Category: Family issues

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! 

 

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When To Plow Forward and When To Step Back- Learning How To Parent Exceptionally

Oh boy. Picking your battles. This is a phrase I was aware of when I first became a mother twelve years ago, and even before that time. But not having lived it, I had a hard time actually learning how to follow it until, well, Michael came into my life. I was terrible at doing this until Michael had started school pretty much. Yes, I knew he was different. Yes, many of the ways I was raised did not work with Michael, but oh I tried, tried so hard to control things so as to help him, that I picked a battle with pretty much every thing I did. This was not fun for me. This was not fun for Dad. This was especially not fun for Michael. Finally, with a lot of great support from therapists for Michael, I learned how to stop fighting and truly pick my battles. I am pretty good at it now, but alas, I have my days when I make it my way or the highway. Those days don’t end well for Michael and I. And I have questioned myself recently now that things are going better in our family, what I am doing differently? And it hit me. When things are going well for Michael and I, I am truly not fighting him on every little thing.  Sometimes he does listen. Sometimes he doesn’t. But you know what? Even if he raises his voice, it does not turn into the battle it once did. Same with me.

But it is hard parents. It is hard realizing you can’t control your Exceptional Child. There. I’ve said it. And why do I want to control him? Because, one day in the world he will have to follow rules where there will not be the choices and options he has now. They will accommodate some things, but not others. I wanted to prepare him so badly for this future world, that I waged a battle on a daily basis in the present one. I realize now that was not necessary. I also realize that a lot of the battles were about me asserting that I am in control, I am in charge as the Mom. I was trying to convince myself that I had all the answers even when I did not so I wouldn’t feel so scared so worried about failing as a Mom. What did I miss? Is he aggressive because I have been too lenient as a parent? Is he swearing because I’ve been too permissive. It’s all my fault. No. No it is not. We set examples for our kids. We make expectations clear and concise. Then, we calmly sit back and see what they do, what kind of choices they make. We reward the good. We give consequences for the bad, but we tell them we love them, and are there to help them make better choices. We take care of ourselves along the way too, practice self-care, so their comments, especially when rude or disrespectful, do not hurt like a knife in the heart. These are our issues, after all, not our children’s to handle.

Picking battles for me has been about giving Michael autonomy to succeed and celebrate or fail and learn from it. It has also helped me distance myself from Michael’s actions. It is not my fault. If as a parent I have put rules, guidelines and expectations  in place and Michael knows what to expect, the rest of the ball is in his court, so to speak. Make no mistake parents should never be afraid to parent with clear expectations, boundaries and love. They should also not be afraid to show all range of emotions, including anger, as long as it is reasonable. But reacting emotionally to everything your child does means you need to take a step back, detach, and see the behavior for what it is. A control battle where no one will win. The only way success can happen is when your child knows you are in charge, but they have the free reign to either make a positive or negative choice and reap the benefits or have to handle the consequences. Make no mistake, it is a LONG road. Some days are harder than others. You need your strength, rest and a sense of humor. But when you make a list of non negotiable things where you will pick battles no matter what, and they usually fall under life/death safety, and the other important issues which range from important to minimal, you and your child will have an easier time co-existing in the same home.

Exceptional Parents, how many times a day are you picking battles with your Exceptional Child? Are you exhausted, angry and frustrated? Step back for a minute and see who are fighting against and what is the purpose of hanging on to that control? Who is winning? Chances are, neither you nor your child. Once you are in a calm state of mind, look at what objectives are really important for your child to meet and which you can agree to disagree on. Then, let go and let your child experience the good or bad of what happens. You will parent in a whole new way, and they will probably surprise you with how fast they also respond to firm boundaries, love and acceptance, and some flexibility in making decisions. 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! 

 

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! 

 

Balancing Positive Parenting With Behavioral Parenting-How Combining The Two Can Help Your Exceptional Child Succeed

Oh how difficult it is to be a parent of any child. An Exceptional Child though, takes a different kind of mindset. Michael has become very patient with me over the years as I have adjusted my style of parenting to meet his needs as well as show him the appropriate boundaries kids and parents must have. I have found that the way to do this, is to have a balanced parenting approach. What has worked for me as an Exceptional Mom, has been to use both behavioral and positive parenting approaches, depending what situation I am parenting in and what the problem is. Now that Michael is in puberty and acting out a lot, I have leaned A LOT on behavioral parenting approaches and have used things like reward points, direct consequences for actions and talking out the why’s and how’s of conducting oneself in society. This has been helping a lot, but on its own, is not the total solution.

