Month: December 2019

How To Handle Hearing No- An Exceptional Child And Parent Challenge

Hearing the word no. This is a tough one in our household for both Michael and I. Michael, due to autism and adhd, finds hearing no and doing things he finds uncomfortable to be very challenging. For me, as his exceptional Mom, hearing the word no triggers me down to my deepest core. It represents not respecting my authority as the adult, and feelings of powerlessness as a parent. It’s taken me a long time to process these feelings and find my ways of coping with Michael’s opposition, and most of the time, I’m right on target for helping him towards success. There are days and nights though, when I still become angry hearing the word no too. Then I have to mobilize all my inner resources.

Though as parents we know our kids will not like everything we say or do no matter what, and they will lash out at us, it hurts when they do. We would be silly to say otherwise. We take it personally because they are ours!  That is why having an anger management strategy kit is of utmost importance for parents and children. What should go in your kit? Here are just a few things I use on a daily basis, (or try to) so as to help control my frustration and pass on tips to Michael to do the same:

1) Deep breathing. Making sure to breathe in and out is so important to keep us present focused. As hard as it is for some of our kids, it’s a skill worth teaching.

2) Meditation and yoga: I practice both daily for the most part, and if I skip on, I make sure to do some type of stretching or a shorter meditation to remind myself to still in the moment no matter how crazy a situation gets.

3) Have a safe room/place to go: It’s important our kids and us know to go to another room to calm down and change the scenery when they are angry.

4) Seeing the other person’s pain: This is hard when you are feeling hurt, but remembering the person who is angry at you is in pain, makes what they say or do a lot easier to digest. You find the reserve of calm and help them move to that.

5) Learning about flexibility and compromise: One thing I’ve learned as an exceptional parent is compromising and picking my battles with my child-what’s worth and not worth fighting over. Once you and your child get to this point, a lot of the ‘no’ battles can even be avoided.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle hearing the word no and helping your child face it? It’s not easy, and while some days you are in tip top shape and stay calm, other days you fall apart. Never be ashamed to admit when you make a mistake to your child and apologize. You will show them that you are owning up to your failures and learning from them. It will help them do the same for their failures. Until next time.

 

Trusting And Learning From Mistakes-Exceptional Family Tips

One of the hardest things to handle lately with Michael is when I make a mistake or do something he does not like or finds uncomfortable, and he thinks I am purposely trying to upset him. Yes, I am usually consistent in what I do and how I do it. Yes, I am clear and do my best to avoid making errors, but alas I am human, so mistakes will happen. This is hard for Michael. Any kind of imperfection is hard for him. He is hard on himself when things don’t go as planned, and when he makes mistakes, and he is hard on me.

The thing is it was something small. I apologized, fixed it, but then came the, “but will you do this again? it really upset me.” Usually I am better able to handle his uncertainty and anxiety. Usually I do not take personally his needing repeated reassurance that yes, I am sorry. I will not do it again. But tonight after a long day,  dinner clean up waiting, a long conversation about one of his passions that was one more sided, (me listening, him talking and me needing my quiet time big time when dinner was done) I blew up.

After we both took much needed quiet time to calm down and talk about things, I realized what I needed to look at in myself when handling Michael’s anxiety about my imperfections and other people’s;

1) Stay calm myself. There is nothing worse for an anxious child if a parent becomes anxious and tells them to calm down and that their anxiety is no big deal even if it is something small. Mea culpa here tonight.

2) Help your child come up with a mantra, strategy for them to use when they see they are triggered. I realized that had I had something at hand to remind Michael to do (or better yet HE had it) this may have helped ease his anxiety enough to trust and hear clearly what I was saying to him.

3) Talk about mistakes and share personal failures with your child: During times when your child is not anxious, share moments when you messed up, made mistakes and how they made you stronger and able to learn more about yourself.

4) Make sure you don’t take your child’s criticism personally: It’s very important to see your child’s trust issue as one with themselves, not you. This is most often the case with anxious children. Once you see that it is not about you, but about them, it will easier to be sympathetic and help support them when you are both calmer.

Exceptional Parents, how often does your anxious child overreact to a small event or misunderstanding? Realize that with your support using one of those 1-5 scales of little to big problems, you can help your child learn how to handle stress, regulate their emotions, and take charge of their stress. Along the way, you will learn to do the same with yours. Until next time.

 

How To Be There And Give Space To Your Exceptional Child- Striking the Balance

Michael has always been a child that needed to talk and communicate, even before he could speak a word. That is why when he hit tween hood and started pulling away from Dad and I a bit, it was challenging and worrisome for us. Do we let him without a fight? Do we insist he speaks with us? Do you give him his space? As you can imagine, after much soul searching, I chose option 3.

