Category: anger triggers

Conversation, Maturity and Trust-How To Build A Bond With Your Exceptional Child

I am amazed at how fast Michael is growing up, yet also worried about the areas where he lags behind, particularly the areas of impulse control. I have have had many therapists tell me, he is so cognitively aware, so smart, but the impulse control issues you describe are hard to treat with medication and even therapy. They take time. I know. Boy do I know. I see my little man, now quickly growing into a young  man, demonstrate this firsthand every day. I need you, no I don’t. Comfort me, get away from me. I want space, please protect me. To a certain extent, every parent goes through this at every age with their exceptional child. I can tell you though, that as the child gets closer to the teen years and develops awareness of sexuality, gender and all those adult feelings, it gets WAY more complex.

I am so proud of how much progress Michael has made in communicating, self-regulating, and understanding himself. I am proud of Dad and I and our progress in understanding him, and when in doubt, our ability to reach out to to other sources, especially other exceptional people, but even therapists who are more aware and respectful of different brains and ways of viewing the world. But it is not easy for him or us. We all struggle to understand one another, use strategies (yes, even neuro typical parents have to use them), to control anger, fear and stress, and then move forward with compassion and love for one another, particularly if it is hard to understand where the other person is coming from.

Our exceptional kids are amazing. They just have such a different way from seeing so much of the world and when we don’t see eye to eye,  it can be so frustrating for them and us. This is when we need to remember to just be there for them- support them while they cry, scream, explode, or do whatever it is they need to do to clear the air. We need to make sure to direct them to a private safe place to do this and make sure they are not hurting themselves, others or property while de-escalating. With time, positive strategies and confidence, hopefully they will be able to learn to self-regulate in a healthy, controlled way.

Exceptional Parents, how do you help your Exceptional Children open up to you about their fears and challenges? As long as you show them you love them, are there to listen to them no matter what, and stay calm, they will continue to trust you and be able to come to you with their challenges and look to you to teach you to find the strategies they need to learn to handle their emotions. Until next time.

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Tools To Get On The Same Emotional Page As Your Exceptional Child

So Michael has been having some social fears this summer. He will go to crowded places for brief periods of time, had no trouble at summer camp where he knows people, but is feeling a little overwhelmed going places with me and Dad. I agree with our Educator that I think he is just so much more aware of everyone and everything around him, and due to difficulty with understanding some social cues, I think he would rather stay away from people than make a mistake socializing. I wish I could say that I have been more understanding with this. It’s not that I have not been understanding, but lately his tween anger, rude comments and  adolescent posturing combined with the anxiety, has made me feel a little overwhelmed. Some days are easier than others, and I always try and see the gifts Michael has, but I don’t always shine anymore than Michael does. We do our best to regroup and start again.

Don’t get me wrong. We still have good moments. He has come so far in independence with organizing himself, managing his diabetes and of course, his amazing ability to navigate any street or area in our city. The most fun is having him direct me around town as I have zero sense of direction.  He is starting to try and learn other cities now! Still, it occurred to me today when Michael expressed frustration that I don’t listen to him and that is why he gets mad and I echoed the same sentiments, that we needed to sit down and look at new tools to work collaboratively as a family. Here are the ones I am putting in place:

1) Make lists of things you want to fix together The trick to making these lists is that both you AND your child sit down together and write what improvements each of you could make so that communication gets easier.

2) Praise the good efforts they are making even if there are still mistakes: Michael had been feeling that even when he messes up the times he doesn’t do not get praised. I was actually feeling underappreciated myself in this area as well. After having a few fights this week, we each took time apart and then made a deal to look for the good in each other. We also both told the other one we like spending time together, just need to improve how we communicate.

3) Remember your child is having a harder time than you: Sigh. This has been tough for me. Most summers it is as I have Michael 24/7 a lot more than during the school year and he is not in routine the same way as in school. Still, even during a rough patch earlier today, I reminded myself that as overwhelmed as I am with Michael in puberty, with his unique brain and diabetes, for him this is all way more stressful to handle. Compassion for your child needs to come first. Then for yourself.

