Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Why pay a parenting consultant to support you step by step when you can just buy a book and do it yourself?

That is a very good question!  One my friends ask me time and again.  There are many very reputable books out there written by some very knowledgeable authors and experts in the field of child  and infant care and behaviour.

Unfortunately, while many books offer possible solutions to the problems faced in parenting infants and young children, there are far too many variables that come into play when applying a strategy in practice.  The "what if's" or "she just did this, now what?  How do we get him to sleep if he does... which means we are not able to follow step two" and the list of "what if's" goes on.  Every child is unique and equally, every family dynamic is different to the next.

By the time parents call me, they are usually at the end of their rope.  Realistically, you are paying for the time and knowledge of a specialist who deals with the problems you're facing, on a daily basis.  Increasingly, my role turns from parenting specialist to family counsellor, friend and teacher. Far more value for money than you'll get from any book and far less expensive than going out and paying for all of the above as individual consultations. Furthermore, when you pay for something, you're also far more likely to invest your time and commit fully to the task of addressing the issue at hand, once and for all.

The success rates I have had personally to date, sits in the 97% range.  While there is the odd child here or there who has very high levels of anxiety or other underlying conditions that would require a different approach such as cognitive behavioural therapy or more indepth assessment by a psychologist, the remaining few are the parents who fail to commit to the plan and give up (not the children unable to modify their current behaviour), only to return within weeks to start the process over again.  Usually, more determined than ever and ultimately, that's what it takes to achieve the desired outcome.

It is not easy to implement change, as adults we deal with change in our own way processing and adapting to minimise the impact on our lives but for infants and young children, change can be a very difficult concept to grasp and often, crying is their only way of communicating their frustrations and desire to return to the more familiar routine.  That said, with time, changes turn into acceptance and the new routine becomes familiar, quickly replacing what came before.  

It is important to remember that for some babies the current routine has been ingrained over months if not years and as such, some babies will adapt within days, others may take a few weeks depending on the method used.  Any other hurdles such as illness, teething or a change in the plan due to family commitments, days out etc... can also have an impact on timescales so it is important to start your plan when you have a few weeks at your disposal and you are fully committed to implementing change.

From a financial perspective, paying for a service to address a parenting issues, can to some, seem like a very loaded decision.  Some feel that it is an admission of guilt on some level, feeling out of their depth on a certain issue.  Don't ever feel like that!  As a parent of two young children myself, despite my many years of experience in addressing parenting issues, it is no easier for me to implement a strategy when the wheels fall off, than it is for any other parent.  

Fortunately for me, I have the knowledge to address issues as they arise. However, just like any other parent, I am still very emotionally entrenched in the well-being and happiness of my children and it can be as hard for me as for anyone else when it comes to seeing the process through from start to finish.  From that point of view, I really do empathise with the families I help.  It's extremely important to me that you are able to overcome whatever barrier you're facing so that you can move on and enjoy your children.  Address the problem with the support of a professional who can answer your questions directly rather than having to second guess the answer from the pages of a book and risk undermining all the hard work you've already put in.

The next blog post will cover newborns and how to avoid the common issues relating to routines and most importantly, sleep!