Month: November 2017

How Modeling Calm and Using Comforting Routines Helps Exceptional Children Flourish

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In the last few days with Michael’s return to calmer more predictable behavior, I have been reminded about two things I was forgetting about during the more tumultuous months before-staying calm myself and how comfortable routines in place that help Michael use his strategies. Whenever possible, this has been something that has always helped Michael stay calm and see the rhyme and rhythm of his day. Today was a perfect example of a non-typical day and some of the problems that resulted were due to that change. Dad and I had a training at the hospital with the diabetes nurse on Michael’s team. Though Michael did not need to be present at this meeting, we knew we would not make it home for the school bus in time so he stayed at his school’s after school program. He was a little nervous about it, but we’d prepared him well in advance and he knew that it was only for today. He loves coming home and unwinding after his bus ride.

Well, when he came home several things happened. His routine was off as he came home an hour later than normal due to the traffic we had encountered and of course Dad was home too not just me as it is usually is when he gets off the bus.Though dinner was ready and he could have gone right to doing his injection then eating, he saw the surprise we had been trying to hide from him that the diabetes nurse had given him-a stuffed animal and a series of books that helps kids handle type 1 diabetes.  Then he realized how much darker outside it was than it usually is as he was home later, and the crying and undoing began. It took him a good thirty minutes to stop crying, complaining that he hated the dark, he hated what I made for dinner  and he hated the gifts.  It was hard on him and on us watching him suffer due to a predictable routine being turned upside down. I did not think it would be this challenging though I had warned Dad to expect some fussing and stress. In retrospect, I wish we could have planned out a whole visual schedule for the evening, but due to so many unpredictable events we could not have done this. What did we do? The second best thing. I gave him lots of hugs. He sat on my lap and we cuddled. And once he was completely calm, we progressed with the usual evening routine even though it was a little later than usual. And guess what? With that predictable element in, he did great! He loved the toy and books. We read one of them at bedtime before his massage.  I remembered how kids with special needs flock to and love routine. It is recognizable, easier to get a handle on, and helps them feel some measure of control. This is something hard for them to feel in their every day life.

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I also remembered how when Dad and I stayed calm through the storm, we were modeling how even when things are unpredictable, staying calm and finding some recognizable routine or order can go a long way in calming the mind and soul. Dad is better than I at this, but I have learned much from him and other Mom friends who have made calm and patience an art. I now try to emulate it as often as I can, especially at those moments when it is the last thing I am feeling. I realize that is when Michael needs me the most.

Exceptional Parents, how do you model staying calm and sticking to a routine with your Exceptional Child? Is it something easy or hard to do? How does your child  react when their routine is off? Remember, some kids need routine more than others, but all Exceptional Children like the predictability of a routine and like when their parents react consistently in all situations. This is how they will learn how to handle their own emotions as well as the world around them with ease. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

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The Calm After The Storm and Other Exceptional Surprises

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It’s been nothing short of month from hell for our family. That is not me exaggerating. Even before we tried a new anti-anxiety medication to help Michael regulate and calm down (it only made things worse), I saw his attention, anger and aggression worsen towards us, and even himself. Though there was significantly less anxiety and at school they were seeing a sillier side of Michael who did not know when to quit laughing or fooling around with friends, it was hard on all of us. What was the most difficult was hearing Michael apologize to us right after the verbal or physical aggression looking genuinely sorry, then turn around and do the exact same thing a minute later. He also would make a show of looking at his strategies that he had devised to handle his aggression and anger better, but we could see that his heart was not really in it. We brought in visual schedules but that angered him too. It was all in his head. He did not need to see what was on paper.

As a parent it is heartbreaking to see your child suffering and all the tools you are using not working. Thankfully, a step in the right direction was taking him off the anti-anxiety medication on Friday. Even with that the weekend was a bit about the withdrawal effects of the medication. The verbally aggressive things he was saying were hard not to take to heart, though I found chillingly that I was becoming numb to them at the same time. It’s called exceptional parenting survival. Then on Sunday night I started seeing noticeable differences. He was calmer, listening to us again and not freaking out when we asked him to do something, and then, I was both shocked and overjoyed when he looked at us and said, “I am going to schedule my day Mommy.” And just like that, the schedules came back. He also started actually using his strategies to handle his anger and with the meds gone his anxiety over the dark and nighttime came back. But, I was so proud to see him coming to his Dad and I, letting himself cry in front of us, and then proceeding to use the strategies he used to use to handle nighttime anxiety.

