Category: Family issues

5 Ways Our Exceptional Kids Make Us Face Our Personal Difficulties and Overcome Them

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Ah, this morning. How I wish I could have replayed some parts of it differently. I wish I had had more patience when Michael, who never gets up until thirty minutes until the bus gets here, and who today when I needed to get myself organized earlier with my usual routine, shower and dressing woke up two hours earlier than he needed to and was very chatty. I also wish I had given Dad enough information about the morning routine so things would have gone more smoothly for both Michael and Dad. Lastly, I wish I had left the house earlier not to have felt so frazzled by the way I handled Michael’s routine being off, therefore throwing off my routine. I did everything but my meditation and yoga routine which  normally is done as soon as I get up. This helps me enormously with handling stress and anxiety better, but today with Michael up and following me around it was challenging. It was not the end of the world, but I felt frustrated that I also was so thrown off by the change in our family schedule for one day.

The next question I asked myself was, what could I learn about myself from this experience? What was Michael teaching me today? I truly believe that as much  as we teach our kids they teach us more. Today was just one of the ways I felt that Michael teachers me about myself, and about what I love and what I want to improve upon. I believe all our kids show us ways to get over our difficulties. How? Here are 5 ways:

  1. They help us learn to laugh at ourselves: When I looked back at the “me” of this am getting annoyed and stressed about some small changes in our family routine (like Michael being up early), I realized that yes, it can be stressful to have a motor mouth child when you like quiet in the am, but this is a small problem compared to the bigger ones and to laugh it off. Life is too short to do otherwise.
  2. They teach  us to be more patient with ourselves: This is a biggie for me. Michael has taught me to be more patient with myself, with all of my emotional stuff, and to go easy on the hard areas in my life by showing me the compassion and love I show him. You need to practice what you preach parents!
  3. They help you face your own challenges as they usually have similar ones: This is so true. Michael’s big challenges are his perfectionism, absolute need for control and his difficulty in new social situations. These were all my issues when I was a child  and a young adult. I’ve come a long way, and Michael reminds me how I have to impart these life lessons to him to teach him that he can change the difficult areas if he is willing to venture out into the unknown and risk failure.
  4. They push you to live in the moment: You cannot successfully parent an exceptional child and not go with the flow. This is really true of parenting any child, but with an exceptional one you will have so many curve balls thrown at you that you need to choose to swim in the tide. This will only make you stronger as a parent and person.
  5. They push you to change yourself for the better: This is pretty much true for all parents again. If you can’t be your best self, you won’t be your best parenting self. In helping our kids achieve milestones that many may say are impossible, we start to see that there is much we can do that we thought was impossible as well. We learn to never give up as we have told them.

 

Exceptional Parents, what life lessons have your Exceptional Children taught you? How much have you grown since becoming their parent? It’s so true that as parents we raise our children while they are raising us. Never for a moment doubt your power, or theirs, to make an impact on the world and on other families. Remember, parent and child, we are all here to do great things. 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.

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Exceptional Rules For Exceptional Homes-Our Family’s Sign That We Are On the Right Track

On Friday night Michael and I had a long discussion about catechism and if he wanted to return to attending classes that will be preparing  him for his Confirmation next year, a big reaffirming of a Catholic’s faith. You see, he is over six chapters behind the rest of the class. With all the behaviors and aggression that came to a head in the fall, I stopped taking him and was trying to do the program at home. He also spoke about looking forward to going as it “got him out of the house,” and he loves the teacher, a very down to earth woman who loves religion and teaches kids about God and Jesus in a way that really engages them and makes it fun. I am not sure if he is ready to continue the classes, and want him to go back for the “right reasons” as I told him. He agreed that this week he would catch up in the evenings on his catechism chapters, and let me know how he is feeling about going back to attending classes regularly. I could potentially see him being able to attend the classes now. The medication he is on has made him calmer and better able to handle his emotions, though we have some work to do and are hard at work doing it.

