Michael’s character is changing faster than meets the eye, in a good yet challenging way. It is both bewildering and exciting, and combine that with a busy work schedule and pushing through my own personal boundaries, and well, it makes for a crazy life lately. We are dealing with different feelings about friends, activities, and learning how to impose reasonable limit setting on what behavior his Dad and I expect of him. We are telling him that it is alright to not agree with everything we are saying and we sometimes feel the same, but respect, remaining calm and in the moment, as well as present-centered, is what is the most important thing.
Michael is great at negotiating. He will try and see what he can get away with, where he can push, and if he is not able to push beyond what is considered reasonable and we are firm, a small fight will ensue. It used to be a big fight. But now he is learning how to control his emotions better overall. Still, empathy and respect for others’ feelings is something that is hard to understand. And his Dad and I are having to constantly readjust our parenting. I was told that if he starts testing, doing milestones that were not done when younger, and showing more emotion, then it meant that he is coming into his own. It is obvious and we are happy to see that. But are there any tools we are using to help reach Michael in his new developmental phase? Yes. Here they are:
- Make regular time to talk to your child about their feelings: This sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s not easy with parents so busy with work, other children, and stuff around the house. Still, you need to make that five to ten minutes a day time to really listen to your child and hear them. They will sense it and start opening up.
- Give them some control: This is imperative. We have made sure to give Michael some control over some things. Things like do you want to watch a video or color, do you want to read a book or go to the park? Despite the fact that many kids over test their boundaries, this is more than ever cause to give them some choice in determining their future, with limits of course. And if you over give as Michael’s Dad and I realized we did, eliminating something from his schedule that we did not need to, you can always play catch up later.
- When they are acting out, look for the why behind the behavior: This one has me baffled a lot of the time. However, now I am beginning to see that when Michael really challenges us, is when he is feeling taxed to the max and does not know how else to be heard.Our response is to calmly assess and see the why behind the behavior. And if not, listen till we figure it out.
- Have a set schedule of activities: Routine will really help kids in feeling in control, and their parents in handling things better too. 🙂 I speak from personal experience here. Yesterday morning Michael was nervous and I was not far behind due to us having forgotten to set the daily schedule. Then I suggested: “construction paper to plan out the day.” And guess what, success. Control was back in the land!
Exceptional Parents, how have your Exceptional Children tested you? Have you passed with flying colors? Have they? It’s ok if it’s been a struggle. As always, take from the struggle the lesson. What could you do differently next time to set the example for them? The suggestions given above are simply guidelines. You have to tailor rules that work for your child and your family. Remember Moms and Dads, you know best. And if you need support, don’t hesitate to reach out. Until next time.
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