Week One: My parenting course this morning 9:30 – 11:30

I am dreading it. I hope my lift isn’t there and I can make a dash for it and go home. My lift is there, and I am feeling really sick, and very nervous. We are outside the room, I feel really shaky, I hope the ladies are nice. I meet the facilitators and the rest of the group; they are all very pleasant people. The facilitator explains that the video camera is only on her and not on any of us. Thank goodness. During the morning the facilitator talked to us all about spending quality time with our children. I automatically started thinking, “I do that anyway.” I didn’t need to come here to be told to play with my children. At that point I wanted to get up and go home. But, that would have been more embarrassing, so I stayed. We watched small pieces of video of parents trying to play with their children. It got a bit more interesting, as I could see myself in some of those films. I thought playing with your children, spending quality time with them, was enough to make them feel that you like sharing your time with them. But listening to the facilitator and the group, and reading the handouts, I know then that I could learn how to be a calmer parent by doing things differently and taking a new approach. (Don’t know about next week.)

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Week Two: My parenting course this morning 9:30 – 11:30

My lift is waiting for me once again, even though I am not quite as nervous, I am still wondering why I am putting myself through this torment of feeling embarrassed, nervous and sick. I remind myself I am doing it to get some confidence in myself and to pass that on to my children. The facilitators are there waiting for us to come in and settle down. They greet us all in a lovely way, and the rest of the group is all so friendly. I feel better already. The facilitator talks about our homework task, which was to set 10 minutes aside for special time with our children doing child-led play, which I found easier to do indoors than outdoors. The facilitator asks us all in our turns how we got on. She was really pleased with all of us. We had all tried very hard to do the 10 minutes a day. At first it seemed easy to think 10 minutes, but some days it was very difficult to find that 10 minutes, so maybe we only did 5 minutes. But the facilitator said that was fine, as long as we explain it clearly to our children. We watched video pieces again. Some of the same parents getting a little better at child-led play and some still hopeless. Again, I found the videos very interesting, and helpful. When the parent wasn’t so good at the play sessions, I would watch the reaction from the children and see my own children doing that. So watching those pieces of film helped me do things differently. (I will come next week.)

Week Three: My parenting course this morning 9:30 – 11:30

I got to class by myself this week, I felt quite pleased with myself and I am looking forward to it. Everyone seemed pleased to see me, and the facilitator was especially pleased that I had made it with no help. Again all the group was really lovely and supportive of each other. We talked about how we got on with play again, and what benefits it had for the children. We watched videos again, and again they were most helpful. After we watch snippets of videos the facilitator asks us questions and I personally find that good for me, as I pick up a lot from other members of the group.

We talked about the pyramid, and how we will work up it in the weeks to come. At that point I thought no way will I be able to do all the things Jane was talking about. The ten minutes a day, doing child-led play and talking to the children differently was enough for me at the moment, thank you. But I was happy to give it a go. The facilitators gave us all handouts to read, refrigerator notes and charts to fill in. I thought “ho, this is a lot to take in,” but I will try my best. One of the handouts was about behaviors to praise and encourage. I found this very helpful. I used this a lot in the week. I am enjoying the class now. I am looking forward to next week.

As the weeks go by, I long for Wednesday mornings. I can’t wait to get to the group sessions to share my experiences of the past week. Sometimes I go home from the sessions thinking to myself, “ho I’m not going to try what has been suggested this week, as I know it won’t work.” Then, when I’m at home with my children, just about to pull my hair out over a situation, suddenly I remember what new strategy we had learned in our last session. Usually I try it, and nine times out of ten it works straight away. I have to admit I was wrong, and can’t wait to tell the facilitators and the group about it.

Ignoring was a classic of a situation that occurred and I thought “I can’t do that,” but I did and it worked and is still working. Time out was another one that I honestly thought wouldn’t work with my children, but the threat of time out was enough and luckily I have not had to use it.

Bedtime was another struggle for me and I used to get very worked up before it was time for bed, just the thought of what was to come used to work me up. Then the facilitator did some role-play with us in one of our sessions, where I was taught how to be firm and learn to ignore all the attention seeking I would get from my son at bedtime. Again, I thought no way can I be that strong and ignore that well and that he would go to bed and stay there. The first night was a disaster, but I persevered. The next night wasn’t quite as bad as usual, but it wasn’t good either. So the third night, I was very determined to have some quality time for ME! So when I kept getting notes pushed under the lounge door, I ignored them, even when the writing got BIGGER and BIGGER and the works were quite upsetting (like you are a cruel mother, you are starving me to death!). I still ignored him, even when he was screaming down the hall “I’m thirsty, I’m going to die.” I still ignored him and the final straw was when he came into the lounge and switched off the telly. I got up and held his hand tight, took him to his bed and said very firmly “BED!” With that my son stayed in bed, and from that night onwards I am pleased to say that bedtimes are now pleasant.

So all in all, I have gone from the boiling point to a very calm mother. I am pleased I was talked into joining the Carolyn Webster-Stratton training program. I am pleased that the facilitator kept ringing me to remind me the date it started. I am pleased I had a chaperone to take me there for the first few weeks, without that support I would not have gone to the first session. I am grateful to the facilitator for the texts in the following weeks – without that support I would not have gone for the next two, three weeks, but now it has come to an end. I know I shall miss the sessions, but I will take with me everything I was taught, and the friends I have made.

Since doing the Carolyn Webster-Stratton course I am happy to say that my life with my children has changed 99.9% (well nobody is ever 100% wrong are they?)

A mother
This mother was referred to the program. She had moved to the area as a survivor of domestic violence. Her house was burned and she was seriously injured.