Month: December 2017

Handling the Holidays- 5 Ways To Deal With The Upheaval that Holiday Schedules Bring To Exceptional Families

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Christmas is almost here. The time of year that is so special for most families, even among the chaos of  preparations for the big day with family and friends. It is stressful for most families, but parents of exceptional kids often had it harder. Their kids just feel things more intently and do not always adjust to the changes in the scheduling with ease as a parent would hope. So, how can an exceptional family help the holiday season go more smoothly? Here are some tips that have worked for our family over the years:

5 Ways to Deal With The Upheaval That Holiday Schedules Bring To Exceptional Families:

1) Have an outline or plan for the holidays in advance: I know this goes against spontaneity with other family members, but if you can, try to have a plan in advance for how you will be handling the holidays with celebrating so that your exceptional child can prepare for any stresses up ahead (and so can you). This includes holiday preparations and who you will be seeing etc.

2) Plan out play dates or get away as a family: I cannot stress this enough. Some of the holiday needs to be structured with either play dates or family time away so that the child moves away from the home front and repetitive activities. You would do this with a neuro typical child. Do not behave differently because this is an exceptional child. They need to experience all sorts of things.

3) Make some Mom/Dad time away and some solo time whenever possible: If you can take some couple time away during the holidays and some separate Mom/Dad time away during the break, it will benefit you, your partner and your child by recharging your book in advance for activities that will recharge your child.

4) Get physical as a family and alone: Getting active with sledding , skating, walking and any other physical activities is a great way to make sure that kids and adults are active, having fun together, and moving towards a healthier way of living.

5) Have a plan for meltdown days: It’s important to also have a backup plan for those days when kids (and sometimes their exceptional parents) are having a hard day and need time to decompress and unwind if they are tired, frustrated, or overwhelmed. Meltdown days do not pick a convenient moment often, and when they happen we need to ride them out as calmly as we can. Find a spot where your child can pull themselves together and remind them of whatever strategies worked in the past. Chances are this will help them be successful.

Exceptional Parents, what are your holiday secrets to keeping sanity in your family? How do you survive the initial onslaught of holiday madness? It is probably by having a plan of action in place that works for you and your family. For some, it may be toning down on the socializing. For others, upping it. Regardless, go with your child’s cues, your own family structure, and make sure that the whole family feels comfortable no matter what happens, that the holidays are all about love, connecting and relaxing. Enjoy yours with family and friends. Wishing you all peace, love, joy and health in your celebrations whatever way you celebrate! Until the New Year. 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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How Letting Go Of Having Control Helped Me Find My Way Back To Exceptional Parenting

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It was a long fall. I had been holding my breath since September/early October while our family adjusted to diabetes and then Michael’s behaviors started up again. I was so stressed and worried about everything, and it showed in my parenting. I was afraid to trust my instincts. I tried seeing the best in Michael, but with each time he acted up I continued to believe the downward spiral would just continue to spiral out of control. Then I got a bad sinus infection and virus which pretty much knocked me out for four weeks. I thought about a lot in that time. Though I was able to work and do the bare minimum, I was operating at low energy, physically and spiritually. Anything extra depleted what little energy I had and I felt so discouraged.

What kept me going as a parent was the support of my husband, family, friends, both at work and in my personal life, and trust in God that things would turn around soon. Still, it was hard. I was tired, fed up, and wanted to run from my parenting life. I knew this is when Michael needed me most, but the harder I tried to put down rules and push him to bring out his best, the more it backfired. Michael pushed me and I pushed back showing him who was boss. Yes, it worked to show him Mom and Dad were in charge, but it eroded some of his trust in how much we loved him. I had forgotten to look for the good things, and even in our rough fall, there were good things here and there. It was after a particularly rough night where I fervently wished I was a different parent or living in a different home, that I realized, I could change this. How? I realized that by giving up on my need to control  “everything,” all of Michael’s neuroses, power struggles, and bad habits, I would actually be showing him that I was the calm front he needed and remembered. I also started repeating to him when he was calm and only mildly testing his limits, that I missed the real Michael, the one who knew how to talk to me, to have fun, to listen. I risked that he would laugh in my face, ignore, or continue with the behaviors. Instead, I received the opposite reaction. He has now been going out of his way to be the child he is and not test. And he asked me today when he was being silly and I got annoyed, “Am I being the Michael you want me to be Mom?” I answered that he could do better and I knew he could. And he did.

