Month: May 2019

Why Mindful Parenting Rocks And How To Do It

So I have just finished reading this great book on ADHD called “Mindful Parenting for ADHD” by Mark Bertin, MD. It encompasses much of what I already know about ADHD and how it affects executive function and organization. It also talks about another subject that is super close to my haert- how practicing mindfulness can help you be a better and more effective parent of a child with a different brain. I truly believe being mindful and learning to be present, calm and focused, can help a parent with any child, but especially a child whose brain and body don’t work the way ours does, taking a moment to center ourselves can make all the difference in how we handle their stressful moments which eventually become ours.

At the end of each chapter are exercises which compliment the chapter and help parents plan out a home program. I am working my ways through these, because even though I currently have great resources to support Michael, this helps me on the parent and child front. One of my favorite chapters is the one on self-care and the importance of taking care of you first in order to better nurture your child. A lot of us exceptional parents know these things, but putting them into practice is hard. You can find so many good tools here that it is a truly worthwhile looking into.

When I really started understanding Michael better was when I started delving deeper into my own handling of anger and anxiety. Meditation and yoga as I’ve mentioned countless times before, showed me how to center myself when I was falling through space, and helped me see how scary it is when we don’t have access to the right tools to calm ourselves down. If we are a neuro typical adult it is scary. Imagine now if you are an exceptional child with a neuro diverse brain and way of looking at the world. Scary would not even begin to describe how fear, anxiety and anger would be experienced.

Meditation and mindfulness can be taught to a child or adult at any age. You can start with 5 or 10 minute meditation blocks and move on to 20 when ready. For kids you would talk about mindfulness different than for adults obviously, but as long as you teach them to stop, be in the moment no matter what they are feeling, and learn to breathe in and out slowly to calm their mind, they are on the right path. So many of our kids, whether they have autism, ADHD, learning challenges or other neurological or physical challenges feel misunderstood, overwhelmed and incapable of handling their emotions at times. As their parents and advocates, our best way to teach them the skills they need to learn is through learning them ourselves first. How do I handle my anger and anxiety? How do I organize my life? How do I simplify and break down a problem into smaller pieces so that it is easier to understand?

Exceptional Parents, do you parent mindfully? If not, don’t worry. It is never too late and you are never too old to learn. All it takes is learning to be present with yourself first and how you are feeling honestly. Once you learn to identify your emotions and how you deal with them, you can find many wonderful guided meditation practices online that teach you to focus on the present. Trust me this will be an invaluable tool to helping your anxious or angry child. If they see you calm and in control even when there are problems, they will begin to understand that they can do it too and adapt strategies that work for them and their brain. Until next time.

How Bad Memories Change Over Time-Confronting The Past And Seeing The Positive

Michael likes to move. Michael likes traffic because it moves. Michael likes walking. This is why it really did not surprise me after I took a second to think about it, that walking on a busy boulevard near our home is what helps calm Michael and what is fun for him to do with me. I get the benefit of exercise, being out in the fresh air, and having an hour or more of time to talk and bond with my son which is becoming more challenging as my tween pulls away from other mother/son activities like park time. Ok, so it’s not my ideal venue of paradise, walking on busy boulevards where traffic runs rampant and noise is the order of the day, but this is what sets Michael’s soul on fire, so I make it my business to be there alongside him to show him how I want to understand him and bond with him.

And there we were on the weekend, on one of these long walks talking and then just quietly walking, when lo and behold, we were coming up to the place where he first went to daycare, the daycare he had been kicked out of due to his unusual behavior and inability to fit in. This wasn’t the first time we had walked past it. We had done this walk many times in the past. I had always pointed out to Michael that this was where he had first gone to school when he was very little. Though it had had a painful ending for me and him, he had bonded with two of his teachers and had asked about them when he was older and verbal. One of them had held him on her lap as he stroked her hair when he was distressed by the noise, the fast pace and other realities of daycare he had not been ready for at two and a half. I had told the positive things to him and then added that the long day was hard for him, and that was why we had ended up sending him to the adapted preschool where he had finally learned to talk, come out of his shell, and we had uncovered his autism and been able to bridge the gap he had with us and us with him.

