If you’re a Facebook fan, you may have seen this status update on Saturday.
It seems my tiny princess is a miniature bully.
The school holidays have seen many episodes of biting (almost drawing blood on a couple of occasions), hair pulling, hitting and pinching.
All from one tiny person.
It’s one thing when it’s at home, and you are dealing with it with a firm ‘no,’ and isolation on the cot, and then an apology, but it’s another thing altogether when you are out in public.
When you are defending the other children from your fiery, little bundle.
Or when, at the checkout of the supermarket, she climbs out of the seat of the trolley, and as you try to put her back in, she bites your shoulder as hard as she cam and your firm (and pain filled) ‘No!’ draws the attention of everyone in a ten metre radius, and they look at you like you are the worst mother in the world.
And it’s another thing completely, when in the middle of the night, you get up to get a drink, bump your shoulder into the wall, think ‘ow that hurts!’ and then remember its because that is the shoulder your 17month old has been biting all day, every time you do not give in to her hearts desires.
Hence, previous Facebook update.
To be honest, I felt a bit silly putting that up there. Those are the sort of questions people usually ask me.
But I realise that it is one thing to know how to deal with your own kids, and another to all with someone else’s. (Let’s face it; we are all experts on everyone else’s kids! ;))
It’s not because we know better; it’s because of perspective. We are in the situation, and we are emotionally involved, and that complicates everything.
So I did what I do in these situations, when I have no idea; I pretend it’s someone asking me what to do with their bully, and what would I tell them.
And I realised I’m doing everything right.
If anyone else came to me with the same problem, I would tell them to explain it was wrong, isolate the child, and make them apologise.
But I would also add the two dirty words of parenting.
Persistency, and Consistency.
So many times, we give up trying to teach our kids something, because ‘it’s just not working,’ when the truth is, we haven’t given it time to work.
Some kids are quick learners; they realise pretty soon in the piece what is expected, or what is acceptable, and adjust their actions.
Others take a little longer.
And some work it out really quick, but just don’t care.
Like my little Ava.
She knows that biting is wrong. She has started to bite me a few times, and then stopped with her mouth still open. That shows incredible self control on her part, but it also shows me that it’s getting through, and that what I am doing is right; I just have to keep doing it.
Persistence and Consistency are two of the nastiest words to tell a mum, because, let’s face it, we are busy, usually tired, and we just want our little people to do what they are told, when they told, no questions asked, no tantrums thrown, and nothing broken in the process (including skin.)
Unfortunately, from my experience, Persistence, and Consistency are also the two faithful, and secret weapons a mother has. Our kids have a huge amount of resolve when it comes to doing what they want; our resolve needs to be greater, if we even have a hope of winning.
I first learnt their value when Bailey was an infant and refused to sleep. I’ve had bad sleepers before (none of them were particularly great), but he took the cake. The child would NOT sleep. Ever.
I quickly realised that I needed to win this battle. He could sleep on his terms, (with constant breast feeds and cuddles), or on my terms. In his bed, by himself.
Being the third, and a giant lump that wrecked my back and had me in physio, option one was not really an option. So armed with Consistency and Persistence, I taught that little night owl how to sleep in his own bed, by himself, and by about 4 months, he got the picture.
The truth is, sometimes it takes one time, and others it takes 79 times. But if our kids are determined enough to see it through, for their own good, we need to be twice as determined.
I don’t want my miniature bully to become a full sized one; I want her to grow into a lady. Her nature means no one will ever walk all over her, but as she grows, my job as her mother is to teach her appropriate ways to ensure that, which is not going to be an easy task.
Thankfully I’ve got two dirty words in my arsenal.