I work with children who have severe behavior and emotional problems. No matter how bad the situation, 70% of the time I could de-escalate the situation and calm down the child. I was quite proud of myself. I felt like I had a knack for working with children. I could help them deal with their emotions and connect with them really well.
It’s only been a few weeks since the summer holidays have begun, and I have seriously started doubting my skills. All because of a scrawny 5 year old. For someone so scrawny, he’s extremely strong willed and aggressive.
He never follows an instruction, even when he given one for the tenth time. He questions them. Each and every one of them.
When he’s explained that certain things need to be done in a certain way, he’s challenges it, and says he’s going to do it another way BECAUSE ITS HIS CHOICE.
Through gritted teeth, using every ounce of my energy, I explain that it is his choice, but there are good choices and there are bad choices, and I expect him to make the right choice.
But, he wants to choose to make the wrong choice.
In the end there’s always a battle. I win, of course but not without setting off a chain reaction of tantrums.
I just didn’t know how to make him understand. I was stumped.
I do admire his strong-willed personality, I really do, because it’s something I’m not. And I wish I was, because I would been able to make better decisions in life I f I had been more persistent and more courageous with saying ‘NO.’
But I can’t appreciate this quality when it’s against me that he’s using it. I am his mother and I would never stop him from doing something that wasn’t bad for him. I just want the best for him and as a 5 year old, he’s short sighted and he can’t see that…for now.
I’ve spent endless hour’s googling, reading parent’s blogs, asking experienced mothers for help, all in vain. I practiced what I learnt, consistently: imposing boundaries, setting rules, sanctions etc. But my boy just kept getting worse. The Shouting increased, with some hitting. Throwing over furniture became more frequent, and there were more episodes of him just collapsing on the floor and thrashing his arms and legs around. What made the situation even worse, was the fact that the little one copied his exact ways!
I was struck with anxiety, I used to lose my patience and I used to cry.
As always, when everything turns hopeless, I just went down on the prayer mat and prayed…hard. Prayer has always been an important part of my life but sometimes we forget that prayer is not just for big things: like a house, or a car or the job you really want. It’s also for the little things. Allah has so much love and mercy for his people, and ask them to ask Him for whatever it is that they’re struggling with.
I prayed for guidance, I prayed for help, for some sort of enlightenment that could help me overcome the challenge of motherhood. The help came, as it always does. For some reason, I tried to test another strategy that I haven’t read on google or in any other parenting book. And that strategy proved to be no less that some sort of divine revelation.
Rather than ignoring them, or worse, yelling at the top of my lungs I starting hugging my children, holding their body close to mine, and whispering in their ears gently when they have a tantrum. I imagined putting myself in their situation. I tried to feel how it would feel if I was suddenly overcome by these intense feeling, which by the way, I can’t even recognize, and to be left alone or ignored. I would feel so alone and uncared for! All I would want would be to have someone hold me close till all those feelings go away. Also, I would feel much more secure if I knew someone was there to help me through these times.
This new idea worked…it worked like magic. My Kids still drive me crazy, but their behavior has vastly improved.
I learnt a lesson: sometimes books, google and articles give suggestions that might not work for you. If you don’t see any change, ditch them and think outside the box. Every child is different. That’s what makes them special.
And, Of course, whenever you feel like you can’t figure a way out of a sticky situation, bow down before Him and ask. He always has the answer.