After years of the same exhausting battles with a daughter who is without a doubt going to rule the world, I conceded defeat and went to see a professional.

People kept saying "age four gets better." Then "age five gets better." Then "school will sort her out."

But school started in February we hadn't progressed.

In my darker moments, I have been quite embarrassed and felt like a failure. None of my friends have had to resort to a psychologist.


I didn't know if it was more for me or for our girl but thankfully she didn't need to come to the appointment.

When my husband and I got there, I purged everything: All my failings. The times I've yelled at my girl. And the worst moments: arguing with my husband because I felt he undermined me for doing things for her when she was being rude - after I'd been trying to get her to ask politely.

The psychologist was kind. There was no judgement.

A mother of three children herself, she simply said of my ugly confessions: "That's what happens. It's exhausting dealing with this stuff all the time."

She reassured me that I had really tried everything.

After asking a lot of questions the psychologist didn't see anything of serious concern.

But we decided to try tweaking our routine a little bit so our daughter gets a little more down time at home, instead of us always heading out to do things.

Could we have battled so much for so, so long because our girl was just … TIRED?


I want to slap myself in the face.

We also talked about something else I had tried with some success before I lost patience - a technique where (crudely translated) you describe your child's emotions to them, by saying: "You seem a bit upset/sad/out of sorts/tired) today?"

Then you wait.

The theory is that sometimes acknowledging their emotion allows it to pass for them, as well as helping them identify what it is they are feeling.

I'm deliberately refraining from using the professional term for this because if you Google it, it reads like quite off-putting, new-age, mumbo jumbo.

However, it was the one thing our girl appeared to respond well to some months back but I lost patience after a week.

The psychologist said it's impossible to practice this all the time, but that just 30 per cent of the time would have a positive effect.

So, we chose just two scenarios to try it out in: when our girl is refusing to wear her glasses and when she wakes up in one of her moods.


As we left, my husband said: "I could use some of this on you."

Yes. Yes, you could.

We left that room $195 poorer but I feel the value was much greater.

Gone from my daily stress is the constant, frenzied questioning: Have I disciplined too much? Not enough? Have I gone back on my word too many times? Have I damaged her by yelling? Or fretting about fighting with my husband over how we should handle her.

Being reassured that all the things I knew I had done wrong are normal parts of family life has freed up my mind. I'm directing my energy towards a more constructive focus (increasing our down time at home and identifying her emotions a bit more).

It doesn't mean we're all fixed, but it has definitely put us all in a much better position than we were a few weeks ago. I wish we saw someone two years ago.