Author: joannegiacomini

Tackling Your Own Exceptional Impatience While Helping Your Child With Theirs

I have a problem with patience. There, I said it. I feel better now. What has been hard for me to admit is that I need to build this skill really well as an Exceptional Mom because Michael’s patience is worse than mine and that’s not saying much. Most days and nights I can reign in my impatience, stress, and anger when Michael pushes limits, but then there are those days. You know the ones I am talking about, parents. They start tough with you feeling frustrated that in spite of all your best efforts your Exceptional Child will not compromise, and they end with two meltdowns-yours and your child’s. That was Michael and I the other night. I realized some common denominators in why we clashed. We were both overtired, not taking the time to hear one another or sympathize with the other one’s viewpoint, and we both were stubbornly holding on to the fact that we had it right. As it turned out, neither of us had the situation completely correct. It was an evening that called for some negotiating, respectful listening, and patience with the other tired person. Neither of us possessed it that night as we had our own agendas. “Do you hear me, do you really hear me?” These were the words both of us were uttering while the other was clueless. Each thought the other one was uncaring when really two tried people who loved each other clashed and clashed badly.

After as I lay in bed totally wiped out by the tough evening not even having the energy to take a calm warm bath as I had planned, I thought to myself,  there were some steps I wish I had followed to stay calm and centered. As a model to Michael, I may have been able to prevent the evening from at least getting worse even if I could not have prevented the fighting we did.  I vowed to follow these steps and recognize what I needed to do the next time there was a conflict and I know that there will be conflicts with an opionated tween in the house!

  1. Evaluate my mood: Before Michael came home, I needed to recognized how tired I was and what would charge my batteries in a positive way. Then it was time to do that before the bus pulled up. Probably doing some yoga or listening to soft music my cup of coffee or tea would have helped.
  2. Review the strategies to use: The strategies would include what I would use to calm down and what I know would work for Michael. If necessary, having them on paper close by to refer to may have been a good option for both of us.
  3. Remember not to take my kid’s anger personally: This is a tough one, but most kids act out due to THEIR issues not their lack of love or respect for you no matter what they say or do. They are on the egocentric side, and so pain is all about them. As the parent and adult in the relationship, I needed to recognize that Michael was in a bad mood due to HIS issues and not MINE.
  4. Validate some of his anger and mine calmly: This is also tough, but as I tell Michael, anger is not bad, but reacting to anger with aggression of any sort in unacceptable. Just because Michael yells I do not yell back. The same goes for physical aggression. I am guilty of yelling only, though I have been known to slam doors, not my proudest moments as a Mom. As the adult, I need to model how to be angry and use tools to get control of myself. Also, it’s important to acknowledge mistakes and anger with an “it’s ok. we move forward,” and no blame game. We all make mistakes. It’s not the end of the world. I may say it, but I need to do it too.
  5. Don’t make assumptions about what is being said-communicate clearly from the beginning: What got Michael and I in trouble, was that we both assumed the other one was deliberately trying to hurt and disrespect the other one. This was not the case. We had a BIG communication problem. With a neuro typical brain and an autistic one, it can happen all the time if we are not careful. Once the snowball got rolling, it was hard to stop. I saw now that I assumed falsely as did Michael  what the other one was saying, and that made things worse for both of us. Next we need to be direct right away.

Exceptional Parents, do you feel like you are losing your cool more than you want to with your child? Do you feel like you have it under wraps and then suddenly explode and you can’t see why? It’s time to look at your own parenting tools for YOUR anger and anxiety. Do they need a tune up? Do you need a reminder of what helps to calm you down? It’s ok to use bad nights as a learning curve for you and your child. That is what we do in our family. After all, if your Exceptional Child sees that you lose it sometimes and recover from mistakes, they will eventually learn not to be too hard on themselves. Take heart if you are an impatient person. There are ways to build patience- get enough sleep, meditate, exercise and eat right, and take time for you to recharge your batteries doing things alone that can center you as a person. If you need to, seek outside help. There is never any shame in doing so. You will be a more patient parent and human being because of it, and your relationship with your child will only get better. Until next time.

