Teaching Your Exceptional Child To Be Their Own Detective For Mood Regulation

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Michael has been having a harder and harder time self-regulating lately. I’m not sure if this is due to more demands being placed on him at school, the medication he is on, puberty and new anxieties or all of the above. Regardless, it has been challenging for me as his mother and caregiver to find ways to help him practice self-regulation as well as handle emotional upheavals. I have not always taken the high road due to personal exhaustion, frustration and fear. What is happening in my little guy’s mind and how can I help him fix it? I have long learned that I cannot fix it. That is his job. But watching one strategy after another fail for him (or him not thinking to use it), and I can’t help but wonder, am I missing something and if so what?

After another very challenging weekend, I went searching for answers last night. Yes, some of the strategies we have used in the past are working again- Wilbargher Protocol, Qigong Massage, praising and rewarding the good, along with set rewards for good behavior. But other techniques are not working as well. This is why even with great strategies available online, parents always have to fine tune and move forward trying new interventions. I read what professionals and other parents have said are working for aggression, anxiety and oppositional behavior in their children, and got some more ideas. I was also reminded how important it is to empower myself so I can then continue to empower Michael that he can try new things. After a particularly rough evening last week, when we both were angry and frustrated, I heard Michael’s say in a low voice, “Don’t give up on me Mommy.” I hadn’t said anything out loud, but my body language must have looked defeated. And truthfully, inside I felt so overwhelmed at that moment. I usually have great ideas and insight to give other parents and kids, but with my own son seem to be either coming on too strong or making him feel like I don’t want to help him. This is the farthest thing from the truth. I have just been feeling like a broken record repeating that he has to find strategies that work, reminding him what to do, when he does not do the work.

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I get it. He has a hard time with strategies. His anxiety is through the roof. This is why getting him back into yoga, watching a great website that a friend told me that has yoga and meditation videos for kids, and trying to learn to identify when his feelings hit the roof before lashing out,  have been my way of teaching Michael to be his own little detective. I think today we made headway as he caught himself two times before losing his temper and even though the other times I had to prompt or remind him of using a strategy, he cued in right away and did. It is hard work, but I can see that once the groundwork will be laid Michael will be on his way to managing his emotions better and more easily. Most importantly of all, in taking care of my own personal health, I am learning how to be compassionate again towards myself and Michael and not give up even in those very challenging moments. If not me, then who will help Michael learn to help himself?

Exceptional Parents, how are you showing your child to be their own best detective? Are they good at managing their emotions, stresses and strains? If not, eliminate what isn’t working and go with what is. Don’t be afraid to step into the unknown and try something new, whatever it is. If something doesn’t seem right in an approach, with your child’s mental or physical health, reach out to the medical and therapy team. Ask questions. Raise your concerns and share what you know with them. Trust what information you uncover and what will fit with your child. Remember, no one knows them better than you. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

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How To Get Over Doubting Your Parenting Abilities With Your Exceptional Child

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As regular readers of this blog know, Michael has hit that preteen testing age which he is experiencing along with autism’s regular anxieties and rigidity. Throw in some unexpected curve balls like diabetes and well, it’s quite the ride for him and us. But the other day something hit me. Michael’s behaviors had not changed from last year. There were days when they were more intense and days when they were about the same. However, I was doubting that I had the right tools to help Michael and was feeling tired. I was also forgetting, and I knew this, to see beyond the behaviors to what he was really communicating. This means seeing what the child is really struggling with and communicating to you. It could be lack of control, testing how much they are loved, or lack of self-regulation. Each behavior could be different. There were times I have noticed a behavior was all about him seeing how far he could push me and what the consequence would be. Would I follow through? Would Dad? Then there were other times that I was so frustrated, but upon closer reflection saw the problem. Michael was having trouble self-regulating and sequencing. These are fancy terms for knowing how to control one’s emotions and the order of how and when things happen. So, Michael getting ready for bed is difficult if he gets thrown off course due to excitement over something that happened earlier. Or Michael is upset that I don’t understand what he is saying and has a hard time controlling his frustration so will swear and yell, then only after realize that is wrong.