4) Tell them you love them even if they don’t say it back: Yep. Mine is too cool to say I love you and does not want hugs. I get “I like you” and high fives, tens or twenties. It’s ok and I know normal for a lot of kids in puberty to do this. The fact that he says he wants to spend time with me, is discouraged when I am upset, and does silly inappropriate things to get my attention, show me I matter to him. I am starting to say I love you more often and not go to bed mad. I also remind him I am always there to talk about things whenever he needs me.

5) Take care of yourself and tell them why you are doing it: Make sure your child sees you doing things that make you happy. When Michael asks me “why are you going outside again?” He is upset that I am not in the same room as him, but I explain that being in the yard is my time to recharge, unwind, be creative and occasionally let out big emotions. When I come back in, I am calmer and able to handle things better with him. Then we have time together.

Exceptional Parents, what tools do you use to handle the ups and downs of life with your Exceptional Child? As long as what you use works for the two of you, the formula is correct. Remember, they need to feel as listened to as you do. They need to know you respect them, love them no matter what unconditionally,  and that you will never give up on them.  Until next time.

 

 

Summer Camp, Independence and How My Exceptional Son Is Coming Into His Own

This has truly been a summer of growth for Michael, both in terms of his physical growth, puberty and his emotional maturity with the outside world, and even with us.  Michael is not only managing his diabetes, he is doing his own injections and getting it done properly for the most part. Michael is not only responsible to be left alone at home for longer periods of time, but he enjoys that we trust him and behaves in a calm way. And finally, Michael is attending summer camp this year without a shadow and doing extremely well. It’s been amazing to witness his growth in these areas, and though he is struggling emotionally in others, I keep reminding myself of his potential and showing him what he is capable of when he believes in himself and in his abilities.

All our kids have their strengths. As parents, it’s important, including when they are struggling in some areas of their life, to look for the areas they are excelling in. It is also important we remind them of their successes in said areas and how proud we are of them. A lot of exceptional kids with anxiety don’t have a lot of confidence in themselves. The lack of confidence does not only come out in crying, panic attacks, but sometimes as rudeness or anger. They feel they have to control everything, and if one thing goes out of whack, their world goes out of whack for a time being. If we as parents show them their strengths and praise them for it acknowledging how far they’ve come, this will help them go a long way towards learning to love themselves.

Michael, being a Jekyl and Hide Kid, is one way at home and one way in society. He does very well in society, managing his emotions well, but at home will unleash in anger and frustration or anxiety. My heart breaks for him, as I know he is still developing the tools to cope with his emotions while handling puberty in a brain that is not mainstream and with Type 1 Diabetes. He does a great job most of the time, and when he messes up, it’s getting him to learn from the experience and move forward. What has impressed me, is that even when he loses himself in anger or frustration momentarily, he is able to circle back and see where he went wrong. He is learning his triggers, both what over excites and over frustrates him, and he is learning how his health affects his overall attitude at home and in society.

I for one am just trying to give him as much control as possible in decision making, and be there if he needs me to steer him in a better direction. But when I see him out in the world, I see a calm, steady young man who is learning who he is and what he wants. This gives me great hope that he will master this quality at home, and see that he can handle the emotional ups and downs of life without pushing things down. Of course, there are still boundaries. That is important for all children in order to grow in a healthy manner.

Exceptional Parents, what moments of pride do you have when you look at your Exceptional Children? Just remember, remind them of their successes. Put it on a sheet of paper if necessary. When it is writing, as they say it is a permanent reminder of where they are and where they are going. Until next time.

