Category: Family issues

Giving Space And Making Boundaries-Finding the Balance With Your Exceptional Child

Finding the balance. That sounds like such a cliché for life in general, especially living in a family, but it is all about balance- having time alone, having time with your child or children, having time as a couple and with friends and extended family. And then of course, there are the strategies you need to put into place to have this happen, this balance. It’s not easy. We need to have a system in place though for ourselves, so then it is easier to show our exceptional kids what is expected of them.

It has taken me a while to fine tune a balance with Michael. What was balance when he was five years old changed when he was eight and now at twelve it is even more different. Balance for me also looks different today and is healthier. So what exactly does this mean? It means giving your child their own personal space while they give you yours. This space means they can create, make mistakes and learn from it. You as the parent have this same option. Boundaries though, are the things our kids can’t cross. Children and adults should both respect boundaries for things like hugs, personal space and time alone.

As Michael has grown up, he has needed less time one on one with Dad and I. This does not mean that he does not still turn to us for advice, sharing news, and to talk. It just means he does not need us to create his whole schedule like when he was younger. He still needs a schedule though, but he now sets the pace. Many exceptional kids need the space to set their own activities, while parents still put down the rules for other activities. Figuring this out with your child means finding what amount of time they can organize, and what they need help with. Emotionally, kids need us at all ages, but as they grow up, it’s important to have them learn how to self-regulate, handle disappointment as well as success and excitement. You are there in the wings to help them, but let them fly.

Exceptional Parents, how do you find the balance with your Exceptional Child? The best way is to start with the basic things that make relationships work-discussing time spent together, discussing time spent apart, and compromising with each other in between. Let your child take the lead in asking for what they need, then you as the parent lovingly guide them to choosing what they are capable of choosing and setting up parental rules and protections on the rest of your relationship. A child will feel safest when they have some control, and parents have rules as safeguards in place for the rest. Until next time.

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I Miss Your Face-How My Autistic/ADHD Tween Defines Quality Time

“Why are you always downstairs when Daddy and I are in the living room? I never see you!” Michael said in irritation the other night.

“I’m downstairs writing, Michael. I always come up right before you go to bed to see how you are and to say goodnight.”

“Why don’t you want to be with us?”
“Honey, I’m with you every day when you come home at 4:00 pm, we talk, we eat dinner, and then you are Daddy are talking or both on your phones so I take that time for me. Besides, it’s not like we are having family time. We do that during meals and on weekends. You and I spend a lot of time together. Why is it so important I am upstairs for that hour?”

Michael paused and then answered. “Because I miss your face Mommy. We are all together in one room, even if we are all doing different things.”

His words hit me full force. I miss your face. We are together, not in a deliberate way like eating, but together casually. In his mind, with his unique brain, this is family time exceptional tween style, and I was not understanding that.

“Ok. What if I come up a half hour earlier and we have this time so that still leaves me my writing time? Does that work for family time?” I asked.

“Yes, Mommy. I like that idea. Thank you.”
Simple. Such a simple change. And after I got over the shock of “I miss seeing your face,” my heart exploded with joy. He misses me. He still values family time, and even though peers and private time are tops, he wants to do family things. My big guy who is getting more independent each day misses having us all in the same room. Awww. I am doing something right. So is Dad. It’s hard sometimes when you are parenting a child so different than the typical tween. I’d forgotten that people with autism and ADHD look at life, relationships and the world differently. This was how Michael defined family time, whereas another child would want to go out to a movie or shopping. Don’t get me wrong. We still have days when we talk for a half hour or more. But more often than not, Michael will give me “highlights” of his day, key moments, then announce he wants to go to his room where he will stay chilling for a bit followed by listening to music on his headphones, then a solo bike ride or walk alone, then back home for dinner.

So this was new and appreciated. It also reminded me how as parents we need to try and see our kids through different lenses, and when we can’t, look to them for cues on where to meet them on their way to growing up. Michael and kids like him are our best teachers.

