Category: Family issues

An Angry Child Is A Scared Child- Taking A Breath, Learning More Exceptional Parenting Lessons

So to say things have been tough in our family lately is the understatement of the year. More has been coming to light for us about Michael’s emotional issues. I have always known this deep down inside, but only recently have really discovered something. That something is how much Michael’s anger inside is related to feeling afraid, powerless, and out of control in the world. He has so many insecurities, and despite being able to articulate this feelings well, feel the tension in his body, it is still hard for him to self-regulate. We also have yet to find the right medication and therapy combination, so this is wreaking its own havoc on a very intense brain. Some days I have felt like I could not get through another day of walking on eggshells around him or handling yet another meltdown and aggressive outburst. Dad has felt the same. Still, we are both slowly seeing some progress. That progress is Michael understanding that his anger, both angry words and actions, have consequences at home. And when we mess up as parents due to our own stress being high or being tired or both, we chalk it down to a lesson learned and move on to NOT make that lesson again.

Michael is a child who holds back ALL the anger from school, all the horrible thoughts, but at home feels safer to express them in all his rages. When I am feeling tired and weak, it is hard to be compassionate and see the anger for what it is-fear. But when I am feeling strong and in control, I am aware that when he loses control and looks quite scary and older than his years, he is still a scared quiet little boy who does not know what to do. It is then up to Dad and I to model calm, collected behavior, to reach out and show Michael that he does not need to be afraid. He just needs to learn to self-soothe, use his strategies. We have taken great comfort, after a very hard start to the week, that even though Michael is still having blowups, yesterday and today he is recognizing, “I need to use my calm card. I need to breathe.” Also, due to Dad and I putting down firmer boundaries over unacceptable behavior- (i.e. losing points he is accumulating towards a bigger prize, outings in the community) he is beginning to recognize and immediately apologize for his mistakes as he is seeing what is costing him when he is misbehaving. I have felt a lot more respect for Dad and I as the week has progressed whenever we have been consistent.

Consistency is what is the key. No matter how much the child is upset, angry, afraid, the parent needs to put boundaries in place. I have sensed a closeness from Michael since I began doing this. He has expressed his love for me more frequently, and reiterated how he wants to get better so he could live peacefully with us and in society. Things like this have made the hard nights easier to bear. I see that Michael is a tough kid, and that I may not have been giving him enough credit to cope with stress. As he matures, he needs to know that we trust him to behave in a certain way, and that he is bigger than his fears always.

Exceptional Parents, have you sometimes missed your Exceptional Child’s fear for anger? It is easy when we see them blowing up that it is all about the anger. But really, anger is just the child feeling super powerless, and like they have nothing to hang on to. This is where you come in as the parent. You remind them about their tools, let them use them to calm down, and stay close by for emotional support. Once your child realizes they do not need to be afraid and they can handle things, the power games will disappear. Until next time.

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? Looking for tools to cope with raising your child while handling your own emotions at the same time? I will be there alongside you. As a parent who has been there and is still handling more challenges, I know what needs to be done to help your family be healthy and in balance.

For more information about me and my journey as well as my coaching programs,  check out my website http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com,  as well as my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks. 

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Meltdowns And Learning From Them-How Best To Help Your Exceptional Child

As Michael has gotten older, many things have changed. What has especially become more difficult to navigate have been his meltdowns, or breakdowns when he has become overstimulated, stressed and angry. I realize he and we are dealing with many different challenges to how he views things, and this has affected me on figuring out how best to help him. OCD is still a killer for me. I am still trying to wrap my head around this aggravating, frustrating and stressful condition. I feel so angry sometimes that the compulsions Michael feels inclined to do take up so much energy and stress. With a new medication to handle it, the compulsions have gotten better, but the problem is still there, and when Michael becomes overwhelmed with other stimuli, we have a weekend like we just did with lots of behaviors, hyperactivity and aggression. It was not that Michael wanted to do this or that we wanted to bring it on. But sometimes as parents, we only see the triggers too late and then it all has to come out.