For me, passing this school for years had been a painful memory though I had not shared this with Michael. I did not want to distress him. But I’ll never forget the stress and relief in that meeting with the director of the daycare who had firmly and gently told me that my son was a lovely boy, physically healthy, but that there were lots of other issues we needed to look at. He would need a full assessment at a hospital and then once we had recommendations for a speech and occupational therapist, they could look to giving him back his spot. For now, he could not continue attending the daycare. The next words she spoke stayed with me then and are still with me now. People will tell you there are worse cases than him. Hospitals, social services may turn you away. You need to fight for your son, fight with everything you have in you. She then shared with me how she had to fight for one of her two children who had physical health issues to receive services at the local hospital. She again repeated, be ready and willing to fight for him. You’re his top advocate.

Of course I took those words as law, and I have never stopped fighting for Michael. Though I always looked back on that conversation with both sadness and hope, whenever I passed the building where I had hoped Michael would blend in with the other kids, I would feel sadness, loss, and anger that things had not turned out differently. Then, there I was at that building with Michael last weekend. I looked at it. I looked at him. And I felt joy. Pure joy. I realized that was the first place that had had the courage to help me see my son for who he was, in all his beauty. They helped me fight the pediatrician for a referral for further testing. Then push for an adapted preschool. Then finally through that preschool find a Mom community, and one particular Mom, who gave me the name of a psychologist who finally gave Michael the diagnosis of autism which opened up doors for him and us. I celebrated though everyone around me mourned. Now it was just learning how best to support Michael’s learning and brain. Autism was not a bad thing. It was part of who Michael was, and it was up to me to understood this different way of seeing the world.

This was new for me though, this joy in seeing the place that had made me cry, the place that had made me finally face my son was different, and that I was different and would have to parent differently. I felt free. This place had helped me be free, Michael too. Michael is who he is because of all the experiences he has had as I am, as we all are. This is reason to celebrate and to remember that even so-called dark moments, can end up being our moments of greatest light and growth.

Exceptional Parents, do you have moments that you look back on and see as eye opening positive experiences even as they appeared negative? If not, look again. You may be surprised how with time, you can see how experiences can change you for the better, even negative ones, and how your body and mind look at things in a different way when you’ve had time to reflect. Let go. Release past hurt. Everything happens for a reason to lead you most of the time to a better tomorrow. Until next time.

Musical Michael-How My Exceptional Tween Regulates and Soothes with Music

As with any tween or teen, Michael loves to unwind and regulate by listening to music, all types of music, though his favorites are pop rock and hip hop. Seeing him listening to music on his portable radio with or without headphones and sometimes watching music videos, I am reminded of myself at that age. Even his rocking while listening to music reminds me a little of me. Ok, I didn’t rock the way he does as I don’t have autism and it was not in a stimming sort of way, but I see his love of the music, beat, and how it soothes and excites him at the same time. He does not look much different than any teen or tween when he is doing it.

The thing is getting him off the electronics is tough. As for any kid today, the allure of its immediacy is only too great. I am glad that though his tastes are changing vis a vis parks and going to stores, he at least will still do long walks with me and I am looking forward to doing bike rides together this summer when we have more time. Still, even with it being difficult to get him out of the house, I like the fact that he connects so easily to music. He reminds me of me when I was his age. “Michael, who sings that song?” “Michael, what is the title of that song?” And 99% of the time he knows the answer to both questions. He also likes to talk about what my favorite songs are. The other day in the car when a song came on we both liked he said, “Hey, that’s cool. We both like the same song.”

