I’ve written before about our eldest being a rather challenging child. Food intolerances, poor sleeping and unpleasant behaviour have ruled our lives for the best part of two and a half years now. We’ve had some pretty desperate times, a particularly bad phase being when I posted this in September. Hubby and I put all the tips and advice we received to good use though, and I’m pleased to say we saw improvements. By the end of the Xmas holidays we were in a great place. 4yo was sleeping all the way through most nights and she and 2yo had never got on better. We thought we’d cracked it at long last.
Then along came her baby brother, and her ability to sleep and behave seems to have disappeared. She’s gone back to waking up most nights, and is getting up for the day at 5/5:30am. On Wednesday morning she screamed the house down at 5:10am because we tried to get her to go back to bed, thus waking the other two up. By 9am I had an inconsolable baby on my hands refusing to go sleep, and I couldn’t get him to settle until almost noon. As you can imagine the day was hard going, only to get a million times worse when she came home from school. Cue three hours of tantrums, picking on her little sister and ignoring me every time I tried to talk to her. And repeat on Thursday…
Fortunately school have been really helpful, and she now has a daily reward chart whereby they’ll highlight all the positives for myself/hubby and 4yo to talk about when she gets home. We also have a communication book so we can give the teachers the heads up if we’ve had a particularly bad night, etc. This is a fab idea, as it means they can have little chats with her throughout the day which we can then build on at home.
A child that gets enough sleep and is generally well behaved will more than likely be thrown off kilter by the arrival of a sibling, but with our girl it goes much deeper than the obvious. Right now it feels like she’s fully embracing every opportunity to do the wrong thing, and there is no reasoning with her when she’s this tired. It makes me too sad to see how selfish she is capable of being, and how utterly vile she treats her sister at times. On the flip side she can be super kind, caring and loving when she wants to be. She’s really bright, but channelling it in the wrong places. I think she feels that everything is on her terms, which is too much power for a child that isn’t even five to have.
We had been successful this year with a star chart and weekly reward of £1, but this will be the third week in a row that she has failed to get her stars and it’s clear the magic has been lost. We’ll be taking the chart away at the weekend, and starting the beans in a jar reward method instead. This idea is inspired – you let the child put a dried bean into a jar every time they do something worth praising, and take a bean out when they’re being naughty.
Once the jar is full they get a treat of some description – read here for further details. I’m also going to get her retested by our allergy nurse, so we can rule out food being the underlying problem. This may sound like clutching at straws but her eczema has flared up recently, and that’s usually a tell tale sign of an allergic reaction. It could also be down to the stress she’s putting herself through daily with these awful tantrums though.
I’ve been reflecting a lot over what we have or haven’t done and how things need to change. Permanently. What we’ve been doing clearly isn’t working, and it’s time to find something that does work.