Are the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

 

 

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Picking Your Battles With Your Exceptional Child-When To Give In, When To Say No

So saying that I’ve had to learn to pick my battles with Michael since he started puberty is the understatement of the year, but there you have it. And you know what, he has had to learn to do the same with me. The thing is, we’re both pretty passionate about what we believe is true, even when we’re wrong. It takes us time to calm down, come to terms with our feelings, and express ourselves in the best way possible to each other. You see, with passion comes volatility and sometimes, well, I’ve been knows to yell and Michael has too. What can I say, it’s the artist’s temperament in me, and probably in Michael too. 🙂 Still, we are learning how to set the pace with each other, respecting one another’s  personal space, and finding the middle ground now that my cute and cuddly little boy is no longer that, but a growing tween with his own opinion and mind who wants things to go his way most of the time.

I’m beginning to see when I need to tell him he needs to cut back his expectations though, as well as learning when I have to cut back mine. As a result, we are having more success relating positively to one another. For example, Michael wants to get up in the mornings and relax first THEN get ready for school. This drives me crazy, being the Type A Control Freak Mom I am who wants it all done BEFORE having fun. That is also the way I was raised. The work was done first, then play. It’s also the way things are done in school. But home is not school. It’s Michael ‘safe space’, and I let him have it. Also, having an exceptional child who has many challenges with sequencing, anxiety and opposition, has showed me that if it works out in the end, you do it. That’s all that matters. Now, if Michael’s system stops working, we’ll revert to a mine, or a pretty close approximation to mine. Otherwise, we  stay with his. We’ll also try a mix of both of ours too. There are always options. That is one example.

Another example is hugging and affection. He is usually all “hands off Mom, I am not a baby. I don’t want hugs.” This is both heartbreaking and liberating to see him breaking away. Again, I make sure to commend his independence while still telling him I love him. He sighs, “I know Mom.” Every day I ask about his day and he tells me details. He gets annoyed if I don’t give him my full attention, which is rare. This is how I know we are still close, but I am happy my little guy is forging his own path. One day when I am no longer around, I know he will be fine.

Finally, with things like aggression, swearing or inappropriate content or friends, this is where I draw the line with picking battles. Here the battle line is my way or there are consequences.  I don’t want bad influences affecting how Michael relates to the world. I would feel this way for any child, but particularly one who wants so much to please others, that he may get carried away on watching something that is not the best thing for him or make dangerous choices to please friends who are confused as well.

Exceptional Parents, where do you pick battles or buckle down and insist on your way with your Exceptional Child? Remember, you know your child best, and that means you know best how to help them develop in a positive way. If you are ever stuck, listen to your parenting gut. It will never steer you wrong. And usually when you listen to it, it will give you and your child the credit your deserve for navigating the difficult domain that is life out there in the world. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

Giving Space And Making Time For One Another In Exceptional Relationships- How To Strike The Best Balance 5 Tips

One thing being an Exceptional Parent has taught me is how tough it can be to balance that with being a wife and partner. Michael has opened up my eyes (and Dad’s) to so many amazing things that parents often take for granted that their children can do. Michael amazed us (and continues to amaze us) with all his talents and all he could do. However, there are those moments when things become challenging to manage as a parent, individual and in a couple, when so much of your energy is spent helping and advocating for your Exceptional Child. I have learned much in our twelve year journey as parents, and nine year journey as Exceptional Parents. Mainly it has been how to ride through the hard moments of parenting, celebrate the easy ones, and ask for help as individuals and as a couple when we have needed it. Dad and I seem to be coming through ok on the other side, though we have had LOTS of growing and lots more to do.