I am happy to say that though it was a rough weekend, we all learned what NOT to do. This is always my takeaway when Michael has a hard time or Dad and I do understanding him. If we cannot give ourselves a break and learn from the mistakes we make, how can we expect Michael to be less hard on himself? So, in lieu of our weekend, here are some tips I can offer to parents on how to help your child post meltdown:

  1. Sympathize with them: Remember, no child would choose to fail at regulating. If they are overreacting, it is because they do not have the mechanisms to control their anxiety in place. See what new tools you can give them.
  2. See what your triggers were: Your triggers? Yes, sometimes as parents we inadvertently make aggressions and anxieties worse or escalate them when we overreact initially or are stressed out. Of course, you are not to blame for your child losing control. They are. But you do need to remember to stay as calm as you can to give them a calm model. I am still learning that as a Mom.
  3. Share your successes and failures with self- regulation: I truly believe that sharing your own struggles with controlling stress in your life could help your child immensely. Tell them what worked or did not work for you in the past.
  4. Give them as much control as you can: Often times meltdowns happen because your child does not feel they have choices  OR you have given them too many choices and not enough boundaries over what they can and cannot do. Have a balance and show them by modeling how you do this in your life.
  5. Check on your child’s overall health-sleep, food, medication and see if anything needs tweaking: Finally, seeing if something in their regime needs to be adjusted. That could be what is setting them off to have the meltdowns and making it harder to recover afterwards.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle things post-meltdown with your Exceptional Child? As long as compassion and sympathy are present, as well as clear strategies to help them replace the negative behavior, you are well on your way to helping them learn to understand their emotions better and on you doing the same. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD  and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

How To Accept Your Exceptional Child’s Strengths and Limitations By First Accepting Your Own

It was a busy end of the week and weekend, which is why I did not get a chance to post. That and starting a really bad cold, which thankfully, is now on its way out. Still, even when I am not writing about Michael, I am learning from him  as he is always teaching me about special kids like himself and about the world at large. Somewhere in the middle of all that I learn something about myself as well. What I was reminded of over the course of the last few days was a lesson Michael has shown me many times over the years. I was given a glimpse last week into many of his strengths, but also as in the past, many of his weaknesses. Some of these weaknesses I was aware of, others are new. Navigating OCD and ADHD when we have all pretty much mastered much of ASD and Diabetes has been a challenge. But even these difficulties for Michael and me have not caused the most problems. For me, it is those moments when I see Michael as different, really different, and I have a hard time accepting that there are some things he does not understand or may never understand. The funny thing is other people around him do not seem bothered by it, but I am.

For example, we were in one of his favorite shopping malls over the weekend. He likes to do his rounds as we can them, visiting the assistant manager of one of his favorite stores, and popping into other stores. He has also developed some strange stims with elections coming up in our neck of the woods. He likes to go up to the voting signs and kiss them. He likes certain candidates and is a little disappointed he cannot vote. We told him he will have the option when he is eighteen years old. 🙂 This is cute, of course, but also odd. Then there are the times he will go into the local butchers and pick up the meat to feel it and smell it. It is sensory. He has done this with other foods. People around us smile at him lovingly, but I get worried. This is what makes him stand out and makes him different. I worry that people will not always be so accepting of how different he is in some ways to them. Now, of course he is like other non exceptional kids in many other ways. He likes sports, video games, going to parks, but what could be holding him back from many opportunities I fear are some of these strange mannerisms.  Then once I think this I am ashamed. Ashamed because I truly believe now in my forties that what makes us all unique and special is what makes us different from one another, whether we are neuro typical or not.  So what if we don’t fit into a cardboard box of someone else’s definition of what regular behavior looks like? The world needs to learn to embrace difference, and I need to be ok to embrace my child’s oddities, even the ones related to sensory issues or OCD. As long as they do not hurt anyone, why am I stressed and sad when I see this?

In short, the other night when sitting alone after Michael had gone to bed, I thought that for me standing out and being different was always a challenge until I turned forty years old. And it’s been a battle to continue to push myself past my own insecurities over what will people think, what will people do, will people accept me? As I have watched Michael be who he is from birth with no filter, no restraint, a loving and free spirit who brings such joy and light into everyone’s life that he touches, whether family, friends or strangers, I have had to face that my worries about Michael being more-more quiet, more academic, more focused, more whatever are really about my own worries about me standing out, being me, and being true to the me who is ever changing and surging forward.

