Category: challenging behaviors

Food Dilemmnas and Rebellion- Navigating Type 1 Diabetes And ASD Rigidities and Surviving It

Ah rebellion. It is just grand, said not ONE Mom, never mind a Mom of an Exceptional Child that already has enough stuff to deal with. Still, it makes me feel good in one way. As Dad commented earlier this evening when Michael was talking pretty much twenty minutes straight without coming up for air and making intense eye contact with us, “remember when we worried he wouldn’t talk?” I almost laughed. Indeed I do. If you told me when he was a toddler and had been diagnosed with autism that  I’d have to deal with regular puberty things like pushing limits, refusing to go to bed early, swearing, and even being silly with friends, I’d have laughed and said, go ahead, PLEASE give me those normal neuro-typical problems. And yet, here we are. My Exceptional Son is not so exceptional when it comes to puberty. In fact, he is so neuro typical here it is DRIVING ME CRAZY. And just to make things interesting and keep Dad and I on our toes, he has particular food restrictions due to his diabetes (hard for him and us and yet MORE more for teenage rebellion) and with his ASD and ADHD those quirks come out in puberty while he is trying to be a grownup. Oh boy. What can I say? Running for the hills is usually a race for Michael and I lately. Which of us will get there first running from the other, he or I? Yet, somehow with all the craziness, we always do run back to each other. I love him too much to not do that, and I think he loves me or tolerates me, pretty much what any tween/teen boy would feel towards his mother at this age of 12, not a baby and not a teen, a tween. It’s not easy, but whenever I catch myself feeling pity for either of us I remind myself it’s all relative. I also remind myself to learn from the challenging times, mine and Michael’s, as I tell Michael to do.

Sometimes when I want to indulge in a pity party I do that too. I allow Michael that luxury as well. I tell him, it’s ok to be angry or sad. Feel it. Own it. Use strategies to move away from it. Then move on. I follow the same theory myself, and do my best to hold myself to this promise. It’s not always easy. That’s when I call in the Mommy brigade, my friends in the same circumstances who share  in my stress over theirs and their children’s challenges, yet also remind me to celebrate the victories. And there are many victories of exceptional families that help us survive.

Today Michael was supposed to have a tennis lesson. It got postponed due to unforseen circumstances. He still remembered to bring home his shoes from school WITHOUT reminders. The other day going to a new place at school he navigated there on Google Maps to know where he was going, a pastime that is pleasurable for him and reduces his anxiety. This again was all on his part, no reminders. And countless times lately I have been witnessing him using strategies instead of giving into his anger,- deep breathing, using fidget toys.  Finally, he has openly talked about his struggles in puberty with me, still shares his day with me, and likes getting the occasional hug or kiss, or tolerates it. For this for now, I am grateful. 🙂 These are things I hold on to when the day or night is tough. These are things I remember when he is asleep at night, however good or bad the day has gone. These are things I see will help him navigate the world and survive and thrive when I am no longer here to advocate for him. Finally, these are things that tell me I need to fine tune my own coping mechanisms and let go over what I cannot control and control what I can. I can show my son I believe in him and want him to learn and do better. I can show my son I will hold him to a great future. And I can show my son that faults and all, I love him as much as I do me, and everyone else in the family. After all, we are have our issues to work on. What’s important is to learn and grow from the tough times so we can get ready for a brighter future all around.

Exceptional Parents, how do you survive your Exceptional Child’s quirks? How do they survive yours? Yes, you have quirks too and sometimes unintentionally make things more stressful for you and them by over reacting or under reacting. You are a human being and you will mess up just like them. Where’s the lesson? It is in learning from your mistakes, showing up the next time to do better as an individual and parent, and making sure you set a positive example for your child to follow at the same time. Until next time.