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I started thinking where did it stop going wrong and start going wrong? Was it all medication? Was it all blood sugar related? Did Dad’s and my consistency start paying off? Was it due to the fact that we told him he would soon be meeting with a new team to assess him for his attention and anger issues? He had been asking to talk to a psychologist for a while. I think it was all of the above personally.  Regardless, my little boy, the one who didn’t go off like a firecracker every second, was back. The PTSD symptoms I felt I was developing each day on my way home for work were going away. I felt happy and hopeful that a combination of good communication, consistency in response, and a good medication match may be the solution we are looking for. He actually told me he wants to listen and not anger us or his teachers. He seems calmer, grounded like a cloud has passed over.  This is very common with exceptional kids. They have their moods, their difficult periods, their honeymoon periods. As exceptional parents, we need to be looking at all the clues of what could be helping or hindering them. It is downright exhausting, but worth it in the end to log any strange behavior or any other developments as well as what is working and not working. It is also important to not give up on your child. Michael reminded me that after a hard period with him often comes a rest for both of us. He reverts back to himself. He is growing, changing, testing. He is helping me to stretch myself, and as frustrating as it is to have to go back to the table for more answers as to what other conditions he may have that he needs assistance with, I am grateful for the support of the amazing family and friendship network I have. As usual, they have come through for us in the form of professionals for us to consult, shoulders to cry on, and give me the strength to ask God and the Universe to fill me with the strength I will need on this journey of raising Michael to reach his full potential and do the beautiful thing he is supposed to do in this world.

He is letting me hug him again. He wants to sit in my lap and he tells me he loves me, he loves coming home to me and talking to me. He appreciates his father and I. There is nothing in his eyes that leads me to believe anything other than he is telling the truth. I take him on my lap, hug him, and tell him I love him too and want him to be healthy and happy. We are both ready to turn the page to the next chapter of helping Michael succeed.

Exceptional Parents, what surprises do your Exceptional Children give you? I’ll bet some are beautiful, some not so much. Whichever ones they bring though, remember it can be used to make you both grow stronger and more secure. Your child needs to learn limits and letting go and trusting in your parenting. And you as the parent, need to learn what your limits are and when you need to let go and trust in yourself as the parent. Know that it is OK to be scared, angry and not know. Also believe that your child will surprise you every time and that you need to be ready to go on to the next leg of adventure with them. Remember, you are each other’s guides to growth and becoming stronger as individuals. Until next time.

Seeing Your Child Through All The Labels

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A professional and later friend once told me, “Remember Joanne, no matter how many acronyms and conditions become attached to Michael, he will always be your son and the amazing child he is. Don’t forget that.” And every time I see yet another hurdle, yet something else we need to tackle as a family and he as an individual, I think of her wise words. It is hard at times though. I thought I knew my son, and now new things are coming up about other conditions he could or does have. Some are surprises. Some are not. Sometimes I just feel so overwhelmed. I had a moment last week when I said to myself,  I can’t do this anymore. Autism is hard enough. Diabetes is challenging. Now he may have ADHD or ODD. I want things to be simple. I want motherhood to be simple. We are now going down the root of supplementing our behavior therapies with medication and it is a scary route for me. That is when I start to think about Michael. What must it be like for him? What must it be like to have his life change with a diabetes diagnosis and now medication? Who knows what side effects or not it will have on him? It’s also those tween hormones and puberty kicking in. Not easy for any child or parent.

