As any sole parent out there knows it’s bloody hard work doing the parenting by yourself, particuarly when you don’t have the support of the father at all. It becomes even harder when there are difficulties that need to be worked out. Our difficulties have been brewing ever since my son – JJ – started school in the middle of last year. The main difficulty is his behaviour which has definitely not been angelic. He spent half an hour in the principal’s office on his second day at school for misbehaving in the classroom. Even with incidents like this and incidents in the playground and at family day care after school I kept thinking that things would work out and he’d just get it and start behaving.
I finally realised that this probably wouldn’t happen without some help. It had reached the stage where he nearly wasn’t allowed to go to family day care after school anymore. As I work 4 days a week out of the home, and there’s a shortaqe of after school care, it really freaked me out that he might be expelled from this and I’d have to find something else or that I wouldn’t find something else. Actually he wouldn’t have been completely thrown out as he’s been going there on and off ever since he was one, and she would have accommodated him until I found something else, but it would have disrupted him and me. I also noticed that he wasn’t getting invites to some birthday parties when lots of other kids did and of course I want him to be happy and get along with other kids and do the playdate with school mates thing.
During conversations with a good friend she said to me that I was my son’s best advocate and at the time I didn’t really take this on board. Last week though, I went to see a psychologist about him because I’m worried that his behaviour could escalate and he’ll become known as the school bully. This is the worst case scenario but I want to nip it in the bud.
After I finished my session with the psychologist (JJ meets her next week) I felt so so much better and being my son’s best advocate is coming home to me now. I had a talk with his new teacher and she’s just fabulous. We’ve lucked out there. She knows what he’s like and doesn’t put up with any bad behaviour from him or anyone else in her classroom so he listens to her because he knows there’s consequences. As she said it’s easier for her because she’s not emotionally involved. There’s consequences with me, but I am emotionally involved so don’t always carry through when I should. I was also given homework by the psychologist, one thing being positive play.
Positive play is where you let your child lead the play and you don’t give directions. There’s suggested toys for this, like building blocks, lego, magnetic blocks, crayons and paper. Toys to avoid are ones that encourage rough or aggressive play, ones that have preset rules or ones that lead the parent or child to pretend they are someone else. The idea is that imagination is encouraged without the play getting out of hand.
It is very hard to shift habits and not give direction when doing this type of play but I have noticed that after three days of it, that JJ enjoys it, I enjoy it and we have a laugh while doing it. It doesn’t have to last long – 5 minutes is recommended.
I know that any changes in JJ’s behaviour will not come about because the light switch goes on his head that he needs to change. He will have to learn appropriate behaviour and obviously this is harder for some kids than it is for others. But at least when I get the ‘teach your son how to behave properly’ comments which I have had occasionally I can say that I, and the school are taking steps to teach him how it’s appropriate to behave towards other kids and adults. I’ll be able to explain to them that this is not necessarily innate, but in his case it’s taking longer to learn and that something is being done about it.
I know there will still be incidents of naughty behaviour but I feel a whole lot better that I’m moving in the right direction to help teach him better behaviour.