Month: July 2018

Taking A Leap Into The Unknown-My Exceptional Child’s Social Bravery At Day Camp

So yesterday was monumental in so many ways. I was both excited and terrified. Yep. That about sums me up. It was the first day of a new day camp for Michael, and for the first time EVER, we decided to try a camp without Michael having a shadow/companion. Truthfully, I have been seeing him taking steps towards this for a long time, but I was scared. There. I said it. I was scared about people not accepting him for who he was. I was scared he would feel overwhelmed and not have extra support. With him having Type 1 Diabetes I also worried. Could he handle the social anxiety and managing his diabetes alone? Only one way to tell.  Try. I always tell Michael not to use his autism as an excuse that he can’t try new things. He asked me several years ago about autism and what it meant. He’d heard us talking about it and others in his therapy circle. He wanted to know why he felt different than other kids. We told him. As most children who find out who they are, he was relieved. He also began sharing more of what he was feeling inside. He’d always done that, but now I think he felt truly comfortable being who he was.

The next logical step was him interacting with kids who are not all like him and without an adult to facilitate. Yes, he is still working on how to make small talk with other children. Social skills groups have helped a lot. But he is getting there and his confidence is growing. I also worried about kids shunning him. I have to say, all the neuro typical children Michael has met over the years have been kind, inclusive and have asked him questions too, trying to engage him. Now that he is older, I have told Michael that should he feel comfortable, explaining his autism can help other kids understand him more.

But back to day 1 of new a new camp. On Michael’s first day anywhere, he has pretty much always brought the first comfort toy he attached to a two years old- a Barney stuffed animal. Now, this is not the original Barney. He met his demise in the washing machine many moons ago. As per usual yesterday, Michael had Barney in the car with him and checked with me about taking Barney into camp ONLY for the first day. This is what he would do usually. I sensed his calm in spite of the Barney, and told him Barney could come in the car, but he would not need him at camp. His fidget toy would be enough as he uses that to self-regulate when nervous or excited. I was totally shocked when he agreed and Barney stayed in the car on the way home with me! I don’t think it came as too much of a surprise, but when I picked him up at the end of the day he had done fabulously! He was ready. He had been ready for awhile. I have his Educator to thank for telling about how it’s important for him and other kids without autism to interact and get to know each other’s similarities and differences.  I learned that I need to continue to be as brave myself as Michael is, facing his social anxiety with a positive attitude knowing he will learn by doing.

Exceptional Parents, how often have you held your Exceptional Child back due to fear of rejection or hurt? They are capable of so much more than we sometimes think, and even if things don’t go well, trying and getting out there, will help them build the resilience they need to teach the rest of the world about what people with autism are capable of. 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.

 

Stepping Back and Getting Clear On What You And Your Exceptional Child Need Now

Our weekends have been getting progressively better, though there is still aggression, frustration and anxiety as Michael continues to hone in on his ability to control how he feels and what he does to us and himself. Regardless off how frustrated and overwhelmed I sometimes feel, I am proud as I see him making progress slowly in so many areas. Some days are better than others. Some days I am more tolerant and stronger than on other days too. And on some days when I feel like throwing in the towel completely, I find myself suddenly knowing exactly what direction I need to take. I call this my spirit talking to me. Prayer and meditation have made this voice very strong, and when I can’t hear it, I get quiet, physically and mentally so I can hear it more clearly. This weekend I heard it when it said we needed to take Michael off a medication he is on. I have been wanting to do this for awhile, but was worried. This medication originally helped so much with aggression, and what if things got much worse if he went off it? I did not like the side effects of it, and the new me has decided she will not fear the unknown. The only way to see what worked, medication and therapy and frankly life-wise, is to try and risk failure. And what is so bad about failure anyway I found myself thinking this weekend? It really means we are alive and human. Mistakes make us grow stronger. They make us appreciate the good times. Just like when we are sick we appreciate being healthy. You get the drift.