I realized that instead of pitying myself and my workload, I needed to remember that there is a human being under all the labels of Autism, Diabetes, and possible ADHD/ODD, Anxiety and anything else that may arise. There is Michael- navigator, actor, artist, chef. Michael-kind son and family member, friend and human being. Michael- God’s child and reminder of God’s plan in my life and in the world. And finally Michael-unique, quirky, impatient, intelligent, social, musical, and well, little boy who is doing the best he can with what he’s got. Yes, he needs help. Yes, he needs tools. Yes, he needs love. I need to take a deep breath and have the strength to give it to him.

“Mommy do you still love me?” He asks me after a particularly difficult day when he has calmed down and apologized.

“Yes, Michael. I always love you. I don’t like how you behave and the choices you make. Remember, use your strategies, the ones you wrote down, the ones we talked about.”

“I know. It’s just hard when you say things I don’t like.” I am both frustrated and amused. I take a deep breath so he only sees the serious side.

“You need to learn to handle the word no Michael. Life is about handling things we don’t always like to hear as well as like to hear.”

“Oh ok. Sorry Mommy.”

“Don’t apologize. Remember to use the strategies first so you won’t need to apologize.”

Michael nods. We hug and another incident is filed away. Meanwhile I have to remind myself the words of another wise woman who worked with Michael and what she told Dad and I.

“Remember, he is just a little boy. Don’t take him to heart.”

It’s true. He is a little boy struggling underneath it all. And as his Mom I need to remember that every hurtful action, while needing to be addressed firmly and strictly, also needs to be reacted to calmly, so that I can move on to helping Michael the boy find his place in the world without aggression and stress.

Exceptional Parents, are you struggling to see your child beyond their labels? Is it challenging to see the little boy/girl and their unique talents over all the behaviors and labels? Remember, your child is still there, underneath the drama, rebellion and acronyms. Don’t be afraid to reach out to that child. Do something fun with your child. Read, play a game, go for a walk. Remember, you will both get past the other things if you let love lead the way. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in 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 on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

Handling A Different Report Card At Parent/Teacher Interviews

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This was something new for me. Michael’s report card did not contain all the glowing progress that all his other report cards had contained. There were positive comments made about his willingness to learn, try. There were comments about how social he is and how much he enjoys interacting with peers. His strengths are performance arts, art in general, and he is very strong at reading and in music, but yet everywhere, everywhere I saw it kept saying , “With support Michael achieved this. “With repeated reminders Michael did very well.” In previous report cards I saw much more independence in how he learned and went about things than in this report card. There were also comments like, “Michael likes to joke with his friends, but does not know when to stop.” All of these comments were true at home too. I have seen Michael losing control more, happily and angrily. I have seen more rebellion against authority and rules. I know much of this is to be expected as a preteen on the brink of puberty, but my heart still broke seeing not a bad report card, but a report card unlike his other ones where he was obedient, followed the rules every where and did not make waves. Was I losing my little boy?

It was comforting to see some of his home struggles reflected at school, though to a lesser degree. I realized it was not just with me. Still, I found myself thinking what will his teachers have to say to me? What will his therapists have to add? I am going to be meeting with them all soon, and it is a little jarring for this Mom who has never had to ask questions from a report card like this before. Then I exhaled and reminded myself. He is growing up. Things change. I need to change how I look at progress. It is often two steps forward, one step back. We had our share of good and bad moments today. I’m sure school is like that too. But he will get through it. So will I. So what kinds of questions are best to ask at your Exceptional Child’s Parent/Teacher meeting? Really, they have to come from your heart. You know your child best. Share your concerns and your victories with their team. Ask for their input on what you or they could best assist your child with. And most importantly, remember that a report card is not a measuring stick. It is just one measurement of who and what your child is. They will find their place in the world as you did.

Exceptional Parents, what are your tricks for handling Parent/Teacher Night and for not judging your child or yourself to harshly? The trick is really to go with the flow. Remember where your child and you are in your relationship, and know that as long as the communication lines remain open, your child will be fine and continue to progress. Until next time.

