Oh how difficult it is to be a parent of any child. An Exceptional Child though, takes a different kind of mindset. Michael has become very patient with me over the years as I have adjusted my style of parenting to meet his needs as well as show him the appropriate boundaries kids and parents must have. I have found that the way to do this, is to have a balanced parenting approach. What has worked for me as an Exceptional Mom, has been to use both behavioral and positive parenting approaches, depending what situation I am parenting in and what the problem is. Now that Michael is in puberty and acting out a lot, I have leaned A LOT on behavioral parenting approaches and have used things like reward points, direct consequences for actions and talking out the why’s and how’s of conducting oneself in society. This has been helping a lot, but on its own, is not the total solution.
Michael has still benefited from a lot of the positive parenting solutions I used before when he was younger, that is, giving him choices and leeway whenever possible, reminding him of the importance of family relationships and how much Dad and I want to be with him, and prioritizing family time activities when he is pushing away from us developmentally. Now there are some days when I will admit that positive parenting strategies have not been at the top of my favorite list, as Michael has been rude, lashed out, or I am tired. But when it all come down to it, I have seen that kids need balance just as much as us grownups do. Have you ever been so intense with your eating and exercising regime and then you have one night off and indulge? Perfectly normal. It makes a balance. Likewise, if you are constantly doing things with your children or partner, alone time for a few days feels real good. Just as when you are alone for too long, you need time to connect with family and friends. Our Exceptional Children need this balanced approach to their time with us at ALL AGES even when they seem to be pushing you away.
Michael is a non-stop talker when he is with Dad or I, though he very clearly puts his boundaries up when he wants alone time in his room or with friends. Yet today when I got back from a night out with a good friend, Michael quickly said good night to me and seeing Dad’s face I asked how the night went? Dad said good, but that Michael is high maintenance. Yes, he is. But that goes for all our children. They need us to be there for them, but stay away. They need to know they can come to us with problems and push us away when they feel capable of coping. And how do they learn to do this? They learn by parents trusting their own gut on what combination of strategies work best to raise their child or children.
Parents also need a strong support team of therapists and like minded other parents behind them offering tips, tricks and ideas for what worked and didn’t work for them and their child. In the end, don’t give up. Tune in to what your child needs. There is not ONE fix to repair the relationship and communication challenges with your child. Nor is there a necessity to say that my child is troubled because he is not communicating in the way other kids are. Maybe your child needs extra time to express themselves. Maybe communicating via technology is easier. Whatever the case, tune into what seems to work for a better relationship with your child and family. You will most likely hit the nail on the head if you remember that often more than one approach will make things easier. 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 you personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive!