Category: Family issues

How Being Patient With Your Child Starts With Being Patient With Yourself

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It was a mixed bag of a weekend. Lots of anxiety, hyperactivity with a few doses of aggression and finishing off with amazing feats. Michael cooking more amazing dishes. Michael rocking swimming class. Michael chatting on a the phone with a friend sounding like a typical 11 year old- calm, in control, friendly, caring. Wow! It made me feel overwhelmed, grateful and stressed all at once. Then I had to face the fact. How patient was I being with Michael’s moods? How patient was I being with my own? When was the last time I exercised? When was the last time I went for a walk and took real solid alone time, in a bath, to read, or to just be? Yes, I meditate. I write. I do take baths from time to time. But just being patient when I am unraveling is something that I am having a hard time with. And unraveling with my child has been something that has been happening a lot to me. I hold it together with everyone else. I hold it together everywhere else. But like Michael, ironically I push down my emotions sometimes I think. I push down my Mom fears of not doing enough to help control his blood sugars, not doing enough to enhance his love of music and sports, not doing enough therapy. I feel like I am failing him when he is aggressive, anxious and distant. I know deep down it is not me, but Mommy guilt gets me every time. I thought I had her beat, but she is there lurking, waiting to claim me. I have been blowing up so much at Michael lately. Yes, he has been pushing my buttons to get me angry, but I have long ago forgotten to go to my “happy place,” as a friend of mine coined it. I am working hard to get back there.

Today I did a Zumba workout. The other day I went out to a cafe to work on my fiction novel. I am getting back to self-love, self-care, and working my way back to being patient with me, with my process. After all, if you can’t love yourself, how can you love anyone else truly, even your child? Yes, we love our children all of us, but unless we are learning to be patient with our own anger, anxieties and fears, we will always have a hard time guiding our children. Once again, I found myself remembering the words “this is happening for you, not to you.” I realized that the pain and anguish I am suffering through watching Michael suffer and stress, is reminding me to take care of me and grow strong, as I see Michael growing stronger by battling his demons. He is one incredible kid. As his psychiatrist reminded us, how can we expect him to control himself if we lose it? So true. And though losing it happens only after A LOT of stress, I am starting to see that if I am patient and loving with myself from the beginning, I will be able to handle Michael’s stress a lot better too. No more Mommy guilt for this Mom! I am doing the best that I can for both of us to move forward and be happy and healthy.

Exceptional Parents, how patient are you with your Exceptional Child? It usually is directly related to how patient you are with yourself and your weaknesses. Be gentle with yourselves Moms and Dads. You are fragile just like your child. You are scared for them, yet want to equip them for the world. You are tired, resourceful, resentful and advocates all in one. There is no one who loves your child more nor who ever will than you. So the first gift you can give your child is being patient with yourself. Once you have achieved that, be patient with them.  Then you can follow their lead in letting them show you the life they want to live and is possible. At this point, the two of you will be guiding each other. 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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When Exceptional Couples Fight- What NOT To Say

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Marriage is hard work. Marriage with an Exceptional Child or Children is that much harder. Couples will disagree at times and fight about parenting decisions, but the worst thing to do is fight in front of your child. I am guilty of this as I feel like a referee sometimes between Michael and his Dad when they fight. I don’t want to be the peacekeeper between them. I want them to work it out, and I am in the process of learning new ways to extract myself from this position. Dad is more patient than I am in some ways, but blows his top in others. Michael does not benefit from either one of these styles, and we are trying to adjust our parenting styles and meet halfway. We also want to make our marriage grow and become stronger.

Friday nights seem to be the toughest. Everyone is tired after a long week, and one little change or extension in the bedtime routine or sometimes just Michael’s total need to control everything and the evening takes on a stressful turn.  What can parents do? The question then becomes what NOT to do and you’ll know what to do. Here are some suggestions of what NOT to do when disagreeing about parenting decisions:

  1. Don’t fight in front of the kids: Yes, we all know this, but sometimes those of us who are a little hot headed will blow up. Guilty as charged. Ask for forgiveness, check in to see if you are following better self-care routines, (could use improvement in my case), and sometimes see if you can go for single counselling.
  2. Don’t say “I told you so”: So many of us have done this either out loud or by our actions. It’s not helpful. If you make a mistake, own it and apologize when the time is right. If your partner does, give them the same courtesy.
  3. Don’t make your partner feel worse: It is tempting to say things like “you are never there for me”, “I feel so alone,” “you are not the only one with problems,” but this will only create more animosity. Start with being honest with your partner when you have both calmed down. That means “I’m sorry,” followed by an “I love you,” then “Do you need a parenting break?” “How can I help?” We all make mistakes.  Both partners need to do this.  And remember, we all make mistakes. It’s if you keep making the same ones that you need to ask yourself where you are going wrong.
  4. Don’t sacrifice personal time: One thing I used to do when there was friction between Dad and Michael, me and Michael or me and Dad was NOT take time for me. After all, I did not deserve it OR would feel bad that my boys would fall apart without me there. Now, I know better. Just like your job can manage without you for a day, so can your family. Always take time to recharge your batteries.
  5. Don’t think therapy can’t help: So many of us discount therapy thinking it cannot help us individually or in our relationships, but therapy is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your partner. I have gone for therapy in the past and if I need to go again for me I will not hesitate. I also think couples therapy is wonderful as long as the two people have done their individual homework and can move forward from there.