 

Teaching Your Exceptional Child To Be Their Own Detective For Mood Regulation

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Michael has been having a harder and harder time self-regulating lately. I’m not sure if this is due to more demands being placed on him at school, the medication he is on, puberty and new anxieties or all of the above. Regardless, it has been challenging for me as his mother and caregiver to find ways to help him practice self-regulation as well as handle emotional upheavals. I have not always taken the high road due to personal exhaustion, frustration and fear. What is happening in my little guy’s mind and how can I help him fix it? I have long learned that I cannot fix it. That is his job. But watching one strategy after another fail for him (or him not thinking to use it), and I can’t help but wonder, am I missing something and if so what?

After another very challenging weekend, I went searching for answers last night. Yes, some of the strategies we have used in the past are working again- Wilbargher Protocol, Qigong Massage, praising and rewarding the good, along with set rewards for good behavior. But other techniques are not working as well. This is why even with great strategies available online, parents always have to fine tune and move forward trying new interventions. I read what professionals and other parents have said are working for aggression, anxiety and oppositional behavior in their children, and got some more ideas. I was also reminded how important it is to empower myself so I can then continue to empower Michael that he can try new things. After a particularly rough evening last week, when we both were angry and frustrated, I heard Michael’s say in a low voice, “Don’t give up on me Mommy.” I hadn’t said anything out loud, but my body language must have looked defeated. And truthfully, inside I felt so overwhelmed at that moment. I usually have great ideas and insight to give other parents and kids, but with my own son seem to be either coming on too strong or making him feel like I don’t want to help him. This is the farthest thing from the truth. I have just been feeling like a broken record repeating that he has to find strategies that work, reminding him what to do, when he does not do the work.

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I get it. He has a hard time with strategies. His anxiety is through the roof. This is why getting him back into yoga, watching a great website that a friend told me that has yoga and meditation videos for kids, and trying to learn to identify when his feelings hit the roof before lashing out,  have been my way of teaching Michael to be his own little detective. I think today we made headway as he caught himself two times before losing his temper and even though the other times I had to prompt or remind him of using a strategy, he cued in right away and did. It is hard work, but I can see that once the groundwork will be laid Michael will be on his way to managing his emotions better and more easily. Most importantly of all, in taking care of my own personal health, I am learning how to be compassionate again towards myself and Michael and not give up even in those very challenging moments. If not me, then who will help Michael learn to help himself?

Exceptional Parents, how are you showing your child to be their own best detective? Are they good at managing their emotions, stresses and strains? If not, eliminate what isn’t working and go with what is. Don’t be afraid to step into the unknown and try something new, whatever it is. If something doesn’t seem right in an approach, with your child’s mental or physical health, reach out to the medical and therapy team. Ask questions. Raise your concerns and share what you know with them. Trust what information you uncover and what will fit with your child. Remember, no one knows them better than you. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in 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 on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

How To Get Over Doubting Your Parenting Abilities With Your Exceptional Child

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As regular readers of this blog know, Michael has hit that preteen testing age which he is experiencing along with autism’s regular anxieties and rigidity. Throw in some unexpected curve balls like diabetes and well, it’s quite the ride for him and us. But the other day something hit me. Michael’s behaviors had not changed from last year. There were days when they were more intense and days when they were about the same. However, I was doubting that I had the right tools to help Michael and was feeling tired. I was also forgetting, and I knew this, to see beyond the behaviors to what he was really communicating. This means seeing what the child is really struggling with and communicating to you. It could be lack of control, testing how much they are loved, or lack of self-regulation. Each behavior could be different. There were times I have noticed a behavior was all about him seeing how far he could push me and what the consequence would be. Would I follow through? Would Dad? Then there were other times that I was so frustrated, but upon closer reflection saw the problem. Michael was having trouble self-regulating and sequencing. These are fancy terms for knowing how to control one’s emotions and the order of how and when things happen. So, Michael getting ready for bed is difficult if he gets thrown off course due to excitement over something that happened earlier. Or Michael is upset that I don’t understand what he is saying and has a hard time controlling his frustration so will swear and yell, then only after realize that is wrong.

