Exceptional Children like Michael are constantly underestimated, by society and by their families, unfortunately. It is getting better though, as both professionals and parents realize there are more to our children than meets the eye. What makes it particularly challenging to see our kids’ abilities is because what they can’t do is often stressed over what they can. They also bounce around all over on the developmental chart. Michael is beginning, and has been for awhile, to understand complicated concepts like life and death, pain, and old age. Yet, then he will throw me a curve ball with boundary testing that lately I have been seeing usually occurs around age five. He is almost ten.
The first speech therapist we worked with who truly believed the concept that when the body is delayed in one area, it is delayed everywhere. She told me that as he caught up on milestones we would see lots of progress in various age level areas and sometimes all at once. He would become challenging to parent, she warned. I remember her words every day as I look at the child in front of me who is delayed yet so advanced in other ways. Lately, he is testing the waters of his independence and boundaries with me. It is sometimes comical, sometimes stressful, always interesting. Most kids, exceptional or not, will go through this stage. Let me tell you that if you see your child doing these things, don’t worry. It’s normal and healthy as they are on their way to real intellectual growth.
5 Ways Exceptional Children Test the Waters of Independence:
- Negotiation: We often joke in our house that we are living with a future lawyer as he is constantly negotiating with us everything, from how many portions of food he could have, to when can he earn a certain toy, to how many videos he can watch when he earns his audio visual reward. His Dad and I have learned how to show him that we make the rules for his safety while giving him some power in decision making. I remind him that by good or bad behavior he is choosing the outcome.
- Holding back information: About a month ago he told he did not want to tell me his whole day. Rather now, he is selective with information. I have seen a decrease in negative behaviors at home and at school things are still going well, so I think this is due to Michael feeling his own power at what information he wants to keep.
- Refusing to eat certain foods or go to certain activities: This is another common one. It is tricky as sometimes there are sensory issues involved as well, but I see that again, Michael like most children is trying to assert his own preferences and see how far he can go. To a degree, we have indulged, and will remind him we want him to try certain foods and activities a few times before saying no.
- Push and pull of “I want you” and “Go away”: Michael will want me to play with him one minute or lie down with him at night, the next minute Mom is boring and go away. Again, giving your child appropriate attention when they need it, but also explain that you need your personal space too.
- Being in charge when you play games with them: Michael will pretend to be coach when we are doing sports at the park. Other kids will always want to win at games . The important thing is that the parent recognizes that the child needs to do a bit of this to be in control and feel powerful.
Exceptional Parents, how have your Exceptional Children tested you? Maybe it’s by learning that first word of defiance that every toddler utters with glee, “NO!” Maybe it’s by pretending not to hear you. Remember,you are not doing anything wrong. They are going through a stage of growth and need your help, time and love. Don’t hesitate to give it to them and teach them how to navigate these challenging waters. Until next time.
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