I truly believe, especially with the all the tumultuous emotions Michael is experiencing in puberty so far, that music and song lyrics are one of the things that are keeping him grounded. He also has something additional to discuss with me. As his tastes change and he moves away from the sporty young boy who wanted to kick the ball in the park with me, I can now have discussions about musical genres, directions, and other topics he likes to bring up when we are in the car together or on long walks. This is where I am still able to bond with him, to share and ask him what he is feeling, and to remind him he is loved, respected, and that I am there for him.

Exceptional Parents, has music helped build a bridge from your child to you when they were little or older? For many children, they sing before they talk, so music plays a very important role in communication. For others, parents and their child/dren can learn songs together, talk about different genres, and share how music helps them heal from trauma and stress. Whatever the way it is used, music can really help a child learn, regulate and find their way in the world with other people.  Try and see if this is something you and your child can bond over. Until next time.

 

How Bonding Changes As Your Exceptional Tween Grows Up

The other morning as Michael was talking with me about what he’d like to do this summer together, I had to smile. He has changed so much yet the important things are still remaining there. Michael is a kid who likes to go out places and experience things. When he was little it was playing in parks, then it became going to stores, now as a tween his love of navigating and exploring driving around new neighborhoods and places in our city has become what he wants to do most. He is not interested in playing games with me like when he was a child with figurines, and will only halfheartedly kick his soccer ball with me, but driving, wow, does he get excited when he talks about doing that. I was worried as Dad and I started losing our importance as fun beings to him and friends took precedence that the bond we had established would suffer too. There are things now he will say that I don’t want to tell you. But, he still shares most of his school day willingly when he comes home WITHOUT me having to drag it out of him. 🙂 Still, he will ask me if we can spend time driving together. This, I now realize, is Michael’s new way to bond with Dad and I.

He still enjoys bike rides and walks, long ones on busy streets, but the appeal of the car is that he has planned out the route in advance navigating on Google Maps and I’m sure feels in control and excited to see that he can find his way around. I, for my part, am happy that I still have a way to bond with and reach my exceptional son. Dad and I always leave the communication lines open and Michael knows he can tell us anything. I remind him of this, that there is nothing he cannot share with us. This has particularly come in handy when puberty hit and he will ask questions about sex and sexuality openly which is good. I am happy that we can both be passionate with him about his interest, even though he LOVES being stuck in traffic, and me, well, not so much. It’s really important for parents to keep the communication lines open so they know where their child’s interests are and see how they support that interest in order to continue the bond they have with their child. If you are not sure what your child is interested in, here are some things to keep in mind:

1) What videos do they like to watch

2) What music piques their interest

3) Are they art lovers or sports fanatics

4) Which friends are they hanging out with and what are their interests

4) What movies or books do they like

All of these things can help you see into your exceptional tween’s  (like any tween’s) mind a little more clearly, and help you bond more easily. In the end though, the most important thing is being physically present for them at predictable times of the day (meal time, bed time, morning), and ready and able to talk or listen to them. If kids sense that, they will open up and be more willing to bond, even children for whom it is more challenging. Until next time.

Trusting Your Parenting Gut When It Comes To Medication And Therapy For Your Exceptional Child

So this is a happy ending to a VERY tough week. This week started off difficult with Michael being super anxious and angry. I had a hard time reigning myself in and Dad too had his challenges. Suffice it to say, by Wednesday night, I was done. Drained, and though I was looking forward to my spa getaway with a girlfriend near the end of the long weekend, I was also worried. How would he do with Dad alone? How would I enjoy myself worried about them? I’d emailed his psychiatrist and educator telling them I wanted to stop the current ADHD medication he was taking. I was worried it was affecting his self-regulation and I was so stressed watching for the side effects. His psychiatrist had agreed to me trying it, but then I remembered something. I’ve been so nervous so long about medication. Michael has tried so many that didn’t work, and made his symptoms worse. His Educator had gently warned me, that I may be worrying so much that I am parenting differently, with less calm and focus, and that this may be tipping the balance. After going to bed early on Wednesday evening, I woke up Thursday morning determined to see if maybe she was right. What if I was inadvertently accelerating his anxiety in some way due to my stress level? I made myself a promise. If after the end of the long weekend on Monday night things had not gotten better, I would stop the medication. I spoke to Dad. He agreed and said he would make a conscious effort too to see if he could be calmer and keep himself in check. Well, the wonderful thing was that from Thursday to Monday evening, things did get better! Michael’s anxiety and anger started to decrease, AND he expressed more remorse for his negative actions as well as started using the new tools we had been working on prior to self-regulate. It was not a perfect weekend, but overall went so smoothly, that I did not worry going away on my overnight spa trip with a friend. I came home to a content husband and son.

