I’ve got a 5-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son (who can be quite a handful; he’s a red-head and is fiery), both of whom like to test boundaries at home. Since coming to Kids Matter, I’ve learnt strategies to help manage their behaviour (reward charts and things), which have been so helpful.
Before starting the programme I was worried about being judged; that some parents might look at me and think that I can’t cope or think that my children are ‘this or that’. But actually, all the mums were going through something even though our children were at different stages. We had a lot in common and were able to share advice and experiences – like, one mum had a young child who was going through a stage of biting…a couple of the other mums and I were able to share our experiences relating back to when our children did the same thing.
I enjoyed being able to confide in people in the group and I found it easy to open up and talk. It was a little break in my day; meeting up with the others, hearing about what they’re going through and socialising while the kids played (and were supervised for the entire session). Having two hours in a day for just me was massive – it was like ‘Tuesday night out’, which I don’t have anymore. Everyone was open and no one sort of held back in what they wanted to say, so that was good.
I’ve never been sure whether I have been parenting the right way. As in, I know there is no right or wrong way but, you know, like punishment for example: am I punishing them too much and what is are steady, age-appropriate consequences? Nobody showed me how to do this, I learnt myself. Trial and error.
So much has changed since doing the Kids Matter programme. I left school at 14 (I’m now 30); I didn’t do very well back then but I’ve gone back to school to do my GCSEs and I got a B+, and was like, “Oh my god. I’m not stupid I can actually do it! Yeah, a couple of marks I could’ve gotten an A!” And I did it with two kids in tow.
I’m more relaxed now. I don’t take things to heart so much whereas before if my son had turned around and said, “Oh, I hate you!” I’d have become upset but now, I’ll take a moment to think about what has made him say it. We talk more and I look at things differently. Before, if he was having a bad day I’d feel like, Oh, shut up and ask him to go and sit down and be quiet, and never thought that speaking to him would help us both understand. I realised that I’d been spending more time with my younger daughter than with my son; without even asking him how he’s doing. Now, we both make an effort every day. At dinner time the kids used to eat and then go off and play, whereas now the kids eat their dinner and we’ll talk about our days – it’s family time for us. Neither of the children can leave the table until they’ve put their things away, so they’re helping around the house more, too.
We used to be like passing ships at home with very little conversation; now we make time and I think my son has noticed because we sit down a lot more than we ever did before. So yeah, it has changed; it’s calmer now, which makes a difference because it’s only me at home.
I’d definitely recommend Kids Matter to my friends.
*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the individual.
The attached picture is not a representation of the individual concerned.