I have tried this summer to give Michael more challenges. This has usually worked out beautifully, but at other times it has backfired on me. Michael has had to remind me that I don’t understand or that he can’t do it. Sometimes he has been right, other times, with gentle encouragement, I have showed him that he is wrong and can do it. But I am beginning to see the advantages of pushing him a little bit and what I expect of him, as long as he has ways of handling his stress.
Emotions continue to be the difficult thing for him to handle, especially when he gets overwhelmed and frustrated. I am constantly talking with and reminding him when he is calm about using his strategies when upset to handle his emotions, but lately due to the time of year and increasing anxiety about school, he will fall back into hitting himself, hitting me, or screaming and swearing or other inappropriate behavior. The good thing is that he is catching himself more quickly after these incidents, calming down and apologizing, but stopping the overreaction is still too difficult for him. It is a process and one I know he will get through as will I using patience and love. It’s just a matter of him finding something that works for him. Ever since he was a baby, once Michael understood something, he became an expert at it above and beyond.
Some challenges I have been asking of him are help around the house, waiting to go places or staying home until late morning, a VERY hard thing for my active kid to do, and teaching him how to initiate a conversation and not to interrupt one in progress. This is also hard. He will often interrupt with an “excuse me Mommy.” It’s all coming though, and I see how he is doing his best. The other day Michael gave me a challenge. He wanted to go for a long bike ride. The route sounded far too long for him to bike, but I decided we would do it as he wanted to try it. I left my bike at home in case he would need some help from me in giving him a push or two. I really did not expect to get farther than another five minutes of our usual route of about thirty minutes. He has not been bike riding consistently this summer, so I figured he would be tired. He actually did the equivalent of an hour and a half! And yes, he was flying down the bike path on a busy stretch near our house. I was the crazy happy Mom jogging along side him marveling how, once again, I had been proved wrong. I was so happy about it!
Michael has always surprised me like this, even though I now know that he is full of wonderful abilities and is wiser than me in some ways. He later confessed he didn’t know if he could do it, but “I pushed through Mommy and forced myself.” He was smiling as he said it. I corrected him by saying he did not force himself, but he pushed and tried so hard he succeeded! I was so proud of him. On the way back home, he said he couldn’t do it, but I told him in a firm voice I couldn’t push the bike home he had to. And so he did. Michael reminded me how important it is to never give up on ourselves.
Exceptional Parents, what challenges do you give your Exceptional Children? What challenges are you maybe afraid to try? Remember, our kids will only be brave if we show them that we believe in them. As parents, our job is two fold: reminding them of what they can do, and reminding ourselves of what they can do. Then, we can show others, teachers, therapists and professionals the amazing things our children are capable of doing. Until next time.