Category: different brains

Staying Calm Through Your Exceptional Child’s Storms- How You Can Bring Them Back To Themselves

Tonight was one of those nights I was hoping were behind Michael and I. It was a night where Michael totally lost it, his temper, his sense of control, and his ability to use his strategies to calm down. He had had an aggressive outburst with me after school, and even the way he has been talking this week is fueled with aggression and anxiety. I’m sure the new medication for focus is a major reason, but he has argued with me that it is helping him. I see improvements in other areas, so I have been watching and waiting to see if it is truly working and if he is better off overall being on it. What has NOT been happening though, is Michael using strategies to calm down anger and anxiety when he starts escalating. In the winter time, he was using the Zones of Regulation with strategies to find a balance. In the last two weeks particularly, he has been struggling greatly at regulating himself. Then we introduce a medication with possible side effects of aggression, loss of appetite and insomnia and BINGO he gets the aggression one. It has been hard to handle for all of us.

I was emailing his psychiatrist to express my concerns, when he started mouthing off at me and getting upset. I had just come in from an outing with him so told him to stay with his father while I went downstairs as I needed a break. I needed physical space away to breathe and not let his anxiety and anger take me along with him, and as Dad had not seen him all night, I figured this would be an opportunity for them to talk and Michael to calm down. Instead what happened was that Michael escalated more . Dad was tired as I was the night before and could not help.  I raced up the stairs two at a time and got Michael to his bedroom after he had banged the wall a few times, shouted horrible things and been jumping up and down so hard I thought the floors would break in half. We got to his bedroom and he was still yelling.  I kept repeating, “Michael breathe. Michael breathe.” And I stayed with him. It was scary. In the past though, after we talked about it, Michael would say, “I needed you there at the beginning to remind me what to do. I forget Mommy. I can’t do it alone.”

So I stayed and eventually the screaming and cursing stopped, and I heard two big breaths. Then two more as he held my hands and breathed with me.  I knew he would be ok. Then, when he was able to express remorse for what he had said and done, I told him he was forgiven. I also reminded him though, that he needed to use strategies to calm down as soon as he started feeling himself getting upset and anxious about anything. We talked about what could work, what doesn’t work, and what may work. He came out of his room realizing that depending on what the doctor recommended, he may be on a lower dose or off the current medication for focus and hyperactivity.

I was proud of the fact that even though he was saying and doing some pretty scary things I kept in mind three things- 1) my child was out of control 2) my child did not mean what he was saying and 3) my child needed me to be the calm one through it all, no matter what. I was happy to say I was successful, and he finished his bed routine  promising me he’d find new positive strategies to help with anxiety and anger. You see, I learned that his old ones did not help anymore and he said, “When I let myself get really angry and let it out, I feel better.” I agreed it’s good to let anger out, but not when you become physically or verbally dangerous to people around you. After I explained it that way, Michael understood and said he would do better. I know he will. My heart breaks for him that finding balance is so hard- balance in focus, balance in controlling emotions, balance in life. His brain works differently than mine, and he has so many incredible things to share, but the fact he is always ON definitively takes its toll on him and those around him. I am learning how to respect who Michael is while respecting myself and finding a compromise so both of us can respect each other’s differences and learn from one another.

Exceptional Parents, how have you managed to support your Exceptional Child when they have been in crisis? If you stayed calm, congratulations. The best thing an exceptional child can have is a parent who is a calm, safe haven for them when they are in turmoil. As much as you are unraveling, knowing that you’ve got their back, will often help them find the strength to try again. Also never forget that no matter what your child says or does when angry, it is not who they are. It is their reaction to whatever stressor provoked them. Be patient and loving. Unconditional love, having ways to talk together and strategies to handle stress, will be the ultimate thing that will help you both in the end. Until next time.