What struck me when I glanced at the chapter for the last class however, (which we will be looking at sometime this week), was about the 10 Commandments and how important following rules is. This almost made me laugh, as that is what our Educator spoke of on her last visit at our home to help Michael with regulating his emotions. She spoke to him and I about if we had “Family Rules,” an official one where we all had codes of conduct we all abide by. We did not have one in writing as most families probably don’t, but it got me thinking. The rules I wrote up, some which the Educator suggested, no yelling, show honesty, no interrupting, no hitting for anyone, (Dad and I don’t hit, but to show Michael this is universally not allowed), reminded me that like the ten commandments, which helped people govern themselves and live in peace in ancient times, secular rules are just as important to live peacefully and successfully in a family or with a group of people. I’ve often thought that the universe sends me signs of what is the right thing to do at the right time. Seeing that catechism chapter and having been reminded about family rules from our educator, showed me how important having a basis from which we operate can help an individual and their family. From that, emerged some great rules that I have put down on paper and that we will be practicing as a family. This will hopefully help Michael be more successful in handling himself, and Dad and I in handling our emotions as well when he is having a rough time. Prayer is always offered as an option too, as it is one that works for our family.

Exceptional Parents, do you have family rules that you follow so that each member knows that they have a safe haven to express themselves? Have you ever had a sign or signs that you are on the right or wrong track in parenting your child? Remember, God and the Universe are always guiding us and our children if we watch for those signs. 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.

 

 

 

Happy New Year and Things I Learned NOT To Do In 2018

Happy New Year Exceptional Families! I hope your holidays were happy, healthy, safe and joyful, at least to some degree. In Exceptional Families we often have so many ups and downs, it is hard to know where one ends and one begins. Our holiday, much like last year, was filled with many ups and downs. Once Dad and I sat back and evaluated things though, we did what all parents in our situation do. We looked back, learned from what we did wrong, and looked at what we did right. First things first, I preached so much about self-care to others, but did not practice much of it before the holidays began. I was tired on Christmas morning due to the usual end of school/vacation anxiety Michael exhibits along with holiday hyperactivity combined with the mental health issues Michael is grappling with. Whew! Then I wondered why I had a good long cry on Christmas Eve after Michael finally fell asleep way after 10:00 pm and was wiped on Christmas night when our long day began at 5:00 and ended at 10:00 pm. I was so tired I was barely seeing straight. Dad was too. And we knew Michael would be up early, would be out of routine, so next year we know how important resting up for the holidays will be for us.

On the positive side, Michael had many good moments at both sides of the family’s homes. It was far from perfect, but I look back and see that in spite of his clear anxiety, difficulty controlling emotions and organizing himself, underneath all the acronyms that may soon join autism is the sweet little boy that I love. On December 26th and 27th we sledded before the deep freeze. We enjoyed celebrating his birthday and he used some money and gift cards he received from family to buy board games. I saw his intelligence when he played with me and was reminded of his amazing navigation skills when we drove around the neighborhood together over last week and the week before. Then there were the play dates with friends where he did so well. He said and did many kind things over the break, told me he misses cooking and baking with me (we did a bit before the holidays began), and asked “Mommy, why are you so grumpy in the morning?”  I had been unintentionally waking up every morning after Christmas in fear on pins and needles thinking what is he going to do next? How will I handle his verbal aggression, threats towards us, his screaming, any of his new behaviors? It was like living with a time bomb. That is when I realized that if I stayed calm it would help us all. I began to finally practice self-care. I prioritized long baths in the early evening, went to a Hamamm with a friend, and went back to daily yoga and meditation. My head started to clear. I started to see my own anger and feelings of fear as legitimate and started healing me so I could help Michael get calm and heal. Dad and I even squeezed in a date night and had many conversations about him practicing better self-care and how he would be better equipped to handle Michael’s outbursts if he remembered as terrible as they are, they are a cry for help.

