So I was lying in bed and thinking,as I quite often do, about my most defiant little one. I wast thinking a lot about how she really does know her own mind and as a 6 yr old is actually amazing at saying “no!”Now I do want to encourage this… I have struggled and still do occasionally from an inability to say “no” often leaving me with more on my plate than I had wanted. However, I also really want her to do as shes’ told! So how do we manage to encourage our children to do what feels right for them? How do we teach them to trust their own judgement and to value their own opinion while growing up because lets face it is impossible and probably harmful not to have boundaries and discipline as part of family life!
Firstly I want to talk about some of the challenging behaviour we had to overcome. I want to share how I reached out and asked for help and got it,yay! Then I’ll talk about the impact that has had on my little middle child and in our family. We will have a little looksey at finding a balance between allowing a child to make their own choices , to grow and develop learning from their own experiences and ultimately keeping them safe, well fed and hygienic.
After I had my first child I waited seven years before I had any more. I got to a place where I thought I knew what I was doing and felt reasonably confident in my parenting abilities. I didn’t just go on to have one more… I had three! All quite close to one another. I really noticed some difficult behaviour from about the age of three with my middle girl. Not only was she defiant, dangerous with no sense of fear she would also lash out , melt down and hurt herself. She did not discriminate in her violent out bursts. Parent, teacher,child, anyone could be on the receiving end. One of the most mortifying conversations I had, had been when I collected her from nursery and she had punched a teacher in the face. I didn’t know what to do or how to cope. I couldn’t understand how or why she behaved so differently too my other children. To be honest I did some research, thank you google and came up with a diagnosis. In my mind She had oppositional defiance disorder. She ticked soooo many boxes from my google research! So armed as new-found expert I talked to her nursery teachers and one of them actually was an expert, uni training and a degree in child development, she listened and explained while their were a few traits, in her experience of working with children who really did have this disorder she didn’t think Nevaeh fell in to it.
I wasn’t convinced… So my next port of call was the health visitor. Now I had never really used my health visitor for anything more than the weighing of my babies. I didn’t even know if i still had one, I did know where they were so I phoned up our local doctors asked to speak to a health visitor, explained my woe and an appointment was made. When my health visitor came her opinion was middle child syndrome! Okay, I’ll run with this and we’ll see where it goes. So she started talking about positive parenting and ignoring the bad behavior. I couldn’t believe it! I was an expert already on posotive parenting, I used to deliver courses on posotive parenting! What could she possibly tell me I didn’t already know!! Quite a lot actually. It wasn’t so much the telling me, it was more the support applying it. So in a nut shell I really had to praise her for all the good things she did. Things like putting her coat on, brushing her teeth sharing a toy anything I could find to be positive about. For example when she put her coat on the first time I asked I would say ” Nevaeh! That’s amazing I asked you to put your coat on and you did it! straight away! that is so fantastic and it’s made me really happy! How’s it feel for you doing something so well straight away?” she would beam, her smile would spread from ear to ear and shed say “good.” WOW! Just WOW. Ignoring the bad was a little harder but instead of shouting I would remind her of when she did something well. Lets go back to the coat. So if she was refusing to wear her coat I would say ” Nevaeah can you remember how well you did yesterday to put your coat on and how good you felt?that was amazing right? well today I’ve still only asked you once and I know you’re so super that you can do this!” When her dad got home I would no longer vent about all the difficulties or the things she had done ‘wrong’ that day I would always start with telling him of her achievements and how well she had done and he would tell her how proud he was. Honestly she turned around in less that 6 weeks!
So I seem to have digressed a little. I think for me the above is showing how a change of tactics can really improve family life and for us it totally made a difference to my little one. I feel so sad to think of how she must have felt to act out like that but now she is such a happy child. Every house hold has to have rules. Things like bed time, even if she’s not tired. Bath time even if she doesn’t want one. Dinner time and eating vegetables even if she doesn’t like them. Home work even if she would rather play.
We don’t live in a world where we can just do what we want. Yet it is so important to allow them to listen to their own selves. I try to teach my children the why’s of why it is so important to eat veg, even if we don’t like it. Or why we have to go to school. I will also allow some of their no’s to stand. I really want them to never even question their right to say no. Others can some times expect too much from us. It is totally up to us how much we give. Setting boundaries and saying no is so important. I believe in leading by example. It has been slow process but now, if I know something someone asks of me is too much I will say no. My desire to help others has sometimes left me with very little left to help myself. Learning to not feel guilty for putting myself first is a challenge for me. I hope I can instill in my children a natural sense of taking care of themselves before everyone else. To know who they are and to love who they are.
And that folks is it for today. My next blog I think will cover some similar issues but with a teenage twist. Thank you for reading. Take good care of yourself and give your self a little bit of love and appreciation today xxx