Category: challenging behaviors

Seeing Your Exceptional Child’s Progress Among The Struggles And Rewarding It

Tonight was Parent/Teacher Night at Michael’s school. Over the years, the faces of the teachers and therapists have sometimes changed, but the feeling of being among family, people who truly care about your child’s well being and progress is amazing. That is why I was a little nervous walking in tonight as Michael’s report card, though filled with positive comments, also contained some that mentioned things like difficulty focusing, needing more intense support in some areas, and struggling in others. And, as an Exceptional Mom, ok now let’s be honest, as pretty much ANY Mom, I felt like great that there are good things, but how am I failing him with the struggles? What am I NOT doing to support him better at home so he will struggling less at school? And that’s when I realized I was doing it again. I was not celebrating the progress he has made, that all our kids make, in day to day life. Yes, sometimes that progress could be something simple like greeting another adult by saying “Hi, how are you?” Other times it could be, MAJOR improvements in handwriting. That would be Michael’s, as he has struggled with writing and fine motor skills from toddler hood onward. It could also be how your child handles organizing certain areas of their life. Michael needs reminders to get ready for school, pack his schoolbag, but for diabetes management at home, school, and elsewhere, all I can say is WOW. School said the same thing. He is on top of things and educating the adults around him. I sometimes forget this progress in my zeal to make everything perfect, to feel like he is improving everywhere means that I am successfully doing my job as a Mom.

If there is an area of struggle, I am at fault for not fixing it. That’s when I realized tonight, no. I am a champion of Michael. I am doing all I can to encourage Michael to find good strategies, good organization, make good choices, all while doing what every parent does; working , running a household, and squeezing in time for me and Dad in between. Michael is responsible for Michael, and Joanne for Joanne. Michael needs guidance from Joanne, aka Mom, but she is not the one who needs to learn to fix things, Michael is. Mom supports the child. Mom works with school, therapists, and others to help her child grow and develop. But in the end, it is the child who needs to be released to fly on his own. I am doing more and more of the releasing, but every once in a while I doubt if I am not intervening enough.

Then, three times a year, I get to look at Michael as his school does. What do they tell me? Michael is polite. Michael enjoys being with his friends. Michael makes an effort to learn and when struggling, knows to ask for help. Michael manages many things independently, and with practice and time, will manage other things independently too. My heart soars at these words as well the words of the teacher tonight when I spoke with him who reminded me. “He is doing great overall. Just remember to tell him you are proud of him.” I did. I really did, in passing the first time, but tonight when I came home, I told him again as he seemed nervous and we talked about what I spoke to his teacher about. It’s funny, Dad reminded me of the same thing when I was worried that Michael had had his third or fourth sugar low of the week this week. “Just tell him you are proud of how he is managing his lows.” I know. The Universe and God speak through people. I now remember every day to tell Michael when I am proud of him.

Exceptional Parents, do you take time, even in stressful moments, to look at how far your child has come in their Exceptional journey? All of them have struggles, but have victories too. Remember and celebrate those victories, especially during the tough times or even the times when there are minor struggles. This is what will remind your child how far they have come too, and how far they can go. 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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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! 

“Hey, I’m the Adult Here”- How to Make It Clear Who Sets The Pace While Still Respecting Your Child’s Boundaries

So tween hood has been challenging, very challenging so far for Michael and I. Sometimes he is downright funny like tonight when I knew he was trying to do something silly with a friend and I called him on it and he said, “Wow, Mommy! You are so smart! How did you know I was going to do that?” With a straight face, I answered him, because Moms are adults and we have lots of life experience. Other times, conversations can be downright frustrating, like when he argues that he is not hungry for breakfast and why can’t he not eat like so and so does in school? Because it is not healthy and I want you healthy. There are also fights about bedtimes. “Well so and so gets to stay up till 10 pm and HE is twelve years old. Sigh. If it was only these regular issues that I have to deal with. But then there are the inevitable challenges his anxiety, ASD, ADHD and diabetes bring for him and me. He needs LOTS of reassurance when stressed, can be quite impulsive when routines are interrupted, and diabetes, well, for the most part I’ve figured out the basics, but it throws me and Dad WAY too many curve balls and Michael too, of course.