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

 

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Anger, Anxiety And Needing Control-How Your Child Will Help You Find Your Balance

I have often found that when I have been most challenged by something Michael has done, it has been because he has triggered some of my past hurts and stresses. This is why it is important for all of us parents to know where our strengths and weaknesses lie and find a way to seek the balance in our lives, where we hone the strengths and work on the weaknesses. Michael and I are more alike in temperament than different. This has been both a blessing and a curse, but I have to say, it has helped me understand Michael’s anxiety more than ever before. I have also learned that in order to support him the best I can, I need to get a hold of my own anger and anxiety. Though I have done great work in this area, I am seeing it is a never ending process of rediscovering yourself, healing old hurts, and letting your child guide you to the next place in your personal development as you guide them.

I am a true believer that exceptional children, all children, raise us as much as we raise them. It is not always easy to accept this in them or ourselves, but necessary in order for us to move forward on our personal journey as exceptional parents and human beings, and help our child do the same. Yes, we are all here for a reason, our kids and us, and it is important to find what that reason is. Everyone has a talent, an energy, something beautiful they bring to the world. As your child’s parent, it is your job to help your child find what their gift is while finding your own if you haven’t found it. This sounds like a tall order. But the thing is, I also believe that our kids are here for a reason for us, as their parents, and for the world .They are here to open people’s eyes to a world where not everyone thinks or acts the same or needs to be the same. They are here to teach tolerance and respect for difference. They are here to usher in new ways of thinking, being and doing. They are here to bring their gift to the world, just as everyone else is.

Our kids, through the therapies and strategies we teach them about self-control, anger, and anxiety, help us realize too what we need to fix in our own lives and in the world. I know many parents who have become stronger, more resilient and more knowledgeable about themselves and the world around them due to helping their child navigate things. This is not about romanticizing our children’s challenges or ours. Sure, there are times we want to take burdens off of them. But, you know what they say. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Your child learning to manage their anger and using their strategies, often helps most of us parents see better ways we can cope with anxiety and anger too.

Exceptional Parents, how well do you balance anxiety, anger and needing control with your child? In the end, all that matters is that you and your child begin to understand how to communicate with one another in a positive way and bring that forward into the world. The rest will fall into place. 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! 

 

How To Empower Your Exceptional Child To Use Their Strategies

The other day after a particularly challenging morning with Michael where we both seemed equally frustrated by one another. I sat back, and before I finished my second cup of coffee, I did what I tell others to do. Close your eyes and breathe. Breathe out all the stress, anger and misunderstandings. Of course, before that I cursed like a sailor after the bus pulled away from the curb and said all the things I did not say in front of Michael. Soon I’ll vent to my cat, but she’s new to the family and I don’t want to scare her off. 🙂 But seriously, what it came down to in the end, was that Michael, though getting better, is still having a hard time finding the right time to use strategies to calm down BEFORE he tells me or Dad how he is feelings. It is on these mornings or evenings when all h@&^ breaks loose and he says things he regrets a nanosecond later. I usually do the same thing, and then regret. Why couldn’t I hold my sh*$ together better? Well, the other day I did, though I was firm with Michael and called him out on not using his strategies. And you know what he said? It broke my heart because it was true;

“Mommy, I know I forgot, but I have been getting better. I did so well the other day and you didn’t tell me you were happy with me. You’re always mad at me!”

He was right. I’ve been a little guilty of the glass half empty lately, though this week I have been trying and succeeding in encouraging and praising more good behavior and reminding Michael gently to use strategies RIGHT AWAY when he gets upset, and not afterwards. I also had a lighting bolt moment (God/Universe inspired), when in half anger/half positivity I wrote out for him on a piece of paper what using his strategies would do for him and our family. In this paper was the reassurances he kept seeking, several times daily, as to what his future held. I stipulated how we all needed to feel safe in our home (no abuse to or from anybody no matter how angry), no physical contact unless permission was given by ALL of us, how we all loved each other and we needed to show it by respect, using ways to calm down before we talked about things that made us angry, and how Michael’s team were part of our family, to support us, make us stronger as individuals and as a family. The last two days Michael has really started internalizing this message. When he has not respected these conditions, I have called him on it. I encouraged him also to remind Dad and I of times when we did not use strategies. If we all remind each other then only good things will come of it, for all of us.

