Category: anxiety

Be Careful What You Wish For-How To Handle Supporting And Redirecting Your Anxious Exceptional Child

Happy New Year! Well, the holidays have come and gone. There were ups and downs as usual, as in any exceptional family really. What stood out as highs-Michael’s increasing independence in handling his diabetes, trying to organize his time with audio visual, calls to friends, and video games which he put in his phone calendar and his 13th birthday party where he hung out with friends in typical teen fashion while the parents chit chatted. Our family visits went well too, and Michael had a play date in there as well.

He had also been steadily giving Dad and I personal and couple space. These steps made us feel proud of his progress. Lows were increasing anxiety and anger when things did not go as he planned, such as outings having to be postponed due to inclement weather, Dad or I not being able to give him a direct answer and asking for time to think on it, and finally his anxiety reaching a peak point that he needed to be around me all too much.

First off, let me say that I am so grateful that Michael can communicate with us and tell us how he feels. It has helped him overcome a lot of obstacles and I wouldn’t change having him be expressive for anything in the world. However, he will sometimes have a hard time letting go of things and need to talk them through. This is anxiety provoking for all of us. Before the holidays and even at the very beginning, he was actually still quite independent and giving me my personal space. I was worried though how he didn’t want to talk or interact much with me.

Be careful what you wish for parents. The Universe delivered BIG TIME mid to late holiday season when he had a hard time being alone, filling up space in his day, and would complain when I did my yoga, went to write, went out with a friend. It felt suffocating for me  while I was also worried about his anxiety. Old tools I used were not working. I helped Michael trust himself to find new tools that could work to calm him down so that when he and I took our time together, we could talk calmly.

How did I now keep myself calm and help Michael through his anxiety? Well, for starters I took lots of mini breaks in the day and gently reminded Michael how I needed them- my half hour of meditation and coffee in the morning before joining him at breakfast, my writing at certain times of the day, my yoga or taking a nature walk. Michael complained about all the breaks I was taking. I told him it was to help me stay calm and positive so I could enjoy my holiday happily and help him do the same .

The experience helped me learn how important it is to prepare older exceptional kids for the holidays like we do younger ones. The issues are different, yet some things remain the same. How to structure the down time while leaving some time for spontaneous activities, how to make sure kids are still sleeping and eating well which affects mood. This was doubly hard as with Michael’s diabetes no matter how much we controlled, his sugars were still through the roof high which do not help with anger and outbursts. I also learned how to enjoy the little moments that did go well and not let the stressful times spoil the day. Be realistic with what your child and family can handle and don’t push the envelope at family gatherings, play dates or other activities.

At the end of the holiday, in spite of the challenges, Michael reported that he had a good holiday. His return to school went well, and now we are all slowly getting back in routine.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle anxiety with your Exceptional Child? Remember, as long as you keep an open mind with your child, stay calm, ask for a break (or take it) when you need it, you will be able to show a good example of how to handle the ups and downs of family down time and help your child find tools that work for them. Until next time.

Trusting And Learning From Mistakes-Exceptional Family Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

It Hurts Like Hell-How To Help Your Child Get Through Exceptional Puberty

“I don’t want to go out places Mommy. People look at me weird when I am rocking or stimming. And I don’t want them seeing me check my blood sugar. I don’t want to explain that I’m diabetic.  I’m embarrassed.”
“They’re probably wondering what you are doing. You know you can tell them you are autistic and that rocking or stimming relaxes you.  Your ADHD brain also means you have a lot of energy.  And there is no shame in having Type 1 Diabetes. It’s a medical condition and lots of kids have it.”

“Do I have to tell them?”
“No, of course not. It’s your choice. Just remember, be proud of who you are because you are pretty amazing.”

This was one of our easier conversations now that Michael is a tween in puberty.  Puberty is not easy, but when you have autism, ADHD and Type 1 Diabetes you are riding quite a roller coaster of emotions, as are your family. My heart breaks for Michael at these moments. He does not like going out to stores unless he has no choice, as he has become super self conscious about who he is. Thankfully he still goes on  his solo walks and bike rides. He likes the independence, but being out in public is stressful as he learns to handle how different he is from a lot of people. Dad and I are gently encouraging him to be himself, work though the anxiety with strategies, and I hope that with time, his social fears will go down. We are always looking for new ways to help him tackle his fears.

