Category: control

Impulsivity And How To Help Your Child With ADHD Navigate It

Michael is impulsive. He has been that way since he was a child. I said ADHD. Others said Autism. It was tricky. You see, he has both, but it was hard to see for some of the professionals. You see, there are so many similarities with autism. We are learning now about the differences. Over the years, I’ve learned to trust my mother’s instinct when it comes to Michael. I’ve also learned how to use the great advice I’ve been given from caring professionals, good family and friends, and all of this has helped me become a better parent. Of course, I have days when I mess up. Regularly. But now I can see those days for what they are. Days when I am tired, frustrated, stressed, and not using my strategies to control my own negative emotions. Confession time. I can be impulsive time. I am a little ‘off the wall’ to those who know me well. It’s what makes my creativity work well. It’s what makes me love writing, singing, dancing, and anything artsy. It’s also what could be my downfall if I didn’t have measures in place to balance out my impulsive, fun and creative side with my practical, logical and stay in the moment side.

This is what I realize Michael needs. What all kids who have ADHD need. They need guidelines, strategies and clear concise ways to reign in impulsive thoughts and actions. It is hard. Damm hard. And although I don’t have Michael’s brain, I know he needs to release a lot of that impulsivity in a healthy way. All our kids do. Here are some strategies I am seeing that work to help kids like Michael reign in impulsivity:

1) STOP, THINK, ACT: I have seen this acronym used in many good books and articles written for ADHD kids and adults. This can be taught by family members modeling it whether we need to do all three or not. Even when I am fully in control of myself, I still will try and model this acronym when I am feeling frustrated so Michael learns it is what he needs to do. Stop and think before speaking, then act and talk only after calming down.

2) Use physical activity as a release: Any kind of rough and tumble play, sports, sensory workout or walking, biking, swimming can be great ways to release pent up emotions or stress. Afterwards, kids can more easily center and re-connect to their emotions and share with parents.

3) Keep a journal of thoughts and emotions:  This is a great tool for kids to use (and adults) with and without ADHD. Writing down difficult feelings and emotions in order to be able to talk about and work though them. Sometimes drawing can help too.

4) Having “safe spots” to go to: This means having rooms or areas in a  house, at school to go and regroup when things get too difficult or overwhelming. Often when kids with ADHD can be redirected there early enough, they can avoid all kinds of unpleasant confrontations afterwards.

5) Give choice and schedule important events: Giving your ADHD child choice in what they want to do around their everyday necessary schedule can help a lot with reducing impulsivity and feelings of lack of control. Some things need to be planned, others like choosing a bedtime, a downtime or homework time (that is reasonable) can go a long way in helping curb fights and impulsive outbursts that cause problems.

Exceptional Parents, what are you tips and tricks for helping your Exceptional Child with ADHD or other challenges thrive? In the end, we all know that love makes the world go around. As long as your child knows that you love and care for them, they will work with you. No one wants to struggle. Children want to succeed as much as we want them to. Just remember to tell them you love and believe in them no matter what. Until next time.

 

 

 

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Getting And Receiving Love- How To Show Your Exceptional Child To Reciprocate Feelings

“Theory of Mind” as it is called, is something hard for people with autism to understand. It means being able to see things from another point of view of their own, a non autistic point of view. This is hard for neuro typical people as well to do, seeing things from an autistic point of view.  If we make an effort though to understand that our child’s perspective differs from ours, hopefully we could meet them somewhere in the middle. This is something I am finding easier to do with Michael as both of us are understanding about our differences and similarities. Michael is making a big effort to understand me, how I think and what I like, while he sees me doing the same for him.

And the thing is that when we clash in our views, we can talk about it. Oh boy, there is a lot of talking. It is good and sometimes exhausting for me, but I remind myself that this is Michael’s way of navigating a world that is still foreign to him on many levels and needs explaining. I have to remind myself on tiring days of that old story I was told when I first found out Michael had autism. How would I feel being dropped in a country where I didn’t know the language, people or customs and told to follow along? Of course, it would have been stressful and overwhelming. Kids who are exceptional live that reality every day. It is not easy being in their skin. As parents, we have to remember to give them the time they need to acclimate.

