Using Parenting Mistakes As Teachable Moments With Your Exceptional Child

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Every parent’s dream is to have a successful parenting moment or moments that they can use to teach their exceptional child, and most of us do use those moments. But what about those not so successful parenting moments, the blunders, where we do exactly what we  know NOT to do and are told NOT to do? How can we turn things around? I used to spend hours and days berating myself when I had those parenting moments with Michael. I would beat myself up thinking that I know better, so why don’t I do better. And what would happen? Well, I would pretty much lose the opportunity to teach Michael from my mistakes and make it a smooth learning experience for both of us. Now, and especially in the last few years, I know better. I use my parenting mistakes as guideposts to learn from and teach Michael to learn from.

Some of these mistakes have been reacting to Michael’s attention seeking outbursts when ignoring would have been better, letting my emotions escalate as Michael’s did instead of being the adult in the relationship, and not picking my battles properly with Michael. Sometimes it is easier to give in on a small inconsequential thing that will save time and energy for the bigger parenting hurdles with an exceptional child. But now I know differently, and even when I have the occasional setbacks like the holiday season when I was stressed and overreacted to things, I would always find a way to turn things around by showing Michael how both of us, all people, can learn from mistakes and move on. We have recently devised some family rules on how we need to treat one another, all of us, and when we make a mistake and get upset, how it is important to apologize and take time to calm down on our own, to regroup, before moving forward with the rest of the day and evening.  The other day Michael was able to tell me, “Mommy, I don’t like when you kiss my hair. Kiss my cheek please,” in response to me having an affectionate moment with him. I had told him that we respect each other’s body space and tell each other honestly where we are and are not comfortable. I was happy that he was communicating and I was learning from my mistake of not checking with him first, “can I kiss your hair instead of cheek,” as I had always asked him to check with us, if we wanted a hug at that particular moment. There were other moments where I lost my temper and yelled at him then immediately realized staying calm would have been better. I told him so. “Mommy needed to take a time out before yelling. Next time I will do that.”

Lately, Michael has either been catching himself after a rude comment or aggressive gesture and saying, “sorry Mommy. That was wrong.” Or has even been able to stop himself before engaging in a negative behavior. That is still slow coming, but we are getting there slowly. I, for my part, don’t view my parenting mistakes as horrible occurrences anymore. Of course, I try to not make mistakes and/or learn from them on my own time. But if it happens that I make a parenting blunder when I am disciplining Michael, I remind myself that I am a human being. I will make mistakes. I will recover. I will learn from them. If Michael sees me doing this, it will mean he too will see that he can learn from mistakes and that all is not lost.

Exceptional Parents, have you ever felt defeated by parenting mistakes done in front of your Exceptional Child? Remember, there is no need to feel like you are failing. If your kids see you bounce back from your parenting mistakes where you and they can learn, they will learn that bouncing  back from mistakes is a normal part of human experience and that they can bounce back  and learn from their own mistakes 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,



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