This brings me to raising Michael now in this mindset, when I am not the Queen and center of his universe I once was. Friends have taken that spot, though he will still tell me about his day most of the time, talk about his problems, and occasionally, I get compliments on my cuisine even. 🙂 All jokes aside, he will also try to upset the power boundaries in our relationship and insist that he is in charge and I can’t stop him from

1) not brushing his teeth

2) not swearing in his head

3) not eating all his fruits and veggies

I say, you’re right, but I want you to make the healthy choices that are good for your overall functioning so that you feel good, be able to play and learn well. I have learned how to sidestep a power struggle with everything, though we have our mornings like this morning where he was misinterpreting everything I was saying and being grouchy about eating, moving fast and brushing his teeth. I looked at him in pure frustration and said,

“Next thing you’ll agree what color our toaster is with me. Just cooperate. The bus is coming!”
He surprised me by laughing, and saying he wasn’t like that. Then he paused and got moving. I stepped outside with my morning coffee and waited for the bus outside the house until he came out five minute later. This little technique (along with having my second cup of coffee Al Fresco) 😉 has saved many a morning from erupting into a full fledged fight. Most importantly, I am learning how to express myself to Michael making it clear that Dad and I are in charge and that there needs to be rules, but we can negotiate on compromise on things like bedtime (Bedtime Monday -Thursday and Sunday is at 9. Fridays and Saturdays you can go 9:30 as long as we see you are listening and calm). We also compromise on video or computer time the same way. And food, well, we let him pick a meal once a week, and the other times, he eats what he can, making an effort to eat a whole balanced plate.

Exceptional Parents, how do you balance your authority with giving your child choices? Like with everything in life, the middle road is actually the best road taken. It allows for a stable routine with some flexibility and negotiation with both sides. This method teaches your child respect of you and themselves, and you learn to respect them as well as growing thinkers and doers in charge of their destiny. 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 ADHD is Cool And Why It’s Important Exceptional Parents Remember That

Tonight I had one of those afternoon and evenings with Michael when he was a little, shall we say, high strung and at times challenging. He was having a hard time focusing on what he needed to do, (in this case get ready for and the playing tennis at his weekly lesson). He was argumentative with me about leaving on time, and then was silly and hyperactive at the lesson. When the teacher got him to focus, and that she did, he performed well so the lesson was a success. But he kept coming back to me and asking me about calling up a friend later. I could truly see the ADHD which was making it challenging for him to focus, sequence and move forward in a logical way. This was both frustrating for me, but then on the car ride home when we talked about how the evening would unfold, I also spoke to him about his ADHD. He admitted that he has a  hard time organizing himself due to the ADHD and he needs help and reminders. I agreed with him, and told him I and his teachers would support him with reminders, but he needed to do the work too to stay focused. I came up with a new mantra-Stop, Breathe, Think, Speak Or Do.  It has met with reasonable success, but still needs work. I also am trying to get him back to doing mediation and yoga to learn to stay in the moment and breathe.

In talking to Michael however, I also found myself saying out loud how cool ADHD was. Yes, parents I used those exact words much to my own happy surprise! I said, just like Autism means his brain works differently and he has many interesting ways of seeing the world because of it, the same is true of ADHD. I was surprised, because though I have said it to other adult people I know who have ADHD and I truly believe this kind of brain is incredible when I see it in kids or adults, I was having a hard time seeing my child’s ADHD as cool. I think that’s because helping him focus and reigning in some of that excess energy is far from simple, and at the end of a busy work week, the last thing a parent wants to do is have behavior challenges to deal with.

Still, in saying it out loud, I felt happy, happy for Michael that he has quirky personality traits due to ADHD, and happy for me that I could see the positives in what amounts to a very fast and different brain which zeroes in on things neuro typical brains may not see right away. I told Michael that in order for him to see his ADHD as the gift that it is, he has to make sure not to let the stressful parts of how his brain works get him in trouble. I compared it to loving food so much that we overeat and feel sick. You can love food, but enjoy in moderation. Same with the way you experience life at a faster pace. Talk a lot, get excited, but know when to tone it down.

Later in the evening I also thought it’s like when I write a story and my characters talk to me in my head. Yep. They actually do sometimes. I have also seen what they look like. However, I don’t have full blown conversations with make believe characters, nor think others want to hear about these characters in my daily life in detail, unless of course they ask about a story or book I am writing. Then if it is the appropriate moment, I talk about the story.  That’s what we need to do as parents. Praise the uniqueness, quirks and different ways our child’s brain works due to Autism, ADHD or whatever other challenges they are facing, while helping support them to overcome the difficulties they face in our world due to their different outlook and ways of relating. We also need to teach them there is a time or place for having certain conversations.

