Category: controlling anxiety and fear

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.

How To Handle Hearing No- An Exceptional Child And Parent Challenge

Hearing the word no. This is a tough one in our household for both Michael and I. Michael, due to autism and adhd, finds hearing no and doing things he finds uncomfortable to be very challenging. For me, as his exceptional Mom, hearing the word no triggers me down to my deepest core. It represents not respecting my authority as the adult, and feelings of powerlessness as a parent. It’s taken me a long time to process these feelings and find my ways of coping with Michael’s opposition, and most of the time, I’m right on target for helping him towards success. There are days and nights though, when I still become angry hearing the word no too. Then I have to mobilize all my inner resources.

Though as parents we know our kids will not like everything we say or do no matter what, and they will lash out at us, it hurts when they do. We would be silly to say otherwise. We take it personally because they are ours!  That is why having an anger management strategy kit is of utmost importance for parents and children. What should go in your kit? Here are just a few things I use on a daily basis, (or try to) so as to help control my frustration and pass on tips to Michael to do the same:

1) Deep breathing. Making sure to breathe in and out is so important to keep us present focused. As hard as it is for some of our kids, it’s a skill worth teaching.

2) Meditation and yoga: I practice both daily for the most part, and if I skip on, I make sure to do some type of stretching or a shorter meditation to remind myself to still in the moment no matter how crazy a situation gets.

3) Have a safe room/place to go: It’s important our kids and us know to go to another room to calm down and change the scenery when they are angry.

4) Seeing the other person’s pain: This is hard when you are feeling hurt, but remembering the person who is angry at you is in pain, makes what they say or do a lot easier to digest. You find the reserve of calm and help them move to that.

5) Learning about flexibility and compromise: One thing I’ve learned as an exceptional parent is compromising and picking my battles with my child-what’s worth and not worth fighting over. Once you and your child get to this point, a lot of the ‘no’ battles can even be avoided.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle hearing the word no and helping your child face it? It’s not easy, and while some days you are in tip top shape and stay calm, other days you fall apart. Never be ashamed to admit when you make a mistake to your child and apologize. You will show them that you are owning up to your failures and learning from them. It will help them do the same for their failures. 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.

 

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.

When Your Exceptional Child Gets Their Impulsivity-Techniques To Help Them Move Forward

“I’m trying Mommy, I really am, but it’s hard. I can’t stop myself sometimes. I can’t stop and think.”
I sighed. Michael and I were having yet another long discussion about his impulsivity in saying things that were inappropriate and some angry outbursts that he had had that week. We were reviewing his strategies, the worksheets he had filled out to try and understand his brain better, and other things that we could be putting into place that could help him.

“I know it’s hard Michael, but you can’t just explode when you don’t hear things you like. Being angry is ok. You just need to make sure that you are calm enough to talk about your feelings to your father and I when have calmed down.

“I am impulsive, right?”

“Well, you have impulsive moments. Your brain is wired that way, but it does not mean that you can’t find the right techniques to use that could help you. Remember, your brain, the ADHD and Autism brain is incredible. You’ve just got to work out the parts that make anger and anxiety harder to control.”

Michael nodded and again spoke of doing his best to try and learn from his outbursts. I acknowledged that I could see how doing that as well as how I could tell when his mouth was getting ahead of his brain. We talked about how even neuro typical people have their moments. I used examples when I became angry because I didn’t do my strategies in the early stages of anger or frustration. It’s important to remind our kinds that even neuro typical brains that don’t have impulse control issues have their moments as well when they may make less than stellar choices.

After having this conversation, I realized I had been using a little checklist of things that were working to help Michael and our family in understanding his exceptional brain. Here are some techniques that could help your child cope when they are having those difficult moments processing feelings:

1) Have a sheet of paper in a few places with the STOP acronym as a reminder for them to stop, think, observe and plan before they act on feelings.

2) Depending on the age, have them make a “Calm Box” of toys, fidgets, or other articles where they can fiddle and go to when they are stressed and about to lose it.

3) Have a short phrase that you can utter firmly if you see your child losing it. In our family we use room, strategies. Michael knows to pick one of three rooms to go calm down an regroup before coming out to talk.

4) Have a time limit of how long they need to regroup. In our house it’s been 15 and 20 minutes.

