After a few tough weeks, it is really wonderful to see how this week in spite of challenges, Michael is beginning to understand his actions both positive and negative, as well as the consequences of this behavior. He is constantly surprising me with his insight, “oh, I guess I made a poor choice there so I lost my point towards a reward for good behavior,” to actually stopping himself from saying or doing something aggressive in the nick of time and then visibly breathing or saying, “I need a strategy reminder or where is my blue folder with my strategies?” Wow. The months and months of hard work we have all been putting in are paying off. Dad, Michael and I are communicating better, more clearly. I have never seen him so polite with me and his father. I am also finding reserves of patience for the tough times when he is escalating or rude towards me, by standing my ground quietly. This has usually helped calm him and help him make a better choice.
So what method has been working for us the last few months as a family? Here is what seems to be making the difference for better behavior and home satisfaction for everyone:
1) Have a reward system in place: We use a points system where Michael earns points for not behaving in an aggressive way. Each point can build towards a pre determined list of rewards that we jointly agree on in advance.
2) Have a steady home schedule for weekday and weekend: Whether the schedule is on paper, computer or verbally agreed upon by parents and the child, it is important to have a schedule where the child knows what is happening, where there can be wiggle room should plans change, and where parents and child each have a say, with parents vetoing if something major is upset, of course.
3) Balance family time, alone time, and time with friends and extra curricular activities: Make sure your child has a balance in their schedule of time with you, alone, with their friends and in extra curricular activities. Time with me can be spent talking over dinner, on the way to an activity or in the am or pm before bed. Make sure they know you care by your actions and words, especially as the tween set don’t always want to hug you. 😉
4)Be clear and calm on your feelings at all times: It is so important to know what you need as a parent and individual. Make it clear to your child by putting in personal boundaries for yourself and teaching them to do that with others as well as with themselves.
5) Have a therapy team, books and support that click with how you want to raise your child: Last but not least, there is not one right way to raise any child, exceptional or not. Make sure that whatever your child’s team consists of (therapists, books, friends, support groups etc.), the suggestions they make to you jive with how you want to raise your child. As long as there are good boundaries, structure and consistency in how you parent, your child will respond positively. Do your best to bring out your child’s best in this way.
Exceptional Parents, what behavior system have you used that has worked to help your child either overcome or get better at handling challenging behaviors? Make sure that whatever style you are using, respects everyone in your family, including yourself. The system has to be clear for all to understand and implement. You will know you are on the right track, when your child’s attitude towards listening and making good choices improve and negative behaviors go significantly down. Be patient. The process takes time, but is more than worth it in the end when your child and you have a strong bond together. 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!