of it with less scarring.

Tales of 4-year-olds? Tales of run-ins with 4-year-olds? Assurance that 4-year-olds do grow up and become less prickly?

Q&A: tantrums from end of school year?

Molly writes:

"My oldest son turned 5 last Tuesday; his kid birthday party was the Saturday before, and we got together with family for dinner and cake on his actual birthday.  On Monday (the day before his birthday), he had a rough day with the nanny and even turned over some chairs in the living room (!).  Every day since then, except Sunday, he has had an angry outburst where he ends up moving and overturning furniture. Twice he had been sent to his room when the behavior started, and moved his brother's crib, then turned the rocking chair and ottoman on their sides.

This is totally freaking me out! He's definitely a challenging kid, but has never behaved like this before. We are reacting more calmly than we did at first, and things seem to be getting better, but I am still very concerned.  Have you ever heard of behavior like this that comes on so suddenly? I am wondering if it's a combination of sadness that his birthday is over and the transition of the end of school (and he knows that he will be at a new school next year, which may be causing him stress).  At what point is this a problem that we need some help with?"

My first thought was that Molly's son may have eaten a lot of things at the birthday party and during his birthday week that could cause these sudden tantrums–artificial colors or flavors or sweeteners are big culprits in sudden bad behavior. The chemicals just overwhelm the kids and they can't control their behavior.

But I checked with Molly, and he didn't eat anything he doesn't normally eat.

So that makes me think it's the sadness from the end of the school year and fear of going to a new school in the fall. This can be really, really hard for kids. they get used to a routine, and to the friends in their classes, and then it just stops. And the summer routine can be too much fun or kind of boring for kids, so it's a toss-up about how they'll react once they're really into the summer routine. But at this point, all they're feeling is that things are changing, and they're not going to do the same things every day anymore.

Loss is hard enough for adults to deal with. Kids need extra help. And it's important to acknowledge their loss and not try to distract them or cheer them up before you acknowledge how real their pain is.

It's probable that your child (under the age of 10 or so) doesn't even really know how to label the emotions as loss. So you might need to instigate the conversations about the end of the school year. Without leading your child ("Boy, you're really going to miss your friends, aren't you?") you can open up the topic of not seeing them every day anymore, or not going to school anymore and just ask how it makes your child feel.

Being able to talk about it may be enough help to end the tantrums, or you may just need to ride them out. As usual, the feelings that cause the tantrums aren't wrong, but hurting people or animals and causing physical destruction is not allowed.

Are any of the rest of you going through this? My older one is thrilled for school to be over in a  few weeks, but my younger one is feeling a little strange about school ending. Molly's son and mine can't be the only ones feeling bad about things ending.

Q&A: twins, anger after naps, and loving your kids the way they need it

Anonymous writes:

"My twin boys are turning three, but this is not about being three -because it's been an issue all year long.  Of all the things I've
grappled with, some have gotten better, some have gotten worse, but
this one stays the same: right after nap is the worst part of my day. 

One of my boys wakes up from his nap crying incoherently, and
nothing I do soothes him.  He wants to be held, but he doesn't actually
seem to derive comfort from me: he doesn't cuddle or even relax his
body – he thrashes around, or holds himself rigidly a little away from
me.  He doesn't want me to sing, he doesn't want me to ask him what's
wrong, he doesn't want me to offer him anything.

This can go on for half an hour or more, if all I do is keep trying
to comfort him.  Meanwhile his brother is a little groggy and cranky
too, and would love to be held for a minute in any case, but certainly
gets more anxious to be held when he sees his brother hogging my lap. 
If I try to hold them at the same time, they both get angrier.  If I
try to put one down and pick up the other, they both get angrier.  Even
though I know it will be over sooner or later, it's awful for me. 

Some of my most ridiculous moments as a parent have been in this
scenario.  Like the time we were at my in-laws, and the boys were
napping upstairs but I needed to bring them downstairs when they woke
up, and neither one would walk down the stairs OR let me carry the
other one downstairs first.  So I put one on each knee and bumped down
the stairs on my tush.  It took a long time.

Anyway.  Sometimes reading a book works; at first he's still
screaming, but as the book goes on he gets interested despite himself
and quiets down.  But often he goes right back to crying when the book
is over.  The only thing that really works to distract him is to ask
him a question where he really needs to think, either to remember
something, or to work out the answer.  He immediately stops crying and
answers in a normal voice. 

So my biggest question is <i>why don't I do that
first.</i>  I mean, granted, I can't always think of a good
enough question.  But the fact is, it's also not my first instinct.  I
want to comfort him, even though I know he won't accept it from me, and
I keep trying.

On some level, I should understand all this.  He has always been
intense, very reactive to distress, just wired in general.  Sleep has
been especially tough for him, and probably he's just disoriented or
doesn't feel good when he first wakes up.  And physically he's a bit
rigid too.  He was born with torticollis, and although it's gone now,
some overall stiffness remains.  It's not just me he won't relax

He also had colic and undiagnosed reflux, and I spent most of the
first year of his life knowing I was powerless to comfort him.  I
actually started to believe I was the one making him miserable, because
he would be smiling or laughing with someone else, until he saw me and
cried to be held.  He always wanted me to hold him, but he would keep
crying in my arms.  At the same time, I felt so guilty for hardly ever
being able to hold his brother.

So I know these half-hour episodes bring back a lot of that anxiety
and sadness for me.  I'm guessing, also, that I've been interpreting
his rejection of physical comfort from me as a rejection of my love,
when it's really nothing of the kind.  If that's true, then what I'm
doing is to keep on trying to make him accept my love on my terms.  Not
what I want to do at all, and yet I can't help it.  Physical comfort is
a big part of the language of love for me. 

How common is it for a child to wake up inconsolable like this? 
How do I break free of this perception of my relationship with him that
was set in infancy?  And how do I learn to give and accept love in the
language my child needs, not the one I need?

p.s. I know this problem will probably go away when he drops his nap, but I'm
really hoping that doesn't happen anytime soon.  I don't think my son
is capable of sleeping more than 10 hours in a row, so it seems to me
he still needs the nap.  And in any case, I think the underlying
emotional issues will still be there, if not so blatantly."

Yet another problem that could be solved with a Trained Monkey Assistant. I'm just saying.

Seriously, though, it sounds to me like you've always been the one he could trust. He could cry and be sad and angry at the world or his intensity or his pain and know that it was safe to be upset in your arms. So you got the release while other people got the smiles.

And, you're right that the most immediate manifestation that's causing problems for you is the nap wake-up, but the emotional issues aren't going to go away just because he drops his nap. There's the issue of why he gets so upset in the first place, and also the mismatch you feel between what you're offering and what he seems to need.

I think it's super-common in our culture to want everything to be OK. And we're really, REALLY not comfortable with expressions of anger (or distress, but mostly anger). Especially from women and children. So you combine those things and we've been trained to try to comfort babies and fix things for them.

It sounds to me like your son is angry. And that he's got a lot of that anger stored in his body, and it triggers when he wakes up, because that's kind of a groggy, pooky time before your brain engages fully. Which is also why asking him a question to engage his brain then makes him forget about crying.

I think you don't think to ask a question first every time, because you're trained to try to comfort, because we all think a crying child needs to be comforted (emotionally, but also physically).

Maybe over the long-term, though, what would give him the most comfort is working at it from the other direction by letting him be angry and helping him express and release that anger. If he's encouraged to express his anger enough, eventually he'll get it out of his system enough that it doesn't overwhelm him physically when he wakes up.

Then, if he does have more anger temporarily and go into a post-nap crying jag, you can use the deep-question technique to stop his crying and get him some space by engaging his brain, but know that he needs more release.

I would also use this as a time to think about whether you were allowed to be angry when you needed to. If you weren't, maybe you can use your son's experience to help allow yourself to be, too. Maybe it's just my own experience with this exact issue (and my second son), but it seems like sometimes feeling such a strong disconnect and not knowing how to bridge it can expose needs in ourselves that were never met, and once those become obvious the connection takes care of itself.

Are there parents of multiples or closely-spaced siblings who could talk about dealing with the feelings that you're not meeting your kids' needs because there are two (or more) of them and only one of you? I feel this way sometimes as a mom of two, but know it's nothing like having had two from the get-go. Anonymous definitely needs some support.

Whoa: Mercury in HFCS

First that whole insane peanut contamination thing, and now this:

Study Finds High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury

First off, thanks to Amy (soon to be Dr. Amy, PhD) for tipping me off to this.

Second, the or or whatever-the-HFCS-Marketing-Board-calls-themselves people can bite me. Hard. (We talked about those beyond ridiculous commercials promoting HFCS a few months ago here. If you are not in a mood for one of my rants, don't read that post.)

Third, I had a Dr. Pepper yesterday. A full-on, real Dr. Pepper with HFCS. It tasted good, if shocking because it had been a long time. But you know what? It wasn't worth it. If I'm going to take a chance with my body and future reproductive capability by ingesting mercury, it's going to be in the form of delicious, delicious tuna sashimi.

Now, if you read the full article (and I hope you do–I shouldn't be your primary news source any more than Jon Stewart is), you'll see that there's definitely technology to make mercury-free HFCS. So there are two ways to avoid the mercury contamination: 1) Stop ingesting HFCS, and 2) Push back and make contact with the comapnies that make your favorite HFCS-laden foods and call them and ask for mercury-free HFCS. If enough people push back, they'll do it. (Remember when goldfish crackers still had trans-fats? Consumer pushed back and now they don't.)

What's your take on this? Is it going to affect what you buy and eat? And which would you choose: sushi or soda?

Q&A: 18-month sleep regression redux

I got a question from Kelli a few weeks ago, and then an almost identical question from Kyo a couple of days ago, about the 18-month sleep regression.

If you all recall (and those of you with kids over the age of 18 months probably do), there's a big developmental spurt that happens right in the 18-21-month corridor, so many kids who've been fine sleepers suddenly stop sleeping (either at nighttime or for naps or both) around 18 months and it lasts for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

It completely and utterly bites, and parents can feel blindsided and insulted and very very angry about it.

So, what Kelli and Kyo were asking was what they should do about it. Their kids were waking up in the middle of the night either once or a bunch of times, and they were having varying degrees of success with getting them back to sleep using various methods. The big concern seemed to be whether they were setting themselves up for later problems if they did things like nurse the kids back to sleep or bring them into their beds or use other sleep crutches that they'd mostly gotten away from before the sleep regression happened*.

I think that, as usual, it depends on your kid. By the time your child is 18 months old, you've been through a few sleep regressions already. So think back to what happened when your child came out of the 4 month regression and 9-month regression: Did your child go back to sleeping the way s/he'd been sleeping before? (Some kids just go right back as if the regression had never happened.) Or did you need to ease your kid back into sleeping and wean off processes of getting to sleep that you'd used to hold down the fort during the regression? (Bitey Biterson, for sure.)

Whatever happened with those other regressions is probably going to happen with this one. If you've been reading me for any length of time, you know that I figure that people just sleep the way they sleep, and there's not much parents can do to change that. So the sooner you can figure out how your kid sleeps, the sooner you can figure out both what's realistic for you and how you should approach sleep issues.

The other thing to think about, though, is "Do you care?" I know that, for me, it didn't matter if I knew I'd have to spend a few weeks breaking a habit again as long as I could get some !@#$% sleep in the meantime. If that's the way you are, then who cares, and do whatever it takes to get you all the max amount of sleep at any given night.

But if it will kill you to have to undo something, and you're not so fried at this moment that you just need to sleep By Any Means Necessary, then take a little time to think about how you could replicate conditions that will help facilitate sleep without actually going back into the processes or crutches you don't want to use. Either that or schedule a solo vacation at a spa for a week and let someone else deal with it. (If only. Can you imagine?)

Anyone want to share any fond memories of the 18-month sleep regression?  I would, except I seem to have blocked out a whole lot of it. I can, however, remember standing over my older son's crib wondering how I'd morphed from awesome to completely incompetent in a matter of weeks. Parenting is hard.

* In general, I think sleep crutches of all sorts, from pacifiers to rocking to loveys, get a super-bad rap. No one has to bring their mom along to college to nurse them to sleep. And so what if you have to sleep with a white noise machine? If it bugs you when you're 30 you can break the habit your own self, and leave your poor parents out of it. So I'm only talking about breaking habits because some parents really want to get away from sleep crutches because they're adding more stress to their lives. If sleep crutches are working for you as a family, then party on with them for as long as they work, and then figure out the next thing.

Q-but-no-real-A: Cabin fever

I've got cabin fever, she's got cabin fever, we've got cabin fever…

Here in the US it's Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which means kids have a school holiday, and many adults are off work, too. Combine that with our freakish snowfall and coldsnap at the end of last week that canceled things in many areas, and some of us are staring at some pretty serious cabin fever.

I was hoping we could talk about some ideas to combat it, since no one likes feeling like they're in the middle of The Shining (with the role of Jack played by your 4-year-old).

True confession: I get off easy, since my kids' dad came to get them yesterday, so my kids get a change of scenery, different toys, different food, etc. So I'm not currently having this problem (I'm painting my apartment instead), but I know tons of you are.

I only have a couple of suggestions:

Go outside anyway. Assuming it's not sleeting or below -10F, kids can really stand a few  minutes outside if they're wearing warm clothing. Running around outside will keep them warmish, and even a few minutes can "blow the stink off" (ah, my mother and her Midwesternisms) enough to give everyone a little head space.

Wii. If you don't have one, you probably know someone who does. If you can make it over to their house, you and the other adults can chill while the kids get some exercise with the Wii sports or other games.

Fantasy. See if you can get the kids involved in helping you plan where you're going to go on vacation next year at this time. Then have them hrelp you calculate how much money you'll need to save every week to be able to do it. A family goal!

What do you have?

Q&A: post-holiday tantrums

Theresa writes:

"Anyone else have a rough week last week now that the holidays are over? My son (6) was back to school, I was back to the miserable commute, the
babysitter (whom he loves) was back – and by Thursday we were in
full-blown tantrum mode (we haven't been there for a while).  From
Thursday through the rest of the weekend, we had multiple tantrums a
day.  I think the major triggers were interruptions on his time with me
(not so much his dad, who is more of the primary caretaker now that
I've got the commute from hell), but they could also start over being
asked to practice piano, being asked to finish dinner, stuff that is
never usually a problem.

So I'm wondering if this is just a temporary "end of holidays/vacation"
reaction or something more serious.  I'm also wondering how people deal
with tantrums generally.  I'm a bit at my wit's end right now (to the
point where yesterday, I just ended up resorting to pure bribery)."

Oh, what's a little bribery between friends?

Seriously, though, there's all sorts of stuff I never thought I'd do as a parent, including bribery, that I do without a second thought as long as it gets the job done and prevents those ridiculous, out-of-the-blue, sucker-punch tantrums that make you want to throw yourself on your sword.

And, yeah, we've been having some crazytime here Chez Moxie. I'd been attributing it both to the return to "normal" from the winter break and also to the kids having spent several days in a row with either one or the other of their dad and me (usually they see both of us on most days).

Now, I do think some of this with my older one is that he's almost 7, so I'd say definitely go read through the assessments of what being 7 is like in the comments from hedra and Sharon Silver especially.

But I really think it's just trying to get back to a regular routine after a few weeks of everything being different and more relaxed. Whether your child did better or worse with a less structured day, it's still stressful to go back to a routine and school. I think the key is just to stay consistent and calm (as calm as possible) and know that your child will adjust back within the next few weeks.

How has everyone else been doing? This is the second week back for most of us, so I'm imagining that things are settling way back down from last week. How did you get through the shift?

