This is the time of year that is difficult for most Exceptional Parents and their children. As I’ve blogged before there are lots of things happening that are unpredictable-parties, change of sleep and waking hours, visitors coming in and out, and the routine of school and work being momentarily interrupted. This causes stress to a lot of Exceptional Children who are used to their routines which provide a lot of comfort. If anxiety is high, knowing what to expect next can help, not knowing what or who will come by is a great source of stress, and this can set off all kinds of behaviors and issues. The thing is, it is always best to try not to get the whole family in an uproar in the first place by not having stressful events occur or at least occur less. How do I keep calm and move on modeling a more relaxed way of being to Michael? Here are 5 ways I am learning to do this:
- Breathe and stay in the moment: Obvious one I know, but that was always hard in the past when Michael would start escalating. I had a few bad nights with him last week when I forgot this, so I now I remind myself every morning to do this when I am calm, usually after prayer and morning meditation.
- Don’t react to obvious button pushers: All kids will test and try things; swearing, spitting, spilling things, hitting. Calmly with no eye contact ask them to stop, clean up, and remind them of negative repercussions if they don’t listen.
- Model the behavior you want them to imitate: A direct no hitting, no slapping and warning of walking away if child continues, is the way to go. This is hard, but stay strong. The behavior gets worse before it gets better as the child will see how far they can go.
- Be mindful of what you say and how you say it: Our children are so perceptive. We not only have to watch our choice of words, i.e. no swearing, our tone, but also how we say things. For example, the other day I accidentally chipped some paint off of a wall in our house while cleaning it. I said to Dad, “oh well, we need to paint it anyway.” Michael turned it around the next time he punched a wall when angry and we told him not to do that. He responded: “It’s ok Mommy. It’s an old wall. It needs to get fixed.” I corrected him and reminded myself that intentionally or not, kids misinterpret.
- Have fun with your child even with the ups and downs: This is challenging. There have been days I have wished I did not have to defuse situations. I have wished I could call someone up last minute and say, “here’s all yours for the day!” But there are good moments in between. Lots of them. I savor these, and I know when he senses trust Michael relaxes and lets loose in a positive way.
Exceptional Parents, what are your calm down strategies to stay level as a parent? Remember, unless we have it together, our kids won’t be able to learn to get it together either. We are Exceptional Parents for the long haul, and with any luck, we will show our kids such a great example of being present, handling obstacles, and learning from their mistakes, that they will be reminding us one day if we slip up. Until next time.
I am a writer and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance.” I am passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google Plus. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net
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