Communicating Feelings Properly With Your Exceptional Child

It is not easy being an exceptional parent or an exceptional child. Michael and I both have our challenges with figuring out how to express ourselves honestly, asking the other family member for space, and with believing in each other from time to time. Yep, that last one is a tough cookie. You see, Michael is in the middle of major teen rebellion, angst and general confusion.  There could be other things going on too which we are not ruling out, but the thing is, he is super hard to talk to him these days without one or both of us getting frustrated. I feel like he jumps at everything I say, and he feels the same apparently. Just before dinner, I’d finally had enough with the way he answered me and told him this was exhausting for me, to which he answered;

“Mommy, I can’t be like you were when you were young. I’m doing my best. I have a hard time controlling what I say sometimes. I’m sorry.”

My heart hurt and I felt so bad. Yes, he is not neuro typical so of course is more touchy, anxious and angers more easily. I know this and try to understand, but I have my limits some days, and I see that he is also not trying to use new strategies to handle old problems. When I have told him this, he will agree, but say he does not know where to start.

“Then we can brainstorm together. I’ll show you what information we have from your team and we’ll go from there. Daddy and I believe in you, everyone believes in you, but you need to believe in yourself to succeed.”
“You do believe in me? Ok Mommy, I will take time before bed to look at the notes and strategies and try to make those changes. It will take me time though. It’s hard.”
“I know Michael, but each day it will get easier. And I am always here to help.”
“Then how come when I talk to you you are always busy?”
“If you start talking to me when I am cooking, driving or doing another errand, it needs to be something quick as my concentration is on that first task. If it is something important though, tell me. I will put aside what I am doing then if I can, or set a time aside to listen to you very soon.”
“Oh ok. I will.”
Communication is key with exceptional kids. There are many like Michael who can talk about a storm, but misunderstandings ensue because of how they hear what you are saying, if they are anxious, tired, frustrated. As parents, we too sometimes feel exhausted and frustrated as I did today, and don’t hear them out as well as we’d like to. When there are challenging behaviors to boot, it makes it all very complicated. Still, when Michael expressed how he does not feel heard by me, I felt bad as there were times I could have been more clear to him about what was a good or bad time to talk. I also somehow gave him the impression that I don’t want to listen to him or am deliberately misunderstanding him. I quickly corrected that and made a point the rest of the evening to tell him about the good things he did, and how I enjoyed things like our mother/son bike ride early this morning and our mother/son walk up at the park in the evening and a drive we took together mid day. He is so smart and has so much to offer, but when communication lines get crossed it is challenging.

Exceptional Parents, how do you make sure you are communicating effectively with your Exceptional Child? Remember, really listen to them when you can directly, and if it is not a good time to talk, tell them and set aside a time. They will sometimes misunderstand our tiredness for lack of interest or frustration, when really it is bad timing. This is the neuro diverse brain, nothing else. Don’t be afraid to tell your child when they have overstepped your boundaries, but be gentle and direct. Make sure to spend quality positive time with your child doing a favorite activity that leaves good memories, and don’t be afraid to be specific about what you expect in return. Until next time.

When You’ve Had Enough-How To Deal With Your Frustrations Before They Escalate With Your Exceptional Child

What parent hasn’t had that moment, that moment when your own frustration, stress and exhaustion causes you to lash out at your Exceptional Child’s latest meltdown? Well, I had one of those moments this afternoon. I usually make a point to check in with myself and see if I am feeling calm and in control of what I am feeling BEFORE Michael comes in through the door. This afternoon however, I skipped this step due to it being one of those days where my coming home was about two minutes before he walked through the door. It had been a busy day at work, my seasonal allergies were flaring up even with meds as they have been for the past three days, and well, as he lost his cool escalating over a fear of being in trouble with his Educator over some challenging behaviors last week that I had shared with her, and unfortunately so did I. I tried to redirect him to his room to calm down, only I forgot to redirect myself until it was too late. Then I stormed out of the room angry and frustrated and he stormed out right after me. Sigh. I failed him and myself, I thought.

When it all calmed down and I had gone outside on my patio to regroup, which for me was having a cry, then doing some meditative breathing followed by a glass of wine, I realized that I had needed to do the regrouping for me right away on the patio or in some other quiet contemplative place.  I needed to be honest with myself and see that I was in no shape to help Michael through a crisis until I was calm and he had calmed down too. Neither of us were hearing the other one, and both of us were escalating the other one, meaning each of us was driving the other’s frustration.

