My little boy has come back. He is communicating his feelings, his thoughts, both fearful and not, and WANTS to spend time with me playing, talking and laughing. It is a joy for me. We have come far in the last six months, particularly in the last month or two. The combination of good medication, good therapy and strategies from his educator, psychiatrist and school team, as well as the strategies I learned from the book “The Explosive Child” By Ross W. Greene, have served Michael and I well so far. Dad is playing a little bit of catch up as he and Michael are still having their share of struggles, but things are slowly improving.
What has also helped Michael make progress, however, has been his willingness to try new ways of handling his fear and anger. He has realized how important it is to practice self-control so he is happy at home with us his parents, and with himself. He also began to believe us when we told him how important he is to us, and how much we want to help him. I have been particularly telling him to share his anger with me, that I am here to help him and remind him of what he did in the past to help himself feel better. I don’t think he connected us wanting to help him and believing that much of his lack of self-control over his emotions was not his choosing. His brain is wired that way, and he needs extra time to adjust to circumstances and respond to them. As he has seen me give him his space to adjust, he has been forthcoming about his difficulties.
A beautiful thing that has also occurred is that he now is willingly sharing his triumphs too, as well as school news which he always did. Dare I say it, the subject of God has even come up, and this from the kid who was saying months ago he didn’t believe in God anymore. I know that was the hormones, peer pressure and rebellion talking. But still, coming on the heels of so much anger, aggression and swearing at his parents, Dad and I were discouraged, to say the least. So, what were the main things that changed our family dynamic at home to get us from a place of desperation to one of closeness again? Here are some tips I am happy to share to help you and your exceptional child if you are struggling with anxiety and/or aggression:
- Be willing to step outside of your comfort zone: If you have tried different things that are not working to control negative behavior in your child ask yourself are you seeing them as victims of their negative emotions or manipulating you? I can tell you, your child is not in control and needs your help to get it back.
- Practice mindfulness yourself and have your own calming down strategies in place: You need to be in a place of calm in order to show your child what calm is. Work on your emotions first.
- Take it one day at a time and forgive yourself: When you make a mistake or your child does, it’s not all over. When everyone has calmed down, take the time to explain that we all make mistakes and can learn from them.
- As tired as you are, make time to BE with your child: This is a tough one, especially if your child has or is being aggressive toward you, but find things to do together in the moments when they are calm and loving, even if it is just sitting next to them watching a movie to start. Be there for them when they need to talk. Offer help and support. Don’t give up even if they push you away at first. You are showing them you care. It will take time, but they will learn to trust you again.
- Don’t be afraid to take a parenting break: Make sure you have a back up person (if the other parent is also struggling in getting along with your child), so you can recharge as a parent and nurture yourself. Once you have some alone time, you will feel better and more courageous to try new things to help and be there for your child.
Exceptional Parents, are you going through a challenging time with your Exceptional Child? Do you feel like nothing you are doing is working? Don’t worry. It just means it’s time for a change. Look at what isn’t working and what is. Focus on the positive. Get a team behind you to support you on making changes to the negative, and remember, what you are fighting for is not only your relationship with your child, but their relationship to the world around 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.