There were times he was crying or upset saying, “Mommy, help me. I need you to show me how to do this.” Sometimes he would say, “I need you to do this for me.” It was then that I realized, he really is struggling. This is not all about control and seeing how far he can push me. Sometimes there is genuine fear and confusion. And that was when I realized that I was so tired and in the middle of getting over a bad virus, that I had forgotten to see the child behind the behavior. It is really important as a caregiver to acknowledge when you are exhausted and frustrated that you stop seeing the whole child and only see the behaviors and the problems. You also begin to doubt yourself as a parent and think that everyone is better off taking care of your child than you are. This is not true. Others can support you and help you in your parenting endeavors. After all, it takes a village to raise a child. But never forget. There is no one better able to help and advocate for your child than you as the parent. It broke my heart a few times this week to hear Michael say, “Mommy, why aren’t you the happy Mommy I know? What’s wrong?” He was right. I had to start being happy again so I could start seeing the best in him again.

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Sometimes as parents we get discouraged when our child pulls away from us. We think to ourselves, “I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s too stressful.” But our child is most likely pulling away to see if we will come back. Many times in the last two months as Dad and I put down new boundaries for respect, behavior and expectations we would tell Michael that these things are required for him to live peacefully with us at home. We all deserve respect and he needs to follow the rules we lovingly put in place for his safety, whether he likes it or not. Michael then started opening up that he loves us and wants to listen, but has a hard time. He asked for help with strategies. I told him we were always there to help him with strategies. He seemed surprised. “You mean you’ll help me? I’m afraid to ask for help.” I could not believe he used those words. I thought Dad and I had always shown we were there for him, but somehow the signals had gotten crossed. When he understood that he had options, things began to get smoother.

Exceptional Parents, have you ever doubted your parenting abilities? Remember, you may be tired, overwhelmed and frustrated, but there is no one who can work better with your child’s team than you. Don’t ever forget the importance of seeing your child before the behavior and then helping them when you are feeling strong again. Until then, don’t be too hard on yourself. Your child will always love you and knows you are in their corner. It’s you who has to believe in yourself again and know that you are capable of helping guide them every step of the way patiently and with love. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

The Power of Repetition and Good Routines in Exceptional Families

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If I have to remind him to use his strategies one more time I will go stark raving mad, I thought to myself for the umpteenth time the other afternoon after Michael had lost his cool and I had told him to go to his room and use his strategies. I had also warned him when he came home from school that day that he seemed stressed and might want to use his strategies. Sometimes I feel more like a parrot than a mother going over the same terrain over and over. If it’s not verbal it’s been visual on pictos in the past or schedules in the last two years, but going over the same things is a common theme in our house. Has it worked? Yes and no. I can use the wheels turning in Michael’s head as he processes that he has to make changes and use strategies BEFORE he tantrums or loses control, but the system is far from perfect. Some of the time he is successful which is very encouraging, but there are more times that he only realizes AFTER the fact what he needed to do. That’s ok. Rome wasn’t built in one day, as they say, and if I know one thing about exceptional kids is that they need to do things many times to get it right. Heck though, once they get it right it is right forever.

Routines are the same. Get your exceptional child into a healthy routine and the results are amazing. Get them into an unhealthy routine, and it’s bad. Real bad. They get stuck, have meltdowns due to exhaustion, over stimulation, and even those children that can express themselves have a hard time seeing their triggers at the beginning. Michael is only beginning in the last year to see his own anger triggers. The main one is hearing the  word NO. Others are not feeling listened to. Michael’s version is if we are not stopping everything to pay attention to him, this means drinking water, coffee, not just the obvious. I’ve had to explain to him that I can focus on him just fine while having my coffee. 🙂 Finally other triggers have been feeling out of control with food choices, directions and other activities. Whenever I can I have given him choices and the feeling of having control, while at the same time teaching him that sometimes he will not be in control and have to handle following rules and regulations that his parents and teachers have laid out for him. It is getting easier as he is learning to tell apart where he can have control over where he has to follow rules.