That’s it people. When our kids are not well-physically, psychologically and spiritually they lash out. They lash out at those they love most. They say the most horrible things if they are not well. Kids with exceptional brains are wired differently. They don’t read emotional cues the same way. They don’t process body language the same way. They have delays and it is reflected in how they handle anger. I know this , yet as a Mom I get emotionally hurt when Michael says terrible things. I am learning though, and am here to remind all of you, that you can’t take what your kids say to heart. They are not themselves when they are saying awful things. That is where support for the family comes in through parents coaches, psychologists, and other health care professionals that can give the whole family what they need to get through the rough patches, structure a healthier home routine for all, and move forward in a positive way together. Our family is doing this. 2018 will be our year to do better individually so that as a family we can thrive.

So what were the things I learned NOT to do in 2018? Here is a list of 5:

  1. Neglect my own spirit: Never abandon things that keep you whole physically, emotionally and spiritually. They are the glue that will hold you together in tough times. For me it’s meditation, yoga, reading and writing. For you it may be something different.
  2. Not call family, friends or go out : Call up friends, therapists, family. You need to remember you are not alone when you feel like you most are.
  3. Think that one mistake means I have failed as a Mom: As a parent you will fail with your child many times. It is not the end. It is the beginning of learning so you become stronger and better. Now I try and remember when I mess up, now I know better for next time.
  4. Don’t look into respite or update list of babysitters: You must have an outlet and a safe person and place for your child to go and you to recharge. Look into respite and babysitters who can help you and your child take a family break and come back stronger.
  5. Believe that hard times mean I am not the right person to raise my son: Yes, those thoughts passed through my mind in some of the more challenging moments of 2017. That is when I realized how tired I am as a parent and human being and how I needed to do things to have hope again. I created a Vision Board all around two words-happiness and abundance. Hope is what many people saw from it.

 

Exceptional Parents, what did you learn not to do in 2018? What are some of the things you did right? Remember, we are always learning. That is what life is about. The important thing is to move forward and remember at the base of all the pain and struggle is love for your child. Happiness will be yours and theirs if you forge ahead learning from the past and making positive strides in the future. 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.

 

 

 

Organizing Surprise Home Days And What Exceptional Kids Teach Us About Stress

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So today was a surprise Snow Day for Michael and me . He was happy, of course, happy and nervous. Happy to be home, and nervous as he did not want to be stuck at home all day. He woke up pretty much structuring all the “places” we would go. Michael is not a home body. Teaching him to limit his outings has been a challenge, and though I am happy he does not want to sit in front of a computer screen all day, I cannot always take him out to 4 places a day as he likes even on Snow Days when school is closed and I have to stay home from work as a result. Of course, he would have understood the concept of staying home all day had the weather been pretty terrible for driving.  As it turned out, it cleared up pretty nicely. And though he eventually accepted staying home in the am, in the pm he was excited when I suggested our first sledding adventure of the winter season as the driving conditions were good.  How did we get to starting off the day horribly with fighting and stalling with his injection to this point? Michael realized after our fight the necessity of creating a visual schedule for himself when he is home with me unexpectedly, and following the ones we already have in place on weekends.

I have to say that I was at my wits’ end being challenged by his retorts to all the simple requests I made of him, only to be so happy when he sighed and admitted he needed to make a schedule to organize our day. And off he went! I can pretty much tell you, other than some minor ups and downs, the day went well after he had his schedule where he checked off all he would be doing. We also talked about expectations of good behavior and how that would be rewarded, and how bad behavior would have a negative consequence he would not like, ie. he lost his afternoon and evening IPAD for rude and disrespectful comments and actions. I know this will have to happen many more times before the lesson is learned, but I was happy Michael was starting to connect the dots of how he needed to act and how he needed to use better strategies to cope with his anger, anxiety and fear. We are working on getting him new ones, and in the new year with a new team, I know we will have new strategies and options as well.

After the schedule was constructed, it was pretty much followed. We had fun sledding, then came home and Michael watched a holiday movie while I prepared dinner. All in all a good way to end the day. I learned how routine still works for us, even with severe behavioral challenges and anxiety. This kept me going through a day with many retorts to my authority. I was able to remember the good moments when Michael shared beautiful stories from school, funny anecdotes, and did some spontaneous snow angels which looked great!

