So tween hood has been challenging, very challenging so far for Michael and I. Sometimes he is downright funny like tonight when I knew he was trying to do something silly with a friend and I called him on it and he said, “Wow, Mommy! You are so smart! How did you know I was going to do that?” With a straight face, I answered him, because Moms are adults and we have lots of life experience. Other times, conversations can be downright frustrating, like when he argues that he is not hungry for breakfast and why can’t he not eat like so and so does in school? Because it is not healthy and I want you healthy. There are also fights about bedtimes. “Well so and so gets to stay up till 10 pm and HE is twelve years old. Sigh. If it was only these regular issues that I have to deal with. But then there are the inevitable challenges his anxiety, ASD, ADHD and diabetes bring for him and me. He needs LOTS of reassurance when stressed, can be quite impulsive when routines are interrupted, and diabetes, well, for the most part I’ve figured out the basics, but it throws me and Dad WAY too many curve balls and Michael too, of course.
This brings me to raising Michael now in this mindset, when I am not the Queen and center of his universe I once was. Friends have taken that spot, though he will still tell me about his day most of the time, talk about his problems, and occasionally, I get compliments on my cuisine even. 🙂 All jokes aside, he will also try to upset the power boundaries in our relationship and insist that he is in charge and I can’t stop him from
1) not brushing his teeth
2) not swearing in his head
3) not eating all his fruits and veggies
I say, you’re right, but I want you to make the healthy choices that are good for your overall functioning so that you feel good, be able to play and learn well. I have learned how to sidestep a power struggle with everything, though we have our mornings like this morning where he was misinterpreting everything I was saying and being grouchy about eating, moving fast and brushing his teeth. I looked at him in pure frustration and said,
“Next thing you’ll agree what color our toaster is with me. Just cooperate. The bus is coming!”
He surprised me by laughing, and saying he wasn’t like that. Then he paused and got moving. I stepped outside with my morning coffee and waited for the bus outside the house until he came out five minute later. This little technique (along with having my second cup of coffee Al Fresco) 😉 has saved many a morning from erupting into a full fledged fight. Most importantly, I am learning how to express myself to Michael making it clear that Dad and I are in charge and that there needs to be rules, but we can negotiate on compromise on things like bedtime (Bedtime Monday -Thursday and Sunday is at 9. Fridays and Saturdays you can go 9:30 as long as we see you are listening and calm). We also compromise on video or computer time the same way. And food, well, we let him pick a meal once a week, and the other times, he eats what he can, making an effort to eat a whole balanced plate.
Exceptional Parents, how do you balance your authority with giving your child choices? Like with everything in life, the middle road is actually the best road taken. It allows for a stable routine with some flexibility and negotiation with both sides. This method teaches your child respect of you and themselves, and you learn to respect them as well as growing thinkers and doers in charge of their destiny. Until next time.
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