So I am coming full circle with something I thought we may have been done with-schedules and writing things down for Michael. I have always been someone who lives by my schedule. And as a writer, I love to write things down to organize myself creatively and otherwise. Also, in healing from depression I found the art of writing down my day and the stressful parts of my day to be extremely helpful in conquering my fears and anxieties. Michael was the king of pictos and way before he could talk as well as now we had a daily and nightly schedule with pictos and words for him. When his anxiety went up as he got older, we began drawing using stick figures to illustrate his day. One day in particular that he was stressed, I remember drawing and writing it out for him. Then earlier this year he somehow got it into his head that he was a baby if he adhered to a written schedule. It was no matter that I showed him my schedule on my phone or Dad his, until the professionals we have started working with showed this to Michael, he did not believe he needed it. And guess what? Last night when one of our team was at the house and mentioned that we try a return to schedules for his entire routine with times attached, a little light went off in my head and I had what you could say was an “AHA” moment. What was the moment, you ask? Well, I thought to myself that when our days were super structured with schedules and immense detail, we did not have the behaviors and aggression we are seeing now. Of course, Michael is older, catching up on milestones and hormonal, but still, this could be the answer we were looking for. Boundaries. He needs more boundaries.
All children need boundaries with their parents. They need to know that no means no. They need to learn to handle stress and disappointment. And they need to know to handle regulating themselves. I realized that I had given Michael much less choice when he was younger and less verbal. He also had taken me more at my word and tested less as, well, he was younger. Now it’s the case of Dad and I maintaining strong ties and strict rules to teach him boundaries, respect for us as he has for all adults around him, and not being afraid to handle the fallout. It’s what we say and that’s that, no matter how hard he screams and rails and what we need to do to be consistent. Things have started getting easier and when there are problems they are bad, but the other days the respect and understanding is growing. Exceptional Parenting is hard, but patience is something I am honing and I remember to think of Michael like the kids and families I work with. I need to stay calm, firm, talk less, and follow through.
Exceptional Parents, does writing down a schedule work for your Exceptional Child and your Exceptional Family? Do you or your child find it more stressful? Remember, you need to do what works for you and your child, think of how the techniques you use can help your family, and be willing to experiment a little. Don’t despair. There is always trial and error. You will eventually find what works and then you and your children will head over to the next stage in your relationship. Until next time.