What do I think may have helped turn things around? Well, first and foremost, I truly believe that Michael picked up on mine and Dad’s positive calm manner and the direct way we began speaking to him about what we expect in terms of behavior. Secondly, we worked with him on finding an anger management strategy that can work for him to use as an intermediary when he gets angry. He has started using it almost immediately, and it has helped him calm down. Third of all, we have looked honestly at routines in the day and evening that work and do not. We have changed those that do not work and stuck to those that do. The thing is though, we have asked for Michael’s input so he feels some control over these changes. This has helped tremendously. Finally, when one or both of us parents has made an error such as discussing something stressful in front of him, losing our temper, or not being clear, we have admitted it, first to ourselves, then to the other parent, then to Michael. This is so important for learning purpose for all of us, and for Michael to know that adults make mistake too.

Exceptional Parents, how do you make parenting decisions about medication and therapy when it comes to your child? Do you make a list? Do you think of the pros and cons? Do you consult others? I’m sure to some degrees, we all do the above. However, in the end, I truly think that all of us use the most important decision making factor in making a choice, we listen to our parenting gut and what it says about our child and ourselves. If we make decisions form this standpoint, I believe we will not be led astray. Until next time.

Are you looking for support for challenging behaviors in your children? Do you feel alone and stuck as an exceptional parent? I know what you are going through. For further information on my programs, or to reach out to talk and connect, see my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.  Let me help you to live life happy, whole and in balance with yourself and your family.

 

Is It Me or Not? How Exceptional Parents Affect Their Exceptional Child’s Handling Of Stress

I know this may sound a little suspicious. I know even the title above sounds like it is saying we as exceptional parents cause our exceptional child’s stress and their reaction to stress. If the title sounds like that, I apologize. That’s not at all what I am saying. But what I have noticed in my personal experience and among those of my friends and their experiences, is that as parents, we affect how our kids, both exceptional and not, see the world and their place in it. If our child happens to have anxiety issues as a lot of exceptional kids do, this means that the pressure is on even more for us to be calm, collected and rational around them. It’s not as hard as it sounds, though there are moments. Still, I am lucky to have a school and home team reminding me that Dad and I are the key to helping Michael understand others who are different to him and helping them understand how he is different to them. They also remind me that, for better or worse, if Dad and I are patient, calm and collected, we are better equipped to steer Michael back from the edge of the cliff he is on when he escalates with anxiety, anger or both.

The last two nights have gone very well, in contrast to a very tough start the week. Like with any child, Michael has his good and bad days. Really, like any adult too. But I do credit two things to this change; Michael internalizing the tools we are introducing to help him manage his emotions better, and Dad and I exhibiting greater patience and a calm exterior and interior when Michael is stressed. We are making an effort to do this with one another too, even if we disagree with what the other parent may have said or done. This has been hugely helpful in moving things forward peacefully. Michael’s Educator had gently asked if on the afternoons or evenings when Michael’s anger or anxiety was worse, did I become more outwardly anxious or handle things differently than before? Once I thought about it, I realized there were times when I did overreact or stress due to my own exhaustion and frustration. Dad too. We’re only human after all.