Exceptional Parents, how do you talk about your Exceptional Child’s brain and the way they see the world? It’s important to support our children as well as celebrate their differences. We all have our challenges and strengths. It’s by honing in on the strengths while giving support for the weaknesses, that we will help instill a positive attitude in our children as they step into the world more and more on their own. Then, they in turn can educate others out there about differences and celebrate them in a positive way.  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 Help Your Child With Executive Function Challenges

Michael is an amazing kid. I’ve said it time and time again. He has taught me so much about persistence, tenacity, having a sense of humor and never giving up. He has also taught me lessons about patience, both in showing it to him, others and towards myself. But one thing that I know is super challenging for Michael as it is for other kids on the spectrum and with different brains, are executive function challenges. Executive function challenges are basically planning out things in a smooth, logical way so that you are in sync with others around you. This is usually done seamlessly for most of us, but people whose brains work differently process information differently, so things do not unfold in the same way for them. Unfortunately, this often spells disaster for interactions with parents, teachers, friends and others in the vicinity. It’s not that the person with a different brain is trying to stress everyone out. They just don’t understand how you can read the environment so differently than they do. So, what can a parent do to try and avoid so many of the fights they have with their exceptional child over how they go about organizing their day? It’s called compromise both ways, and here are some survival tips that I have learned, and am in fact, still learning:

  1. Write It All Down: Yes, write down your child’s typical functioning day, or if they are older have them write it down. It’s important that they see the order of their day on paper and how long things take to do, so the time next to what is getting done.
  2. Ask For Your Child’s Input: It is SO important that your child has some say and control over their day at home. This does NOT mean that they call all the shots, but giving them choices over when they want to do certain things- i.e. do you want snack at 10 or 10:15? do you want to play with this toy or that? This can give them a sense of control and mastery in a world where they often feel they have little say or control.
  3. Tell Them What You Want Directly: This means listing the priorities of their day and what you expect from them- i.e. you need to get up, eat, get dressed, go to your activity and/or school, come home, do homework, eat dinner, shower, bed. The more clearly you can spell out what they need to do, the calmer they will feel as there is routine, and then the two of you can fill in the blanks for the details.
  4. Give Strategies For Stressors: Things that stress them out will make them shut down and not move, participate or do what is expected. This can look like defiance, not moving or talking , tantrums, dressing slowly, staying in bed or not going to bed. When your child is having a hard time no matter how hard it is or how late it is, take a deep breath, get down to their level and ask them, “is something wrong? how can I help?” Add, “I want to help and need you to tell me how.” This will usually give some sort of clue. Then besides talking offer: taking a walk, a fidget toy to squeeze, a massage, quiet music, etc.
  5. Have A Reward System and Use It: Finally, when your child starts to listen, uses strategies to handle stress and asks for help, reward them. Have a set of rewards that works- points system to redeem for a gift, a special treat at a store or eating out at a restaurant, a visit to a favorite place etc.

Exceptional Parents, how have you handled your Exceptional Child’s sequencing challenges in the past? If your system is not working anymore, think what you can use from the above or what else you can tweak. Remember, a successful behavior plan means compromise on both sides. Then there will be success and the love will be reinforced on both sides as each of you see the other one taking your concerns to heart. 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 Struggles Of Being An Exceptional Parent And What It Has Taught Me So Far

Most of my posts about raising an Exceptional Child and being an Exceptional Mom have been positive and optimistic, because after all, if our kids can handle a world that is not always set up to help them succeed, then who are we as their parents to complain? Yet, there are times when as a Mom and a woman who blogs about helping special needs families and lives it, I  want to run screaming into the wilderness saying, let me out alive! These thoughts used to frighten me. Not any more. I see them now as a necessary thing, a way to balance all my sides,-mother, wife, writer, coach, woman. It’s not always easy. But once I started sharing my parenting journey and my own personal human journey on this blog, my life became even more rich, as did my fiction. But that’s another story.