On that note, I have come up with some observations and steps that we have followed to keep our relationship strong and get stronger in the challenging times, so that we could be the best kind of people for ourselves, each other and Michael. Here are some life tips that I am living through and which continue to help me in my couple journey. This is still a learning process for Dad and I.

  1. Write down what is bugging you and show it without guilt to your partner.
  2. Make a schedule where each of you has alone time, family/friend time and couple time.
  3. Make exercise and healthy eating a top priority to be at your best.
  4. Laugh together over the little things.
  5. Seek outside help if none of the above are working

This tips are really common sense, but so many times we all forgot to use our heads when living day to day life that I like the idea of having them on paper in front of me as a reminder for how I want to live my own life in balance. On the tough days, I now commend myself that I have made it through them and learn from my mistakes. On the successful days, I celebrate in little ways my victories. I do this now (or at least try to most of the time), in couple form too. It’s important to support each other, admit when there is anger, and grow from it. This is the only way to move forward and grow together.

Exceptional Parents, what are your tips for prioritizing your personal relationship? How have you learned to re-connect with your partner? Remember, admitting mistakes is never easy, but it’s ok as we all make them. Celebrate the little victories as a couple as you do individual and parenting victories. Be honest with each other and supportive. Give each other space and time.  And remember that your child is evidence of the love you have for each other and can continue to have when you prioritize your couple needs along with other challenges you face. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

 

When Your Exceptional Child Changes How They Relate To You

So tween-hood is officially upon us with Michael, and has been for quite a while. I am both excited and sad. My little boy is growing up. Joy! But the downside of this is, he is growing away from me. He is growing away from the “Mommy and Daddy knows best,” and growing towards, “my friends know best and are way cooler,”. Ok, the way cooler may be true. Hey, I remember those days when I was twelve, and my parents were not the coolest people to me too, but I still remember giving them hugs and kisses all the time like when I was little. The pushing away came later, at thirteen or fourteen years old. Not eleven and twelve. But, like with many areas in his life, Michael has taken me by surprise and become a little teenager in training overnight. I think the fact he has some older kids in his adapted class also plays a role, but I digress.

It has been wonderful to see him forming his own identity. He will not like a song because I do. We often enjoy the same music, (see I am cool and hip with the youth today LOL), but sometimes he will say the song is not “funky” enough. He will also not want to read or watch certain books or tv shows I recommend. Why? Because his friends are not into that or it is not interesting. I both celebrate and am frustrated by this “man child” who needs me one minute (when in crisis to control anxiety and anger he will look to me to stop the explosion which I cannot do), and then pushes me away when he seems stressed or is celebrating a victory and I offer a hug or kiss (“I am too old for hugs Mommy. No.”) Where do I fit into my son’s world? Other friends and family have commented about his growth spurt, his voice that is WAY deeper, his talking about body parts, sex and crushes, and wow, they are right! So now, we are both trying to navigate terrain where he likes me for the most part, but friends rule for talking on the phone, playing video games and going out places. I am both proud and struggling to meet the demands of my tween as friends and peers cannot be around 24/7, and when they are not, he is struggling with his identity as well as his special needs issues. What’s an Exceptional Mom to do?

First of all, I have found venting to my friends has been extremely helpful. We have compared notes on puberty and where our kids are. Secondly, we have asked Michael’s team both in and outside of school for assistance in the form of strategies and articles about Exceptional Adolescence to help us navigate this new path. And third, I have relied on something I have been relying on since the beginning of our journey with Michael-my faith and trusting in God and my mother’s instincts that will lead me to the right people to help me continue to trust myself on my journey of learning to become Michael’s mother through all his developmental phases. I truly think all parents are in a learning curve when it comes to their children, no matter what age or sex they are. As long as we go by our instincts, trust in our love for our children, we cannot go wrong.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle sudden changes in your Exceptional Child’s behavior? Sometimes there is a logical explanation-developmental milestone reached, puberty beginning, or life stressor, that is obvious such as parents separating or upheaval at school. But what if none of these things fit? Then you need to investigate further to see why your child’s relationship to you has changed. Remember, trust your gut. If it tells you something others are denying, you are probably right. As the parent, you know them best. Also, however, remember that developmental milestones will shift how your child sees you. Don’t despair this. Celebrate their development and show them that no matter what, you are there for them. They will need you on the rocky road ahead, and you will have the front row seat to viewing their growing success. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