Her words stayed with me, and now the self-care practices I do are even more important to me. I also remind myself to check in with how I am feeling at any given moment. This does not mean I blame myself for a meltdown or crisis. It only means that I see how I am feeling and where my resources to cope with stress fall at any given time. I also realize now that I can go into a crisis situation or an anxious one with Michael knowing that I will do my best to stay calm, pace myself, and guide us both out the other side as peacefully as possible. While I don’t cause any of his reactions, he does, I can help to diffuse a potential meltdown by finding my inner happy or calm place, and channeling that energy to Michael. I can be there to hold him emotionally when he falls apart, and then when the crisis is over go to refuel myself for better days or other challenging ones.

Exceptional Parents, do you notice that your kids will calm down faster when you are calm? It’s true, no matter what age they are, if the caregiver holds it together as best as they can, the child will find their way out quicker. As hard as it is, remember that you are the adult. It is easier to recognize what may be missing in your bag of coping mechanisms, get help for it, so you can parent with the proper love and boundaries your child needs. You have the power parents, but it must start with you. In the end, you will start seeing improvements, even small ones, if you take care of your needs. Only then can you show your child how to take care of theirs. Until next time.

Looking for help or support on how to parent an exceptional child? Feeling alone and in need of connecting to an adult who gets it? For more information on my coaching services and packages, please see my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

How To Handle Dark Nights of The (Exceptional) Mommy Soul And Survive

So last night was one of my less than successful nights handling challenges with Michael. Anxious and tired tween in a room with anxious and tired Mom do not mix, nor should they communicate unless they absolutely have to, and even then, short sentences without taking the other’s one’s reactions personally is the order of the day and night. I was not that Mom yesterday, and it reflected in my parenting style which was a tad defensive, with a touch of self-pity and frustration with why nobody ever listens to me. I recall yelling something to Michael when he was yelling at me, “You don’t deserve me as your mother.” As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I felt terrible AND realized I hadn’t followed my own advice to Michael when he is angry and overwhelmed, “Stop, Think, And Ask for Space.” So, I secluded myself away for about fifteen minutes to calm down. I did, and things seemed to go better, that is, I seemed to be handling meltdown number two as well. It was meltdown number 3, just before bedtime that did me in physically, psychologically and spiritually. Michael was in total fight and flight about fears he said he now feels about going to big stores and places. I had told him no problem, we’ll tackle it together this week. Last night he did not want to hear that. He wanted reassurance that he would NEVER have to go to a big store. When I couldn’t give him that, he started to scream and become overwhelmed. It was bedtime and he had actually followed his routine pretty well, but was so anxious. I don’t know if the new medication is making things worse which was also frustrating. I was tired too from helping him through two other meltdowns, and was worn out. I was looking forward to going downstairs with a glass of wine to write, my refuge and sanity keeper, as well as another job I love to do.

It was not to be. I lost what little energy I had refueled earlier. Dad was in bed worn out from a busy day downtown at the endocrinologist and well, I started screaming, “Calm down. Calm down,” while Michael kept screaming “No big stores.” Yes, screaming calm down. Talk about a strategy that never worked for anyone. Michael stormed off to his room while I stormed off to my office downstairs, no wine, no energy left to write. I just cried. Long and hard sobs and got out ALL the frustration out from the afternoon and evening. I felt horrible. I felt like a failure as a Mom, as a parent. I let the anger and guilt come out. Michael needed a firm, calm hand. He is struggling with self-regulation so much, especially this time of the year. He needed a parent who could hold it together and when she can’t, step back sooner.  When I finished crying, I was relaxed finally and went to bed. I slept well, and when I woke up this morning, as always, I said to myself that it was a fresh start as a Mom today. Michael’s first words were, “I’m sorry for last night Mom.” I accepted and told him the same. We had a good morning and a good homecoming after school today.

This got me thinking about what things I learn about myself each time I fail temporarily as a Mom. I wanted to share these so-called words of wisdom with you so Moms and Dads, you know you are never alone in your darkest parenting moments:

1) You will lose you sh*& once in awhile with your kids: It’s ok. You’ll lose your cool and mess up. Don’t lose the lesson. Learn from it, and become stronger.

2) Look back on what you needed that day/night and give it to yourself next time: If you are tired, make sure to sleep better. If you need alone time, ask for it. It will make you a better parent.