This is why teaching them to relate to us is as important as learning to relate to them. We need to know what makes them tick; what they life, dislike and what new interests they have. We need to tell and show them what we enjoy. As they begin to relate more to the world around them, we can share our interests, our limits, and our life with them. This will encourage them to open up.

Lately, I have really begun seeing how much Michael is opening up to us. He always has, but now it is by showing us his fears, his loves, and his interests and wanting us to be as passionate as we can be about them. For example, Michael has been kind of hurt that I do not enjoy taking him on drives as much as Dad does. Dad knows the city better and it is one the activities that is best suited for the two of them due to other reasons as well. Before Michael liked going to parks and stores with me. Now that happens very occasionally only, so he will say I will talk to Dad about traffic as you are not interested. I tell him I am. It is just that Dad knows the city more. I am working on improving my directions knowledge for me as well, but I have also shared with Michael that I love hearing him talk about traffic because I know it is his interest. I have told him it is like my writing. And I know he has made comments, “have you done any writing today?” “have you done your meditation and yoga?” “are you going out with your Mom friends?”. He knows where my interests lie and is paying more attention as well as asking more questions. He also will demand I take him places and then when I remind him we don’t demand he will say please. He misses me and sometimes forgets how to ask me, but when reminded, does a great job.

I always praise when he does this. His empathy is improving, as well when he inquiries about how Dad and I are feeling. We have to work on managing emotions like anger and anxiety, but other than that, things are starting to go more smoothly. I am happy that he is making progress on those fronts.

Exceptional Parents, how do you teach your Exceptional Child to talk with you and see your point of view? How do you see theirs? It is a tough thing to balance for both parent and child. In the end, as long as both of you give in a little and except a little in return; a little bit of understanding, support and compromise, things will go smoothly. Until next time.

Independence At The Least Likely Time-How To Balance Keeping Boundaries While Letting Your Exceptional Child Run Free

“I don’t want to go for a walk with you Mom. Maybe another day. I like my alone walks. Thanks.”

“Ok Michael, but remember to take your supplies, have your phone on, and remember to be home in an hour.”
“Ok. Bye. See you later!
“Have fun!”

“Thanks!”

This has pretty much been the drill for the last week. Michael has been going on long walks all by himself on the small streets, handling everything and getting home on time. In order to keep better track of him, Dad got him a phone where he can call us and he can be tracked by us so we know where he is. He is delivering on his promise to be home on time and stay safe. We allow  him solo bike rides as well now as he has demonstrated he can do it.

One part of me is overjoyed. My boy is growing up and does not need me as much anymore. Busy streets he will still go with me for a couple more years. He accepts this, but for now he is treasuring his independence and prefers to go alone. I don’t blame him. The other part of me misses our time talking during the walks. He is eager to still talk to me at home and do drives, but I loved sharing my love of fitness with him and have missed this during this week while enjoying the freedom it gave me to relax, catch up on work, or write.

What is it about the path that our children take when they are not children but yet not adults either? I am both overjoyed and fearful at the same time. I never knew if Michael would engage in this type of adolescent behavior. It’s hard to gauge with an exceptional tween/teen where they fall in the puberty/growing up department. It could be anywhere. I am glad to be having this trouble as I know a lot of parents of exceptional kid are wishing for things like this, but it is challenging as Michael may think he needs less limits as he is growing up, but due to still having difficulty with certain social cues and body language, there are still things I need to adapt for him and protect him from.

Walking the fine line between childhood and adolescence. This is where exceptional tween Michael falls and his parents fall with him. It is far from easy. I can’t baby this Michael. I am told frequently to stop nagging, stop treating him like a baby. Then when I do try to give him space to do his own thing, he will say, “why are you outside so much? stay here with me.” I have talked to him about boundaries, alone time and time spent together. I have shown through example how I will always make time for him and put my other things aside to listen. However, I also need downtime, time alone, to decompress, like him. More and more he has been respecting this. He asked the other day if I had had time to do my yoga. He was concerned I hadn’t.

As a parent, balancing being there with stepping back is a challenge. Still, the important thing to remember is to go with your child’s cues. If they need you and they are in the childhood part of their tween hood, be there for them. If they want more independence to show you they can handle things, give them space. Always have rules for them though. You are the parent, and they need to know that you are in charge of keeping them safe while they find their footing.