I have also realized that I can teach Michael to be more socially appropriate, patient and respectful to the best of his abilities. The rest lies with him and what he will do on his path. As for me, I need to keep questioning why even though I now celebrate my differences and what makes me uniquely myself more and more everyday, my strengths and limitations, there is still a scared part of me holding back. I decided this weekend to  her a hug and tell her she will be alright, more than alright. I have decided to gently take her hand, tell her there is no fear to be herself always and everywhere. I have decided that in order to fully love my child and not worry if I am doing “enough” to help him move forward, I first have to love me enough to see that as long as love, patience, respect and belief in the talents I have is present all the time, I will sometimes falter and worry about Michael’s progress in comparison to other exceptional children. There is no need to worry. He is doing great. I am doing great. We both need to work on strengthening our limitations and celebrating our strengths. I am so proud of Michael and I am so proud of me. We have both come far on our exceptional family journey in all areas of our life, and I truly believe, that as long as we continue to keep learning and growing together, things will only get better.

Exceptional Parents, are you as hard on yourself as an Exceptional Parent as you are on your child? If so, take heart. You can always learn to let go of the idea of perfection. No one is perfect. That would be boring and stressful. Having flaws and beauty are what make life interesting. Celebrate the strengths your child has as you celebrate your own. Work with them on accepting their weaknesses and learning ways to compensate and support those weaknesses. Never compare yourself to anyone else, parent or child. You are your own special unique person and that is reason enough to celebrate. And, as always, thank your child for teaching you this patience and kindness that you now have towards yourself and others as a result of parenting an extraordinary child. Until next time.

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there before realizing the gift of who my son is.  For more information about me and my journey, check out my website :www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com  as well as my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks. 

 

Staying Calm When Anxiety Turns To Anger-How To Help Your Exceptional Child

Things have been getting a lot better at our house as Michael is learning to manage his anger. He is using tools like deep breathing, pausing, taking a break in another room, and slowly learning that it is ok to admit he feels out of control, as long as he waits to talk about his feelings once he is in a calmer state. Handling emotions like fear, worry and anger have always been rough for Michael, like they are for many exceptional children. They are usually hard on themselves and feel bad that they lose control. They don’t see that others, adults too, often have moments that they wish they could take back, and instead feel ashamed when they can’t reign in their emotions.

Slowly over the course of the last year with Michael’s Educator, we have been showing him with various great tools, articles and resources, that he alone can take charge of his emotions and make better choices. Also, he has learned that when he makes a mistake, he can always try again and learn from the mistake. This has been one of the hardest things Michael has had to face, forgiving himself and realizing he is a great kid even if he messes up sometimes. He’s a lot like many kids in this way, hard on himself by saying he is not a good kid when he makes poor choices. All kids need reassurance that they are on the right path. Dad and I have always tried to show Michael our love for him, and to tell him that we have made mistakes doing and saying things that we regret. However, it is never too late to learn from these mistakes and become stronger. It is also never too late to admit when we were wrong and grow from it.

As an exceptional parent, I have learned how me staying calm, being forgiving and re framing what Michael is saying and doing in the most positive light possible, can often turn a negative situation in a positive direction much more quickly. Yes, your child needs to realize that they have control to say and do things differently and be willing to try new things, but you as the parent can help pave the way for them by talking about your own anxious and angry moments and what you did to change and become more positive. If you are learning along with your child, admit this too. Kids appreciate knowing that even grownups have hard times and days and can learn from it.

Exceptional Parents,  how have you talked your Exceptional Child down from anger and anxiety to calm serenity? I’ll bet it’s when you yourself were calm, reasonable, and just physically and mentally there to accept them in all their stressful and even when they make mistakes. Think how you feel when you mess up as an adult and have a reliable family member or friend listen to you unload. Give your child that time as angry as you may be for their behavior, recognize that their anger and anxiety is due to them feeling powerless to control their emotions. By you controlling yours and staying focused on being calm, you are giving them the best example for building their own serenity. Until next time.

