This is a hard time of year for Michael, for all kids with special needs. He is struggling to adjust to the new routine, and slowly to the workload. As a result it is hard for his father and I. We find we have to pull patience out of the woodwork, so to speak. Every year the testing becomes more sophisticated and grows with Michael’s maturity. I find I am learning to no longer take it personally. Ok, I have my moments when frustration at not being listened to annoys the heck out of me, but then I remember Joanne, he is the one with the challenges, not you. He is the one who needs to learn how to navigate stress and challenging situations. They are crying out for our help at the moments we want to or sometimes do throw in the towel! This is easier said than done, and no parent is perfect.
This is when we as parents need to “regroup”, focus, and get ready for the next stage: helping our kids learn to calm down on their own. Here are 5 ways Dad and I have regrouped and that has helped Michael calm down after a tantrum/meltdown:
- Going out of the room: This works if the child is not in any physical danger. When Michael has calmed down from head hitting or throwing things, I have announced “I am going to my calm corner.” This has done wonders for frayed nerves and I never stay more than five or ten minutes.
- Picturing myself in a happy place while staying nearby: This works well if you need to monitor your child for extreme aggressive or dangerous behavior. Choose a positive place that will help you detach from taking the meltdown personally.
- Going for a walk: This works if you can leave the child with the other parent. It shows the child a healthy outlet for stress.
- Going for a drive to a favorite place: I have gone for coffee or a bookstore. Looking or spending time in places that give me great pleasure restores my sense of peace, joy and I find that I am strong and ready to face challenging parenting situations.
- Texting or scheduling a chat when child is asleep with partner: Dad and I use texting since Michael’s ears perk up at ANYTHING and we talk about strategies we could use to make it better in the future. We admit our mistakes, learn from them, and move on. It’s very important to not blame the other partner exclusively. You are parenting together and have to be on the same page. I have learned this lesson the hard way, and the child will play you off the other one.
Exceptional Parents, how do you regroup after your child’s challenging behaviors? What advice would you offer to other parents new to the challenges of parenting Exceptional Children? It takes the strength of an army at times to be an amazing Exceptional Parent, but it is all worth it in the end when you see the results of your support and patience, a blooming and thriving child who is confident, capable, and who knows their limits. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We all do. Reach out for support, and know that you are a wonderful caring parent doing the best job you can. Your child will feel that deep down too. Until next time.
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