 

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How To Regroup And Forgive Your Old Reactions To Exceptional Parenting Stress

The last week has had its challenges in our household. Michael is trying a new medication for his ADHD to help with focus in school. I was told that any differences, either good or bad, would be noticed in the first few days of taking it. Let’s just say we have seen a little bit of both kinds of differences, though I am not fully convinced it is not working, but questioning if it is. That has been part of the problem. Michael is telling me how it is becoming easier for him to focus at school, and that he rocks and claps his fidget a little less than before. However, at home he is more outspoken and easily angered than he was prior to taking the medication. I am conflicted. The fights and the repetitive nature of what he is saying to set me off, have me believe it is more than provocative behavior, yet that is what provocative behavior is, right? I also don’t want him on too many medications, unless they are working. As a result of my conflicted feelings and worries, my patience has not been the best the last few days. We have had some fights. I have reacted in ways I am not proud of. It’s been awhile since I’ve felt this way at home. I thought I’d said goodbye to the easily provoked Mom who became frustrated with her hyper active tween, and inadvertently triggered him by some of her comments. Last night after Michael finally went to bed because on top of a fight he also had low blood sugar and needed to wait to retest before having his bedtime injection, I went downstairs and started researching the medication he was on. I also researched ADHD some more, to try and understand this different brain that is so like and unlike autism.

I realized I had come far away from listening to my child over the last week. I was too busy worrying if the medication was right, if he was having side effects, if it would counteract with his insulin and other medication, that I forgot to trust in two very important things-Michael’s instinct about how he feels and my own about my son. I was so busy worrying if the outbursts at home were due to the new medication and if we should stop it, that I was tuning out Michael saying he is feeling good, and to please try it for a little longer. Strangely, as much as end of day has its challenges, Michael actually seems happier since he started the medication and more organized with getting ready for school, bed and other activities. We are having less fights about sequencing stuff. So what does this mean? I think that sometimes as parents we stress so much about every little thing and read too much into things being one way. It’s important not to micromanage too much, step back, and listen for your child’s feedback, especially if they are on medication and are older. They can tell you how they feel.

It’s also ok to occasionally slip up and get angry. You’ll move forward into a calm and zen way of parenting your exceptional child then something stressful will occur and you may temporarily fall back on old habits. Don’t stress. Recognize the angry and scared part of yourself. Nurture it. Forgive yourself your mistake, and apologize to your child. Michael and I both spoke about our mistakes, and and Michael said to me this morning, “Today we start fresh Mommy, right?” Of course, I answered right away.

Exceptional Parents, do you ever feel that making a mistake in how you react to your child is the end of the world? It’s not. It just means that you need to do some more nurturing towards yourself and your fears and worries. It also means that you could be tired and need a break. It’s ok if you feel provoked by your child on occasion. Use the mistake as a learning experience for yourself to get stronger, as well as to show your child that we can grow and become stronger after moving on from mistakes. Tomorrow is always another day after all. Until next time.

 

How To Make Sure Your Child Does Not Use Their Different Brain As A Cop Out On Life

“Mommy, I have ADHD and Autism, right?”
“Yes, Michael.”
“So it’s ok if I’m late to activities sometimes, because it’s hard for me to get organized.”
As usual, Michael was one step ahead of me, and now I had to think of how to answer this question without enabling him when maybe unintentionally I was partly responsible for this mindset.

“Yes, organization can be hard for you, and your brain works differently buddy. But you don’t get a free pass to be late to things because you have a different brain.”
“Oh, ok Mommy.”

This was how many of our conversations went these days. Michael and I were having quite a lot of conversations along this bent. When I made the decision to tell him about his autism when he asked me what autism was and did he have it at eight years old, I did not think I would be opening up a whole lot more than I thought at the time. Michael has been asking this version of the question since he was eight years old and trying at times, smart as he is, to use his different brain to catch a break. Dad and I have not been letting him do this though, as long as we see that he is legitimately able to cope. Now, I’m not saying that we do not try and avoid situations that could trigger a sensory overload and prepare for them. If long lines are forecast for future events, I plan to call ahead and mention Michael’s difficulty with that due to his autism and adhd, but this would not mean that I would tell him that he could get away with rudeness, aggression or disorganization in society. For Michael, sometimes the supports we have in place to help him understandably make him think he is totally different from other kids and different rules apply. But, as he gets older, we are reminding him that he is just as capable to be organized like others. He is smart, well mannered, and has strengths and weaknesses as kids do who do not have autism or different brains.