The amazing thing is I have seen Michael’s maturity go up in a dramatic way. As he has seen how we mean business for everyone and how we are also adhering to respecting HIS tween boundaries, he needs to respect ours as his parents and the adults in charge. Today he was getting angry and in my space, when he all of a sudden realized and said, “Sorry Mommy.” He backed away and started breathing to control his temper, and then told me calmly how he was feeling. Another time today he became angry and said some hurtful things. Afterwards, he told me that he needed to remember to have his fidget toys nearby. Squeezing them helped him focus and calm down before acting. Finally, he has become more compassionate. The other day he asked how I was feeling . When I say goodnight sleep well, he’ll wish me a good night too and sleep well. It’s amazing how empowering a child with turning to strategies can help them see anger and stress in a new way.

Exceptional Parents, what strategies do you and your Exceptional Child have for handling anger and frustration? As long as there are boundaries, self-respect, as well as mutual respect towards all family members even when angry, you are on the right track to showing your Exceptional Child a positive way to let their strategies help them manage anger and anxiety better. Until next time.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Holiday Madness Descending- How To Cope In Your Exceptional Family

‘Tis the season for fun, family, festivities and sensory overload. Yep, it’s the holidays, and as much as Exceptional Families love the holidays like Neuro Typical Families do, our kids usually have a harder time. It’s not that they don’t enjoy the family gatherings, gifts or other traditions that go with it. It’s usually all of the above combined that will send most Exceptional Kids (and their parents), over the edge into over stimulation and meltdown mode. So, as an Exceptional Family, what can you do to help your Exceptional Child cope better with the holidays? Here are some ideas:

  1. Structure what you can: I know, the holidays are all about unwinding and NOT structuring, but our kids need some kind of structure in order to function in the way they are used to functioning in day to day life. Make the structure natural for home life, but give them some sort of idea as to what will be expected of them.
  2. Prepare them for the craziness: Talk to your kids either verbally or with pictos, about what the holiday entails. This means discussing what is expected of each of us by family, friends, and with other traditions so that will know what is happening.
  3. Form your own family traditions: This hard been a hard one for me. I was always a stickler for doing everything the same way I or Dad was brought up. However, we learned with an Exceptional Child we would need to adjust our way of thinking so everyone would have a good holiday. Now my main concerns are health, happiness and fun all around. As long as those conditions are met, I know we are on the right path. This means allowing down time for our child as well as time spent with family and friends.
  4. Set aside down time as a nuclear family: I am a firm believer in ‘safe days’, that is, days where there is not too much stimulation from family or friends, so that the day runs smoothly and Michael feels calm (as do Dad and I). Let’s face it, every parent worries when their Exceptional Child is having a hard time, so if we learn to give time for our child to stim, regulate, and do what he needs to do, everything else will fall into place.
  5.  Take time for yourselves individually: It’s important that Exceptional Moms and Dads take time for themselves to recharge their batteries before doing anything else as individuals. It’s only when we feel calm and centered, that we can pass that message on to our children.
    Exceptional Parents,  how do you cope with the holidays in positive frame of mind?  It’s important that no matter what, you learn how to regulate your behavior and your family’s and remember that everyone being comfortable is the best way to go. Happy Holidays! Until next time.

Feeling overwhelmed as an Exceptional Parent? Don’t know where to turn for tips, and ways to survive and thrive during the whole journey? You are not alone. I have walked and continue to walk this path myself. As a writer, speaker, parent coach and Mom to a son with Autism, ADHD, and Type 1 Diabetes,  I can help you through all the twists and turns that parenting an exceptional child require, while keeping your sense of humor intact, your sense of self and relationships intact, and helping you see that not only are you raising your exceptional child, but they are raising you to be the best human being you can be. You are each other’s advocates for a better world. For more information on my coaching packages, contact me at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.  