Exceptional Parents, how often do you see life through your Exceptional Child’s lens or listen to ways they’d like you to meet them? Often we push to have them meet us in our world, forgetting to respect their world and boundaries. Remember, meeting halfway between two different worlds, yours and your child’s means compromise. Let your child know their views are as important as yours and you will keep the parent/child bond growing stronger as they age. Until next time.

When Similarities Between You and Your Exceptional Child Cause Clashing-5 Ways To Survive And Thrive

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As Michael and I each went to our “calm corners” the other day after a fight, I realized, and not for the first time, how similar our temperaments really are and why I am so easily triggered by his anger and anxiety when I am not taking care of my own stress. It was both comforting and annoying at the same time to see that when I am failing at handling our crises calmly, it is usually when I am overtired, stressed and anxious myself. My anger comes out at that point and I feel the need for controlling his outburts. I can’t. It’s that simple. I cannot control my son’s anger and anxiety. The days I realize this are the days I stay calm and the crisis is resolved faster.

I used to make it a daily task, thinking it was my job to not only teach Michael to control his emotions but if he failed, it meant I had failed, and not failed to show him a technique, but to stop it. Crazy huh. I finally stopped believing I had to control every single one of his emotional outbursts after he officially entered puberty. He was already well on his way to knowing how to express himself. He was stronger and getting taller by the minute, and most of all, though I had known this all along, puberty really brought home the fact that he was and is a separate entity from me. We are not joined at the hip as too many Moms think of themselves and their child. I had to stop taking everything he messed up on as a personal failure and address my own need to super control what I could not.

The next thing I realized was my own anxious and angry temperament when I was not using my newfound strategies to not ‘push down’ feelings. Yes, I was a pusher when younger. I had even fooled myself that I was happy, calm and had it together. I was really quite perfectionist, and thought that I didn’t deserve a heck of a lot. Over the last fifteen years I have worked hard to set up personal boundaries with people, practice self-care and learn about what helps curb my anger and anxiety. This is all thanks to my son who still challenges the hell out of me to make myself a better human being.

So how do you survive (and even allow yourself to occasionally laugh at) the possibility of having similarities with your Exceptional Child? Here’s what works for me:

  1. See the spirited side of you both: Yep. You heard me right. You know how we say hyper or anxious kids are spirited? Well, so are the adults. You bring people a different perspective on things because while over analyzing problems you see all the angles. Your child is like this too, so look at the positives in this. You are detailed, creative and ready to stand by your opinion. Just don’t let it consume you day and night and it is a positive.
  2. Recognize your needs for exercise or movement: What works for an upset me or an upset Michael is moving- rocking, walking, having a good cry or scream. Let it out in a safe place and then regroup and talk it out with each other.
  3. Celebrate the quirky, don’t diminish it: Whatever weird thing your child does you celebrate because it is who they are. If you have one of these traits, do the same.
  4. Don’t try to fix everything for them or you: Don’t be a perfectionist person or parent. It will only make you and your child miserable. If you want to do something special for them and they are not interested, don’t push it because you think you are a bad Mom for not doing it. Listen to what they say, unspoken and spoken. If you are not sure, go with your gut on what makes you and your child happy in the end. It won’t steer you wrong.
  5. Don’t take your child’s attempts to trigger you personally. Oh so hard if you are a sensitive parent yourself, but it really is true. Make sure you are as rested, calm and balanced as possible, and don’t let your child’s attempts to trigger you with words and actions seriously. Two out of control people won’t help. Show them what you’ve learned about self-control and practice it. If you mess up, and you will because you’re human, fess up. Take yourself somewhere to calm down, talk about what you did wrong, and how you will fix it. This will help them see what they could do right next time too.

Exceptional Parents, how many times have you been hard on yourself for yelling at your child for some of the same traits you had growing up? We’ll all done it. The important thing to remember is that by you recognizing your similarities with your child personality wise, the good and bad ones, it will bring you both closer as you continue to encourage the positive traits in each other and work on supporting your child while healing yourself of the negative traits. Remember, you are both raising each other in the end. Sometimes it will be beautiful. Sometimes it will be painful. In the end, there will be growth either way. Until next time.