Dad and I also remind him that others know he struggles in certain areas and are there to help, not in pity but in support. Others understand he wants and deserves to be a part of any activity, job and societal event that he enjoys, but they are looking to him to show them how he needs to be treated and responded to. There are some who understand him, and others who still need to be enlightened. Above all, Dad and I are telling people around us how proud we are of how far Michael has gone and how much farther we know he’ll go. Kids with autism need the same amount of love, support, encouragement and gentle pushes to get out in the world, take risks, and learn from their mistakes. They also cannot have different life rules. They need to do their school work, participate in social exchanges in a calm and respectful way, and deserve friends who cherish them like the amazing people they are. This all comes with rules they must follow just like the rest of us.

So therein begins the gentle tightrope balancing act of some help (depending on the child and what they are), with expectations that they must meet in order to find their way in the world. Our kids can do this,  all to a different degree of course, but as parents advocating for our child’s challenges and getting them to overcome them comes first. Then, it is showing the world their amazing uniqueness and what they could bring into society. Finally, it is showing our kids how to give back to the world so that they will see they are a part of something bigger. Until next time.

Why The Little Surprises From Your Exceptional Tween Make All The Difference

So today Michael came home from school and two things happened. He wanted to talk to me RIGHT AWAY and tell me about his day. This does not happen every day, and I know it is normal. He is growing up and almost a teenager. He usually mumbles hi, day was fine, and then asks if he could go call his friends and go on the computer. He eventually talks to me about his day, usually at dinner, but hearing it right from the moment he walks in like when he was a child, is still special for me. I see him growing up and respect that, but always remind him I am here if he needs to talk and want to continue to offer that closeness.

The other thing that happened was that Michael remembered to do something important today. Without reminders or prompts, HE wore his new Medic Alert necklace that will inform medical personnel in case of an emergency that he is autistic and diabetic, two important things to keep in mind when giving him medical attention should he God forbid not be able to speak for himself. I saw he was wearing it and was blown away. He remembered on his own! That was the first time we did not have to tell him or ask him if he had it. I said, “Michael, I am so proud of you. You remembered to wear your necklace!” His blush and small smile spoke volumes. My words still had meaning for him! I still mattered to him at a time when friends and peer groups rule over parent groups. Wow! We both experienced a rush. My tough big boy who can, frankly, be a pain in the you know what some days, was once again my little boy, who indeed still values my opinion, thought and guidance. I know this, of course, but seeing it with my own eyes is something else.

I have also noticed that even with the tough moments where behaviors still arise and attitude is present, Michael is being more polite and respectful towards Dad and I. There is more of “Thank you Mom, for letting me use your phone to navigate on Google Maps.” “Thank you Mom, for making this meal or letting me have five minutes extra time before bedtime.”  Occasionally I have even been wished, “have a good night’s sleep Mom. Have a good writer’s meeting  or good day Mom.” Yes! His good character is coming through the rebellion, the pulling away that is natural but hard on him and me at times. My sweet little boy is still sweet, but now is a sweet big boy, slowly starting his way on to manhood. Gulp. But, I am seeing a funny side to all of this. Even when he is angry and annoyed at me, I see his struggles. I see him trying to understand the world, me, his friends, himself, through a tween soon to be teen lens. It is not easy. As his teacher this year said to me last week at Parent/Teacher Night, “Remember your teen years. Were they easy for you with the hormones and growing up?” I of course said no. They were the hardest of my life. He reminded me that for Michael he has those hormones, growing up, WITH ASD, ADHD, Diabetes and anxiety. Yep. A lot more to contend with. And looking at Michael through that lens, he is doing a fantastic job of navigating life.

For me as an Exceptional Parent, what has proved the best tool to navigate these years has been what got me through the toddler years- a sense of humor. No, I do not laugh when he is angry and swearing, but I do remember that yes, this too shall pass in a few years when he realizes I and Dad know more than his friends do. Even now, there are those moments when he says things like, “Put your phone down Mommy. I want to talk to you. Listen to me.” He will usually burst into the room when I am in the middle of something, but after asking him for a minute to close up shop, I give him my full attention. I also have reminded him, “4:00-4:30 is your time with me. We can talk if you need it.” He knows I am there if he needs to vent.  I feel the love in the moments when he asks,  will I be coming to his concert, will I be taking any future PED DAYS off, will I take him places in the summer? Yes, he may be pulling away naturally from me, (a good and healthy thing), but I am glad that our relationship is back on a respectful, calm, and orderly plane, so he knows that I love him and make rules for his protection and well being.