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This control thing and letting go of it has taught me something I had forgotten-we are never truly in control as parents or as human beings. Stuff happens to us every day that test us, throw our world upset down, and make us see that the more we strive to control things, people and events, the less control and happiness we will have. This is not to say that we should not have rules, a schedule and basic way to behave towards others in our family. However, pushing kids to conform 100% will only result in misery for all, in us feeling we are failures, and in our exceptional kids testing until the cows come home because they want control more than anything feeling so powerless in many areas of their life. It is our job to show them that they may not always have control, but can make good and bad choices, and then reap the benefits and consequences of them. I learned this in the last two weeks as I stuck it out through my abdicating control over how my kid would react, the environment would react, and realized that I could only control one things-how would I react and what would I do? When I had my answer, I prayed and meditated on it, asked for guidance, and here I am. I am now modeling for Michael how to take charge of himself as I am taking charge of myself.

Exceptional Parents, have you ever tried letting go of control and seeing if it helped or hindered your  relationship with your Exceptional Child? If not, try it. You may be surprised, but if you let yourself just “be” in the moment with them, lessen up on controlling every aspect and going with the flow, you will most likely see that they will respond to you and themselves in a different way. They will want to do better, be more relaxed, and that is when learning and fun happen. 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

The Importance of Support Networks For Your Exceptional Self

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Today it struck me as it does many times how lucky I am. Yes, in spite of feeling stressed, worried and angry at myself I have had one of those days when I saw all the good around me and all the support I truly have. I have always been blessed with a great family who have helped me by listening and offering ways to help Michael. But today it was the friends and strangers around me that showed me that I have a whole other exceptional support network to remind me that I am fortunate and blessed. I received gifts, praise and a kind ear from people who were friends or co-workers, and on a day when things were already going well with Michael, put an even bigger smile on my face. Things have been progressively getting better with Michael’s moods since the weekend. I think the extra time we spent together with a PED DAY and a weekend of sledding and Santa visits cemented the rest. But I digress. In all my stressful encounters with Michael over the last month, my work, and trying to manage taking care of our home, I have forgotten about my exceptional care network of people. These are not just the family I sometimes take for granted, but my wonderful friends, childhood and writer friends, and my co-workers who have all had positive and affirming things to say as well as offering me their ears and support during challenging times.

Too often exceptional parents forget they have a network of people there to help them if only they reach out. Sometimes sadly, they don’t take the time to form this network. Both scenarios equally happen, though many of us have more people who care about us than we think. The thing is that we need to reach out to our network of family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and ask for help. Let them know we are struggling and need to chat over a cup of coffee or dinner or over the phone or online. We also need to offer our own ears to hear them out. As stressed and down as I have gotten over the last three or four months, I have tried whenever possible to reach out to my network and ask how they were doing, listen to them, organize a get together. These things were as much about keeping my sanity as helping them keep theirs. Even in my darkest hours, I have seen how not alone I am, how fortunate I and my family are to have the people we do in our life that shower us with time, gifts, praise and support. Dad and I try our best to give back  to these souls who have given us back our life and positive outlook. All I could think tonight as I had one kind word and deed after another occur in my life is how important reaching out to people is. This could be virtually, in person, with a surprise gift, with a kind word. And for exceptional parents, this can make all the difference when they are having a bad day, week or month with their child. And if they are not, they will remember,  I have these people in corner to remind me I am not alone.

