Wednesday 26 June 2019

Six going on 16 - parenting books that are helping me understand my child better

Whilst the arrival of Sullivan hasn't caused any issues with our eldest, Ethan - he loves his baby brother to pieces and has never complained once about the divided attention - the past couple of months have been a bit more challenging. Ethan turned six years old at the start of May and the occasional mood or grumpy outburst has been a more frequent occurrence.
* Review - gifted

Thinking about all the changes and developments and new things going on in his world, I can appreciate that Ethan has a lot to process and we all know children go through stages, so this must be another phase for us to work through.

For the most part he is his usual happy-go-lucky, chatty and creative self, but like most children, he has his moments and it can be hard to guess when they might come around or gauge how to deal with a situation. Is it a funny five minutes or a major meltdown we are about to face?

The main causes or things that seem to affect him relate to being told what to do, or that he has done something wrong, which leads to him either saying he can't do something and then shutting down. It can pass quite quickly or it can escalate as he tries to push his luck - and us, as his parents!

Because these spells have been more frequent of late, and we're obviously keen to try and understand what's behind them and support Ethan as he learns more of the world and deals with more complex concepts and relationships, I've been doing some reading.

Tanith Carey is a parenting author who has published support books for parents which combine the latest social science research with some really clear and easy to follow advice.

First of all, I have been picking up on useful tips from What's My Child Thinking? (RRP: £16.99, DK Publishing, by Tanith Carey and Clinical Psychologist Dr Angharad Rudkin).

It's an attractive reference book that I've found you can dip in and out of as you need. Providing insights into common behaviours of two to seven years old, there's over 100 everyday scenarios covered. The aim is to help deconstruct what your child may say and see how they are interpreting a situation so that you can relate and find a way to respond more effectively.

I believe that every child is different, and so is every parent, but having some guidance or point of reference can be really reassuring, so I have enjoyed reading the possible explanations and will continue to try out the suggestions to see if we can relate a little better.

The second book I have been reading recently, also by Tanith, and recommended widely by critics including Nadia Sawalha, is The Friendship Maze (RRP: £10.99, VIE Books). This is aimed at parents of children aged three to 16 years old and seeks to explain friendship battles they may face as they grow up. From the impact that social media may have on the way young people relate to each other to understanding mean behaviour, this book considers the reasons why children may struggle to understand scenarios, and again provides some research-informed strategies for navigating them.

I find the whole topic fascinating but also a cause of worry; no-one wants their child to feel like they have no friends or feel confused about playground politics. A lot of the time, I think you can feel really helpless, as many instances that cause worry happen when they aren't with us. The time they are in school can be a mystery, so trying to demystify some of the issues that could arise can only be a good thing to my mind.

I feel that Ethan can find it hard to know how to react to other children, or understand why they say certain things or change the way they act, so this book is a source of support and could become even more helpful the older my boys become.

* I was kindly gifted these books, but all opinions expressed are my own. Read Tanith's guest post on how to help when your child says they have no-one to play with.


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