On the other side, we have moments when he pushes us away and does not want to talk. During those moments, we respect his boundaries reminding him that we are close by when he wants to talk. Sometimes he does this politely, other times he can be rude about it. We have had talks about language, respecting our boundaries, and his responsibilities as he is getting older. We have the hyper days and the angry days. We have the anxious days. All in all, it’s challenging, and when I feel that it’s becoming too much, I take five in my corner, meditate and do some yoga, and then remember how hard these developing years are for all children. It just ends up being more challenging, like so many other things, for our exceptional kids.

I remind myself that I am doing the best that I can to be there emotionally, physically and spiritually for my child. I remind myself that I don’t have to be perfect, just show him and help him feel that is loved always, even when he messes up. I remind myself that this too shall pass. A lot of parents with older exceptional kids have shared that the early teen years are the hardest as our kids find out who they are and where they are going. Finally, I look at the list of positives our Educator suggested we make of all the amazing things Michael has accomplished even with the challenging moments still popping up. She had said it would serve as a positive reminder for Michael as well as Dad and I over how far he has come with independence, skill acquisition, and  show us all that he will get through the challenges of adolescence too. She was right. I look to that list. We all do.

Exceptional Parents, how easy or hard do you find your Exceptional Child’s growing up milestones? Whether they are sailing through these stages or struggling, I think as long as we continue to persevere alongside them with a loving ear, new strategies and tools to use, and lots of compassion for them and ourselves, we’re on our way to growing together. Until next time.

When Similarities Between You and Your Exceptional Child Cause Clashing-5 Ways To Survive And Thrive

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As Michael and I each went to our “calm corners” the other day after a fight, I realized, and not for the first time, how similar our temperaments really are and why I am so easily triggered by his anger and anxiety when I am not taking care of my own stress. It was both comforting and annoying at the same time to see that when I am failing at handling our crises calmly, it is usually when I am overtired, stressed and anxious myself. My anger comes out at that point and I feel the need for controlling his outburts. I can’t. It’s that simple. I cannot control my son’s anger and anxiety. The days I realize this are the days I stay calm and the crisis is resolved faster.

I used to make it a daily task, thinking it was my job to not only teach Michael to control his emotions but if he failed, it meant I had failed, and not failed to show him a technique, but to stop it. Crazy huh. I finally stopped believing I had to control every single one of his emotional outbursts after he officially entered puberty. He was already well on his way to knowing how to express himself. He was stronger and getting taller by the minute, and most of all, though I had known this all along, puberty really brought home the fact that he was and is a separate entity from me. We are not joined at the hip as too many Moms think of themselves and their child. I had to stop taking everything he messed up on as a personal failure and address my own need to super control what I could not.

The next thing I realized was my own anxious and angry temperament when I was not using my newfound strategies to not ‘push down’ feelings. Yes, I was a pusher when younger. I had even fooled myself that I was happy, calm and had it together. I was really quite perfectionist, and thought that I didn’t deserve a heck of a lot. Over the last fifteen years I have worked hard to set up personal boundaries with people, practice self-care and learn about what helps curb my anger and anxiety. This is all thanks to my son who still challenges the hell out of me to make myself a better human being.

So how do you survive (and even allow yourself to occasionally laugh at) the possibility of having similarities with your Exceptional Child? Here’s what works for me:

  1. See the spirited side of you both: Yep. You heard me right. You know how we say hyper or anxious kids are spirited? Well, so are the adults. You bring people a different perspective on things because while over analyzing problems you see all the angles. Your child is like this too, so look at the positives in this. You are detailed, creative and ready to stand by your opinion. Just don’t let it consume you day and night and it is a positive.
  2. Recognize your needs for exercise or movement: What works for an upset me or an upset Michael is moving- rocking, walking, having a good cry or scream. Let it out in a safe place and then regroup and talk it out with each other.
  3. Celebrate the quirky, don’t diminish it: Whatever weird thing your child does you celebrate because it is who they are. If you have one of these traits, do the same.
  4. Don’t try to fix everything for them or you: Don’t be a perfectionist person or parent. It will only make you and your child miserable. If you want to do something special for them and they are not interested, don’t push it because you think you are a bad Mom for not doing it. Listen to what they say, unspoken and spoken. If you are not sure, go with your gut on what makes you and your child happy in the end. It won’t steer you wrong.
  5. Don’t take your child’s attempts to trigger you personally. Oh so hard if you are a sensitive parent yourself, but it really is true. Make sure you are as rested, calm and balanced as possible, and don’t let your child’s attempts to trigger you with words and actions seriously. Two out of control people won’t help. Show them what you’ve learned about self-control and practice it. If you mess up, and you will because you’re human, fess up. Take yourself somewhere to calm down, talk about what you did wrong, and how you will fix it. This will help them see what they could do right next time too.