This summer has been another summer of growth for Michael and our family, and not just in terms of his health and challenges. Dad and I are being pushed to make personal changes too, as well as changes in our marriage, and in what we can expect from one another as each lets the other one grow. There have been LOTS of growing pains. There have been lots of moments when I have felt angry and said, why is it so hard? But, at other times, things have gone so smoothly, so easily. Decisions like taking Michael off his medication is so far going well. Encouraging Michael to join another soccer league has been a success. Pushing myself to clean out the junk, literal and figurative in my home, mind and heart, is helping me to see myself for who I am now, and what I want to change or improve upon, no excuses, no self-pity. We all have our crosses to bear as a good friend once said to me. She is so right. I am often awed by people who do not let life’s stresses and strains make them bitter. I decided five years ago to devote myself to becoming one of those  people. Those closest to me say I am. And when I start to stray from those good intentions, family and friends help me find my way back.

Now that I am back, wow! What a difference it makes being my body. What a difference it makes in how I treat myself, advocate for my son, and treat those around me. Even on hard days, I see my negative emotions for what they are-transient and temporary. I recognize exhaustion, self-pity and anger as things that I haven’t addressed and so I do and make the necessary changes. As a exceptional parent, I have been able to make positive changes and relate to Michael in a calm and loving way, due to operating from my soul upwards. Parenting with your gut is not easy work, but as long as you take care of you, remember the beauty and uniqueness of your child, and stay positive no mattter what, your heart and soul will guide your mind to the right place, people, and therapies for your child.

Exceptional Parents, are you feeling stuck wondering how to help your Exceptional Child through a rough time? Are you personally feeling stuck? As hard as it is, step back and look inside of yourself. How are you feeling? Are you tired, angry or scared? Before you can help and hear your child’s cry for help, you need to hear your own soul’s cry for help and heal yourself. You will know you are on the right track when your thoughts about life are more positive, you practice gratitude in even the most challenging times, and you admit when you are overwhelmed. Meditate, pray, exercise, reach out to others. Get counselling. Do what you need to do so you can get back in the flow of your life and give your Exceptional Child what they most need now-hope and love from the most important person in their life-their parent. 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.

Why Praise Is As Important As Therapy For Your Exceptional Child’s Behavior Success

I have been underestimating the value of praise lately for Michael. It’s not that he has not been doing great things at home as he has out in the world. It’s just that there have been more challenging things happening at home to distract me from his good moments. Throw in some Mommy self-pity during these challenging times, and we have had a vicious circle of him not even trying some days to be at his best. That fortunately has started changing this week. I’d like to say that it was me with all my Exceptional Mom love that made it happen. But no it was Michael who reminded me, as he often does, about what is truly important and/or missing. He was dilly dallying in bed the other morning stalling to get up. He had just had a great dream he said, and he wanted to continue thinking about it. He knew if he got up, he’d have to start getting ready for the day. I told him he needed to be out the door soon for day camp, and he had to move quickly or we’d be late. I was getting annoyed as it had been getting harder and harder for Michael to get to camp on time. The thing is he loves this camp, but is tired in the morning. I’m not sure if it is the medication he is on or the diabetes or both. We are still trying to figure that out . But  I spoke in an annoyed and irritated voice which did not help matters. Michael responded with a sigh and irritation of his own;

“You know Mommy, I’m doing my best. I’m giving it my effort, just like they are teaching me at camp. ”

A tiny part of my brain digested this. Yes, at camp they give the kids beads for positive behavior. The kids then put these beads on a friendship bracelet. Each time a bead is given, they sing a song. Michael has gotten MANY beads for respect, good listening, kindness to others, and giving it his best no matter how hard. I heard him, but my mouth did not follow what my brain wanted me to say. What came out instead was;

“I know you want to continue your dream, but it’s time to get up. People will get upset if you are late everyday. The real world does not work like that!”

Michael sighed and got out of bed. In the end, we arrived right on time, not ten or fifteen minutes late as what had happened in the past. Why did I respond like this even though my brain knew better? It’s called Mommy exhaustion where you get to a point that you are blinded to seeing anything positive. Most of our kids do at least some positive things every day. It’s important as parents that we note the times they do this, and file it away for future when we are frazzled. This way we can tap into those positive things when we need to.