This brings me to talking about the importance of parents handling their own frustration, exhaustion and stress, before attempting to help their child with theirs. And yes, this is easier said than done. That is why taking stock of how we are feeling on the inside is so important. Had I done that today, I would have seen that I was not yet equipped to talk to Michael about his stress, and though he would probably have gotten upset that I was not ready to talk at that moment, had I taken even five or ten minutes only, that could have been the difference to the afternoon ending on a better note. Good things to do to check in? Take a few deep breaths. See if you are experiencing any tightness or pain inside your body. See if there are any resentments or anger from the day you are holding on to. Most importantly though, be gentle with yourself. If you are kind to yourself, it will be easier to be kinder and more compassionate to your child as you are coming from a more loving place inside.

Exceptional Parents, have your frustrations ever caused a major escalation in your child’s behavior? You are not alone. You are human and you are entitled to your feelings of anger, stress and fear too. Just remember that unless you get those feelings under control, it will be hard to help your child through their fears.  Don’t be afraid to admit when you’ve reached your limit. Take time to regroup, and you’ll come back to parenting with a fresh perspective. Until next time.

How To Communicate In A Way To Foster Calmness and Control To Your Exceptional Child

“Mommy, don’t yell. I get more nervous when you raise your voice. When kids at school lose it, the Behavior Techs don’t yell.”

This was what Michael said to me this evening after a misunderstanding with Dad had his anger escalating and I had to half pull/half talk him into another room to calm down. He was no where near receptive to showing me his signal that his anger and anxiety were escalating and I knew what would have happened if he’d stayed in the room with Dad. It had happened with me in the past too, and if he was not redirected somewhere to calm down, he would get aggressive and either hit something, hit someone or throw something. After wards, like five minutes later, he would show remorse, and I or Dad would berate ourselves for not zoning in quicker when he had started escalating to help him de-escalate somewhere and possibly salvage a meltdown. Tonight, it was success on that front.

“Yes, Michael your school Behavior Techs are calm. They have the support of other adults and it is easier when you have support. I was alone as you were mad at Daddy and the same has happened when you were mad at me and Daddy had to take over to help you. Daddy and I are learning to use our strategies too, but sometimes we forget and yell. Thanks for the reminder.”

It was an eye opening experience for me. We talked for a little more, and I reminded him about using his signal to tell us that he needed to go and chill out RIGHT AWAY. He had said he was too angry to go and thanked me for helping him. I reminded him that he was right, and that the next time, he needed to go as soon as he felt his anger building. Michael nodded and agreed. He then went for his shower and completed his bedtime routine with no more issues. He apologized to Dad too.

Each time we have a positive or negative experience as a family I remind myself that it is all about learning how to keep doing what works and refrain from doing what does not. I also have learned, especially as Michael gets older and hormones make more unpredictable mood swings, how important it is for Dad and I to be the calm and control examples, including when we are seeing red on the inside. The same tips apply to us. Be aware of our anger. Be aware of our anxiety. Be aware of our escalating emotions. AND put the strategies that work for us in place so that we can show an example to Michael of what being gentle and forgiving of ourselves and others is like. We are getting there as a family. We have come a long way.

There is such insight in how Michael talks to us now. Even when anxious or angry, he is realizing how he alone can control his thoughts, impulses, emotions for better or worse. He relishes the moments he gets it right, and we are making sure to heap praise on him when he does, as well as show him we trust him to do other things only big boys do. (more on that tomorrow).  When he gets it wrong, he also admits, expresses regret, but adds,
“I am getting better. This is not as hard as I thought. I can do this.” Dad and I agree, and remind him of his potential.