Exceptional Parents, does a daily schedule work well for you in your home? Does it help your child stay on track and make the day go easier? In most cases, this helps tremendously for both child and parental stress. What can also work is reminding your child of what control they do exert over their day, and how they need to balance this with your control for their well-being. In this way, everyone will grow and the whole family will be happier and get along better. 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

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back- How To Heal As An Exceptional Family

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The other day after a particularly challenging evening, I took myself to one of my favorite places to go when I want peace, quiet and space- my home office. At that particular moment I was so tired of the anxiety, screaming, and fighting that had ended our day, that I needed physical distance away from Michael and even Dad. I needed to be alone and just breathe. So that is what I did. I closed my eyes and breathed in and out and practiced mindfulness- that is, being present in the moment only without looking for any solutions as to why a day that had gone really well ended so terribly. It was the old “one step forward, two steps back” analogy that has been playing out so much in our family, and so much in my friends’ families, especially at this time of year.

I have to keep reminding myself, I am doing the best I can. I am trying new things, reaching out for support, and will soon be reading two books which I know will give me new insight. Sometimes, it does not feel like enough. Sometimes it feels like it is too much information overload. There are days I am so tired I just want to throw in the towel, and find someone to take my place in this exceptional parenting thing. Other days, I really see that I am seeing what I need to change in me be stronger, what Michael needs to change, and how we are both helping each other. We heal, we break. It is constant. And if we are lucky, we grow. We always grow if we allow ourselves to feel the pain fully and suffer. Am reading a great book now that is talking about this.

Then there are the moments when Dad and I sit down together after a hectic day where we managed behaviors, Michael’s and our own, and watch a tv show together. Laugh and talk about something other than autism and diabetes. And even talk about Michael and what he said or did that did not revolve around either autism or diabetes. I need to remind myself that whether it is  orward or backward day, Michael too is doing the best he can. He will tell me,

“Mommy, I am trying. Don’t give up on me.”

He said it the other day again. Then more telling. I had been talking to him about how my belief in God is what gives me the strength to get through tough times like we are haiving now as a family. Michael responded;

“Is God helping you right now Mommy?”

“Yes, He is. God is sitting next to you right now. It’s not me Michael. Mommy is tired. God is speaking to you through me to help you get better. To help all of us get better and understand each other.”

The next day was a good one with Michael. Even with behaviors, he used strategies as did Dad and I to move forward in understanding ourselves and each other better. The result was that we all noticed what needed to change. We all needed to work on staying calm, organizing our days in a family schedule, and remembering that as hard as special needs parenting is, nothing is worse than giving up. We will never give up. There is always a new angle, a new thing to try, and that though the journey will be bumpy, our family will make it. Yours will too. I find inspiration in showing families how we are surviving and take comfort in learning how they are surviving then practicing that in our family.

Exceptional Parents, do you find that your parenting often feels like one step forward, two steps back? Do you feel hopeless, angry and frustrated at yourself, your partner or your child? We all have these feelings from time to time. The thing is to take some time alone to reflect on your own thoughts, and when you are calm, to remember to try something new in your way of approaching the problem. You will be surprised at how things will look different when you see things from a different angle. 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

The Calm After The Storm and Other Exceptional Surprises

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It’s been nothing short of month from hell for our family. That is not me exaggerating. Even before we tried a new anti-anxiety medication to help Michael regulate and calm down (it only made things worse), I saw his attention, anger and aggression worsen towards us, and even himself. Though there was significantly less anxiety and at school they were seeing a sillier side of Michael who did not know when to quit laughing or fooling around with friends, it was hard on all of us. What was the most difficult was hearing Michael apologize to us right after the verbal or physical aggression looking genuinely sorry, then turn around and do the exact same thing a minute later. He also would make a show of looking at his strategies that he had devised to handle his aggression and anger better, but we could see that his heart was not really in it. We brought in visual schedules but that angered him too. It was all in his head. He did not need to see what was on paper.