Exceptional Parents, how often have your Exceptional Children surprised you? Remember, as hard as life gets with the meltdowns, misunderstandings and challenges, never give up on your child meeting you halfway. If they see healthy boundaries, respect shown both ways, and a willingness for you to keep an open mind and sense of humor, whatever age and stage they are at, they will gravitate towards a more positive relationship  with me in whatever way they are capable of doing. They will feel your love so never be afraid of giving them space, and staying close for when they need your help. Until next time.

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

How To Speak Clearly To Your Exceptional Child And Avoid Miscommunications

I have been parenting Michael now for twelve years, and can usually give others great advice about how to speak to kids with autism, ADHD and other different brains. Yet, there are still days and nights where I find myself forgetting about how I sometimes use language in a confusing way for Michael and then I sigh to myself. Some examples are in order. Most kids with ASD are literal in language, so certain English expressions can be confusing. If your child is whining about not getting a privilege and you forget and say, “you’ll survive,”  he or she may, like Michael, think “what do you mean? I’m not sick. I’m not going to die. Of course I’ll survive.” Another example is giving your child options like you could do things in a way like A or in a way like B and not elaborate so they don’t follow clearly. Yep. I’ve been guilty of doing both this week, though I have to say that I am usually extremely clear with Michael about things like following his daily routine, as well as how I speak.  So, on that note, how can parents talk to kids whose brains are wired to be more literal and concrete? Why, you need to phrase things in simple and concrete ways so that there is mutual understanding. Here are some examples:

1) Talk with short clear sentences to your child: “Today we will be going to this place at this time.” Then make sure through a picture sequence or words you remind your child of what they need to do to get ready. Depending on their age, let them decide the time frame on how to get it all done.

2) Stay calm and be patient when they ask questions: This means if their anxiety is going up, yours needs to stay where it is if you are calm or go down if you are not. If you feel yourself inching towards panic, go to your inner calm place. Radiating peace to them is important.

3) Avoid thinking out loud: This was a bad habit of mine, but now since parenting Michael I have gotten a lot better at having dialogues with myself INSIDE my head. You talking about the past or future around your child (especially things you regret doing or are worried about) will only increase their worry.

4) Give them positive language and support when they are agitated: We all like this, exceptional or not, but giving them words for how they are feeling, and showing them you care even if you don’t have all the answers then and there can help them find these words for themselves in the future.

5) Help them see they can find solutions: Encourage them to find ways to calm down, talk through how they feel, and come up with solutions to problems in a direct and logical way that works for them. This will build their self-confidence and it decreases your stress as a parent. After all, we are not supposed to put out all our children’s fires. They need to learn to handle their own emotions in a calm way.

Exceptional Parents, what are some of the positive ways you talk to your Exceptional Child and see success in your family interactions? What have been some of your mistakes? Every child is different, but in the end, as long as your child feels safe, heard and the message of what you are trying to say is clear, you are both on the right path to communicating in a positive and calm way. Until next time .

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

 

 

 

 

Learning From And Teaching Your Exceptional Child-Finding The Balance

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

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

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

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

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

 

Debunking Autism Stereotypes And Remembering Your Exceptional Child’s Individuality

Seven years ago when I knew something was different about Michael, I started reading up on various childhood developmental issues. At the top of the list for the criteria Michael met, was autism. Many of the articles pin pointed a lot of the idiosyncrasies of autism that are so true- difficulty with speech, difficulty with sitting still or not having energy to move, seeming difficulty with hearing. But another point I kept seeing in article after article, not being social or wanting to be around other people, turned out, in my autistic son’s case to be the complete opposite. Yes, you heard me. From birth, Michael was social and wanted to interact. The thing is, he did not know how to interact with other children and adults. Even with Dad and I there were challenges, first because of communication issues and language delays. Then, he was one of the lucky kids who caught up with language and then some, but had to learn (and is still learning) how to have a conversation, such as the give and take, asking the right questions, and finishing the encounter appropriately.

