Category: anxiety

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.

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

As I sat by on Saturday watching Michael do his  diabetes injections completely by himself, I have to admit after giving Michael a high ten, I silently thanked God that we had all arrived at the same place, trusting Michael to take on this big responsibility. In fairness, Michael has wanted to  do his own injections for about a year now, but due to some lingering behavior issues and past questionable treatment of the injection equipment, Dad and I told him that we were not ready to show him until he showed us more maturity in handling his anger and outbursts. Well, things are not one hundred percent perfect, but Michael has come a long way in handling his anger. I sat down with Dad one night about two weeks ago, and we decided he had earned the right to be trusted with medical equipment. After all, we have started trusting him to be left alone at home for short periods of time. He has been taking his own sugar for over a year too. It was time for this next step. And as usual, Michael did not disappoint when trust was placed in him. He never has.

It’s a tough decision for an exceptional parent-learning when your exceptional child is ready to take that leap forward. If you wait for the ‘perfect’ moment, it will never come. It’s like waiting for the perfect moment to do something big for yourself. You will always make excuses unless you take a leap of faith. Listening to your parenting gut, trusting that your child understands what they are taking on and the responsibility of whatever you are asking them to do, as well as a balance of you being available to jump in and encourage them if they get scared. There is never shame in that, whether you are a child or adult. If we had waited until all Michael’s behavior challenges were solved before moving forward, he would have lost out on an opportunity to see his maturity in that area. We also would have lost an opportunity to see more of  Michael’s strengths. I have our Educator to thank for giving me gentle nudges as well. I see how smart, competent and capable Michael is, but sometimes my old worries of pushing him out of his comfort zone would stop me from acting.

I was not totally wrong. Michael carries A LOT of anxiety and then navigating that with his anger issues become significant challenges for all of us. But if as parents and therapists we only get stuck on what is wrong and not on what  could go right, that negative mindset will transmit to your child. Michael’s Educator reminded us of not only rewarding the positive, but understanding that Michael wanted, like any tween, to be treated more maturely as he was growing up. Instead of always having power battles with a growing teenager, we could, in small doses, give him a little more control over his life so he could see where good choices led.

As Michael has gotten older, I have started pushing him a little more in all areas past his comfort zone. I have picked my battles of course, keeping in mind that Michael can advocate for himself what is too much and what with help, he can grow comfortable around. So far, this formula has started working, especially as he has asked for more independence and trust. Now I tell him, you need to show you are trying your best to manage your emotions. When we see that, we give a little more trust to trying out new things. The diabetes injections are just one of many things we have given over to Michael as he has increasingly started taking responsibility for himself and his actions, positive and negative. The other day he made a bad choice in what he said. Immediately he asked me, “Help me. I need help controlling what I say.” I told him we were getting him more help and that he would learn. We believe in him.

Exceptional Parents, how comfortable are you pushing your Exceptional Child past their comfort zone? It’s not always easy, and of course you have to take it slowly and proceed according to where your child’s development is. Never let anyone push you or your child past what you feel they are capable of. But, don’t ever forget to have full faith that if your child is showing most of the signs that they are ready to take on something big, you give them the chance to shine. Until next time.

How We Can All Learn Determination From Our Exceptional Children

So there we were this evening biking on Michael’s favorite busy street. We stopped a few times for breaks and so Michael can watch the traffic. He loves cars and moving traffic. He would clap his hands and watch, then clap some more. That is his “traffic stim.”  When we moved on after the third little break, I noticed that one of his tires on his bike had gone a little flat. It was not completely flat, but was losing air so bike riding would be more difficult.

“Michael, your tire is losing air and it will be a little more challenging to go to the next block like we had planned. Do you want to try and you can partially walk the bike or do we head home?”
Michael looked me straight in the eye and said, “I want to do it. I don’t mind if I have to walk a bit with the bike. I want to do the route we planned.”
I was so proud of his determination to finish what he started and pretty much knew this was what he was going to say. I only warned him as I was worried he may get discouraged when the bike riding got harder. However, I had forgotten for a second who I was dealing with, a child who never gives up, perseveres and pushes through to get what he wants, difficult or not.