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Regardless, routines are also all about repetition and making sure things unfold in a certain way. Whenever we’ve had a challenging evening as a family, I realize that most off the time it is due to me or Michael changing the routine. While it is good to throw things up in the air once in awhile so that the child does not become too rigid, a certain amount of predictability is important for the whole family’s mental stability and health. As hard as it is to stay in a routine and repeat yourself, all parents who do this, with or without exceptional kids, report that this helps make their family life more manageable. When I get discouraged and feel I can’t do this anymore, I think about these two things, routine and repetition, and remember how it is mine and Michael’s saving grace in times of great upheaval and change.

Exceptional Parents, what has been the key to success for you and your child in your family? What has helped you and your child move past behaviors and negative moments? If you have not tried a regular routine and repetition with important mood enhancers like using strategies, then now is the time to try it.  Yes, therapies work. Medication works. But having a family plan of what to expect as well as how to self-regulate can make all the difference in the world to being able to cope with life’s strains and stresses. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

How To Balance Discipline With Nurturing-The Exceptional Parent’s Constant Struggle

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I knew from the second Michael got up this morning and the rude comments he made that we were off to a rough start. I also knew that when he gets up early and has TOO much free time before the bus comes, that things don’t usually end well for us. I could see that suggesting he plan out his morning would not go over well. Nor would me being too lenient and giving him extra play time. Yep, I’ve tried both in the past and neither one works as you can guess. So what would be the best bet? You guessed it. Something in the middle. That is, a firm hand reminding him that it’s great he had time for some downtime, but that soon his school prep day would need to start. I thought I was calm. Really I did. But it was a facade. At the first bit of rudeness, I felt my own good resolve to stay calm start to dissolve. By the time I had given the five minute warning to come and get ready for his blood glucose test and his two insulin injections and then breakfast and the start of his school preparation and was witnessing stalling followed by “I don’t feel like it,” I was frustrated and upset. I realized I’d played this round the wrong way, and that now the struggle would become a fight. It did and I won. That is, I got him to do what he was supposed to do, make the bus with two minutes to spare, but at the cost of his stress and mine. Why? Well, basically I did not strike that fine parenting balance with Michael. This is basically giving in and giving up. Giving in to some demands (that you predetermine before with child, i.e. a schedule where you both have input) along with them agreeing to give up control and see you as the one who has the final say. You could argue that you are also giving the child some control in decision making, but the thing is that they cannot have all the control. This makes for more anxiety and behaviors, as the child does not know where they stand.

I also realized what is involved in balanced parenting is a combination of nurturing and discipline. It’s that old you show love and friendliness to your child, but make no mistake about it, you are not their friend, you are their parent first and foremost. The lines somehow got blurred on this one on the home front somewhere with Dad and I. Now it’s about taking back control for Michael’s own good (and mine), while giving him power where he can get power. It’s also about being consistent with negative consequences when behavior is unacceptable and positive consequences when behavior is positive. Dad and I both talk with Michael about this, so that when he says, “you do the listening for me, it is too hard,” that no, he has to do the listening, use the strategies and reap the consequences for that, good or bad. This is still a work in progress among Michael’s anxiety and difficulty with self-control and self-regulation. Some days are easier than others, usually when he is more rested, and I am beginning to see that medication along with a good behavior plan and LOTS of repetition may be the key to finding that balance in exceptional parenting. It is all about balance when raising a child whose developmental age varies by the hour. Some times I see the behavior of a much younger child, sometimes he is at par with his age group. Sometimes too the behavior is  attention-seeking, the old bad behavior for attention as Mom looks distracted today. I make sure now that when I give Michael my attention, it is full attention and I am not texting on my phone or doing anything work related. I ask the same of him to give me his full attention.

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It is complex, this whole balancing act, but is possible. Nurturing and showing you love and value your child for who they are along with clear, consistent boundaries and discipline, will go a long way in cementing respect, love and a diminishing of negative behaviors like defiance and aggression. It is a long road though. Our kids have to learn by endless repetition. This means as exceptional parenting, we need to make sure to be in this balancing act for the long haul and show our own version of patience and discipline towards ourselves. Have your strategies for combating stress ready. Take care of your mental and physical health. And overall, take things one step at a time.