Exceptional Parents, how many of you have your NOT DO”s to share with the rest of the Exceptional Parenting Community? What have you learned and what are you still learning? In the end, don’t be afraid to learn from your mistakes and move forward as an individual first, then as a couple. Your child will look to the two of you as a united front if you do this. This will help them with their confidence as well, and the whole family will become happier and healthier. 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

 

 

 

Being in the Hot Seat As Exceptional Families

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Have you ever had a parenting moment when you felt so many emotions at once- frustration, tiredness, sadness and embarrassment? Well, I did tonight. It was one of those nights that I was worried about altering Michael’s schedule slightly, but still did. I knew that altering the schedule along with blood sugar that was still on the high side with his diabetes, may make for a difficult evening, but I figured I was up to it. I was, but only to a certain extent. Though I held it together relatively well, at one point I became so angry that Michael was not listening and being disruptive, that I almost abandoned ship. I stopped myself though, and realized that though Michael was to blame for his actions, I was also responsible for not keeping to the usual routine. As well, I was responsible for not remembering Michael’s challenges in listening, self-regulating and being responsible for controlling his physical and emotional reactions to people and events around him.

You see, part of the “different brain” our kids have makes it harder to process information, feelings, and control reactions. When they are in the “hot seat” it is so much harder to control themselves.  I of course don’t let Michael get away with his Autism, ADHD and diabetes as excuses for losing control and I have told him as much. In fact, earlier today I reminded him that though I know it is hard for him to control his temper sometimes and Dad and I know this due to his challenges (our family has no secrets), it does not mean he gets a free pass in not being disruptive or aggressive. However, even though I know this, sometimes in the heat of the moment I forget this. I am in the “hot seat” as the parent of a child who is impulsive, anxious and rigid. I feel judged, even if it is only by me. I also feel that his poor dealing with his feelings is due to my badly structuring  the day or evening. I know this is not fully the case, but it still happens from time to time when I am tired and not giving myself enough time to regenerate my batteries.

I am getting better at seeing myself for who I truly am as a Mom though- patient, loving, forgiving, but someone that sometimes feels burned out so will have some meltdowns herself. I have learned that if I am feeling that way more days of the week than not, it is time to get out alone pronto. Sometimes for a walk, a drive or even alone in the house with a book.  I am not that way as a coach. There I am Joanne-calm, in control, knowing what to do next in most cases, and when in doubt, pausing and staying calm to figure it out. It is easier without the blood, emotions, and genes mixed in there to make you feel, what the heck pattern did I do to make this worse. When parents and kids are in the ‘hot seat’ we get so attached to our own feelings of anger, exhaustion and frustration, that we are not able to see our child’s or they their parent’s viewpoint. Unless we stop to give ourselves credit for what we are doing right and get ourselves the necessary support for the things we are doing wrong or need help with, we will remain stuck and chances are, so will our child. Living life as an Exceptional Family is exhausting for all concerned, but with the right perspective, attitude and adjustment, all members will come out winners in the end.

Exceptional Parents, how do you juggle being in “the hot seat?” How do you see your child when they are in “the hot seat?” Remember, it is human to make mistakes, both for you and for your child. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Learn from the errors by letting in others that have life experience and have gone down this path before. You and your child will be the better for it. 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 An Exceptional Parent’s Calm Can Bring Surprises And Self-Regulation In Their Exceptional Child

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Today was one of those days that started off well this morning, and though there were some bumps in the road this evening, Michael rebounded so well. Why? Well, for one thing he was motivated to get a reward of extra IPAD time, for another his blood sugar finally started coming down (thank God), and for a third, not to toot my own horn, but I stayed calm. Yes, something as simple as not losing my cool when Michael reacted with some challenging behaviors when his sugar was at its highest, made a HUGE difference. At first he and Dad were not getting along, but then Dad adapted this same motto. He stayed calm too, went with the flow, and the evening took a turn for the better.

What did we both learn? It is our responsibility as parents to share our calm demeanor with our children even at moments when things are less than ideal. I also used today to talk to Michael about old strategies we needed to bring back in to help him feel less anxious and stressed, like a daily schedule and daily points to earn rewards, as well as new changes which will be helping him focus better and not be as stressed- like a higher dose of his current medication alongside with some new activities and strategies which we will try. It’s also a bit of a trial and error, as some things will work with your child, some will not. Every child is different, just as every adult is, and we all need to learn to be a little more flexible and allow wiggle room and learning.

Exceptional Parents, when you’ve had a good day with your child, has it been when you’ve been calm or chaotic? I think the answer is obvious. When we feel together and confident in ourselves, that is when our kids naturally feel that calm emanating off us and we are able to put our best parenting foot forward. We also are modeling grace under pressure which is challenging for our exceptional kids, but not impossible. They just need to know you are in their corner with tools, support, pride and love. So today, remember no matter what, show your child the calm in the chaos. In time, they also will be able to emulate this. 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

 

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.

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.