As a parent it is heartbreaking to see your child suffering and all the tools you are using not working. Thankfully, a step in the right direction was taking him off the anti-anxiety medication on Friday. Even with that the weekend was a bit about the withdrawal effects of the medication. The verbally aggressive things he was saying were hard not to take to heart, though I found chillingly that I was becoming numb to them at the same time. It’s called exceptional parenting survival. Then on Sunday night I started seeing noticeable differences. He was calmer, listening to us again and not freaking out when we asked him to do something, and then, I was both shocked and overjoyed when he looked at us and said, “I am going to schedule my day Mommy.” And just like that, the schedules came back. He also started actually using his strategies to handle his anger and with the meds gone his anxiety over the dark and nighttime came back. But, I was so proud to see him coming to his Dad and I, letting himself cry in front of us, and then proceeding to use the strategies he used to use to handle nighttime anxiety.

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I started thinking where did it stop going wrong and start going wrong? Was it all medication? Was it all blood sugar related? Did Dad’s and my consistency start paying off? Was it due to the fact that we told him he would soon be meeting with a new team to assess him for his attention and anger issues? He had been asking to talk to a psychologist for a while. I think it was all of the above personally.  Regardless, my little boy, the one who didn’t go off like a firecracker every second, was back. The PTSD symptoms I felt I was developing each day on my way home for work were going away. I felt happy and hopeful that a combination of good communication, consistency in response, and a good medication match may be the solution we are looking for. He actually told me he wants to listen and not anger us or his teachers. He seems calmer, grounded like a cloud has passed over.  This is very common with exceptional kids. They have their moods, their difficult periods, their honeymoon periods. As exceptional parents, we need to be looking at all the clues of what could be helping or hindering them. It is downright exhausting, but worth it in the end to log any strange behavior or any other developments as well as what is working and not working. It is also important to not give up on your child. Michael reminded me that after a hard period with him often comes a rest for both of us. He reverts back to himself. He is growing, changing, testing. He is helping me to stretch myself, and as frustrating as it is to have to go back to the table for more answers as to what other conditions he may have that he needs assistance with, I am grateful for the support of the amazing family and friendship network I have. As usual, they have come through for us in the form of professionals for us to consult, shoulders to cry on, and give me the strength to ask God and the Universe to fill me with the strength I will need on this journey of raising Michael to reach his full potential and do the beautiful thing he is supposed to do in this world.

He is letting me hug him again. He wants to sit in my lap and he tells me he loves me, he loves coming home to me and talking to me. He appreciates his father and I. There is nothing in his eyes that leads me to believe anything other than he is telling the truth. I take him on my lap, hug him, and tell him I love him too and want him to be healthy and happy. We are both ready to turn the page to the next chapter of helping Michael succeed.

Exceptional Parents, what surprises do your Exceptional Children give you? I’ll bet some are beautiful, some not so much. Whichever ones they bring though, remember it can be used to make you both grow stronger and more secure. Your child needs to learn limits and letting go and trusting in your parenting. And you as the parent, need to learn what your limits are and when you need to let go and trust in yourself as the parent. Know that it is OK to be scared, angry and not know. Also believe that your child will surprise you every time and that you need to be ready to go on to the next leg of adventure with them. Remember, you are each other’s guides to growth and becoming stronger as individuals. Until next time.

Teaching Your Exceptional Child To Be Their Own Detective For Mood Regulation

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Michael has been having a harder and harder time self-regulating lately. I’m not sure if this is due to more demands being placed on him at school, the medication he is on, puberty and new anxieties or all of the above. Regardless, it has been challenging for me as his mother and caregiver to find ways to help him practice self-regulation as well as handle emotional upheavals. I have not always taken the high road due to personal exhaustion, frustration and fear. What is happening in my little guy’s mind and how can I help him fix it? I have long learned that I cannot fix it. That is his job. But watching one strategy after another fail for him (or him not thinking to use it), and I can’t help but wonder, am I missing something and if so what?

