Category: communication

Official Exceptional Teendome and Teaching Your Child To Work With You

There is an exceptional teen in the house! It became official at the end of December, and though Michael started showing early signs of being in puberty at  11, it has been an even more intense ride in the last year. As he has slowly started pushing away towards more independence, the desire for approval, attention, connection and time spent together talking has also intensified and on some days, even increased. I am both glad and a little overwhelmed by this at times, but happy that Michael does still want to connect and tell me things. I know this is the age, for any kid, when they start pushing away from parents. Don’t get me wrong. I hear daily that he does not love me. He likes me.  Love is reserved for girls he has crushes on. No matter how many times I or Dad has told him there are lots of kinds of love, he will move back to romantic love.  I get it. He’s experimenting with different ways of relating, and well, Mom is good for bouncing ideas off on, taking me places and chatting, but hey, I don’t love her like when I was a baby.

The thing is though that other things I did not think would be important for Michael now are-fitting in with friends, watching ‘cool’ videos, going out places alone as he does not want to be seen with his Mommy. It’s heartwarming and interesting to see Michael modeling what all teens want. As I’ve said before, I did not know if Michael would be like neuro typical peers in this way. In others, due to his neuro diverse brain and view of the world, things need to be explained and outlined in more detail. He will still need to be reminded what comes next in a schedule or verbally. He also has a hard time hearing no, like when he was a small child. I simply remind him that it’s ok to become angry and be frustrated, but accepting what we can’t change is all part of growing up and maturing, and all of this have to deal with it, neuro typical and neuro diverse alike.

I know the world is harder on him. It’s harder for him to get things. Reading faces, emotions is still a challenge. But I have to be careful how I phrase things. I’ve heard him say so many times, “I don’t have to do things like this, I have austim and adhd. I can’t listen the way you want because I have autism and adhd.” Though I’m glad I told him the reason things are challenging, in the last two years especially, I have turned this way of making excuses into a way to better understand himself and NOT use his different brain as an excuse to get his way in everything. I have told him I want you to express all emotions, but you can’t lose control and get upset because you don’t get your way. All of us, neuro typical and neuro diverse, have to handle emotions, use strategies to cope with stress, and learn from mistakes. As a nurse in the ER told Michael when he was hospitalized while in ketoacidosis and was slowly recovering,”work with me Michael.” I tell him that every day now. I can’t help you unless you work with me, and tell me what you need. He has started believing me and listening as he did to the nurse that day.

Exceptional Parents, how are you surviving your teen or any other challenging age with your Exceptional Child? As long as you are honest about what they and you can handle, you will be well on your way to helping them grow into healthy human beings. Until next time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trusting And Learning From Mistakes-Exceptional Family Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Understanding Sensory, Processing and Other Exceptional Issues With Your Exceptional Child

When your child has a brain that is wired differently, life is extremely challenging for them and for you. As they grow up, you learn different ways to understand each other. I have had to painstakingly explain to Michael how my brain works and he has done the same to me. Sometimes, it is done patiently and easily on both our parts. Sometimes, it has been more challenging. But one thing I can say is that the things that have helped me understand Michael better have had to do with looking at real articles, talking to or reading articles and books by real autistic people, and of course, touching base with my neuro diverse son and hearing from his mouth what works. So, through my own trial and error, here are ways I have managed to troubleshoot sensory and processing differences that Michael has and try and understand him better:

1) Observe my son in all his moments, happy and sad: Sometime we neuro typical parents will misunderstand a sensory issue that means our child is upset or excited. Once we start to watch our child more closely in all settings, we will begin to understand more why they do what they do and what the need serves. If not, we know we need to ask more questions.

2) Ask your child questions: Yes, some children are limited verbally, some are non-verbal, and some are so verbal they can’t stop talking. However, this does not mean that it will be easy or hard for them to answer how they feel and why. It may take many conversations, but really show your child you are meeting them where they are and respecting their personal ways of regulating with the world.

3) Try out a variety of sensory friendly toys and options: Don’t be afraid to try out different sensory friendly toys like hand fidgets, sand, bubbles, things like trampolines, swings, activities like swimming, dancing.  You need to see if they are hypo or hyper sensitive to stimuli and if they need to move more or less. Does light or movement bother them? Do they seek it out? Understanding this means understanding how your child needs to be in the world to feel better in their body.