I have to say that coming to terms with how Michael and helping kids like him has changed me as a person, has been quite a journey. Our kids, all kids, teach us life lessons every day. They build us up and break us down, only to build us up again. They make us realize the work we have done on ourselves and may still need to do. They help us stay honest with who we are and who we want to become. So, on that note, I want to share what parenting an Exceptional Child  has taught me so far:

  1. I am stronger than I think.
  2. Self-care is the most important thing. If I fail in prioritizing my health, I fail everyone in my circle.
  3. Being a parent  feels like a spiritual calling most days, and it’s important to treat it that way.
  4. Sometimes you want to run away from being a parent and that’s not only ok, but normal. Go deeper and see what’s missing- More alone time? More sleep? More time with friends?
  5. Your personal time will be compromised as you prioritize the child. Make sure you schedule, and I mean schedule in everything else or it will never get prioritized.
  6. Your child will open up worlds you didn’t know existed.
  7. Your child will test your beyond anything in the universe.
  8. You will grow as much from the painful moments as from the beautiful. Don’t regret either of the lessons.
  9.  You may think another parent would do better for your child when you are the parent your child needs.
  10. You are your child’s teacher and advocate. They are your teacher and spiritual guide. Together, you will do amazing things.

Exceptional Parents, have you ever felt overwhelmed in a good or bad way by parenthood? Both are normal states of being. Your child needs to see you experience all the emotions out there. This way they will know that it is normal and ok to be angry, happy, sad, fearful, fearless and brave. As we teach them how to navigate the world around themselves, they teach us the same. Keep striving to learn from each other and when times are rough, remember you are both human and will get through it 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! 

 

When To Plow Forward and When To Step Back- Learning How To Parent Exceptionally

Oh boy. Picking your battles. This is a phrase I was aware of when I first became a mother twelve years ago, and even before that time. But not having lived it, I had a hard time actually learning how to follow it until, well, Michael came into my life. I was terrible at doing this until Michael had started school pretty much. Yes, I knew he was different. Yes, many of the ways I was raised did not work with Michael, but oh I tried, tried so hard to control things so as to help him, that I picked a battle with pretty much every thing I did. This was not fun for me. This was not fun for Dad. This was especially not fun for Michael. Finally, with a lot of great support from therapists for Michael, I learned how to stop fighting and truly pick my battles. I am pretty good at it now, but alas, I have my days when I make it my way or the highway. Those days don’t end well for Michael and I. And I have questioned myself recently now that things are going better in our family, what I am doing differently? And it hit me. When things are going well for Michael and I, I am truly not fighting him on every little thing.  Sometimes he does listen. Sometimes he doesn’t. But you know what? Even if he raises his voice, it does not turn into the battle it once did. Same with me.

But it is hard parents. It is hard realizing you can’t control your Exceptional Child. There. I’ve said it. And why do I want to control him? Because, one day in the world he will have to follow rules where there will not be the choices and options he has now. They will accommodate some things, but not others. I wanted to prepare him so badly for this future world, that I waged a battle on a daily basis in the present one. I realize now that was not necessary. I also realize that a lot of the battles were about me asserting that I am in control, I am in charge as the Mom. I was trying to convince myself that I had all the answers even when I did not so I wouldn’t feel so scared so worried about failing as a Mom. What did I miss? Is he aggressive because I have been too lenient as a parent? Is he swearing because I’ve been too permissive. It’s all my fault. No. No it is not. We set examples for our kids. We make expectations clear and concise. Then, we calmly sit back and see what they do, what kind of choices they make. We reward the good. We give consequences for the bad, but we tell them we love them, and are there to help them make better choices. We take care of ourselves along the way too, practice self-care, so their comments, especially when rude or disrespectful, do not hurt like a knife in the heart. These are our issues, after all, not our children’s to handle.

Picking battles for me has been about giving Michael autonomy to succeed and celebrate or fail and learn from it. It has also helped me distance myself from Michael’s actions. It is not my fault. If as a parent I have put rules, guidelines and expectations  in place and Michael knows what to expect, the rest of the ball is in his court, so to speak. Make no mistake parents should never be afraid to parent with clear expectations, boundaries and love. They should also not be afraid to show all range of emotions, including anger, as long as it is reasonable. But reacting emotionally to everything your child does means you need to take a step back, detach, and see the behavior for what it is. A control battle where no one will win. The only way success can happen is when your child knows you are in charge, but they have the free reign to either make a positive or negative choice and reap the benefits or have to handle the consequences. Make no mistake, it is a LONG road. Some days are harder than others. You need your strength, rest and a sense of humor. But when you make a list of non negotiable things where you will pick battles no matter what, and they usually fall under life/death safety, and the other important issues which range from important to minimal, you and your child will have an easier time co-existing in the same home.

Exceptional Parents, how many times a day are you picking battles with your Exceptional Child? Are you exhausted, angry and frustrated? Step back for a minute and see who are fighting against and what is the purpose of hanging on to that control? Who is winning? Chances are, neither you nor your child. Once you are in a calm state of mind, look at what objectives are really important for your child to meet and which you can agree to disagree on. Then, let go and let your child experience the good or bad of what happens. You will parent in a whole new way, and they will probably surprise you with how fast they also respond to firm boundaries, love and acceptance, and some flexibility in making decisions. 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! 