 

Independence At The Least Likely Time-How To Balance Keeping Boundaries While Letting Your Exceptional Child Run Free

“I don’t want to go for a walk with you Mom. Maybe another day. I like my alone walks. Thanks.”

“Ok Michael, but remember to take your supplies, have your phone on, and remember to be home in an hour.”
“Ok. Bye. See you later!
“Have fun!”

“Thanks!”

This has pretty much been the drill for the last week. Michael has been going on long walks all by himself on the small streets, handling everything and getting home on time. In order to keep better track of him, Dad got him a phone where he can call us and he can be tracked by us so we know where he is. He is delivering on his promise to be home on time and stay safe. We allow  him solo bike rides as well now as he has demonstrated he can do it.

One part of me is overjoyed. My boy is growing up and does not need me as much anymore. Busy streets he will still go with me for a couple more years. He accepts this, but for now he is treasuring his independence and prefers to go alone. I don’t blame him. The other part of me misses our time talking during the walks. He is eager to still talk to me at home and do drives, but I loved sharing my love of fitness with him and have missed this during this week while enjoying the freedom it gave me to relax, catch up on work, or write.

What is it about the path that our children take when they are not children but yet not adults either? I am both overjoyed and fearful at the same time. I never knew if Michael would engage in this type of adolescent behavior. It’s hard to gauge with an exceptional tween/teen where they fall in the puberty/growing up department. It could be anywhere. I am glad to be having this trouble as I know a lot of parents of exceptional kid are wishing for things like this, but it is challenging as Michael may think he needs less limits as he is growing up, but due to still having difficulty with certain social cues and body language, there are still things I need to adapt for him and protect him from.

Walking the fine line between childhood and adolescence. This is where exceptional tween Michael falls and his parents fall with him. It is far from easy. I can’t baby this Michael. I am told frequently to stop nagging, stop treating him like a baby. Then when I do try to give him space to do his own thing, he will say, “why are you outside so much? stay here with me.” I have talked to him about boundaries, alone time and time spent together. I have shown through example how I will always make time for him and put my other things aside to listen. However, I also need downtime, time alone, to decompress, like him. More and more he has been respecting this. He asked the other day if I had had time to do my yoga. He was concerned I hadn’t.

As a parent, balancing being there with stepping back is a challenge. Still, the important thing to remember is to go with your child’s cues. If they need you and they are in the childhood part of their tween hood, be there for them. If they want more independence to show you they can handle things, give them space. Always have rules for them though. You are the parent, and they need to know that you are in charge of keeping them safe while they find their footing.

Exceptional Parents, how are you faring in finding the balance between letting your child be independent and putting in normal childhood boundaries? Remember, they need a bit of both to grow up healthy. Judge for yourself whatever stage they are at, what they need more, and go easy on yourself if your family hits a snag. Remember, you can work it out as you go along if your child feels your love for them. That is all that matters in the end. Until next time.

Long Walks, Long Talks-How Having A Parent/Child Routine Can Help Build Resilience In Your Child

So as Michael has pulled more inwards due to puberty and all that has brought up, I have used two physical activities he and I both enjoy doing as a way to keep the lines of communication open; bike rides and long walks. It is on the long walks, even though he brings his headphones along, that Michael will say and do things, sometimes proper, sometimes improper, and I get a chance to talk to him about his behavior and how to conduct himself in a way that brings out his best side. I have to admit that on some of our walks I hold my own emotions together better. On others, well, I raise my voice, even yell a little, then it is a lesson for me too on patience, learning to be calm, and to set a positive example of how to handle myself when up against a challenging personality. Ironically, Michael has said that it is hard to talk to me sometimes because I nag and tell him what to do. This is, of course, when I am telling him to do things that he does not want to do. I gently try to redirect him by reminding him that he may not like everything I say, but if I am saying for him to do something he may not like, for me to push that point it has to be due to his health and well being . Then I get an, oh, ok.

In spite of the ups and downs, we usually have good conversations and Michael has said he enjoys our walks and likes to talk to me. So far so good in keeping the communication lines open like when he was a young child. I too enjoy our conversations. Even when he frustrates me as he sees the world in a way I sometimes still have trouble understanding, I love the way his brain will look at something in a totally different way than a neuro typical person’s would. Sometimes his reasoning seems black and white. Other times there are so many colors  I am amazed. I always feel better after our walks as I learn things too. I learn what to continue doing and what to stop doing.