Staying Calm and Moving On- What Every Exceptional Parent Needs To Remember

Ok. I lost it. I know. My kid has a hard time self-regulating and I need to remember that and always keep it together myself. But sometimes, I can’t. I have moments when I too am stressed. I  am a parent of a child whose brain is off in so many different directions that I often feel like I am raising four different boys. I say four as he now has four official diagnoses: autism, ADHD, Type 1 Diabetes and OCD. They all affect the way he processes and takes in stimuli, positively and negatively. His brain is an incredible machine. I honestly look at this child and think, he is incredible, but sometimes hard for his neuro typical anxious Mom to be around. Yet I do have my wild side too. That creative wild side understands him like no one else does. The writer side of me that is fascinated by people and places and things that function outside of the norm.  The organized side of me that wants to bring people together and make connections. The helper side of me that feels I have been given so much, I must give back. Pay it forward. That is so important to me and a lesson I have done my best to impart to Michael. Yet, as always, he has given me so much more. Even in the moments when I lose my parenting cool, I realize this child is here to teach me patience. When I feel angry that I can’t control or stop his impulse actions that cost him things I think, no, you are here to show him boundaries and a better way of being. When I am scared, I realize I am here to teach Michael you can be scared and pull through. You can use strategies, ask for help, never stop believing in the people around you, and you can move forward with purpose.

You see, Michael thinks I am showing him these things and in a way that’s true. My little guy is struggling with a lot. As his educator once said, “he is a lot of energy in one little body.” That is true. But with all the pain and hardship he has gone through and survived, he has thrived. With all the pain and hardship I have gone through as his mother, I have survived and thrived. Michael has continued to mold me, make me open to differences and different ways of being and thinking. He has shown me a whole other world that I never knew existed. The world of neurodiversity-people who see the world, our world that we take for granted, in a completely different way than the rest of us see it. It is not always easy. But it is worth it. All children, with their challenges and goodness are worth it. Parents of exceptional kids know our kids have their moments when the excel and fail. It’s important that we are there to praise and catch them when they fall. We must be strong. We must persevere. We must remind them that their brain and the way they view the world is necessary, vital, to share with the rest of us. We need to be enlightened. There are different ways of being and seeing the world. Special kids give society that. It’s important as parents we recognize where to support them and where they can support us to spread the message of hope that all kinds of brains and ways of being can and should make up the world we live in.

Exceptional Parents, how are you learning about your calm and transmitting that to your child? It’s SO hard as a parent to do that when you are tired and discouraged. That is why the first step is always to recharge yourself first. Do things that make you feel whole and positive. Only then will you be able to see your child’s gift, their talent, and what they bring to the world with the beauty of their existence.  Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism, ADHD, OCD and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

 

Navigating Exceptional Stay/Vacations With New Issues

So it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. There is a reason. Our family has been on a sort of vacation/stay cation and well, it’s been tough. Very tough. Never in all our summers has one been this challenging for us as a family.  Ok, the end of last year kind of takes the cake with Michael’s  type 1 diabetes diagnosis, but that was only at the end of the summer. This year, well, I knew it would be hard. Michael’s aggression had come to head and once he was off the medication that was controlling some of the hyperactivity.  His energy level has become high too. Also he and Dad are struggling to get along as Dad’s energy level does not  match Michael’s for various reasons and Michael has hit puberty. Yep. It’s been crazy for all of us. I have felt caught in the middle between my boys, feeling for Dad’s challenges and Michael’s as well as my own feelings of stress and helplessness on how we can all get along together. We have had our good moments, but there have been many more stressful moments as Michael sees Dad and I at different emotional stages in our lives.

Thank goodness for the good therapy team we have as well as support from family and friends. This has helped me through the summer as a family, knowing that with time, changes that are in the works, and patience with myself, Michael and Dad we will move forward to a happier place. This patience has meant that I have learned to be gentle with myself. I have learned to say no to doing certain thing where my energy was not present. I have learned to take time for me to unwind at night even if it’s late by reading, a bath or writing. This has been my solace and my comfort, and how self-care has helped me. I also got the brainchild idea this week of asking Michael’s favorite babysitter to take him to the park after dinner so I could take that time to catch up on errands that are hard to do with Michael this year, like groceries and back to school shopping. Don’t get me wrong. He LOVES  going to stores, but his hyperactivity is unpredictable and exhausting for me to handle on some days. Where I can simplify, I am learning to simplify for all of us. On another note, my fiction writing has exploded this summer. Whether because of family chaos or in spite of it, I have finished a first draft of a YA fantasy series I am writing, as well as started working on two other fiction stories. This has also been what helped me look at the summer in a balanced way for me-some good moments, some tough ones. With Michael, I have done the same. He has excelled at camp and at sports this summer as well as getting back into cooking. These are the things that have kept me going.

