Category: facing fears

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

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

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

1) not brushing his teeth

2) not swearing in his head

3) not eating all his fruits and veggies

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

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

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

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

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The Struggles Of Being An Exceptional Parent And What It Has Taught Me So Far

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

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

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

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

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

 

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! 

 

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! 

Giving Space And Making Time For One Another In Exceptional Relationships- How To Strike The Best Balance 5 Tips

One thing being an Exceptional Parent has taught me is how tough it can be to balance that with being a wife and partner. Michael has opened up my eyes (and Dad’s) to so many amazing things that parents often take for granted that their children can do. Michael amazed us (and continues to amaze us) with all his talents and all he could do. However, there are those moments when things become challenging to manage as a parent, individual and in a couple, when so much of your energy is spent helping and advocating for your Exceptional Child. I have learned much in our twelve year journey as parents, and nine year journey as Exceptional Parents. Mainly it has been how to ride through the hard moments of parenting, celebrate the easy ones, and ask for help as individuals and as a couple when we have needed it. Dad and I seem to be coming through ok on the other side, though we have had LOTS of growing and lots more to do.

On that note, I have come up with some observations and steps that we have followed to keep our relationship strong and get stronger in the challenging times, so that we could be the best kind of people for ourselves, each other and Michael. Here are some life tips that I am living through and which continue to help me in my couple journey. This is still a learning process for Dad and I.

  1. Write down what is bugging you and show it without guilt to your partner.
  2. Make a schedule where each of you has alone time, family/friend time and couple time.
  3. Make exercise and healthy eating a top priority to be at your best.
  4. Laugh together over the little things.
  5. Seek outside help if none of the above are working

This tips are really common sense, but so many times we all forgot to use our heads when living day to day life that I like the idea of having them on paper in front of me as a reminder for how I want to live my own life in balance. On the tough days, I now commend myself that I have made it through them and learn from my mistakes. On the successful days, I celebrate in little ways my victories. I do this now (or at least try to most of the time), in couple form too. It’s important to support each other, admit when there is anger, and grow from it. This is the only way to move forward and grow together.

Exceptional Parents, what are your tips for prioritizing your personal relationship? How have you learned to re-connect with your partner? Remember, admitting mistakes is never easy, but it’s ok as we all make them. Celebrate the little victories as a couple as you do individual and parenting victories. Be honest with each other and supportive. Give each other space and time.  And remember that your child is evidence of the love you have for each other and can continue to have when you prioritize your couple needs along with other challenges you face. Until next time.

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

 

When Your Exceptional Child Changes How They Relate To You

So tween-hood is officially upon us with Michael, and has been for quite a while. I am both excited and sad. My little boy is growing up. Joy! But the downside of this is, he is growing away from me. He is growing away from the “Mommy and Daddy knows best,” and growing towards, “my friends know best and are way cooler,”. Ok, the way cooler may be true. Hey, I remember those days when I was twelve, and my parents were not the coolest people to me too, but I still remember giving them hugs and kisses all the time like when I was little. The pushing away came later, at thirteen or fourteen years old. Not eleven and twelve. But, like with many areas in his life, Michael has taken me by surprise and become a little teenager in training overnight. I think the fact he has some older kids in his adapted class also plays a role, but I digress.

It has been wonderful to see him forming his own identity. He will not like a song because I do. We often enjoy the same music, (see I am cool and hip with the youth today LOL), but sometimes he will say the song is not “funky” enough. He will also not want to read or watch certain books or tv shows I recommend. Why? Because his friends are not into that or it is not interesting. I both celebrate and am frustrated by this “man child” who needs me one minute (when in crisis to control anxiety and anger he will look to me to stop the explosion which I cannot do), and then pushes me away when he seems stressed or is celebrating a victory and I offer a hug or kiss (“I am too old for hugs Mommy. No.”) Where do I fit into my son’s world? Other friends and family have commented about his growth spurt, his voice that is WAY deeper, his talking about body parts, sex and crushes, and wow, they are right! So now, we are both trying to navigate terrain where he likes me for the most part, but friends rule for talking on the phone, playing video games and going out places. I am both proud and struggling to meet the demands of my tween as friends and peers cannot be around 24/7, and when they are not, he is struggling with his identity as well as his special needs issues. What’s an Exceptional Mom to do?

First of all, I have found venting to my friends has been extremely helpful. We have compared notes on puberty and where our kids are. Secondly, we have asked Michael’s team both in and outside of school for assistance in the form of strategies and articles about Exceptional Adolescence to help us navigate this new path. And third, I have relied on something I have been relying on since the beginning of our journey with Michael-my faith and trusting in God and my mother’s instincts that will lead me to the right people to help me continue to trust myself on my journey of learning to become Michael’s mother through all his developmental phases. I truly think all parents are in a learning curve when it comes to their children, no matter what age or sex they are. As long as we go by our instincts, trust in our love for our children, we cannot go wrong.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle sudden changes in your Exceptional Child’s behavior? Sometimes there is a logical explanation-developmental milestone reached, puberty beginning, or life stressor, that is obvious such as parents separating or upheaval at school. But what if none of these things fit? Then you need to investigate further to see why your child’s relationship to you has changed. Remember, trust your gut. If it tells you something others are denying, you are probably right. As the parent, you know them best. Also, however, remember that developmental milestones will shift how your child sees you. Don’t despair this. Celebrate their development and show them that no matter what, you are there for them. They will need you on the rocky road ahead, and you will have the front row seat to viewing their growing success. 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! 