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

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

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

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

Feeling overwhelmed as an Exceptional Parent? Don’t know where to turn for tips, and ways to survive and thrive during the whole journey? You are not alone. I have walked and continue to walk this path myself. As a writer, speaker, parent coach and Mom to an Exceptional Son with Autism, ADHD, OCD, and Type 1 Diabetes,  I can help you through all the twists and turns that parenting an exceptional child require, while keeping your sense of humor intact, your sense of self and relationships intact, and helping you see that not only are you raising your exceptional child, but they are raising you to be the best human being you can be. You are each other’s advocates for a better world. For more information on my coaching packages, contact me at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.  

How To Show And Receive Respect From Your Exceptional Child

An amazing thing has been happening with Michael lately. He has been showing respect to me again as well as learning to respect himself in a whole new way. Puberty has not been easy for him thus far, and I have been told by many people that it will only get harder as he gets older. Apparently kids with autism and ADHD have a harder time in puberty. Also kids who have Type 1 Diabetes have their challenges, big ones, during these years too. I don’t consider these people fear mongers. I am grateful to all of them, professional and other Moms and Dads, who have told me this to help me continue to stay strong, advocate, and prepare Michael for the world in the best way I can. I know he will triumph. He is one strong kid, and I am one strong Mama! 🙂

This is not to take away from the fact that Michael has blown me away with the progress he has made in the last four months, but especially the last two, as he has moved away from using verbal and physical means to handle his anger. That’s not to say there have not been slip ups, but he is so conscious of them, apologizes, immediately starts using his strategies to calm down. He shows me how he is learning that giving in to anger is not the solution. He will often ask me if he is doing better. Am I happy with him? I tell him I am happy to see him using his tools, and yes, he is doing better. I will also repeat, that anger is ok. It is channeling anger in a destructive or dangerous way that is unacceptable. I think he is grasping that.

I also had this amazing conversation with him the other night where we talked about respect and love. I told Michael if he knew that I love him, even when I don’t say it. He said, “I know you love me Mommy. I always know.” I have seen him make mistakes with talking back to Dad and I, getting upset when something does not go his way, and catch himself about to launch into an aggressive tirade and stop. He asks if we can go places and spend time together. Can we go out to eat? He does not demand, but waits to see what works for me. I think all of this boils down to a slow process of learning self-soothing strategies, as well as recognizing that I am a separate human being with my own wants, needs and desires. For my part, I have also shown respect Michael’s way, with the new activities he wants to participate in, to his bedtime routine which we have altered as he has matured. The respect has to work both ways in order to be successful and so far, I am happy to say that things are getting better.

Exceptional Parents, do you respect your Exceptional Child? Do they respect you? Remember, it is  two way street of talking, establishing firm rules and boundaries that are clear, and also allowing some leeway when they are clearly feeling out of control and powerless. In the end, if you start with respect and love, you cannot go wrong. Until next time.

Feeling stuck as a parent? Wondering how you can manage parenting an exceptional child that does not come with an instruction manual? You are not alone. You have a unique experience ahead of you, and one that can shape you into something you never thought possible. I can help you on your journey. As an exceptional parent myself, I have been there and am continually there through my incredible son’s journey that just keeps growing. To learn more about how he is raising me, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

The Many Sides Of Your Exceptional Child- How To Handle Their Mood Swings

One minute Michael is my little boy for the briefest of seconds, then he morphs into “tween man,” as I like to call him. But even with this, there are still many sides of Michael that I see every day, and many things he is teaching me about me and life itself. It has been in navigating these changes, that I have learned how important it is for parents to be adaptable, to never stop learning, and to bend the old rules sometimes in favor of new rules. No, I am not saying to give into your child to avoid a meltdown. All parents have tried this and usually not had success in the end anyway. What I am saying is that your child, whatever their age, will demonstrate many sides of their character to you in a given day. As their parent, you need to be ready to handle all those sides. I know. It’s not always fun or easy, but that’s life and you will be teaching them a valuable skill.

