Katie is behaving herself.
Not just behaving herself, she is almost sweetness personified at the moment. She is listening and responding politely and seems calmer in herself. After months and months of rudeness and tantrums and belligerence and temper tantrums it is a relief that is almost beyond words to have this respite. Other than a 2 day blip around Pip's birthday when we experienced a massive regression we have had nearly 2 weeks of calm. It's like the breath of fresh air you feel in springtime; the smell of damp earth after a rain shower. It's really rather lovely. Katie is a joy to have around. She is drawing and writing a lot and is responsive to being asked to do things. She is noticeably stopping herself from being rude and apologising when she is.
The Borg; parenting techniques work for a period of time until the child has assimilated the information then they alter their entire DNA so that that parenting technique is no longer effective and a new technique is required. It could be
have learned is that children and parenting techniques are like
a combination of parenting techniques or, as my SW said, it could just be that Katie has decided to try behaving nicely for a change.
There are a few contenders as to the change though:
1. Katie is quite simply feeling happier in herself. She is accepting that Pip is here to stay and is feeling more settled about life in general. She is starting to play and interact with him more and is not pushing for as much attention, seemingly happier with the attention I am giving her. A friend has been saying for a while that things would improve in Year 1. Maybe she was right.
2. Katie has realised that nice things happen when her behaviour is nice e.g. her reward (nearly 2 weeks ago) for not having a single tantrum all day was to come and see a dance show with me. This was a treat in itself (particularly after her recent behaviour) but it was also in the early evening so it meant she got to go to bed late. She was beyond excited and still thinks I'm the coolest Mum EVER when she said
"I can't believe you're letting me have ice-cream
in the middle of the night!"
(it was about 7.30pm at that point).
In fact her behaviour has improved significantly since that day.
3. TCM and I are on the same page regarding managing her temper tantrums. We have been watching The Three Day Nanny together and picking up techniques. When Katie has a temper tantrum she is removed immediately to her bedroom where she is allowed to be angry and express her anger and can spend some time to calm herself down. Once the tantrum has subsided she is able to come back down. We do not have repercussions for the tantrum but Katie has to clear up any mess she has made as a result of her tantrum. We have stuck to this religiously; carrying her up the stairs mid tantrum on several occasions (which isn't doing my back any favours I can tell you). We've not had to do this in a week now though. In fact her last tantrum *fingers crossed* was this time last week. Having said that there are no repercussions I will just say that last week Katie was not allowed to go to gymnastics because she had about 6 tantrums after school. I was concerned she was really tired so said to her that she wouldn't be allowed to go to gymnastics if she didn't calm herself down. She didn't think I would stick to my threat, but I did, which brought about another tantrum and an early night but she has been a lot better since.
4. I am giving her lots of Reiki at bedtime. Not every bedtime, but quite a lot. loves having Reiki. In fact she told me, whilst stretching out luxuriously like a cat,
"Mummy, this is the life! This is better than ham sandwiches".
So there you have it. Reiki is better than ham sandwiches!
5. We are writing on each other with our fingers at bedtime. Every night I write her a message on her back and then have to tell her what I've written. Sometimes I write that she "is the most beautiful girl in the world"; sometimes it's "thank you for behaving so nicely today, it has made me very happy". It always incorporates the words "I love you". She then writes me a message on my hand. It's a lovely way to end the day and I like to think that the messages I write are sinking into her body and being absorbed.
6. Katie helped me open a package from Amazon which happened to be the book "Why can't my child behave?" by Amber Elliot. She asked me what the book was so I told
her it was a book that was going to help me understand why she was behaving so angrily and teach me some new ways to help her with her behaviour. Maybe she was worried that this book might teach me scary ways of making her behave so she's decided not to take the risk I might use it?
7. Katie won "Star Pupil" at dancing last Saturday. This was something she didn't want to win (she said). She has been practising her spins and finally managed to do them. For a girl with difficulty with coordination this is a really big deal. She didn't want the teacher to know this (I am wondering why this is I must say) in case she won Star Pupil. I had a quiet word with the teacher before the class and explained that Katie had really been practising the spins but didn't want her to know that she could do them as she was feeling shy and asked her to orchestrate Katie doing the spins in class, rather than going off with the girl who helps the teacher for additional help. Katie's teacher gave me a huge thumbs up when Katie did the spins in the class (nice and subtle!) and then awarded her with Star Pupil at the end of the class. Katie was actually made up that she won but shy about telling Daddy.
8. Katie has been doing two individual programmes at school to help with her reading and also with her emotional development. She really enjoys doing them and loves getting the rabbit out of the cupboard on a Monday to do Ginger Bear. I wonder if this is having a positive knock-on effect?
So there are 8 contenders as to this current turn around. I suspect that it's a combination of all 8 that is the source of the magic. All I can say at the moment is that it is lovely having some respite. The really nice thing is that because Katie is behaving more nicely, I am feeling calmer so therefore my parenting is calmer which brings about a calmer reaction in Katie. It's all interlinked.
I think adoptive parents feel under enormous pressure when it comes to parenting techniques. There are many differing views about how you should parent (aren't there always?) and I think generally adoptive parents feel a lot more anxiety about finding therapeutic techniques that will help their children behave well but also heal the damage that their child has experienced. This is a big ask. I think our aim has to be to enable our child to live in this world with the tools they need to heal themselves throughout their lives. How our children feel and respond to their experiences will fluctuate throughout their lives. I know I'm still dealing with experiences from my own childhood many, many years on. It isn't as easy to do as it is to say however. So many of our children have experienced things that no-one should ever experience and their behaviour reflects those experiences and emotions. There isn't often an easy fix so we seek out people who have developed ways of parenting specifically for children who need a different sort of parenting from your average parenting expert - that's not to say that we can't still find methods from more mainstream parenting manuals. It's about finding what works for our children.
Having said all that, as I've highlighted above, sometimes we have no idea what works or what is working, or why a behaviour pattern has suddenly changed. I do know that I'm going to enjoy our current calm and my wonderfully behaved daughter.
I'm going to enjoy every single minute of it and hum one of my favourite songs by The Carpenters......