Things are feeling much better in our house at the moment. Not because Katie's behaviour has improved dramatically but because we're responding to it differently (mostly).
We've also discovered just how far our young lady is able to walk and scoot (5 miles) and the knock-on benefits of having a very physically tired child. I didn't realise she could go that far! I can bring back my power walks now! I have renewed our memberships for two local activities that will provide the opportunity for lots of walks!
I find parenting to be such a trial and error thing. Katie does seem to be responding to some of our new tactics that I wrote about recently. She is stubborn, as am I, so some of the ignoring of undesirable behaviour aspects are fairly challenging. I am trying to find some humour in the situations i.e. when she is shouting at bedtime "I am hot, I am hot, I am hot" for 30 mins. Ignoring that is pretty hard and I admit I did give in and sort the situation out (although I suspect she was actually hot from shouting "I am hot" for 30 mins). I give her something, she is tenacious! That is a positive in life (when used correctly!). I want to try and find a way of helping her channel her need for negative attention though. Katie will accept any kind of attention. She gets tons of positive attention and love yet she seems to have an internal need for negative attention. I am not sure whether this is simply just that any attention is good enough for her or whether she is expressing some internal feelings about her self esteem or whether she gets a bit bored and doesn't channel that boredom particularly positively. When she was younger she would often blow raspberries at her reflection and she often says that she thinks other people don't like her. It's hard with a little one to really know what's going on inside their thoughts.
The thing about parenting that is that everyone has an opinion, myself included. You can buy endless books on "how to" and family and friends will all give their opinion. Parenting techniques and trends change all the time which can get really confusing. Parenting an adopted child is a minefield of opinions. There is a fear of further damaging a child who already has additional difficulties to overcome, and getting the parenting right, but there has to be a balance between that and allowing a child to grow up without boundaries and consequences. Our society is fairly accepting of young children with challenging behaviour but older children and adults displaying such behaviour invariably end up getting excluded from the education system and later in life spending time at her Majesty's pleasure and/or living an unhappy life. Many of these young people were my clients in my professional life.
It is very easy to get bogged down in the negatives. Parenting any child is a see-saw between positive and negative emotions. I didn't know such highs and lows of emotion (often in the space of 5 minutes were possible until I became a parent). Sometimes it's easier to get preoccupied in the things that aren't going so well and then you miss out on what is going brilliantly. Katie is a child who likes to push things to the limit and that brings some parenting challenges but she is also a sunny and happy and amazingly clever young lady who will have an enormous amount to offer the world. She is now sleeping without her monitor at night and we haven't had a single wet bed (I'll expect one tonight now I've said that then shall I?). She is very resourceful but worries that she can't do things (I wonder if she gets that from me?). It is our role as parents to know when to push a child and when to hold back. Yesterday we took Katie to our local zoo and they had a Punch and Judy show on. Katie was initially really anxious about whether the show would be scary (I have to say that the pictures advertising it did look a bit on the scary side). We sat well back so she wasn't near the puppet theatre and reassured her. Bit by bit, once the show started, Katie edged forwards and finally sat right at the front on the grass and loved every moment of it (I will just say at this point that Daddy and I had our concerns about the domestic violence in the show, which I thought had now been banned). That's another story though, the point here was that Katie faced her fear and thoroughly enjoyed herself. It felt like a wise parenting decision (domestic violence aside and not sure I'd let her see another one!).
I am someone who likes to try and get things right. That is a really positive but challenging trait in myself as a parent because I don't always get things right. I drive myself and my friends nuts (and I'm sure Katie will grow to get frustrated with me as well in time, if she's not already!). I like to understand the why's and wherefore's of my own behaviour and that of others. To try and combat this as a parent a bit I now say that most of Katie's behaviour is "because she's 4!" and I suspect that actually I may be right.