Do you use reward/ privilege systems to motivate your kids?

The Origins of the Story

'You think you're the best', my daughter said to me as we were walking home from school, a propos of, I felt, nothing.

 'You don't say "I'm better than everyone else" but you say other stuff that means it,' she continued.

Ouch. OUCH.

I'd been thinking, earlier: why am I writing this blog? What is the point? What is my purpose?

I thought: perhaps it is time to go back to the start of the story.

The idea for this book (as I originally intended it to be) came out of the following set of circumstances:

I was pregnant with my second child and looking for a new career path. I knew the job I was doing was not right for me, that I wouldn't return to it after I had my second baby, but I didn't know what to do instead.

I wanted to work directly with people to understand their lives, thoughts, feelings and goals; I'd done a course on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator; I wanted something flexible and creative. I decided, therefore, to train as a life coach. 6 months pregnant, I signed up to a course, hoping to complete most of the coursework during my two months' maternity leave before the birth.


The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley.

At 7 months pregnant (31 weeks) I went into premature labour, and my tiny daughter lay in an incubator for the next 5 weeks until we could take her home.


She came home weighing 1.5kg (around 3lb 5oz), with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), which lasted until she was almost 18 months, and meant that she woke around 9-10 times per night.


Two weeks after we brought her home, my mother died suddenly, accidentally, aged 59, falling down the stairs.



Life coaching, training, careers all seemed very far away, they seemed to stretch out endlessly behind me and to the sides. Life became about hunkering down, getting through each day, dealing with the fall-outs from the fall-outs - a marriage under strain, other problems in the family.

Through it, I kept reading my coaching books, waiting for when I could focus on bigger, wider things again.

What I wanted then was some sort of book I could turn to for positive thoughts to get me through the day. The self-help books were all very well, but none of those authors seemed to be dealing with a baby who screamed every time I strapped her in her car seat, and who started crying ten minutes after I'd just put her down to sleep at night.

I kept thinking, when all this stuff is over and past, I can focus on my spiritual path again.

Then, one day, I thought: maybe this is it. Maybe THIS IS my spiritual path. Maybe I should write that book I want to read - positive affirmations in the context of parenting and all of those difficulties.

The thought became an idea, which became writing and interviews with friends and acquaintances, focused reading and, 7 years on, this blog.

I don't think I think I'm better than everyone else. Like most people, I have to guard against thinking: AM I EVEN ENOUGH? But writing is a great way of REFLECTING, and sharing is a great way of LEARNING, and I do hope - think - that this blog is making me a teensiest bit better as a parent. More aware, at any rate.

So my daughter is right: it is all about me ;-).




Here is one of my favourite affirmations:

Powerful and positive energy surrounds me at all times.

Helpful to repeat, those times you can't tell whether the universe is for or against you.


Here's a baby blanket I just finished for my friend's baby, Hector. A simple whole cloth quilt quilted with tiny crosses - just tacked together, really. The fabrics are Riley Blake Year of the Ninja and Ikea Nattljus. Simple, but nice strong colours for a newborn, don't you think? I hope Hector likes it ;-).


Photo dragon sofa


  Dragon closeup 2


From me - to you - and back again.

Elizabeth x. aka The Writing Parent








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What a beautiful and very moving post! What a scary start to your daughter's life - surely her rebel's personality got her through?! I can't imagine how hard it must have been to handle a premature baby with long-term reflux, and your mother's death... But you obviously found great inner resources of strength to see you through, and it doesn't surprise me that you're using this difficult experience to bring good into other people's lives, and your own.

Btw, probably your daughter thinks "you're the best" because you happen to be the one who decides most of the time? It can probably be a bit wearying that parents have the answer to everything. Or else, could she have heard it from someone at school, and she's trying it out on you to see how you respond, because she doesn't know how to?


The Writing Parent

Thanks for your nice comments, dear Meredith!
I think having a baby in intensive care is an experience that stays with you forever, but now I have a bold, beautiful, singing, artist girl, so it all turned out happily in the end :-). We were very lucky.
I think you are right - she was cross with me for 'knowing' or 'telling' something that she didn't want me to. How annoying to have parents telling you what to do! ;-)

I think the rebel spirit was a great asset to her in her early struggles... I've heard that preemies end up being 'fighters' because they had to fight for survival when they were born, when each breath was a struggle. The nurse who wheeled me back from the intensive care unit after I'd been to see her for the first time whispered to me, 'it's good she's a girl; premature girls tend to do better. No one knows why, but it's true.' Of course, lots of tiny boys do fine as well, but it was impressive to see her rise to each challenge and move through it from one day to the next. Perhaps an important image to hold in our heads with regards to all of our children?? A memory of their inherent resourcefulness. I've been reading about that in 'Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the social lives of children', so I will write more about that anon.

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