After another very challenging weekend, I went searching for answers last night. Yes, some of the strategies we have used in the past are working again- Wilbargher Protocol, Qigong Massage, praising and rewarding the good, along with set rewards for good behavior. But other techniques are not working as well. This is why even with great strategies available online, parents always have to fine tune and move forward trying new interventions. I read what professionals and other parents have said are working for aggression, anxiety and oppositional behavior in their children, and got some more ideas. I was also reminded how important it is to empower myself so I can then continue to empower Michael that he can try new things. After a particularly rough evening last week, when we both were angry and frustrated, I heard Michael’s say in a low voice, “Don’t give up on me Mommy.” I hadn’t said anything out loud, but my body language must have looked defeated. And truthfully, inside I felt so overwhelmed at that moment. I usually have great ideas and insight to give other parents and kids, but with my own son seem to be either coming on too strong or making him feel like I don’t want to help him. This is the farthest thing from the truth. I have just been feeling like a broken record repeating that he has to find strategies that work, reminding him what to do, when he does not do the work.

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I get it. He has a hard time with strategies. His anxiety is through the roof. This is why getting him back into yoga, watching a great website that a friend told me that has yoga and meditation videos for kids, and trying to learn to identify when his feelings hit the roof before lashing out,  have been my way of teaching Michael to be his own little detective. I think today we made headway as he caught himself two times before losing his temper and even though the other times I had to prompt or remind him of using a strategy, he cued in right away and did. It is hard work, but I can see that once the groundwork will be laid Michael will be on his way to managing his emotions better and more easily. Most importantly of all, in taking care of my own personal health, I am learning how to be compassionate again towards myself and Michael and not give up even in those very challenging moments. If not me, then who will help Michael learn to help himself?

Exceptional Parents, how are you showing your child to be their own best detective? Are they good at managing their emotions, stresses and strains? If not, eliminate what isn’t working and go with what is. Don’t be afraid to step into the unknown and try something new, whatever it is. If something doesn’t seem right in an approach, with your child’s mental or physical health, reach out to the medical and therapy team. Ask questions. Raise your concerns and share what you know with them. Trust what information you uncover and what will fit with your child. Remember, no one knows them better than you. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

How To Get Over Doubting Your Parenting Abilities With Your Exceptional Child

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As regular readers of this blog know, Michael has hit that preteen testing age which he is experiencing along with autism’s regular anxieties and rigidity. Throw in some unexpected curve balls like diabetes and well, it’s quite the ride for him and us. But the other day something hit me. Michael’s behaviors had not changed from last year. There were days when they were more intense and days when they were about the same. However, I was doubting that I had the right tools to help Michael and was feeling tired. I was also forgetting, and I knew this, to see beyond the behaviors to what he was really communicating. This means seeing what the child is really struggling with and communicating to you. It could be lack of control, testing how much they are loved, or lack of self-regulation. Each behavior could be different. There were times I have noticed a behavior was all about him seeing how far he could push me and what the consequence would be. Would I follow through? Would Dad? Then there were other times that I was so frustrated, but upon closer reflection saw the problem. Michael was having trouble self-regulating and sequencing. These are fancy terms for knowing how to control one’s emotions and the order of how and when things happen. So, Michael getting ready for bed is difficult if he gets thrown off course due to excitement over something that happened earlier. Or Michael is upset that I don’t understand what he is saying and has a hard time controlling his frustration so will swear and yell, then only after realize that is wrong.

There were times he was crying or upset saying, “Mommy, help me. I need you to show me how to do this.” Sometimes he would say, “I need you to do this for me.” It was then that I realized, he really is struggling. This is not all about control and seeing how far he can push me. Sometimes there is genuine fear and confusion. And that was when I realized that I was so tired and in the middle of getting over a bad virus, that I had forgotten to see the child behind the behavior. It is really important as a caregiver to acknowledge when you are exhausted and frustrated that you stop seeing the whole child and only see the behaviors and the problems. You also begin to doubt yourself as a parent and think that everyone is better off taking care of your child than you are. This is not true. Others can support you and help you in your parenting endeavors. After all, it takes a village to raise a child. But never forget. There is no one better able to help and advocate for your child than you as the parent. It broke my heart a few times this week to hear Michael say, “Mommy, why aren’t you the happy Mommy I know? What’s wrong?” He was right. I had to start being happy again so I could start seeing the best in him again.