There were times he was crying or upset saying, “Mommy, help me. I need you to show me how to do this.” Sometimes he would say, “I need you to do this for me.” It was then that I realized, he really is struggling. This is not all about control and seeing how far he can push me. Sometimes there is genuine fear and confusion. And that was when I realized that I was so tired and in the middle of getting over a bad virus, that I had forgotten to see the child behind the behavior. It is really important as a caregiver to acknowledge when you are exhausted and frustrated that you stop seeing the whole child and only see the behaviors and the problems. You also begin to doubt yourself as a parent and think that everyone is better off taking care of your child than you are. This is not true. Others can support you and help you in your parenting endeavors. After all, it takes a village to raise a child. But never forget. There is no one better able to help and advocate for your child than you as the parent. It broke my heart a few times this week to hear Michael say, “Mommy, why aren’t you the happy Mommy I know? What’s wrong?” He was right. I had to start being happy again so I could start seeing the best in him again.

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Sometimes as parents we get discouraged when our child pulls away from us. We think to ourselves, “I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s too stressful.” But our child is most likely pulling away to see if we will come back. Many times in the last two months as Dad and I put down new boundaries for respect, behavior and expectations we would tell Michael that these things are required for him to live peacefully with us at home. We all deserve respect and he needs to follow the rules we lovingly put in place for his safety, whether he likes it or not. Michael then started opening up that he loves us and wants to listen, but has a hard time. He asked for help with strategies. I told him we were always there to help him with strategies. He seemed surprised. “You mean you’ll help me? I’m afraid to ask for help.” I could not believe he used those words. I thought Dad and I had always shown we were there for him, but somehow the signals had gotten crossed. When he understood that he had options, things began to get smoother.

Exceptional Parents, have you ever doubted your parenting abilities? Remember, you may be tired, overwhelmed and frustrated, but there is no one who can work better with your child’s team than you. Don’t ever forget the importance of seeing your child before the behavior and then helping them when you are feeling strong again. Until then, don’t be too hard on yourself. Your child will always love you and knows you are in their corner. It’s you who has to believe in yourself again and know that you are capable of helping guide them every step of the way patiently and with love. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in 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 on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

The Power of Repetition and Good Routines in Exceptional Families

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If I have to remind him to use his strategies one more time I will go stark raving mad, I thought to myself for the umpteenth time the other afternoon after Michael had lost his cool and I had told him to go to his room and use his strategies. I had also warned him when he came home from school that day that he seemed stressed and might want to use his strategies. Sometimes I feel more like a parrot than a mother going over the same terrain over and over. If it’s not verbal it’s been visual on pictos in the past or schedules in the last two years, but going over the same things is a common theme in our house. Has it worked? Yes and no. I can use the wheels turning in Michael’s head as he processes that he has to make changes and use strategies BEFORE he tantrums or loses control, but the system is far from perfect. Some of the time he is successful which is very encouraging, but there are more times that he only realizes AFTER the fact what he needed to do. That’s ok. Rome wasn’t built in one day, as they say, and if I know one thing about exceptional kids is that they need to do things many times to get it right. Heck though, once they get it right it is right forever.

Routines are the same. Get your exceptional child into a healthy routine and the results are amazing. Get them into an unhealthy routine, and it’s bad. Real bad. They get stuck, have meltdowns due to exhaustion, over stimulation, and even those children that can express themselves have a hard time seeing their triggers at the beginning. Michael is only beginning in the last year to see his own anger triggers. The main one is hearing the  word NO. Others are not feeling listened to. Michael’s version is if we are not stopping everything to pay attention to him, this means drinking water, coffee, not just the obvious. I’ve had to explain to him that I can focus on him just fine while having my coffee. 🙂 Finally other triggers have been feeling out of control with food choices, directions and other activities. Whenever I can I have given him choices and the feeling of having control, while at the same time teaching him that sometimes he will not be in control and have to handle following rules and regulations that his parents and teachers have laid out for him. It is getting easier as he is learning to tell apart where he can have control over where he has to follow rules.