Exceptional Parents, how does your support corner look right now? Do you have your exceptional people around you before the hardest season of the year hits with your child or children? If not, fear not. It is never too late to find your people. Look for a support group online or in person. Reach out to friends and family who have reached out to you. You need each other to remember how precious, fragile and beautiful life is. You need each other to laugh, cry and commiserate with. You need to remember that you are not alone and neither is your child. Reach out, give of yourself and ask others for help at the same time if you need a kind ear. Chances are they are looking to help support you as you have done to them. You are also showing  your child something valuable, that they are not alone and that they have support too. 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

 

 

Finding The Miracles In Hard Times- This Exceptional Mom’s Discovery

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Yesterday was a perfect example of a typical day for most exceptional families. It was a day filled with beauty and pain. When I finally did fall asleep after a very difficult evening where Michael had a hard time listening and regulating, I realized, however, all the beautiful moments that were there that I was feeling too sorry for myself to catch. These moments happened at Michael’s holiday school concert when I saw many friends of other exceptional children and had a chance to wave or chat. They also are all handling difficult child and life circumstances, but true to parents everywhere, are not giving up on being positive, at least on the surface. Mind you, I was doing that too, while feeling all the raw pain of wanting to run away from being a parent, even if only for a few days.  I saw yesterday though, that all parents have their struggles with their children, their personal hardships, and their daily dramas. It’s how we handle them that shapes us and eventually our children. I admit that lately I have been tired of handling my personal family drama. I had a clear moment last night where I thought to myself I don’t need any more tools, I need a parenting break, but one that works for my child and me. He is not ready for respite care for a full day or night, but I so am and so does Dad. It was time we prioritized one for each of us until we can go away together and Michael is in good hands and can sleep away from home. It’s not easy even if he was ready to find respite for a child with autism and diabetes. It’s quite a lot to handle for most organizations or a single sitter.

Still, one of the things I am reading about in my the book I have talked of before “When Things Fall Apart-Heart Advice For Difficult Times”, by Pema Chodron talks about not running away from pain and suffering, but meeting it and accepting it. I am so mad because it is true. I don’t want to handle pain and suffering of seeing my son’s challenges at self-regulating going off the rails, see him stressed by high and low blood sugars. I don’t want my family handling it. But nonetheless it is there, and darn it, I see it is there to help us all to grow. Michael’s obstacles let him grow stronger, and Dad and I too, whether we want to or not. I am seeing every day how pain and joy go together hand in hand, and it is only by accepting both that we are truly living life. Think about it parents. No one knows this as much as a caregiver does. Life has ups and downs and we all need to navigate these to stay sane.

I went to bed like so many other nights thinking, “I can’t do this anymore. I want out.” I felt scared as today was a PED DAY and it was my turn to stay home. I did not think it would be good. Instead, Michael and I had a wonderful day. Michael understood that to have a good day he needed to make a schedule. He scheduled the day (with my permission), for a visit with Santa in the am and a walk around the shopping mall we were in, followed by a fun lunch at home, and an afternoon of sledding outside along with a scenic drive home looking at holiday nights close in our neighborhood. In the evening the injection went well, and most importantly Michael shocked me by taking his own blood sugar and recording the number in his book! I was so proud of him! With all the behaviors, anxiety and tears, here was a step towards maturity and responsibility that I was not expecting until much late. As usual, Michael proved me wrong in a good way. I made sure to praise him and tell him to keep up the good work. He deserved positive praise for making good choices today.

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I also had the miracle of seeing Michael take an amazing picture with Santa, meet one of his bus friends at the mall and see my “big little boy” in action talking to his friend, and have fun sledding and seeing his skill and good listening outside with me. It is true that life has its ups and downs and that as a parent, you need to remember to believe the best in your child even when they and you have hard days and nights with them.

Exceptional Parents, what little miracles have you seen in your children, especially during the hard times? I’m sure they are there. It often takes other people, or the Universe or God pointing us to other people, who help us see our child’s potential and their soul’s beauty. As a parent if you are struggling with your exceptional child’s behavior, remember that things will get better especially when they look bleak. It’s all up to you, how you embrace those difficult moments and learn to grow from them. I know this in my soul, but personally sometimes it is easier to curl up in a corner and say no. Thankfully, the next day I wake up and say it’s time to start again. You can do it too parents and caregivers! Remember, there are always little miracles waiting around the corner. 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

Organizing Surprise Home Days And What Exceptional Kids Teach Us About Stress

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So today was a surprise Snow Day for Michael and me . He was happy, of course, happy and nervous. Happy to be home, and nervous as he did not want to be stuck at home all day. He woke up pretty much structuring all the “places” we would go. Michael is not a home body. Teaching him to limit his outings has been a challenge, and though I am happy he does not want to sit in front of a computer screen all day, I cannot always take him out to 4 places a day as he likes even on Snow Days when school is closed and I have to stay home from work as a result. Of course, he would have understood the concept of staying home all day had the weather been pretty terrible for driving.  As it turned out, it cleared up pretty nicely. And though he eventually accepted staying home in the am, in the pm he was excited when I suggested our first sledding adventure of the winter season as the driving conditions were good.  How did we get to starting off the day horribly with fighting and stalling with his injection to this point? Michael realized after our fight the necessity of creating a visual schedule for himself when he is home with me unexpectedly, and following the ones we already have in place on weekends.