It has been great for the most part. As I saw him maturing, I did decide to give him space and time to come to terms that he was growing up, and growing up in the exceptional way is not easy any more than growing up the neuro typical way is. Again, I must give credit to our educator who supported me and gave my encouragement to give him space and independence like I would any tween. I’m glad I listened. Michael will talk to me when he comes from school like when he was younger. Then he will ask, can I go be alone now? I need my space. I happily allow him that. Consequently, if he needs to speak to me when I am doing my alone time, I will also ask him to respect my boundaries. Knock on the door if I am busy writing in my office or doing something else in the house. Ask if it is a good time. I have learned to do the same thing with him. Space and boundaries are challenging for him to grasp, but he is getting there.

Finding a balance with our exceptional kids of all ages means spending time playing and/or talking with them, but also allowing them to be alone doing what gives them pleasure. It means understanding this alone time may last a little longer than for neuro typical kids, but not judging it with our neuro typical brains, unless it is detrimental to their mental or physical health. And it also means connecting with them on their interests, and as they get older and able to, get them interested in our interests if this is possible.

Having come a long way from two years ago when Michael started puberty and Type 1 Diabetes hit, it has been a long road uphill for him and us. Our family has had to relearn to trust in the love we have for one another that is enough, and Dad and I have had to learn to relate to Michael in a different way, trusting him to assume more responsibility which is what he was asking for in his tween rebellion. I am glad we did, and now our son is coming back  and working with us. When your child works with you, that ensures they are working towards a good future for themselves.

Exceptional Parents, how do you walk the line between giving your Exceptional Child space and spending time with them? All kids need a balance, no matter what age they are. Of course as they mature, they require less of one on one time with you for playing and managing their lives. But your involvement, your caring, your words, in spite of what they say, matter more than anything to them. Continue to tell them you love them even if you do not hear the words back. Continue to believe in them, especially when they don’t believe in themselves. And continue to talk and interact with them, even if that is just being in the same room and acknowledging whatever they are doing. Our kids sense our love beyond words. They feel it. Let’s continue to show them that balance of trusting them to be alone, yet being there for them to talk or interact with when they are ready. Until next time.

How to Squeeze in Personal Exceptional Mom Time To Stay Calm

It has been one of those weeks, heck, months where the craziness in all shapes and forms has been ensuing. Some days have been happy crazy and others, just crazy with exceptional family life. But I’ve noticed, like most parents, that when I’ve handled things the best, has been when I have cultivated moments of calm and rest for me. Some days it has been easy to get in some personal time. Other days it has been challenging, but even if I only found ten or twenty minutes that day to do something that filled my cup, so to speak, energy-wise, the difference in how I handled anything chaotic was incredible.

Sometimes Michael will be an energetic handful talking non-stop. Other days he is angry and anxious. In both examples I need to stay calm, focused and alert, in order to be able to truly be there for him and support or redirect him towards making better choices. I have my set of tools that help me stay grounded and focused, and when I use them, I never have issues with mental exhaustion or burnout. Here are a few things that I can squeeze into a busy parenting day.

1) Shorter guided meditations and/or yoga workouts: There are great resources on line where you can find meditations and yoga workouts that range from 10-30 minutes and beyond. This is an easy way for me (and a lot of Moms I know) to recharge their batteries.

2) Sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee/tea  with quiet music: Curling up on the sofa for a 10-15 minute relaxation/recharge with coffee/tea and music helps get me through some tough moments in the late afternoon or early evening helps reset my batteries as well.

3) Chilling or working in my home office: As a writer, my office is my sanctuary. That is where I do most of my work, but I will even retreat to my office if I need personal space when I want to go on social media, check email or read a book. Having a room we Moms can go to means the world when you’re running on empty. If you don’t have a whole room, carve out a corner of a room and make it cozy for you, pillows, candles, warm blanket etc.

4) Take a short walk: If you can, get outside or inside a mall and take a short walk. If you have a treadmill or exercise equipment get moving. It will help you face whatever exceptional parenting will throw at you.

5) Talk to a friend by phone, social media or text: Sometimes a short conversation with a friend will go a long way. It doesn’t have to be another exceptional mom. Any caring friend who gets you and your life will help you refocus your energies.

Exceptional Parents, what are your tips for finding those mini moments to recharge? In the end, as long as you still see you have patience, compassion and trust in yourself as a parent, you will be able to reflect that back to your child and they will be the better for it too. Until next time.