She was a clingy baby but otherwise fairly easy. About the time she was nearly a year old she entered the naughty phase where she was into everything. It was hard because you can only expect so much from such a small child. And keep in mind that I had been in the childcare business for nearly ten years and knew what was age appropriate. The older she got the worse her behavior became though. The "phase" was not ending. The behaviors were bad enough that I ended up taking an anti-depressant. Sometime near when she was turning two we received a flyer from our older child's preschool for a Strong Willed Child seminar put on by the school district he attended. It seemed a great way to learn some ideas on how to parent her. We did learn a LOT, but at the same time nothing worked for long.
As time went on we became very frustrated with her and at our wits end. I started pulling away from her. She wasn't enjoyable and even the thought of spending time with her stressed me out. It didn't help that I was spending nearly 24/7 with this child since she was going to work with me. I turned to our Pediatrician for help with her and was referred to Children's Hospital to have her seen. We went to a few sessions with a Psychologist (or someone - I don't recall the title) but it really wasn't any help. All the lady wanted to do was perfect our parenting. The parenting wasn't the problem...the kid was. I wasn't going to waste my money and time while somebody told me how to be a better parent. I found out that the hospital won't do anything with the actual child until they are 5 years old. Wonderful...only a couple more years to go!! The local hospital that would work with her wasn't covered by our insurance. Yeah, back to square one.
We continued muddling through while our cute little girl screamed, destroyed, and was violent towards us. Every once in a while it would start to get better and I would breathe a sigh of relief that she was finally passing the "phase". It never lasted long. We were still convinced there was something "wrong" with her. We have kept her off dairy and egg for a really long time and it seems to help her behavior.
For 2 1/2 years I worked for an amazing family who believed in my abilities and were very patient with my daughter and our struggles. They knew I was doing everything I could and held nothing against me as their Nanny. Unfortunately I had to leave the position in order to take a FT job to better help support my family. I was with the family for 4 months when they came to me and said that I needed to find a way to control my child and gave me a month notice that I would be losing my job. I was floored. I even asked if there was anything they wanted me to do different with their one year old in that month. The said no. They thought I was a wonderful Nanny and loved everything I had done for their little girl. Since I presumably could't parent my own child though I was being fired. About a week or two later she had a HUGE meltdown at work and completely lost it. It was bad, really bad. I was told that I could finish out the month without bringing her with me or be done. I started packing my things instantly.
I think that was our turning point. She spent several months at home with me while I was looking for a new family to work for. When I started my new job I put her in daycare. I think it took her being away from us 4 days a week for us all to heal and finally start enjoying each other again.
It's a year later now and she is a big sister. I have never had to fear for the safety of the baby and she is very rarely violent now. She is still strong willed and as stubborn as they come, but we are able to work through it with becoming too frustrated. She just started Kindergarten and Kindi Enrichment and is doing awesome. We are able to enjoy spending time with her again and like who she is.
How far would you go to advocate for your child? In January First, father Michael Schofield and his family struggle to find the right treatment for their daughter Jani, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia at six years old. Join From Left to Write on September 6th as we discuss Schofield's memoir January First. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.