Exceptional Parents, how have your family vacation/stay cations been? Have you encountered more or less obstacles with your Exceptional Child and/or family? If so, take heart. You will get there. Pain and struggle are often necessary parts of growth in all families. In exceptional ones, it’s important to keep in mind that every age is a new stage of growth through positive and negative experiences. If you find yourself repeating old patterns of thought or behavior, stop and pause. See what you can change in how you relate to your family and yourself. Take time to see the good moments, as they are always there hidden in the background even on tough days. And most importantly, do yourself, your child and your partner/family the biggest favor you can, take care of you every day in small ways. Recharge your batteries! That will be the best way to take a positive step as a family and grow in a healthy direction. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

How Our Children Strengthen Us And What We Need To Remember On Our Parenting Journeys

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“You are amazing with him. You are redirecting him when he is inappropriate. I work with special needs kids.  I completely understand.”

This was the opening line of a Mom sitting near Michael and I in the waiting room to see his pediatrician for a follow up visit on our tumultuous year handling aggression and hyperactivity as well as his diabetes. Michael had been commenting on how much he likes her legs, as he is fascinated by women’s legs and will say this now in puberty without worry about consequences, along with other hyperactive behavior. I understand this, but have been trying to redirect him to more appropriate ways to handle his feelings.There have been many ups and downs since last summer, but this week, there have been many more ups. Still, as I have been blogging this week,  Michael’s hyperactivity and lack of impulse control has been VERY high.

He always had a hard time waiting in lines, doctors appointments and at amusement parks. Now that he is off medication for aggression that was not working, his impulsivity had no medical help, so to speak. He was happy, silly and as he has entered puberty, checking out women’s legs. He has always had a fascination with legs, and now will openly stare at women in capri pants and comment on their legs out loud. He will smile and try and talk to them too. It is cute in a way, but also highly embarrassing and inappropriate. I have been handling it by both trying to calmly discourage it by asking him to keep up with me and not stop, as well as try and ignore the staring. But this in the office could not be ignored. Not knowing this woman’s background, I was worried, so out loud in a calm voice I told Michael that I knew it was hard for him to wait and that he was off his old medication, (signs to the person that my child is not trying to be rude), but that he must stop trying to get her attention, talk so loudly, and try and be silly with standing up. He also had a little video game with him and I repeatedly directed him to watch it. To no avail. Dad was waiting near the intercom on the other side of the room, to hear when we would be called to see the doctor. When this woman identified herself and told me that she was impressed how calm I was, I thanked her for her kind words and patience, and in that moment realized I’d come a long way in the last little while, including the last year. I was patient. I was understanding of my child. I was trying to show him compassion while also teaching him how to be appropriate in the world.

 

Then, entering the doctor’s office, Dad and I had our questions for the pediatrician as well as our update since the last visit six months ago.  Dad mentioned our difficulties as did I, as well as the good moments. When he talked about the difficulties, he mentioned how I handled most of them, being the parent who is with Michael the most. I got my second surprise of the way as the doctor commended me for my calm demeanor and the “I don’t know how you do it, you are amazing” comment. I simply answered, Thank you, but I just do. He’s my son. All my Mom friends do the same for their kids.” Wow, I thought. The Universe sent me these two people today to remind me that I was reaching Michael in a positive way.  Although there were family dynamics that need improving, and trust me we are working on those, I was complimented today by these two women for a reason. God is speaking to me. I am doing something right and people see it. I need to see it and acknowledge it.

It’s not easy being an exceptional parent. You realize your child is exceptional and they are the ones struggling to fit in in a world that is foreign to them, yet until they can really advocate for themselves, you are the one who needs to do a lot of the heavy lifting for them. You need to be strong. You need to be positive. You need to show them hope, strength, resilience. Then, a surprising thing happens. You develop hope, strength and resilience just when you thought life could wipe the floor with you. You become your own advocate. You start to change the way you see your own life, even  separate from your child. Yes, it’s not always easy. There is stress, personal and maybe professional. You don’t have a lot of personal time or time for relationships. Maybe you have money issues. Maybe not. But, you start to see, if you have your health,  a passion for something you can call your own, family and friends around you that love and support you and make you laugh, you are blessed. Even through the hard days and nights, you can pass this on to your child, and show them that they are a gift to themselves, to you, and to the world. And it all starts with one or two people reminding you that you are amazing on a day when you are worried you are not getting what your child needs.

