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.