“Mommy, why have you been angry in the mornings since October? You are such a Grinch.”
That was my greeting the other morning from Michael. I almost laughed, but also felt discouraged. That was the last thing I was trying to come across as, but when your child is not getting up on time in the morning, then moving super slow when he is, followed by back talk and testing, well, let me tell you parents, you’d be grinches too. I took a deep breath and answered him;
“Michael, the mornings I have been grouchy were because you did not listen, often missed the school bus and I had to drive you in, and were not using your strategies to stay calm and relaxed.”
There was a pause and then he answered.
“Oh, I’m sorry Mommy. I miss you. I miss you sitting with me when I do my homework.”
I had to stop the tears coming to my eyes. In the last four months, most of our interactions have been very tense and on Michael’s part, aggressive. This was a glimpse of the child I knew was in there, but was trapped by the anxiety and fears that he could not control. I would listen briefly about his day, but usually he would get upset at me for something swear, threaten or do something inappropriate. I would give a consequence and tell him to go to his room or the couch to calm down and then it would be time for his dinner injections, dinner itself and then cleanup while he did homework.
“I would love to sit with you Michael, but when you saw bad words, are aggressive towards me, I will not stay with you. You need to remember to use your strategies.”
With the new medication Michael is on I have seen a big improvement, though he definitively needs a larger dose. He will actually stop himself most times from impulsively swearing at me or threatening and say, “I’m sorry Mommy. What strategy should I use?” We are still working on that one. But it is getting better. And though he does not like to lose privileges, he is beginning to understand that inappropriate behavior has inappropriate consequences.
Last night was a perfect example how he greeted me at the door with a bad attitude and lost a first fun activity. Then, when I reminded him what else was at stake, time with me and IPAD he changed his attitude and we had a great evening. I made sure to spend lots of time with him as did Dad, and we praised the great homework he did and the fact that he transitioned to his bedtime routine with no issues. I also told him how proud of him I was.
“Of course Michael. You know how smart you are and how many talents you have, but you need to learn to control your emotions. That is what will help you be successful.”
“Ok Mommy, but will you help me find them?”
“Yes, Michael. All of us on team Michael are helping you.”
He likes when I use the terms “Team Michael” to refer to his team at his adapted school, as well as his pediatrician, psychiatrist and educator who are part of our home team. I feel blessed to have them as support for Michael and us. In the end, it’s all about bringing forth the amazing human being Michael is and what he has to offer, minus the behaviors and anxiety which are holding him back now from so much.
Exceptional Parents, when was the last time you really looked at your child even when they were acting out and thought this is not who they really are? It’s hard. We see the behavior. It’s scary. And we think our child is this monster. They are not. They are victims of their behavior. And they trigger our own feelings of helplessness, anger and anxiety. They need to be taught to manage their inner monsters. For some behavioral modifications alone are enough. For others, medical and behavioral interventions are necessary. No matter what, at the center of all initiatives to helping your child succeed at life is to never forget that you love them more than anything and that they are incredible little people who will do great things. Give them the chance by getting them the help to be their best selves. And as parents, we too need to heal and handle our own inner monsters to be our best selves too. Our kids help us see where to heal. Then it’s up to us to take the next step to do that for us and for them. 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