So how can a parent reach their exceptional child at any age? How do we form a strong bond? Here are some tips that have helped our family through the years:

  1. Find a common activity you both love: If possible, this is the easiest and best way to go and do this activity regularly; ie. daily walks, bike rides, a trip to the park, an outing to a favorite place, or time at home playing a game you both love.
  2. Take a HUGE interest in what you exceptional child loves: This is not always easy as sometimes our kids’ tastes may strike us parents as strange, but there is only positive things to gain if we immerse ourselves in their interests and their world. In my case Michael loves drives and navigation, and now, for better or worse so do I. 😉
  3. Find a good time of day to talk and bond: For some families mornings work best. For others evenings or weekends. The important thing is consistency.
  4. Ask them what is bothering them and/or look for signs of agitation: For kids who are able to communicate effectively, ask them their favorite and not so favorite parts of the day. For children who have a harder time with communication, be vigilant for signs of distress and have sensory sensitive strategies ready to help them unwind and regroup.
  5. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help: If your child is not acting like themselves and other issues are appearing that were not there, seek outside help from professionals who have a  love and respect for the exceptional community. Make sure they vibe with your child and your family.

Exceptional Parents, how do you maintain a good bond with your Exceptional Child? As long as whatever you do involves showing love, respect, positivity and hope in your child and their abilities, you and they are on the right path to continuing to have a close relationship with one another. Until next time.

How To Communicate In A Way To Foster Calmness and Control To Your Exceptional Child

“Mommy, don’t yell. I get more nervous when you raise your voice. When kids at school lose it, the Behavior Techs don’t yell.”

This was what Michael said to me this evening after a misunderstanding with Dad had his anger escalating and I had to half pull/half talk him into another room to calm down. He was no where near receptive to showing me his signal that his anger and anxiety were escalating and I knew what would have happened if he’d stayed in the room with Dad. It had happened with me in the past too, and if he was not redirected somewhere to calm down, he would get aggressive and either hit something, hit someone or throw something. After wards, like five minutes later, he would show remorse, and I or Dad would berate ourselves for not zoning in quicker when he had started escalating to help him de-escalate somewhere and possibly salvage a meltdown. Tonight, it was success on that front.

“Yes, Michael your school Behavior Techs are calm. They have the support of other adults and it is easier when you have support. I was alone as you were mad at Daddy and the same has happened when you were mad at me and Daddy had to take over to help you. Daddy and I are learning to use our strategies too, but sometimes we forget and yell. Thanks for the reminder.”

It was an eye opening experience for me. We talked for a little more, and I reminded him about using his signal to tell us that he needed to go and chill out RIGHT AWAY. He had said he was too angry to go and thanked me for helping him. I reminded him that he was right, and that the next time, he needed to go as soon as he felt his anger building. Michael nodded and agreed. He then went for his shower and completed his bedtime routine with no more issues. He apologized to Dad too.

Each time we have a positive or negative experience as a family I remind myself that it is all about learning how to keep doing what works and refrain from doing what does not. I also have learned, especially as Michael gets older and hormones make more unpredictable mood swings, how important it is for Dad and I to be the calm and control examples, including when we are seeing red on the inside. The same tips apply to us. Be aware of our anger. Be aware of our anxiety. Be aware of our escalating emotions. AND put the strategies that work for us in place so that we can show an example to Michael of what being gentle and forgiving of ourselves and others is like. We are getting there as a family. We have come a long way.

There is such insight in how Michael talks to us now. Even when anxious or angry, he is realizing how he alone can control his thoughts, impulses, emotions for better or worse. He relishes the moments he gets it right, and we are making sure to heap praise on him when he does, as well as show him we trust him to do other things only big boys do. (more on that tomorrow).  When he gets it wrong, he also admits, expresses regret, but adds,
“I am getting better. This is not as hard as I thought. I can do this.” Dad and I agree, and remind him of his potential.