What sides am I talking about? Well, first there’s the side of dependence where they are super clingy and want you to do things for them. This comes at any age when they ask you to pick up after them, prepare their clothes, pack their school bag. You slowly have to teach them independence and how to handle their own things. Then there is the rebellion stage where they will do things wrong on purpose just not to do them the way you do. It’s kind of like the two year old “I’m the boss of me” stage. You’ve also got to find ways to ride this one out picking your battles as long as they don’t affect safety, and work your way out to your child learning independence and listening to you as the adult in charge who makes the rules. Finally, there is the questioning if they are loved  and wanted stage, where they need reassurance from you that they are special. Sometimes they ask this of friends too. It is important you remind them that love of those around them matters, but that if they love themselves and know their own mind, it matters that much more.

If you are an Exceptional Parent, you must navigate all these stages while usually using reward charts, anger charts, as well as measuring the pros and cons of other behavior programs as well as medication changes. This means you are doing your well rounded job of parenting. It is all worth it in the end, as you will teach your child how to advocate for themselves and be truthful to all their challenging sides.

Exceptional Parents, how many sides does your Exceptional Child possess? It probably depends on the day. After all, some days are easier than others as far as stress and growing up are concerned. The most important thing is for you to remain calm as a parent, not take offence to what comes out of their mouth (they are only kids after all and testing is part of the game), and learn to show and exhibit patience and a firm hand so that they know where they stand with you and in the world. Until next time.

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

The Eureka Moment When Your Exceptional Child Connects Their Own Behaviors and Consequences

It has been a long hard two years. I look at how far our family has come in understanding anger-Michael’s anger and our own. This goes beyond behavior and reward charts. This means really understanding where anger is coming from, what is being triggered, what is in and out of our control, and how to control it. Michael by far I am the most proud of, as he is the child and he has a lot more hurdles to overcoming anger than any of the adults around him. This week, even with some tough days, I had the pleasure of seeing and hearing Michael make the connections of what his behavior (good and bad) got him. When he had positive moments, I celebrated with them. When he had negative moments, my heart broke for him, yet I was happy to hear him say, “I lost out on that fun activity because of my behavior. I have to learn to control my anger.” Yes! This may not sound like much, but a child who is extremely impulsive and struggles with self-esteem and hyperactivity, realizing he can have control over his actions, even if it is not always easy, is huge. At least for me it was.

Things that Michael has started doing is using fidget toys again to keep his hands busy so they are not doing anything inappropriate like squeezing or touching without permission. Michael has also started using his words to express how he is feeling. For example, he will now tell us that he wants privacy and no reminders about getting up in the morning. He sees the time on his alarm clock and will get up and in the kitchen at an agreed upon time. The same goes for his bath or shower time. We have discussed his schedule and he knows what he has to do. If he gets a late start, he has to hurry through, but get the important things done. He has learned that good self-regulation begins with learning how to use tools to calm ourselves down and having medication that helps make this possible.

I have also learned what words or phrases set him off and make it harder for him to calm down. He is learning how to not panic if Dad or I forget and in our anger use trigger words. After all, he will sometimes use words that trigger us, and Dad and I have to use the same tools to self-regulate and set a good example. When we do not, we need to come clean, apologize, and move forward. After all, everyone out there has trigger words. A civilized society exists when people learn to communicate beyond their initial anger impulses. There is a lot of discussion, clarity and consistency now in how Dad and I parent, how we explain things to Michael, and how he communicates to us as well. It has made an amazing difference and I finally see a light at the end of our behavioral tunnel, so to speak.

Exceptional Parents, are you struggling with challenging behavior from your Exceptional Child now? Whatever form it takes, remember first calm down and observe your child. See what they are doing and why. What is the root cause of their behavior? Are they frustrated? Do they need attention? Are they overwhelmed and lack impulse control? Chart it-what happens before the behavior, how they react, and what happens including what you do. From there, you can work to teach them proper ways to self-regulate and learn some tips yourself about keeping calm in the storm. Until next time.

