Eureka! I have reached a new way of understanding Michael and it feels so good. This way has been by closely observing many of his behaviors and seeing which ones were a product of his having difficulty controlling his emotions. It turns out that many of his behaviors are a product of lack of impulse or poor impulse control. Sometimes it is due to Michael misreading my signals. Sometimes it is due to him not understanding what is asked of him. I am loving the book “The Impulsive Child” so much, as it is one of those rare finds that reminds us parents that our child’s brain works differently than ours for various reasons and this can and does lead to communication breakdowns. Our children need our help in controlling negative emotions, outbursts, aggression and anxiety. They need the tools and words to express how they feel as no matter how verbal they are, they cannot always tell us.
Tonight and pretty much all this week I have been seeing evidence of when Michael is stuck and failing at communicating his frustrations to me. In the park, he started becoming upset that we would have to leave even though I had warned him we would be going soon. It was a beautiful night, and using one of the book’s rules of categorizing which are the main priorities parents are working on first, I realized that letting him have five minutes more or less in the park was not reason enough to have a power battle. We are working on curbing more aggressive issues at the moment. He liked the five more minutes and we left the park peacefully. Another event happened later this evening. Michael unfortunately had two bouts of low blood sugar. He had cooperated so well with the testing and retesting required, but got into a fight with Dad over Dad not hearing a question he had asked him. It quickly moved from annoyance, to anger, to hitting Dad on the back. Dad could not get through to him about using his words at this point as Michael was angry and screaming. Dad asked me to take over as he was exhausted and needed a break. I’ve used the same technique when I was there. I gently redirected Michael to his room. He sat down on his bed and screamed at the top of his lungs. He tried to break his alarm clock and hit the bed hard. Ordinarily I would have closed the door and told him to come out when he was calm to talk about it. Instead, today I stood in front of him and in a quiet voice asked him, “Can I help you with your anger? Do you want to stay or go?” He stopped screaming and looked at me and said, “Please stay.” Less than a minute later he calmed down.
We retested his blood sugar after the required waiting time and it was in the normal range. He apologized to Dad, said goodnight and then I went to tuck him in and said good night as well. In bed during the traditional bed time hug, Michael actually said to me, “Thank you for helping me control my anger tonight Mommy. I really appreciate it.” You see, in the past , something like tonight would have ended with something getting broken, more screaming, more yelling (on ours and Michael’s part), and a lot more stress. Tonight, we all managed to stop things before they got completely out of control. Mutual respect, understanding, and using strategies all around is slowly helping us as a family learn how to manage our emotions in a healthy way.
Exceptional Parents, are you really listening to what your Exceptional Child is communicating to you? Do you know what is in and what is beyond your child’s control? Yes, of course our children test us with challenging and provocative behavior. Of course there are times they want attention and time with us, and they may act out not knowing how else to get us to listen. This is why as parents we need to open our eyes and look at what our child’s behavior is really telling us. We need to move beyond consequences and rewards if they are not working, and think to ourselves, what if my child is stuck in some mental mud and just needs a push out? We can be the tractor that helps guide them out slowly. Once they are out on the pavement with us, real communication and learning can begin. 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.