I have to say that I was at my wits’ end being challenged by his retorts to all the simple requests I made of him, only to be so happy when he sighed and admitted he needed to make a schedule to organize our day. And off he went! I can pretty much tell you, other than some minor ups and downs, the day went well after he had his schedule where he checked off all he would be doing. We also talked about expectations of good behavior and how that would be rewarded, and how bad behavior would have a negative consequence he would not like, ie. he lost his afternoon and evening IPAD for rude and disrespectful comments and actions. I know this will have to happen many more times before the lesson is learned, but I was happy Michael was starting to connect the dots of how he needed to act and how he needed to use better strategies to cope with his anger, anxiety and fear. We are working on getting him new ones, and in the new year with a new team, I know we will have new strategies and options as well.

After the schedule was constructed, it was pretty much followed. We had fun sledding, then came home and Michael watched a holiday movie while I prepared dinner. All in all a good way to end the day. I learned how routine still works for us, even with severe behavioral challenges and anxiety. This kept me going through a day with many retorts to my authority. I was able to remember the good moments when Michael shared beautiful stories from school, funny anecdotes, and did some spontaneous snow angels which looked great!

Exceptional Parents, does a daily schedule work well for you in your home? Does it help your child stay on track and make the day go easier? In most cases, this helps tremendously for both child and parental stress. What can also work is reminding your child of what control they do exert over their day, and how they need to balance this with your control for their well-being. In this way, everyone will grow and the whole family will be happier and get along better. 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

Learning From The Pain And Failures-What Exceptional Children Can Teach Us

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I am reading a very good book now called “When Things Fall Apart-Heart Advice For Difficult Times” by Pema Chodron. I have always admired much of Buddhism’s teachings, particularly when they talk about growing from suffering and seeing the beauty in it. I know, I know. This sounds like I am some kind of martyr who is advocating a woman or man sacrificing themselves on the altar of exceptional parenting. I assure you I am NOT doing that. I lived that many years ago, when I was failing to see what being Michael’s Mom was teaching me. Back then I thought I had to be the “perfect” Exceptional Mom who had all the answers. I thought there was no room for failure and by thinking I had to be superwoman I burned myself out, literally and figuratively. Now today, I know better. I still have my moments, of course. Lately with Michael’s myriad of behavior and anxiety challenges (as well as some diabetes’ ones), I have felt particularly sorry for myself and him and upset in general. I have not been viewing the “gift” in what his challenges are teaching him as well as Dad and I. What gift you may say? I know. I have been saying it to myself too even though I have been hating the fact I am saying it. The gift is that we can all transcend these challenges and become stronger. The gift is that we are still alive and surviving through a very rough time. The gift, for me, is to make me face my anger finally after forty years.

As a woman, I like many others was thought to push my anger down deep inside. It may hurt people’s feelings. It may cause ripples. It may cost me friendships, opportunities if I blew. This is all true. But somewhere along the line I forget to speak up for myself, to advocate for what I knew to be true and right. Somewhere along the line I forgot to let out pent up feelings of frustration, stress, anxiety and aggression in a productive way.  Well, I can say that over the years having a different brained, emotionally challenging child has definitively helped me get past many of my issue with anger. Now, after recovering from a burnout many years ago, I am freely expressing my anger. Sometimes it is productive. Sometimes not so much. Either way I am in touch with my anger and frustration. This was something I was not doing twenty years ago. Consequently, I am also more in touch with my joy and happiness. Michael is the major reason for this. He helps and forces me to live in the moment. In order to help him, I have to take a step back and check in with me to see if I could handle anything unpredictable. If I can’t, I have learned to ask for a break. Sometimes it is later than I needed to ask for one, but as the saying goes, “better late than never.”