How Prioritizing Mom Nights Out Helps You Truly Grow As An Exceptional Parent

I have never enjoyed Mom nights out as much as I have in the last two years as things got more stressful at home. What, you say? Isn’t that when it’s the worst time to go out, when your Exceptional Child’s issues are wiping you out and you feel exhausted? Well, yes and no. Though there have been times I have backed out of Mom nights due to exhaustion or stress, most of the time, I see that the best therapy for me (and for Michael and Dad), is me going out, kicking back with the girls over a good meal, a good glass of wine, and a good conversation and just bearing my heart and soul. Or sometimes it has been about laughing and forgetting it all. Whatever has worked for me has usually worked when I have gone with what my heart needs me to feel and do. Solo nights out for me have been a must to survive some of the most stressful parts of exceptional parenting and married life as an exceptional parent and spouse.  These have included my writers meetings a must to connect with other creative souls. Date nights with Dad have served another purpose to remember who we were before Michael added his own unique touch to our lives, but also took us so out of ourselves that Dad and I began forgetting what made us fall in love with one another in the first place and how we’ve changed all these years together. Nights out with my school friends, that also reminds me of a time when I was single, no partner or child, and keeps me centered in my roots. I miss that group of friends and am planning to try and see more of those wonderful ladies this year.

But my Mom friends, well, what can I say. They are my soul sisters. I have bared everything to them, and there is something about talking to a Mom like me, with challenges like me, who will not judge, will support, will laugh or rage with me, will encourage me to take the step I need for me or Michael, and will celebrate all the big and little moments that an Exceptional Child brings in only the way they can. Why? Because they are living it. Every. Single. Day. They know me in a way that no one else can or ever will, and for this, I believe that Mom dinners or outings of any kind, is part of a great string that keeps me together mentally, physically and spiritually.

Some women don’t like to go out or are tired or have other commitments. That’s fine. But I encourage you, no matter what form it takes, connect with other Moms. Do this either in person at support groups meetings, courses, online, and if you are lucky enough to form friendships with these wonderful ladies, take it to the next level. Many of the Moms who I have the privilege to meet for dinner or evenings out, once were Moms I only saw at daily support groups or at Michael’s schools. We exchanged information about therapists, education, medical issues and the ups and downs our children took us on in the course of exceptional parenting. Eventually something miraculous happened. The Moms who were my sources of information to help Michael succeed began to help me succeed not only as a parent, but as a human being. They became my sounding board when I was stressed as a parent, and my cheerleaders when things went well. I began to share other things with them, the fact that I am a writer, my new career direction, things in my family that were good and not so good. They helped me continue to grow as a woman and a human being. And now, I can truly count them as a close part of my team, team Joanne, as  I call it. I believe every woman needs a team (your name) behind you., just as your child needs a team behind them. When you have this kind of support, you have your village, your village to help raise your child AND you to be the best you can be.

Exceptional Parents, how many of you have Exceptional Mom or Dad Nights or days, if that works better for you? Remember, you are a person that needs nurturing too. You need to fill your cup so you can give to your child what they sometimes don’t get from the world- acceptance, love, room to grow, and belief that they can do anything they set their mind too as people who love them are behind them. When you as a Mom have your team behind you, anything is possible. Imagine your child feeling this same way too. So here’s to our special Moms out there who laugh, cry and celebrate with us. It’s thanks to them we can get through the tough times and move forward with courage. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

 

Food Dilemmnas and Rebellion- Navigating Type 1 Diabetes And ASD Rigidities and Surviving It

