As I sat by on Saturday watching Michael do his diabetes injections completely by himself, I have to admit after giving Michael a high ten, I silently thanked God that we had all arrived at the same place, trusting Michael to take on this big responsibility. In fairness, Michael has wanted to do his own injections for about a year now, but due to some lingering behavior issues and past questionable treatment of the injection equipment, Dad and I told him that we were not ready to show him until he showed us more maturity in handling his anger and outbursts. Well, things are not one hundred percent perfect, but Michael has come a long way in handling his anger. I sat down with Dad one night about two weeks ago, and we decided he had earned the right to be trusted with medical equipment. After all, we have started trusting him to be left alone at home for short periods of time. He has been taking his own sugar for over a year too. It was time for this next step. And as usual, Michael did not disappoint when trust was placed in him. He never has.
It’s a tough decision for an exceptional parent-learning when your exceptional child is ready to take that leap forward. If you wait for the ‘perfect’ moment, it will never come. It’s like waiting for the perfect moment to do something big for yourself. You will always make excuses unless you take a leap of faith. Listening to your parenting gut, trusting that your child understands what they are taking on and the responsibility of whatever you are asking them to do, as well as a balance of you being available to jump in and encourage them if they get scared. There is never shame in that, whether you are a child or adult. If we had waited until all Michael’s behavior challenges were solved before moving forward, he would have lost out on an opportunity to see his maturity in that area. We also would have lost an opportunity to see more of Michael’s strengths. I have our Educator to thank for giving me gentle nudges as well. I see how smart, competent and capable Michael is, but sometimes my old worries of pushing him out of his comfort zone would stop me from acting.
I was not totally wrong. Michael carries A LOT of anxiety and then navigating that with his anger issues become significant challenges for all of us. But if as parents and therapists we only get stuck on what is wrong and not on what could go right, that negative mindset will transmit to your child. Michael’s Educator reminded us of not only rewarding the positive, but understanding that Michael wanted, like any tween, to be treated more maturely as he was growing up. Instead of always having power battles with a growing teenager, we could, in small doses, give him a little more control over his life so he could see where good choices led.
As Michael has gotten older, I have started pushing him a little more in all areas past his comfort zone. I have picked my battles of course, keeping in mind that Michael can advocate for himself what is too much and what with help, he can grow comfortable around. So far, this formula has started working, especially as he has asked for more independence and trust. Now I tell him, you need to show you are trying your best to manage your emotions. When we see that, we give a little more trust to trying out new things. The diabetes injections are just one of many things we have given over to Michael as he has increasingly started taking responsibility for himself and his actions, positive and negative. The other day he made a bad choice in what he said. Immediately he asked me, “Help me. I need help controlling what I say.” I told him we were getting him more help and that he would learn. We believe in him.
Exceptional Parents, how comfortable are you pushing your Exceptional Child past their comfort zone? It’s not always easy, and of course you have to take it slowly and proceed according to where your child’s development is. Never let anyone push you or your child past what you feel they are capable of. But, don’t ever forget to have full faith that if your child is showing most of the signs that they are ready to take on something big, you give them the chance to shine. Until next time.