Category: anxiety

How Calm and Consistent Parenting Can Reach Different-Brained Kids

It’s been one of those weeks, one of those parenting weeks where I’ve been through the mill, as they say.  I’ve expressed fear, frustration, worry, and anger. Then, when I’ve seen that some progress was made, hope and flickers of happiness have emerged. It’s been trying for both of us, Michael and I, to say the least. But, if I’ve learned anything as an exceptional parent, is that when you hit a rough path, first breathe, second practice some self-care, whatever you need most at that moment, and third formulate a plan of action to adjust to what was not working while continuing to practice the things that were.

Spring has always been tough for Michael as it is for most exceptional kids. His hyperactivity and impulsivity go up, as well as his aggression in the last two years when that level of frustration opened up. We have new medication that seems to be helping a little bit during the day and late pm, but when it wears off at dinner time,  the psychiatrist described it as akin to him falling off a cliff. And that  is when we saw escalations in anxiety and anger, as well as meltdown after meltdown this week.  What exacerbated this more was the fact Michael is not a little boy anymore. He will not accept hugs or I love you’s from me, saying he is a big kid and doesn’t need my physical support. This was always how I helped him as a little boy, but now as a tween, this needs to change.

The thing is he very much still does need me at times, both positive and negative moments, and will call on me as he did last night. He was upset and called downstairs for me to help. I did help him by coming up, redirecting him to a safe space (his room), and then when he had calmed down, surprised me happily by asking to fill out some sheets his Educator gave him for recording how a child handled a stressful event. It was helpful for him and for me to see him do it too. We also saw his Educator this evening, and she provided excellent feedback and some new handouts to help with ongoing issues. Having a team for the family is huge.

I, for my part, also did a lot of thinking in the last five days when these incidents occurred off and on. I looked back on the good and bad methods I used to handle Michael’s meltdowns and reactions and I adjusted accordingly when I did and will now keep these adjustments in place. I also took out a great book from our local library on mindful parenting of ADHD kids. It is really helping reinforce a lot of what I already know with new material that I look forward to incorporating. Mostly though, I am proud that Michael is learning to slowly incorporate changes in how he handles stress, confrontation and talking about his feeling to his parents. It is hard as a lot of the ways ideas get stuck in his head make it hard for him to break out of that mold. I know with time and patience, he will turn things around.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle those hard parenting weeks? Remember, you are doing your best and if you lash out, learn from it. Learn what your triggers are, be open to trying new things that can help support your child, and go easy on yourself when you do it. Take everything in perspective and you will be surprised how you and your child will bounce back from the experience.

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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.

 

 

Creating A Calmer Environment by Being Direct With Your Exceptional Child

I was the queen of metaphors with my son Michael, and even now, when I know it is hard for him to understand them, as a writer, it is hard for me to stay away from them. Still, I have learned the hard way over the last three years after recovering from my own burnout, how important it is to be direct with your child who is exceptional. It does not matter how verbal they and how much they understand. They will still get confused, anxious and get overwhelmed which could lead to a meltdown. How can a parent better their chances of their child not escalating? Here are some tips:

  1. Talk in simple language: This means spell out exactly what kind of behavior you expect and what kind of circumstances lead to not following that behavior.
  2. Stay calm: This is tricky, but mandatory for grounding the child. If they see you are calm, they will feel calm and organized too.
  3. Decide in advance with your partner on all things child related: Mom and Dad must be on the same page for all our children. For exceptional kids, it is beyond necessary. If they see divergence, it is divide and conquer, and man, are they good!
  4. Make sure you are operating at 100% capacity: This is a tricky one, but the way I gauge how I can parent at my best is my patience level. If every little thing gets on my nerves, it is time for a walk, workout or bath. For you, it can be something else to reset your body. Go for it. As they say, oxygen mask on Mom and Dad first to parent the best they can.

Exceptional Parents, what are some of your success stories in helping your child move towards positive behavior? What didn’t work? As long as we learn from our mistakes, our kids will benefit from it and grow as well. And if you ever need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to your special needs community, virtual or in person. You are truly a family who will get all the hardship, joy and fulfillment in raising an exceptional child.  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.