3) Be open to exploring where your anger comes from: Be open to finding out what are YOUR anger triggers and how you can best handle them next time.

4) Have a routine for personal time and stick to it: Have some time set aside each day, 5 or 10 minutes even, where you can be you. Not Mom. Not Dad. It will energize you to make better choices.

5) Think of family and friends who support you and share your feelings with them: If you need support and ideas, turn to family and friends who are there to help you, but may not know how.

6) Give yourself a break- we all mess up: Lastly, forgive yourself. You are doing a hard job, the hardest job on the planet, raising a human being, an exceptional one at that! Celebrate the moments you reach your child. Learn from the mistakes and you’ll see, in the end it all will even out.

Exceptional Parents, how have you handled dark nights of the Mommy soul? They are not easy, especially when you think of all your child has to deal with and feel you have failed them somehow. But don’t despair. No matter what they say, your children love you, depend on you, and know you are in their corner. As long as you take the time to work with and understand them, you will both become stronger from the experience. Until next time.

 

 

 

Mother’s Day And New Changes As Your Exceptional Child Grows

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and it was quite a different experience celebrating it with an exceptional tween this year who is not afraid to share how he is growing up. Well, first of all he was a little embarrassed that he forgot his Mother’s Day card at school. Yep.  I told him the most important thing was remembering to wish me which when I gently prompted him Sunday morning with a shy smile, he did. Then he told me what he wrote in my card which made me almost laugh out loud though I restrained myself:

“I wrote in the card I like you very much Mom. Happy Mother’s Day! Thank you for taking me places.”

Then he drew pictures of his favorite video games all over the card. Yep. It was a hoot. When I saw it today and thanked him as the artwork is beautiful, he also did point out, “look I put pictures of beaches and spas for you too. ” Yes. He does care! Not that I doubted it for a minute. We spent a fun day going on a long mother/son walk, I took him to his swim lesson, to the park, and then we ordered in Indian food, the family favorite and a yearly Mother’s Day tradition. 🙂

See, it’s just hard to see sometimes as he is growing up and away from me. He is going through putting up a little wall right now too with what he is choosing to tell me and Dad. I understand this. All I can do on my part and Dad on his, is remind Michael daily that we love him, teach him to respect us as well as himself, and give him space to be himself, as well as know that we are there to catch him if he falls always. I had several happy moments as well this weekend when my child who does not want me hugging or kissing him came close to me and put his hands on my shoulder when he was talking to me asking me a question. It was a light touch. I leaned in and touched his shoulder and he relaxed a little against me. I know how healing physical touch is and how this used to help Michael handle so many stressful things when he was younger. I truly hope that when he is ready he knows he can ask for a hug, a kiss or anything of that sort to feel calmer and loved. He has not strayed that far away.

Exceptional Parents, how has celebrating Mother’s Day changed for you over the years? How do you mark it with your child? As your child grows up, you will see certain traditions change and some stay the same. Make sure to keep the ones that have meaning for your family, and don’t worry about the ones you can’t control. Your child is growing up, and as long as they know you are right beside them during that process, they will grow up happier, healthy and secure believing in their love for you as well as loving themselves. Until next time.

How To Communicate Effectively With Your Exceptional Child

So the one thing that I keep noticing this week is how Michael and I communicate for better or worse. It was even pointed out by our Eductor last night, who commended us when we listened to each other, and reminded us about taking time to Stop and Think before we say certain words that could cause hurt or anger to come out. Also, as is the way of the Universe, the great ADHD book I am reading on Mindful Parenting is talking about this very thing in the chapter I started reading today. It made me think. What are some of the most effective ways to communicate with an exceptional child whose brain is challenged by many things? Here is what I came up with and what is working for me and my son:

1) Be Honest About How You Are Feeling: It’s important for us as adults to listen to how we are feeling on the inside. Are we tired? Stressed? Angry? Calm? Happy? This will effect how we respond to our child in a given moment.

