Michael and I have made a breakthrough recently. I am so excited that he is learning to be more patient and focused. It has been due to hard work on his and my part. I recognize both and have made sure to tell him so on top of his home reward point system for good behavior. What has changed? I still have a tween soon to be teen (still can’t believe it) who will be moody when he comes in and wants to have shorter conversations so he can go and have time alone or talking to friends. Yet, he is opening up more about his day, like the old pre tween Michael did. Don’t get me wrong. As I’ve said before, I know this is developmentally normal at this age. It is a good sign of his growing independence. Still, the fact that he cares about talking to me means a lot.
Now for patience. He is learning about having to wait to speak with me if I am in the middle of something. He is learning about having to wait while Dad and I talk over family plans and also decide on things he may ask us to get him or activities to do. He is learning to focus and use strategies available to him to lessen his anxiety as well as troubleshooting what works and what doesn’t. He has been flexible trying strategies that we have recommended or his educator has. Some have worked, some have not. He has stayed positive about the ones that work and now remembers to use them more regularly.
It has been wonderful to see him blossom in this way. And even on the days and nights when he has a hard time, I remind him of his progress. We have a list of all the things he has excelled in over the past year, things that he never used to be able to do or were extremely challenging. We all refer to that list to see how far he has come, how far we have all come as a family.
So what tips can I offer in learning to help your child be more patient and focused? For starters having a structured plan of what is and is not acceptable and sticking to it diligently is what helped us. No exceptions. Another thing is being super clear in what kind of behavior we expect and what tools he can use to curb the negative behavior and habits. Third would be reminders of using his tools at the right time before his anger would escalate, and then afterwards looking back to see if Dad or I could have been more clear on what was expected of him or in the situation. It’s not to beat ourselves up or to berate him, but would be a learning experience for all of us.
I have not been afraid to remind Michael that like it or not, these are the house rules. The first time I said this he said “what if I have a meltdown?” I simply responded, “you have a meltdown, then go calm down with your strategies, and then we can talk about why you are upset.” It’s simple really, but getting there as a family for us (like for many exceptional families), has been a challenge. We take it one day at a time and learn from each other. We also make sure to remind each other that we are a team and will get through it together.
Exceptional Parents, what tools have worked or not worked for you and your Exceptional Child? Remember, don’t feel bad if you tried something that didn’t work or your child did. You are making progress by eliminating what is not working in that case. Keep at it. Keep at loving, accepting and letting your child, no matter what their age, be heard and know they matter to you. With consistency, a calm approach and taking care of your personal stress, you and your child will find a way to help them overcome their obstacles. Until next time.