Yesterday afternoon had been a tough day at school for Michael. The rain made it all the more harder to listen, and when he walked through the door demanding to go somewhere and not stay home in his ugly house, I knew. He was running away from his anxiety. A family member recently pointed out to me how lots of people with anxiety do it. It’s true. I used to also. Then I started losing myself in other activities around the house or obsessing about friends’ problems. After that, I started realizing I had to get a hold of myself and handle my own emotions. With great difficulty, I see I have to start teaching this to Michael now. At first he was just angry when I reminded him this was the day we stay home. He hates being home and always likes to be on the move, but I know from personal experience, it’s not healthy if you never turn off. I helped him calm himself before the tantrum turned into meltdown, and then we talked and the story came out. He had gotten in trouble and was afraid to go back to school. He’d been put in time out and was worried the teacher would still be mad. I told him no. He made the mistake, he sat it out, learned his lesson, and now it was time to move on.
The whole week has been an anxious trial for Michael. He has been testing me with rude behaviors and some aggression. I have been exhausted by it all, and realized I had to start taking better care of myself. My meditation and yoga are what have gotten me through, along with a visit to the local spa for a hot tub stint. I also finally got in an aerobic workout yesterday. I need to think of parenting Michael like a marathon, and in a marathon you need to be rested, energized and relaxed to give your child the best. By Wednesday I had gotten the hang of having more patience, not taking his outbursts personally, and reminding myself, if it is hard for me imagine what he is feeling. I am the adult who needs to set the example.
Now when he is reacting aggressively and testing, I ask myself: “What is the reason behind the behavior? What is he telling me?” When I remained calm, he finally opened up and apologized. We were not only friends by bedtime, but I heard a symphonies of “I love you Mommy’s.” “You’re the best Mommy God gave me.” “You give the best hugs.” And at one point, all he wanted to do was hug, cuddle and laugh. He had just needed to be reminded that I always love him no matter what. And I showed him you could get mad, but still love someone. I was reminded about the importance of connecting to your child when they are angry and frustrated. Give them their space and time and they will come to you.
Exceptional Parents, how do you connect with your Exceptional Children after an outburst? How do you stay calm when they are enraged? It is hard, and sometimes as parents we say or do the wrong thing. That is alright. Use it as a teaching moment to show your child, particularly if they are anxious, that we all make mistakes and can learn from them. No one is perfect, but everyone deserves a chance to be loved and try again. Until next time.
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