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Sometimes as parents we get discouraged when our child pulls away from us. We think to ourselves, “I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s too stressful.” But our child is most likely pulling away to see if we will come back. Many times in the last two months as Dad and I put down new boundaries for respect, behavior and expectations we would tell Michael that these things are required for him to live peacefully with us at home. We all deserve respect and he needs to follow the rules we lovingly put in place for his safety, whether he likes it or not. Michael then started opening up that he loves us and wants to listen, but has a hard time. He asked for help with strategies. I told him we were always there to help him with strategies. He seemed surprised. “You mean you’ll help me? I’m afraid to ask for help.” I could not believe he used those words. I thought Dad and I had always shown we were there for him, but somehow the signals had gotten crossed. When he understood that he had options, things began to get smoother.

Exceptional Parents, have you ever doubted your parenting abilities? Remember, you may be tired, overwhelmed and frustrated, but there is no one who can work better with your child’s team than you. Don’t ever forget the importance of seeing your child before the behavior and then helping them when you are feeling strong again. Until then, don’t be too hard on yourself. Your child will always love you and knows you are in their corner. It’s you who has to believe in yourself again and know that you are capable of helping guide them every step of the way patiently and with love. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

Learning To Go With Your Exceptional Child’s Flow

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Michael woke up today complaining of a sore throat and stuffed up nose. In the past, this would have been an ordinary inconvenience. For Michael it would have meant he was not feeling well and I would have felt bad for him as any parent would for their child. No one likes being sick with a cold. For me, it would  have meant that my work day was thrown off course as I would be the one staying home with him. This morning it came with a whole new set of circumstances. He was sick with a cold and he has diabetes. I was not panicking. I knew it might stay as a cold. It could develop into something worse. Panic would not serve anybody. So I stayed calm. Dad and I checked if we could give him his usual Tylenol for his sore throat and body aches. And what about honey in his tea? Honey is a fast acting sugar, something that could sky rocket his blood sugar and make him feel even worse. As usual, our team at our local children’s hospital were amazing. They promptly got back to us regarding the Tylenol and tea. Both are fine. Insulin is a natural hormone, not medication that could interfere. They also reminded us to check about his anxiety medication and if it would counterbalance with the Tylenol. That was our next question too. I called the pharmacist and he reassured me that there was no problem either with Michael taking Tylenol and having his chamomile tea with honey. So many more things to think about now than before, but we went with the flow and it all worked out. We were also told to expect higher blood sugars as a rule. It was the body’s defense against fighting a virus.

Michael spent the day watching tv and relaxing, only to stop and have his scheduled snacks, bathroom breaks and lunch. I was proud how he took it easy, ate what he was supposed to eat, and ended the day with his usual routine and a nice chat with his father and I. I was proud of how Dad and I remained calm, positive and how well Michael managed everything. This is still something we are all adjusting to-diabetes. We went through the same thing with autism. It is all about fitting both diagnoses into our life, and not the other way around.  Yes, for sure having autism and diabetes has changed Michael’s life and ours. There are lots of things he and we have had to adjust to. But overall, we have taught Michael and continue to remind him, having these challenges does not have to limit him from experiencing anything from activities, to parties, to traveling to whatever.

We never want Michael to feel he can’t do something due to having diabetes or autism. It means that Dad and I have had to continue to look at Michael’s strengths and honor them. We have also had to work on helping him overcome his weaknesses, and show him to strive for the best life possible. This means sometime riding discomfort, stress and overcoming obstacles to get to the place he wants to get. It means all of us going with the flow of life and making the best of things, learning from the bad, accentuating the good, and finding the balance. I think most of the time we do a good job of it and Michael is learning too, with his strategies, how to cope, believe in himself and move forward.

