E is almost 5 and has always been a bundle of energy. She doesn’t know how to walk. She runs everywhere. When she’s really not allowed to run, she climbs. Or hangs upside down from furniture, laughing, like a giddy little bat. She has three imaginary friends, so there’s no such thing as quiet time – she will always be speaking, to someone or something, or herself. I like it. I like her quirks. They make her fun to be around and they make her who she is.
What I don’t like, is the fact that simple outings result in me almost having a nervous breakdown because she has absolutely no road sense or sense of danger, the crying fits that occur on a daily basis, the tantrums and the aggression. I struggle to cope with them.
School called me in – we had a talk. They told me about the way she behaves in the classroom, the way she interacts (or sometimes doesn’t) with other children, and the fact that she often struggles to maintain focus. But they also mentioned lots of positives: she pours all her attention into creative activities, is wonderfully imaginative, happy and friendly 90% of the time. She is at range 1 on the special educational needs register – this means that at the moment, the support she is receiving in school is sufficient.
While I certainly believe that she can’t always help what she does, there are many people who’ve tried to suggest it’s my parenting. Yet we have rules, we have routines and we have boundaries. I worked in childcare for three years and studied behaviour management. The methods that worked for the children in my care have never worked for my own child.
One night, after having chicken nuggets and chips for tea, she was extra. I mean bouncing off the walls extra; a whirlwind of giggle fits, handstands, emotional meltdowns, destroying my furniture and nipping me.
I started to do a bit of research into other ways I could help her, and save myself from going mad. This research included Google and Youtube. The greatest sources of information known to man, right?
For the past week and a half, I’ve been trying something new. I’ve gone from a “just wang a frozen pizza in the oven” woman, to a young, quite a lot less attractive Nigella Lawson.
That was an exaggeration. But I have been cooking from scratch.
These are some of the things I’ve made:
Not one artificial, processed, preservativey piece of shit for food in sight.
Although there’s some debate over whether a child’s diet and conditions such as ADHD have any correlation at all, there is enough evidence suggesting that nutrition, concentration and behaviour are closely linked. I don’t know whether it’s because there’s less sugar in her diet now and she’s sleeping better, or what… but there has been a change!
E will probably always be that kid who can never sit still and never stop talking – I’m more than cool with that. However, the things that I was not so cool with… actually seem to be decreasing since this diet change. Today I even (for the first time ever) took her on a successful shopping trip. Proper shopping. For clothes. In a shopping centre. A busy shopping centre.
- I didn’t lose sight of her and go into a mad panic.
- I didn’t have to apologise to people who work there for her pulling 82 dresses off a rail.
- She didn’t throw herself on the ground at any point.
- Above all; she listened to me!
And as a reward, she had her very own clothes haul in H&M.