Mardi’s Story: Messages of hope

Mardi’s story

My earliest memories of being different from others would be in my early primary school years. My friendships were very unstable due to my low self-esteem. One day I would have a friend and be very happy, the next day I would come home crying to Mum because I had no friends and no one liked me. I began to dislike school because I felt so lonely and unloved there. There is nothing that can describe how lonely and self-conscious I felt at school then. I didn’t have a sixth grade buddy or a high school friend. No one was there to make me feel special or like I was really needed.

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Chapter 1: Parenting Is Hard But There Is Hope

No one would argue that parenting is at times hard work. Many parents are not prepared for the difficult task, and when the child for whom they have such expectations – educational, emotional and physical – develops into a much more complex person, parents have many questions. Acknowledging some of the negative feelings of confusion, blame, guilt, embarrassment, isolation, fear, inadequacy, exhaustion and grief allow parents to find a sense of hope when they ask the question, ‘Am I doing too much or too little?’

Continue reading Chapter 1: Parenting Is Hard But There Is Hope

Chapter 2: Temperament, Social Skills and Self Esteem

Temperament is set at birth. It cannot be changed but it can be managed. In their temperament study, The Australian Institute of Family Studies makes this statement: ‘Temperament plays a very important role in how children develop, especially in the school and emotional areas and it has long term effects on how well they adjust to life in the family, at school and in the wider environment”

This chapter discusses the effect of poor social skills on a child experiencing diffident temperament. The components of temperament are discussed so that parents can identify where a strategy is most needed.

Continue reading Chapter 2: Temperament, Social Skills and Self Esteem

Chapter 3: Development, siblings and a word about teenagers

As children develop, they are presented with a series of challenges in terms of learning and social skills. Some development involves gradual cumulative changes, such as in the development of language. Other development involves more distinct stages, where the child moves from being one kind of person to functioning in a quite different way, such as the change from constructing ideas in more concrete and literal ways to being able to think more abstractly. Whether the challenges emerge from gradual change or come at distinct stages in children’s development, those challenges will create stress points for children, particularly those with difficult temperaments.

Age Appropriate Development

Continue reading Chapter 3: Development, siblings and a word about teenagers

Chapter 4: Discipline and Competence

Discipline is having the courage to set appropriate rules and stay detached when implementing those rules, thus guiding your child towards responsible adulthood.

Firstly, let us look at the meaning of the word ‘discipline’. In the minds of many it has become synonymous with punishment. In fact, the word discipline comes from the Latin DISCIPLINA meaning to disciple, teach, instruct or guide. The true meaning of the word is one of a teacher instructing the pupil; a far cry from the meaning usually given to the word.

Children feel secure when parents give clear instructions, mean what they say and consistently follow through. Continue reading Chapter 4: Discipline and Competence

Chapter 5: Management strategies rather than punishment

Developing strategies based on sound developmental principles and an awareness of a child’s individuality, does not mean punishment is totally eliminated. Punishments for harmful behaviour may still be required, even if the behaviour is the result of a child’s difficult temperament; for example, impulsively hitting a younger sibling. The goal is to think ahead and plan for the possibility of inappropriate behaviour due to difficult temperament. Intervening early with a management strategy may eliminate the need to punish the child later.

Tantrums usually come in two different types. One relates to a child’s temperament –temperamental and the other is used by the child to change their environment and achieve their demand – manipulative Continue reading Chapter 5: Management strategies rather than punishment

Chapter 7: Charts and contracts

Children need to know what is expected, even though they will not always follow instructions. Making charts to keep track of behaviour can be a positive encouragement.

At a time when the difficult child is calm, parents work out details of charts with the child. Keep in mind what is acceptable for you as the parents, while maximising the child’s participation. Continue reading Chapter 7: Charts and contracts

Chapter 8 : Techniques to build confidence

Become Competent – Trust your own Intuition

Each difficult child is unique and requires individual attention. The strategies required for one child may be quite different from another. As long as each strategy conforms to the principle of Competence and the rules outlined, such differences do not matter. Raising Difficult Children provides a basic structure for discipline rather than giving a comprehensive list of what to do with the wide variety of behaviours exhibited by difficult children. Continue reading Chapter 8 : Techniques to build confidence

Chapter 9: Especially for parents

The pressure of living in today’s modern family can, like a pressure cooker, build until an explosion occurs. Previously we looked at some of the feelings parents raising difficult children can experience. Difficult children can incite chaos and ineffective discipline. Often the parents’ relationship is under constant strain and in many cases has already broken down. What energy parents have is channelled into trying to understand and cope with the difficult child’s behaviour. This leaves little left over for either their own nourishment or emotional input for the relationship. Continue reading Chapter 9: Especially for parents

Chapter 10: Especially for teachers

Let us be perfectly clear; difficult children are a serious challenge for hard working teachers, who tend to be undervalued by our society. When creative, flexible and curious teachers, using patient, consistent, tough love approaches, ‘hang in’ with our difficult children for the long term, we often see very positive outcomes. Such schools and teachers become our best asset when guiding these children.

Roberts Story

From the very beginning my time at school was troubled. I struggled through to Year 11 in high school when our geography teacher gave us an assignment to do over the school holidays. Continue reading Chapter 10: Especially for teachers