Ah rebellion. It is just grand, said not ONE Mom, never mind a Mom of an Exceptional Child that already has enough stuff to deal with. Still, it makes me feel good in one way. As Dad commented earlier this evening when Michael was talking pretty much twenty minutes straight without coming up for air and making intense eye contact with us, “remember when we worried he wouldn’t talk?” I almost laughed. Indeed I do. If you told me when he was a toddler and had been diagnosed with autism that  I’d have to deal with regular puberty things like pushing limits, refusing to go to bed early, swearing, and even being silly with friends, I’d have laughed and said, go ahead, PLEASE give me those normal neuro-typical problems. And yet, here we are. My Exceptional Son is not so exceptional when it comes to puberty. In fact, he is so neuro typical here it is DRIVING ME CRAZY. And just to make things interesting and keep Dad and I on our toes, he has particular food restrictions due to his diabetes (hard for him and us and yet MORE more for teenage rebellion) and with his ASD and ADHD those quirks come out in puberty while he is trying to be a grownup. Oh boy. What can I say? Running for the hills is usually a race for Michael and I lately. Which of us will get there first running from the other, he or I? Yet, somehow with all the craziness, we always do run back to each other. I love him too much to not do that, and I think he loves me or tolerates me, pretty much what any tween/teen boy would feel towards his mother at this age of 12, not a baby and not a teen, a tween. It’s not easy, but whenever I catch myself feeling pity for either of us I remind myself it’s all relative. I also remind myself to learn from the challenging times, mine and Michael’s, as I tell Michael to do.

Sometimes when I want to indulge in a pity party I do that too. I allow Michael that luxury as well. I tell him, it’s ok to be angry or sad. Feel it. Own it. Use strategies to move away from it. Then move on. I follow the same theory myself, and do my best to hold myself to this promise. It’s not always easy. That’s when I call in the Mommy brigade, my friends in the same circumstances who share  in my stress over theirs and their children’s challenges, yet also remind me to celebrate the victories. And there are many victories of exceptional families that help us survive.

Today Michael was supposed to have a tennis lesson. It got postponed due to unforseen circumstances. He still remembered to bring home his shoes from school WITHOUT reminders. The other day going to a new place at school he navigated there on Google Maps to know where he was going, a pastime that is pleasurable for him and reduces his anxiety. This again was all on his part, no reminders. And countless times lately I have been witnessing him using strategies instead of giving into his anger,- deep breathing, using fidget toys.  Finally, he has openly talked about his struggles in puberty with me, still shares his day with me, and likes getting the occasional hug or kiss, or tolerates it. For this for now, I am grateful. 🙂 These are things I hold on to when the day or night is tough. These are things I remember when he is asleep at night, however good or bad the day has gone. These are things I see will help him navigate the world and survive and thrive when I am no longer here to advocate for him. Finally, these are things that tell me I need to fine tune my own coping mechanisms and let go over what I cannot control and control what I can. I can show my son I believe in him and want him to learn and do better. I can show my son I will hold him to a great future. And I can show my son that faults and all, I love him as much as I do me, and everyone else in the family. After all, we are have our issues to work on. What’s important is to learn and grow from the tough times so we can get ready for a brighter future all around.

Exceptional Parents, how do you survive your Exceptional Child’s quirks? How do they survive yours? Yes, you have quirks too and sometimes unintentionally make things more stressful for you and them by over reacting or under reacting. You are a human being and you will mess up just like them. Where’s the lesson? It is in learning from your mistakes, showing up the next time to do better as an individual and parent, and making sure you set a positive example for your child to follow at the same time. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

 

Navigating Tween Rebellion, Puberty And Anxiety Thrown In the Mix- How This Exceptional Mom Survives

Humor. The other day I was talking to a friend and she expressed her admiration for me and Dad and how we held our relationship together after the stress of exceptional parenting and other life challenges. I thanked her, but told her my secret to holding it all together was one thing, humor. Laugh your head off at the little things  you do, your partner does, and your kid or kids do. And I can tell you there will be lots to laugh at, even when you have your tough parenting days, and we all know when those happen that we are in the midst of them.