Finding the Balance Between Mother And Nurse To Your Exceptional Child

We are all nurses and caregivers to our children, whether they are exceptional or not. The title pretty much belongs to all parents, Moms in particular, who are usually jokingly referred to as the chauffeur, cleaning lady, teacher, parent and nurse/caregiver. But all of this takes on a whole new level for most Exceptional Parents whose kids have other underlying physical and psychological health issues. Everything from keeping track of medication, various doctors appointments outside of the usual yearly checkup, dental and eye checkup visit, as well as therapy visits for speech, occupational, physiotherapy and psychology/psychiatry can take its tole. In this role, parents (again usually Moms, though sometimes Dads too or a mix of the two), are always the expert and advocate of their child and the ones at all meetings and tabulating data and charts before said meetings. All in all, it can be utterly exhausting, and you wonder when you get to build a regular parent/child relationship with your child where you hope to gradually transfer over some of the physical and mental health care decisions to your child when they are older. It’s a long road, and one not entirely possible for some families to eventually do. Still, it’s important that parents remember that though you take care of your child medically, you are still their mother. This means as their mother, to the best of your capacity in that role, you help forge self-reliance, independence and advocacy so that they can do the best possible to take care of themselves one day.

I’ve had a lot of difficult conversations with Michael lately as has Dad about his diabetes. Michael has been resentful of the fact he can’t eat like his friends at one moment, then will go to the other extreme, as happened the other morning, and be super critical of my meal choices for him. In those moments I sigh with frustration at the unfairness of his rigidity in thinking I am making a mistake and causing his sugars to rise (sometimes this is true, sometimes it is not as I and Dad are still in the early phases of learning about carb counting and making the right balance of food choices etc.).  I have actually cursed diabetes out loud and the extra burden it has put on Michael and on Dad and I as parents. Don’t get me wrong.  I do not want any pity. No Exceptional Parent does. None of us want to know that we are heroes. We are not. We are simply parents doing what parents do, loving and taking care of our child the best we can. Our kids too are doing the best they can. I will take praise for Michael too as do most of my friends for their kids, as our kids do overcome so many challenges navigating a world that is foreign to them. But even our kids are kids at the heart of it all, and just want to belong, have friends, and be the best they can be.

So my point about finding the balance in being a mother and nurse is this; make your peace with where you are with your child in any given moment. If it’s a moment where you are resenting the nurse role, have yourself a good cry, throw some pillows around and ask another adult to step in and take over so you can have a break. If it’s a moment where you are feeling strong, remember to bond with them in the same way you did BEFORE you knew they had a diagnosis of any kind. Remember, first and foremost above everything else, they are your child. They have their own likes and dislikes. They have their own personality. They are their own little person with talents and struggles, just like you. Bring out their best. Show them how much you love them no matter what they do, because as your child, they are loved because of that. Take time to play, talk, and laugh together. As they get older this may get challenging, but carve out time alone together- at meals times, in the car on the way to activities, or just on the fly. You will find the balance in the same way you did when you were taking care of a newborn long ago. You will learn to multitask and prioritize what is important.

Exceptional Parents, how do you balance mother and nurse roles for your Exceptional Child? Do you take time for you and a personal life in there as well? It’s important to not only have some alone time away from parenting when you have a complex care needs child, but you also need to make time for being together with your partner, other family members and friends. When you have time away from your child, you will come back refreshed, come back full circle, and be able to have a clear definition of what being a well-rounded Exceptional Mom is like. 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! 

My Exceptional New Year’s Resolutions And The Challenges in Keeping Them

Stay calm and be the example. Pick your battles when he pushes your buttons. Be forgiving and understand why things are hard.

These are some of the things I have been struggling with since making some informal New Year’s resolutions. No, I don’t believe in making any really specific ones anymore, whether as a parent or individual, but this year I really wanted to move forward in my personal growth while helping Michael move forward in his. I am truly seeing each day, for better or worse, how Michael is raising me to be an Exceptional Parent. Things have been getting better, a lot better at home between Michael, Dad and I. Still, raging teenage hormones, frustration over a disease that he did not ask for (diabetes) and managing his ADHD and autism, makes it challenging for Michael to self-regulate around us, and for us to self-regulate around him. I was doing well the first few days into January, and most of the time now, still consider I am moving forward in a positive direction. For instance, when Michael deliberately tries to trigger me, most of the time I stay calm, breathe and answer him directly and simply that his behavior is unacceptable. Then there are the other times when I stand outside myself, a spiritual entity, watching me unravel a little as Michael is rude, hyper or aggressive. The difference now though, is that I see the crazy woman losing it and immediately show her compassion a few seconds later. I used to berate her and put her down before. I also own it to Michael reminding him how although he was out of line, I made a mistake yelling back or losing my cool by raising my voice, or storming out of the room. I no longer feel guilty. I see I am human and learning. And I am beginning to see that our mistakes really make us stronger and wiser.