Exceptional Parents, what strength have you gained from your child? Yes, even when we make mistakes as parents or feel weak, we are our child’s strength as much as they are ours. Other people around us will see we are working hard to teach our child to be the best they can be, and we need to take that in and remind ourselves that as challenging as our children are for themselves and us, that challenge is preparing both of us for further growth. There is a purpose for them. There is a purpose for us. We need to keep growing together, and remember as hard as things get, we need to stay positive for our kids, for ourselves and for those around us. Reach out and connect with other parents if you feel yourself losing your hope and belief in you or your child. Your community will be there to remind you that you are doing work of the spirit that is necessary for everyone to grow stronger and better. Until next time.

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there and lived these very words before realizing the gift of who my son is and what he has helped me realize. If you want to have more information about me and my journey, check out my website http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com and my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks.

Working With Your Exceptional Child’s Strengths Instead Of Their Weaknesses

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So I think I’ve said before what a rough time it’s been for Michael and us since he has gotten off his medication prescribed for aggression. He has become less aggressive and happier than he was on the medication, a dream, but his hyper activity has gone through the roof. I did not know how much the medication was helping him self-regulate his impulses and some careless behaviors. Now we are all in the middle of dealing with a happy, but hyperactive and impulsive child who has a difficulty calming himself down on all fronts. That is the difficult part of the last two weeks. Now for the beautiful things.

As I’ve said before, Michael is laughing and affectionate again. Michael is singing, dancing and listening to music again,  though he will get carried away with the dancing getting silly and inappropriate. No matter, he is more like himself these days. He is also receptive to using the strategies he has learned to control aggression and impulsivity, as long as Dad and I are presenting things in a calm and happy or level manner. The second we lose it, he does too. I am choosing to see this as a strength though. This gives me hope that he will go back to the happy kid he was WITH strategies all the time, as long as we show him we believe in him. So what I am doing now is focusing on his strengths-the way he is handling his diabetes, his new interest in basketball and increased interest in sports in general in the last three months, his interest in reading, singing and his conscience. He always had it, but lately he is genuinely sad after he calms down when he behaves in a negative way and will apologize. This is huge improvement in his empathy. He is also sad about a severe phobia that has been paralyzing him all summer. He is anxious to fix it, and accepting help from our Educator as well as future possible medication from his psychiatrist. He really needs the medication/therapy combination, though as a parent I hope we find the best medication that does not have too many side effects. I don’t want my child disappearing in it.

I am proud of how far he has come, and even though Michael is still struggling at handling himself appropriately, he has changed a lot since the beginning of the summer. So have Dad and I as we parent him in a new way, and learn from our parenting mistakes  in how we view his challenges. I am learning to see his challenges as I see my own. They are opportunities to grow and become stronger. We do not let him ‘cop out’ on himself and use his different brain as a way to excuse his challenges in regulating. We tell him-you are smart, you can control this. We have help for you. We are there for you. You can do this, but you have to do the work. Believe in yourself and anything is possible.

Exceptional Parents, how do you work with your Exceptional Child’s strengths? It’s so much easier to look at what they are doing wrong or are weaker at. The system we live in tends to do that too, and of course, it’s the parents who cry that things are terrible that get the help. While it’s important to acknowledge when your child and your family is struggling and get that help, (I am a HUGE believer in doing that),  you must also learn to celebrate your child’s victories in the hard moments. Celebrate when they tackle a difficult area of their life, take on a new hobby, or ask you for help, or even show remorse for bad actions. This means your child is learning and will make the inroads to mental and physical health sooner than you think. Above all, tell your child every day that no matter what they do, you love them and know they can do anything they set their mind to. It will make all the difference to their progress and yours as their parent and advocate. Until next time.

