I am a good mother, really I am. I help others parents and children learn to be more patient with one each other as I know what happens when parents and kids don’t hear each other out. I pride myself on my self-control, and on what Michael, my son, has taught me about my self-control and what I needed to change in me to be a better parent. It is not easy being a parent, and being one to an Exceptional Child is extra hard at times. I have not felt it as this hard since the Christmas holidays as I have this last couple of days. I have not been taking the best care of myself. Busy with work, not exercising, and the hour change have affected my level of patience this week. Michael has also been busy at school, overtired and not been able to get outside to play. Fire and oil for the two of us. This has not been more evident as in the last two days where Michael has seemed to exist solely to stress me out with fighting and testing over everything, been disrespectful and pushing my buttons. And I, oh yes, the patient Mom who teaches other Moms how to ignore attention seeking behavior, not go down to the child’s level of yelling, failed this week. When I was reflecting how I lost control of my temper and got frustrated on 3 different occasions, I now have a list of what not to do to add to the mama drama with your exceptional child:
- Do not yell back. This is hard. The child yells at you and insults you. Anyone else and you retaliate back with screaming and insulting. With your child not a good idea as it just stokes the fire of their anger more. Anger is a way of getting a parent’s attention. Maybe they are feeling neglected, worried , stressed. A child that is not able to get their parent’s attention as easily doing positive things will react with aggression to get it. I yelled back and called Michael disrespectful. Afterwards, I realized if I had firmly and calmly told Michael we do not yell or insult, things would have defused sooner. I also thought to myself when was the last time I gave him positive attention. I will make a point to find him being good in the next few days.
- Child hits you- do not react with anger or repercussions just firmness and stepping away: When your child slaps or hits you, someone else or property, it is wrong and needs immediate consequences. You yelling and screaming at them is a natural frustrated response, but only gives them fuel to do more. It is better to try and remove them right away from the situation than try and reason with a child who is not reasonable at that moment.
- Do not cry in front of child if possible: This happened to me a few days ago. My anger was drained and I began to cry. Michael started to laugh and imitate the crying to get more of a rise out of me. Good I ignored him here, and soon enough he stopped. I learned to try not to react within earshot so he will do or say anything for attention.
- Do not ask them why they are doing what they are doing: I was so angry that I started trying to figure out why was he fighting me on going to swim class, coming in from the outside, I said things like “what’s wrong with you?” “why are you acting like this?” This is not the time for a heart to heart. An exceptional child who has lost control needs a firm, calm parent to keep things simple y telling them exactly what they need to do. “If you choose not to listen we go home.” NOT “I can’t believe you are doing this to me again…” I know. It’s easier said than done with any child when we are upset and they are pushing our buttons, but mandatory we stay strong, give simple statements and move forward from there or else no one wins.
- Do not overload them with what they are losing, show them what they are winning by listening: We have a token system where Michael gains rewards when he listens. I regret that I kept firing off each time he lost a token when he was deliberately being rude. It became a contest, who could misbehave quickest or take away a token quickest. In the end neither of us won. It’s not a contest. As a parent you want your child to learn to show love, respect and make good choices. You reward the positive, look for the positive, and remind the child that they could always start again.
Exceptional Parents, after a parenting fail or fails, what is your takeaway? How do you learn to parent better? That is what turning it around is all about. We all make mistakes. Our children teach us as much as we teach them. If we look behind their behaviors to see what they could be telling us, it will be easier for us to adjust our own emotions as parents and role models to help them achieve maturity and respect. We all can start fresh and turn it around, kids and parents alike. If we realize that, we can learn from our mistakes and get stronger. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism is opening my eyes up to living life in a whole and balanced way. I am passionate about helping other parents of exceptional children thrive as individuals and in their relationships with their children. For more information on my coaching packages, or for a free 30 min consultation session, contact me at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com