Exceptional Parents, how do you parent your Exceptional Child? What formula works best to diminish the bad behaviors and increase the good ones? If you are still looking to find that balance, don’t worry. It’s not easy. Our kids need us to be extra patient, strong, loving and forgiving while we balance love and discipline, and show them that with time, they can trust in us and in themselves to make good choices. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

 

 

How Listening to and Healing Your Inner Spirit Will Help You Parent You Exceptional Child Better

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As soon as I was alone in the car the tears came, slow and gentle off on and on. I knew when I woke up Sunday morning that I was feeling tired, tired and heavy. I did not have the answers to help Michael, and though the day before had ended beautifully with Dad and I having our first date night post-diabetes and now possibly ADHD, it had been anything but beautiful until the sitter came to watch Michael that evening. Sure there were some nice pockets of moments that Michael behaved and listened, but it was not when he was alone with me or Dad. I was feeling so tired and fed up of the roller coaster of emotions we were all riding as a family, but most important of all, the mother who always trusted her own parenting instinct was having an identity crisis.

How come with all the hard behavioral work we had been doing with Michael, particularly over the last two years, but let’s face it, pretty much over the last ten years, as well as the new medication which were helping, did we still have bad days like these? Where was I going wrong? Then, another thought hit. I don’t have the energy for this anymore. I am tired, fed up. I want off this train right now and want my old pre child life back, when I only had my own stresses and strains to worry about. The life where I didn’t have to handle filling out ABC charts, carb  counting, charting side effects of drugs. Enough. I’d had enough. I wanted someone else to take over and take over being Michael’s Mom as of that moment. I did not want the stress, the heartache, and had lost trust that I could do the job in spite of so many of my Mom friends and family cheering me on and telling me what a great job I was doing. I thought back to the last time I was excited to do anything with Michael. It had been awhile. Even when things were going well, I kept waiting for disaster to strike, unfairly too. Sunday had ended up being a great day for us as a family.

Anyway, back to the drive home from church. So as my tears dried up I heard a soft voice inside whispering to me that I needed to go to the lake. We have a beautiful nature park near our house. It was not far from church or our house. I did not question this voice, but drove the lake. Once there I texted Dad that I would be home in about an hour as I needed some more alone time. I waited hoping all was well at home and I could do this. It was.  After that, more crying ensued in the parking lot, until I felt calm, serene and ready to go for a nature walk. From the second I stepped outside and heard the crunching of my shoes on the gravel, I knew the voice that was whispering to me was my spirit. She was reminding me of how I healed my feelings of exhaustion, fear and self-doubt as a mother five years earlier and was reborn. It was through meditation, yoga and walking in nature. It was through making time to charge my personal battery. As I walked I started thinking, Michael’s behaviors have not gotten worse. I have gotten more tired, burned out, and have not been able to handle them as well. He needs help, reminders to use his strategies, but none of that will happen until I get a handle on my stress and fix my health. Soon I came to a bench and I looked out at the beautiful shimmering lake. It was a cloudy cold day, but it felt so good to be out in the fresh air, in the quiet with only the odd jogger and hiker to contend with. And then I saw the ducks swimming and quacking away in the water. I smiled for the first time at one of them as he continuously dunked his head in and out of the water. I watched other bathe themselves.

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And then I started to pray. I started to pray to God to show me the way, to give me strength to be Michael’s mother, but before I could do that. help me be Joanne again. Help me be Joanne who makes time for exercise, alone time to read and unwind, as well as  writing, all my writing. Help me be Joanne and schedule regular date nights with her husband and get back to her girls’ nights out. Help me be Joanne and do what makes me feel alive, peaceful and grateful for all my blessings. I knew I had so much to be grateful for even in the challenging moments. Friends had been reaching out to me and I’d been pushing them away. This was not due to me being in denial about needing a  break, but due to total exhaustion and a bad sinus infection I am still fighting. I realized sitting there on that bench, that I would be alright. Michael and Dad would be alright. I just needed to take care of me and get strong. After that, it would all fall into place. The answers would come. And as I walked back to my car, I felt the first bit of peace I’d felt in a long time. And I felt happy, happy to be going home to see my boys.

