To push the button or leave well alone…

When I was university, I had a friend who swore by Sudocrem. Whenever she got a little spot popping up, she’d whip out the Sudocrem and smear a bit over the affected area to try and soothe it away. I also had another friend who would simply attack a spot at any and every opportunity, trying to squeeze out the bad stuff! Is it better to go with a couple of weeks of soreness without it coming to a head before it fades away? Or to get the bad stuff out at the first available opportunity and have it over with?

Parenting is one of those things where everybody has a different experience, a different opinion and a different take on all kinds of aspects. Social media is full of bloggers, parents, professionals and more, all of whom have their own slant, pigeonhole or opinion.

And yet every child is an individual.

Every family is unique.

Every situation requires a different response.

Our girls all have differing ways of letting us know that something is up. Whether it is that something has happened. Or they’re overtired. Or they’re hormonal. Or they just want to be left alone.

Little Legs brings a whole new level of buttons and behaviours along with her back story.

This last few weeks we have expected much of her. We have lots going on and little wriggle room to avoid these things. She has coped marvellously. And at times such as these, we forget that she is still not totally sure of her place in our family.

On Sunday night, she was tired out. We made the decision to go for a tea time walk as it was so very lovely outside (when I should probably have focussed on getting food ready) . I commented to Mr Six that tea wouldn’t be quick once we got home and that the girls probably weren’t going to cope with another late night, after our Watoto road trip the night before. But we went anyway.

We had a lovely walk. The littler three scooted. The dog made a friend (a gorgeous Rhodesian Ridgeback). And we soaked up the sunshine, serenaded by the sounds of the funfair.

We arrived home and I told the girls tea would be about half an hour. The bigger three went off to do various things and Little Legs hung around the kitchen, chattering. That devoid of meaning, noise making chatter. Just letting me know that she was there.

I didn’t want to tempt fate, but spotted the tornado a mile off…

So I did it.

I pushed the big fat red button she was metaphorically waving in my face.

I got cross. I called the spade a spade.

She shouted. She cried. She was so very angry with me.

But it all came out.

I tag teamed with Daddy, in order to calm myself down and reassure our other girls.

The explosions continued and so Daddy took her up to bed. She shouted and cried and stamped around upstairs. She objected to being put to bed without tea. She was cross with Mummy for getting cross with her. Daddy kept reassuring her and then putting her back to bed until she could calm down.

It took about fifteen minutes.

Then she came to Daddy for cuddles and was ready to come downstairs.

And it all left me pondering: was it better to hit the button and facilitate the eruption? Or would it have been better to wait it out and let her simmer for a while, before going off the boil? Does it always eventually go off the boil in the end?

The following day we had similar in the late afternoon. She was tired and cross with me because I brought her in from playing in the garden after she had been hitting Little Bud, despite a warning that this would be the consequence should she choose to continue.

And then she set off my biggest trigger. I was not in control, but I needed to put her somewhere safe while I calmed myself down. Mr Six was at work, so I had to deal with this single handedly.

I put her in her bedroom. She was safe, contained and a little bit shocked. I reassured her that I loved her and that I was coming back in a minute, but that I needed a minute. I walked away to calm myself before I dealt with the situation.

After a few minutes she was calmer, as was I. I went back to her room and asked her why she was hitting Little Bud. She started shouting at me that she wanted to and that I couldn’t stop her. I let her shout it out. I calmly and clearly told her what the consequences would be if she carries on. She shouted a bit more.

Then I picked her up and cuddled her. She gave it all up and cried for a while, then settled down to repair. I’m taking that as a win to be honest!

I’m going with the get it all out option being best at the moment, but am intrigued to hear from other parents. Especially of traumatised little people who don’t have the solid foundation enabling them to manage their experiences. Which works best for your family? Enable the eruption, or contain until it fizzles out?

4 thoughts on “To push the button or leave well alone…

  1. I find it hard to pick my battles sometimes, generally when No 1 is attacking/hitting No 2 that this is unacceptable and will tackle it come what may. Other times and other places things like poor manners or wilfull behaviour are ‘parked’ to deal with at a later date when we are all calm. Never easy though!

    1. Yes, I agree that sometimes it’s obvious when it’s unacceptable behaviour. I haven’t so far been able to put my finger on a pattern beyond that though.i think some days it’s just that my tolerance is not at all high!

  2. Thank you for sharing. I often push the big red button when I would probably be better letting it simmer. In my professional capacity, I was recently at a conference for Youth Justice Board practitioners. One gentleman who spoke described an enhanced case work management system that they are piloting in one county in North Wales. They are working with under 18 year olds. They select the clients that they think will benefit most from this system, they chose those from the most chaotic backgrounds, a handful of kids, who between them had contributed to a Tsunami of crime in the county. Basically the enhanced system he described was first and foremost about building up trust with the child, so for example one practitioner spent the best part of eight months kicking a football with the young person, week in, week out. Eventually, by showing the child that no N matter what the behaviour, they would be there. the trust base was built and that acted as a springboard to be able to begin to address the problematic behaviour. In the case of this group of kids, the reduction in the level of offending was truly astounding. You are doing a fantastic job of establishing that Trust Base and being a constant in Little Leg’s life and that is fundamental in her hierarchy of needs and is already acting as a springboard as she develops into more of her own person and understands how her family works at being family.

    1. Thanks Jess. Yes, it sounds very similar to the no matter what approach of therapeutic parenting!We seem to be going through a phase of mega testing that just now, hence the big red button! Thank you for the encouragement too!

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