Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Six weeks ago I was not handling it. At all. I was in despair. He was throwing fits on a daily basis and i was trying every strategy known to modern and cave-dwelling parents alike. I tried ignoring the behaviour but that made him worse. I tried Time Outs but they don't bother him. I tried smacking him but that just led to escalating tit-for-tat physical conflict. I tried positive praise but that just enraged him. I spent nights researching Aspergers and child bipolar disorder trying to figure out what his problem was. I cried and felt like a terrible mother, not least because I found myself wondering if I still loved him. I just couldn't understand how a four year old with a loving, attentive family could be so unhappy. It was breaking my heart.
But about a month ago there was a shift. We decided to try a weekend without turning on the computer, so that we would be less distracted and more engaged with the kids. It was so much fun that it is now a firmly enforced family rule. Around the same time I also made a conscious decision to give Little Bear more 'colo', which is a wondeful Brazilian word that amounts to cuddling and holding someone like a baby. Guess what? In the last four weeks we haven't had a single episode of the same magnitude, at home at least. He's being utterly adorable and sweet and happy most of the time.
For me, it was case closed. But today the school psychologist was recommending we should take him for an evaluation with a child therapist to see if we can figure out what is bothering him. I have my own theories; jealousy of his younger sibling; anxiety about growing up (and even death) and a desire to go back to being a baby, all of which manifest themselves in massive attention-seeking fits replete with baby behaviour. See, I've got it all figured out myself. Why do I need to take him to someone else to corroborate my theory?
Truth is that we Brits are not very comfortable with therapy. I don't know a single British friend of mine that has ever been to a therapist, or taken their kid to one. The therapy culture of countries like the US and Brazil is a source of total bemusement to us. It's just not something that we do. And if we do, I suppose we don't talk about it. (Do you even get psychologists in British schools? You certainly didn't in my day). Of course I think that some people have some serious issues to figure out, but it seems like some people go to their therapist to indulge their precious egos for an hour, talking about how they feel about their broken nail or the boyfriend that just wasn't that into them. The Brits on the other hand like to figure things out by themselves. We're just not that dramatic or touchy-feely. Stiff upper lip, Dunkirk spirit and all that.
Whether or not I take Little Bear to the therapist remains to be seen. As for me, why would I pay to speak about myself for an hour when I can just spend an hour writing a blog post for free? Thanks for listening.