Michael has still benefited from a lot of the positive parenting solutions I used before when he was younger, that is, giving him choices and leeway whenever possible, reminding him of the importance of family relationships and how much Dad and I want to be with him, and prioritizing family time activities when he is pushing away from us developmentally. Now there are some days when I will admit that positive parenting strategies have not been at the top of my favorite list, as Michael has been rude, lashed out, or I am tired. But when it all come down to it, I have seen that kids need balance just as much as us grownups do. Have you ever been so intense with your eating and exercising regime and then you have one night off and indulge? Perfectly normal. It makes a balance. Likewise, if you are constantly doing things with your children or partner, alone time for a few days feels real good. Just as when you are alone for too long, you need time to connect with family and friends. Our Exceptional Children need this balanced approach to their time with us at ALL AGES even when they seem to be pushing you away.

Michael is a non-stop talker when he is with Dad or I, though he very clearly puts his boundaries up when he wants alone time in his room or with friends. Yet today when I got back from a night out with a good friend, Michael quickly said good night to me and seeing Dad’s face  I asked how the night went? Dad said good, but that Michael is high maintenance. Yes, he is. But that goes for all our children. They need us to be there for them, but stay away. They need to know they can come to us with problems and push us away when they feel capable of coping. And how do they learn to do this? They learn by parents trusting their own gut on what combination of strategies work best to raise their child or children.

Parents also need a strong support team of therapists and like minded other parents behind them offering tips, tricks and ideas for what worked and didn’t work for them and their child. In the end, don’t give up. Tune in to what your child needs. There is not ONE fix to repair the relationship and communication challenges with your child. Nor is there a necessity to say that my child is troubled because he is not communicating in the way other kids are. Maybe your child needs extra time to express themselves. Maybe communicating via technology is easier. Whatever the case, tune into what seems to work for a better relationship with your child and family. You will most likely hit the nail on the head if you remember that often more than one approach will make things easier. 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 you 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! 

How To Empower Your Exceptional Child To Use Their Strategies

The other day after a particularly challenging morning with Michael where we both seemed equally frustrated by one another. I sat back, and before I finished my second cup of coffee, I did what I tell others to do. Close your eyes and breathe. Breathe out all the stress, anger and misunderstandings. Of course, before that I cursed like a sailor after the bus pulled away from the curb and said all the things I did not say in front of Michael. Soon I’ll vent to my cat, but she’s new to the family and I don’t want to scare her off. 🙂 But seriously, what it came down to in the end, was that Michael, though getting better, is still having a hard time finding the right time to use strategies to calm down BEFORE he tells me or Dad how he is feelings. It is on these mornings or evenings when all h@&^ breaks loose and he says things he regrets a nanosecond later. I usually do the same thing, and then regret. Why couldn’t I hold my sh*$ together better? Well, the other day I did, though I was firm with Michael and called him out on not using his strategies. And you know what he said? It broke my heart because it was true;

“Mommy, I know I forgot, but I have been getting better. I did so well the other day and you didn’t tell me you were happy with me. You’re always mad at me!”

He was right. I’ve been a little guilty of the glass half empty lately, though this week I have been trying and succeeding in encouraging and praising more good behavior and reminding Michael gently to use strategies RIGHT AWAY when he gets upset, and not afterwards. I also had a lighting bolt moment (God/Universe inspired), when in half anger/half positivity I wrote out for him on a piece of paper what using his strategies would do for him and our family. In this paper was the reassurances he kept seeking, several times daily, as to what his future held. I stipulated how we all needed to feel safe in our home (no abuse to or from anybody no matter how angry), no physical contact unless permission was given by ALL of us, how we all loved each other and we needed to show it by respect, using ways to calm down before we talked about things that made us angry, and how Michael’s team were part of our family, to support us, make us stronger as individuals and as a family. The last two days Michael has really started internalizing this message. When he has not respected these conditions, I have called him on it. I encouraged him also to remind Dad and I of times when we did not use strategies. If we all remind each other then only good things will come of it, for all of us.

The amazing thing is I have seen Michael’s maturity go up in a dramatic way. As he has seen how we mean business for everyone and how we are also adhering to respecting HIS tween boundaries, he needs to respect ours as his parents and the adults in charge. Today he was getting angry and in my space, when he all of a sudden realized and said, “Sorry Mommy.” He backed away and started breathing to control his temper, and then told me calmly how he was feeling. Another time today he became angry and said some hurtful things. Afterwards, he told me that he needed to remember to have his fidget toys nearby. Squeezing them helped him focus and calm down before acting. Finally, he has become more compassionate. The other day he asked how I was feeling . When I say goodnight sleep well, he’ll wish me a good night too and sleep well. It’s amazing how empowering a child with turning to strategies can help them see anger and stress in a new way.

Exceptional Parents, what strategies do you and your Exceptional Child have for handling anger and frustration? As long as there are boundaries, self-respect, as well as mutual respect towards all family members even when angry, you are on the right track to showing your Exceptional Child a positive way to let their strategies help them manage anger and anxiety better. 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!