Sunday 31 January 2016

Parenting: What to do?

Sometimes parenting is the most difficult job in the world. You are desperate to get it right and then situations present themselves that you have no idea how to tackle and you just have to learn on the job. Yes there are tons of manuals; books ready to tell you the best approach and there are online forums and web articles and in fact dozens of resources but really does anything beat your own intuition?

Every child and every situation is different, I've seen that with just my three children and if I am honest I look at my oldest JJ at age 12 and think that my husband and I aren't doing such a bad job. Yes he is addicted to his computer but he is a good guy all round. He's smart, he cares, he tries hard, he is polite and he is fun to be with. So I think we are right to be trusting our gut and parenting in the way that feels natural to us.

I'm having behavioural challenges with one of my girls at the moment. They are having a tough time at school and keep pushing the boundaries and acting out. This of course leads to consequences from the teacher and the last thing I want at the end of the day is yet another email to tell me of that days mishap!

I've noticed before that this child responds really well to physical touch, it definitely appears to be her love language so my gut is telling me to help her feel more secure and to give her lots of love. Hugs, kisses, snuggles, hand-holding - the full works and all in the hope that she goes to school feeling more secure and is able to get through a day without any drama. Before Christmas things seemed to be going well and there didn't appear to be much poor behaviour at all and now in the last two weeks there has been three red cards and no real explanation from her of why it is happening.Truthfully I don't think she even knows but something is just off-kilter for her.

Last night she stayed in a hotel with my husband and I and we got to snuggle up in bed together. She was asleep within moments in my arms and seemed as happy as could be. Then this morning as she woke the first thing she did was reach for me and another snuggle. I suggested to her that we could have a week of bedtime snuggles if she thought this might help her behaviour at school. She of course jumped at this idea and I said that as long as she behaved during the day I would get into bed with her for a good long lay-down snuggle before sleep each night this week.

But here we are on day one and she blew it. At 5pm when we returned home I told her that her bag needed to be unpacked and her things put away before a shower and hair wash and into bed at 7.30pm. She had plenty of time, there was not much to do at all and she told me she was looking forward to her snuggle and then it got to 7.30pm and she had not even finished her shower yet and her room was a tip, She had decided to empty and tidy a couple of drawers rather than doing as instructed.

By 7.50pm she was in bed and I gave her a quick kiss and tuck-in and said what a shame it was that we didn't get our snuggle, but perhaps next time she would listen and do as she had been asked. After about ten minutes I could hear the silent sobs coming from her room and of course my heart-strings were pulled. On the one hand she needs to know she must listen and respect what her Dad and I tell her but on the other hand when I know she needs to feel love to be secure and to behave well how could I leave her sobbing to herself?

I didn't want to give the message that she could disregard my instructions and still get the 'prize' but my gut was telling me she really needed that hug. So I left her in bed for 15 minutes or so to absorb the fact she had been silly and missed out and then I called her in to me. I let her snuggle up to me on the sofa for 10 minutes and told her how much I loved her and how it was important to listen to what Daddy and I said. She may not like the things we tell her but we do know best and have her best interests at heart and whilst she is still a child she must listen and respond to what we say.

This felt like a good compromise, she got the message that her behaviour had not been alright but also the love that she craves and I pray she went to bed knowing how loved she is and feeling OK overall. She went off to sleep quite quickly afterwards so this is a good sign.

But here I am again reflecting on just how hard parenting can be. Who knows if I did he right thing, I suspect one book would tell me yes, whilst another expert would say no but I feel at peace, my husband thought it was the right thing and she is now peacefully sleeping so I sincerely hope that tomorrow is a good day and one she enjoys without any drama.

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