Exceptional Parents, do you  have fantasies about running away from being parents? Do you feel tired, angry, fed up with your child, with yourself sometimes? You have every right to be feeling overwhelmed, but the best way to tackle your feelings of lack of control, are to control the one thing you can control-you. Ask yourself when was the last time you made time for things that recharged your batteries. Remember, if  you take care of you first, it will be much easier to ride out your child’s storms until you figure out the best solution to help them. Also, if you find yourself losing patience with your child, think of the last time you were patient with yourself. If it’s been awhile, this could be why you are having a harder time with your child. We can only love and support others once we are doing it one hundred percent of the time for ourselves. Take heart Moms and Dads. You are doing the best you can. Now it’s time to take care of your spirit so you’ll have that much more to give back to your child and for yourself in the long run. Until next time.

 

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

5 Ways For Exceptional Parents to Stay Positive When Their Child Is Struggling

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There are good days. There are bad days. Then there are the days that are a mix of both. Michael gives me many of these. He will amaze me with his bravery. Tonight at his evening injection, he agreed to try another area to have his insulin injection, one that had previously scared him. He did this after an evening of testing, aggression and refusing to do what we told him to do without a fight or resistance. I had one of those, “what the heck?” moments of how can he find following simple politeness so hard to do, yet surprise me with doing something so difficult with ease? It made me smile in spite of the frustration of earlier in the evening when everything was a literal and figurative battle. After when he is calm, has had his moment to read his strategies and see that he was wrong not to listen, I hear the familar,

“Mommy, I need help with my strategies. I need you to do them for me. It is too hard. I don’t know how.”

To some degree this is true. Michael has difficulty with impulse control, and self-regulation as well as thinking things through before acting. I do see that I need to be there in the “in-between” phase helping Michael learn to stop, reflect and make a good choice, but yet he has to want to. What happens now is that the regret comes way after he pays for the negative consequences of his actions in a cool down period in this room, losing privileges and other fun things. I want this to stop and for him to be able to put the breaks on before. This is our challenge. So, how as a parent can I, can any of us, help our child when they are struggling either before or after they have made a choice to stay positive? Here are 5 ways:

  1. Take a deep calming breath: Parents, if you are not reflecting calm and join their chaos, no one will be the winner. Listen to their panic and be the voice of confidence that brings them back.
  2. Remember it takes time to get results: This is a tough one. We see the strategies educators, psychologists, doctors and every therapist under the sun has offered and assume that our child will get it and apply it quickly. It is not that easy unfortunately. They need reminders, us to catch them in the early stages of losing their cool, and then support afterwards to go over where they went wrong.
  3. They love you and you love them: In the heat of your child’s anger and yours, you will forget this, particularly if they are screaming hateful things at you and those you love. This is a cry for help. This is pure frustration boiling over. As a parent, you need not take it personally. It will pass, they will be sorry, and you start again.
  4. See that their rage is bigger than them and scary for them: Again, this is hard. Children seem so powerful during their tantrums, meltdowns that we think they are in control. They are not. They are losing control of themselves and are more frightened than we are. Try and bring them back safely and if it is too late, let them get the anger out in a safe place then after talk with them after doing things better in the future.
  5. Remember that there is always hope and never give up: It’s important to remember that your child needs you to believe they can change and to give them that push of encouragement. They need positive reinforcement, praise and set boundaries as well as expectations. They need to know that they should never give up on themselves either. They are winners and can go as far as they so desire to.

