The other day after a particularly challenging morning with Michael where we both seemed equally frustrated by one another. I sat back, and before I finished my second cup of coffee, I did what I tell others to do. Close your eyes and breathe. Breathe out all the stress, anger and misunderstandings. Of course, before that I cursed like a sailor after the bus pulled away from the curb and said all the things I did not say in front of Michael. Soon I’ll vent to my cat, but she’s new to the family and I don’t want to scare her off. 🙂 But seriously, what it came down to in the end, was that Michael, though getting better, is still having a hard time finding the right time to use strategies to calm down BEFORE he tells me or Dad how he is feelings. It is on these mornings or evenings when all h@&^ breaks loose and he says things he regrets a nanosecond later. I usually do the same thing, and then regret. Why couldn’t I hold my sh*$ together better? Well, the other day I did, though I was firm with Michael and called him out on not using his strategies. And you know what he said? It broke my heart because it was true;
“Mommy, I know I forgot, but I have been getting better. I did so well the other day and you didn’t tell me you were happy with me. You’re always mad at me!”
He was right. I’ve been a little guilty of the glass half empty lately, though this week I have been trying and succeeding in encouraging and praising more good behavior and reminding Michael gently to use strategies RIGHT AWAY when he gets upset, and not afterwards. I also had a lighting bolt moment (God/Universe inspired), when in half anger/half positivity I wrote out for him on a piece of paper what using his strategies would do for him and our family. In this paper was the reassurances he kept seeking, several times daily, as to what his future held. I stipulated how we all needed to feel safe in our home (no abuse to or from anybody no matter how angry), no physical contact unless permission was given by ALL of us, how we all loved each other and we needed to show it by respect, using ways to calm down before we talked about things that made us angry, and how Michael’s team were part of our family, to support us, make us stronger as individuals and as a family. The last two days Michael has really started internalizing this message. When he has not respected these conditions, I have called him on it. I encouraged him also to remind Dad and I of times when we did not use strategies. If we all remind each other then only good things will come of it, for all of us.
The amazing thing is I have seen Michael’s maturity go up in a dramatic way. As he has seen how we mean business for everyone and how we are also adhering to respecting HIS tween boundaries, he needs to respect ours as his parents and the adults in charge. Today he was getting angry and in my space, when he all of a sudden realized and said, “Sorry Mommy.” He backed away and started breathing to control his temper, and then told me calmly how he was feeling. Another time today he became angry and said some hurtful things. Afterwards, he told me that he needed to remember to have his fidget toys nearby. Squeezing them helped him focus and calm down before acting. Finally, he has become more compassionate. The other day he asked how I was feeling . When I say goodnight sleep well, he’ll wish me a good night too and sleep well. It’s amazing how empowering a child with turning to strategies can help them see anger and stress in a new way.
Exceptional Parents, what strategies do you and your Exceptional Child have for handling anger and frustration? As long as there are boundaries, self-respect, as well as mutual respect towards all family members even when angry, you are on the right track to showing your Exceptional Child a positive way to let their strategies help them manage anger and anxiety better. Until next time.
Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive!