Being An Exceptional Detective When Navigating Your Exceptional Child’s Anxiety

helping child

Yesterday was one of those days that had so many emotional turns that if I wasn’t used to it by now, I would have had a massive headache and vertigo by the end. What I kept thinking, even at my most frustrating moments, was that if I was feeling angry and confused, what was going on in Michael’s head. He’s living in a body and mind that has a hard time sequencing, managing stress, and filtering out so much stimuli in our world. Most days he does amazing, and the days he doesn’t, he needs our support more than ever.  Michael has his emotional ups and downs lately where one stressful event builds, and then it is hard for him to calm down enough to move forward. There usually ends up being a minor or moderate explosion. The major ones have been few and far between, thank goodness. It is hard to know what is causing it. There are so many reasons our kids explode. The thing is, as parents we need to be able to hold it together and then play a little detective and figure out the why behind it. It’s also important to have a good balance between disciplining a child and letting them have choice. Dad and I are navigating this line. Some days are smoother than others, but we are getting there.

What occurred to me yesterday was that I was getting good at striking that balance, but that sometimes it came at a cost to me personally. I could feel my battery burning out by the end of the day. I realized I could have taken more mini breaks to myself to recharge. I held it together, but saw moments when I almost lost it myself. Fortunately I did not, but I took the lessons away- playing detective means being calm, staying in the moment, and not taking what your child says personally. THAT is hard. When they are pushing your buttons, deliberately or not, it is because they are out of control and their sensory system is in overload. They will say and do things that are harsh, and you cannot take it to heart. I know because I did this when Michael’s first got aggressive. I cried myself to sleep some nights, until I realized that I had to stay calm when he was losing it, find tools to help him, and no matter how hard the things he said or did were, to see it as a behavior, not who my child really is. He was asking for help when he was at the end of his rope. I had to find a way to get myself in the frame of mind to see what he needed most and then assemble a team to help Michael and us. We now have our team and what a relief that. At the head of the team is Michael, Dad and I who decide what are the best tools that work for Michael and which we can discard from the outset.

Exceptional Parents, are you a good detective at figuring out what your child needs? If not, don’t worry. It will come with time, patience and practice. In the meantime, make sure you prioritize staying calm, and are alert to any sudden changes in your child. You will gradually see patterns in what makes them upset or calm. Write these down and keep a record of toys, games, strategies that work, and when you do, you’ll be on your way to navigating your child’s anxiety successfully. 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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