You probably already know if you are a regular reader (and if not, why not?!) that I don’t believe in “bad babies” or “tough love”. I was adamant as the milestone of turning two and official toddler-hood approached, I did not want to buy into the “terrible twos” trap. I wasn’t prepared to write off a whole year of our lives as “terrible”. And there’s so much to enjoy about this age, they are such little entertainers, and the explosion of language is amazing to witness. However, on the flip side, there is some seriously challenging behaviour. Testing of boundaries, figuring out cause and effect (by pushing all the buttons!), and that’s without the tantrums. My Daughter’s first tantrum was at around 18 months old. I honestly considered taking her to hospital! She was thrashing on the floor, hitting her head intentionally, I could not get through to her. It was very scary to watch. Eight months down the line, I have experienced a fair few more tantrums. I definitely don’t see them as misbehaviour and something which requires punishment, but I can’t say I’m altogether clear the best way to manage them, or support her either.
“MINE” is a recent (and favourite) addition to her vocabulary, which leads to some run-ins at Playgroups. And once again, I am not too sure how best to deal this these encounters. I don’t like terms like ‘naughty’, ‘bad’, or telling her to ‘be a good girl’, but I don’t much like being smacked in the face or shrieked at either. When she doesn’t have the ability to be rationalised with fully yet, at times I am a bit lost. I could not begin to count the amount of times I repeated my standard answer: “I believe babies have only needs not wants”, when being offered “helpful suggestions” on how to raise my tiny infant. But the reality is now, she does have both ‘wants ‘as well as ‘needs’, and is prepared to scream and shout about them.
So when I read about Attachment Parenting UK’s Positive Discipline Course , I was intrigued. I knew APUK promoted gentle and intuitive Parenting, but “positive discipline” sounded like something of an oxymoron to me. I also had a certain degree of apprehension; discipline, in my mind, conjures up images of naughty steps, punishment, and shaming. And whilst I may have found many of the instincts and values I have naturally aligned myself with as a Mother mirror those of “Attachment Parenting”, I am hesitant to have my “style” of Parenting pigeon holed. I certainly am not keen on the suggestion of rigid doctrine on how I should and shouldn’t be raising my Daughter.
I remember so clearly, finally being discharged with our tiny girl, after six weeks in hospital (she was premature, which you can read more about here). After such an enforced, restrictive, and medicalised routine in Special Care, I was adamant I wanted to follow her lead from then on, and actively avoided baby books, or advice, no matter how well meaning. This method, unfortunately left me at a point where I felt utterly lost and confused. I was completely new to this Mothering experience, I desperately wanted to do best by my baby, but what an earth was that? Listening to your instincts takes practice, and with so many loud and conflicting voices both around me,and within my own head, at times instincts were drowned out. The reality is, we all need some help and guidance at times as Parents. There’s no other role we would enter without any training, and yet this is the most important role of our lives. Yes we have the Prehistoric instincts there, but no guidebook for navigating them through this modern world. And reaching out for help is a brave act.
Knowing where to reach for this advice is also imperative. Not a day goes by on social media where I don’t see a shout out from a fellow Mama looking for advice, or help managing challenging behaviour. And Peer support is wonderful, and truly invaluable, but when it comes to specific strategies, all our values and Children are so individual. We are all just learning as we go, and winging it. So whilst that glossy insta-mama may seem to have obedient contented kids, you only see a tiny snap shot, and what works in their home may well not work in yours. Then there’s the multi million pound industry of baby books! Nothing riles me more than the swathes of publications, produced by self proclaimed experts. One in particular-a World wide best seller, is written by a Woman with neither formal qualification, nor personal Mothering experience. Titles such as ‘sleep specialist’, ‘Parenting coach’, and even ‘super nanny’, have no formal legislation.
My Daughter is the most precious thing in my life, so I want advice from a source I trust, which is another reason the Attachment Parenting UK Positive Discipline Course appealed to me. APUK is a not for profit organisation, with a passion for Parents and Children at it’s heart. Their Positive Disciple course calls on experts in their fields, such as Clinical Psychologists, and Child Development specialists . It is research and evidence based-which appeals to someone like me with a Science background.
So here we are, at the start of our “Positive Discipline Course”, a fiery, high speed, and determined 26 month old (who can throw some spectacular tantrums), and a (self confessed slightly too permissive) Mother who, in all honesty, would love some tools beyond food bribery! I will post an update once I have completed the course, and hopefully will have lots of great ideas to share with you all (not to mention an angelic toddler 😉 ). If you are keen to find out more about APUK and their Course, you can do so here.
**The course has been offered to me as complementary, in return for an honest review. There’s no sugar coating this toddler, so the proof really will be in the (sugar free) pudding. The discount code Intrepid50 is available for a limited number of Parents, Grandparents or Child Care Practitioners, and entitles them to 50% of the course price.