Tears on the Bus
Computer sales expert Kate McElroy, 32, lives with her four-year-old daughter, Alice, in west London. Kate says:
As a single parent who works full-time, I felt guilty that I wasn't giving Alice as much time as I could, leaving her with the child-minder. So when she started having tantrums to get her own way, I'd often give in. But her behaviour deteriorated to the point where she was in control of me, rather than the other way round.
I did everything for her - from getting her dressed, to tidying up her toys and even putting an empty juice carton in the bin when she handed it to me. I felt I was being a loving parent and meeting her needs when, in fact, it left Alice feeling that she was in charge.
She'd scream at me in private and in public. Once we were sitting on the bus and she pointed at me and shouted, 'Don't you touch my hair.' I was so embarrassed. My worst moment was when the bus driver stopped the bus and said, 'Get the child off the bus.' He refused to drive on and in the end we had to get off. I felt dreadful and it made me become isolated. I started avoiding shops, restaurants and even going on holiday with her.
I had started to come home early from work to spend more time with Alice, but her behaviour led me to ask, 'Why do I bother?' So I'd carry on working, then come home for an hour before her bedtime and put her to bed.
Then the BBC put me in touch with the New Learning Centre, who taught me not to be her slave and to be her boss. Now I refuse to do things unless she asks nicely, and I'm getting her to do more things for herself. I no longer feel guilty that I'm a single parent - she's a lucky kid. Now, when she whines, I put on music and ignore her, and when she's being nice I give her lots of attention.
I've also learned to control her materialistic demands. On Christmas Day, for instance, she ripped open a mountain of presents, then demanded more. But, for her birthday, I made sure she opened one present a week, and then only after she'd earned it by getting herself dressed or not being rude to me, for example. She played with every present properly and appreciated it.
Now I'm really proud of her improvement and I feel back in control.