It has been a long hard two years. I look at how far our family has come in understanding anger-Michael’s anger and our own. This goes beyond behavior and reward charts. This means really understanding where anger is coming from, what is being triggered, what is in and out of our control, and how to control it. Michael by far I am the most proud of, as he is the child and he has a lot more hurdles to overcoming anger than any of the adults around him. This week, even with some tough days, I had the pleasure of seeing and hearing Michael make the connections of what his behavior (good and bad) got him. When he had positive moments, I celebrated with them. When he had negative moments, my heart broke for him, yet I was happy to hear him say, “I lost out on that fun activity because of my behavior. I have to learn to control my anger.” Yes! This may not sound like much, but a child who is extremely impulsive and struggles with self-esteem and hyperactivity, realizing he can have control over his actions, even if it is not always easy, is huge. At least for me it was.
Things that Michael has started doing is using fidget toys again to keep his hands busy so they are not doing anything inappropriate like squeezing or touching without permission. Michael has also started using his words to express how he is feeling. For example, he will now tell us that he wants privacy and no reminders about getting up in the morning. He sees the time on his alarm clock and will get up and in the kitchen at an agreed upon time. The same goes for his bath or shower time. We have discussed his schedule and he knows what he has to do. If he gets a late start, he has to hurry through, but get the important things done. He has learned that good self-regulation begins with learning how to use tools to calm ourselves down and having medication that helps make this possible.
I have also learned what words or phrases set him off and make it harder for him to calm down. He is learning how to not panic if Dad or I forget and in our anger use trigger words. After all, he will sometimes use words that trigger us, and Dad and I have to use the same tools to self-regulate and set a good example. When we do not, we need to come clean, apologize, and move forward. After all, everyone out there has trigger words. A civilized society exists when people learn to communicate beyond their initial anger impulses. There is a lot of discussion, clarity and consistency now in how Dad and I parent, how we explain things to Michael, and how he communicates to us as well. It has made an amazing difference and I finally see a light at the end of our behavioral tunnel, so to speak.
Exceptional Parents, are you struggling with challenging behavior from your Exceptional Child now? Whatever form it takes, remember first calm down and observe your child. See what they are doing and why. What is the root cause of their behavior? Are they frustrated? Do they need attention? Are they overwhelmed and lack impulse control? Chart it-what happens before the behavior, how they react, and what happens including what you do. From there, you can work to teach them proper ways to self-regulate and learn some tips yourself about keeping calm in the storm. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD 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.