Lately, Michael’s rapidly intensifying teenage hood combined with anxiety, ASD rigidities, ADHD hyperactivity and food management due to his diabetes, has kind of left me feeling, well, a little on edge and shell shocked shall we say. Even my meditation has not been the same and that is not good. “And it’s not even happening to me,” as an amazing exceptional Mom and special needs advocate once said, while telling of her own experience in handling her son’s anxiety and other health issues. I always feel humbled remembering those words. And not because I don’t have trials and tribulations as Michael’s Mom and Dad as his Dad, but because as hard as it is for us, it is even harder for him. He is living it. He is surviving it. And every time we fail ourselves we fail him. This does not mean that a bad night here or there obliterates all the good a parent does for their child. If that were that case, I would have failed Michael A LONG time ago. I have now learned to breathe, see my mistakes, take responsibility, and then teach Michael that he needs to do the same thing. It’s not easy. It’s also not easy to learn to laugh after a tough experience, but this is  the way to survival for you and your Exceptional Child. Humor goes a long way.

Without divulging too much of Michael’s privacy, let’s just say that Michael has learned recently about his sexuality and how good it feels to be in tune with a certain part of his body. This is creating all kinds of havoc with his sleep and morning routine. No jokes please. I know it is funny, and I try to laugh in the midst of the fighting to get up and get ready or go to sleep on time, but it is not. While it is normal to be experiencing puberty in this way, due to Michael’s understanding of his body (or different way of understanding) and still following his usual routine, we’ve run into some snags. With the help of our team and me looking truthfully at what is going on and not laughing or screaming, we are making inroads to understanding each other and coming to a consensus. Every time I think about it, “I thought puberty would hit at 13. I thought I had two more years to just handle his special needs stuff and diabetes, now this,” I remember he is handling it all. Laugh at the little things Joanne. And the bigger things that are troubling him and yourself, get help from your team. Ask your Mom friends. Ask co-workers who’ve lived through and survived their kids’ puberty, and see the light at the end of the tunnel for Michael and you. It is a challenging time for everyone.

Exceptional Parents, where are you on your Exceptional Child’s developmental stage? Are you in babyhood, childhood or venturing into adolescence ? How do you survive the stages and stay sane for your own sake, your child’s, and the rest of your family’s? I can tell you that humor will and should be at the top of your list to handling any kind of stress. It will help you from taking yourself and your emotions too seriously. On another note though, self-care in the form of time alone, exercise and meditation and/or prayer, can help with your spiritual balance too. Finally, pursuing a hobby or passion outside of being someone’s partner, mother or family member, will do so much for your soul and self-esteem that nothing else will quite match it. In the end, taking care of the important things in yours and your child’s life will make all the difference. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

 

Finding the Balance Between Mother And Nurse To Your Exceptional Child

We are all nurses and caregivers to our children, whether they are exceptional or not. The title pretty much belongs to all parents, Moms in particular, who are usually jokingly referred to as the chauffeur, cleaning lady, teacher, parent and nurse/caregiver. But all of this takes on a whole new level for most Exceptional Parents whose kids have other underlying physical and psychological health issues. Everything from keeping track of medication, various doctors appointments outside of the usual yearly checkup, dental and eye checkup visit, as well as therapy visits for speech, occupational, physiotherapy and psychology/psychiatry can take its tole. In this role, parents (again usually Moms, though sometimes Dads too or a mix of the two), are always the expert and advocate of their child and the ones at all meetings and tabulating data and charts before said meetings. All in all, it can be utterly exhausting, and you wonder when you get to build a regular parent/child relationship with your child where you hope to gradually transfer over some of the physical and mental health care decisions to your child when they are older. It’s a long road, and one not entirely possible for some families to eventually do. Still, it’s important that parents remember that though you take care of your child medically, you are still their mother. This means as their mother, to the best of your capacity in that role, you help forge self-reliance, independence and advocacy so that they can do the best possible to take care of themselves one day.

I’ve had a lot of difficult conversations with Michael lately as has Dad about his diabetes. Michael has been resentful of the fact he can’t eat like his friends at one moment, then will go to the other extreme, as happened the other morning, and be super critical of my meal choices for him. In those moments I sigh with frustration at the unfairness of his rigidity in thinking I am making a mistake and causing his sugars to rise (sometimes this is true, sometimes it is not as I and Dad are still in the early phases of learning about carb counting and making the right balance of food choices etc.).  I have actually cursed diabetes out loud and the extra burden it has put on Michael and on Dad and I as parents. Don’t get me wrong.  I do not want any pity. No Exceptional Parent does. None of us want to know that we are heroes. We are not. We are simply parents doing what parents do, loving and taking care of our child the best we can. Our kids too are doing the best they can. I will take praise for Michael too as do most of my friends for their kids, as our kids do overcome so many challenges navigating a world that is foreign to them. But even our kids are kids at the heart of it all, and just want to belong, have friends, and be the best they can be.

So my point about finding the balance in being a mother and nurse is this; make your peace with where you are with your child in any given moment. If it’s a moment where you are resenting the nurse role, have yourself a good cry, throw some pillows around and ask another adult to step in and take over so you can have a break. If it’s a moment where you are feeling strong, remember to bond with them in the same way you did BEFORE you knew they had a diagnosis of any kind. Remember, first and foremost above everything else, they are your child. They have their own likes and dislikes. They have their own personality. They are their own little person with talents and struggles, just like you. Bring out their best. Show them how much you love them no matter what they do, because as your child, they are loved because of that. Take time to play, talk, and laugh together. As they get older this may get challenging, but carve out time alone together- at meals times, in the car on the way to activities, or just on the fly. You will find the balance in the same way you did when you were taking care of a newborn long ago. You will learn to multitask and prioritize what is important.

Exceptional Parents, how do you balance mother and nurse roles for your Exceptional Child? Do you take time for you and a personal life in there as well? It’s important to not only have some alone time away from parenting when you have a complex care needs child, but you also need to make time for being together with your partner, other family members and friends. When you have time away from your child, you will come back refreshed, come back full circle, and be able to have a clear definition of what being a well-rounded Exceptional Mom is like. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

Anger, Anxiety And Needing Control-How Your Child Will Help You Find Your Balance

I have often found that when I have been most challenged by something Michael has done, it has been because he has triggered some of my past hurts and stresses. This is why it is important for all of us parents to know where our strengths and weaknesses lie and find a way to seek the balance in our lives, where we hone the strengths and work on the weaknesses. Michael and I are more alike in temperament than different. This has been both a blessing and a curse, but I have to say, it has helped me understand Michael’s anxiety more than ever before. I have also learned that in order to support him the best I can, I need to get a hold of my own anger and anxiety. Though I have done great work in this area, I am seeing it is a never ending process of rediscovering yourself, healing old hurts, and letting your child guide you to the next place in your personal development as you guide them.

I am a true believer that exceptional children, all children, raise us as much as we raise them. It is not always easy to accept this in them or ourselves, but necessary in order for us to move forward on our personal journey as exceptional parents and human beings, and help our child do the same. Yes, we are all here for a reason, our kids and us, and it is important to find what that reason is. Everyone has a talent, an energy, something beautiful they bring to the world. As your child’s parent, it is your job to help your child find what their gift is while finding your own if you haven’t found it. This sounds like a tall order. But the thing is, I also believe that our kids are here for a reason for us, as their parents, and for the world .They are here to open people’s eyes to a world where not everyone thinks or acts the same or needs to be the same. They are here to teach tolerance and respect for difference. They are here to usher in new ways of thinking, being and doing. They are here to bring their gift to the world, just as everyone else is.

