Category: advocating for yourself

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! 

 

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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! 

My Exceptional New Year’s Resolutions And The Challenges in Keeping Them

Stay calm and be the example. Pick your battles when he pushes your buttons. Be forgiving and understand why things are hard.

These are some of the things I have been struggling with since making some informal New Year’s resolutions. No, I don’t believe in making any really specific ones anymore, whether as a parent or individual, but this year I really wanted to move forward in my personal growth while helping Michael move forward in his. I am truly seeing each day, for better or worse, how Michael is raising me to be an Exceptional Parent. Things have been getting better, a lot better at home between Michael, Dad and I. Still, raging teenage hormones, frustration over a disease that he did not ask for (diabetes) and managing his ADHD and autism, makes it challenging for Michael to self-regulate around us, and for us to self-regulate around him. I was doing well the first few days into January, and most of the time now, still consider I am moving forward in a positive direction. For instance, when Michael deliberately tries to trigger me, most of the time I stay calm, breathe and answer him directly and simply that his behavior is unacceptable. Then there are the other times when I stand outside myself, a spiritual entity, watching me unravel a little as Michael is rude, hyper or aggressive. The difference now though, is that I see the crazy woman losing it and immediately show her compassion a few seconds later. I used to berate her and put her down before. I also own it to Michael reminding him how although he was out of line, I made a mistake yelling back or losing my cool by raising my voice, or storming out of the room. I no longer feel guilty. I see I am human and learning. And I am beginning to see that our mistakes really make us stronger and wiser.

In the last three days particularly, I have grown more confident just before I am about to lose it and have, surprise, NOT lost it. Yes! I know I am not out of the woods, but the thing is Michael and I are a lot more alike in temperament than I’d like to admit. No, I am not aggressive to people or trigger them deliberately. Then again, I don’t have Michael’s challenges, just anxiety and old self-esteem baggage I am still working my way through. Getting better all the time. Hey, I fight for the underdog. I see them as the top dogs who don’t see their potential. That is why I  finally see who I am and what I must do to answer my personal calling and help other kids and parents answer theirs. But back to the similar character thing. I also like things predictable as Michael does. I like being in control, way too much. And it’s only as I began to let go of trying to control people and situations that my life, and the lives of those around me, have gotten better and more peaceful. When I find myself going back to my old ways- getting stressed about change, worrying about what others think, questioning myself, I silently remind myself what Michael has taught me even as he struggles with it-be yourself, own it, live your dreams, dare to be original and to heck with what others say, as Dr. Seuss himself said, “Those who care don’t matter, and those who matter don’t care.” Wise words by a wise writer. 🙂

So I am learning so far in 2019. that change is scarier and more exciting than ever for me. I am learning that YES I am truly changing for the better, but there are days when I want to hide and get angry that I fail little self-control tests and lose it as a Mom. Then I say, life is a journey lived with each breath. Each day I take new steps towards the parent I am still becoming as Michael takes towards the adolescent he is becoming. I have more compassion for parents than ever before, and remember no judging others. It’s that whole he is without sin thing. We’re all in this Exceptional Parenting thing together, and need to build bridges, not walls with each other.

Exceptional Parents, what are some of your New Year’s resolutions a week in? Are you having trouble living up to them? Remember, you and your child like every human being, are works in progress. Celebrate the little victories and don’t despair the failures. They will help you become stronger and move towards the parent and person you want to become. 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! 

 

 

5 Ways To Handle Oppositional Behavior and Keep Your Sense of Humour

So it’s no secret that Michael is oppositional. So are a lot of kids with ADHD and ASD. What is surprising is how much it can not only wear a parent down, but also test your love for your child. It’s hard not to take them personally when they are being rude and testing limits. Still, one of the most important tools I’ve learned in navigating Michael’s negative comebacks, has been using humor as an antidote. Laughing at the little things on the outside. The bigger things are not laughable of course, but learning how to take 5 and realize your child’s struggle is with themselves and not you, will help make it easier to handle the tough times. Michael’s opposition has also taught me a lot about my own anger and,, when I am feeling stressed. What good techniques do I have to calm down? What negative techniques am I trying to change? On that note, here are 5 Ways to Handle Oppositional Behavior That I’ve Learned While Keeping Your Sense of Humour:

  1. Take a step back and breathe: Yes, this is the first thing to go when your child triggers you, but it is so important to take that five second pause and really see what your child is trying to communicate. Chances are however you will handle it, will be better once you have taken a little break to think things through.
  2.  Remember, it’s a stage: Yes, this is hard too, but often oppositional behavior is part of your child’s chronological development-during the terrible twos or threes (or later if they are developmentally delayed), then at puberty. They are discovering who they are and testing you at the same time. Have patience as they figure it out, and stay strong so you can guide them down the right path.
  3. They are funny when they get mad (sometimes): Ok, I’m not advocating laughing at your child when they are aggressive or acting dangerously. This is a serious act and needs to be handled calmly while proper ways to handle anger are taught. But for smaller matters of rebellion, keep a straight face, but on the inside remember that you too most likely went through your days of rebellion with your parents to assert yourself. As long as you learned how to calm down (and teach your child to do the same), good things will continue to happen.
  4. Talk to your Mom friends and share: This does not mean invading your child’s privacy and sharing all of what they do, but commiserating over some of the challenges you are presented with and exchanging resources (and maybe a laugh or two to get you both through), can work wonders at helping you feel better and eventually your child too as they learn what they need to do.
  5. You will survive this and grow stronger (and so will they): This has been the hardest lesson for me through all of Michael’s opposition. Yes, I love him, but it is sure easier to love him when he is cuddly and sweet and appreciative of me, and not this defiant tween with an attitude. He can be downright unpleasant and annoying when he is acting up, like all oppositional kids are. What I keep reminding myself, is that yes this too shall pass for him and me. We will both get through puberty and survive. In the case of parents going through the terrible twos etc. you will get through that phase too.

Exceptional Parents, how often do you find yourself laughing on the inside when your oppositional child is just plain out challenging you out of your mind? I know. It is easier said than done. Still, if you can see the humor in their antics knowing that deep down inside they are struggling and need to pass through this stage of development to get to the next one, things will go a lot more smoothly. Now, if oppositional behavior turns into aggression and is dangerous, this is no laughing matter. Then it is time to stay calm and seek outside help and support for yourself and your child. You and your Exceptional Child will only grow from every experience and people you meet along the way. 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 an Exceptional Son with Autism, ADHD, OCD, 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.  

How Healing Your Own Anger Can Help You Parent Better

I had so much anger buried underneath the surface of my polite facade for years. It came out in passive aggressive ways, through tears, lots of tears, and through martyr type things like self-denial. All of this spelled disaster to me before kids, and then after Michael came along, I pushed all of this down so far so I would’t have to think about myself. After all, it I put the baby then child first, this meant I was a great Mom and a worthwhile human being. My needs did not matter as much as my child’s. Wrong answer as any healthy Mom will tell you. If the Mom or Dad is not feeling good, neither will the child be feeling good. It’s the whole oxygen mask on Mom so that things can be taken care of in a healthy way, scenario.

So basically once I saw that this had been what I was doing for pretty much most of my early adult life, I realized that I had a lot of work ahead of me. This work involved getting my own personal anger and stress under control so that I could be my strongest and healthiest self, and be the best parent I can be. It’s a humbling thing, getting your anger under control. It means acknowledging what you are angry about, who are you angry at, and why are you angry? It’s not as easy as it sounds. There are usually emotional layers underneath all of the anger that need to be acknowledged and unearthed before you can get better and tackle your issues. This take time and patience. You will have relapses, both alone and in front of your child. At least I did. That was the most embarrassing for me. However, the good thing is that it helped me see I am human and not superwoman. It helped me show this to Michael, as well as show him that it is ok to fall down. You just get back up again and try.

Of course when we have that attitude, we usually succeed. It’s important for our exceptional kids to see that failing is ok as long as we learn from it. We learn that we can become stronger by bouncing back and our kids see that too. Many of our exceptional kids have anger issues, anxiety issues and bury their feelings as they don’t know how to deal with them.  When we show them that we are tackling our personal demons, they can develop courage to tackle theirs and see that their is no shame in doing that.

Exceptional Parents, how is your anger? Are you in control of it or is it in control of you? If you are struggling with your anger there is no shame. We’ve all been there. Don’t give up. You may fall down occasionally, but remember you will learn from each fall and become stronger. Your child will also see that they can overcome their own weaknesses over time with hard work and patience. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD  and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

Staying In Your Groove As An Exceptional Parent-What Makes You Tick?

