I know I often write about stuff I’m having a problem with but this week I thought I’d let you know something that’s really working for me at the moment (as always the caveat when it comes to children is AT THE MOMENT!!)
So as a quick update I had my Health Visitor visit, for his 2 Year Check. Hmmm. How can I say this? Well it wasn’t horrendous, but it wasn’t all that helpful either. First off she was late and I mean really late. An hour. By the time she arrived he was both annoyed that I wouldn’t let him in the garden (I didn’t think I’d be able to get him back in if I did) and knackered. Going well so far. She sat and listened to my concerns about his speech, with lots of yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah after everything I said, which I guess she felt indicated she was listening, but to me sounded the complete opposite. She did say she’d refer him for a hearing test to be on the safe side, and gave me some leaflets on speech development (the most useful of which told me to get more eye contact with him, which I have been trying to do). She said she couldn’t refer him to a speech therapist until he was 27 months (he’s currently 25 months) but would if he was still at this level by then. And that was about it. She didn’t weigh or measure him (I have to go to the surgery to get that done) and in fact didn’t interact with him at all. I mentioned the tantrums and she told me (no joke) to ‘just ignore the bad behaviour and praise the good’. Really? No shit Sherlock. Thanks for that nugget. And that was that, as she rushed to get to her next (late) appointment. And I worried about this? Fuck me! Sorry, but really?
Anyway the next day I decided to take a walk up to my local childrens centre. We used to visit regularly and participated in two courses there before Oscar turned one. I also met my wonderful friend Emma there. We haven’t been back since his courses finished. I don’t know, it just felt so much part of his babyhood I didn’t think to revisit it. But the HV left me their brochure and turns out they run a course to help develop speech! So rather than phone, I got Oscar in his buggy and walked the 1.5 miles to the centre (on the way he fell asleep, far too early, but it did mean when I arrived I could talk to the Support Workers in peace!) It was so nice to see them. They remembered both of us and the administrator remembered both of our names AND our surname when she booked him on to their Chatterbox course starting in September – that woman should go on Britain’s got Talent for her memory recall!! Course booking out of the way, they actually took the time to ask me how it was going. I mentioned the tantrums, and they didn’t dismiss me with stupid platitudes. It was nice. I asked about a book the HV mentioned as I wondered if they had it in their library of parenting books. They seemed surprised at the book I asked for as it’s not one they recommend (I wont name it here in case it’s your favourite toddler book – to each their own). They did suggest another one called 123 Magic. Kate told me how she’d used it’s principles to great effect with her son, counting down each time she needed him to do something. Sounded good.
As it happened I was unable to find the book in the library, so picked up Jo Frost’s Confident Toddler Care instead (flicked through, still sitting on the table unread). The only page I did see, listed what she believes are the touchstones for toddler care and included Communicating Clearly. That along with the stuff Kate mentioned got me thinking. Do I communicate well enough or clearly enough with Oscar. So I decided to give my own version of the 123 thing a try.
And do you know it only bloody works!
I get down to his level (if practical), tell him what we’re doing, if there are options I offer them to him, then I count him down. THEN I DO WHAT I SAID! I follow through.
“We’re going upstairs to have a bath now Oscar. You can either walk up the stairs or mama can carry you up. But whatever you decide we’re doing it in 1, 2, 3” (and I show him the 123 fingers)
I’m not asking him, I’m telling him and if at three he isn’t walking up the stairs, I tell him I’m carrying him. Within a week I’m finding I am getting to three less and less. And the tantrums? Well he might be a bit shouty, but he doesn’t wriggle and fight me the way he did. It’s amazing. His speech is no better, but his comprehension seems to be coming on and I think that’s down to my clearer communication. Yesterday he even came up to me, for the first time ever and ‘told’ me he needed a clean nappy. I was so proud.
I know some of you might be reading this and saying “well duh Lisa, of course that’s how you do it”. And if so I hate you all for not telling me sooner 😉 ! I thought about being sad that I wasn’t communicating clearly enough before, but what would that achieve? Instead I’m loving that taking an idea from here and a tip from there and squidging them together has produced something that works for us. For now.
Always, for now.
I’ll let you know how it goes!