Imagine you’re nearly six years old. You’re bright and lively. You love your brother but hate the way he hits you all the time for no reason. You love Lego but have can’t leave any of your models out in case your brother destroys them and eats them. You get frustrated that when you’re trying to tell your parents something they often don’t listen all the way through as they’re distracted by him. When you’re out and about, you can’t stop and look at something you’re interested in, because you all have to chase after him. If you don’t finish your dinner you’re not allowed pudding, but your brother doesn’t have to abide by the same rules as he doesn’t understand consequences. You can’t read in bed as your brother is more likely to wake up and cry if the light is on. You lose your temper easily and sometimes your parents can help you through that, but other times they snap back.
I know I’m often not the parent that Twiglet needs me to be, and that makes me so disappointed with myself. I try hard to be patient. But on days when I’ve been stressed or tired it is ridiculously hard to respond carefully when he is shouting at me.
Don’t get me wrong – he is a lovely boy; often patient and loving with Pudding, helping him or me with things, and always keen to tell me about stuff. But he loses his temper a lot at the moment and I know I’m being unfair when I expect him to act in a more logical manner. He is, after all, not quite six.
We often do things together that he does enjoy, such as reading, playing Lego or games. More often than not that means doing it when Pudding is having his afternoon nap or one parent takes him out while the other stays at home on Pudding duty.
But yesterday we had a whole day out together – Twiglet and parents – while Pudding stayed with Mum, Sister, Niece and Nephew from 8.30am till 7pm. It was A-ma-zing! We went Magna Science Adventure Museum and spent ages doing all the hands-on activities. At one point I saw a mother dashing wildly after her small toddler and was very grateful that I wasn’t having to do the same with our rather larger bundle of energy! Then we came home and Hubby and Twiglet played on the computer while I (oh yes!) did the washing up and some other jobs, as well as a sneaky read upstairs on the bed. Then we had a meal out.
All day I was aware that I could enjoy being with Twiglet so much more when the focus of my attention wasn’t constantly being pulled away. I love his company and the strange random conversations we get into. And of course, he didn’t answer back or lose his temper at all during the day. Positive attention definitely works.
Now I just need to figure out how to keep that going whilst breaking up fights and still getting stuff done around the house!