Michael had a difficult afternoon and evening today. His blood sugars were high making it harder to use his strategies of self-control in the face of things he found difficult to hear, see and do. It was also a super hot day. This has never been an easy combination for my child since infancy. His difficulties came out in the form of aggressive action and words. I know this is not my child. This is his brain sending him signals that do not compute with what he wants to say and do. Way back in the fall when our Educator broached the subject of ADHD and impulse control problems, things family members have been telling me for years and that I too suspected, I was led to look at his negative behavior in a new light. Michael, like a lot of exceptional kids, wants to do better, but sometimes can’t. Without the adequate strategies, often a combination of psychological and medical ones, it is hard for kids to control their anger and anxiety. It means constant tweaking by parents of what works and what doesn’t. Our family tweaks regularly.
I was heartbroken this afternoon and tonight when Michael shared with me that it is so hard when he is angry to control the aggressive and hurtful things he thinks and sometimes says. He said,
“I tell my brain stop thinking those things. I love you and Daddy. I don’t want to think and say them.”
You see, back in the fall when things were very tough at home and we were afraid for Michael’s safety and our own, we would talk to Michael about aggression and violence in families. We talked about how dangerous it was for people to live together when they could not get along without aggression being present. We told Michael that we would get him and us help on the next leg of our journey and that is what we have done. It has not been an easy journey, but as always, I have learned so much. Michael had huge issues with Dad and I. Now it is getting better with me, but there are still issues with Dad. They are working on it, and will be meeting our Educator for a solo session to fine tune communication issues that are making it hard for them to move forward and become closer. But my heart breaks, that Michael is aware of the challenges he faces in getting his brain and body to communicate without anger and anxiety how he feels. Like a lot of kids on the spectrum, he either blurts out terrible words, reacts with hitting or pushes down fearful angry thoughts only to erupt at a later time. He is getting better though at using deep breathing and a favorite mantra BEFORE reacting, but often needs a hint what to do.
Hugging him tonight at bedtime and repeating how much I loved him seemed to ease a lot of his stress about his anger and anxiety. He shared with me a story about a friend of his struggling in his relationship with a parent. He also told me how he often wakes up in the wee hours stressed and tries to remember to calm down.
“I’m so glad things are getting better with you Mommy. I know I still mess up with hitting and saying bad things, but I feel happy with you. I like spending time with you.”
The words warmed my heart, especially as we had many challenging moments today.
“How much do I love you buddy?” I asked him.
“Not only that. I love you more than…”
“The whole planet?”
“I love you more than the whole universe. And remember, God loves you too. You are his child and he is sending you and us all the right people.”
The hug he gave me lasted for a good five minutes if not longer. I did not let go as always, until he was ready to let go. Michael used to hug and kiss me all the time during the day. Now, a budding tween, he is very sparse with affection, perfectly normal, I know. I’m lucky if I get his cheek for a goodbye kiss in the morning. So I treasure these long goodnight hugs. I remember one night I was angry. We’d had a fight and I said in anger,
“I’m not coming to tuck you in tonight. Go to bed yourself.”
I didn’t mean it. It was the anger talking. Michael started to cry,
“No, Mommy. I love when you tuck me in, talk to me, and hug me a long time.”
So now I do. Every night. And when I go out, I make sure to have a long good bye hug before leaving the house telling him how much I love him.
Exceptional Parents, how do you help your Exceptional Child move through anxiety and aggression? How do you bond with them? It is so hard when there are difficult moments to remain positive, but remember to seize the positive moments. Make time to listen , really listen to your child, no matter what else is going on. Have a bonding activity to do, just you and them. Tell them you love them as many times a day as you can. Hug and be affectionate towards them in other ways. You can high five, pat them on the shoulder and tell them you are proud of them. Above all, remind them that you know their brain works differently, and that you will help them find ways to move past the stress of their reactions to something better. 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.