4) If they need to rock, flap or vocalize let them: Another way to help your child, within reason and within what the setting is too, of course, would be to let them do what they need to do to  regulate. If rocking, jumping, flapping or vocalizing helps them find balance in themselves, we must understand that they need to do this. Of course there are settings where they need to learn to have quieter options or move to a place where they can make sounds or move. Again, this means your child will realize you understand them and what they need to do to handle outside and internal stimuli better.

5) Read articles, books, blogs or talk to other neuro diverse people: The best way to understand how your child’s sensory system works is to talk or read about other autistic, adhd or other types of different-brained people to get a glimpse at this mind from the inside out. I remember the first time I did this how insightful it was to me. I learned how to help my son find moments to release the pent up energy in a healthy way. I was humbled talking to this individual and I continue to be when reading articles or talking to other neuro diverse people in person.

Exceptional Parents, how do you support and help your Exceptional Child handle sensory issues or sensitivities? I think the first place to start is in thinking we need to fix our kids. That is not the case. They are not broken. They merely have a different way of seeing the world than we do and need our understanding, compassion and interest to help them see that they are fine the way they are. When we make the effort to support and love our child, they in turn learn to love and accept themselves and the wonderful gift they are to us and to the world. Until next time.

 

 

How To Help Your Exceptional Child Learn To Be More Patient And Focused

Michael and I have made a breakthrough recently. I am so excited that he is learning to be more patient and focused. It has been due to hard work on his and my part. I recognize both and have made sure to tell him so on top of his home reward point system for good behavior. What has changed? I still have a tween soon to be teen (still can’t believe it) who will be moody when he comes in and wants to have shorter conversations so he can go and have time alone or talking to friends. Yet, he is opening up more about his day, like the old pre tween Michael did. Don’t get me wrong. As I’ve said before, I know this is developmentally normal at this age. It is a good sign of his growing independence. Still, the fact that he cares about talking to me means a lot.

Now for patience. He is learning about having to wait to speak with me if I am in the middle of something. He is learning about having to wait while Dad and I talk over family plans and also decide on things he may ask us to get him or activities to do. He is learning to focus and use strategies available to him to lessen his anxiety as well as troubleshooting what works and what doesn’t. He has been flexible trying strategies that we have recommended or his educator has. Some have worked, some have not. He has stayed positive about the ones that work and now remembers to use them more regularly.

It has been wonderful to see him blossom in this way. And even on the days and nights when he has a hard time, I remind him of his progress. We have a list of all the things he has excelled in over the past year, things that he never used to be able to do or were extremely challenging. We all refer to that list to see how far he has come, how far we have all come as a family.

So what tips can I offer in learning to help your child be more patient and focused? For starters having a structured plan of what is and is not acceptable and sticking to it diligently is what helped us. No exceptions.  Another thing is being super clear in what kind of behavior we expect and what tools he can use to curb the negative behavior and habits. Third would be reminders of using his tools at the right time before his anger would escalate, and then afterwards looking back to see if Dad or I could have been more clear on what was expected of him or in the situation. It’s not to beat ourselves up or to berate him, but would be a learning experience for all of us.

I have not been afraid to remind Michael that like it or not, these are the house rules. The first time I said this he said “what if I have a meltdown?” I simply responded, “you have a meltdown, then go calm down with your strategies, and then we can talk about why you are upset.” It’s simple really, but getting there as a family for us (like for many exceptional families), has been a challenge. We take it one day at a time and learn from each other. We also make sure to remind each other that we are a team and will get through it together.

Exceptional Parents, what tools have worked or not worked for you and your Exceptional Child? Remember, don’t feel bad if you tried something that didn’t work or your child did. You are making progress by eliminating what is not working in that case. Keep at it. Keep at loving, accepting and letting your child, no matter what their age, be heard and know they matter to you. With consistency, a calm approach and taking care of your personal stress, you and your child will find a way to help them overcome their obstacles. Until next time.

Self-Blame and Exceptional Parenting-When To Go Easy On Yourself And Know You Are Doing Your Best

As I sat looking at Michael’s report card tonight, I couldn’t help but smile at the Michael I recognize at home, all the places where he was written about as curious, social with peers and people in general, great navigating and sense of direction, whether on school grounds or when his school goes on community outings. I also heard about the polite side of Michael, which I do still see at home, though with full tween attitude is not always visible. 🙂 Teachers and staff love him and I couldn’t be more proud.

