parenting

Is my child unhappy?

I read somewhere that the only way to solve a tantrum is to make your child happy. Totally, 100% happy. Whether that’s true or not, and whether anyone can really be 100% happy, I’m not sure. But I’m starting to think there might be something in it. When I look at the toddler during one of his many, many tantrums, I do wonder whether he is unhappy. Of course, at that moment in time with his red face and his kicking legs, he isn’t happy. He’s incredibly angry and frustrated about the fact that his (too small) grey coat is in the wash and he’s going to have wear his blue one instead. He’s also distraught that this exchange of coats needs to happen really quickly so that his sister isn’t late for school. But the question I keep asking myself: is my child unhappy? It keeps bobbing back to the surface.

He cries a lot. He screams a lot. He lashes out and he uses the word NO a lot. Does that mean he is unhappy?

These tantrums are getting longer and louder and more upsetting. Am I a terrible mother for denying his right to eat jam sandwiches in the living room rather than the kitchen? I know all about picking and choosing your battles, but is it ok to insist on certain levels of behaviour from a two year old?

I don’t believe in the naughty step or time out. I think he’s too young for sticker charts and rewards. It’s not short term enough. Distraction used to work.

“Oh, look! LOOK! There’s a dinosaur outside!”

But he’s wise to that now.

Persuasion worked sometimes, especially if you offer an choice.

“Ok, you can either brush your teeth, or you can stay here while we go outside to play.”

But he’s wise to that now.

Bribery worked sometimes.

“If you brush your teeth, you can come outside to play.”

But he’s wise to that now.

Firm-handedness has never worked.

“Come and brush your teeth please.”

He’s always been wise to that.

One thing I discovered today that will never ever work and will always always make you feel like the most terrible, awful parent ever: arguing back and even *whispers* shouting back.

I was never going to be one of those parents you see in supermarkets who lose their temper and screech down the aisles for their offspring to “behave or else!” I’m still not one of those parents, but today I came close. Thank goodness we were indoors and nobody- hopefully- could hear. I shouted. I’ve been hanging my head in shame ever since.

Is my child unhappy? No, I don’t think so. But he might be if I don’t find a way to deal with his more challenging moments soon. He’s just two. He’s normal. It’s me who needs to adapt and change a little. It’s me who needs some more tools in my belt and a little more patience.

 

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Through the bars of the cot

We haven’t had the best weekend, it’s fair to say. The baby started vomiting Thursday night and spent the whole of Friday night sleeping for about twenty minutes before waking in pain. I lost count of how many times I scooped him up to calm him down… somewhere around twenty-seven, I think. He eventually fell asleep around 3.30 am and woke at 7. It didn’t click then. He started vomiting again on Saturday night and woke at 10.30, again screaming in pain. It still didn’t click.

This is where doctors failed my baby once more. I called NHS Direct at 11pm and was told that a nurse would call me back within SIX hours but that I should call if he didn’t settle and was still crying. I gave it two hours (of pacing, crying, pacing, crying) before I called back and was put through to a nurse. The nurse told me that an out of hours doctor would call me back, which he did. The GP informed me- I would say politely, but that would not be true- that he was not a peadiactrics doctor, he could not prescribe anything for a baby and that the only advice he could give was to take the baby to the hospital. In my heart of hearts, I didn’t think he needed the hospital (it still didn’t click) but I felt too afraid not to. At 2am, alone and exhausted, it felt wrong to ignore a doctor’s advice.

The drive calmed him down and by the time we entered the land of late-night ghosts, he had stopped crying and was just staring at me, pale, red-eyed and confused. We sat amongst the accident prone and the unfortunate and we waited. The nurse that saw us was most displeased that we had inconvenienced her by arriving in A&E. We shouldn’t have allowed the GP to send us here, the raging temperature had gone down and I was clearly a terrible mother for bringing the baby out in the middle of the night. My punishment would be a four hour wait or to go home with no examination for the baby. I looked at him. And THEN it clicked.

We’ve been here so many times before. We thought we’d passed the pain and the screaming and the vomiting. We thought we were ready to wean the medication. It seems the Reflux had other ideas, still wanted my baby as its play-thing for a little longer.

It seems the tummy bug has irritated his oesophagus and set the flame a-fire again. We’d only dropped one dose of his meds but it had been a week and so the levels in his body were too low to fight the pain. Of course, I’m only guessing at this, since I left the hospital and decided to battle this out on my own again. The signs are all there- I know I’m right.

Image source:zooomr.com

Tonight, my baby has eaten little and refused his bottle. He has been too scared to go to sleep and just when I began to feel that I would not be able to get through tonight with yet more broken sleep, screaming and pacing the floors… I sat down beside his cot. At first, I was defeated. I actually thought, I’m not good enough to do this. Then he looked at me, sadly, and reached out. He tugged at my sleeve and put his head to his sheets. I put my fingers through the bars of the cot and he held on to me tightly. He finally fell asleep. After three days of screaming and writhing and kicking and arching and wailing and whimpering and pain… he fell asleep holding my hand. Through the bars of the cot.

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