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

Stepping Back To Help Your Exceptional Child Self-Regulate- 5 Ways To Do It

The thing I used to hate the most when Michael was little was hearing him cry. The long crying spells and tantrums used to make me feel inept, helpless and desperate. What was I doing wrong as a mother that my baby would not stop crying? I used to marvel at other Moms in parks, shopping malls, at church. They seemed to keep their wits about them and not die a thousand deaths every time their child cried. Both my mother and mother-in-law tried to reassure me. That is how he is communicating. They were right of course. The calm Moms I witnessed all around me were right too. But then so was I. You see, Michael did not know how to self-regulate, and I did not know how to teach him to do that until much later when I realized that kids with special needs take longer to achieve these milestones than other children.

I think it all stemmed from my own childhood. I had been an EXTREMELY sensitive child who would cry whenever upset. Self-regulation had been challenging for me at that time, but I learned to shed tears to a supportive mother and later on my own as an adult in the comfort of my own room. I suffered a lot until my thirties though, until I learned how yoga, exercise and meditation could help curb  stress and anxiety. I also learned that it had to be ME who fixed my problems and no one else. After a burnout I realized if I didn’t learn how to be responsible for my own emotions, I would continue to suffer. There was no such thing as superwoman. It was not a healthy place to be in.

Fast forward to motherhood. I knew I had to teach Michael self-regulation and didn’t want him suffering till adulthood before he found his way, but after coming to terms with his diagnoses, I  couldn’t help but worry, could he do this, could I teach him? I was feeling overwhelmed and wondering how to teach a child whose brain was so different than mine. Where would I start?  I was helped by great psycho educators as well as other therapists who gave me good tools. I also picked the brains of my Mom friends and found out what worked for their kids.From all those wonderful individuals (as well as doing some of my own brainstorming) here  is a list of ways to help your child  self-regulate:

  1. Let them cry or feel anger: This is the hardest thing to do, but remember crying and getting angry are not what the problem is. It is not being able to stop the tears or the anger from growing. That is where the destructive parts come in. Having them come up with strategies like stepping away to breathe, going for a short walk, squeezing something can help calm the storm of anger or anxiety.
  2. Talk about when you’ve lost control and how you reacted to fix it: Depending on how much your child understands and can communicate, it is important to share your own experiences with anger and sadness honestly. This does not mean every detail. They should not bear the burden of your emotional issues, but telling them what you did that worked or failed will be helpful for them to find strategies.
  3. Ask them what they think would make them feel better: When your child is calm, ask them what they like to do to be happy. Also, observe what they seem to gravitate to when upset. Do they like hugs, movement, deep pressure? These are indications of things you can suggest as self-regulation tools.
  4. Teach them how to show unconditional love to themselves: Sadly, this is something most adults lack or have difficulty with-self-love and acceptance even when our faults rise to the surface. Before you can teach a child to love him/herself unconditionally though, you must show them how you love yourself unconditionally. This means that even when you mess up as an adult, you take responsibility, calm down, name what you did wrong, and start the healing process. We all make mistakes. It is ok, and is part of life.
  5. Give them choice and remind them it is THEIR job to calm themselves down. Too many exceptional kids are told what to do by the adults around them. Yes, adults need to guide them, but it is important that in guiding them, you do not tell them HOW to calm down. There is not one way. There are many. They have to (with gentle loving guidance), figure out what tools will work for them. Another thing to remember. It is their job to calm themselves down. Not yours. Not their therapists. Not their teachers. This is so hard for a parent, but invaluable to make your child accountable for how they feel and who they are.

Exceptional Parents, how many times have you wished you could take back  a stressful event or events from your Exceptional Child’s life? It’s not a good idea. The thing is, resilient kids are made when they are forced to find ways to handle their own individual stress. Our kids need to be given tools to handle their anxiety, anger and depression. But we can’t be constantly rescuing them. If we do this, we will make them feel as if they can’t do it on their own. As hard as it is, parents have to be offer support, tools and their own life experiences as guides and suggestions. Then it’s time to step back, let your child fall and pick themselves back up. Eventually they will learn what they need to do to succeed. Remember, a different brain is not an inferior brain. Your child can and will come in their own if they see you believe in them and love them for all they are. Until next time.

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