Category: accepting help

When Your Exceptional Tween Reaches Out-How To Meet Them Halfway

Puberty has been challenging for Michael. I have said this before. He is dealing with a lot of different emotions and feelings and having to learn to self-regulate and practice impulse control. Thankfully aggressive behavior overall is going down, and even anxiety. He is recognizing his strengths and giving himself credit. Dad and I are working on reminding him of that. He is also recognizing his limitations and asking for help. What I am impressed about and very proud of him for, however, is that he is willing to meet us halfway now. Yes, we are compromising as parents and child. This is mandatory when your child has ADHD or a different kind of brain  with lots of other challenges, as from the beginning, they see obstacles and the world in general in another way than you do.

Where am I seeing compromise? Michael understands we make the rules for his general well-being, and if he wants to stay up later, do a fun activity longer, he checks with us.  He also will give different ideas concerning controlling anger and if they don’t work, go looking for what else he can try. He is trying to learn how to get out there socially in an appropriate way, AND communicating how he feels about his relationship with us. The other day he got upset when I was heading downstairs to write;

“Mommy, can you stay upstairs until I go to bed and go write downstairs after? Can you stay in the same room with Daddy and I. You can write here or read, right?”
“I can, but you’re listening to music with your headphones anyway.  Does it really matter?”
“Yes. If you stay here with Daddy and I (Dad also had headphones on watching his videos). I know we are a family.”

“We’re a family wherever we sit Michael. We do lots of things as a family.”
“But I miss you.”
My heart swelled with love. He may not want hugs and kisses from me, but he wanted my presence. He wanted the security of us all in the room together even if we were doing different things. My big boy cares and wants to bond with us still. Lately he has also been sharing more confidences with me, and a biggie everyone, he has been confessing things he did wrong, opening up by saying; “I don’t want to lie to you Mommy.” I am so proud of how he is growing up. Dad and I tell him that. Other than his points rewards system for drives, we are also watching his behavior and seeing that he can be left alone for short periods of time now. We are looking into letting him go on bike rides and walks (short) on his own. I think he sees the trust we are putting in him and he is finally seeing he can put that trust back in himself.

So what have I learned from meeting my exceptional tween halfway?

1) Write out a list of expectations (both of you): It’s important that both parent and child know where each stands.

2) Keep the lines of communication open by BEING physically and emotionally available for your child:  Ask about their day, find opportunities to talk and stay nearby. You’ll never know when you’ll be missed otherwise.

3) Compromise on things like bedtime and rewards but makes sure it works both ways: Don’t be such a stickler for the rules. Pick your battles with your child, but remember, have a consequence for either of you if you step out of line, and learn from the rough times as much as from the good ones.

4) Remember your child’s limits: This is hard when they are in heavy negotiations and you think that your child can’t be limited in self-control or learning, but they are. Their very different brain does not work like yours so misunderstandings will occur if things are not clearly outlined.

5)Love your child through it all: This one sounds obvious, but too many times we are frazzled and frustrated and forget that our child is struggling even when they are angry and yelling at us. It’s important after they calm themselves down and you do the same, that you show and tell them you love them always. They need to know they are accepted for who they are.

Exceptional Parents, how have you met your Exceptional Child halfway? What has been the result? I’m sure you both came out winners. It’s important to remember we all have bad days or weeks. We need as parents to teach our children how mistakes, fears and hurts help us learn. And then show them, through our example, how it is done. Until next time.

Helping Your Exceptional Child Take The Next Step Towards Independence- Why Pushing A Little Goes A Long Way

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.

Exceptional Child Without Exceptional Excuses- How To Teach Your Child Not To Use Their Challenges As Excuses

Michael is at the age now where he understands he is neuro diverse and that his brain works differently. Heck, he’s been at that age, for better or worse, for the past three years. I say for better or worse as being the smart kid he is, he has tried to use his different brain as an excuse when he has messed up. I got angry because I have autism and ADHD and it’s harder to control my emotions. My blood sugar was high too. And my medication upsets my stomach and I can’t have my vegetables.

Well, the answer is yes and no. While this is some truth in all of the above, I know that Michael is more than his diagnoses, all of our kids are. The tough thing has been explaining this to him, while also reminding him that he is different and if people don’t know what to make of his stimming or interests, it is up to him to explain himself in a calm and positive way. Different is not inferior or superior. It is just different. Our kids are amazing, but we want them to take responsibility for all their emotions, good and bad.

