Being a parent is the hardest job ever. Fact. It is a role we are thrown into with zero experience, straight into the deep end and expected to just get on with it. There are lots of books on parenting available but with so much conflicting advice and with every child being completely different, it can be so hard to know what to do for the best. As a mum I am always questioning what I do and if I am raising Leo to the best of my ability, most of the time I think I’m doing ok but things like mum guilt and other peoples opinions can cause serious blows to my confidence. Some days all I can think is that I am doing it all wrong, did I miss the memo on how to be the perfect mum? Some days I feel like everyone else is smoothly sailing through their parenting journey while I frantically try and keep my head above the water.
My latest crisis in confidence has come from a recent home visit with the health visitor. I know I should take everything she said with a pinch of salt, she doesn’t know Leo and how can she possibly judge him by spending just one hour with him? Anyway, her words and how she chose to deliver them have really struck a particularly sensitive chord with me and I have been left with that same horrible question filling up my brain, am I doing it all wrong?
Basically, the health visitor popped around the other day for an introduction appointment, just a quick hello before baby arrives and to give me a massive pile of leaflets about breastfeeding, healthy eating and the like. She wasn’t coming to discuss Leo and yet talk of his behaviour dominated the conversation for over an hour. Now, I will be the first to admit that my boy is hard work, really really hard work at times. He has awful tantrums, sometimes he bites and hits and I have often been left wondering what on earth I am supposed to do to cope with this behaviour. So, when the health visitor is telling me how to deal with this, useful tips on what to do to avoid such outbursts of bad behaviour, I can take it. I eagerly listened and mentally noted down her techniques for positive reinforcement, reward charts and so on but when she says my child’s behaviour isn’t normal? Well, that’s where I stop being so eager to listen and start to get a bit angry.
After spending just one hour with him (and yes, obviously he chose to misbehave the whole hour), the health visitor had decided Leo is not like most 3 year olds. She doesn’t think he is ‘atypical’ whatever that means. When he walked into the kitchen and saw her sat at the table, instead of shying away to Mummy (as is normal according to the health visitor) he ran up to her and licked her arm and tried to get her to pick him up. What I see as confidence, she sees as over familiarity and unusual behaviour. When Leo started talking to her, she was again closely watching him. What I see as a very chatty and clever little boy, the health visitor sees someone with a very advanced grasp on language and a child who speaks in a far too articulate fashion for his years.
Am I doing it all wrong? Have I missed something important? I have always seen Leo’s amazing speech and confidence around people as a good thing, a sign that he is developing into a super clever little boy. Now I have been made to feel I should be concerned by these traits, along with his ‘challenging behaviour’ and need for attention, there could apparently be something more going on.
To be told your child is not like others their age is hard to hear. Obviously, everyone is unique and life would be very dull if we were all the same, but I don’t want to hear his behaviour isn’t normal. I will take it when she says his behaviour is challenging because, you know what, sometimes it is. He does have an almighty temper on him and is not afraid to show his frustration if he doesn’t get his own way. Apparently I have been dealing with this all wrong too, which is fine, maybe I have. Like I said earlier, parenting doesn’t come with a one size fits all guidebook, I wish it did but it doesn’t. I am not to shout at him, not to use the word ‘naughty’, always focus on the positive, talk to him like he’s a dog performing tricks and reward him when he’s good. All sounds easy? Well you try remaining calm and focusing on the positives when your child has just wacked you over the head with the biggest toy he can find.
I will try these techniques though, just to see if they work and to try and quash the taunting thoughts, the ones telling me I am doing everything wrong. If his behaviour hasn’t improved by the time the baby is here then it has been recommended that he spends a few sessions with some nursery nurses who are specifically trained in dealing with challenging behaviour.
When baby arrives next month I have been told I’m going to find it really hard and if Leo is still not ‘behaving normally’ by the time school starts then I am going to be in for a world of problems. Thanks for giving me something to look forward to health visitor, I thought you were meant to reassure me not make me feel worse than ever.
I know I am probably being over sensitive and she was only trying to help, to share her professional opinion with me but how can she possibly make these claims after just one hour with him, one hour where he was playing up? I am sorry but no three year old is perfect, I have read enough blogs and seen it myself plenty of times while at toddler groups to know all little ones can be naughty and are hard work sometimes. Why try and put Leo in a box and label him as ‘challenging’ and ‘different’? He is three, he’s still learning what’s wrong and what’s right. I am trying my best to teach him and support his development but right now I just feel like I am failing.
Am I doing it all wrong? Is she right? Am I just blinded by the crazy love I have for my boy that I refuse to see it? Perhaps she is right, maybe I have missed something and the clever, confident boy with a tendency to have regular meltdowns that is my son, does in fact have some kind of problem that needs addressing? I don’t know, I really don’t think so. What do I know though. I’m no health professional, I’m just his mother.
Do you ever feel like you are doing it all wrong? Do you get mum guilt or doubt yourself after comments others have made? Am I being unfair, do you think I should take less offence to what the health visitor said? I would love to know your thoughts on this.
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