“Ok honey. We’ll do it. ”

Several times during the bike ride when we would stop Michael would ask me if I was proud of him. I also said extremely. I saw the smile he would give me. I think he knew my answer would be yes. I would be crazy not to be proud of the child who from birth fought to be born through a series of difficulties, then fought to catch up on the milestones and did it, then fought to learn strategies to overcome anger and anxiety and still continue to fight to figure this out. This is a hard challenge. AND finally, fight to master learning how to manage a chronic life long disease of Type 1 Diabetes. I sometimes forget through the exhaustion of parenting, just how tough, resilient and spirited Michael is. He does not give up. He does not take no for an answer, which can be a drag as a parent when you want your child to listen, but heck, I know he’ll do fine making his way in the world one day because of his attitude of not giving up what he is going after.

This got me thinking about what Michael is here to teach me, like all our children are here to teach all of us. He is here to show me to never give up. He is here to show me not to give up on my dreams no matter how challenging it is to make it happen. He is here to remind me to fight for who and what I believe in always. He is here to remind me that love conquers all.

Exceptional Parents, what has your Exceptional Child’s determination showed you? I’m sure it has reminded you that no matter what , you can get through anything, just like your child has. You advocate for them they advocate for you as well, and help you be the best person you can be. Never never give up. 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.

Report Cards and Seeing The Exceptional Child That Shines Within

Today was the last Parent/Teacher interview at Michael’s school. As usual, it was bittersweet for me. Another year gone by. More growth and opportunities to learn new things, other areas where there were challenges, but the wonderful staff at his adapted school is addressing them. Also, as always, I was able to troubleshoot and brain storm with them new ways to support him at home, now particularly with his severe anxiety which sometimes manifests itself as aggression at home.

For me it was hard too to see how his anxiety is limiting him in class. My anxiety limited me for years, but not having other challenges, I was able to perform academically and learn with much more ease. Michael, though bright, gets sidetracked easily and worries over things and needs constant redirection. This distraction causes him to lose focus in the classroom and affects his learning. His school is working with him on it, but though I vowed to keep in mind that he is in the best program he is meant to be in and not to push staff, the Mommy tiger in me was disappointed that many peers in his class moved into the modified high school program and Michael was not ready. I felt sad, as I know though academically he would struggle, socially he would benefit a lot in that circle. The hard on myself Mom part questioned the fact that maybe it was me who was at fault. Maybe I didn’t teach him self-soothing/regulating strategies young enough.

While speaking to the professionals, I made sure to say that I knew he would continue in the same academic stream he was in and that was good, as due to his anxiety levels now, he was certainly not ready at this time for other challenges. I truly believed this and agreed with their decision. But I took the plunge and asked if in the future they thought there may be a chance for him in a more academic intense program where there are more pressures? I feel bad as I did not want to sound like I was putting down the program he is in. It is excellent and where he needs to be, at least now. I added only that I think he is capable of  more, and I don’t want his anxiety holding him back. I am scared it is holding him back. Everyone reassured me they understood and knew where I was coming from. They were impressed I was willing to give a little push to him. I was glad, as pushing a little bit can yield great results.

I left the meeting in the end feeling both happy and angry with myself. I berated myself a little for not leaving well enough alone, but I needed to know what was holding Michael back, though deep down I already knew the answer. As a parent, we all want to do everything we can to ensure our child is in the best place they can be to learn, grow and develop. There is nothing wrong with asking questions, but sometimes we worry on how we will be perceived. The best results are gained when parents and professionals look honestly at where the child is and go from there. And as one of the staff told me, pushing your child and asking questions is your right as the parent. You want to make sure your child is where they are meant to be.

Exceptional Parents, do you worry about your Exceptional Child’s future? It is very normal. The most important thing to do though, is to always keep an open mind about where your child is now, and where they are headed. A lot can change, and remember , don’t try and fit your child into what you want for them. Aim for whatever helps them the most to develop to their fullest potential. I know in my case, Michael is in good hands with family and his school as we keep the lines of communication open. Until next time.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.