What has Michael taught me over the years? Are you sitting down? This could take awhile. 🙂  For starters, he has showed me how to truly be more at ease with myself after MANY years of denying who I was. He broke me down first, as all children do, exceptional and otherwise.This breaking down was necessary for me to build my true spirit, fight for what I want, and see the things I needed to work on in order to achieve my dreams-having more patience, having more confidence, developing boundaries for myself and around others, and just plain learning how to stay in my daily groove in order to do the work I was supposed to do. This is a give and take process. Some days I am in that groove very easily. Other days I am triggered as a Mom. I now remind myself that it is ok. I am human and learning. The thing is your child will figure out what triggers you quickly and use that when they are frustrated. This is where it is important to remain calm, collected and neutral. By doing this , you will teach your child that you are the calm in the storm and that you can teach them to be that calm as well.

The thing is that it is essential for an Exceptional Parent to know what sets them off for the worse. Any kind of trigger your child or someone else provokes that upsets you will get in the way of helping yourself and your child handle their stress and anxiety level. It will also cause you to undermine yourself and question your own coping mechanisms. Stress is a part of life, personal and professional. It’s how we handle the stress and the tools we use to help ourselves grow, that will make all the difference for us and our children. When we stay in the groove, we apply tools that have worked for us in the past to calm our minds and bodies. Things like yoga, meditation, exercise, getting enough rest and having alone time, are all good tools to help us build our parenting resilience to life, and showing our child to do the same thing. Also, never stop learning and asking what you could do better as a parent and human being. That will guide you in the right direction.

Exceptional Parents, how do you stay in your groove and set the example for your Exceptional Child? It’s ok if sometimes your child is more in their groove than you are in yours. It means the lessons you taught them are working! It also means you need to give yourself some down time to come up for air, chill out, and begin again with breathing, focusing on the present moment, and staying positive that you will find a solution to help yourself and your child through the stressful moments. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD  and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

 

Letting Go Of Pride, Asking And Accepting Help For Yourself And Your Exceptional Family

I have a hard time asking for help. There, I’ve said it. Maybe there is a support group for this out there. If not, I’ve often thought how I should start one. Many women, especially exceptional Moms, have a hard time admitting the world is closing in on them. But this is normal. We all experience times when we need to reach out and ask for help or accept help in order to move forward in a healthy manner. This month I experienced this firsthand.  I developed a case of severe tendonitis. I am still healing from it, and  I am now seeing what the Universe and God have been trying to tell me since the fall. Slow down Joanne. I also had two bad muscle pulls in my legs. They didn’t slow me down as much as the tendonitis, but I was not able to do my yoga or exercise and even meditate comfortably. What did I say to myself? As soon as I heal, I will go back to exercising 3 times a week, and yoga along with my daily meditation. I need to do this to feel whole, in balance and to be my best self. What I did I do instead? Make excuses to not exercise.

Yes, I was stressed with all the issues we have been dealing with concerning Michael, even though things have been getting better. Yes, I was tired. Yes, I needed to write and was glad that I did and am glad I am still doing that. But I broke a sacred promise to myself about self-care and it showed in my patience and energy level at home. Before long, I felt overwhelmed as I could not bring myself to ask for help from family and friends.. There it is. Asking for help, and eek, accepting it. Hard concepts for me and for most women. We are so used to keeping to ourselves, fighting our kids’ battles, and fighting our own. We don’t want to appear weak. Weak doesn’t get services and help for our kids. Weak makes our child feel frightened and our family fall apart, or so we tell ourselves.  Weak means we can’t cope and we will drown. This is a fallacy.

We want to carry our family, and we often do, but at the cost of our own mental and physical well-being most of the time. So what can we do if we feel we are burning the candle at both ends? It’s one of the easiest and hardest things in the world-ask for help from those around you. Ask family and friends for physical and emotional help. Ask the Universe and God to lead you to people who can open up doors for you and your child, but most important of all, let go of the fact that you are weak if you need to ask or accept help of any kind. The strong parent does this, for themselves and their child. Don’t wait for a stressful life event to remind you of your mortality. I knew better, but still it took me getting a physical injury to be reminded of the support from family and friends that I have. Everyone has rallied around to help me and my family move forward and we are all doing fine, including me. It’s time I remember the lesson fate has been trying to teach me from the beginning-ask for help for you an your family IMMEDIATELY when you need it. Don’t wait for a stressful life events strike.

Exceptional Parents, how good are you at asking for and accepting help? Both are important in order to be reminded that you are not alone, that you are strong enough to show your child that you can support them in every way possible as you accept support when you need it, and that you will grow from the help and love around you too. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD  and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com