Exceptional Parents, how often have you remained calm and in control when having a disagreement with your child? Have you had moments you wish you could take back? We all have at one time or another so don’t feel bad if you are in that category. The thing to remember is to learn from the experience, teach your child to learn from their mistakes as well, and no matter what, stay calm, focused, and in the present so the matter could be resolved as easily as possible. Until next time.

The Joy and Pain Of Exceptional Parenting And How To Encourage Your Child To Grow From Their Mistakes

This has been a tough few days for Michael and I. Michael’s anxiety and anger have been touch and go, but I have to say, as hard as it has been watching him suffer to learn self-regulation with all his challenges, the joy of seeing him “get it” when he does, is incredible. He will make me laugh when he sometimes purposely tries to use his autism and adhd as excuses when he is acting inappropriate. I call him on it each time, reminding him that yes his brain works differently and he is neuro diverse, but that is not an excuse to be aggressive or rude. I remind him how many neuro diverse people out there follow the rules of safety and respect, and that he is capable of it too. After all, at school he does wonderfully, at least on the outside.

He has confessed to me on more than one occasion how he pushes his anger down and screams and curses on the inside, but not out loud. I tell him it is ok to be angry, but that anger or anxiety out of control is dangerous for him and others around him. He worries so much when he loses his temper and calls us names, makes aggressive comments or throws things. I have learned to remain calm, redirect him to a calm spot. We have several different signals and words we are experimenting with using. And then when he calms down, he is always remorseful and thanks me for giving him a chance. I tell him to keep believing in himself and try to stop and think before acting. He is worried sometimes he will never get control of his emotions until he is an adult. I remind him that  if he can do it in school, he can do it at home.

Of course at home he is loved unconditionally. Of course at home the same kind of social embarrassment is not present. And of course after bottling up emotions all day, at home it is safe to explode. Explode I allow. It’s the other more dangerous effects of anger that we are working on as a family. I have to say though, that things are improving as far as Michael seeing the consequences of his actions. He seems more anxious and quick to anger these days, but then recovers from it faster. He also has good awareness of what he is doing wrong, and will say he appreciates his father’s and my help to learn from his mistakes. He enjoys the reward system we have set up, and is back to sharing most of his school day with me. He seems more focused on learning and receptive to schedules and routine.

But when he is upset and asking me to help him calm down, it breaks my heart when I have to admit I can’t. For years, I tried. Then I realized that he needed to learn to self-soothe on his own, with his own strategies. I stay nearby, but understand finally that it is NOT my job to fix everything. That is his. It is also his to learn from his mistakes and grow stronger. Tonight, he felt embarrassed by two fights he had with me. He apologized for ruining the night. I quickly told him he did not ruin the night. It was a tough homecoming for sure, but shortly before dinner he turned things around by calming down and then had a great evening with his father and I. I told him a day or night is not a write-off as long as you turn things around and learn from your mistakes. Then, we celebrate the success and move forward. His whole attitude changed after that. I was proud that he could understand and participate in this kind of conversation. My little boy was indeed a big boy and growing up.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle the pain and joy in watching your Exceptional Child grow up? There are moments that are tough to walk away from, but you must. That is how your child will learn. Stay nearby, but let them find their way to soothing, self-regulation. Then, you will be pleasantly surprised when they get it one day and can start to connect the dots of their behavior to their actions. They are truly little heroes, and deserve our continued love and belief in them. Until next time.

How To Spot Your Child’s Meltdown Coming And How To Handle Yourself

The first part of this week was incredibly tough. Michael was being triggered by so many different things and at the most vulnerable time of the day for all of us-early evening. After a particularly tough night when he’d finally calmed down, I told him I was glad he was calm and that we would need to talk tomorrow afternoon about how he could handle future stressors better. He surprised me by not only asking for confirmation that I was not giving up on him changing, but also calmly and in detail explained to me what has been setting him off and why he gets carried away and needs help to redirect. To say I was impressed was an understatement. This is every parent’s dream, to have their child, no matter what their challenges, be able to articulate what their mistake was and what they needed to do to change. I was so proud of him for that and told him so.