Exceptional Parents, are you finding it hard to stay positive through your Exceptional Child’s behaviors? Have you tried strategies, medications and interventions that didn’t work even though they seemed promising? Are some working only some of the time? Remember, give things a chance to work. Try different variations, experiment. Trust that your child is doing the best that they can as are you. Reach out and look for new strategies, ideas. Most importantly know you are being the best parent you can be as your child is being the best child they can be. Together with time, you will both grow stronger and more positive by believing in each other. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

Navigating New Medical Terrain As An Exceptional Family And Handling the Word “NO”

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We did it! We had our first diabetes checkup and Michael passed (and us by extension) passed with flying colors! The doctor was very happy with his blood sugar levels and his overall health and complimented all of us for good teamwork. It was good to hear. We had been nervous about this visit, particularly as Michael has had his fair share of high and low blood sugars so we worried that we were doing something wrong. It was a little stressful at first waiting to see the doctor. Michael had some behaviors, but then we were settled into a quiet room where we waited for the doctor. We did not know what to expect so it was hard to prepare Michael. We did bring books for him to read, and after choosing instead to read the introduction to diabetes handbook we had gotten, played around on Google Maps until the doctor arrived.

After that while in the process, Michael did very well. We were so proud of him as he explained how he was adjusting to his new life. We explained how we were managing too, which these days is pretty good as we get the hang of things. The tough part is managing behaviors around the unpredictability of what is happening, and that is the autism side. Dad and I have different ways of handling these situations, and I think this had made Michael more anxious even though neither way is right or wrong. What I also realized after a very tough drive home and evening with fights, tears and anger, centered around Michael having a hard time hearing the word “no”.

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For Michael this is usually the tipping point to all the fights we are having lately. He needs control and when he does not get his way (which we tell him is impossible all the time), we run into these power struggles. How can we avoid them? We keep reminding him to use his strategies, think before he acts, and take a minute to calm himself before responding. This is so hard for him to do. Self-control is challenging for people with autism. Add in the fact he was up in the night due to his cold and started the day early, and that did not help matters either. After his shower and right before injection and bed, he asked his Dad and I to please not give up on him. It broke my heart because I saw the constant reminders to use his strategies and the limits we were placing as showing love. He is starting to connect the dots, and has admitted it is hard for him though he wants to do the right thing. He asked me to do the right thing for him. I of course told him he is capable. He just needs to do it one time and then it will become habit. I or his Dad will remind him, but he has to make the choice to do the right thing. Suffice it to say we were all exhausted by bedtime, but at least now I can say that we know what needs fixing and will be better prepared for our next medical visit.

Exceptional Parents, how does your Exceptional Child handle the word “no” and any kind of conflict? Do they have good self-control strategies or is that something you are still working on? Regardless, you are not alone if you are struggling in this area with your child. Stay positive, get support and strategies for yourself to handle the rough times as well as for them, and remember, find a way to tell them when the dust has settled that you love them and are never giving up on them. They need to know you are in their corner always. Until next time.

 

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

Learning To Go With Your Exceptional Child’s Flow

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Michael woke up today complaining of a sore throat and stuffed up nose. In the past, this would have been an ordinary inconvenience. For Michael it would have meant he was not feeling well and I would have felt bad for him as any parent would for their child. No one likes being sick with a cold. For me, it would  have meant that my work day was thrown off course as I would be the one staying home with him. This morning it came with a whole new set of circumstances. He was sick with a cold and he has diabetes. I was not panicking. I knew it might stay as a cold. It could develop into something worse. Panic would not serve anybody. So I stayed calm. Dad and I checked if we could give him his usual Tylenol for his sore throat and body aches. And what about honey in his tea? Honey is a fast acting sugar, something that could sky rocket his blood sugar and make him feel even worse. As usual, our team at our local children’s hospital were amazing. They promptly got back to us regarding the Tylenol and tea. Both are fine. Insulin is a natural hormone, not medication that could interfere. They also reminded us to check about his anxiety medication and if it would counterbalance with the Tylenol. That was our next question too. I called the pharmacist and he reassured me that there was no problem either with Michael taking Tylenol and having his chamomile tea with honey. So many more things to think about now than before, but we went with the flow and it all worked out. We were also told to expect higher blood sugars as a rule. It was the body’s defense against fighting a virus.