But the thing is, when I was told Michael had autism, I kept remembering all the warnings about the child not wanting to be social. It upset me somehow, more than the other so called defects, which by the way, are not always so. Yes, autism is a challenging condition for people who have it in the world they live in.  The world can be hard on individuals who have sensitive hearing, touch, sight and bodies that feel the environment in a different way. Yes, it is hard to make themselves understood and heard, and for parents and other neuro typical people who want to understand and follow everything this is hard too, but saying that someone does not want to do something is not the same as saying they do, just it is hard or that, hey, they’ll find their own way to do it in time. It struck me tonight as I was preparing dinner, how social my autistic kid is. He calls many of his friends on the phone each night and has, wait for it, real conversations with them. The conversations started out more rudimentary and basic at first, and yes they sometimes watch videos over the phone, but more often than not, Michael and his autistic friends have REAL conversations about REAL feelings, their days, and getting together.  Wait for it. They talk about girls now too that they are in puberty. This was not the picture I’d had of autism, and I’m so glad that Michael is turning that notion upside down. But then, he has always amazed us with surpassing what people thought he would do. My friends have had the same experiences with their children. No autistic child is the same and they will all amaze us if we give them the chance and not box them in.

The good thing is that today experts are admitting that as much as they know about autism, there is so much else they still have to learn. And you know what parents, the best ones to learn it from are our autistic kids and adults. They are all so different and their challenges are different. Talk to them. Read their blogs. Have them come to your schools. It  is so important to keep an open mind always about your child. Tell them as I tell Michael, all about the great things they will do, just like that Dr. Zeus book talks about. If kids believe in themselves, they will go above and beyond. Yes, it may take some kids more years than others to get where they are comfortable, but make no bets that they won’t get there.  It’s one day at a time, loving them for who they are and what they are passionate about, and never never putting your child (exceptional or otherwise) in someone else’s box.  They will do what they were sent here to do.

Exceptional Parents, were you ever told something about your Exceptional Children that would never happen and now has? How did it make you feel? Did you believe it or say HELL NO! I hope it was the latter. If not, don’t despair. It’s never too late to go with your child’s flow keeping in mind their limitations of course. The thing is, never let the limitations define the whole person your child is. You have your limitations but it doesn’t stop you. It is the same with your child. Remember them that their brain is amazing, that the way they see the world is amazing. This is easier on some days than others, of course. But never never stop believing in your child’s magic, and you’ll see them surprise you with the butterfly they are becoming. Until next time.

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

The Difference Between Limits And Streaks of Independence In Your Exceptional Child

So Michael continues to surprise me. He continues to surprise me with his very natural desire to want to fit in with peers and push away from me, from the way he handles stress, anxiety and the physical challenges of diabetes, to the way he maturely will ask for space, love, time and meaning. Sometimes it feels like too much to handle for me. Other times, I am at peace, catching a glimpse of the independent young man I really believe he will grow up to be. He is a puzzle, my boy. But then, he always has been. From the time he came into my life and threw it into a whirlwind being nothing like any other baby I’d ever heard of or taken care of, from the way he danced to the beat of his own drummer from infancy, to the beautiful surprises he showed me along the way, I have been on a journey with Michael that only continues to grow.

I am seeing now too, how sometimes in the parenthood journey we need to impose limits for our children’s safety and well being (mental and physical), and at other times how we need to acknowledge that their pushing away from us is actually healthy and move towards that. I am at the phase with Michael. I am sometimes terrified as with all Michael’s knowledge about people, directions, self-help skills and such, he still can have full on meltdowns and freak when his sugar is high, he doesn’t get his way, or life is unpredictable. Where do I draw the line of mothering him and letting him fend for himself? This is a delicate balance, and one I, and other mothers around the world, learn to delicately balance as we get more experience as parents.  I am beginning to see where I need to strike the balance with Michael.

He will also tell me, “I don’t want any more kisses or hugs from you. I’m a big guy now.”