Learning From And Teaching Your Exceptional Child-Finding The Balance

So this week has been both an exercise in learning from Michael and in teaching him how to handle some of life’s stresses and strains. There have been times, like the other night when Michael handled low blood sugar in the middle of the evening all by himself, that I stood totally in awe of my son, how he is handling a disease that is not always easy to manage, particularly with blood sugars that go up and down and not always with any reason. I often think that I would not be so good at handling diabetes as calmly as Michael does, particularly as I still have a lot of anger that Michael has this problem. I see how Michael is teaching me to stop fearing this and to move forward.

Then there was another night when the opposite happened. Michael escalated to fury and aggression so quickly over something so silly, a future outing that may or may not come to pass, that I became the teacher, once again reminding him after he had calmed down, that the next time he needed to pause and think before jumping the gun. We often interchange in these rules, of teacher and student. And even when at times he has triggered my anger, impatience or anxiety, I ask myself the question, why? What do I have to fear? What need of mine is not being met? What do I need to change? And I thank Michael. Ok, maybe not directly at that time when I am angry or upset, but afterwards. I see that I am meant to learn life lessons from him just as he is from me.

That’s the thing. Our children are our greatest teachers, and exceptional kids’ brains see the world a whole lot differently than ours. This means that if we keep an open mind and heart, we will see the world through their eyes and learn to think like them too, especially when they are on the right track. Of course, there are times that they learn to think like us and get themselves on the right track too. That is also great. We are each other’s guide in a world that does not always make sense, but that is a journey of self-growth if we remember it like that.

Exceptional Parents, who are the teacher and student in your parent/child relationship? If you chose one or the other, it’s probably not accurate. In all relationships, you learn from each other. We learn from co-workers, family members, strangers, even our pets. If we look deep enough at the lessons life is trying to teach us through adversity, joys, blessings and pain, we will be on our way to parenting our children, and ourselves, in a whole new way. 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! 

 

Balancing Positive Parenting With Behavioral Parenting-How Combining The Two Can Help Your Exceptional Child Succeed

Oh how difficult it is to be a parent of any child. An Exceptional Child though, takes a different kind of mindset. Michael has become very patient with me over the years as I have adjusted my style of parenting to meet his needs as well as show him the appropriate boundaries kids and parents must have. I have found that the way to do this, is to have a balanced parenting approach. What has worked for me as an Exceptional Mom, has been to use both behavioral and positive parenting approaches, depending what situation I am parenting in and what the problem is. Now that Michael is in puberty and acting out a lot, I have leaned A LOT on behavioral parenting approaches and have used things like reward points, direct consequences for actions and talking out the why’s and how’s of conducting oneself in society. This has been helping a lot, but on its own, is not the total solution.

Michael has still benefited from a lot of the positive parenting solutions I used before when he was younger, that is, giving him choices and leeway whenever possible, reminding him of the importance of family relationships and how much Dad and I want to be with him, and prioritizing family time activities when he is pushing away from us developmentally. Now there are some days when I will admit that positive parenting strategies have not been at the top of my favorite list, as Michael has been rude, lashed out, or I am tired. But when it all come down to it, I have seen that kids need balance just as much as us grownups do. Have you ever been so intense with your eating and exercising regime and then you have one night off and indulge? Perfectly normal. It makes a balance. Likewise, if you are constantly doing things with your children or partner, alone time for a few days feels real good. Just as when you are alone for too long, you need time to connect with family and friends. Our Exceptional Children need this balanced approach to their time with us at ALL AGES even when they seem to be pushing you away.

Michael is a non-stop talker when he is with Dad or I, though he very clearly puts his boundaries up when he wants alone time in his room or with friends. Yet today when I got back from a night out with a good friend, Michael quickly said good night to me and seeing Dad’s face  I asked how the night went? Dad said good, but that Michael is high maintenance. Yes, he is. But that goes for all our children. They need us to be there for them, but stay away. They need to know they can come to us with problems and push us away when they feel capable of coping. And how do they learn to do this? They learn by parents trusting their own gut on what combination of strategies work best to raise their child or children.