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Lately, our family has been kind of stuck in an ‘in between stage’ of handling emotional upheavals and physical highs and lows of diabetes. Against how I normally would proceed, I have been feeling a little sorry for myself and Michael’s situation and not looking  to see the gift in it for us. After some time alone this morning and this evening, I have come to the conclusion that I am doing neither of us any favors unless I embrace the hardship he and I and Dad are going through and see it as teaching us all how to be more resilient and stronger as individuals and as a family. That is not to say it is easy. It is hard. But longing for days in the past when things were easier, is not an option for any exceptional parent. You need to meet your child where they are right here and now. If you can’t and need a break, get one. You will come back recharged and ready to re-engage with your Exceptional Child in a whole new way. At the very least, you will have your sense of humor back to help them learn to discover theirs!

Exceptional Parents,  what have you learned from the pain and failures when parenting your Exceptional Children?  Have you become stronger as a result? I can tell you from personal experience and in my work, most parents and caregivers become stronger from pain and suffering. It does not mean we seek out pain because we are masochists, but rather we learn that our pain is there to teach us something, and help us overcome obstacles. When we do that, we will see that all life for us and our children is a cycle of pain and joy. We will learn to ride it and not only survive, but thrive. We will also teach our children to do the same thing. 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.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back- How To Heal As An Exceptional Family

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The other day after a particularly challenging evening, I took myself to one of my favorite places to go when I want peace, quiet and space- my home office. At that particular moment I was so tired of the anxiety, screaming, and fighting that had ended our day, that I needed physical distance away from Michael and even Dad. I needed to be alone and just breathe. So that is what I did. I closed my eyes and breathed in and out and practiced mindfulness- that is, being present in the moment only without looking for any solutions as to why a day that had gone really well ended so terribly. It was the old “one step forward, two steps back” analogy that has been playing out so much in our family, and so much in my friends’ families, especially at this time of year.

I have to keep reminding myself, I am doing the best I can. I am trying new things, reaching out for support, and will soon be reading two books which I know will give me new insight. Sometimes, it does not feel like enough. Sometimes it feels like it is too much information overload. There are days I am so tired I just want to throw in the towel, and find someone to take my place in this exceptional parenting thing. Other days, I really see that I am seeing what I need to change in me be stronger, what Michael needs to change, and how we are both helping each other. We heal, we break. It is constant. And if we are lucky, we grow. We always grow if we allow ourselves to feel the pain fully and suffer. Am reading a great book now that is talking about this.

Then there are the moments when Dad and I sit down together after a hectic day where we managed behaviors, Michael’s and our own, and watch a tv show together. Laugh and talk about something other than autism and diabetes. And even talk about Michael and what he said or did that did not revolve around either autism or diabetes. I need to remind myself that whether it is  orward or backward day, Michael too is doing the best he can. He will tell me,

“Mommy, I am trying. Don’t give up on me.”

He said it the other day again. Then more telling. I had been talking to him about how my belief in God is what gives me the strength to get through tough times like we are haiving now as a family. Michael responded;

“Is God helping you right now Mommy?”

“Yes, He is. God is sitting next to you right now. It’s not me Michael. Mommy is tired. God is speaking to you through me to help you get better. To help all of us get better and understand each other.”

The next day was a good one with Michael. Even with behaviors, he used strategies as did Dad and I to move forward in understanding ourselves and each other better. The result was that we all noticed what needed to change. We all needed to work on staying calm, organizing our days in a family schedule, and remembering that as hard as special needs parenting is, nothing is worse than giving up. We will never give up. There is always a new angle, a new thing to try, and that though the journey will be bumpy, our family will make it. Yours will too. I find inspiration in showing families how we are surviving and take comfort in learning how they are surviving then practicing that in our family.