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Regardless, routines are also all about repetition and making sure things unfold in a certain way. Whenever we’ve had a challenging evening as a family, I realize that most off the time it is due to me or Michael changing the routine. While it is good to throw things up in the air once in awhile so that the child does not become too rigid, a certain amount of predictability is important for the whole family’s mental stability and health. As hard as it is to stay in a routine and repeat yourself, all parents who do this, with or without exceptional kids, report that this helps make their family life more manageable. When I get discouraged and feel I can’t do this anymore, I think about these two things, routine and repetition, and remember how it is mine and Michael’s saving grace in times of great upheaval and change.

Exceptional Parents, what has been the key to success for you and your child in your family? What has helped you and your child move past behaviors and negative moments? If you have not tried a regular routine and repetition with important mood enhancers like using strategies, then now is the time to try it.  Yes, therapies work. Medication works. But having a family plan of what to expect as well as how to self-regulate can make all the difference in the world to being able to cope with life’s strains and stresses. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in 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 on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

How To Balance Discipline With Nurturing-The Exceptional Parent’s Constant Struggle

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I knew from the second Michael got up this morning and the rude comments he made that we were off to a rough start. I also knew that when he gets up early and has TOO much free time before the bus comes, that things don’t usually end well for us. I could see that suggesting he plan out his morning would not go over well. Nor would me being too lenient and giving him extra play time. Yep, I’ve tried both in the past and neither one works as you can guess. So what would be the best bet? You guessed it. Something in the middle. That is, a firm hand reminding him that it’s great he had time for some downtime, but that soon his school prep day would need to start. I thought I was calm. Really I did. But it was a facade. At the first bit of rudeness, I felt my own good resolve to stay calm start to dissolve. By the time I had given the five minute warning to come and get ready for his blood glucose test and his two insulin injections and then breakfast and the start of his school preparation and was witnessing stalling followed by “I don’t feel like it,” I was frustrated and upset. I realized I’d played this round the wrong way, and that now the struggle would become a fight. It did and I won. That is, I got him to do what he was supposed to do, make the bus with two minutes to spare, but at the cost of his stress and mine. Why? Well, basically I did not strike that fine parenting balance with Michael. This is basically giving in and giving up. Giving in to some demands (that you predetermine before with child, i.e. a schedule where you both have input) along with them agreeing to give up control and see you as the one who has the final say. You could argue that you are also giving the child some control in decision making, but the thing is that they cannot have all the control. This makes for more anxiety and behaviors, as the child does not know where they stand.

I also realized what is involved in balanced parenting is a combination of nurturing and discipline. It’s that old you show love and friendliness to your child, but make no mistake about it, you are not their friend, you are their parent first and foremost. The lines somehow got blurred on this one on the home front somewhere with Dad and I. Now it’s about taking back control for Michael’s own good (and mine), while giving him power where he can get power. It’s also about being consistent with negative consequences when behavior is unacceptable and positive consequences when behavior is positive. Dad and I both talk with Michael about this, so that when he says, “you do the listening for me, it is too hard,” that no, he has to do the listening, use the strategies and reap the consequences for that, good or bad. This is still a work in progress among Michael’s anxiety and difficulty with self-control and self-regulation. Some days are easier than others, usually when he is more rested, and I am beginning to see that medication along with a good behavior plan and LOTS of repetition may be the key to finding that balance in exceptional parenting. It is all about balance when raising a child whose developmental age varies by the hour. Some times I see the behavior of a much younger child, sometimes he is at par with his age group. Sometimes too the behavior is  attention-seeking, the old bad behavior for attention as Mom looks distracted today. I make sure now that when I give Michael my attention, it is full attention and I am not texting on my phone or doing anything work related. I ask the same of him to give me his full attention.

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It is complex, this whole balancing act, but is possible. Nurturing and showing you love and value your child for who they are along with clear, consistent boundaries and discipline, will go a long way in cementing respect, love and a diminishing of negative behaviors like defiance and aggression. It is a long road though. Our kids have to learn by endless repetition. This means as exceptional parenting, we need to make sure to be in this balancing act for the long haul and show our own version of patience and discipline towards ourselves. Have your strategies for combating stress ready. Take care of your mental and physical health. And overall, take things one step at a time.