Michael spent the day watching tv and relaxing, only to stop and have his scheduled snacks, bathroom breaks and lunch. I was proud how he took it easy, ate what he was supposed to eat, and ended the day with his usual routine and a nice chat with his father and I. I was proud of how Dad and I remained calm, positive and how well Michael managed everything. This is still something we are all adjusting to-diabetes. We went through the same thing with autism. It is all about fitting both diagnoses into our life, and not the other way around.  Yes, for sure having autism and diabetes has changed Michael’s life and ours. There are lots of things he and we have had to adjust to. But overall, we have taught Michael and continue to remind him, having these challenges does not have to limit him from experiencing anything from activities, to parties, to traveling to whatever.

We never want Michael to feel he can’t do something due to having diabetes or autism. It means that Dad and I have had to continue to look at Michael’s strengths and honor them. We have also had to work on helping him overcome his weaknesses, and show him to strive for the best life possible. This means sometime riding discomfort, stress and overcoming obstacles to get to the place he wants to get. It means all of us going with the flow of life and making the best of things, learning from the bad, accentuating the good, and finding the balance. I think most of the time we do a good job of it and Michael is learning too, with his strategies, how to cope, believe in himself and move forward.

Exceptional Parents, what challenges are you going through in your Exceptional Family right now? What scares you? What is keeping you “out of the flow”? Whatever it is, remember to believe that anything is possible for your child, in spite of their challenges. They have a special gift to offer. Your job as their parent and advocate is to find it, hone it, and then help them “go with the flow” of life living in a way that helps them bring their unique stamp to the world. Until next time.

 

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

 

Figuring Out the Root of Challenging Behaviors and How To Help Your Child Navigate Through Them

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So today was a Friday that was tiring for Michael. He started the day dragging his feet out of bed like a teenager (too many late nights due to low blood sugar), and then dragged his feet in after school complaining that the teacher got mad that he was putting his head on his desk. He also said he almost fell asleep on the bus. Yes, he was tired it was clear, but then what happened is that he started a slew of cursing, disrespectful behavior towards his teacher and me. Her crime? It was that she told him he needed to sleep more. My crime? I told him after he had finished snack that he could not have dinner right away. We would need to eat our usual time in order to time the insulin right. Sigh. With my bad sinus cold and own tiredness, I took a deep breath and reminded myself to stay calm. I asked Michael instead that if he was really hungry, and wanted to eat earlier, what was a better way of asking? He then asked if we could do it earlier as he was extra hungry (probably due to the tiredness). I agreed. What followed next were more testing and silly behaviors , rudeness, and laughing at my coughing and my cold. I told Michael to use his strategies to control his emotions as we could not do injection and dinner like this. I reminded him that he needed to get his strategies that he had written down (as well as notes from his educator), that would help him practice self-control. He kept coming in my space, so I went to another room. He disregarded the closed down and opened it continuing to try and squeeze/hug me when I told him not now later. I needed my space.

Finally, I gave him a choice. He either used his strategies in another room or I would take him to his cool down room and close the door so he could use them there. He hates his cool down room. I few times we have had to force him to go. It is only used in extreme cases now when he is being physically or verbally aggressive and everything else has failed. He finally realized the seriousness of his actions and he went to use his strategies in the bathroom. I waited out until he said he was calm and apologized and then did his injection and had dinner.  Where were these behaviors coming from? Then I realized. When Michael feels overtired or overwhelmed his need for control over everything increases. He was upset that he could not set up his injection equipment due to rudeness and stalling this morning, and tonight for disrespectful things he was saying to me and inappropriate things he was doing. I realized it was all due to him feeling out of control due to tiredness, but it was a catch 22. The more he wanted control, the more he tried to push my buttons and what was appropriate. I had no choice but to act, even though I saw that it was a cry for help. “I hate hearing the word no and being told what to do.” This is his big problem, and one we are working on teaching him to handle. It is not easy, but with time he needs to learn to handle his body and himself properly whether he is tired and not act out. It is a matter of watching him learn from his mistakes and apply better strategies to handle anger and frustration. It is also about us being there to support him as his parents, but letting him learn from his mistakes and grow better over time.