Exceptional Parents, how are you faring in finding the balance between letting your child be independent and putting in normal childhood boundaries? Remember, they need a bit of both to grow up healthy. Judge for yourself whatever stage they are at, what they need more, and go easy on yourself if your family hits a snag. Remember, you can work it out as you go along if your child feels your love for them. That is all that matters in the end. Until next time.

When Your Exceptional Tween Reaches Out-How To Meet Them Halfway

Puberty has been challenging for Michael. I have said this before. He is dealing with a lot of different emotions and feelings and having to learn to self-regulate and practice impulse control. Thankfully aggressive behavior overall is going down, and even anxiety. He is recognizing his strengths and giving himself credit. Dad and I are working on reminding him of that. He is also recognizing his limitations and asking for help. What I am impressed about and very proud of him for, however, is that he is willing to meet us halfway now. Yes, we are compromising as parents and child. This is mandatory when your child has ADHD or a different kind of brain  with lots of other challenges, as from the beginning, they see obstacles and the world in general in another way than you do.

Where am I seeing compromise? Michael understands we make the rules for his general well-being, and if he wants to stay up later, do a fun activity longer, he checks with us.  He also will give different ideas concerning controlling anger and if they don’t work, go looking for what else he can try. He is trying to learn how to get out there socially in an appropriate way, AND communicating how he feels about his relationship with us. The other day he got upset when I was heading downstairs to write;

“Mommy, can you stay upstairs until I go to bed and go write downstairs after? Can you stay in the same room with Daddy and I. You can write here or read, right?”
“I can, but you’re listening to music with your headphones anyway.  Does it really matter?”
“Yes. If you stay here with Daddy and I (Dad also had headphones on watching his videos). I know we are a family.”

“We’re a family wherever we sit Michael. We do lots of things as a family.”
“But I miss you.”
My heart swelled with love. He may not want hugs and kisses from me, but he wanted my presence. He wanted the security of us all in the room together even if we were doing different things. My big boy cares and wants to bond with us still. Lately he has also been sharing more confidences with me, and a biggie everyone, he has been confessing things he did wrong, opening up by saying; “I don’t want to lie to you Mommy.” I am so proud of how he is growing up. Dad and I tell him that. Other than his points rewards system for drives, we are also watching his behavior and seeing that he can be left alone for short periods of time now. We are looking into letting him go on bike rides and walks (short) on his own. I think he sees the trust we are putting in him and he is finally seeing he can put that trust back in himself.

So what have I learned from meeting my exceptional tween halfway?

1) Write out a list of expectations (both of you): It’s important that both parent and child know where each stands.

2) Keep the lines of communication open by BEING physically and emotionally available for your child:  Ask about their day, find opportunities to talk and stay nearby. You’ll never know when you’ll be missed otherwise.

3) Compromise on things like bedtime and rewards but makes sure it works both ways: Don’t be such a stickler for the rules. Pick your battles with your child, but remember, have a consequence for either of you if you step out of line, and learn from the rough times as much as from the good ones.

4) Remember your child’s limits: This is hard when they are in heavy negotiations and you think that your child can’t be limited in self-control or learning, but they are. Their very different brain does not work like yours so misunderstandings will occur if things are not clearly outlined.

5)Love your child through it all: This one sounds obvious, but too many times we are frazzled and frustrated and forget that our child is struggling even when they are angry and yelling at us. It’s important after they calm themselves down and you do the same, that you show and tell them you love them always. They need to know they are accepted for who they are.

Exceptional Parents, how have you met your Exceptional Child halfway? What has been the result? I’m sure you both came out winners. It’s important to remember we all have bad days or weeks. We need as parents to teach our children how mistakes, fears and hurts help us learn. And then show them, through our example, how it is done. Until next time.

How to Enjoy Summer All The Way With Your Exceptional Child

Summer is a great time when most people want to kick back and relax. Exceptional parents and kids are no different, but sometimes things do not happen as smoothly as we would like. Michael both loves and hates certain things about the summer as do I. He loves having more freedom, (what kid doesn’t), but the lack of structure when he is not at camp along with anxiety about different issues (this year it is being around large groups of people whereas last year was about being in front of technology), makes for some difficulties for him to manage emotions. It is also hard on me and Dad, as planning activities can become a challenge when he prefers to stick to his trademark activities and not want to try anything new. He also enjoys camp, but then gets fed up too and wants a break. It needs to be a happy medium.

