There should always be consequences for behavior, good and bad. Kids, as well as adults, need to know that they always have choices when it comes to how they act, as well as what they say and do. Sometimes though, challenging behavior in our exceptional kids has more to do with what they are not receiving from loved ones, whether intentional or not. With Michael lately, Dad and I have unintentionally been creating some mixed signals and have been doing our best to clear it up. Michael has to some extent been acting up as all children do for extra attention. I guess he felt he wasn’t getting enough positive attention, so out comes the negative ones. He also was testing us to see how far he can push us, who is really in charge, and where he fits in with everything on the home front.
His school psychologist gave him a really good exercise to do which he did this morning. It is called a”Thought Diary.” He needed to write down what he was thinking and feeling right before good and bad things happened, or rather good and bad consequences happened. It was helpful. He told me how he saw a particularly difficult afternoon we had yesterday. I was surprised that he thought after his three strikes you’re out I would give him a fourth chance, but he also told me how I had promised him some together time, and then due to an unpredictable late day turn of events, it did not happen. He also had told me he misses me and wants to spend time. This surprised me as we’ve been home together since Christmas with just a little bit of time he had alone with Dad. But it was the quality of our time together, not the quantity. I have been busy with work and have been squeezing in as much as I could in between family activities. It occurred to me on Sunday when we spent the whole day as a family how well the day went. There were no behaviors, no aggression and although minor testing, nothing big. I realized that challenging behavior on all fronts is exhausting, but also means the child is hurting and doesn’t know how to reach out.
Later today a favorite babysitter is coming to play with Michael. I am going to use this time to recharge my batteries, and do things I need to do to regain my sense of calm, happiness and patience.I have lost these in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Normally, the holidays were only about parental stress, but this year with working and parenting a special needs child I felt the pressure even more. Though the work was my escape from autism, it also tired me out. By recharging my own batteries I know I will be able to pick up on when Michael is feeling lost and have that much more energy to handle his emotions as well as my own. I also know my sense of humor will come back.
Exceptional Parents, what have your learned from your Exceptional Child’s challenging behaviors? What does it say about them? What does it say about you? Sometimes our reactions will increase or decrease their reactions. Don’t beat yourself up. You are doing the best you can. It’s important we all keep track in our own “Thought Diaries” how we are feeling before events and what we can change to make communication flow better between us and our children. But remember parents, it all starts with a healthy and balanced adult. Only when we can handle stress in a positive way, are we able to model that for our child. Until next time.
Are you looking to make changes in your special needs parenting life? 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.
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