All jokes aside, these comments brought a smile to my face. What was harder to read were the comments about Michael’s challenges. Needs redirection to listen to others and wait, needs to slow down, needs support in certain subjects as he is distracted. As an exceptional mom who has tried so hard to work on these things with Michael at home and home therapy, I felt like I had failed too reading those words, failed to help him come further along at home so it would be easier in school to master material.  I know the ADHD brain has a hard time settling. I know the medication he is on for focus, though it was helped greatly, will not change his ability to concentrate unless he makes other behavioral changes, which is slow in coming. He has made progress, but big lasting change takes time. We are all working on building our patience too as a family.

I cannot take responsibility for every choice and learning decision Michael makes, especially as he gets older. It is hard knowing what to tackle sometimes. I have wanted to do tutoring, though academics is not Michael’s strength. Then also, there were, and still are, behavioral challenges for him to overcome at home and strategies he needs to learn to cope with distraction and impulsivity. So why do I always go back to blaming myself? Mom blame is something so many of us Moms, particularly the exceptional ones, put on ourselves. If only I had tried that therapy. If only he had been at the activity. That skill would have been mastered. He would have been further ahead. He would have less challenges now in puberty where his hormones are all over the place.

I am learning to shake off my self-criticism. Michael is doing the best that he can with what he has got. I am sure there are things we can improve on, and plan to talk about these things with Michael’s team next week when we meet for parent/teacher night. It is not one person’s job to raise a child, any child. It is the child, the parents, the family’s and society’s job together. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child, and I remind myself of that on the days I feel discouraged that I have not done enough to help Michael get to the next level of his development.

Exceptional Parents, do you ever take the whole blame for your Exceptional Child’s academic or social difficulties? It’s normal as you want them to succeed and be happy. But it’s also important to remember, as they get older, that they need some autonomy in making their own strides forward and handling their own difficulties. Do what you can as a parent to encourage healthy learning all around. Then step back. Let your child find their pace and fly. Until next time.

 

How Anger Can Be A Good Thing And What I’ve Learned As An Exceptional Mom

So to say that last week was tough in our family would be the understatement of the year. I don’t know if it is the early onslaught of winter, the fact Michael had a few nights where sleep wasn’t good, or his high blood sugar, but let’s just say that after handling about five nights of Michael blowing up in anger with little bits of my anger coming through, by Sunday I was mentally and physically wiped out. I was upset at myself that I’d let myself get worn out from redirecting his anxiety and aggression to the point where I opted out of family activities and sought complete solitude

That was not a bad thing, but seeking this out when we were are exhausted is not healthy. I didn’t even want music on in my house and that is not me, unless I count my burnout five years ago. Then I didn’t want to see people, hear music or participate in life. I hunkered down in my house and didn’t even write much. Thankfully I came through that phase with the help of finally releasing my anger in a positive way, and talking about it to professionals, family and good friends.

So this is why I think anger is a good thing. It’s an emotion like any other. I spent most of my life fearing anger. My own and other people’s. I thought it made me an uncaring person if I showed it. As a result, I developed a lot of unhealthy ways of coping with anger up until my late thirties. Michael has fallen into that same trap. I am trying to teach him to acknowledge his anger by not lashing out, but by letting himself feel the emotion, then coping by deep breathing, squeezing something, jumping it out on his trampoline, taking time alone to listen to soft music, or even ripping up paper. That seemed to work the other day as he unleashed his emotions in his room. I remember an art teacher in high school showing this to the class.

Anger is a good thing as it helps us recognize what is off in ourselves or in our child. Anger helps us connect to what changes we need to make to find balance again. Sometimes it means getting away from people. Sometimes it means seeking them out. Sometimes, more commonly, it is a mixture of the two things. Another good thing is that anger helps us learn what we need to fix. I like what our educator told Michael a few weeks ago. I often think of this too from my days of therapy. All human beings need to feel all emotions. It’s not normal to be happy all the time or sad or hyper. We need balance. Anger adds to that balance, and helps us appreciate when things start going right.

So as bad as I felt last weekend hunkering down, I realized this was not me pre-depression. This was the me who got a little off track, and was practicing what I preach to Michael. Let yourself feel what you are feeling, work through it, release it, move on. I took the day to write, take a long nature walk, and then spend some time with my cat. In the evening, I took a long bubble bath. Monday morning I was recharged, and I was reminded what I will do differently the next time frustration and anger start to build. I will take mini breaks. I am reminding Michael of this lesson too. He taught me what I need to do for myself, and now I was returning the favor. We both learn from one another.