Exceptional Parents, how often have you remained calm and in control when having a disagreement with your child? Have you had moments you wish you could take back? We all have at one time or another so don’t feel bad if you are in that category. The thing to remember is to learn from the experience, teach your child to learn from their mistakes as well, and no matter what, stay calm, focused, and in the present so the matter could be resolved as easily as possible. Until next time.

Seeing The Other Side-How To Talk So Your Exceptional Child Understands You

Being the parent of an exceptional child changes you. Heck, being a parent changes you, as you have to remember to talk to your child in a way that reaches them and helps them know you get them. When you have a child whose brain works differently than yours though, the challenge is even greater. Michael’s brain is affected by everything that makes him who he is-autism, ADHD, anxiety, and Type 1 Diabetes. All of these physical and mental things make up how he sees the world, how his brain organizes his reality, and as I’ve seen many times, how this reality is not always the same reality it is for me.

We have had many misunderstandings with one another when I would think he was not listening to me, he was purposely being defiant, and he was not listening. As he grew older and I learned more about neuro diversity and different brains, I began to see how much of what I thought was deliberate was not. He would often not understand where I was coming from, and even with a pretty perfect vocabulary and very good conversation skills, receptive language would still be a challenge. I began seeing how I could make myself more clear and see things from his perspective. I also began talking to him about seeing things from my side, and reminding him that we don’t all think alike, so compromise needs to be something to strive for. Discussing a stressful upcoming event is something I’ve had to learn to do with extreme patience. He will often ask the same question over and over. I used to blow up, as my patience would wear think, and then I would feel terrible. I would see that his anxiety is just too high and his ability to self-regulate is still developing so moving forward was high.

Once I learned how to use my own STOP analogy, that is stop and think before speaking, I eliminated a lot more escalation of fear and anxiety on Michael’s and my end. With autism there needs to be a lot of repetition for Michael to remember things sometimes and put his mind at ease. I devised ways such as schedules on paper or the computer to explain things to him. I also would write social stories or ask our team to help me right good social stories that would explain things more simply. Michael has always been a child so eager to learn and move forward, that this has not been too difficult a process.

As parents it is hard. We need to keep in mind that executive function and any kind of organization skills take extra time for our kids to master. That means we’ve got to extra patient when waiting for an answer from them, waiting for them to move to the next activity, and when frustration builds up more easily than with other kids, remember that it is not their fault or ours. It is two different brains viewing the same problem. As the adult and the one who can set the example, it is up to us to pause, take a deep breath, and redirect our child’s frustration and try and see why they are upset and how the two of you can put your heads together and fix it calmly. That has been the hallmark of success with Michael. When I have stayed calm, or at least as calm as possible, I have come up with great solutions to help Michael is even better, he has found the solutions to the problem. It is a humbling affair raising a little person, but there is so much our exceptional kids teach us. Don’t shy away from the lesson. You won’t be sorry you did.

Exceptional Parents, how often have you been able to put yourself in your Exceptional Child’s shoes? It’s not always easy, but as long as you take the time to see them as trying their very best even when they are failing in that moment, show compassion as you would for yourself, you will start to build a whole new rapport with your exceptional child. They will sense you trying to bridge the gap and meet them halfway. Until next time.

Why Mindful Parenting Rocks And How To Do It

So I have just finished reading this great book on ADHD called “Mindful Parenting for ADHD” by Mark Bertin, MD. It encompasses much of what I already know about ADHD and how it affects executive function and organization. It also talks about another subject that is super close to my haert- how practicing mindfulness can help you be a better and more effective parent of a child with a different brain. I truly believe being mindful and learning to be present, calm and focused, can help a parent with any child, but especially a child whose brain and body don’t work the way ours does, taking a moment to center ourselves can make all the difference in how we handle their stressful moments which eventually become ours.

At the end of each chapter are exercises which compliment the chapter and help parents plan out a home program. I am working my ways through these, because even though I currently have great resources to support Michael, this helps me on the parent and child front. One of my favorite chapters is the one on self-care and the importance of taking care of you first in order to better nurture your child. A lot of us exceptional parents know these things, but putting them into practice is hard. You can find so many good tools here that it is a truly worthwhile looking into.

