December last year was a dark time for me. My little family were on a constant loop of illness, both the baby and the 5yo’s sleep were in dire straights, and our girl’s behaviour was at an all time low. After a disastrous Xmas Eve Hubby and I read the fantastic book 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child.
We spent the entire Xmas holiday doing everything in our power to eradicate our own negative parenting behaviours, which were without a doubt having a massive effect on the kids. After a week of being super calm and not shouting, it became the norm to be calm and not shout, and now three months later I very rarely find myself shouting.
At some point before all this I was with a wise friend, who told me that her daughter’s challenging behaviour has been the making of her as a mum. Her son was really placid and a super easy kid from the off, and had her girl been the same she said she wouldn’t have had an incentive to be a better mum.
Nowadays she’s as much of a self-help junkie as I am, constantly on the lookout to be better than the person she was yesterday. She is one of my main sources of inspiration, and I am truly privileged to have her in my life.
It brings tears to my eyes to think of this conversation, because my friend said to me that I must feel the same. My reply was that no I didn’t, I felt that I was at breaking point and was worried my marriage wouldn’t be strong enough to take the strain our daughter was putting on us for much longer. You’ll be fine she tried to reassure me, but I wasn’t comforted by her words.
I was in such a bad place in my own head that I wasn’t able to look at it from a different perspective. I desperately needed to start changing my attitude, and realising that I was part of the problem, but I wasn’t ready to at that point. Thankfully reading the book over Xmas opened my eyes to how damaging my own negative behaviour was to our children, and since then there
has been much positive change in our house. I feel as though we weathered a particularly bad storm, and I’m now able to look at it in a less emotionally raw way.
Things still aren’t as rosy as you might imagine though. Our girl is a terrible sleeper, which I believe drives a lot of her poor behaviour – she is prone to over reacting and throwing strops rather than articulating her feelings. She shouts and screams in her 3yo sister’s face and often gets physical with her but cannot cope at all if littlest lady throws a punch back. All she wants is to be a big girl, but if she isn’t asleep by 6:30pm all hell breaks loose.
I don’t want to demonise her, because she has some utterly incredible qualities too. She can demonstrate such fierce love for her family that it would melt the heart of an ice queen. She will sit for hours and create intricate drawings for us, and completely under her own steam, she made and wrote Easter cards for all the neighbourhood kids.
She is a fabulous kitchen helper, and can crack eggs all by herself. Don’t get me wrong she enjoys licking the cake mixture bowl, but will also help me make savoury dishes. I could go on and on and on here, but don’t want to bore you.
Facing up to reality
I think it’s time for me to face up to reality: my girl is not like most other five and six year olds I know. As I wrote a while back over on my other blog, I truly believe that her super clean diet is the only thing saving her from an ASD diagnosis. Reprobate Mum wrote this eye opening piece for Autism Awareness Week, which has been making me think that I’ve been looking at it all wrong.
I’m starting to feel that I’ll be doing my daughter a dis-service by not seeking a diagnosis if there is one to be had, because if she is going to stay in main stream education, she is going to need all the help she can get.
Have you been down the long and treacherous road of obtaining an ASD diagnosis for your own child/ren? I’d love to hear from you with any words of wisdom!