Exceptional Parents, how do you parent your Exceptional Child? What formula works best to diminish the bad behaviors and increase the good ones? If you are still looking to find that balance, don’t worry. It’s not easy. Our kids need us to be extra patient, strong, loving and forgiving while we balance love and discipline, and show them that with time, they can trust in us and in themselves to make good choices. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in 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 on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

 

 

How Listening to and Healing Your Inner Spirit Will Help You Parent You Exceptional Child Better

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As soon as I was alone in the car the tears came, slow and gentle off on and on. I knew when I woke up Sunday morning that I was feeling tired, tired and heavy. I did not have the answers to help Michael, and though the day before had ended beautifully with Dad and I having our first date night post-diabetes and now possibly ADHD, it had been anything but beautiful until the sitter came to watch Michael that evening. Sure there were some nice pockets of moments that Michael behaved and listened, but it was not when he was alone with me or Dad. I was feeling so tired and fed up of the roller coaster of emotions we were all riding as a family, but most important of all, the mother who always trusted her own parenting instinct was having an identity crisis.

How come with all the hard behavioral work we had been doing with Michael, particularly over the last two years, but let’s face it, pretty much over the last ten years, as well as the new medication which were helping, did we still have bad days like these? Where was I going wrong? Then, another thought hit. I don’t have the energy for this anymore. I am tired, fed up. I want off this train right now and want my old pre child life back, when I only had my own stresses and strains to worry about. The life where I didn’t have to handle filling out ABC charts, carb  counting, charting side effects of drugs. Enough. I’d had enough. I wanted someone else to take over and take over being Michael’s Mom as of that moment. I did not want the stress, the heartache, and had lost trust that I could do the job in spite of so many of my Mom friends and family cheering me on and telling me what a great job I was doing. I thought back to the last time I was excited to do anything with Michael. It had been awhile. Even when things were going well, I kept waiting for disaster to strike, unfairly too. Sunday had ended up being a great day for us as a family.

Anyway, back to the drive home from church. So as my tears dried up I heard a soft voice inside whispering to me that I needed to go to the lake. We have a beautiful nature park near our house. It was not far from church or our house. I did not question this voice, but drove the lake. Once there I texted Dad that I would be home in about an hour as I needed some more alone time. I waited hoping all was well at home and I could do this. It was.  After that, more crying ensued in the parking lot, until I felt calm, serene and ready to go for a nature walk. From the second I stepped outside and heard the crunching of my shoes on the gravel, I knew the voice that was whispering to me was my spirit. She was reminding me of how I healed my feelings of exhaustion, fear and self-doubt as a mother five years earlier and was reborn. It was through meditation, yoga and walking in nature. It was through making time to charge my personal battery. As I walked I started thinking, Michael’s behaviors have not gotten worse. I have gotten more tired, burned out, and have not been able to handle them as well. He needs help, reminders to use his strategies, but none of that will happen until I get a handle on my stress and fix my health. Soon I came to a bench and I looked out at the beautiful shimmering lake. It was a cloudy cold day, but it felt so good to be out in the fresh air, in the quiet with only the odd jogger and hiker to contend with. And then I saw the ducks swimming and quacking away in the water. I smiled for the first time at one of them as he continuously dunked his head in and out of the water. I watched other bathe themselves.

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And then I started to pray. I started to pray to God to show me the way, to give me strength to be Michael’s mother, but before I could do that. help me be Joanne again. Help me be Joanne who makes time for exercise, alone time to read and unwind, as well as  writing, all my writing. Help me be Joanne and schedule regular date nights with her husband and get back to her girls’ nights out. Help me be Joanne and do what makes me feel alive, peaceful and grateful for all my blessings. I knew I had so much to be grateful for even in the challenging moments. Friends had been reaching out to me and I’d been pushing them away. This was not due to me being in denial about needing a  break, but due to total exhaustion and a bad sinus infection I am still fighting. I realized sitting there on that bench, that I would be alright. Michael and Dad would be alright. I just needed to take care of me and get strong. After that, it would all fall into place. The answers would come. And as I walked back to my car, I felt the first bit of peace I’d felt in a long time. And I felt happy, happy to be going home to see my boys.