Q&A: 20-month-old scratcher

Kathy writes:

"I'm sorry about the long email but my husband and I are losing ourpatience fast. It all began with a recently trip to Jamaica. On our way
there, our 20 month old son refused to nap. By the end of our trip, he
was screaming, squirming and scratching at our faces. He's never been a
scratcher but we just thought he was deliriously tired and acting out.
While we were in Jamaica, he scratched our faces a handful of times but
again it was only when he was tired. Our trip back was an absolute
nightmare. My husband and I look like we got into a fight with a rabid
tiger and lost. Since we've been back 3 days ago, the scratching has
gotten out of control.

We've tried the serious voice and stern
"No scratching. It hurts mommy/daddy." He will either not care or claw
at us again. We moved to the "Ouch. That hurts" with a fake cry. His
response is to scream at the top of his lungs… not the I'm sorry
scream but the don't piss me off scream. We even tried the time out
thing today but he was perfectly content to just sit there. We try to
intercept his hand before it gets to our face but he's like a ninja. We
rarely see it coming.

scratching is sort of random. Sometimes he's tired or angry but other
times we're having fun together and he'll reach out and take a piece of
my face off. Everything that I've read says to be firm, consistent and
wait it out but I'm not sure if we can wait weeks or even months. We
won't have any skin left on our faces.

Any other tactics or advice? "

First off, I'd cut his nails and then file them down as far as you can without hurting him, just to reduce the efficacy of his weapons!

I have to say that it doesn't surprise me at all that your son is 20 months and is doing this. Remember how we've talked about the whole 18-month evil phase? The kids just get so frustrated and have no autonomy so they basically just lash out. And then something seems to ease around 21 months–they get more words, they seem to have more physical fluidity, and they just seem to be more in command and less stressed all the time.

What that means is that 20 months is the end of the build-up of frustration. I get dozens of questions from people about why their 20-month-olds won't eat, and that's all about controlling the one thing they can control. I think this scratching is the same thing–he can't control things and has so much anger and frustration inside of him. It's probably exacerbated by being back from vacation and feeling tired and off-kilter, and missing all the piƱa coladas and warmth of Jamaica.

I don't think you're going to be able to magically stop it, but I do think you might be able to ease it until he gets older and more able to deal with his conflicting emotions and urges. I think helping him express his feelings and wants might give him a little more space. So definitely start signing, if you haven't been doing any already. (And if you've been doing it but have tapered off, ramp up again.) People loooove the Signing Time DVDs, and you can also use the Michigan State ASL browser online (you need QuickTime on your computer to use it, but you can download it free if you don't already have it).

The other thing you could do is to verbalize his feelings for him. If you can tell he's getting frustrated with something, you can say "You're frustrated. That's making you feel angry and like you want to scratch something!" and then give him a chance to confirm. It's got to be so horrible at this age to have so many complex feelings and not be able to express them so adults can understand! If a grown-up gets what you're feeling and can tell you they understand, that makes things better, even just a little. Everyone just wants to be understood, no matter how old or young we are.

The part about it coming out of the blue is, I think, also just human nature. Think about times when you're carrying around something that's been bugging you, and sometimes you can only be angry about it or mention it when things are back to being calm or happy. And the person who has to hear your anger is blindsided by it. Same thing here, only with physical pain.

Aside from this, I think it's going to help you if you can think of it in terms not of your son acting naughty or trying to hurt you on purpose, but as a problem you need to solve together. Clearly he's feeling awful and angry and frustrated and is just lashing out because he's got nothing else. So whatever you can do to help him reconnect and feel like he's got some power over himself is going to help, and shutting him off (with time-outs or other "discipline" stuff that's really just punishment) is going to make things worse. But you knew that–I just thought it was worth reminding all of us of it again. (And again, and again. Parenting is hard, y'all.)

What else do you guys have for Kathy? Stories? I'm hanging on here by a thread with a chest cough and aching head, so I'm praying my younger one will take a nap (he's in the middle of dropping it) so I can, too.

Send help–my older son is turning 7

I'm not dead! Just having all kinds of crazy good things happen, some annoying things, and a whole lotta not near the internet.