5) Discuss afterwards how to better communicate so as to avoid frustrations. I go with, “I can see how angry you are. I am tired of having this same fight too, how can we fix this together?” Depending on the child’s age and level of comprehension, you may need to tailor it, but the gist is that as parents we hear our child out affirming what  is frustrating them as well as us, and how we can fix it.

Exceptional Parents, does your Exceptional Child understand their impulsivity? If not, are they struggling to? If so, the best thing to do is to sit down when you are both calm, find a set of techniques that work to help them calm down and you remind them when they are going off track. In the end, if the child gets mad, is able to catch themselves, use a strategy, then learn from the frustration, you know you are on the right path. Until next time.

It Hurts Like Hell-How To Help Your Child Get Through Exceptional Puberty

“I don’t want to go out places Mommy. People look at me weird when I am rocking or stimming. And I don’t want them seeing me check my blood sugar. I don’t want to explain that I’m diabetic.  I’m embarrassed.”
“They’re probably wondering what you are doing. You know you can tell them you are autistic and that rocking or stimming relaxes you.  Your ADHD brain also means you have a lot of energy.  And there is no shame in having Type 1 Diabetes. It’s a medical condition and lots of kids have it.”

“Do I have to tell them?”
“No, of course not. It’s your choice. Just remember, be proud of who you are because you are pretty amazing.”

This was one of our easier conversations now that Michael is a tween in puberty.  Puberty is not easy, but when you have autism, ADHD and Type 1 Diabetes you are riding quite a roller coaster of emotions, as are your family. My heart breaks for Michael at these moments. He does not like going out to stores unless he has no choice, as he has become super self conscious about who he is. Thankfully he still goes on  his solo walks and bike rides. He likes the independence, but being out in public is stressful as he learns to handle how different he is from a lot of people. Dad and I are gently encouraging him to be himself, work though the anxiety with strategies, and I hope that with time, his social fears will go down. We are always looking for new ways to help him tackle his fears.

On the other side, we have moments when he pushes us away and does not want to talk. During those moments, we respect his boundaries reminding him that we are close by when he wants to talk. Sometimes he does this politely, other times he can be rude about it. We have had talks about language, respecting our boundaries, and his responsibilities as he is getting older. We have the hyper days and the angry days. We have the anxious days. All in all, it’s challenging, and when I feel that it’s becoming too much, I take five in my corner, meditate and do some yoga, and then remember how hard these developing years are for all children. It just ends up being more challenging, like so many other things, for our exceptional kids.

I remind myself that I am doing the best that I can to be there emotionally, physically and spiritually for my child. I remind myself that I don’t have to be perfect, just show him and help him feel that is loved always, even when he messes up. I remind myself that this too shall pass. A lot of parents with older exceptional kids have shared that the early teen years are the hardest as our kids find out who they are and where they are going. Finally, I look at the list of positives our Educator suggested we make of all the amazing things Michael has accomplished even with the challenging moments still popping up. She had said it would serve as a positive reminder for Michael as well as Dad and I over how far he has come with independence, skill acquisition, and  show us all that he will get through the challenges of adolescence too. She was right. I look to that list. We all do.

Exceptional Parents, how easy or hard do you find your Exceptional Child’s growing up milestones? Whether they are sailing through these stages or struggling, I think as long as we continue to persevere alongside them with a loving ear, new strategies and tools to use, and lots of compassion for them and ourselves, we’re on our way to growing together. Until next time.

When Similarities Between You and Your Exceptional Child Cause Clashing-5 Ways To Survive And Thrive

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As Michael and I each went to our “calm corners” the other day after a fight, I realized, and not for the first time, how similar our temperaments really are and why I am so easily triggered by his anger and anxiety when I am not taking care of my own stress. It was both comforting and annoying at the same time to see that when I am failing at handling our crises calmly, it is usually when I am overtired, stressed and anxious myself. My anger comes out at that point and I feel the need for controlling his outburts. I can’t. It’s that simple. I cannot control my son’s anger and anxiety. The days I realize this are the days I stay calm and the crisis is resolved faster.

I used to make it a daily task, thinking it was my job to not only teach Michael to control his emotions but if he failed, it meant I had failed, and not failed to show him a technique, but to stop it. Crazy huh. I finally stopped believing I had to control every single one of his emotional outbursts after he officially entered puberty. He was already well on his way to knowing how to express himself. He was stronger and getting taller by the minute, and most of all, though I had known this all along, puberty really brought home the fact that he was and is a separate entity from me. We are not joined at the hip as too many Moms think of themselves and their child. I had to stop taking everything he messed up on as a personal failure and address my own need to super control what I could not.