Exceptional Parents, what challenges are you going through in your Exceptional Family right now? What scares you? What is keeping you “out of the flow”? Whatever it is, remember to believe that anything is possible for your child, in spite of their challenges. They have a special gift to offer. Your job as their parent and advocate is to find it, hone it, and then help them “go with the flow” of life living in a way that helps them bring their unique stamp to the world. Until next time.

 

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

 

Seeing The Big Picture in Your Child’s Negative Behavior

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Today I had one of those challenging days that made me turn to the heavens and say, “I know you are still laughing when I asked all those years ago to use me for a greater purpose.” Yes, I uttered those very words at a time in my life when I felt bored with my job, bored with my life. I felt like I had no purpose and though I was healthy, making a good salary, had a home, family and friends, felt that there had to be something else to life besides this. About three years after I wished that, Michael came into my life like a tornado. I’ve talked before how as a new Mom I wanted to do everything perfectly. My life finally had meaning for me, and dang it, if I wasn’t going to screw it up by not being the perfect Mom.   I had to be. Well, as Michael got older, like a lot of other new Moms,  I blamed myself when his development veered off the so-called “normal” track. In time I would learn all about autism, as now I am learning all about diabetes, but boy, what a long time it took me to understand all the moods, fights, tears, stresses and strains. What a long time it took me to understand that it was not all my fault.

I’ve talked about this in other blogs. I’ve particularly talked about how hard it has been to stay calm when Michael has pushed my buttons as a parent, doing everything physically and psychologically to test me and break me. And no, it is not because he is evil like I once thought in my angry confused state. It is because he is crying out for help.  It sounds hard to believe that when a child is being rude, disrespectful, aggressive or all of the above, they are actually hurting, scared, tired, confused or all of the above. But it is all true. I saw it with my own eyes today. I knew the day would end with stress when Michael burst into our bedroom at 6 am after falling asleep after 9:30. He was excited to play his new XBox before doing his morning injections and getting ready for school. Dad and I had told him if he insisted to not go back to bed, he would be tired and would need to go to bed earlier this evening. He had scoffed and disagreed. Sure enough coming home this afternoon, his tolerance for learning was not high. He was cranky, arguing with me about everything, and ended the evening with stalling at every turn, talking back, in turn forcing us to cut his bedtime routine short of everything but his evening injection and tuck in.

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Dad and I both cooled down in our respective corners while Michael cooled down in his, and in the end I had my suspicions confirmed. Michael admitted, “You’re right Mommy. I am tired. I need to go to bed.” It was so hard to sit through cursing, mocking, rudeness, but I knew in my heart of hearts he was crying out for attention. Earlier in the evening he said he was afraid to go to bed. He blamed a video he had seen weeks ago. I know that is only part of it. I think the monsters are closer to home. The monsters are his diabetes and anger. Learning to control them is challenging. And though Dad and I don’t want to scare him, we have told him how important it is that he keeps his temper in check now more than ever. We told him if his blood sugar goes up too high, he could end up in hospital. He is beginning to realize the importance of his health. We are reminding him of the wonderful strategies he developed with his educator. Now, he has to learn to use them. I was reminded tonight how important me staying calm was to the outcome of Michael calming down. I am learning how to see the bigger picture while not taking his anger personally. He is lashing out in the only way he knows how. With firm boundaries, love and consistent consequences he will learn to behave appropriately and reign himself in. Dad and I have to learn to be there for him when he is ready to move forward and apologize showing him we love him even when we don’t like his behavior.

Exceptional Parents, do you have a hard time seeing the bigger picture when your Exceptional Child lashes out? It is so hard. Some days are also easier than others to stay calm. It’s important to remember that we show our child how to treat us indirectly or not. If we are firm, consistent yet loving overall, they will learn they cannot push our buttons for long. If we constantly react to the bad and not praise the good, they may also not feel that they can do anything worthwhile. Show your child you love and are there for them when they start to use good ways to handle their anger. Show them you believe in them to make the best choices. And don’t beat yourself up as a parent. You are doing the best that you can. Your love for your child will carry you through everything. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.