I have learned to understand that pushing him does not work. It is one thing to gently encourage trying new things. It is quite another to downright insist that he do things like other kids who don’t have his challenges. He is not like them and never will be. That is fine. I don’t want Michael to be anyone but himself.  I love his uniqueness, and only want to help him through the rough patches so he knows how to handle life’s ups and downs. Like any Mom, I just want him to be happy as himself. Maybe he is, but I worry that my usual social kid is afraid to be out with a lot of people around and giving up activities he loved in order to accommodate this like swimming in public pools or going to parks. When camp is finished, I hope to help him devise strategies to give parks and pools a try at quieter times of the day. I want him to see that he could do it, that he is capable.

See, the thing is as parents we have to walk the fine line between giving our kiddos choice in how they have fun and also gently encouraging them to get their ‘feet wet’, so to speak. How can parents do this? Here are some tools and advice I take with me every summer and apply:

1) Have some fun active games outside planned: In our case this year, Michael and I do bike rides and long walks as playing sports in the park is not something he is comfortable with for now.

2) Give your child positive indoor activity choices: This could be playing educational games on the computer, listening to music, yoga, talking on the phone to friends, reading a book, etc.

3) Help them find a new hobby: One year Michael discovered face painting, another year he took up painting with an easel. A hobby could also be dancing or singing.

4) Balance out structured and unstructured time: It’s important they have time away from you (camp or respite) as well as time spent as a family or with friends in a less structured environment. The balance of both will teach your child that life provides a bit of both.

5) Plan some family vacation time whatever that looks like: It’s nice when you can do things in town or out of town as a family. Do what works for your family.

Exceptional Parents, how hard or easy is summertime for you and your Exceptional Child? What tips have helped you thrive or survive? In the end, it really depends on your attitude about your child, your acceptance of where they are at, and your willingness to be flexible and encourage them to try things at their own pace. That will usually make the summer go well. Until next time.

 

 

 

Milestones Among The Challenges-How To Look For The Silver Lining

Michael is having  a hard time in puberty. This is nothing new and I have shared many examples of this, but as I tell other parents  it’s important to celebrate the victories our children achieve and let the feeling of success filter out to them too.  Sometimes I forget this, but tonight was one of those victories for me. We met friends at a nearby park where a free movie and hot night was being held. The movie was starting quite late, but we decided to meet up and eat with the friends, catch up, and then leave when the movie started. By the time we got there the lineups for the food were crazy long. Given that the park was close by, I told Michael we were going to go home and eat and then head back to meet the friends. He was not happy, but cooperated in the end. He had made some silly comments when we arrived, so I warned him, when we go back to meet our friends your behavior has to be appropriate. It was not only appropriate, but he talked with his friend, and we waited with them in line for their food without any mishaps.

Michael also gave himself his own insulin injection perfectly at dinner AND when we got home right before his bedtime. He was calm, mature and poised. After a week of some challenges at home with words and actions, I got a chance to see the Michael that the rest of the world sees. This Michael was in control of himself. This Michael was listening and expressing himself appropriately. Though he was disappointed he couldn’t afford to wait the long line anymore due to danger of his sugar dropping,  but he took it so maturely. He got a high ten and a major compliment from Dad and I when we got home. And I reminded him that he is capable of doing this great behavior and that this is what we want to see more of. He smiled.

For me, it really helped shine the light on what Michael does right. Lately, I haven’t liked my kid too much. He has been pushing limits at home and being a teen. Still, that combined with his other challenges and complex way of seeing the world, has made me feel overwhelmed. Then, like a glass of water on a hot day, an evening like tonight occurs. I see a major maturity milestone and I see that he is making progress and moving forward. It’s not all struggle. There are victories too, for him and for Dad and I as we watch him take on things that would challenge any kid. I was a proud Mom tonight watching him with his friend, watching how well he handled hearing no, and seeing how well he did when we arrived back at home. I’m still basking in that moment and reminding myself that it is important to keep the milestones close to our heart. When those tough days happen, we will remember that there are easier and exciting days ahead.

Exceptional Parents, do you remember to celebrate the milestone successes with your Exceptional Child? It gets hard when there are more challenging days, but as long as you look for the silver lining in your child’s progress, and all children have them, you will help encourage them and keep yourself positive and strong for the storms ahead. Until next time .

