Well, as each day goes by I see how Michael is truly moving into little man, category. Sometimes it is cute little man, sometimes angry little man. Yep, he is progressing so far into puberty that I wonder what thirteen and up will look like. Oh boy. Time for the wine. All jokes aside, it is refreshing to see him wanting more independence and not being shy to ask for it, there are also the times he is socially inappropriate, sometimes in a funny, sometimes in an annoying way, and then I too wonder too, should I give him more independence or keep him a little reigned in?
Sometimes the answer is easy. When he is angry and testing, of course more parenting guidelines are needed. But what about the times he is calm, in control and asking for more responsibility?
“Mommy, when are you going to start leaving me home alone for more than an hour?”
We talked about this as I tried over Spring Break for a half hour and he did well. We have talked about this in the same vein as we have talked about showing him how to do his insulin injections. Dad and I need to see that he is able to manage his anger, anxiety, and self-regulate without our interventions. We also need to see him being responsible with taking care of his things. As is typical of teens (and particularly ADHD kids), Michael misplaces a lot of things, forgets where he puts stuff, and has a hard time organizing. I know some of it is part of how his brain works, and some is partly our fault as parents who organized things for him when he was younger so he could be on time for school, activities and other functions. It was easier on everyone, but now we need to start doing the hard work. Now, I am starting to realize how important it is to slowly make him responsible as a “big kid” for himself. This means showing him what is involved in making his own lunch, double checking his school bag at night, making sure his clothes are put away in his drawers. He has helped with all of these things in the past, but I must admit, after puberty and then diabetes hit, I took shortcuts. I still do. I realize now that we have to start making changes and showing Michael that they are in his best interests. Once summer hits, I plan to start working more seriously on these things. Now with the end of the school year looming, there is the usual Spring Fever, plus we are trying out a new med. Enough said.
But for any parents out there trying to survive and keep their sense of humor with their exceptional tween, here are my 5 survival tips:
1) Get enough rest , exercise and self-care : Sleep and take time to recharge in other ways. You’ll need it for all the extra curve balls you’ll get.
2) Encourage them to find their own self-regulating tips: This may not meet with what you think they need to self-regulate, but if what they are using seems to work, let them use it.
3) Keep lines of communication open: This is a tough one. There are days Michael keeps me talking for a half hour, other days like today he said, “Don’t ask about my day,” when I asked for highlights. Just make sure they know you are available to listen and that they come first.
4) Teach them to respect you: This is a biggie. As the Mom of an exceptional tween who has been aggressive and occasionally still is, respect for you and for overstepping propriety needs to be reinforced calmly and steadily. You’ll know you’re having success when they are truly sorry for overreacting and apologize. It’s important you insist they do and then move forward. It is forgotten.
5) Don’t forget to laugh at the good moments and learn from the bad ones : I know when I am no longer laughing about things, I am in trouble. It’s important to treasure the good moments with your child and when the bad moments are over, learn what you can do differently the next time and teach your child to do differently.
Exceptional Parents, what are your tips for navigating your Exceptional tween in puberty? If laughter, rest and good self-care for you and them are on your list, you will be in good company. Remember always, you are not alone. Also, reach out to other exceptional people and see what they experienced during puberty. There are blogs and articles written, and we parents can learn a lot about how the inner autistic and other exceptional minded individual person thinks by being inside that mind through a blog, video or article. Until next time.