Too many people have a hard time with kids who don’t fit into the cardboard box so-called norm, but that is fortunately changing as more and more information is becoming available through other neuro diverse individuals about what it is like to live in a neuro typical world and have another outlook on life. Parents can connect with other parents and exchange information and help to get their children to thrive. I think in the end though, the challenge is reminding your child that they are responsible for all their actions, good and bad, and that no matter how hard it is for them to regulate, they need to find their own ways to self-soothe and advocate for change for themselves and all neuro diverse people. Of course, when they are little, we parents and other authority figures must do it. There does need to be some help in place to support kids who have challenges. The only thing is that it is important not to use said challenges as excuses that they can’t control anxiety, anger, fear, learning issues or anything else.

Yes, it will be hard. Yes, there will need to be support and understanding. This is where parents and other adults come in. It is up to us to advocate for exceptional children when they are young. However, as they get older we need to pass the reins of self-advocacy over to them. We need to teach them to advocate for themselves, but in a responsible way where they take control of their challenges and are able to be independent, happy and healthy in the world. This is a step by step process and takes time. The first step, is a no excuses mantra they must be taught. Then, help them find solutions.

Exceptional Parents, do your Exceptional Children make excuses for themselves at home or in school? Do they not believe in themselves? If so, it’s time to break that cycle that is defeatist so that they can learn what is  under their control and what is not. Once they know that, they will be able to achieve the ultimate balance in the world. That is what we all want after all, a healthy and balanced life for our kids. Until next time.

Staying Calm Through Your Exceptional Child’s Storms- How You Can Bring Them Back To Themselves

Tonight was one of those nights I was hoping were behind Michael and I. It was a night where Michael totally lost it, his temper, his sense of control, and his ability to use his strategies to calm down. He had had an aggressive outburst with me after school, and even the way he has been talking this week is fueled with aggression and anxiety. I’m sure the new medication for focus is a major reason, but he has argued with me that it is helping him. I see improvements in other areas, so I have been watching and waiting to see if it is truly working and if he is better off overall being on it. What has NOT been happening though, is Michael using strategies to calm down anger and anxiety when he starts escalating. In the winter time, he was using the Zones of Regulation with strategies to find a balance. In the last two weeks particularly, he has been struggling greatly at regulating himself. Then we introduce a medication with possible side effects of aggression, loss of appetite and insomnia and BINGO he gets the aggression one. It has been hard to handle for all of us.

I was emailing his psychiatrist to express my concerns, when he started mouthing off at me and getting upset. I had just come in from an outing with him so told him to stay with his father while I went downstairs as I needed a break. I needed physical space away to breathe and not let his anxiety and anger take me along with him, and as Dad had not seen him all night, I figured this would be an opportunity for them to talk and Michael to calm down. Instead what happened was that Michael escalated more . Dad was tired as I was the night before and could not help.  I raced up the stairs two at a time and got Michael to his bedroom after he had banged the wall a few times, shouted horrible things and been jumping up and down so hard I thought the floors would break in half. We got to his bedroom and he was still yelling.  I kept repeating, “Michael breathe. Michael breathe.” And I stayed with him. It was scary. In the past though, after we talked about it, Michael would say, “I needed you there at the beginning to remind me what to do. I forget Mommy. I can’t do it alone.”

So I stayed and eventually the screaming and cursing stopped, and I heard two big breaths. Then two more as he held my hands and breathed with me.  I knew he would be ok. Then, when he was able to express remorse for what he had said and done, I told him he was forgiven. I also reminded him though, that he needed to use strategies to calm down as soon as he started feeling himself getting upset and anxious about anything. We talked about what could work, what doesn’t work, and what may work. He came out of his room realizing that depending on what the doctor recommended, he may be on a lower dose or off the current medication for focus and hyperactivity.

I was proud of the fact that even though he was saying and doing some pretty scary things I kept in mind three things- 1) my child was out of control 2) my child did not mean what he was saying and 3) my child needed me to be the calm one through it all, no matter what. I was happy to say I was successful, and he finished his bed routine  promising me he’d find new positive strategies to help with anxiety and anger. You see, I learned that his old ones did not help anymore and he said, “When I let myself get really angry and let it out, I feel better.” I agreed it’s good to let anger out, but not when you become physically or verbally dangerous to people around you. After I explained it that way, Michael understood and said he would do better. I know he will. My heart breaks for him that finding balance is so hard- balance in focus, balance in controlling emotions, balance in life. His brain works differently than mine, and he has so many incredible things to share, but the fact he is always ON definitively takes its toll on him and those around him. I am learning how to respect who Michael is while respecting myself and finding a compromise so both of us can respect each other’s differences and learn from one another.