When I really started understanding Michael better was when I started delving deeper into my own handling of anger and anxiety. Meditation and yoga as I’ve mentioned countless times before, showed me how to center myself when I was falling through space, and helped me see how scary it is when we don’t have access to the right tools to calm ourselves down. If we are a neuro typical adult it is scary. Imagine now if you are an exceptional child with a neuro diverse brain and way of looking at the world. Scary would not even begin to describe how fear, anxiety and anger would be experienced.

Meditation and mindfulness can be taught to a child or adult at any age. You can start with 5 or 10 minute meditation blocks and move on to 20 when ready. For kids you would talk about mindfulness different than for adults obviously, but as long as you teach them to stop, be in the moment no matter what they are feeling, and learn to breathe in and out slowly to calm their mind, they are on the right path. So many of our kids, whether they have autism, ADHD, learning challenges or other neurological or physical challenges feel misunderstood, overwhelmed and incapable of handling their emotions at times. As their parents and advocates, our best way to teach them the skills they need to learn is through learning them ourselves first. How do I handle my anger and anxiety? How do I organize my life? How do I simplify and break down a problem into smaller pieces so that it is easier to understand?

Exceptional Parents, do you parent mindfully? If not, don’t worry. It is never too late and you are never too old to learn. All it takes is learning to be present with yourself first and how you are feeling honestly. Once you learn to identify your emotions and how you deal with them, you can find many wonderful guided meditation practices online that teach you to focus on the present. Trust me this will be an invaluable tool to helping your anxious or angry child. If they see you calm and in control even when there are problems, they will begin to understand that they can do it too and adapt strategies that work for them and their brain. Until next time.

How Bad Memories Change Over Time-Confronting The Past And Seeing The Positive

Michael likes to move. Michael likes traffic because it moves. Michael likes walking. This is why it really did not surprise me after I took a second to think about it, that walking on a busy boulevard near our home is what helps calm Michael and what is fun for him to do with me. I get the benefit of exercise, being out in the fresh air, and having an hour or more of time to talk and bond with my son which is becoming more challenging as my tween pulls away from other mother/son activities like park time. Ok, so it’s not my ideal venue of paradise, walking on busy boulevards where traffic runs rampant and noise is the order of the day, but this is what sets Michael’s soul on fire, so I make it my business to be there alongside him to show him how I want to understand him and bond with him.

And there we were on the weekend, on one of these long walks talking and then just quietly walking, when lo and behold, we were coming up to the place where he first went to daycare, the daycare he had been kicked out of due to his unusual behavior and inability to fit in. This wasn’t the first time we had walked past it. We had done this walk many times in the past. I had always pointed out to Michael that this was where he had first gone to school when he was very little. Though it had had a painful ending for me and him, he had bonded with two of his teachers and had asked about them when he was older and verbal. One of them had held him on her lap as he stroked her hair when he was distressed by the noise, the fast pace and other realities of daycare he had not been ready for at two and a half. I had told the positive things to him and then added that the long day was hard for him, and that was why we had ended up sending him to the adapted preschool where he had finally learned to talk, come out of his shell, and we had uncovered his autism and been able to bridge the gap he had with us and us with him.

For me, passing this school for years had been a painful memory though I had not shared this with Michael. I did not want to distress him. But I’ll never forget the stress and relief in that meeting with the director of the daycare who had firmly and gently told me that my son was a lovely boy, physically healthy, but that there were lots of other issues we needed to look at. He would need a full assessment at a hospital and then once we had recommendations for a speech and occupational therapist, they could look to giving him back his spot. For now, he could not continue attending the daycare. The next words she spoke stayed with me then and are still with me now. People will tell you there are worse cases than him. Hospitals, social services may turn you away. You need to fight for your son, fight with everything you have in you. She then shared with me how she had to fight for one of her two children who had physical health issues to receive services at the local hospital. She again repeated, be ready and willing to fight for him. You’re his top advocate.

