Having a child isn’t easy, or haven’t I mentioned that before? The truth is that each age comes with it’s conflicts and frustrations. I thought that my daughter would have calmed down a bit by the time she was five, but it turns out that she’s a strong willed girl through and through. I didn’t bank on tantrums, but when they flare up on occasion I do my best to be as proactive as I can be. Because of this, after an incident last week where the two of us had a massive blowout, I employed the help of a third party in order to draft some sort of plan to get Abby (and myself) some coping mechanisms that we could practice instead of instantly getting angry.
It’s a recurring theme through 2012 that I have had to suck up my pride and ask for help. I haven’t want to in many ways, but I’ve also been able to see that what is currently happening is simply not good enough. We could go on with our lives, content in disagreeing with one another on a regular basis, or I can make an effort to grow with my daughter. To show her that she’s important enough to try getting along with. It’s extremely hard for me, but in the end, so is having these arguments.
Last week, Abby met alone with an outside party. She was asked about things that make her happy and things that make her sad. She was asked about what her wishes would be if she could have anything in the world. Her first wish was to “live in a happy life with no fighting”.
That was jarring to hear. Especially because most of these situations where we butt heads are caused by Abby refusing to do some silly little task, and then escalating from there.
The two of us met together with an outside party. We were both asked to fill out a feelings chart which demonstrated the feelings that we have towards each other. Because she’s unable to read, she circled the pictures that best matched the feelings that she has when it comes to me. I did the same. For me, the six that I circled were fairly similar. I picked lustful and happy because I love Abby very much and am always very proud of her. I also circled that I was feeling frustrated, shocked and surprised when it came to her behaviour. This was poignant especially because we had an incident last night where the two of us got into it, and my response was to separate until she had calmed down. In calming down, my daughter climbed into bed and fell asleep. I rubbed her back and asked her what the two of us could do to help her not get so angry and upset, and curb her reaction to yell at me. She shrugged and said she didn’t know. I said that I didn’t know either. That when it came to the fighting that’s happening with the two of us, I’m feeling really lost.
“But mom, you’re right here.”
Hearing her first wish, it gave me a bit of perspective. Abby is indeed strong willed. As such, she doesn’t want to do the things she doesn’t want to do. I’ve been strict on doling out consequence for her refusal to do the things that she’s asked to do. It results in Abby putting her foot down in that way that comes naturally to her. It seems that, when consequences happen, she becomes embarrassed and frustrated with herself for not listening and gets repeatedly angrier.
When Abby was asked about her plan to avoid fighting, or how we could work on the issues that we’ve been facing with her temper, she said that she could listen to her mom better and “be good”. i reminded her that she IS good. fundamentally she is a beautiful, smart, funny and clever individual, but that she sometimes makes poor choices.
When I was asked what I could do differently to diffuse situations a bit more, I said that I could reward good behaviours throughout the day with the use of a chart or other tool. I also feel like I could listen a bit better to Abby’s anxieties, but it’s hard for me to draw a line between real concerns and manipulation tactics. I’m planning to use a few techniques with her to remind the both of us of our plan to ultimately get to Abby’s wish of living a happy life without fighting.
It’s embarrassing to ask for help. It always has been. I’m currently going through group therapy for depression and I find it extremely embarrassing every time I have to go. But maybe humility is something that I could use. Admitting that I haven’t got it all figured out. But one thing is for sure, I can’t be truly happy so long as I quantify myself by others’ opinions. Taking this step outside my comfort zone has given me some ideas on things that I can personally change for the better.