Monkey See, Monkey Do


As parents we've all faced challenges with parenting our children. We have a child that doesn't listen, who dobs on everyone, who doesn't share, who needs help with homework but won't listen, who bullies others....but where do the such learned behaviours come from? and how do we reason?

This is not my usual style of blog, about personal, family, parenting but I've really felt the need to be authentic and raw about whats happening in the life of Kara Vaina. Its not a "oh she's struggled, oh she's a shit parent, she wants attention" its about therapeutically voicing what we as parents deal with every day and how it may, just slightly help and add value to someone else going through the same thing that isn't strong enough to publicly share.

I've lived in a world of a head strong child for the last 2 years and have found the struggle real. Its taken me a lot to seek help and speak publicly of the impact this has had on me but I've come to the realisation that a lot of it came from ME. So I'm not here to share for sympathy, simply share my story and experience to help others reflect, inspire and possibly make a difference to them and their children.

Being a mother of 1 was great, life with a placid, sensitive and affectionate boy made life easy but that was all about to change. In July 2014, my second son was born. It was a joyous occasion because for us as a family, was a long journey to conceive our precious boys. However, six months into becoming a mother of 2, my youngest developed what we thought was funny at the time, but loud screaming for attention. To think that a child this early could "turn it on" when he wanted attention was amazing to me. I was use to carrying on my life as I knew it......Independent, Sociable, Fast paced and a little selfishly if I'm being completely honest.

This behaviour continued on for months and months, and at the 18 month mark of his short life, when his speech was not developing I started to question everything as a parent and whether there was more to this than just behavioural......Autism. When he'd scream, I'd react, I yell back, I'd tell him off in an angry and aggressive manner, I'd even smack him on the hand or leg to tell him his behaviour was not acceptable. Yes judge me if you will for smacking but in my head it was the only way I would get through to him in his language to say it wasn't right. He would scream everyday, tantrums, hysterical and some days from the minute he woke to the minute he went to bed. I couldn't wait for that sleep time for peace, to have a cry and wonder what I was going to do or how I would manage this moving forward as I knew that as time went on and moving into "terrible two's" it would get harder.

I dug my head in to my business and figured that I would get through it by keeping busy and ignoring whatever it was that was actually causing the problem. Working around children comes guilt, comes separation, emotion, strength, love and so many more emotions, but I thought I was above what was happening to me. I wouldn't say I was depressed but the word "frustrated" and "resentment" do spring to mind because in my adult world I could negotiate anything I needed but in my motherhood world I would not reason, negotiate, understand or fix this problem.

I tried many different tactics but nothing seem to work......until I really took a look at how I was parenting him. He screamed, I screamed, he was aggressive, I was aggressive. It simply came down to "Monkey See, Monkey Do" and as I was reacting in such manner he knew he would get my attention if he did that too. I expected he would adapt to our busy and selfish lifestyle but what he has taught me is that life just needs to slow down. I started really spending time with him, being present, getting down to his level and speaking in a stern voice saying "that behaviour is not acceptable" and holding his hand as I would do that. I began to take him to timeout, albeit 10 seconds time out might not seem much it was enough to sidetrack him from his tantrum and explain that his behaviour had consequences, but they didn't include screaming and smacking.

Since doing this over the last 4 months, we as a family have really noted a dramatic change in his persona. Yes, his speech is still delayed however he is learning ways of communicating with us to get what he wants without screaming or having tantrums. This we are also seeking professional help with but we have been able to identify that it was behavioural and not developmental. We have also noted we as a whole are a lot calmer and have more family fun and belly laughs, as we enjoy the small moments, slowing down our fast paced lives and just being present.

So I ask you as a parent, when you see your child at any age acting in a certain way, craving attention, being bullied or even the bullyer, insecure, anxious, lying and or just tantrums, I ask you to remove yourself from the emotion of it all. Step back from the situation and don't ignore that there maybe an issue, yet the issue maybe coming from a different place. We've all heard of referred pain when it comes to our body and its the same with emotions and that of children. A lot of the way they act, do or say is reflective of what they see, hear or learn from us as adults, guardians, parents etc so please be conscious of whats happening around you.

I'm no expert, psychologist or counsellor but what I'm doing is "owning my shit" and learning from my journey and sharing with you that it can change, that you can change and that through conscious thinking life can change. I was once told that my youngest was "brought to you as a lesson" and I honestly believe that. Its taught me a lot in my short time and I am proud to say that I'm a lot calmer, make conscious decisions, am present in the moment with my children and enjoy much more than that old selfish fast paced life we once had.

Much Love to you all on this journey of perfect parenting.....Kara


©2017-2020 by Kara Vaina. 

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