Exceptional Parents, do you feel that anger is something you have made work for you and your child? Obviously , extreme anger is dangerous and needs outside help, but as long as your child and you have a healthy way to release anger and angry emotions, you will be able to get through even the toughest periods in your family life and become stronger for it. Until next time.

Clearing Up Communication Deficits- 5 Ways To Help You Understand Your Exceptional Child Better

Michael is growing up. Each day I see how he is pushing to be more independent and self-sufficient, yet there are still the struggles he faces with impulse control, asking for help, and realizing that when you love someone, you need to respect that they have boundaries, physical and psychological from you and you from them.

As I have realistically began to see Michael’s strengths and weaknesses and not assumed that I have to find the solution to all his problems, I have learned how communication deficits exist on all sides of the family-the parent’s and the child’s side. I have learned how to talk to Michael, get his input and give mine so that we can figure out how we can fix family fights or problems that keep occurring. Below are 5 ways our family has learned to handle communication deficits:

  1. Be honest about your weaknesses and what you are working on: It’s important to share with your child your own challenges and what you are doing to fix them- i.e. I have a temper so I take myself to a room to do 5 deep breaths and some yoga before I continue a discussion.
  2. Acknowledge their fear and frustration: It’s important that your child knows you feel bad that they are struggling. You are not okay-ing negative behavior, just saying you are there to support them through it.
  3. Ask them what tools they think could work: For a young child, ask if they need to blow bubbles, get a hug, squeeze something or walk to calm down. For an older child, let them write or describe what strategies they can use to center themselves and what they need from you.
  4. Make time to talk to them: No matter how tired you are, make time to listen and talk to your child. If they are not ready, just let them know that you are there for them when they are.
  5. Reward good behavior, and remind your child that they are not failures, they make good or bad choices: It’s important that kids see you catch them at being good. It’s also important that even when they trigger you by making bad choices, you tell them you are mad about the choice. It does not reflect the love you feel for them ever.
    Exceptional Parents, what communication challenges do you have in your family? We all have to clear up how we communicate first as parents to our children and other adults, and then teach our kids by example how they can better describe from us what they need. It’s also important that we prize honesty about all else, and work on teaching our kids that there is no shame in learning from our mistakes. Until next time.

Emerging-How To Connect To All Areas Of Your Exceptional Life and Parent Better

To say that I have this exceptional parenting thing under control at all times would be a lie, but I also have a confession to make. After an extremely challenging two years with Michael as well as personally, I am also at a point in my exceptional parenting life when I am seeing things coming together for me and how I look at Michael, myself and my relationships. How did it all start? Well, it began when I became tired of always pushing down resentments, fear and anger. Once I realized that my feelings were as valid as Michael’s, I began seeing how important it was I own them as much as I teach Michael to own his. I also realized how important my own personal happiness was too, just like Michael’s.

So now, when I am tired and need a break, I have no issues saying, I need 20 min. I’m taking it. I come back recharged and ready to handle anything. Finally, I also own failures and times when I don’t make good choices, and like I tell Michael, it’s ok to make mistakes. We live, we learn, we grow. I have even been known a few times to say when I yelled and became frustrated, Mom forgot to use her calming strategies.

Just this evening I said something without thinking that upset Michael. He felt I was treating him like a baby and he hates this. He grumbled, “Why didn’t you stop and think before talking Mom?” I almost laughed. It is usually me telling him that. “Because I forgot Michael. You are right. See, we all forget to do this sometimes.” I have also learned how to sit down with Michael and talk about what we can change to communicate better and so both of us are calmer and happier. This has made a world of difference.

But what things have helped me connect everything together in my parenting life to grow and become stronger? Here is the list I follow and continuously revise as needed:

