For awhile now Michael has responded really well to stories from my childhood, particularly stories where I spoke about times when I was stressed, struggled or didn’t listen. He is able to fully listen without interrupting and get the life lesson in them. This is a good thing on days like today when there were some rough moments. Michael had some challenging moments at school and his first swimming lesson in a new place. All of this unnerves him, and he will act out by talking louder, not listening and crying more. He did a little of each of these in the late afternoon today. What also didn’t help was that he was overtired. I could hardly wake him up this morning. The first of anything is really rough for Michael: first week of school, first swim class, and as I’ve mentioned before learning to self-regulate is challenging. It is also hard for us as his parents. Dad and I don’t want to cut him slack for not listening. He needs to follow rules. He cannot escalate and hit himself, others or property. Yet, I see sometimes how maybe pushing certain points only makes it worse. Parents, all parents, but particularly those with Exceptional Kids, need to learn to pick their battles. Sometimes we pick the wrong ones and it does not end well for anybody. But, like with the stories of my youth, I tell Michael that we all make choices and we need to stand by the choices we make, good or bad, and learn from them.
I learned today that when I make mistakes with Michael, picking the wrong time to correct a habit, I can use the experience as a teaching one and learn what not to do for the future. I also am learning to teach him how parents make rules for kids’ safety and that he doesn’t have to like rules, but as a child he needs to follow them. They are made out of love if done properly, and most parents, even those of us who make mistakes, do make rules out of safety and properly for kids. Why I love telling him the stories of my youth is that it reminds me what was good about my upbringing. My parents were loving, but had boundaries in place firmly. I knew I couldn’t cross these boundaries. Sometimes, with Exceptional Kids who see the world differently, we forget that they need to see these boundaries too. Otherwise, they will walk all over us as any kid would. Sometimes more, as the added insecurities make them look for power. I see this with Michael and am learning to be loving, firm and assertive at the same time. He is a good kid, but like all good kids, needs guidance.
Exceptional Parents, how do you guide your Exceptional Children to good listening? What strategies do you use? As with many parenting strategies, there is no one right or wrong answer. What works for one child may not for another. At the base of anything that works needs to be love, complete love and acceptance for where your child is, and then you need to follow that with boundaries and structures that work for your child and family. Don’t ever hesitate to reach out if you need help, but remember, you know deep down inside what your child needs most. Until next time.
Happy New Year! Are you struggling to control anxiety in yourself or your child? It’s not easy, but remember you are never alone. For a FREE COPY of my EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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: www.exceptionalparentingnet.wordpress.com.