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there and lived these very words before realizing the gift of who my son is and what he has helped me realize. If you want to have more information about me and my journey, check out my website http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com and my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks.

 

Intense Emotions- How To Navigate Both With Your Exceptional Child

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First of all, I have to say that I am so glad to have Michael back. Truly back .Though he was calmer initially when we introduced medication for intense aggression back in January, and it REALLY helped him settle and sit still for longer periods, it gradually started doing more damage to his nervous system and demeanor than good. The culmination was him getting increasingly aggressive to the point where he fought with us about anything. I also hardly saw him smiling or taking an interest in things with us except keeping busy. In the last four days, though I have seen a high rise in his anxiety with no more meds in his system to chill him out, he has been smiling more than I’ve seen since the fall, when he was not on medication. He started singing in the house, playing on his electric piano, and stimming more, which though is done when he is tense, also is done when he is excited. He is also more inquisitive and affectionate again. These are the positive things I have seen. Negatively, I have seen a HUGE rise in anxiety and stress. More phobias have been emerging, but they were there with the medication too. And due to the sedative effect of the medication being gone, he really cannot stay home and needs to be in constant movement all day and most of the evening till bedtime.

There has also been HUGE impulse control issues when he gets overexcited or frustrated. He will sometimes catch himself and do his deep breathing and counting to 5 before reacting, but more often he reacts first, then needs to be reminded how to calm down. The good thing is that the medication initially helped him be more receptive to the strategies that his Educator is giving him to learn to regulate, and he is more interested in learning to do the exercises and applying them to have a better outcome in his emotional life.

It is both with encouragement and frustration that I share this tonight, because I see his potential and how well he is with everyone most of the time. With me and Dad, he is not the same and will often lose patience, overreact, and say terrible things. He is instantly sorry and empathetic to us, but it is hard when you are in it all day and night as a parent. Moms, who mostly are the ones in the mix, know what I mean. Right ladies? Still, I will take these new problems over the ones we had previously. I see he just needs love and patience. Most days I am able to give it, pretty much till bedtime, but other days, I lose it. He will both get angry when I am strict or laugh at me. Neither reaction is good for him or me. I realize I have to pick my battles more than ever before, as he gets more comfortable opening up to us, his tween rudeness and pushing boundaries and drawing near us and then pushing us away is increasing. I am happy and frustrated, as I try and figure out where I parent a neuro typical child and where I parent one with challenges and a different brain. It is somewhere in the middle

So this is what I am learning this summer in parenting my tween off medication, in struggle to form boundaries and reassure himself he is loved by constantly questioning everything I say. These have become my strategies:

  1. Follow the same cool down strategies as your child: I also try and take a deep breath and count to 5 before I answer him.
  2. Don’t use sarcasm even when tempted: I have gotten really good at doing this, and when I slip it, it is usually 7 pm or so at night when I’ve been on the Mommy track ALL DAY. Still, it’s only happened once in twice, out loud anyway. 🙂 Sarcasm with your child gets both of you nowhere.
  3. Don’t take positive or negative emotions to heart: Another toughie but so true. If a child is telling you he loves only you, that is for the moment until you tick them off. Then they love the other parent when they feel it is convenient. When negative emotions come out, it’s the same. Never think they mean it. Now, of course they need to own what they are feeling and apologize or lower the intensity, but as parents we need to understand it’s exceptional hormones. They love both parents equally, and have to learn to come to terms with overwhelming emotions as do their parents.
  4. Take care of yourself: I always say this in many blog posts and can’t emphasize it enough, self-care and time alone is MANDATORY not to lose your top as a Mom and human being You will see yourself having less patience with your child’s outbursts if you are tired too. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, as they say. 🙂
  5. Remember they are hurting or overstimulated : Again, this is hard if you are exhausted, but sometimes Michael has been overstimulated and hyper and needed me to be patient and bring him down calmly. Other times he has needed time to talk about his feelings and misunderstandings. Try and see what they see and meet that need.
  6. Don’t trigger them out of your own anger: When we feel disrespected as parents and take it personally, we may lash out with revenge like upsetting them on purpose as they are doing to us. This is particularly easy when your child seems to be set off about everything.  Yep. Been there. Breathe. It is not you wanting to do this, but your own lack of control that is propelling you to make bad choices. You love and would never heart your child. It’s important to follow point 1 and calm your anger before responding. Otherwise, you could make a tense situation even worse.

