This past weekend was one of our hardest weekends yet, and I truly finished it last night with a feeling of mental exhaustion. We have put a new behavior plan in place to help with Michael’s escalating challenging behaviors at home and it has been hard on all of us. I also didn’t sleep much. What I did to do when things are rough during the day is stay up late at night to give myself some pampering. Not a bad thing to pamper myself reading a fiction book or taking a nice long bath, but then when the next day starts early my energy reserves are physically lower as I am tired. What I found particularly hard to navigate was the constant push pull of Michael wanting to be near me and his Dad, mixed in with defiance. We are sticking to our guns with the consequences in the behavior plan, and I know it gets worse before it gets better, but I have been also trying to find the good times in the day when Michael is listening and cooperating.
A few months ago he was announcing he could not wait to leave us and refusing to tell me about his day. Now the pendulum has swung in the other direction. “Mommy, I want to tell you about my day.” “I don’t want to ever leave you. I love you.” His biggest moment of sadness was this morning when he lost all his daytime tokens and I told him, “now the next thing to go is time spent with me after school. I will not spend time with you when you hit, imitate, and try and break my things.” He also has been ignoring us when we asked him to put something down, put something away etc. It is emotionally and physically trying. All parents of exceptional kids go through these times. We are also coming to realize Michael’s other challenges, specifically Anxiety and possibly ADHD.
So all off this got me thinking on how I could find the positive in a weekend like this? There was positive. Saturday morning Michael quietly watched a movie with his Dad, and after a very difficult and challenging Sunday morning where I refused to go out anywhere with him until he used his strategies, he turned things around on Sunday afternoon. He began listening, being cooperative. I told him he was doing great and offered the park. We were not originally going. He was ecstatic that I gave him a chance. We had fun. We laughed. This morning after a very rough morning, I have vowed to try and find good things when he comes home from school today and from here on in. Behavior programs are great, but need to be balanced with praising positive behavior too. We have a positive behavior program in place for bedtime, but it is not working yet. I may have to add a little more love in the day.
Exceptional Parents, how do you balance the negative and the positive in your child? How do forgive them and yourself and then move on? It’s ok to have a good cry, let the anger and pain out. Then it’s time to move on, see what didn’t work, and try something new. Remember, it’s hard work for you parenting an exceptional child, but it’s also hard work for them too in the world. They are confused by so many thing and self-regulation is a huge thing to master. Start to show them you are on the same team and are there to help. And don’t be afraid to open new doors to help your child and yourself. Until next time.