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Exceptional Parents, how good is your child at self control and self-regulation? These are two of the hardest things they need to learn. It does not matter how old or how verbal they are. These are challenging things for kids on the spectrum to learn. Have a system set up with them where they have direct consequences for their negative and positive actions. Also, remember as a parent no matter what to stay calm while they test. Once they know they can’t phase you, they will stop and start to hopefully start applying positive strategies to regulate. Finally, remember that challenging behaviors happen when kids are overtired, overwhelmed, sick, or stressed about something. Try to see which one your child is being challenged by and help redirect them the best you can to positive behavior. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

Managing Self-Care When Your Child Has A Dual Diagnosis

self-care.jpegSo last night was Michael’s third night in a row of low blood sugar. That meant that we had to delay his bedtime injection until after his blood sugar had reached a safe level. God bless Michael. He gets excited with low blood sugar. Why? He gets to eat more food and stay up later! This is just an example of how Michael is adjusting to diabetes. There have been stressful moments for him for sure. He is worried about the holidays and if he can eat as much as he wants. We are breaking it to him that it is not a good idea to over eat. But on the other hand, he is doing so well clarifying to friends what diabetes is. For instance, there was one friend who worried that the teachers were hurting him at school when they take his blood glucose and other who thought he had food allergies. Michael calmly explained that he takes insulin through a needle as his body does not produce it anymore. Oh, went the friends. And although we have had to take him off equipment preparation duty at times as he was being silly, he is getting comfortable with setting up the proper insulin, the needles and the other equipment on other days. It has been wonderful to see. But for me, navigating diabetes with autism in the last two months can be summed up in one word-exhausting.

After last night’s low sugar and bedtime tuck in, I did not even have energy to write the post I am writing now. And, I think why I still have a bad sinus cold that has probably turned into an infection now, is due to said exhaustion. Self-care is so important, yet as parents who love our kids we constantly put our needs at the bottom of the list. I’ve had several people tell me to take care of myself and rest. I know  it. Tonight is the night I will do it. I am slowly finding out what my priorities are, and how to try and balance both Michael’s conditions while not taking away from who Michael is. Michael is a social, excitable happy little boy who loves life, people, food and navigating. I can’t see him and equate every thing he does with “autism behavior”  “diabetes related.” But lately it has been hard not to. Add to the fact that we have introduced anti-anxiety medication, and I’m constantly second guessing, does that cause that? Is it the chicken or the egg? Then last night I gently told myself “enough.” Let it go. Take care of you. Forget about autism and diabetes and see your child. After a rough start to the evening, Michael turned it around and we ended it with a nice conversation about how to calm down, regulate ourselves and when tucking Michael in he gave me a big hug telling me how much he loves me. I said the same.

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His night fears are getting better too, and I am so happy he is applying all he has learned from various professionals and what his Dad and I have taught him about his own power in controlling his emotions. I have also been talking to him about doing fun things that he enjoys to be happy. Teaching your child about self-care so they know their limits, is as important as practicing  it yourself. I know for me a visit to the Hamamm is coming soon, a nature walk one morning,  going back regularly to my fiction writing, and I need to get back to my girls nights out when my health is fully back. I have felt that only in the last week my feet are finally touching earth and I am adjusting to juggling it all: work, two diagnoses, and slowly, very slowly, bringing in self-care. I realize that I forget that self-care belongs at the top of the list so everything else can fall into place more smoothly.

Exceptional Parents, how do  you respond when something unexpected happens to you or your child? Do you hunker down with tunnel vision to the neglect of everything else or do you balance it out with the rest of your life? I believe there are some organized few in the latter category, but let’s face it, most of us ladies are in the former category. We are caregivers by nature, so it becomes natural to hunker down and live life tending to our child’s new health conditions. We forget to care for ourselves, and long term that leaves our children and us open to more hardship. If you are struggling with coming to terms with something right now Moms, take it easy on yourself. Give yourself some time away from care giving. Remember to eat, sleep and have some personal time just for you doing  what you enjoy. This will make you stronger for everyone around you, and remind you what an amazing child and life you have in the end. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.