Summer Camp, Independence and How My Exceptional Son Is Coming Into His Own

This has truly been a summer of growth for Michael, both in terms of his physical growth, puberty and his emotional maturity with the outside world, and even with us.  Michael is not only managing his diabetes, he is doing his own injections and getting it done properly for the most part. Michael is not only responsible to be left alone at home for longer periods of time, but he enjoys that we trust him and behaves in a calm way. And finally, Michael is attending summer camp this year without a shadow and doing extremely well. It’s been amazing to witness his growth in these areas, and though he is struggling emotionally in others, I keep reminding myself of his potential and showing him what he is capable of when he believes in himself and in his abilities.

All our kids have their strengths. As parents, it’s important, including when they are struggling in some areas of their life, to look for the areas they are excelling in. It is also important we remind them of their successes in said areas and how proud we are of them. A lot of exceptional kids with anxiety don’t have a lot of confidence in themselves. The lack of confidence does not only come out in crying, panic attacks, but sometimes as rudeness or anger. They feel they have to control everything, and if one thing goes out of whack, their world goes out of whack for a time being. If we as parents show them their strengths and praise them for it acknowledging how far they’ve come, this will help them go a long way towards learning to love themselves.

Michael, being a Jekyl and Hide Kid, is one way at home and one way in society. He does very well in society, managing his emotions well, but at home will unleash in anger and frustration or anxiety. My heart breaks for him, as I know he is still developing the tools to cope with his emotions while handling puberty in a brain that is not mainstream and with Type 1 Diabetes. He does a great job most of the time, and when he messes up, it’s getting him to learn from the experience and move forward. What has impressed me, is that even when he loses himself in anger or frustration momentarily, he is able to circle back and see where he went wrong. He is learning his triggers, both what over excites and over frustrates him, and he is learning how his health affects his overall attitude at home and in society.

I for one am just trying to give him as much control as possible in decision making, and be there if he needs me to steer him in a better direction. But when I see him out in the world, I see a calm, steady young man who is learning who he is and what he wants. This gives me great hope that he will master this quality at home, and see that he can handle the emotional ups and downs of life without pushing things down. Of course, there are still boundaries. That is important for all children in order to grow in a healthy manner.

Exceptional Parents, what moments of pride do you have when you look at your Exceptional Children? Just remember, remind them of their successes. Put it on a sheet of paper if necessary. When it is writing, as they say it is a permanent reminder of where they are and where they are going. Until next time.

Helping Your Exceptional Child Balance Structured and Unstructured Time

Having Michael fill his time schedule with structured and unstructured activities has always been a challenge, though when he was younger at least filling it with structured activities was easier. Why? Well, that was because as his Mom, I set the schedule of naps, meals, parks, play dates etc. As he got older, however, Michael understandably began demanding more activities that he wanted and that sometimes compromised my time more, like long drives or going to certain stores and only to the departments where he liked to go, ie. toy departments, and later to play on the IPADS or phones.

Unstructured time has always been difficult in our house. Michael never wanted to be home. He liked to be on the go all the time. I remember the summer when he was little that his boundless energy had me taking him to 4 parks a day, as with me not working camps were out of the question, and he was a little young anyhow. Well, that was the last summer I did that. It wore me out, he got bored, and when friends were not available, he did not know how to keep himself busy. He was never a kid that could watch movies, and even playing video games is challenging. His attention span for them is about five to ten minutes, though at school with friends he could play for a little longer.

Now fast forward to eight years later and we have the opposite problem almost. Unstructured time he adores! As long as he could spend it on his phone navigating Google Maps, watching his favorite videos or listening to music and stimming  to his heart’s content. I get it. This is his downtime, and I love it too as I get time to do things in the house or write. He could do that for hours on end which is not healthy. This is why I have continued to insist we do structured sports or other activities out of the house to make sure he does not become a typical teenager totally absorbed in the audio visual world. He was annoyed, but cooperated. After he got diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and puberty hit full steam, he also expressed less interests in playing in parks and going to stores, unless it was a store to look in the computer department. 🙂 I know this is a normal part of being a tween and soon teen, but sports is a great outlet to burn stress, so slowly I am trying to get him back into park outings.