Exceptional Tween Mood Swings-5 Tools To Survive Them And Thrive As An Exceptional Family

So it’s another late afternoon at my home and Michael is angry about something small that I said that sounds like it is a criticism of him, his way of doing things, or simply a “less try things differently” approach. I am getting better at going with the flow with Michael’s mood swings. There is the I like you Mom, I don’t mind being in the same room as you Mom. This lasts about ten minutes a day, to you’re ok, but don’t try and hug or touch me, give me a high five if you’re proud of me, to get away from me and trying to control my life as you want me to stop watching my videos now! Yep. And because he’s exceptional, the rebellion is quite over the top.  A book gets tossed across the room, a swear word (or words) are uttered, and repeatedly Michael will say things like I want to be with  my friends, stop being critical or the eye rolling. I almost laugh at that one. Yep. It’s all normal, relatively speaking.

So, back to the tween mood swings and how I survive them? They are quite similar to what my mother and father used back in the day, only tweaked for exceptional kids.  Here they are:

1) Make sure to keep your sense of humor: I know. Your exceptional tween is having the meltdown of a century, how  do you laugh or even begin to? Well, you may not laugh during or right after it, but later on you remember the tumultuous hormones that is puberty. You remember how confused you were as a neuro typical youngster, imagine your child. You also say that this is just a phase. Sooner or later they will outgrow it like they did toddler and preschool behavior. And then you pour yourself a cup of coffee or wine (depending on the time of day), and say to yourself, “this too shall pass.”

2) Put yourself in their shoes: This is similar to number 1, but also a little different. Remember not feeling like you knew who you were? Remember, feeling so alone and frustrated and hormonal? Well, your exceptional child has this and their different brain affecting their outlook on the world. In Michael’s case, ASD, ADHD, and Type 1 Diabetes. In your child’s case, whatever challenges they face. Be patient. Give them opportunities to try again. Don’t enable them or have them use their neuro diversity and challenges as an excuse, but make sure they know they can learn and grow from their behavioral mistakes.

3) Give them space to physically and mentally vent: This is a work in progress as their interests change, but it is important for all kids to have a space in the house to let loose. Physically vent means they can have places to scream, punch a pillow, jump on a trampoline, cry, or do whatever they need to do to release pent up emotions. Mentally vent, make sure they have a journal or place to draw or sketch how they feel. Make sure when they and you are calm, the two of you can sit down and talk together about what happened. It’s important you both learn from your mistakes.

4) They are communicating! Yes!: Again, a day ago when my tween was angry and yelling at me I would not have been enthusiastically preaching this, but afterwards when he calmed down and regrouped, I realized that a meltdown, an outburst, or any display of emotion means that they are authentically communicating their needs to you and you know what they need to work on (and you too). Celebrate this and move forward with your team. Your child is telling you how they feel!

5) Self-Care: I’ve said this time and time again and will continue to do so, but only when parents are taking care of their needs (physical, mental, spiritual), can they parent from their soul and see the child as a whole. If you are tired, frustrated, depleted, you will not be strong enough to help your child through any crises. Self-care does not have to be fancy. Taking time to curl up and watch a favorite tv show, read a good book, spend time with your partner and friends, take a bath or a walk and exercise, are all important to overall mental well-being. I can’t emphasize enough how much guided meditations help too. For me, they saved my life and showed me how to remain in the moment with Michael. When I have forgotten, I would immediately think about breathing and refocusing my energy. I also would ask myself, when was the last time I had “me” time?

Exceptional Parents, how do you survive the tough times? We all have tricks of the trade, as they say. As long as they speak to what works for you as a parent and individual, you are on the right track. Until next time.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Exceptional Handling of Life’s Challenges-How My Exceptional Son And I Learn From Eachother

“Mommy, you don’t have to call the nurse to tell her to do my lunchtime injection. The needle on my pen is too tight. Here, let me replace it and the NPH pen will work.”

These were the words that came out of Michael’s mouth on Tuesday morning when we were on our usual race against the clock to do his two diabetes injections, so he does not need to do a lunchtime injection, have him eat his breakfast, get dressed and make the bus. He’d gotten a later start that morning and was his usual talkative self IN SPITE of the fact that we had about ten less minutes than usual. I, remaining calm on the outside, was a little stressed on the inside, and when stressed on the inside, my technical dexterity is the first thing to go. Hence, me thinking this injection pen had malfunctioned when it had not. It had happened legitimately in the past, so I wasn’t totally crazy. Still, something told me to trust him, oh yeah, it was the voice that said, Michael is cool with handling his diabetes, way cooler than you. You worry a lot about this and tense up. Well, as you can imagine I was right to listen to that voice. Michael fixed the pen, I gave him his two injections as usual, and away we went with the morning. What did this incident teach me? I need to be able to tune into Michael’s strong areas and grow stronger in my weaker areas.