Exceptional Parents, do you  have fantasies about running away from being parents? Do you feel tired, angry, fed up with your child, with yourself sometimes? You have every right to be feeling overwhelmed, but the best way to tackle your feelings of lack of control, are to control the one thing you can control-you. Ask yourself when was the last time you made time for things that recharged your batteries. Remember, if  you take care of you first, it will be much easier to ride out your child’s storms until you figure out the best solution to help them. Also, if you find yourself losing patience with your child, think of the last time you were patient with yourself. If it’s been awhile, this could be why you are having a harder time with your child. We can only love and support others once we are doing it one hundred percent of the time for ourselves. Take heart Moms and Dads. You are doing the best you can. Now it’s time to take care of your spirit so you’ll have that much more to give back to your child and for yourself in the long run. Until next time.

 

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in 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 on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

5 Ways For Exceptional Parents to Stay Positive When Their Child Is Struggling

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There are good days. There are bad days. Then there are the days that are a mix of both. Michael gives me many of these. He will amaze me with his bravery. Tonight at his evening injection, he agreed to try another area to have his insulin injection, one that had previously scared him. He did this after an evening of testing, aggression and refusing to do what we told him to do without a fight or resistance. I had one of those, “what the heck?” moments of how can he find following simple politeness so hard to do, yet surprise me with doing something so difficult with ease? It made me smile in spite of the frustration of earlier in the evening when everything was a literal and figurative battle. After when he is calm, has had his moment to read his strategies and see that he was wrong not to listen, I hear the familar,

“Mommy, I need help with my strategies. I need you to do them for me. It is too hard. I don’t know how.”

To some degree this is true. Michael has difficulty with impulse control, and self-regulation as well as thinking things through before acting. I do see that I need to be there in the “in-between” phase helping Michael learn to stop, reflect and make a good choice, but yet he has to want to. What happens now is that the regret comes way after he pays for the negative consequences of his actions in a cool down period in this room, losing privileges and other fun things. I want this to stop and for him to be able to put the breaks on before. This is our challenge. So, how as a parent can I, can any of us, help our child when they are struggling either before or after they have made a choice to stay positive? Here are 5 ways:

  1. Take a deep calming breath: Parents, if you are not reflecting calm and join their chaos, no one will be the winner. Listen to their panic and be the voice of confidence that brings them back.
  2. Remember it takes time to get results: This is a tough one. We see the strategies educators, psychologists, doctors and every therapist under the sun has offered and assume that our child will get it and apply it quickly. It is not that easy unfortunately. They need reminders, us to catch them in the early stages of losing their cool, and then support afterwards to go over where they went wrong.
  3. They love you and you love them: In the heat of your child’s anger and yours, you will forget this, particularly if they are screaming hateful things at you and those you love. This is a cry for help. This is pure frustration boiling over. As a parent, you need not take it personally. It will pass, they will be sorry, and you start again.
  4. See that their rage is bigger than them and scary for them: Again, this is hard. Children seem so powerful during their tantrums, meltdowns that we think they are in control. They are not. They are losing control of themselves and are more frightened than we are. Try and bring them back safely and if it is too late, let them get the anger out in a safe place then after talk with them after doing things better in the future.
  5. Remember that there is always hope and never give up: It’s important to remember that your child needs you to believe they can change and to give them that push of encouragement. They need positive reinforcement, praise and set boundaries as well as expectations. They need to know that they should never give up on themselves either. They are winners and can go as far as they so desire to.

Exceptional Parents, are you finding it hard to stay positive through your Exceptional Child’s behaviors? Have you tried strategies, medications and interventions that didn’t work even though they seemed promising? Are some working only some of the time? Remember, give things a chance to work. Try different variations, experiment. Trust that your child is doing the best that they can as are you. Reach out and look for new strategies, ideas. Most importantly know you are being the best parent you can be as your child is being the best child they can be. Together with time, you will both grow stronger and more positive by believing in each other. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in 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 on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.