The next thing I realized was my own anxious and angry temperament when I was not using my newfound strategies to not ‘push down’ feelings. Yes, I was a pusher when younger. I had even fooled myself that I was happy, calm and had it together. I was really quite perfectionist, and thought that I didn’t deserve a heck of a lot. Over the last fifteen years I have worked hard to set up personal boundaries with people, practice self-care and learn about what helps curb my anger and anxiety. This is all thanks to my son who still challenges the hell out of me to make myself a better human being.

So how do you survive (and even allow yourself to occasionally laugh at) the possibility of having similarities with your Exceptional Child? Here’s what works for me:

  1. See the spirited side of you both: Yep. You heard me right. You know how we say hyper or anxious kids are spirited? Well, so are the adults. You bring people a different perspective on things because while over analyzing problems you see all the angles. Your child is like this too, so look at the positives in this. You are detailed, creative and ready to stand by your opinion. Just don’t let it consume you day and night and it is a positive.
  2. Recognize your needs for exercise or movement: What works for an upset me or an upset Michael is moving- rocking, walking, having a good cry or scream. Let it out in a safe place and then regroup and talk it out with each other.
  3. Celebrate the quirky, don’t diminish it: Whatever weird thing your child does you celebrate because it is who they are. If you have one of these traits, do the same.
  4. Don’t try to fix everything for them or you: Don’t be a perfectionist person or parent. It will only make you and your child miserable. If you want to do something special for them and they are not interested, don’t push it because you think you are a bad Mom for not doing it. Listen to what they say, unspoken and spoken. If you are not sure, go with your gut on what makes you and your child happy in the end. It won’t steer you wrong.
  5. Don’t take your child’s attempts to trigger you personally. Oh so hard if you are a sensitive parent yourself, but it really is true. Make sure you are as rested, calm and balanced as possible, and don’t let your child’s attempts to trigger you with words and actions seriously. Two out of control people won’t help. Show them what you’ve learned about self-control and practice it. If you mess up, and you will because you’re human, fess up. Take yourself somewhere to calm down, talk about what you did wrong, and how you will fix it. This will help them see what they could do right next time too.

Exceptional Parents, how many times have you been hard on yourself for yelling at your child for some of the same traits you had growing up? We’ll all done it. The important thing to remember is that by you recognizing your similarities with your child personality wise, the good and bad ones, it will bring you both closer as you continue to encourage the positive traits in each other and work on supporting your child while healing yourself of the negative traits. Remember, you are both raising each other in the end. Sometimes it will be beautiful. Sometimes it will be painful. In the end, there will be growth either way. Until next time.

 

Conquering Your Own Fears To Help Your Exceptional Child Conquer Theirs

Last week as I was driving in Michael’s school supplies taking a new route to his school with the GPS, I was reminded by my nervousness of one of my issues- my fear over my bad sense of direction. Michael had been challenging me all summer to go on drives with him to new places navigating me there correctly the majority of the time. It was nerve wracking, but an incredibly eye opening experience, both in pride seeing how amazing his sense of direction is and how I can conquer things that scare me when I put my mind to it.

You see, I am not someone blessed with a good sense of direction as I’ve alluded to in other blog posts, so this was a challenge to me. Even last Thursday alone in the car with no one judging my turns and directions, I was worried not about getting lost, but about handling the stress of doing something new. Wow. I was scared about breaking out of routine. Just like Michael.  But I did it and it felt great! I had Michael to thank for it.

My stress was about taking a new way to Michael’s school. Michael’s stress this summer stemmed from being around large groups of people and in noisier environments. I did my best to encourage small steps and he accomplished that, but not until Thursday morning did I fully understand how Michael felt. I had an AHA Moment. If this is how Michael feels when I am encouraging him to try something new, it really is a little on the terrifying side. What helped me do it? Well, it was the saying that I kept telling him all these years- you can’t be afraid to try something new. It’s important to use strategies to handle the stress, and then you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish. Well, I took my own words to heart that morning and was proud of my little risk that ended well of course.