After a pretty good departure at camp yesterday, I also started remembering Michael the night before showing me with pride his beads on his friendship bracelet. I also remember him talking about how he tests his blood sugar at camp to make sure he really needs to take extra carbs at certain times or not. I also recalled how when we go to the park after dinner, Michael makes sure he has his blood testing kit and a water bottle so he can make sure he is feeling good. I let him walk into the park by himself and supervise from a long way off. He behaves so maturely with the other kids, waits his turn, and loves this independence. How could I have forgotten these milestones that are being performed in the middle of grappling with some serious phobias and anxieties lately? He is also making a bigger effort to control his aggression, both physical and emotional. He is slowly learning to use the strategies for this. He is also motivated to do the exercises his Educator gave him and do them properly. He is trying really hard, and I had forgotten that.

So this morning when he woke up, the first thing I did after saying good morning, was to praise him for his beads at camp and his diabetes management. I was rewarded with a cute shy smile and he said;

“Really? You’re proud of me? Thank you Mommy.”

My heart both filled with love and sadness. I had somehow given him the impression that I was not proud. I started to realize that lately I have been sounding sort of shrill and bossy. I have been hearing my own voice and inside my head saying, “Yeesh Joanne, you sound annoying.” But I could not help it. I did not know why until last night. That is when I did some thinking and realized my tiredness combined with extra challenges made me focus so much on the difficulties he is having that I forgot about the positives he is doing. I vowed with all the challenges Michael is and will be facing in the future, I have to remember every day to find something positive about what he has done or who he is. Even on the really bad days, there have been moments of light and beauty. Our Exceptional Kids struggle a lot and have a hard time putting it all together. That’s where as Exceptional Parents, we are called to be that much more patient, calm, and be the anchor they can safely hold on to when the sea is stormy.

It’s also ok if we lose it as parents sometimes. We can use it as teachable moments, as I do with Michael. Your child may even surprise you with some positive words as I have been receiving lately. Also, we as parents have to see our successful moments and not just the difficulties. I have learned that as well.

Exceptional Parents, do you remember to praise your child even during the times it is not always obvious to do so? If not, remember it is never too late to start. Praise should go hand in hand with good therapeutic practices. Cherish the good times, and with effort on both your ends, the good times will hopefully multiply in the future. Until next time.

 

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there before realizing the gift of who my son is.  For more information about me and my journey, check out my website :www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com  as well as my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks. 

 

 

 

How A Day That Breaks You Can Make You-Learning From Your Exceptional Mom Mistakes And Getting Stronger

stronger

I’ve learned long ago to ask myself the age old Oprah question, “what can I learn from what just happened?” particularly when I’ve reacted in a less positive light than I would have liked. The other evening  Michael and I had a rough time. There was anger and misunderstanding on both sides, and lots of self-pity, mainly on mine. I was not Buddha Mom or anything close to it. I was “feeling sorry that I had to deal with yet another obstacle with her challenging kid Mom” and I resented the hell out of him. He had enough things that were hard for him, why add more? Why, ’cause my kid is a tween and into arguing about everything and taking everything personally. It’s also due to his anxiety. Everything I said sounded angry to him, he was either verbally aggressive or insulting, and I was tired still knowing there was another five hours to go until bedtime. Would I survive?  I knew I would, but it was a hard night and I was not proud that I had yelled and ended up storming out of the room.

However, after asking myself what I could learn from this, I realized there was the gem. I had to learn to control MY anger as well as teach Michael to control his. You see, until recently I thought I had kicked anger to the curb five years ago. Well, I had for awhile, but now instead of turning my anger and frustration inward and burning out, it is going WAY outward at my kid. Like most women who’ve experienced depression and anxiety, I never want to go back to that dark hole again, so fear has made me act on the offensive not to internalize and deal with the feelings inside or outside. This is not good. I end up also yelling or slamming doors  which is not a good way to handle anger. In the last few days, I have been reading up on various ways to handle anger in a positive way. Some I already do most of the time and know of them from Michael’s Educator. But it was great to have a refresher course all the same. So, for all those Exceptional Moms kicking themselves for yelling and losing their own self-control, here are some basic ways to reign yourselves in:

1) Breathe and count to 5: In the time it takes you to do this, you will think of a far better response to your child’s outburst.

2) Make sure to exercise: Exercise will give you lots of energy and recharge you so you can face more stress than someone who does not exercise.

3) Meditate for twenty minutes a day: This one I have always done, and it helps A LOT. At the very least, you can recognize when you become “crazy Mom” as I do and file it away for later as a NOT TO DO.

4) Practice gratitude: You do the practicing when NOT angry of course, so when self-pity threatens to come in during an angry moment, you can count the blessings you do have. We all have them and remember, it’s always darkest before dawn.

5) Rest and be gentle with yourself: I always lose my top the most when I am not sleeping enough or not having enough “me time”. Go to bed early, curl up with that book or movie, or indulge in a bubble bath or a coffee on a terrace. Your body and mind will thank you.

Exceptional Parents, do you feel guilty and like a failure when you blow your top at your Exceptional Child? Don’t. You are human and make mistakes. Your child may even surprise you and will probably forgive you before you forgive yourself. The other day Michael told me that I was a really good person. I found this particularly significant as we had had a fight that morning and though we had made up, I carried the guilt around all day. Our kids are wise. We need to trust that we are too, and that we will learn from our mistakes and not just survive, but thrive afterwards. We are parents. We are strong. Until next time.

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there and lived these very words before realizing the gift of who my son is and what he has helped me realize. If you want to have more information about me and my journey, check out my website http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com and my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks.

 

 

Watching Your Exceptional Child Thrive At Their Own Pace- How To Hang On To That Joy

He is doing it! He is really doing it! He is running through the splash pad  sprinklers, the big ones in the park. He is standing under the big pail that dunks tons of water on his head. He is not afraid. He is fearless. I am proud being words. Three years ago when splash pads first became available in our community and around our suburbs, I started taking Michael to them. He loved the water, being the little fish that he is , but was overwhelmed by some of the more bigger sprinklers and the intensity of the water.

We went to a nearby splash pad on a play date with a friend who was two years older. That friend ran through everything and was even lying down on the ground to let the intensity of the water cool him off on that hot summer afternoon. Michael? He ran briefly through one of the smaller sprinklers then rock/stimmed his way around the perimeter. He had not done that since preschool. He was obviously overwhelmed and trying to acclimate. After about twenty minutes, I tried to coax him in. The friend was looking for him. I was worried. I even went in with him. I did that a lot. Yes, I would put on my bathing suit running with glee and exaggerated excitement to get Michael more comfortable. It began to slowly work, but he always needed me or a friend in the splash park to have fun. Then, this summer happened. The change was incredible. Michael was running around the entire park by himself. And with some trepidation, he approached the biggest sprinkler where a can of water is dumped on your head. Last year we stood under this together and both got dunked. This year he was ready to do it alone. Now all I hear is “Mommy, look at me! Look at what I am doing! Film it Mommy! Film it!” Last night watching him running through with absolute joy on his face screaming with delight, I realized he had accomplished yet another milestone-overcoming the loud intensity of a splash park where it is busy with other kids and the water pressure varies.

This is especially exciting as I see how difficult Michael’s emotional and physical life has been over the past year. He is having to deal with all of these things, work regularly with a new therapeutic team for physical and mental health issues, and is having to come to terms with most likely two new diagnoses that he is still being evaluated for. One he is aware of and we have spoken to him about it as we did about autism when he asked. We explained it just means his brain works differently, and told him about many people who are happy and successful and have this kind of brain. That helped a lot.

But back to his gains. I have seen a rising independence in Michael being proactive with his leisure times, overcoming previous fears, and just grasping things from two or three years ago that we did not know he would ever get or like. It impressed me so much and it was a gentle reminder to me that kids who have different brains may take longer to get certain concepts, but when the do they soar. As parents, we must be there to show them, encourage them, and then let them spread their wings and fly.

Exceptional Parents, how do you feel when your Exceptional Child achieves a new milestone or something you thought they might never do? I’m sure you are beyond proud and in awe of them. Remember to keep those feelings of awe and pride in your child at the front of your mind always. The reason is when the tough times come, and they will, you will have some positive memories that show you that your child has this potential  of doing great things when they are not stuck. They will achieve all the dreams you have for them, but on their own term and in their own time. It’s up to you to be there in the cheering section encouraging them to keep at it always. 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.

4 Ways To Know It Is Time To Give Your Exceptional Child More Independence

Michael is asking for more space, literal and figurative. He wants to go places by himself, have a phone, have more responsibilities for his choices. He is a tween in full blown puberty and as he nears adolescence, is craving more independence to make choices. Still, then he has other moments when he wants to me to look at him, praise him, hang out with him. He is clingy and wants hugs, very much like when he was a small child. I was told that the 11/12 year age is exhausting as kids are still young, yet burgeoning with adolescent energy. Things actually can become a little easier once they hit adolescence and they become teenagers able to make some adult choices, still under parents’ guidance, of course. It is all stressful for me though, and I’m sure for many Moms. You don’t know who you are raising. Then there are the times he is deliberately “playing us” with behaviors and provocative actions to get a reaction. This has to be downplayed, unless of course a serious accident is underway. I always try to focus on the positive, and when I mess up, I am the first one to admit it to myself and to Michael. This was we both can learn from it.

Lately, I have begun taking Michael to the park up the street and deliberately sitting on a bench far from the park area. Michael loves this. He goes to the park himself, yet I am still there on the premises if something happens. He had asked me about a month ago, when he will be able to walk to this park up the street himself. I told him possibly next year or the year after. Dad and I needed to know that he would be appropriate by talking non aggressively and following traffic rules. I think he is ready to do this most of the time, but there have been issues in the past with safety, so Dad and I decided to hold out for now. I am proud of Michael’s independence however, as is Dad. He started by asking for more responsibility to make his lunches, cook meals, choose who HE invited to birthday parties, where we go,  and if he could stay up late once in a while. It’s been an adjustment for me learning how to stretch the boundaries to keep him safe, while also opening up other realms to give him more flexibility. It’s been challenging, to say the least, especially as Dad and I have had to factor in severe aggression and anxiety issues and continue working with him to manage that.

I have learned in the meantime, that there are ways to spot when it is time to step back as an Exceptional Parent and give your Exceptional Child more freedom and independence. Here are some of them:

  1. Child Asks For It With Words Or By Moving Away From You: Sometimes it is as easy as your child telling you they want more independence or wanting to do more things on their own.
  2. Child Wants To Be More With Peers: If your child wants to be on play dates with peers versus hanging out with Mom, there is another sure sign.
  3. Child Seems Happy When Given Responsibilities: If your child loves the feeling of independence they get doing chores or other responsibilities, they are ready for more independence.
  4. Child  Talks About Being Older With Excitement: This is a surefire way to tell that the child is ready for more independence in doing things on their own.

Exceptional Parents, how often are you conflicted if you are micro managing your Exceptional Child too much and not giving them any personal space to grow? We all struggle with this. It is especially challenging when your Exceptional Child has a different brain and ways of perceiving the world as well as mental health issues which require additional parental support. Still, if you take the time as a parent to read your child’s cues, you will begin to see when they need more of parent time, and when they need more alone time. Don’t be afraid to let them try things on their own. This is a surefire way to help them build self-confidence and become more risk takers. These are life skills that will help them out tremendously as they get to adulthood. 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.

7 Ways To Regroup When You Lose Your Stuff As An Exceptional Parent

This morning was one of those mornings I wished I could press rewind to the moment Michael woke up. I wished I would have said and done things differently from the start when Michael woke up late, started dilly dallying, getting caught up in small details which we did not have time for. I wished I had not been triggered by his anxiety and anger to unburden all my anger and self-pity that I had been bottling up all week as we repeated a bad morning routine which did not seem to be changing any time soon. I also wished, both silently and loud, that someone else would ring the doorbell and take over for me. This woman would be a calm Buddha Mom which  I am striving to be. She would look like the calm Buddha Parent Coach  I am when I work with kids and parents who I am not related to. She would gently take me by the hand and tell me to breathe.

After when Michael and I  had both calmed down, apologized and left for camp, I realized that this bad morning had been a blessing and a huge wake up call as to what I needed to change in my parenting style. Yes, Michael needs to continue making changes as to how he handles stress and anger. He is actually doing better and each day incorporating the strategies he is learning through the anxiety exercises our Educator gave us. But I also have to learn new strategies to cope with my stress and anger as a Mom. As a professional, I know what to do to keep myself calm and in control. I would avoid doing all the things I did this morning as a rule, no matter how angry I was on the inside. But when it’s your child the walls come crumbling down much easier as that there is no child better equipped to push your buttons than your own flesh and blood.

I came away from this morning’s difficulties, realizing that not only do I have to be Buddha Mom as I am Buddha Professional in my work, BUT I need to anticipate that my child, on purpose or simply due to me being Mom and him knowing he can throw all his difficulties at me at once,  will give me multiple challenges, and I need to be in shape to handle them calmly, predictably and compassionately. As always though,  my philosophy is taking a bad experience and seeing what positive thing I can learn as the take away. The take away in this case is 7 ways Exceptional Parents can regroup when they lose their stuff with their Exceptional Child and learn to do for future stressful encounters.

  1.  Breathe and Take 5 : It’s important to remember to breathe then take 5 seconds before responding to anything negative or stressful your child says, whether intentional or not.
  2. Deal With Your Own Daily Stress and Anger: You need to make sure that any anger or stress you feel towards your child or others is handled at the end of each day. Don’t let this pile up.
  3. Exercise, Yoga and Meditate: This is important to do to handle stress in advance, but do it after too. Your body will thank you.
  4. Forgive Yourself: This is a toughie for a lot of Moms who feel they have to be perfect.   You don’t. You are human. You will do and say things you regret. Apologize, forgive and learn from it.
  5. Talk To Your Child About What They Can Learn: If your child is able to have this discussion, talk to them about what they can learn from yours and their mistakes.
  6. Make Sure To Give Them And You A Clean Slate:  Make sure that once the fight is over, there is no more lingering anger, fear or resentment. Start over.
  7. Talk To Other Exceptional Parents: Talking to other parents, either friends or parents in support groups, can help you remember that you are not the first parent to lose it with your child nor will you be the last. Again, it’s ok. You are a human being.

Exceptional Parents, how long did it take you to forgive yourself when you have lost your stuff with your Exceptional Child? Remember, we all have moments we regret, but these moments and experiences are what shape us into stronger more resilient parents and human beings. Sometimes the best way to grow is through these challenging times. You and your child can use that as a stepping stone and move forward into easier terrain from then on. 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.

 

The Push And Pull Of Child And Teen-An Exceptional Family’s Survival Strategies

I realized it the other day as I sat on a bench at the park watching Michael run through the splash pad and scream in happiness for what seemed the umpteenth time,

“Mommy, look at me! Look Mommy! Look!”

I was trying to chill out and give him his space, as he had asked me to about a half hour before at the park.
“Mommy, I want to go myself to the park. When will I be able to walk here by myself?”

This park is located at the corner of our street. I would have LOVED to say now, but there are still things I am concerned about for Michael’s safety. Sometimes he will say or do inappropriate things. It may just be with me, but I can’t take the chance of him making a scene alone. He has also asked when he could bike ride alone, go to stores alone, and get his own cell phone. Sigh. The teen hormones are raging even though he is just eleven and a half. Now, this is cute and it feels good to be complaining about these kinds of issues. This means my little guy is growing up and becoming independent, but then a half hour later he wants ALL my attention like when he was five or six  years old and gets upset if I am not focusing one hundred percent on watching him play in the splash pad. He will also question, even when I am animated and obviously not upset, if I am interested in what he has to say and happy.

This is the part that I have only recently understood. My Exceptional Son is caught between two worlds-that of child and teen. Tween is smack in the middle. He is still trying to figure out who he is, as well as handling controlling his stress levels and performing well at school, summer camp and in relationships. He is also trying to manage ASD, ADHD and Type 1 Diabetes. He is pretty fantastic, though lately I have been failing to see that. You see, I am also trying to navigate this labyrinth, even though it is from the outside looking in. Whenever I am having a rough moment though, I remind myself that it is ok to feel frustrated and fed up, but that it is Michael’s choice whether he wants to change the negative behavior and adopt positive replacement behaviors. This means admitting he needs help and letting those around him help him. This means admitting you are vulnerable. This is hard even for most adults, never mind an eleven year old child.

All I can do is encourage Michael to see he has people in his corner, “Team Michael,” who want him to realize his full potential, be happy, healthy and learn to manage stress and know he has options to function in a more positive way with himself and towards others. He has chosen to fight and change his negative patterns. I’m not surprised. He has been a fighter since conception, birth and beyond. It may mean reminders on behavior when times are tough, but he is up for the challenge. I have to remind myself that I am also up for the challenge during those times I feel defeated as a Mom or that I messed up. We all need to remember that sometimes we all feel stuck and it simply means we need to try something new. Everyone, even adults, have growing pains from time to time. It’s important to remember our kids have them too, and though exceptional kids experience them differently, it could still be a struggle.

Exceptional Parents, have you noticed your Exceptional Child experiencing an identity crisis as they got older? For some it is uneventful. For others, it is life changing. The important thing to remember is just to be there for your child, and go with their flow. Also admit that you are having growing pains and may need to blow off some steam now and then with family and friends. That’s ok. Do whatever you need to do to stay calm, collected and be the example your child needs as they mature. 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.

 

Signs That Your Exceptional Child Gets Their Anxiety And How To Help Them Find New Strategies

Eureka! I found myself saying this the other day in my head when Michael had an “Aha” moment. This moment was so important as it has shaped the last three days of our family life. Michael has finally began understanding his severe anxiety and his phobias  and how to start using strategies. Thank goodness he is a child who can talk to me about his fears, real and imagined. Besides doing this, however, he is also learning to detect signs that his anxiety is growing. He experiences stomach aches, tension, and panic attacks. The panic attacks are new. He will start to cry and say he does not want to be home. Home is where even when structured, he can hear the inner critical voice that says things he gets overwhelmed with and he can never be as busy than he is outside the home.The first time he shared this with me my heart broke. The only consolation was I could commiserate. As an anxiety sufferer myself, and one who has been on that roller coaster of emotions for most of my forty odd years, I was able to tell Michael that his inner critical voice exaggerates and even lies. It is a scared voice that needs support and acceptance as well as love from the rest of him. Once he learns how to love all of him, his anxiety will lessen. I know this, as I have learned tricks over the years to manage my own anxiety. I am constantly honing new mental muscle to be able to cope as well, and know that I can and will reach out for help whenever I need it.

In the meantime, we are doing the great exercises his Educator has given us for anxiety. They range from writing out scenarios of fears along with the worst and best possible outcomes, as well as wonderful ones that teach children about red thoughts and green thoughts, red thoughts being negative or stressful ways of looking at events, and green thoughts being positive ways to frame things in their minds. They also talk about how problems can be viewed as challenges to be overcome. Finally, he filled out a sheet that had him read situations and he had to label them as an Antidote or a Poison. Michael got them all right, and I could see him beginning the process of understanding his own anxiety. We talked about how everyone has anxiety as well as fears and phobias.

So how to know when your exceptional child gets their anxiety? Here are some of the signs:

  1. They recognize signs of fear in their bodies: The first time Michael was able to say his stomach or head hurt, I knew we were on the way to him recognizing the first signs of anxiety.
  2. They cry or are angry more often: Anger and anxiety often go hand in hand. As I have told people, Michael cycles in and out of anger and anxiety most days. Lately it has been anxiety, and I see the panic attack as he will cry and tell me he is feeling overwhelmed.
  3. Appetites change or diminish: This is so true, though if your child is on medication for anxiety or aggression, that will affect appetite too. Still, you will see that some times they say they are scared and don’t want to eat. At other times, you will see them eat more.
  4. They want to learn ways to manage it: The day that Michael was eager to do the homework and strategies to manage his anxiety, was when I knew he was ready for it.
  5. They start applying what they have learned. As a Mom what has made me most proud, is to see Michael using the belly breathing I have showed him to manage his anxiety, start replacing his negative thoughts with positive ones, and slowly move back into meditation and mindfulness. He has also went and retrieved old articles and read them to himself to figure out how they could help him.

