Saturday, March 12, 2016

It's not Oliver, it's us

We went to see a children therapist about 10 days ago. The first appointment is called parental intake. We talked to her for 45 min going through a questionnaire we had pre-filled and she was asking additional things. We told her how Oliver can say things so so hurtful (and scary) like I will call the police, tell them you hit me so you go to jail. And how bed time is hell. How we are at the end of the tether we don't know what else to do. The main points we came out with from the session were that her first concern was that Oliver was somewhat above average for academic intelligence and that this is a problem as we forget he is only 5. While this seems a good thing, for a child and his parents it isn't. I't very difficult to parent a child that to you sounds more and more like a teenager and not a child. The next thing was that we treat Martina and Oliver much the same while Martina is still a toddler (even though we definitely don't see her as a toddler) and Oliver is a school boy. That really we should treat them differently, they should go to bed at different times and possibly be separated in different rooms (they love sleeping in the same room but we know this is one of the reasons why bedtime is hell...they wind each other up..). She also said we need to be much firmer in our parenting, not engage in any negotiation, we are those in charge, not him. We should also not reward normal behaviour (say it is normal that a child does not run around a shop, rewarding him when he does behave well in a shop is not ok). And that we should let them watch more television. Not games on the iPad (Oliver gets 5 minutes at the weekend only) but cartoons are ok. I suppose we just don't watch television during the day, we have one television in the sitting room and that's it, but she said actually letting the children watch a cartoon in the evening after dinner is calming and watching tv with them is an opportunity to talk about what's going on in the cartoon. She mentioned she may recommend that Oliver should be assessed and possibly we could be referred to a psychiatric clinic...

So I came out with a splitting headache and my heart weighing a ton. We decided to implement straight away the staggered bed time. We thought it was going to be hell but actually it's as if we discovered a new world. Oliver loves having a little longer downstairs and Martina is tired anyway. Mike was perfectly capable of doing this on his own too and Oliver in a matter of 3 days became a different child. And I mean the total opposite. Obedient, understanding. We made clear there will be treats twice a week and only linked to good behaviour and again that worked beautifully. Bed time no longer lasts 2 hours but it's 20 min per child. Seriously if someone had told me this would work I would not have believe it.

And we went back today, the idea is that we go in first, tell her about the week then Oliver goes in. Only things went a bit differently. We talked beforehand that we should tell her we are having issues in our marriage too (we didn't say this the first time). So after a round up of our amazing progress (she was delighted, had met Oliver in the waiting room already and thought he was your normal friendly child) Mike told her about our difficulties. She asked us to talk to her about it and basically in the end she said that maybe it's us needing therapy. We chatted some more, I told her how things have changed for me, about the lack of support I feel, how Mike has rarely be the person I would confide in and now not at all. We touched on a few points like forgetting birthdays, upbringing etc. Looks like next week she will see only us. She did spend about 20 min with Oliver and when she came out she said he is the most normal, though likely above average for intelligence and she doesn't need to see him again for a few weeks. So here we go, it's couple therapy for us.

6 comments:

  1. Good for you!! I think she's right on. I hope it's not too painful but at least you might not feel like you're in limbo!

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  2. I'm glad you saw a change in O's behavior at bed time. It's something we struggle with too. I hope that the suggestions she gave you will help in the long-run! As for counseling, YAY! It can only be a good thing, right? No matter what...sending lots of love from my part of the world to you!!

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  3. Both amazing and painful I think? But the two of you have a better chance of regaining some sanity without a daily two hour bedtime war going on. And with that huge proof of both the understanding of your therapist and your capacity to change for the better and happier I wish you energy and focus on taking the next steps.
    Hugs!

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  4. Hey stranger...your post touched me...I am so glad I logged on today to do an update (which I don't post much nowadays) Any-who...I could have written this post myself as we are very concerned about Cameron (almost 6) about similar things...like saying hateful stuff. I am going to reread this post and share with my husband as well.

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  5. Glad that what the counsellor suggested is working with Oliver! Touchwood.

    Please take care and be good.

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  6. ai am glad that she helped you with Oliver..such a relief. I am glad you are going together for help. Whatever happens you will be in a better place with everything. Thinking of you!

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