Negotiating Food, Play Time and Bed Time Extensions-Future Lawyer at Practice

Michael’s first ABA therapist joked that we had a future lawyer on our hands with the way he would negotiate things with her. I remember laughing. I had thought the same thing, but thought it was just the proud Mommy in me. And that was when he wasn’t HALF as verbal as now. He also didn’t understand half as much about how the world worked. Now, oh he gets it. His problem is understanding that things can’t always go the way he wants them to. So he tries to win us over. He smiles his little smile and says.

“Come on Mommy, just five more minutes to play, then I will go take my shower.” And he waits expectantly.

or “Give me one more chance and I’ll listen. Pleeeease.”

He has tried bargaining and striking ‘deals’ for food, extra time to play, or staying up late. This is very typical of all kids in the 8-11 year range, I know. It does become challenging when he tantrums or screams if he doesn’t get his way. Here he is regressing due to the emotional challenges of autism,  However, we stay strong and do not give in. He has said and done all kinds of things to get his father and I to try and change our minds, but we have stayed strong. It has taught both of us about patience and setting a good example. After he calms down and realizes that bargaining and screaming are not going to change the facts, he always accepts his position well. If he got angry at us, he apologizes. I am proud of his assertiveness and know he will do well in life. I just want him to be able to balance his independent spirit, with being able to follow rules and live respectfully with other people.

Michael has taught me to be a better parent, and when he has made some wrong moves, it has shown me times when I have done the same thing to other people as a child, or even an adult. How many of us adults always keep our cool under challenges and admit defeat gracefully? Michael continues to test with more things as he knows his mind more and more. We, on our part, are ready to explain cause and effect more efficiently to him so everyone is clear what is expected. This works well, for the most part. This is Michael’s new favorite quote, by the way. 🙂

Moms, how do your Exceptional Children test you? Can you tell which times the behaviors are age appropriate, and which are more intense because of their intellectual challenges? It’s ok if you can’t. As long as you are setting clear limits in ways they can understand, and you are understanding that the testing is their way of finding their way in a world in which they have very little control. Our kids teach us to see both sides of the life equation. Hopefully we reflect back a balance of give and take and fairness, so we show them that life is about living cooperatively and happily with those around us. Until next time.

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