Diabetes is something I have come to expect is part of Michael’s and our life. I kind of had no choice, but I don’t like it. Not one bit. I also am someone who is a tad squeamish about blood, needles, (giving needles and seeing them given), and argh, there is all that number crunching when calculating carbs at every meal. As a word person, numbers is SO not my thing. 🙂 This is my challenge as a parent and individual, and though I have risen to it, it has been tough. Michael, on the other hand, has excelled in handling his diabetes. It has been implementing new ways to handle emotions, deal with ADHD and anxiety that have been his more challenging areas. He has often turned to me for support with that part of his life, and here I can advise him. I have seen tremendous improvements in how he handles his emotions and responses to them. I’d like to think just like him watching him calmly take charge of diabetes management, he can see me calmly taking charge of showing him how to manage his emotional regulation. He has often asked me, “Help me Mommy. What do I do?” Over time, we have found ways to help him manage his emotions. There is still a lot of tweaking involved, on his and my part, but I can see him listening, really listening to what I have to say and following through with it. I have done the same thing when he has taken the wheel and showed his responsibility towards managing diabetes. His next exciting venture-learning how to do his own injections. As he has taken charge of controlling aggression and outbursts, Dad and I have told him that we will show him how to do his own injections very soon.  All he needs to do is demonstrate the same calm, collected behavior on a regular basis. Then, we know he will be ready.

Exceptional Parents, what have you learned from your Exceptional Child and what have they learned from you? Remember, you are both constantly in a teaching/learning mode together. As you begin to pay attention, you’ll see your child’s life lessons become yours and vice versa. It’s important to help support each other and overcome personal weaknesses as well as celebrating individual strengths. This will strengthen your child’s confidence and yours. 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! 

The Amazing Moment It All Clicks-Getting And Implementing New Behavior Measures With Your Exceptional Child

After a few tough weeks, it is really wonderful to see how this week in spite of challenges, Michael is beginning to understand his actions both positive and negative, as well as the consequences of this behavior. He is constantly surprising me with his insight, “oh, I guess I made a poor choice there so I lost my point towards a reward for good behavior,” to actually stopping himself from saying or doing something aggressive in the nick of time and then visibly breathing or saying, “I need a strategy reminder or where is my blue folder with my strategies?” Wow. The months and months of hard work we have all been putting in are paying off. Dad, Michael and I are communicating better, more clearly. I have never seen him so polite with me and his father. I am also finding reserves of patience for the tough times when he is escalating or rude towards me, by standing my ground quietly. This has usually helped calm him and help him make a better choice.

So what method has been working for us the last few months as a family? Here is what seems to be making the difference for better behavior and home satisfaction for everyone:

1) Have a reward system in place: We use a points system where Michael earns points for not behaving in an aggressive way. Each point can build towards a pre determined list of rewards that we jointly agree on in advance.

2) Have a steady home schedule for weekday and weekend: Whether the schedule is on paper, computer or verbally agreed upon by parents and the child, it is important to have a schedule where the child knows what is happening, where there can be wiggle room should plans change, and where parents and child each have a say, with parents vetoing if something major is upset, of course.

3) Balance family time, alone time, and time with friends and extra curricular activities: Make sure your child has a balance in their schedule of time with you, alone, with their friends and in extra curricular activities. Time with me can be spent talking over dinner, on the way to an activity or in the am or pm before bed. Make sure they know you care by your actions and words, especially as the tween set don’t always want to hug you. 😉

4)Be clear and calm on your feelings at all times: It is so important to know what you need as a parent and individual. Make it clear to your child by putting in personal boundaries for yourself and teaching them to do that with others as well as with themselves.

5) Have a therapy team, books and support that click with how you want to raise your child: Last but not least, there is not one right way to raise any child, exceptional or not. Make sure that whatever your child’s team consists of (therapists, books, friends, support groups etc.), the suggestions they make to you jive with how you want to raise your child. As long as there are good boundaries, structure and consistency in how you parent, your child will respond positively. Do your best to bring out your child’s best in this way.