Of course I took those words as law, and I have never stopped fighting for Michael. Though I always looked back on that conversation with both sadness and hope, whenever I passed the building where I had hoped Michael would blend in with the other kids, I would feel sadness, loss, and anger that things had not turned out differently. Then, there I was at that building with Michael last weekend. I looked at it. I looked at him. And I felt joy. Pure joy. I realized that was the first place that had had the courage to help me see my son for who he was, in all his beauty. They helped me fight the pediatrician for a referral for further testing. Then push for an adapted preschool. Then finally through that preschool find a Mom community, and one particular Mom, who gave me the name of a psychologist who finally gave Michael the diagnosis of autism which opened up doors for him and us. I celebrated though everyone around me mourned. Now it was just learning how best to support Michael’s learning and brain. Autism was not a bad thing. It was part of who Michael was, and it was up to me to understood this different way of seeing the world.

This was new for me though, this joy in seeing the place that had made me cry, the place that had made me finally face my son was different, and that I was different and would have to parent differently. I felt free. This place had helped me be free, Michael too. Michael is who he is because of all the experiences he has had as I am, as we all are. This is reason to celebrate and to remember that even so-called dark moments, can end up being our moments of greatest light and growth.

Exceptional Parents, do you have moments that you look back on and see as eye opening positive experiences even as they appeared negative? If not, look again. You may be surprised how with time, you can see how experiences can change you for the better, even negative ones, and how your body and mind look at things in a different way when you’ve had time to reflect. Let go. Release past hurt. Everything happens for a reason to lead you most of the time to a better tomorrow. Until next time.

How Calm and Consistent Parenting Can Reach Different-Brained Kids

It’s been one of those weeks, one of those parenting weeks where I’ve been through the mill, as they say.  I’ve expressed fear, frustration, worry, and anger. Then, when I’ve seen that some progress was made, hope and flickers of happiness have emerged. It’s been trying for both of us, Michael and I, to say the least. But, if I’ve learned anything as an exceptional parent, is that when you hit a rough path, first breathe, second practice some self-care, whatever you need most at that moment, and third formulate a plan of action to adjust to what was not working while continuing to practice the things that were.

Spring has always been tough for Michael as it is for most exceptional kids. His hyperactivity and impulsivity go up, as well as his aggression in the last two years when that level of frustration opened up. We have new medication that seems to be helping a little bit during the day and late pm, but when it wears off at dinner time,  the psychiatrist described it as akin to him falling off a cliff. And that  is when we saw escalations in anxiety and anger, as well as meltdown after meltdown this week.  What exacerbated this more was the fact Michael is not a little boy anymore. He will not accept hugs or I love you’s from me, saying he is a big kid and doesn’t need my physical support. This was always how I helped him as a little boy, but now as a tween, this needs to change.

The thing is he very much still does need me at times, both positive and negative moments, and will call on me as he did last night. He was upset and called downstairs for me to help. I did help him by coming up, redirecting him to a safe space (his room), and then when he had calmed down, surprised me happily by asking to fill out some sheets his Educator gave him for recording how a child handled a stressful event. It was helpful for him and for me to see him do it too. We also saw his Educator this evening, and she provided excellent feedback and some new handouts to help with ongoing issues. Having a team for the family is huge.

I, for my part, also did a lot of thinking in the last five days when these incidents occurred off and on. I looked back on the good and bad methods I used to handle Michael’s meltdowns and reactions and I adjusted accordingly when I did and will now keep these adjustments in place. I also took out a great book from our local library on mindful parenting of ADHD kids. It is really helping reinforce a lot of what I already know with new material that I look forward to incorporating. Mostly though, I am proud that Michael is learning to slowly incorporate changes in how he handles stress, confrontation and talking about his feeling to his parents. It is hard as a lot of the ways ideas get stuck in his head make it hard for him to break out of that mold. I know with time and patience, he will turn things around.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle those hard parenting weeks? Remember, you are doing your best and if you lash out, learn from it. Learn what your triggers are, be open to trying new things that can help support your child, and go easy on yourself when you do it. Take everything in perspective and you will be surprised how you and your child will bounce back from the experience.