Exceptional Parents, how many times have you been hard on yourself for yelling at your child for some of the same traits you had growing up? We’ll all done it. The important thing to remember is that by you recognizing your similarities with your child personality wise, the good and bad ones, it will bring you both closer as you continue to encourage the positive traits in each other and work on supporting your child while healing yourself of the negative traits. Remember, you are both raising each other in the end. Sometimes it will be beautiful. Sometimes it will be painful. In the end, there will be growth either way. Until next time.

 

Impulsivity And How To Help Your Child With ADHD Navigate It

Michael is impulsive. He has been that way since he was a child. I said ADHD. Others said Autism. It was tricky. You see, he has both, but it was hard to see for some of the professionals. You see, there are so many similarities with autism. We are learning now about the differences. Over the years, I’ve learned to trust my mother’s instinct when it comes to Michael. I’ve also learned how to use the great advice I’ve been given from caring professionals, good family and friends, and all of this has helped me become a better parent. Of course, I have days when I mess up. Regularly. But now I can see those days for what they are. Days when I am tired, frustrated, stressed, and not using my strategies to control my own negative emotions. Confession time. I can be impulsive time. I am a little ‘off the wall’ to those who know me well. It’s what makes my creativity work well. It’s what makes me love writing, singing, dancing, and anything artsy. It’s also what could be my downfall if I didn’t have measures in place to balance out my impulsive, fun and creative side with my practical, logical and stay in the moment side.

This is what I realize Michael needs. What all kids who have ADHD need. They need guidelines, strategies and clear concise ways to reign in impulsive thoughts and actions. It is hard. Damm hard. And although I don’t have Michael’s brain, I know he needs to release a lot of that impulsivity in a healthy way. All our kids do. Here are some strategies I am seeing that work to help kids like Michael reign in impulsivity:

1) STOP, THINK, ACT: I have seen this acronym used in many good books and articles written for ADHD kids and adults. This can be taught by family members modeling it whether we need to do all three or not. Even when I am fully in control of myself, I still will try and model this acronym when I am feeling frustrated so Michael learns it is what he needs to do. Stop and think before speaking, then act and talk only after calming down.

2) Use physical activity as a release: Any kind of rough and tumble play, sports, sensory workout or walking, biking, swimming can be great ways to release pent up emotions or stress. Afterwards, kids can more easily center and re-connect to their emotions and share with parents.

3) Keep a journal of thoughts and emotions:  This is a great tool for kids to use (and adults) with and without ADHD. Writing down difficult feelings and emotions in order to be able to talk about and work though them. Sometimes drawing can help too.

4) Having “safe spots” to go to: This means having rooms or areas in a  house, at school to go and regroup when things get too difficult or overwhelming. Often when kids with ADHD can be redirected there early enough, they can avoid all kinds of unpleasant confrontations afterwards.

5) Give choice and schedule important events: Giving your ADHD child choice in what they want to do around their everyday necessary schedule can help a lot with reducing impulsivity and feelings of lack of control. Some things need to be planned, others like choosing a bedtime, a downtime or homework time (that is reasonable) can go a long way in helping curb fights and impulsive outbursts that cause problems.

Exceptional Parents, what are you tips and tricks for helping your Exceptional Child with ADHD or other challenges thrive? In the end, we all know that love makes the world go around. As long as your child knows that you love and care for them, they will work with you. No one wants to struggle. Children want to succeed as much as we want them to. Just remember to tell them you love and believe in them no matter what. Until next time.

 

 

 

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.

Old Fears New Solutions-How To Remind Your Exceptional Child That They Can Solve Problems

So the other day Michael was feeling emotionally stuck. I was not only able to tell by his body language, but he also told me, “Mommy, remember that fear I had last year of watching certain videos? It’s coming back. The strategies I used last year to help are not working.”
Once again I was filled with such pride and amazement at how Michael has learned to grasp emotional concepts, and how he is learning, through some great CBT type strategies that we have both learned through therapists both in person and through books and videos, to apply these ways of understanding the world in his own way. with his own brain. It’s not easy to rewire your brain at any age, and kids who start off with different brains right away have another way of viewing things. We have to start with their way of viewing the world and go from there.