This got me thinking about my part in Michael’s meltdowns. No, I am not blaming myself for his difficult in learning how to self-regulate. But, sometimes unintentionally I have been saying or doing things that are misconstrued as critical or negative. To someone who has the ability to regulate, they would merely be annoyed. To someone who is challenged in this area, their frustration would definitively escalate to the point of anger and even intense anger. I am learning that the tone of my voice, the words I choose and the context all can make or break a tense moment. Now, again by no means am I saying that the parent or adult causes the meltdown. But the lack of understanding can cause things to go better or badly very quickly.

What I have learned and am now still tweaking, is how I need to stay calm, collected and almost clinical when Michael starts to unravel in order to do my best to show him how to redirect himself.  This has been working, even on our toughest nights, as Michael is slowly starting to understand how he can control how little or big his anger is.

There are signs parents can spot that a meltdown is coming. There are slight differences, but for most kids it looks like this:

1) Talking or moving faster

2) Irritability that is not fading but increasing with each second

3) Crying or anxiety

4) Standing too close to you

5) Voice or sounds getting louder

What can a parent do when you see one or more of these signs?

1) Prompt them to breathe

2) Ask them what they need, you to be close or move away

3) Redirect them to a safe place (ideally have this place or places in mind before the meltdown)

4) Stay calm yourself by not screaming or reacting

5) Do not talk if meltdown progresses and if you need to one or two words like breathe, calm. Silence is usually preferable.

6) When you can, go somewhere to regroup yourself especially if you are angry or need to cry

Exceptional Parents, what do you do when your child has a meltdown and what have you done that has helped de-escalate the tantrum? If you’re not sure where to turn, there are great resources and articles out there. But really, the best predictor of how a meltdown will go is if you and your child have good self-regulating strategies, learn how to stay calm in a crisis, and if possible, are able to redirect thoughts away from negative or stressful events and towards positive ones. Take care of yourself so that you can be at your best, and then you’ll be your child’s ideal guide to learn about self-regulation. Until next time.

Navigating Puberty With My Exceptional Son- 5 Ways I Am Surviving

Well, as each day goes by I see how Michael is truly moving into little man, category. Sometimes it is cute little man, sometimes angry little man. Yep, he is progressing so far into puberty that I wonder what thirteen and up will look like. Oh boy. Time for the wine. All jokes aside, it is refreshing to see him wanting more independence and not being shy to ask for it, there are also the times he is socially inappropriate, sometimes in a funny, sometimes in an annoying way, and then I too wonder too, should I give him more independence or keep him a little reigned in?

Sometimes the answer is easy. When he is angry and testing, of course more parenting guidelines are needed. But what about the times he is calm, in control and asking for more responsibility?
“Mommy, when are you going to start leaving me home alone for more than an hour?”
We talked about this as I tried over Spring Break for a half hour and he did well. We have talked about this in the same vein as we have talked about showing him how to do his insulin injections. Dad and I need to see that he is able to manage his anger, anxiety, and self-regulate without our interventions. We also need to see him being responsible with taking care of his things. As is typical of teens (and particularly ADHD kids), Michael misplaces a lot of things, forgets where he puts stuff, and has a hard time organizing. I know some of it is part of how his brain works, and some is partly our fault as parents who organized things for him when he was younger so he could be on time for school, activities and other functions. It was easier on everyone, but now we need to start doing the hard work. Now, I am starting to realize how important it is to slowly make him responsible as a “big kid” for himself. This means showing him what is involved in making his own lunch, double checking his school bag at night, making sure his clothes are put away in his drawers. He has helped with all of these things in the past, but I must admit, after puberty and then diabetes hit, I took shortcuts. I still do. I realize now that we have to start making changes and showing Michael that they are in his best interests. Once summer hits, I plan to start working more seriously on these things. Now with the end of the school year looming, there is the usual Spring Fever, plus we are trying out a new med. Enough said.

But for any parents out there trying to survive and keep their sense of humor with their exceptional tween, here are my 5 survival tips:

1) Get enough rest , exercise and self-care : Sleep and take time to recharge in other ways. You’ll need it for all the extra curve balls you’ll get.

2) Encourage them to find their own self-regulating tips: This may not meet with what you think they need to self-regulate, but if what they are using seems to work, let them use it.

3) Keep lines of communication open: This is a tough one. There are days Michael keeps me talking for a half hour, other days like today he said, “Don’t ask about my day,” when I asked for highlights. Just make sure they know you are available to listen and that they come first.

4) Teach them to respect you: This is a biggie. As the Mom of an exceptional tween who has been aggressive and occasionally still is, respect for you and for overstepping propriety needs to be reinforced calmly and steadily. You’ll know you’re having success when they are truly sorry for overreacting and apologize. It’s important you insist they do and then move forward. It is forgotten.

5) Don’t forget to laugh at the good moments and learn from the bad ones : I know when I am no longer laughing about things, I am in trouble. It’s important to treasure the good moments with your child and when the bad moments are over, learn what you can do differently the next time and teach your child to do differently.

Exceptional Parents, what are your tips for navigating your Exceptional tween in puberty? If laughter, rest and good self-care for you and them are on your list, you will be in good company. Remember always, you are not alone. Also, reach out to other exceptional people and see what they experienced during puberty. There are blogs and articles written, and we parents can learn a lot about how the inner autistic and other exceptional minded individual person thinks by being inside that mind through a blog, video or article. Until next time.

 

 

Spring Fever-Exceptional Changes Over the Years

So we are officially in Spring, and have been for awhile actually. And this year is no exception to all the other years. Michael is acting weirder than normal. I see it in other exceptional kids as well. Our Educator re-confirmed to me tonight that she too sees kids with different brains having more challenging moments during these months. This was a consolation. I was worried as I find Michael has regressed with some of the ways he is dealing with anger and stress. I blamed a lot of it on his last medication, but now am wondering if I was wrong. There are a lot of ups and downs in our kids’ lives and different ages bring with it different challenges. For example, toddler hood to school age child is one challenge. Then school age to tween/teen is another one. I am going through this watching Michael as a tween/teen handle all the angst that goes with that. When he was little he needed to physically move only. Now, it seems he needs to vent verbally and probably move physically to get out his emotions. I have to be careful how I approach this subject, however. The reason is that Michael is rebelling against so much, he will probably try and rebel against me even if it is in his favor as I am Mom, the adult, and in some ways the enemy at this teen age, unlike cool friends or friends he wants to emulate. I don’t take it personally. In some ways, I even celebrate it. He is growing up. I just worry how to still show him I love him. I do this with words, gestures, and when I can sneak it in, a pat or tap on the shoulder. I say a lot of “I love you’s,” and “I am proud of you’s.” I hope it sticks. That’s all I can do.

I have always figured out what Michael has needed during the Spring months to balance out, even in the summer months. Each year is a learning curve though as Michael and his needs change. This year I can see he needs to learn better self-regulation and build on what he already has down pat, recognize when he needs to move physically, and when he needs to talk to an adult. I need to learn to step back more, yet be clear on what I expect him to do and be. I am getting better at this, but still have times when this is challenging and Michael and I run into friction. I am making an effort to be clear to him and honest to myself so I know where everything is going.

Long walks, sports in the park, organized and other, as well as exploring new hobbies and time spent with friends, are ways to help Michael continue to regulate, have fun, and get more confident with himself. I am looking to helping him learn to do things more independently from me this spring and summer, while still having fun mother/son time and mother and son alone time where each of us get to have our space.

Exceptional Parents, are your Exceptional Children experiencing spring fever? Are they out of sorts or acting strangely? Have a look at their activity level. See if they can switch things up by moving more, doing different activities, having more play dates, spending time alone finding interests, and in the end, make sure they know how to self-regulate and learn how their body and brain work and what they need to do to feel at their best. This is what will help curb things like aggression, behavior and outbursts. Until next time.