Parents also need a strong support team of therapists and like minded other parents behind them offering tips, tricks and ideas for what worked and didn’t work for them and their child. In the end, don’t give up. Tune in to what your child needs. There is not ONE fix to repair the relationship and communication challenges with your child. Nor is there a necessity to say that my child is troubled because he is not communicating in the way other kids are. Maybe your child needs extra time to express themselves. Maybe communicating via technology is easier. Whatever the case, tune into what seems to work for a better relationship with your child and family. You will most likely hit the nail on the head if you remember that often more than one approach will make things easier. 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 you personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

 

 

Tackling Your Own Exceptional Impatience While Helping Your Child With Theirs

I have a problem with patience. There, I said it. I feel better now. What has been hard for me to admit is that I need to build this skill really well as an Exceptional Mom because Michael’s patience is worse than mine and that’s not saying much. Most days and nights I can reign in my impatience, stress, and anger when Michael pushes limits, but then there are those days. You know the ones I am talking about, parents. They start tough with you feeling frustrated that in spite of all your best efforts your Exceptional Child will not compromise, and they end with two meltdowns-yours and your child’s. That was Michael and I the other night. I realized some common denominators in why we clashed. We were both overtired, not taking the time to hear one another or sympathize with the other one’s viewpoint, and we both were stubbornly holding on to the fact that we had it right. As it turned out, neither of us had the situation completely correct. It was an evening that called for some negotiating, respectful listening, and patience with the other tired person. Neither of us possessed it that night as we had our own agendas. “Do you hear me, do you really hear me?” These were the words both of us were uttering while the other was clueless. Each thought the other one was uncaring when really two tried people who loved each other clashed and clashed badly.

After as I lay in bed totally wiped out by the tough evening not even having the energy to take a calm warm bath as I had planned, I thought to myself,  there were some steps I wish I had followed to stay calm and centered. As a model to Michael, I may have been able to prevent the evening from at least getting worse even if I could not have prevented the fighting we did.  I vowed to follow these steps and recognize what I needed to do the next time there was a conflict and I know that there will be conflicts with an opionated tween in the house!

  1. Evaluate my mood: Before Michael came home, I needed to recognized how tired I was and what would charge my batteries in a positive way. Then it was time to do that before the bus pulled up. Probably doing some yoga or listening to soft music my cup of coffee or tea would have helped.
  2. Review the strategies to use: The strategies would include what I would use to calm down and what I know would work for Michael. If necessary, having them on paper close by to refer to may have been a good option for both of us.
  3. Remember not to take my kid’s anger personally: This is a tough one, but most kids act out due to THEIR issues not their lack of love or respect for you no matter what they say or do. They are on the egocentric side, and so pain is all about them. As the parent and adult in the relationship, I needed to recognize that Michael was in a bad mood due to HIS issues and not MINE.
  4. Validate some of his anger and mine calmly: This is also tough, but as I tell Michael, anger is not bad, but reacting to anger with aggression of any sort in unacceptable. Just because Michael yells I do not yell back. The same goes for physical aggression. I am guilty of yelling only, though I have been known to slam doors, not my proudest moments as a Mom. As the adult, I need to model how to be angry and use tools to get control of myself. Also, it’s important to acknowledge mistakes and anger with an “it’s ok. we move forward,” and no blame game. We all make mistakes. It’s not the end of the world. I may say it, but I need to do it too.
  5. Don’t make assumptions about what is being said-communicate clearly from the beginning: What got Michael and I in trouble, was that we both assumed the other one was deliberately trying to hurt and disrespect the other one. This was not the case. We had a BIG communication problem. With a neuro typical brain and an autistic one, it can happen all the time if we are not careful. Once the snowball got rolling, it was hard to stop. I saw now that I assumed falsely as did Michael  what the other one was saying, and that made things worse for both of us. Next we need to be direct right away.

Exceptional Parents, do you feel like you are losing your cool more than you want to with your child? Do you feel like you have it under wraps and then suddenly explode and you can’t see why? It’s time to look at your own parenting tools for YOUR anger and anxiety. Do they need a tune up? Do you need a reminder of what helps to calm you down? It’s ok to use bad nights as a learning curve for you and your child. That is what we do in our family. After all, if your Exceptional Child sees that you lose it sometimes and recover from mistakes, they will eventually learn not to be too hard on themselves. Take heart if you are an impatient person. There are ways to build patience- get enough sleep, meditate, exercise and eat right, and take time for you to recharge your batteries doing things alone that can center you as a person. If you need to, seek outside help. There is never any shame in doing so. You will be a more patient parent and human being because of it, and your relationship with your child will only get better. Until next time.

Are 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!