If your child is having trouble with learning, what do you do? Get extra tuition. If you are struggling to get a fitness regime working, what do you do? Sign up with a fitness coach. As functioning adults, we are used to asking for help. And yet, when it comes to dealing with a troubled child, it seems almost impossible to ask for extra support.
When I learned about NVR, I discovered the theories about the importance of an effective support network. As a parent who has experienced dealing with a traumatised and confused child, I have first-hand experience of how hard it is to deal with the fall-out of trying to adapt their behaviour on your own.
It is incredibly difficult to cope alone when your child is behaving badly, hurting you with their words, acting violently towards you or others, self-harming or putting themselves on a path to self-destruction.
And yet, even while I was going through all this, I found it almost impossible to ask for help. I felt embarrassed and ashamed and I didn’t want to tell people. I wanted to handle it myself. I wanted to fix all our problems on my own. To prove myself if you like.
After months of trying to achieve what I wanted on my own, I eventually realised that with a support network in place I would have others to rely on. Finding people to be my supporters made a monumental difference to me. Those people keep me sane and are there for me to lean on when things get tough.
If you are in need of a support network, look around you for help from family members or other parents in your area. It’s important to have supporters in different areas of your (or your child’s) life. There could be a supporter at your child’s school and one living next door and someone who’s available on the phone and will allow you to have a bit of a rant to let off steam in the evenings.
Look for people who will genuinely support you: you don’t want someone who’s going to come in and make you feel as though you’ve done something wrong. That’s not helpful support. Your supporters need to understand what you are trying to do, listen to you and help you move forward.
As well as being available in different settings, supporters should have different roles. They could act as a witness to behaviour, or be a stress buffer for you. They might be a good person to mediate between you and your child.
I have found it very useful to have a standing arrangement with one of my neighbours. As soon as things are getting too heated at our house, I might text her the word ‘sugar?’, at which point she will pop over on the pretext of borrowing some sugar. This has such an important effect: by breaking the atmosphere at my house, it distracts my son from whatever unwanted behaviour he’s exhibiting at the time and everything calms down. It also shows my son that other people know about his behaviour and that it needs to stop.
If you don’t feel ready to talk to family and friends about your problems yet, don’t worry. I did this without supporters to begin because I was too scared and embarrassed to tell people. What I recommend is that you start to open your eyes to how much easier things could be if you had someone to rely on and think about how it might change your life.
If you’d like help putting a supporters’ network in place, get in touch. I can help.