  1. Make time for things that nourish my spirit: For me this is meditation, yoga and writing.  I pretty much do all three every day, and if I ever miss a day with any of them, I get back to it first thing the next day.
  2. Get enough sleep: No matter what I am falling behind on at home, I do not sacrifice sleep.
  3. Enjoy time alone with no guilt: Time alone for me is spent taking strolls in a bookstore, nature walks, or sitting quietly reading a good book with a cup of coffee. This is time well spent as it re-energizes me and gives me patience to handle any parenting stress that comes my way.
  4. Make time to talk and see friends: Spending time with adults, like minded ones that make you laugh and share your highs and lows, also helps you see the whole picture of your parenting life. It’s not all bad!
  5. Write down the progress your child has made: This has been one that has been a game changer for me. With all the struggles and hard times our family has had, seeing how far Michael has come in maturing, and seeing it on paper in a place in the house where we all can look at it, has helped us all celebrate the successes and look to the positive.
  6. Realizing that I am the guide, not the savior: I used to think that I was responsible for saving my child or making sure he made all the right decisions or else I would have failed as an exceptional parent. Now, I see more realistically that I am Michael’s guide. I am here to teach him, help and support him, and show him the path, but then it is his choice which way to go. His choice, good or bad, and I am not responsible for that. I love him no matter what an tell him that, but he is responsible for his choices, not me.  This has taken a lot of pressure off of me.

Exceptional Parents, how have you emerged and changed as an exceptional parent over the years? Remember, each thing you learn as you parent, helps you to grow and become stronger. You grow through the good and bad moments. You grow through learning to let go of old hurts and embrace your mistakes as well as successes. And through it all you realize one day that you find balance in your life again, and acceptance of yourself as you do of your child. This is when you can truly parent from your best place. Until next time.

Giving Boundaries While Letting Loose-How To Choose Where To Pick Your Exceptional Battles With Your Child

Being the parent of an exceptional child means you are constantly learning new things about balance, balancing how to present information in a clear and concise way so you know your child gets it, balancing time when you talk and they listen and vice versa, and finally balancing when to have hard and fast consequences with no do overs, and when to be a little more lenient. For me, it’s been a challenge learning to read Michael’s autistic and ADHD brain, and which part is speaking to me now. Add in a dose of puberty and well, it’s really fun and games at our house some days and nights. Still, I have found comfort in coming up with some rules that are starting to work well for our neurodiverse family.

I have also found that there are times when Dad and I have to wing it. If Michael has had a rough day and I could see that his coping skills and tolerance for frustration is low, I’ll allow some leeway in giving him extra time to come to dinner or get organized for the evening etc. High blood sugars also mean that we tread carefully. But for the most part, it’s been about understanding how Michael’s brain works differently and how his difficulty with impulse control leads to a lot of problems. He’s starting to recognize when and where he needs help though, as are we. Things are working better as a result.  I have devised some hard and fast rules that are non-negotiable and that we all follow. This has slowly become like our family Bible. Here they are:

  1. Violence of any kind is not tolerated in any form, shade or color. Of course, Dad and I have always said no violence  for any reason, but we would end up talking too much, yelling too much, and in the past, escalating situations farther along unfortunately. Now, it is a calm, firm, direct response on our part with severe consequences. As a result, the intensity has gone down.
  2. Catch frustration, anxiety or anger in the early stages and try and understand and redirect it: What has also been helpful is catching when Michael is feeling upset early on and helping redirect him so he can calm down enough to then come back and talk.
  3.  Making sure physical boundaries are in place for all: This is so important when you have a child that sits or stands too close, does not understand if you can’t stop what you are doing to focus on them, and in general has challenges with social cues. Over the years, we’ve modeled to Michael, now I’m finishing this, I’d love to hear what you have to say in five or ten minutes. For me, it’s no talking to Mom till she has her morning coffee and meditates. I need that first 20 minutes to come into myself before being able to attend to any issue.
  4. As angry as we all get at one another, we get up and try again tomorrow: This is an important rule in any family, but in an exceptional family, teaching unconditional love is very important and practicing it more so. We have always told Michael we love him and will always be there to help him. Now it is time he helps himself by changing the negative behaviors and asking for help where he struggles. We model the same thing.
  5. Use humor to teach: This has been one I have used over the years in varying degrees. You need to laugh at the absurdity of some situations you and your child find yourselves in that are out of your control. Often when unexpected things have happened that stressed Michael out, (as well as me), laughing and having an oh well, that’s crazy life, attitude has slowly helped Michael learn to lighten up a bit too.  It’s also helped Dad and I  do more of that when we are together or alone.

Exceptional Parents, what hard and fast rules do you have in your Exceptional Families that are non-negotiable and which rules do you occasionally bend? It’s a juggling or tightrope act, I know. However, the important thing is recognizing that your child, like you, is unique and has their own quirks. Once you know what works best to help them feel secure, safe and sure of what is happening around them, even if it is rules they don’t like, you will see that they will see you as the caregiver and supporter they need to learn about their world with confidence and grow into the independent and well-adjusted adult you know they can be. Until next time.