In the last three days particularly, I have grown more confident just before I am about to lose it and have, surprise, NOT lost it. Yes! I know I am not out of the woods, but the thing is Michael and I are a lot more alike in temperament than I’d like to admit. No, I am not aggressive to people or trigger them deliberately. Then again, I don’t have Michael’s challenges, just anxiety and old self-esteem baggage I am still working my way through. Getting better all the time. Hey, I fight for the underdog. I see them as the top dogs who don’t see their potential. That is why I  finally see who I am and what I must do to answer my personal calling and help other kids and parents answer theirs. But back to the similar character thing. I also like things predictable as Michael does. I like being in control, way too much. And it’s only as I began to let go of trying to control people and situations that my life, and the lives of those around me, have gotten better and more peaceful. When I find myself going back to my old ways- getting stressed about change, worrying about what others think, questioning myself, I silently remind myself what Michael has taught me even as he struggles with it-be yourself, own it, live your dreams, dare to be original and to heck with what others say, as Dr. Seuss himself said, “Those who care don’t matter, and those who matter don’t care.” Wise words by a wise writer. 🙂

So I am learning so far in 2019. that change is scarier and more exciting than ever for me. I am learning that YES I am truly changing for the better, but there are days when I want to hide and get angry that I fail little self-control tests and lose it as a Mom. Then I say, life is a journey lived with each breath. Each day I take new steps towards the parent I am still becoming as Michael takes towards the adolescent he is becoming. I have more compassion for parents than ever before, and remember no judging others. It’s that whole he is without sin thing. We’re all in this Exceptional Parenting thing together, and need to build bridges, not walls with each other.

Exceptional Parents, what are some of your New Year’s resolutions a week in? Are you having trouble living up to them? Remember, you and your child like every human being, are works in progress. Celebrate the little victories and don’t despair the failures. They will help you become stronger and move towards the parent and person you want to become. 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 Show And Receive Respect From Your Exceptional Child

An amazing thing has been happening with Michael lately. He has been showing respect to me again as well as learning to respect himself in a whole new way. Puberty has not been easy for him thus far, and I have been told by many people that it will only get harder as he gets older. Apparently kids with autism and ADHD have a harder time in puberty. Also kids who have Type 1 Diabetes have their challenges, big ones, during these years too. I don’t consider these people fear mongers. I am grateful to all of them, professional and other Moms and Dads, who have told me this to help me continue to stay strong, advocate, and prepare Michael for the world in the best way I can. I know he will triumph. He is one strong kid, and I am one strong Mama! 🙂

This is not to take away from the fact that Michael has blown me away with the progress he has made in the last four months, but especially the last two, as he has moved away from using verbal and physical means to handle his anger. That’s not to say there have not been slip ups, but he is so conscious of them, apologizes, immediately starts using his strategies to calm down. He shows me how he is learning that giving in to anger is not the solution. He will often ask me if he is doing better. Am I happy with him? I tell him I am happy to see him using his tools, and yes, he is doing better. I will also repeat, that anger is ok. It is channeling anger in a destructive or dangerous way that is unacceptable. I think he is grasping that.

I also had this amazing conversation with him the other night where we talked about respect and love. I told Michael if he knew that I love him, even when I don’t say it. He said, “I know you love me Mommy. I always know.” I have seen him make mistakes with talking back to Dad and I, getting upset when something does not go his way, and catch himself about to launch into an aggressive tirade and stop. He asks if we can go places and spend time together. Can we go out to eat? He does not demand, but waits to see what works for me. I think all of this boils down to a slow process of learning self-soothing strategies, as well as recognizing that I am a separate human being with my own wants, needs and desires. For my part, I have also shown respect Michael’s way, with the new activities he wants to participate in, to his bedtime routine which we have altered as he has matured. The respect has to work both ways in order to be successful and so far, I am happy to say that things are getting better.

Exceptional Parents, do you respect your Exceptional Child? Do they respect you? Remember, it is  two way street of talking, establishing firm rules and boundaries that are clear, and also allowing some leeway when they are clearly feeling out of control and powerless. In the end, if you start with respect and love, you cannot go wrong. Until next time.

Feeling stuck as a parent? Wondering how you can manage parenting an exceptional child that does not come with an instruction manual? You are not alone. You have a unique experience ahead of you, and one that can shape you into something you never thought possible. I can help you on your journey. As an exceptional parent myself, I have been there and am continually there through my incredible son’s journey that just keeps growing. To learn more about how he is raising me, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.