Exceptional Parents, what behavior system have you used that has worked to help your child either overcome or get better at handling challenging behaviors? Make sure that whatever style you are using, respects everyone in your family, including yourself. The system has to be clear for all to understand and implement. You will know you are on the right track, when your child’s attitude towards listening and making good choices improve and negative behaviors go significantly down. Be patient. The process takes time, but is more than worth it in the end when your child and you have a strong bond together. 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! 

 

 

Why The Little Surprises From Your Exceptional Tween Make All The Difference

So today Michael came home from school and two things happened. He wanted to talk to me RIGHT AWAY and tell me about his day. This does not happen every day, and I know it is normal. He is growing up and almost a teenager. He usually mumbles hi, day was fine, and then asks if he could go call his friends and go on the computer. He eventually talks to me about his day, usually at dinner, but hearing it right from the moment he walks in like when he was a child, is still special for me. I see him growing up and respect that, but always remind him I am here if he needs to talk and want to continue to offer that closeness.

The other thing that happened was that Michael remembered to do something important today. Without reminders or prompts, HE wore his new Medic Alert necklace that will inform medical personnel in case of an emergency that he is autistic and diabetic, two important things to keep in mind when giving him medical attention should he God forbid not be able to speak for himself. I saw he was wearing it and was blown away. He remembered on his own! That was the first time we did not have to tell him or ask him if he had it. I said, “Michael, I am so proud of you. You remembered to wear your necklace!” His blush and small smile spoke volumes. My words still had meaning for him! I still mattered to him at a time when friends and peer groups rule over parent groups. Wow! We both experienced a rush. My tough big boy who can, frankly, be a pain in the you know what some days, was once again my little boy, who indeed still values my opinion, thought and guidance. I know this, of course, but seeing it with my own eyes is something else.

I have also noticed that even with the tough moments where behaviors still arise and attitude is present, Michael is being more polite and respectful towards Dad and I. There is more of “Thank you Mom, for letting me use your phone to navigate on Google Maps.” “Thank you Mom, for making this meal or letting me have five minutes extra time before bedtime.”  Occasionally I have even been wished, “have a good night’s sleep Mom. Have a good writer’s meeting  or good day Mom.” Yes! His good character is coming through the rebellion, the pulling away that is natural but hard on him and me at times. My sweet little boy is still sweet, but now is a sweet big boy, slowly starting his way on to manhood. Gulp. But, I am seeing a funny side to all of this. Even when he is angry and annoyed at me, I see his struggles. I see him trying to understand the world, me, his friends, himself, through a tween soon to be teen lens. It is not easy. As his teacher this year said to me last week at Parent/Teacher Night, “Remember your teen years. Were they easy for you with the hormones and growing up?” I of course said no. They were the hardest of my life. He reminded me that for Michael he has those hormones, growing up, WITH ASD, ADHD, Diabetes and anxiety. Yep. A lot more to contend with. And looking at Michael through that lens, he is doing a fantastic job of navigating life.

For me as an Exceptional Parent, what has proved the best tool to navigate these years has been what got me through the toddler years- a sense of humor. No, I do not laugh when he is angry and swearing, but I do remember that yes, this too shall pass in a few years when he realizes I and Dad know more than his friends do. Even now, there are those moments when he says things like, “Put your phone down Mommy. I want to talk to you. Listen to me.” He will usually burst into the room when I am in the middle of something, but after asking him for a minute to close up shop, I give him my full attention. I also have reminded him, “4:00-4:30 is your time with me. We can talk if you need it.” He knows I am there if he needs to vent.  I feel the love in the moments when he asks,  will I be coming to his concert, will I be taking any future PED DAYS off, will I take him places in the summer? Yes, he may be pulling away naturally from me, (a good and healthy thing), but I am glad that our relationship is back on a respectful, calm, and orderly plane, so he knows that I love him and make rules for his protection and well being.

Exceptional Parents, how often have your Exceptional Children surprised you? Remember, as hard as life gets with the meltdowns, misunderstandings and challenges, never give up on your child meeting you halfway. If they see healthy boundaries, respect shown both ways, and a willingness for you to keep an open mind and sense of humor, whatever age and stage they are at, they will gravitate towards a more positive relationship  with me in whatever way they are capable of doing. They will feel your love so never be afraid of giving them space, and staying close for when they need your help. Until next time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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