2)Stop and Think Before You Speak: This is one of the most important ones. If we are upset as parents, we can easily escalate an already tense situation. Similarly if we are staying quiet until we calm down, we de-escalate a situation and it improves.

3) Remember Difficult Emotions Are Not A Difficult Child: This is a tough one. A lot of parents get so wrapped up in the behavior, we may forget that our child is having a hard time and not being hard on purpose. They are making a bad choice, and are NOT bad kids. Keeping that in mind, we tackle the behavior problem first.

4) When Everyone Is Calm, Brainstorm For New Strategies: After the storm, the sun comes out. Same thing with a fight. When you and your child have made up and/or your child is calm, you can brainstorm with them new strategies to help them self-regulate better the next time.

5) Reach Out For Help For Yourself- Read Books, Articles, Talk to Other Individuals Who Are Exceptional, Parents, Professionals: Look for information to better understand your child and what they are going through. Incorporate all of what you learn into best techniques that can help your child. Depending on their age, you can enlist their help too in finding more strategies that work.

Exceptional Parents, what best practices do you use to communicate with your Exceptional Child clearly? If it is working, great. If not, don’t be afraid to tweak it with some of the suggestions here or whatever else you may learn along the way. Our children are constantly changing, so we must adapt to what works for them. In the end, as long as we stay calm, level and focused, we will do things that are in everyone’s best interest for harmony. Until next time.

 

 

How Calm and Consistent Parenting Can Reach Different-Brained Kids

It’s been one of those weeks, one of those parenting weeks where I’ve been through the mill, as they say.  I’ve expressed fear, frustration, worry, and anger. Then, when I’ve seen that some progress was made, hope and flickers of happiness have emerged. It’s been trying for both of us, Michael and I, to say the least. But, if I’ve learned anything as an exceptional parent, is that when you hit a rough path, first breathe, second practice some self-care, whatever you need most at that moment, and third formulate a plan of action to adjust to what was not working while continuing to practice the things that were.

Spring has always been tough for Michael as it is for most exceptional kids. His hyperactivity and impulsivity go up, as well as his aggression in the last two years when that level of frustration opened up. We have new medication that seems to be helping a little bit during the day and late pm, but when it wears off at dinner time,  the psychiatrist described it as akin to him falling off a cliff. And that  is when we saw escalations in anxiety and anger, as well as meltdown after meltdown this week.  What exacerbated this more was the fact Michael is not a little boy anymore. He will not accept hugs or I love you’s from me, saying he is a big kid and doesn’t need my physical support. This was always how I helped him as a little boy, but now as a tween, this needs to change.

The thing is he very much still does need me at times, both positive and negative moments, and will call on me as he did last night. He was upset and called downstairs for me to help. I did help him by coming up, redirecting him to a safe space (his room), and then when he had calmed down, surprised me happily by asking to fill out some sheets his Educator gave him for recording how a child handled a stressful event. It was helpful for him and for me to see him do it too. We also saw his Educator this evening, and she provided excellent feedback and some new handouts to help with ongoing issues. Having a team for the family is huge.

I, for my part, also did a lot of thinking in the last five days when these incidents occurred off and on. I looked back on the good and bad methods I used to handle Michael’s meltdowns and reactions and I adjusted accordingly when I did and will now keep these adjustments in place. I also took out a great book from our local library on mindful parenting of ADHD kids. It is really helping reinforce a lot of what I already know with new material that I look forward to incorporating. Mostly though, I am proud that Michael is learning to slowly incorporate changes in how he handles stress, confrontation and talking about his feeling to his parents. It is hard as a lot of the ways ideas get stuck in his head make it hard for him to break out of that mold. I know with time and patience, he will turn things around.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle those hard parenting weeks? Remember, you are doing your best and if you lash out, learn from it. Learn what your triggers are, be open to trying new things that can help support your child, and go easy on yourself when you do it. Take everything in perspective and you will be surprised how you and your child will bounce back from the experience.