Exceptional Parents, how have you managed to support your Exceptional Child when they have been in crisis? If you stayed calm, congratulations. The best thing an exceptional child can have is a parent who is a calm, safe haven for them when they are in turmoil. As much as you are unraveling, knowing that you’ve got their back, will often help them find the strength to try again. Also never forget that no matter what your child says or does when angry, it is not who they are. It is their reaction to whatever stressor provoked them. Be patient and loving. Unconditional love, having ways to talk together and strategies to handle stress, will be the ultimate thing that will help you both in the end. Until next time.

 

Making Boundaries And Allowing Room To Fall- Why This Is The Best Way To Raise Exceptional Children

Let my son fail? Let my little boy experience even more challenges than he already does with ASD, ADHD and anxiety, and now, Type 1 Diabetes? No. There was a part of me, the Mama Bear part of me, that said I needed to protect him. I needed to shield him from the world. I needed to give him a break. Then the realistic Mama, the one that knows that the world responds to individuals who take charge of their own destiny, special needs or not, took over. She said. He cannot use his challenges as an excuse not to succeed. So far, Michael has not encountered people who have assumed he would fail, but I know he may. So far, Michael has encountered people who have rooted for him to succeed, people in his family, at his school, in the adapted community and in the the non-adapted community around us. I finally know that in order for Michael to truly succeed I have had to learn to stop making excuses for him. I am now working on telling him that yes, although his different brain means different challenges it does not mean he gets a cop out from life. When I tell him he needs to learn to organize himself better, be on time, be discreet, eat and groom properly, these are all things that are expected of everybody, neuro typical or out of the neuro typical stream. He may roll his eyes, but I keep reiterating it. His teachers too. Family too. Yes, exceptional kids have a harder time, but it does not mean they get a free pass in life. That is insulting to them and to those around them.

Every single person in the world can make a contribution and needs to do something meaningful with their lives within their ability. It is important, I truly believe, for parents to instill this in their children when they are young. Hone their strengths. Encourage them to live up to the highest expectations. Moms and Dads, you know your kids can do it. Yes, they may not fit the so-called “normal” profile. But really, who does? We all have some eccentricity. Some form of learning or challenge that makes us unique and helps us think outside the box.  This is not only good for us, it is healthy for society, for companies, for the world at large. In the end, what matters is focusing on strengths, working on weaknesses, and no matter what kind of brain we have, not making any excuses for ourselves. If your child fails at listening, academics, socializing or all of the above, don’t berate or yell at them. Sit down honesty, and look at what can be done to help them learn from mistakes and strengthen their weaknesses at home, at school and in the community.  And don’t forget to celebrate the successes even if a small way. Tonight, was a tough start at our house, but when Michael became angry and regulated himself and then asked me, “are you proud Mommy?” I said I was. I also praised him after a WHOLE good night of listening and cooperating in his bedtime routine. A little praise goes a long way for all of us, especially for our exceptional kids who struggle with basic things in life.

Exceptional Parents, how often do you allow your child to fail if it means that they will learn and become stronger? It is hard with Exceptional Kids in the beginning, as they fail in society’s eyes in so many ways lagging behind in milestones other parents take for granted with neuro typical kids. Still, all is not lost. When our kids struggle, this is when we can show them the way to build resilience. We can show them that they have it in them to learn, fight, grow and triumph like any kid does. Boundaries for their safety must always be there, but allowing them to grow from struggling and loving them along the way, is the best way to help them succeed 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! 

Staying Calm and In Control When Rebounding From Parenting Errors-Using Yourself As An Example

So tonight when I said something that made Michael upset and provoked an anxiety attack, I realized too little, too late that I needed to save having the conversation to a better time. A meltdown ensued, with everything in between. When things finally did calm down, I am proud to say that I used myself as a model for how to calm down when you are upset.  I was just as upset as Michael was about our fight. I was in the process of leaving the house, but due to the fight I knew I would end up being late. So, what did I do first? I showed Michael through example how to calm down so we could talk. He actually ended up calming down faster than me, so I told him I still needed a few minutes. Here are the steps I used which I am trying to replicate each time there is a fight or misunderstanding:

1) My mantra of Stop, Breathe, Act. I stopped my own anger, breathed and then acted on a positive strategy to carry myself forward. In my case, a mantra that tells me I can do this.

