Those who read part one of this two part piece will know that the holidays were anything but happy happy joy joy in my house. By Christmas Eve our eldest daughter’s behaviour was at an all time low, and not in the cutesy way that most kids act when they’re over excited about Santa’s imminent visit. Her sheer cruelty towards her younger sister was having an awful knock on effect and hubby and I were properly in the doldrums. Feeding baby boy and feeling useless as a bedtime meltdown was playing out in the room next door, I downloaded a book that looked like it might just save my little family. You can buy it here.
Hubby and I committed ourselves fully to following the ten day program in 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child, and started Day One on Christmas Day. We saw great results during days one to five, and I promised a follow up post with details of how we got on during days six to ten, so here it is. The chapters of the book itself are broken up by the days you are following, which makes it an easy to digest read. The author advises reading the day/chapter you are going to follow first thing in the morning, or last thing the night before so the information is fresh in your head when you need it most.
Full breakdown of the self-explanatory chapter names
Day One: Grasping Why Your Child Acts Defiant
Day Two: Understanding Your Defiant Child
Day Three: Sidestepping the Yelling Trap
Day Four: Avoiding Power Struggles
Day Five: Reinforcing the Positive Changes in Your Child
Day Six: Dependable Discipline
Day Seven: Rallying Family Support
Day Eight: Lessening Defiance at School
Day Nine: Overcoming Stubborn Obstacles
Day Ten: Reducing Defiance for the Long Run
How we fared up on Day Six
It quickly became apparent to us that day six is where it all went to pot a little. It was too early for us to try and factor in discipline, but we wanted to follow the book to the letter so gave it a go. Whereas on days one to five we had been trying to avert her lashing out, or just taking the little ones away from her if she was doing so, on day six we tried to implement a consequence for behaving that way. We agreed with her that she would have a one minute time out every time she was violent, but unfortunately she didn’t seem to care much for the new rule, or go about changing her behviour. Perhaps worst of all is that she didn’t appear in the least bit remorseful for hurting her brother (11m) or sister (2y11m), and didn’t want to stop doing it. By the end of the day our positive resolve had started to wane big time, and we realised that we were doing much better without trying to add discipline to the equation.
The premise of Day Seven was a bit moot for us, because my family are not in our lives at all, and hubby’s family are only very sporadic caregivers. The author also talks about getting your other kids involved to help your defiant child, but again our other two kids are under three so this isn’t applicable. He does highlight a few things about making sure you and your partner are working as a team and not against each other, which we already do (unless super sleep deprived and snappy, hey we’re only human). He also talks about the importance of one on one time with the kids, which we already go out of our way to orchestrate wherever we can. This day fell on New Years Eve, and we had a day out in London at the museums. Although very fraught at points I think over time I’ll remember it being a lovely day, because there were also some really fab bits. Unfortunately bed time that night was absolutely horrendous, as bad as it gets, and tempers were lost for the first time in a whole week. It wasn’t pretty, but as I said above, we’re only human!
Again Day Eight was moot, because 5yo is the perfect child at school. It’s when she comes home that it all goes to pieces. Days Nine and Ten are more long term strategies once you’ve got to the point where you feel you’ve made significant progress, and neither hubby or I have even read these chapters yet.
We have jointly came to the conclusion that we were doing really well on days one to five, so have decided to continue on with what was working. We’re best off concentrating our efforts on trying to understand why she behaves the way she does, and eradicating our own negative parenting behaviours for good. I believe that over time these things will have the most positive effect. Above all else we must stay calm, and not shouting has to be our top priority. We aren’t saints, and I’d be lying if I said the first week of the new year was perfect, that we’ve not displayed a single negative parenting behviour between us or raised our voices at all. But we have done our best. Bearing in mind that our 11mo baby doesn’t sleep for more than an hour at a time at night, and our toddler has become a threenager among all this happening. We’re up against it but we are trying.
Unfortunately going back to school has not helped at all, and it feels like a lot of our hard work started to unravel in the latter part of this week. Our daughter is a complex little creature. She’s smart and beautiful and sassy, but boy is she defiant. She is also highly sensitive, and feels the injustices of the world around her so much more acutely than her peers seem to. The small things that cause her such heartache just pass others by without a second thought.
Overall progress is being made, but for us it’ll be a lot slower to see real results than the title of this book suggests it might.
UPDATE: We made the decision in October 2015 to start home educating. You can follow our journey here on the blog.