 

Exceptional Parents, what range of emotions does your Exceptional Child show you when they are hyper happy or very angry or anxious? Remember, the real child is somewhere in between the two extremes, just like us as parents. We are somewhere in that middle. Keep in mind that your child does not want to feel stuck or stressed. Some things are out of their control, and even what’s in their control is hard to navigate when they feel stressed. Be their rock and safe harbor, even when they are trying to break you. This is  when you need to be strongest for them. It starts by reassuring yourself as a parent, that you are taking the best care of yourself possible by eating, sleeping, exercising, and getting a break away from being an exceptional parent. It also means when you mess up, you admit it to yourself and your child and family and start over. Look for the rainbow on the cloudy days. All our children give us rainbow moments. And no matter what, never go to bed angry at them. Tell them you love them and will help them through it all. Until next time.

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there and lived these very words before realizing the gift of who my son is and what he has helped me realize. If you want to have more information about me and my journey, check out my website http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com and my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks.

How To Handle The Unexpected And Go With Your Child’s Flow-More Life Lessons From My Exceptional Child

 

So Michael’s latest summer camp  experience did not work out. He felt bored at this camp, and though he was afraid to tell me at first, he found the courage this morning. I was sad, yet proud of him for having the strength of character to share his thoughts with me. I have been noticing more and more in the last month, how Michael is opening up to me more with questions, observations and in saying funny things. This warms my heart, though I have to say, having him home with me for the first time ALL DAY  today in a long while was a little overwhelming. You see, my child is a chatterbox and talks about many different topics all at the same time. His fast speech is matched by his fast physical pace. He is a boy with lots of energy. It has been a relief to me to see this side of him again.  Michael and Dad and I have had a tough two years handling his aggression and how to help him learn tools to handle it. With one medication in the fall that did not work, we then tried another one in January. It worked beautifully in calming him and helping him focus better when doing tasks as well as when doing sedentary things like watching a movie in a theater or homework. It worked so well for about four months, but then I started slowly noticing more side effects from the medication and his aggression gradually going up again.

One of the more concerning side effects was weight gain and stuttering. He has been a fluent speaker for years. But another thing it took time for me to see was his happiness seeming to diminish. He did not seem to have that same crazy energy and sense of humor as before. I missed it. I tried to tell myself, and at first it was easy, that he was better able to learn the therapy tools he was being taught to handle his anger, and he was calmer, However, he just did not look like my little boy. Friday night after a very difficult evening, I spoke to his psychiatrist and asked if we could take him off this medication. She agreed and told me what I needed to do. In three days time, he was off of it. I could not believe the difference. There has been very little aggression or anger, and when he has an episode he has been able to apply strategies to calm down on his own. He also is happy, really happy again. He is singing songs, dancing!

These are things he had stopped doing. One thing that has taken me time to get used to is the boundless energy that comes out in strange places, like today at a store he got overstimulated and started acting silly. A month ago, the incident would either not have happened, or would have been more low key. It took some adjusting in my parenting style to handle this type of behavior, but I also see that his time on this medication taught him how to slowly start applying the therapy strategies his Educator had introduced to him. It has been nothing short than amazing to see how he is blooming.

I have also seen how I am applying my parenting strategies differently too, understanding so much more now about his brain and how it works. It is not always perfect. There have been times I’ve lost my temper. Sometimes it was understandable. Other times, it was more about, “can you go to bed already because I need Mommy alone time,” also understandable, but more for me than him. Still, the unexpected, a bad night which was the final key to altering something major in Michael’s therapy, to handling him pulling out of an activity which I usually did not do as smoothly, has shown me how both Michael and I have grown in the past eleven months. The unexpected now does not frighten me as it used to, and Michael is slowly starting to learn that too.

Exceptional Parents, what unexpected things does your Exceptional Child teach you every day? It is usually the small things that we overlook at first, that are the eye openers that our child is growing up- how they talk about stress, how they ask questions or make statements,  how they look  or whether they speak of certain people or places in a positive way. Be present in that moment them. See how they handle themselves and what they do. Chances are they will help you learn to be more present in your parenting life and life in general. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com