We are pretty much at the mid point of the holidays now. Michael has adjusted somewhat, yet there are still the difficulties with scheduling and knowing what is happening next. We cannot replicate school with the standard visual schedule up on the wall where very little changes, nor do we want to. I used to want to when he was younger. He would suffer so much in those days being away from friends and his routine. Now though, he is happy to be home, well I mean away from school. He doesn’t like staying home, but that is another blog post altogether. 🙂 He is learning how to structure his own free time as well, but what I find difficult sometimes is how to help him learn to handle his stress and anger. He is becoming increasingly annoyed at reading social stories, and insists that a visual schedule at home with times and what we will be doing is for babies and that is not him. At least he still writes down stuff on a calendar! What to do?
I started thinking the other day of what tools I have used that have worked to help Michael and not help him. As a parent and parent coach, I make sure to learn from both. I have found generally, that the techniques below work very well for helping guide you and your child through the challenging times:
- Look at what led to the behavior: This works every time. When we look back, we will see a pattern. In EIBI Or ABA, they call this ABC’s: Antecedent, Behavior and Consequence. All parents of children with autism know this well. What was child feeling before the behavior? What behavior resulted from it? And what was the consequence for them? A lot of parents unintentionally respond to negative behavior by giving in to the child, yelling themselves, or by calming child down and not letting the child learn to do it. It’s important to see where we fall in this dynamic.
- What worked in the past? What haven’t you tried? This is another good one. Sometimes in the heat of the moment as parents it is hard for us to stay calm and focused. Afterwards, we can look back and remember what worked to help the child the last time? It’s a good idea to write it down so we have it on paper.
- Spending quality one on one time really listening to child: This is a great preventative measure in most cases to challenging behaviors. It doesn’t mean giving in to their every whim to keep them happy, but being present for your child will help them feel more secure, and less likely to engage in troubling behavior. This needs to be done regularly. Enjoy sharing with them an activity that they love. Michael loves to talk or play tag and hide and seek with me.
- Keep snacks and water handy: Sometimes challenging behavior can be headed off at the outset if the child is not hungry or thirsty. If they are regularly being kept busy and are fueled with good food, they will be that much more able to get a grip on their emotions.
- Getting enough sleep and rest breaks in the day: This is super challenging for busy active kids, but it is important they have periods of activity and rest. Schedule it in advance, and make the rest period fun. Set them up with a favorite book or movie or video. Be nearby to monitor.
Exceptional Parents, what are some of your best tools for helping your Exceptional Children? Remember, the most important one of all is love and unconditional acceptance of them, in good times and bad. This does not mean condoning bad behavior. This means reminding them that they are capable of holding it together and doing right, and of course, encouraging them and praising them when they do get it right. That will also help move everyone to success. Until next time.
Are you looking to make changes in your special needs parenting life in the New Year? Do you need support on your journey? I am a writer and parent coach who is 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. 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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