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.
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.