I rode through the anxiety and came out stronger. It got me thinking that if I now approached Michael’s sense of anxiety the same way I approached mine, I’d be a little more sympathetic and hopefully be able to offer more support towards his anxiety. Especially after handling something hard for me I could tell Michael I knew how he felt and commiserate better.

I also realized I could tell Michael, how about I face one of my direction fears if you face one of your people fears? In time, we would both be overjoyed at having faced our difficulties, and not only survived but thrived through the tougher moments. I once again had renewed sympathy and amazement at all the times Michael has pushed through the fear and come out a winner. He learned to walk, communicate, ride a bike, swim, handle diabetes, and all sorts of things in between. He is a hero because he didn’t give up all those times, and I am a hero and a role model for him during the moments I don’t give up and keep moving forward. I realized last week it is important the two of us never give up on each other and keep trying.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle fear and stressful events? I hope you face it head on and set that positive example for your Exceptional Child. If you don’t, that’s ok. You’re human. We all have times we’ve backed off and maybe it was for the best, as we weren’t ready body, mind and spirit. Think about changing that mindset in the future though, because if your child sees you facing your fears head on they will be more apt to face theirs and come out the winner. Until next time.

Tools To Get On The Same Emotional Page As Your Exceptional Child

So Michael has been having some social fears this summer. He will go to crowded places for brief periods of time, had no trouble at summer camp where he knows people, but is feeling a little overwhelmed going places with me and Dad. I agree with our Educator that I think he is just so much more aware of everyone and everything around him, and due to difficulty with understanding some social cues, I think he would rather stay away from people than make a mistake socializing. I wish I could say that I have been more understanding with this. It’s not that I have not been understanding, but lately his tween anger, rude comments and  adolescent posturing combined with the anxiety, has made me feel a little overwhelmed. Some days are easier than others, and I always try and see the gifts Michael has, but I don’t always shine anymore than Michael does. We do our best to regroup and start again.

Don’t get me wrong. We still have good moments. He has come so far in independence with organizing himself, managing his diabetes and of course, his amazing ability to navigate any street or area in our city. The most fun is having him direct me around town as I have zero sense of direction.  He is starting to try and learn other cities now! Still, it occurred to me today when Michael expressed frustration that I don’t listen to him and that is why he gets mad and I echoed the same sentiments, that we needed to sit down and look at new tools to work collaboratively as a family. Here are the ones I am putting in place:

1) Make lists of things you want to fix together The trick to making these lists is that both you AND your child sit down together and write what improvements each of you could make so that communication gets easier.

2) Praise the good efforts they are making even if there are still mistakes: Michael had been feeling that even when he messes up the times he doesn’t do not get praised. I was actually feeling underappreciated myself in this area as well. After having a few fights this week, we each took time apart and then made a deal to look for the good in each other. We also both told the other one we like spending time together, just need to improve how we communicate.

3) Remember your child is having a harder time than you: Sigh. This has been tough for me. Most summers it is as I have Michael 24/7 a lot more than during the school year and he is not in routine the same way as in school. Still, even during a rough patch earlier today, I reminded myself that as overwhelmed as I am with Michael in puberty, with his unique brain and diabetes, for him this is all way more stressful to handle. Compassion for your child needs to come first. Then for yourself.

4) Tell them you love them even if they don’t say it back: Yep. Mine is too cool to say I love you and does not want hugs. I get “I like you” and high fives, tens or twenties. It’s ok and I know normal for a lot of kids in puberty to do this. The fact that he says he wants to spend time with me, is discouraged when I am upset, and does silly inappropriate things to get my attention, show me I matter to him. I am starting to say I love you more often and not go to bed mad. I also remind him I am always there to talk about things whenever he needs me.

5) Take care of yourself and tell them why you are doing it: Make sure your child sees you doing things that make you happy. When Michael asks me “why are you going outside again?” He is upset that I am not in the same room as him, but I explain that being in the yard is my time to recharge, unwind, be creative and occasionally let out big emotions. When I come back in, I am calmer and able to handle things better with him. Then we have time together.

Exceptional Parents, what tools do you use to handle the ups and downs of life with your Exceptional Child? As long as what you use works for the two of you, the formula is correct. Remember, they need to feel as listened to as you do. They need to know you respect them, love them no matter what unconditionally,  and that you will never give up on them.  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.