Fortunately, he is willing to go to sports camp for a chunk of the summer, and he is starting to become receptive to doing other types of mother/son activities when he is home with me like long bike rides or walks. For our family vacation we are staying in town again this year as it is economically feasible, and I hope to get him a little more out of his shell with some structured and unstructured activities on our stay cation. In the end, it’s really about knowing your child’s limits and pushing a little more past that, as well as knowing when to let them take the reigns. On that note, what are some good ways to structure and un structure your child’s summer?

1) Give them choice for their unstructured time, when to schedule it in summer or on weekends during the school year.

2) Expose them to different structured extracurricular activities and have them choose 1 of 2 activities to practice.

3) Invite friends over or try a new place with a friend on a play date.

4) Have simple family activities that get them moving-bike rides, long walks, outings to stores or malls.

5) Negotiating- one hour of an outing for an hour of A/V time. Make sure they understand why you are encouraging them to go out in society. It is a great way to practice social skills and appropriate social behavior.

Exceptional Parents, how do you manage to balance your Exceptional Child’s structured and unstructured time? Do you give them some choice, all the choice, or choose it all yourself? As you have probably guessed, the best advice is a balance of following your child’s lead in what they want to do as well as giving them small nudges to participate in different activities. You will most likely get the best balance this way. Until next time.

How To Communicate In A Way To Foster Calmness and Control To Your Exceptional Child

“Mommy, don’t yell. I get more nervous when you raise your voice. When kids at school lose it, the Behavior Techs don’t yell.”

This was what Michael said to me this evening after a misunderstanding with Dad had his anger escalating and I had to half pull/half talk him into another room to calm down. He was no where near receptive to showing me his signal that his anger and anxiety were escalating and I knew what would have happened if he’d stayed in the room with Dad. It had happened with me in the past too, and if he was not redirected somewhere to calm down, he would get aggressive and either hit something, hit someone or throw something. After wards, like five minutes later, he would show remorse, and I or Dad would berate ourselves for not zoning in quicker when he had started escalating to help him de-escalate somewhere and possibly salvage a meltdown. Tonight, it was success on that front.

“Yes, Michael your school Behavior Techs are calm. They have the support of other adults and it is easier when you have support. I was alone as you were mad at Daddy and the same has happened when you were mad at me and Daddy had to take over to help you. Daddy and I are learning to use our strategies too, but sometimes we forget and yell. Thanks for the reminder.”

It was an eye opening experience for me. We talked for a little more, and I reminded him about using his signal to tell us that he needed to go and chill out RIGHT AWAY. He had said he was too angry to go and thanked me for helping him. I reminded him that he was right, and that the next time, he needed to go as soon as he felt his anger building. Michael nodded and agreed. He then went for his shower and completed his bedtime routine with no more issues. He apologized to Dad too.

Each time we have a positive or negative experience as a family I remind myself that it is all about learning how to keep doing what works and refrain from doing what does not. I also have learned, especially as Michael gets older and hormones make more unpredictable mood swings, how important it is for Dad and I to be the calm and control examples, including when we are seeing red on the inside. The same tips apply to us. Be aware of our anger. Be aware of our anxiety. Be aware of our escalating emotions. AND put the strategies that work for us in place so that we can show an example to Michael of what being gentle and forgiving of ourselves and others is like. We are getting there as a family. We have come a long way.

There is such insight in how Michael talks to us now. Even when anxious or angry, he is realizing how he alone can control his thoughts, impulses, emotions for better or worse. He relishes the moments he gets it right, and we are making sure to heap praise on him when he does, as well as show him we trust him to do other things only big boys do. (more on that tomorrow).  When he gets it wrong, he also admits, expresses regret, but adds,
“I am getting better. This is not as hard as I thought. I can do this.” Dad and I agree, and remind him of his potential.

Exceptional Parents, how often have you remained calm and in control when having a disagreement with your child? Have you had moments you wish you could take back? We all have at one time or another so don’t feel bad if you are in that category. The thing to remember is to learn from the experience, teach your child to learn from their mistakes as well, and no matter what, stay calm, focused, and in the present so the matter could be resolved as easily as possible. Until next time.

Creating A Calmer Environment by Being Direct With Your Exceptional Child

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

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

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