2) Used the Zones of Regulation (Green, Blue, Yellow, Red) to see which zone I was in and ask Michael for time till I got into the proper zone for talking for me-green. I had the conversation when in green.  http://www.zonesofregulation.com/index.html.

3) Practiced patience in reassuring Michael about the next steps we would take to fix the problem. In our case, we wrote down the rules on paper, so that everyone was in agreement about how this particular situation would unfold this time.

4) Got the whole family together to have a family meeting and agree to said conditions: It is important that everyone learns from anger outbursts and moves forward. No blame, just taking responsibility for their own actions.

Exceptional Parents, how have you handled your children’s outbursts and your own reactions when they haven’t been so positive? Like with anything in life, you need to remind yourself that mistakes happen,  you learn from them, and move forward. Acting calm and matter of fact like this even after a fight, will show your child that you too make mistakes and can learn from them personally and as a family. Remind them that they can always move forward,  formulate an emotional regulation plan that works for them, and then put it into practice like you do for yourself. When they see you modeling your own emotional regulation plan, they will be more likely to eventually start doing it themselves. 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! 

 

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! 

 

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! 

 

Beautiful Moments of Purity in Exceptional Parenting And How To Savor Them

When they say you blink and your child is no longer the little boy or girl that they once were, they are not kidding. I used to think that this would not apply to Michael as he was different from the beginning with his challenges, but this could not be further from the truth. Michael, the little boy, began to disappear two years ago, right around the time that puberty started to kick in. Type 1 Diabetes followed in its wake, and the little boy he was had to grow up real fast. He did, and so did his Mama. I had to be strong for him, as I knew he would have his moments when he would be scared, as is normal for any kid going through big changes.

Now, in the wake of the cute little boy who used to think his Mom and Dad could do no wrong was this surly little teenager who, yes, was rebelling. I was both relieved and worried. How did I parent this new creature? As I said in a previous post, I thought I had until thirteen or fourteen to worry about puberty and rebellion. Still, I adjusted to the “new Michael.” He’s actually pretty cool. I dig his music, a lot of the pop rock, rap and hip hop that I like. We have had interesting conversations about religion, life and other subjects under the sun. But the other afternoon something else extraordinary happened. I had a glimpse in the the “old Michael” and a flashback to a time of innocence when he was small.

It happened when he came to spontaneously give me a hug and smelled my neck. My throat constricted for a second. I thought I was going to cry. You see, Michael used to do this when he was a baby and I was cuddling him in my arms or when I was comforting him if he was scared. It took me back  to all those years when he was little and I was his world. In that moment, I missed the little man that was my Michael, but was reminded that deep down inside that little boy was still there, and would always be there needing my support, love and strength to continue to help him grow into the incredible little man he is becoming.

I have never been one to mourn time passing with Michael. I used to be shocked when other Moms around me would say things like, “I’m so sad, my baby is growing up. He’ll be a teenager soon.” etc.  I was so happy that Michael was progressing, pushing away from me towards independence. With each day, I become less worried about him coping in the world due to this, though he needs to be able to regulate anxiety and anger. But this small gesture, him smelling my neck, led me to feel as well that I missed my little boy, the one who hugged me deeply, sat on my lap and loved to have me read stories to him or read to me, the one who sought my opinion over his friends’ all the time. I know it is normal that he is pushing away on these fronts, but until this moment occurred I had thought I had lost my little boy forever. Worse, I did not even know I was missing him. Then, I realized that I was missing that little guy and it was normal to be. I also realized that the little boy would always be in there. I also realized I needed to enjoy those moments as I do his moments of independence. My little and big boy both need me and that is fine.

Exceptional Parents, have you ever caught glimpses of your Exceptional Child’s past innocence and realized how much you missed it even as they have progressed? It is a mix of emotions that then occur, and both are correct to feel. The important thing is to enjoy every time and age with your Exceptional Child, and know that no matter what, they will always remember the precious moments they share with you and what those moments mean. Until next time .

Feeling overwhelmed as an Exceptional Parent? Don’t know where to turn for tips, and ways to survive and thrive during the whole journey? You are not alone. I have walked and continue to walk this path myself. As a writer, speaker, parent coach and Mom to a son with Autism, ADHD, and Type 1 Diabetes,  I can help you through all the twists and turns that parenting an exceptional child require, while keeping your sense of humor intact, your sense of self and relationships intact, and helping you see that not only are you raising your exceptional child, but they are raising you to be the best human being you can be. You are each other’s advocates for a better world. For more information on my coaching packages, contact me at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.