I and Michael have been lucky to find therapists who get his “out of the box” thinking, and are not trying to get him to conform to a particular way of seeing the world. That is how it should be for our kids, but isn’t always. And when Michael gets nervous he can’t handle his anxiety and stress, I remind him of the tools that worked in the past, and if they are not working, what else we can try. Most importantly though, is the reminder to him that if he faced one fear he can face others.

“Michael, remember how scared you were last year and how far you’ve come. You know what you tried and what worked. If that no longer works, let’s see what can. What are your ideas?”

We talked about different things he could do. Michael spoke about how he could ask his Educator for tips, his therapy team at school, and asked me what I do when I’m scared. I told him. The thing is, as parents ,we have to empower our kids that they can solve their own problems and find solutions. The difficulty lies when the solution is not clear cut and simple and means troubleshooting various areas. That is why as a parent, you need to be armed with three things:

1) Knowing what makes your child tick

2) Trusting in your child’s ability to do better if they know better

3) Immersing yourself in how THEIR brain works by reading books, articles,  watching videos by neuro diverse people who have the insider view on the autistic brain.

The hard part after this is getting your child to trust in themselves and their ability to use their very unique brain to solve problems. As they get more confident it will come, but remember, they need you in their corner cheering them on. Eventually, they will learn to be their own cheering section.

Exceptional Parents, how have you redirected your Exceptional Children to see old problems in new ways? Remember, as long as you use the 3 points above, they will be true to themselves and find what works for them. Love and being patient with themselves will help see them through. Until next time.

Personality Changes In Your Exceptional Child-When To Panic And When To Say It’s Puberty

So I have been feeling worried about Michael. Yes, I am a worrier and prone to anxiety myself. But, I have been seeing a little bit of a personality shift in my tween. He is going from a very extroverted social kid to being a little more withdrawn and not wanting to be in big places doing big things like in the past. The scariest thing at first was how he didn’t want to be around big crowds in stores, parks, beaches, pools. This was not the Michael I have known since infancy, who although would get overwhelmed, loved talking to and socializing with different people. Puberty has brought many changes, and one of them has become a greater awareness of his environment, appropriate and inappropriate things to do, and self-conscious thoughts. Was the medication causing this? Was he depressed? Or was this normal?

I am beginning to think this is part of Michael’s normal adolescence. His awareness of the world around him and the noises, social norms and other things expected of them, has made him a little more self-conscious and shy. I don’t think it is anything to worry about, though I do worry about his retreating socially a bit. A lot of the fights we’ve had lately have been around me saying he can’t let fear push him away from trying new things. He has taken it that I am trying to push him full force into talking something fearful, when I am clarifying with him that no, I don’t mean that. What I want is for him to tackle his fears slowly, break down the worry into small pieces, and then see how he can be successful. I think he is starting to believe me, though we are having hiccups along the way. What parent and tween don’t, right?
I am happy to say that I have seen a great maturity in Michael and how is handling his meltdowns lately. He is learning what he is doing right, and where he needs to improve. He spoke tonight that he stopped himself from throwing something in anger and let out his rage in crying and punching a toy meant to be a release for his anger. I commended him for doing that, though I have to admit it broke my heart to hear him crying. He also said it helps him to have one of us nearby when he is having challenges, both to see him through the tough time, and after when he is calm to talk. I realized this is not a child who is not well. This is a child who is slowly learning about his nervous system and how and what works for him to handle anger and anxiety and reset himself.

Red flags for a child would be complete pulling away from family and friends, complete personality changes social or solitary, and any kind of repeated destructive behavior where lessons were not learned and the intensity of it got worse. I am thankful that this is not the case. In fact, even on the harder days, we are seeing improvement. It just means more resilience is demanded of Dad and I as we need to have the patience and compassion to show Michael we will never give up on him so he does not give up on himself.

Exceptional Parents, have you noticed any personality changes in your Exceptional Child? If so, have you been able to pinpoint if they are in trouble or simply growing up? As always, you need to trust your parenting gut in figuring out what it is they need. If in doubt, get a professional opinion. In most cases though, sooner or later your child will tell you that this is who they are in what they say or do. Then you will know how best to support them from where they are at that moment. Until next time.

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.

 

 

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.