Exceptional Parents, do you find that your parenting often feels like one step forward, two steps back? Do you feel hopeless, angry and frustrated at yourself, your partner or your child? We all have these feelings from time to time. The thing is to take some time alone to reflect on your own thoughts, and when you are calm, to remember to try something new in your way of approaching the problem. You will be surprised at how things will look different when you see things from a different angle. 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

Giving In Does Not Mean Giving Up-How To Pick Your Exceptional Parenting Battles

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A few years ago when I decided to blog and offer parent coaching and speaking services as well, I remember the doubt that filled me. What did I know about some of the more challenging issues that special needs parents face such as extreme anxiety, aggression and struggling with puberty? My son was young, not near puberty, and not being challenged academically yet. I knew the gist of all of these things of course, from books, friends who had experienced it, and professional training, but there is nothing parents, nothing that quite prepares you for helping a severely challenged child and family until you are in the midst of helping that child and family. The last two years with Michael have a been a roller coaster ride of challenging behaviors. Michael has struggled as much as Dad and I. We have used what we knew as parents and caregivers, and learned much along the way from other professionals. In the midst of another frustrating morning the other day, I could not help but think back to when I worried how helpful I could be to parents whose children were aggressive, confrontational and challenged when my son had not gotten quite to that point. Problem solved now. As I have learned (and continue to learn) how to help Michael navigate his fears, anger and challenges it is shaping me as a human being time.

What I try to remember after the storm has passed, is that when our children are challenging us, is when they need us to be the strongest. This is hard even on the best of days, but is true nonetheless. They will push all your buttons as no one knows you better, but it is important that you do your best to hold it together. If you can’t, cry defeat after. I had a night with my son the other day like that and after we’d both calmed down and made up, I came clean and admitted that I had lost my cool and did not use my strategies. It made it easier for him to do the same, and modeled how even adults make mistakes. It also reminded me how our children are there to help us as much as we are there to help them. They are trying to help us become stronger, more compassionate and caring, both towards ourselves and other human beings who are different. This is not an easy thing to learn, but as long as we see our failures as bringing us closer to spiritual growing and admit as much to our children, we will continue to grow as they will.

Shame is what fills me on those moments I have lost it as a parent. Why couldn’t I hold it together better? Why did I let my anger and fear take over? Then, that calm inner voice we all have answered me back: because you are human Joanne. You are human and you make mistakes. It is ok. Tomorrow is a chance to start again. Believe, pray, meditate and do. That is what I teach Michael. There are consequences for negative actions, but he always has a chance to start again. I allow myself that same option, and tell parents that too. Parenting is hard. Parenting an exceptional child is exceptionally hard, for parents and the child. Be patient. Stay strong. Stay positive. Get support and time away on your own to regroup. You’ll be more patient when it comes time to handle those outbursts when they happen.

Exceptional Parents, what battles have you learned not to pick with your Exceptional Children? What do you buckle down on and what do you let go of? Remember, there is no hard and fast rule of what works best for EVERY child. Make sure you go with your child’s flow and adjust your expectations to what you feel they can handle. Be firm and consistent in most things, but remember to allow some flexibility in how you handle stressful situations so your child feels secure and sees that you love them but means business. 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.

The Importance Of Sports For Exceptional Kids

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Sports and movement. This is something that has always come naturally to Michael. He has been on the move since he first learned to walk at eighteen months and has not slowed down since. He has always been a physical child who enjoyed going to parks and for walks. And from a young age, he played on an adapted soccer team as well as participating in swimming lessons. He also took skating lessons, tennis lessons, and tried basketball, though that was a little challenging. Still, I was proud of him. Proud of the fact that he continued to push forward and challenge himself. He also took up bike riding with me and has gotten really good with his training wheels. We have biked all over the neighborhood together!

What Michael participating in sports has taught me,  is that each time he is physically active, it helps him work through stress, connect to other people, and build new fine and gross motor skills. It also has helped show him both what he loves and does not love  to do. It has helped him forge connections to other people around him. And it has helped him learn about his own strengths and weaknesses and what he can improve on. I have also witnessed the confidence he has gained from learning to swim well, kick a soccer ball and play a little game with friends, serve a tennis volley, and play a little game etc. As Michael’s behavior issues have been mounting, I have seen how important sports have been to helping him learn to control his anxiety, build confidence, and keep him busy. It has helped him tremendously. He has played on adapted teams with other exceptional or special needs kids, and this has helped too. The leagues were all about having fun and not about being competitive. Exercise was made fun in this way, so there was no pressure. It does not matter how the child gets their exercise. As long as they are having fun, the league can be adapted or not. It all depends on the child and their abilities and comfort level.

