Navigating The Tough Line of Choice Versus Following Set Routines-What I Have Learned As An Exceptional Parent



So this is where we are at with Michael now. He is quite good at following a set routine. When the consequences are clear and he knows where he stands, he will listen with limited stress. Yet every once in a while due to wanting to test a little more beyond boundaries set, he will ask for choice where either there is no choice or he will push to change things. One of the hardest things I have had to learn to navigate in the last six months with Michael, is when to give him choice over an activity, a routine or an outing, and when to put it down on paper as law and stick to that routine. It’s not as easy as it sounds. It is both a dream and a nightmare to have a kid who does well with set schedules and routines. When the routine is in place, it is pure bliss, or as close as possible for families. But when one thing is removed or has to be altered, this can be extremely tough or sometimes even disastrous. Michael can be quite rigid, but due to the fact that we are now altering things deliberately sometimes in his routine, he is becoming a little more flexible. The problem was before I was doing too much altering, too much choice, too much flexibility. And Michael, well, he was floundering like a fish out of water. So how does a parent find that right balance?

First of all, you have to know your child. You have to know how much flexibility to give and when to stand your ground. Also, never forget you are the parent and you set the routine, not in some dictator like way, but in the way you are supposed to as the adult. What I keep repeating to myself and what has made the hugest difference to me are the following words: “I am the adult. I am in charge. I trust in myself to make the rules clear to Michael.” But first Moms and Dads, you need to get your confidence back as parents. Mine went down the toilet over the earlier course of this year. I felt that I was not tuning in properly to Michael. I was missing something. I was. It was confidence in myself as a Mom to know what makes me tick and what I needed to do to help my child to not be scared and test. When there is consistency every time a parent respondds a certian way,  a child will relax. Yes, they will test, (and child, exceptional ones more so), but they will grow to know how you as the parent will respond. Consistency is important across the board with both parents everywhere, as is staying calm or as calm as possible. These are lessons I have learned and continue to learn every day.

Also, Moms and Dads, you need to see how your child is triggering you. Yes, they do that to test their own limits, and yours. They want to see if you still love them and how much. If you are confident in your abilities as a parent, this will not be a setback. You will learn from it and get stronger. I was lucky to have worked with a strong support team and know they are there if I need them again. It is essential for both yourself and your child you build a strong support team. I call mine “Team Michael” and “Team Joanne.” Don’t hesitate to find yours should you be floundering in your confidence as a parent.

Exceptional Parents, how do you ride that fine line between discipline and your child’s independence? How do you navigate raising them with rules and flexibility? It’s not easy, and all our Exceptional Children are different. As always, trust your gut first. You know what works for your child, but remember sometimes what they think they want is not what they need. Stability, rules and a consistent way of handling situations is what our Exceptional Children need to thrive. Work in choice and flexibility around a good strong routine. That will bring peace to your relationship with your child. Until next time.


I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.

For more information on my coaching services, see my website:, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on

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