So last night was another challenging night where seemingly every little thing I said was misconstrued. I also had to keep it together from letting what Michael said bother me. He will say insensitive things and then pause to see what I will do. With a new behavior system in place, this is normal. He is testing like crazy. Then, he will turn around genuinely sorry for his actions and beg my forgiveness. He will say “can I live with you and Daddy one day when I am grown?” It is this push and pull that can drive a parent crazy. All children display it I know, but with children who have challenges it is more exaggerated. What I have learned to do now is look at what else is going on to make him act in a more challenging way? Is he scared about something? Is he worried? Is he over tired? Then I have to be careful I am not mirroring my own emotions. He’ll read me like a book. If I am tense, it seems to send waves out in the air that he picks up on. Then we’re both dealing with the aftereffect.
Interestingly lately though, Michael has commented how calm I am and that I don’t yell much anymore. I’m glad he is noticing my effort in trying to balance structure and positive discipline with showing compassion for his struggles. At the end of the day no matter what he says or does, I know he is acting out due to fear, confusion and frustration. As he learns to manage all of these with the tools he has made (strategy cards, calm corner and anger box), it will become second nature. As the school psychologist has reminded me, he will need prompting to use these tools for awhile before they become second nature. Not easy for me to remember when I am feeling upset and frustrated, but I try and remember.
Parenting a child with challenges then means walking that tightrope of balance. One wrong step, and you’re dealing with a tantrum/meltdown, but one right step and you’ve made progress in helping your child learn to self-regulate. Also, I suspect Michael is walking that same tightrope of balance with me having me understand his moods and how he ticks. After all, I understand him better than anybody, but I will never understand him as well as someone who has autism will. I read and try and learn every day how to better understand how his mind works to help him move forward.
Exceptional Parents, how do you manage to stay on your own tightropes in parenting? It’s not easy. There are days that go well. Others not so much. Never be afraid to stop learning how to read your child. Read, talk to other parents, attend seminars. If you work with your child and meet halfway, you will both be safe and not fall down. And even if you do, you’ll both know there is a net to catch you. Until next time.