Exceptional Parents, how active are your Exceptional Children in sports? If the answer is not so much and they are doing well, then that is fine of course. However, if you notice they are stressed and anxious, why not try and engage them in more physical activity to work though their worry? If you are nervous how they will do, try adapted or Special Olympics activities in your area. Your child will be able to learn at a slower and more individualized pace with no competitive expectations, and they will also learn to socialize meeting other children who are just like them. This will help them develop life skills that will serve them well. 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.

 

 

When Exceptional Parents Blow Their Tops-What NOT To Do When Dealing With An Angry Exceptional Child

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So life at our house is basically one dramatic encounter after the other. I have high aspirations that Michael will make it on Broadway one day, if he can listen long enough to do what he is being told to do. He is either the angry young boy, the anxious young boy, the overly tired young boy, or the ” I don’t have to listen to my boring parents” young boy. Sigh. It’s enough to make me want to go and sell tickets to the production of life in our family these days. Still, as angry, frustrated and exhausted as I feel, I have also been reminding myself that Michael is doing all these things because he is growing up, changing, and under stress. He is also testing his boundaries and seeing how far he can push us. It is clear he needs help and new tools. We are working hard to find them for him, putting down limits, and trying to keep our sense of humor, but it is hard. Yes, so hard that there have been times in the last month that Dad and I have blown our tops too and done the equivalent of Michael. We have yelled back, slammed doors and had to put ourselves in our rooms to calm down. It has been embarrassing, particularly for me. I like to think of myself as a calm and patient person. I am. Most of the time. But there is no one who can trigger me like my son can. And I mean no one.

I am learning what NOT to do as Michael’s Mom. Dad is too. As we learn to get better in touch with our own anger, stress and feelings of worry over how to help Michael, we are learning what we need to change in our parenting styles. As a couple we have come a long way in supporting each other, though we sometimes fall back to bad habits. It’s not easy. I am particularly seeing how hard it is to hold it together for Michael’s sake as he is truly struggling  especially when he is being aggressive, so that we can be good examples to him. So here is what I have learned NOT to do when Michael acts out in any unfortunate manner:

1) Do Not Yell: Yep. Not easy, but so true. As much as you want to yell back, don’t. This shows the child that yelling is acceptable and that they are getting to you. Remember, you want to decrease anger, not increase it.

2) Do Not Stay in Room With Escalating Child: Don’t wait till the child escalates. If you see they are getting upset but can manage it and you are in the same position, take a five minute break in another room. Breathe. Collect your thoughts and focus on the present. If you have no choice, go to another room virtually to calm down.

3) Do Not Think Their Anger is Who They Are: Remember, their anger is bigger than them. Show them how by staying calm, they can learn to shrink it.

4) Do Not Give Up Going Out or Taking Personal Respite From Your Child: As hard as it is and as tired as you are, schedule a day or night away from your child. Have your partner do the same. It will give you both a much  needed break and you will come back refreshed and ready to see the good in your child again.

5) Do Not Blame Your Partner Or Yourself If You Make Mistakes: Hey, you are human. Parenting does not come with a handbook. Acknowledge the mistake, learn from it, and move on.

6) Do Not Say The Same Mean Things to Your Child They Say to You: This is hard in the moment, but if you child says, “I don’t love you,” don’t say it back. You could say, “I don’t love what you are saying. I hate that, but I love you.” Always make sure to end things on a positive.

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Exceptional Parents, how many times have you blown up at your kids and felt terrible after? How many times have you seen how stuck they really were, that it wasn’t all bravado and aggression, and yet you couldn’t stop yourself due to your own frustration at failing to reach them? If this has happened a lot, it just means you are human beings dong your best. Parenting exceptional kids is like preparing for a marathon. It requires being in the best physical, mental and spiritual shape that you can be. Take care of yourself. Practice self-care. Remember your child for all their bad behavior needs consistency, boundaries, but most of all love and a healthy calm parent to show them the light at the end of the tunnel. Reach out and get help yourself so you can be the bearer of that light for them. And know you are not alone in your journey or your child in theirs. 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.