Yet, then when I go to try and start  writing a little earlier in the evening while he is getting ready for bed and head down to my office in the basement, I’ll hear his entreaty, “Mommy, stay upstairs. I like when you are upstairs.”

He will also have moments when he demands my full attention to divulge information to me and share about his day. I soak these moments up like I do the sun on a summer’s day. My little guy still needs me. I still make a difference. He wants to share with me and tell me how he feels. I will be able to show him more about life so he is better equipped when he will hopefully be completely or semi-autonomous. This is both a desire and fear for Exceptional Parents. We want our children independent of course, but we worry, have we taught them everything they will need to survive and thrive? The answer depends on you and your child. I’d like to think I am on the right track with Michael as he is showing great progress in all areas of his life.

Exceptional Parents, where do you draw the line between independence and putting limits for your Exceptional Child? Though of course it depends on the child, it’s important you encourage your child to be as independent and as free thinking as is possible for them. Yet, it is also important that you, as their parent, are not afraid to put limits in for their protection, limits for their safety, physical and mental health, as well as your own. In the end, treat them as the individual they are with all of their strengths and weaknesses. Help build them up and show them how to build on what they know and do best. Show them you are there loving them through it all, always, no matter what.  In doing this, you will strike the right balance for your child on becoming comfortable with who they are. Until next time.

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

 

Tackling Your Own Exceptional Impatience While Helping Your Child With Theirs

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Picking Your Battles With Your Exceptional Child-When To Give In, When To Say No

So saying that I’ve had to learn to pick my battles with Michael since he started puberty is the understatement of the year, but there you have it. And you know what, he has had to learn to do the same with me. The thing is, we’re both pretty passionate about what we believe is true, even when we’re wrong. It takes us time to calm down, come to terms with our feelings, and express ourselves in the best way possible to each other. You see, with passion comes volatility and sometimes, well, I’ve been knows to yell and Michael has too. What can I say, it’s the artist’s temperament in me, and probably in Michael too. 🙂 Still, we are learning how to set the pace with each other, respecting one another’s  personal space, and finding the middle ground now that my cute and cuddly little boy is no longer that, but a growing tween with his own opinion and mind who wants things to go his way most of the time.

I’m beginning to see when I need to tell him he needs to cut back his expectations though, as well as learning when I have to cut back mine. As a result, we are having more success relating positively to one another. For example, Michael wants to get up in the mornings and relax first THEN get ready for school. This drives me crazy, being the Type A Control Freak Mom I am who wants it all done BEFORE having fun. That is also the way I was raised. The work was done first, then play. It’s also the way things are done in school. But home is not school. It’s Michael ‘safe space’, and I let him have it. Also, having an exceptional child who has many challenges with sequencing, anxiety and opposition, has showed me that if it works out in the end, you do it. That’s all that matters. Now, if Michael’s system stops working, we’ll revert to a mine, or a pretty close approximation to mine. Otherwise, we  stay with his. We’ll also try a mix of both of ours too. There are always options. That is one example.

Another example is hugging and affection. He is usually all “hands off Mom, I am not a baby. I don’t want hugs.” This is both heartbreaking and liberating to see him breaking away. Again, I make sure to commend his independence while still telling him I love him. He sighs, “I know Mom.” Every day I ask about his day and he tells me details. He gets annoyed if I don’t give him my full attention, which is rare. This is how I know we are still close, but I am happy my little guy is forging his own path. One day when I am no longer around, I know he will be fine.

Finally, with things like aggression, swearing or inappropriate content or friends, this is where I draw the line with picking battles. Here the battle line is my way or there are consequences.  I don’t want bad influences affecting how Michael relates to the world. I would feel this way for any child, but particularly one who wants so much to please others, that he may get carried away on watching something that is not the best thing for him or make dangerous choices to please friends who are confused as well.

Exceptional Parents, where do you pick battles or buckle down and insist on your way with your Exceptional Child? Remember, you know your child best, and that means you know best how to help them develop in a positive way. If you are ever stuck, listen to your parenting gut. It will never steer you wrong. And usually when you listen to it, it will give you and your child the credit your deserve for navigating the difficult domain that is life out there in the world. Until next time.

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