Our kids, through the therapies and strategies we teach them about self-control, anger, and anxiety, help us realize too what we need to fix in our own lives and in the world. I know many parents who have become stronger, more resilient and more knowledgeable about themselves and the world around them due to helping their child navigate things. This is not about romanticizing our children’s challenges or ours. Sure, there are times we want to take burdens off of them. But, you know what they say. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Your child learning to manage their anger and using their strategies, often helps most of us parents see better ways we can cope with anxiety and anger too.

Exceptional Parents, how well do you balance anxiety, anger and needing control with your child? In the end, all that matters is that you and your child begin to understand how to communicate with one another in a positive way and bring that forward into the world. The rest will fall into place. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

 

How To Empower Your Exceptional Child To Use Their Strategies

The other day after a particularly challenging morning with Michael where we both seemed equally frustrated by one another. I sat back, and before I finished my second cup of coffee, I did what I tell others to do. Close your eyes and breathe. Breathe out all the stress, anger and misunderstandings. Of course, before that I cursed like a sailor after the bus pulled away from the curb and said all the things I did not say in front of Michael. Soon I’ll vent to my cat, but she’s new to the family and I don’t want to scare her off. 🙂 But seriously, what it came down to in the end, was that Michael, though getting better, is still having a hard time finding the right time to use strategies to calm down BEFORE he tells me or Dad how he is feelings. It is on these mornings or evenings when all h@&^ breaks loose and he says things he regrets a nanosecond later. I usually do the same thing, and then regret. Why couldn’t I hold my sh*$ together better? Well, the other day I did, though I was firm with Michael and called him out on not using his strategies. And you know what he said? It broke my heart because it was true;

“Mommy, I know I forgot, but I have been getting better. I did so well the other day and you didn’t tell me you were happy with me. You’re always mad at me!”

He was right. I’ve been a little guilty of the glass half empty lately, though this week I have been trying and succeeding in encouraging and praising more good behavior and reminding Michael gently to use strategies RIGHT AWAY when he gets upset, and not afterwards. I also had a lighting bolt moment (God/Universe inspired), when in half anger/half positivity I wrote out for him on a piece of paper what using his strategies would do for him and our family. In this paper was the reassurances he kept seeking, several times daily, as to what his future held. I stipulated how we all needed to feel safe in our home (no abuse to or from anybody no matter how angry), no physical contact unless permission was given by ALL of us, how we all loved each other and we needed to show it by respect, using ways to calm down before we talked about things that made us angry, and how Michael’s team were part of our family, to support us, make us stronger as individuals and as a family. The last two days Michael has really started internalizing this message. When he has not respected these conditions, I have called him on it. I encouraged him also to remind Dad and I of times when we did not use strategies. If we all remind each other then only good things will come of it, for all of us.

The amazing thing is I have seen Michael’s maturity go up in a dramatic way. As he has seen how we mean business for everyone and how we are also adhering to respecting HIS tween boundaries, he needs to respect ours as his parents and the adults in charge. Today he was getting angry and in my space, when he all of a sudden realized and said, “Sorry Mommy.” He backed away and started breathing to control his temper, and then told me calmly how he was feeling. Another time today he became angry and said some hurtful things. Afterwards, he told me that he needed to remember to have his fidget toys nearby. Squeezing them helped him focus and calm down before acting. Finally, he has become more compassionate. The other day he asked how I was feeling . When I say goodnight sleep well, he’ll wish me a good night too and sleep well. It’s amazing how empowering a child with turning to strategies can help them see anger and stress in a new way.

Exceptional Parents, what strategies do you and your Exceptional Child have for handling anger and frustration? As long as there are boundaries, self-respect, as well as mutual respect towards all family members even when angry, you are on the right track to showing your Exceptional Child a positive way to let their strategies help them manage anger and anxiety better. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive!