First of all, I have to say that I am so glad to have Michael back. Truly back .Though he was calmer initially when we introduced medication for intense aggression back in January, and it REALLY helped him settle and sit still for longer periods, it gradually started doing more damage to his nervous system and demeanor than good. The culmination was him getting increasingly aggressive to the point where he fought with us about anything. I also hardly saw him smiling or taking an interest in things with us except keeping busy. In the last four days, though I have seen a high rise in his anxiety with no more meds in his system to chill him out, he has been smiling more than I’ve seen since the fall, when he was not on medication. He started singing in the house, playing on his electric piano, and stimming more, which though is done when he is tense, also is done when he is excited. He is also more inquisitive and affectionate again. These are the positive things I have seen. Negatively, I have seen a HUGE rise in anxiety and stress. More phobias have been emerging, but they were there with the medication too. And due to the sedative effect of the medication being gone, he really cannot stay home and needs to be in constant movement all day and most of the evening till bedtime.
There has also been HUGE impulse control issues when he gets overexcited or frustrated. He will sometimes catch himself and do his deep breathing and counting to 5 before reacting, but more often he reacts first, then needs to be reminded how to calm down. The good thing is that the medication initially helped him be more receptive to the strategies that his Educator is giving him to learn to regulate, and he is more interested in learning to do the exercises and applying them to have a better outcome in his emotional life.
It is both with encouragement and frustration that I share this tonight, because I see his potential and how well he is with everyone most of the time. With me and Dad, he is not the same and will often lose patience, overreact, and say terrible things. He is instantly sorry and empathetic to us, but it is hard when you are in it all day and night as a parent. Moms, who mostly are the ones in the mix, know what I mean. Right ladies? Still, I will take these new problems over the ones we had previously. I see he just needs love and patience. Most days I am able to give it, pretty much till bedtime, but other days, I lose it. He will both get angry when I am strict or laugh at me. Neither reaction is good for him or me. I realize I have to pick my battles more than ever before, as he gets more comfortable opening up to us, his tween rudeness and pushing boundaries and drawing near us and then pushing us away is increasing. I am happy and frustrated, as I try and figure out where I parent a neuro typical child and where I parent one with challenges and a different brain. It is somewhere in the middle
So this is what I am learning this summer in parenting my tween off medication, in struggle to form boundaries and reassure himself he is loved by constantly questioning everything I say. These have become my strategies:
- Follow the same cool down strategies as your child: I also try and take a deep breath and count to 5 before I answer him.
- Don’t use sarcasm even when tempted: I have gotten really good at doing this, and when I slip it, it is usually 7 pm or so at night when I’ve been on the Mommy track ALL DAY. Still, it’s only happened once in twice, out loud anyway. 🙂 Sarcasm with your child gets both of you nowhere.
- Don’t take positive or negative emotions to heart: Another toughie but so true. If a child is telling you he loves only you, that is for the moment until you tick them off. Then they love the other parent when they feel it is convenient. When negative emotions come out, it’s the same. Never think they mean it. Now, of course they need to own what they are feeling and apologize or lower the intensity, but as parents we need to understand it’s exceptional hormones. They love both parents equally, and have to learn to come to terms with overwhelming emotions as do their parents.
- Take care of yourself: I always say this in many blog posts and can’t emphasize it enough, self-care and time alone is MANDATORY not to lose your top as a Mom and human being You will see yourself having less patience with your child’s outbursts if you are tired too. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, as they say. 🙂
- Remember they are hurting or overstimulated : Again, this is hard if you are exhausted, but sometimes Michael has been overstimulated and hyper and needed me to be patient and bring him down calmly. Other times he has needed time to talk about his feelings and misunderstandings. Try and see what they see and meet that need.
- Don’t trigger them out of your own anger: When we feel disrespected as parents and take it personally, we may lash out with revenge like upsetting them on purpose as they are doing to us. This is particularly easy when your child seems to be set off about everything. Yep. Been there. Breathe. It is not you wanting to do this, but your own lack of control that is propelling you to make bad choices. You love and would never heart your child. It’s important to follow point 1 and calm your anger before responding. Otherwise, you could make a tense situation even worse.
Exceptional Parents, what range of emotions does your Exceptional Child show you when they are hyper happy or very angry or anxious? Remember, the real child is somewhere in between the two extremes, just like us as parents. We are somewhere in that middle. Keep in mind that your child does not want to feel stuck or stressed. Some things are out of their control, and even what’s in their control is hard to navigate when they feel stressed. Be their rock and safe harbor, even when they are trying to break you. This is when you need to be strongest for them. It starts by reassuring yourself as a parent, that you are taking the best care of yourself possible by eating, sleeping, exercising, and getting a break away from being an exceptional parent. It also means when you mess up, you admit it to yourself and your child and family and start over. Look for the rainbow on the cloudy days. All our children give us rainbow moments. And no matter what, never go to bed angry at them. Tell them you love them and will help them through it all. 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.