I need help with the 7-year-old thing. I know this isn't so exciting for those of you in the baby stage, except that we already figured out that all of this is connected: 4 months, 8-9 months, 18 months, 3.5 years, 7 years, 14 years, etc. (I know my 35th year has been a doozy, personally. And 28 frankly sucked.)

But here I am with one kid still in the throes of 3 /2, and the other one closing in on 7. I feel like I'm in the middle of a big "Mom I hate you!" Sandwich. Sulking, bad attitude, resistance to any plan no matter how much fun, constant fighting with his brother, and just being someone no one wants to be around.

It's demoralizing. I know it's going to end at some point. The younger one will grow out of his phase, and then eventually the older one will grow out of his phase. But when? Anyone with older kids, how long does the 7-year-old phase last? Months? A year? Until I just can't take it anymore?

And remind me of some of the coping techniques we used for younger kids to breathe through it, please.

Baby carriers and back pain

Baby carriers do not need to hurt your back. If you're wearing them correctly, you'll feel the weight of the baby, but it shouldn't be so painful that you need to take pain meds. If you are feeling that much pain, you can Google the name of the carrier you have and the word "instructions" and someone somewhere will have posted photos of the correct way to wear that carrier. Or else try a different kind of carrier, because there is no perfect one, and maybe there's a better one for your body.

In general, the closer to you and higher up you can put your baby, the less pain and movement you'll have. If you're using a Bjorn or Bjorn-style carrier (which I don't actually recommend because I think other styles are far less painful, notably the Ergo if you like a constructed carrier or a wrap carrier if you like less construction), make sure the cross in the back crosses below your shoulder blades. It should be where your bra strap goes. Here's a really old post on different kinds of carriers.

Also, wearing your baby should be something you do because you want to. Not because it's "in fashion" or because Dr. Sears tells you to. Do it because babies who are worn tend to cry less, or because you like having your little one snuggled against you, or because your baby won't stop !@#$%-ing screaming if you put her down, or because your best friend walked all the baby weight off by wearing her baby, or because you can't deal with your stroller, or whatever. But let it be because you want to. Not because the lady at the grocery store or the women on the message board or the misogynist ad-writers at Motrin tell you you have to and then make fun of you for it.

You are the parent. You get to decide.

Also, seriously–Lucky Magazine? I read you because I want to get away from the "moms should do this and that" crap that bombards me every effing day in this country. All I want from you is to know whether ruching is in this fall and how to wear suede booties with a sweater dress and why shea butter is the miracle that's going to solve all my hair problems. I do not want misogynistic mommy drive-by ads in your pages. If you want to take ads from the hacks at Motrin (who apparently have never heard of a focus group), force them to give you ads about pain and *actual* fashion. They could have done a heck of an ad about stilettos and other painful shoes, but they chose the easy, inaccurate, bottom-feeding low-hanging fruit. Don't participate in the proliferation of mom-guilt on the hardworking women of the world. We get enough of it every day from people wearing Christmas sweaters. We want your magazine to be a safe space.

I think I'm going out to buy a big bottle of Advil tomorrow.

(Hey–if you're feeling carpal tunnel-type pain from lifting or carrying a baby or toddler, before you despair or get cortizone shots or dope yourself up on a pain reliver that starts with M that I'll never buy again, try homeopathy. Go to a health food store and plunk down $6 for a tube of pellets of Rhus Toxicodendron. Get 30x if they have them–if not get whatever dose they have. Take one under your tongue three times a day. If it's the proper remedy for your kind of pain, you should feel less inflammation and pain within three to four days. Keep taking until the pain is gone. If it isn't doing anything after four days, then it's the wrong remedy for you, so you can stop. Safe for breastfeeding, and no interactions with anything else! I had debilitating carpal tunnel from lifting my horse of a firstborn, and his pediatrician, who is also a homeopath, prescribed Rhus toxicodendron for me, and it worked like a charm. So I'm passing it on to you, the pain sufferers of the internet.)