So as Michael has pulled more inwards due to puberty and all that has brought up, I have used two physical activities he and I both enjoy doing as a way to keep the lines of communication open; bike rides and long walks. It is on the long walks, even though he brings his headphones along, that Michael will say and do things, sometimes proper, sometimes improper, and I get a chance to talk to him about his behavior and how to conduct himself in a way that brings out his best side. I have to admit that on some of our walks I hold my own emotions together better. On others, well, I raise my voice, even yell a little, then it is a lesson for me too on patience, learning to be calm, and to set a positive example of how to handle myself when up against a challenging personality. Ironically, Michael has said that it is hard to talk to me sometimes because I nag and tell him what to do. This is, of course, when I am telling him to do things that he does not want to do. I gently try to redirect him by reminding him that he may not like everything I say, but if I am saying for him to do something he may not like, for me to push that point it has to be due to his health and well being . Then I get an, oh, ok.
In spite of the ups and downs, we usually have good conversations and Michael has said he enjoys our walks and likes to talk to me. So far so good in keeping the communication lines open like when he was a young child. I too enjoy our conversations. Even when he frustrates me as he sees the world in a way I sometimes still have trouble understanding, I love the way his brain will look at something in a totally different way than a neuro typical person’s would. Sometimes his reasoning seems black and white. Other times there are so many colors I am amazed. I always feel better after our walks as I learn things too. I learn what to continue doing and what to stop doing.
So how can a parent reach their exceptional child at any age? How do we form a strong bond? Here are some tips that have helped our family through the years:
- Find a common activity you both love: If possible, this is the easiest and best way to go and do this activity regularly; ie. daily walks, bike rides, a trip to the park, an outing to a favorite place, or time at home playing a game you both love.
- Take a HUGE interest in what you exceptional child loves: This is not always easy as sometimes our kids’ tastes may strike us parents as strange, but there is only positive things to gain if we immerse ourselves in their interests and their world. In my case Michael loves drives and navigation, and now, for better or worse so do I. 😉
- Find a good time of day to talk and bond: For some families mornings work best. For others evenings or weekends. The important thing is consistency.
- Ask them what is bothering them and/or look for signs of agitation: For kids who are able to communicate effectively, ask them their favorite and not so favorite parts of the day. For children who have a harder time with communication, be vigilant for signs of distress and have sensory sensitive strategies ready to help them unwind and regroup.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out for help: If your child is not acting like themselves and other issues are appearing that were not there, seek outside help from professionals who have a love and respect for the exceptional community. Make sure they vibe with your child and your family.
Exceptional Parents, how do you maintain a good bond with your Exceptional Child? As long as whatever you do involves showing love, respect, positivity and hope in your child and their abilities, you and they are on the right path to continuing to have a close relationship with one another. Until next time.