Exceptional Parents, what are your stories when your Exceptional Child started to understand how to manage their anxiety and stress? Every child is different, and they will regulate their emotions differently too. The important thing is when you see your child practicing the strategies you have taught them, looking at articles or books that help them regulate, and asking for help. This means they are ready to take the next step-that is, managing to control their own fears and knowing that they are the true masters of their destiny. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker, and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism, ADHD and type 1 diabetes, is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom by showing me how different brains view the world in a whole new way! 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 them to do! 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.

 

Trusting Your Exceptional Parenting Instincts- 5 Ways To Tap Into Your Exceptional Parenting Power

So to say that lately I have doubting myself as an Exceptional Mom is the understatement of the year.  Michael’s aggression and anxiety have both been building up since the Spring, and he wasn’t feeling good about himself. I know that I am a good Mom doing all I can, yet I felt that I must be missing something about my child, or he wouldn’t feel the need to act out, right? Well, actually right and wrong. Part of why an exceptional child, any child, acts out is due to not having sufficient boundaries in place between parent and child. Various reasons are to blame, lack of confidence, communication, exhaustion, burnout, on both sides. But the other reason is completely due to the child’s character. Yes parents, even though are kids have challenges,  it does not mean that they cannot control themselves or learn how to. It also does not mean that they can choose to misbehave as it nets them attention or other things. It means they need to learn positive ways to listen as it has a positive outcome.

I have learned so much from the team we are working with now to help Michael, as well as the teams we have had in the past. Michael’s team at school each year has taught me so much. But yet, my input is also valuable to his present and past teams. One thing that has always been a constant with all the therapists we have worked with who help Michael, is that they sought my input and Dad’s as much as giving their own. This was huge for me at the beginning when I didn’t trust myself at all as a parent. And in the last year, when I still trusted myself yet was feeling vulnerable and depressed  due to many therapy and therapeutic failures, they reminded me what a hard job being a parent is, and that it was important they get to know my child based on my feedback.

In the form of charts, exercises, emails and meetings, I have introduced and brought Michael live and center to his therapists offices. They have in turn thanked me for my input and showed me therapeutic measures and medications that have worked in general, and tried their best to tweak these measures to fit Michael and help him. There have been successes. There have been failures. But we continue on. Michael is the bravest of all of us. He is so willing to try new things, to get help. He wants to change the bad behavior and replace it with good. He is working hard as are we, and Dad and I praise him for this and always tell him how much we love him. It’s not always easy. What do we do to continue tapping into our parenting power? Here are 5 things:

  1. Make sure you are rested and get therapy if you need it: A tired parent will not focus and function well. Take care of your overall health.
  2. Read up on therapies and medications that therapists talk about: Don’t be afraid to ask for articles or read up on what your therapists recommend for your child. Do your own research too.
  3. Have fun with your child: Take the time to go the park, play, have fun with your child. This will recharge both of you in your relationship to see how much you get each other.
  4. Explore meditation and getting quiet: Explore mindfulness as a way to connect with who you are. This will help you build confidence to trust your instincts. Also exercise as a stress release.
  5. Talk to your child: Ask your child about their feelings and communicate positively with them in any way. If they can talk or communicate in some other way, ask them how they are feeling and get to know the real them. Otherwise, observe them as only a parent can. You will see things others will miss. Trust me on this!

Exceptional Parents, how many times have you thought that you don’t really understand your child at all and experts know better? We’ve all been there. Know this. Experts can give you great resources, sites to look at, and tools. Experts can support you and your child in ways no one else can. But you as the parent know instinctively what will and will not work for your child. Even if you are wrong, you usually know what to try next. Don’t ever doubt that your love and ability to learn more about your child will not be enough. It will. And the professionals that are worth yours and your child’s time, are the ones that put you at the top of the list as consultants in your child’s therapy plan. Remember, the team that helps your child succeed starts with them and you as the top experts. 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.