After 5 years, it feels like this therapeutic parenting lark may finally be starting to filter through.
It isn’t easy and I am still guilty of wandering from the gold-paved path. It’s a very conscious way of parenting and is the antithesis of my instinctive style.
This mindful approach sends streams of information to my head that make it explode. It gets messy in there. It means I can think no further ahead than the next small chunk of time. It means I have to forego my morning crankiness and my grumbling of succinct greetings. It means I have to inhale caffeine at some ungodly hour just to muster up the strength to tackle the potential shiz that may be thrown at me.
But, as with any …erm…hobby, practice makes perfect!
I am far from perfecting this method of parenting but with each day I am finding that it is becoming less of an uphill struggle and more a series of small climbs. I am seeing the benefits and – dare I say – getting a glimpse of the rewards.
For those who don’t know what therapeutic parenting is: In a very teeny-tiny nutshell – it’s a nurturing approach that involves routine and firm boundaries imbued with empathy and compassion. It involves recognising and understanding the root causes of behaviours.
Though, mostly, it does feel like there’s a fine line between being a concerned, supportive parent and being a downright sucker.
Our children are often seen as “naughty”. They lie, manipulate, refuse to do as they are told, adopt a rude tone and appear controlling. Even when tackled and even if the child appears to grasp the “rules” of the house/school, they will often repeat their behaviours time and time again. They often have little or no understanding of cause and effect. But the roots lie buried in their traumatic early years.
Standard behaviour systems simply don’t work with our children. And certainly “shaming” techniques and removing privileges only serve to compound their feelings of shame and lack of self-worth, sending them into an enduring cycle of chaotic behaviour.
On Thursday morning, Pickle left the house just ahead of me. He swung his leg back to kick a twig on the floor and inadvertently wellied me in my bony shin. I bent down to grab my shin, making no sound, conscious that any rebuke would have a detrimental effect on his mood. But it seemed that even the innocent motion of bending down to nurse the throb was enough to reinforce any embarrassment, shame or whatever it was he was feeling at that moment.
Quick to explain that it was an accident, I reached out to place a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
He was salivating with spite towards me, screaming that I shouldn’t have been behind him. The now blazing ball of fire thumped the car – and himself – and shot out a rapid and repetitive barrage of “I wish I was dead”.
No amount of cajoling, bargaining or distracting has an effect at this stage. The only tactic is to ignore and carry on with mock cheerfulness, knowing that any verbal intervention will simply serve to contribute to one almighty backdraught. I have to allow his fiery plumes to die down on their own so that he can regain control.
However – abandoning my querulous self-pitying – I have to admit that his bend-it-like-Beckham moment with its sweltering consequences has been the only lemon that he has thrown at us this week.
We have had a curiously level-tempered seven days.
I am wary of projecting these words on-screen as, no doubt, they will jump out and bite my (unfeasibly small – ahem!) tushy in the coming days.
Maybe it’s a blip, maybe we really are becoming more focused in our parenting approach, maybe – just maybe – we are inching forward again.
It’s a fragment of hope and I’m clinging to it for the sake of my crumbling sanity.