Category: Family issues

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Intense Emotions- How To Navigate Both With Your Exceptional Child

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Taking A Leap Into The Unknown-My Exceptional Child’s Social Bravery At Day Camp

So yesterday was monumental in so many ways. I was both excited and terrified. Yep. That about sums me up. It was the first day of a new day camp for Michael, and for the first time EVER, we decided to try a camp without Michael having a shadow/companion. Truthfully, I have been seeing him taking steps towards this for a long time, but I was scared. There. I said it. I was scared about people not accepting him for who he was. I was scared he would feel overwhelmed and not have extra support. With him having Type 1 Diabetes I also worried. Could he handle the social anxiety and managing his diabetes alone? Only one way to tell.  Try. I always tell Michael not to use his autism as an excuse that he can’t try new things. He asked me several years ago about autism and what it meant. He’d heard us talking about it and others in his therapy circle. He wanted to know why he felt different than other kids. We told him. As most children who find out who they are, he was relieved. He also began sharing more of what he was feeling inside. He’d always done that, but now I think he felt truly comfortable being who he was.

The next logical step was him interacting with kids who are not all like him and without an adult to facilitate. Yes, he is still working on how to make small talk with other children. Social skills groups have helped a lot. But he is getting there and his confidence is growing. I also worried about kids shunning him. I have to say, all the neuro typical children Michael has met over the years have been kind, inclusive and have asked him questions too, trying to engage him. Now that he is older, I have told Michael that should he feel comfortable, explaining his autism can help other kids understand him more.

But back to day 1 of new a new camp. On Michael’s first day anywhere, he has pretty much always brought the first comfort toy he attached to a two years old- a Barney stuffed animal. Now, this is not the original Barney. He met his demise in the washing machine many moons ago. As per usual yesterday, Michael had Barney in the car with him and checked with me about taking Barney into camp ONLY for the first day. This is what he would do usually. I sensed his calm in spite of the Barney, and told him Barney could come in the car, but he would not need him at camp. His fidget toy would be enough as he uses that to self-regulate when nervous or excited. I was totally shocked when he agreed and Barney stayed in the car on the way home with me! I don’t think it came as too much of a surprise, but when I picked him up at the end of the day he had done fabulously! He was ready. He had been ready for awhile. I have his Educator to thank for telling about how it’s important for him and other kids without autism to interact and get to know each other’s similarities and differences.  I learned that I need to continue to be as brave myself as Michael is, facing his social anxiety with a positive attitude knowing he will learn by doing.

Exceptional Parents, how often have you held your Exceptional Child back due to fear of rejection or hurt? They are capable of so much more than we sometimes think, and even if things don’t go well, trying and getting out there, will help them build the resilience they need to teach the rest of the world about what people with autism are capable of. 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.

 

Stepping Back and Getting Clear On What You And Your Exceptional Child Need Now

Our weekends have been getting progressively better, though there is still aggression, frustration and anxiety as Michael continues to hone in on his ability to control how he feels and what he does to us and himself. Regardless off how frustrated and overwhelmed I sometimes feel, I am proud as I see him making progress slowly in so many areas. Some days are better than others. Some days I am more tolerant and stronger than on other days too. And on some days when I feel like throwing in the towel completely, I find myself suddenly knowing exactly what direction I need to take. I call this my spirit talking to me. Prayer and meditation have made this voice very strong, and when I can’t hear it, I get quiet, physically and mentally so I can hear it more clearly. This weekend I heard it when it said we needed to take Michael off a medication he is on. I have been wanting to do this for awhile, but was worried. This medication originally helped so much with aggression, and what if things got much worse if he went off it? I did not like the side effects of it, and the new me has decided she will not fear the unknown. The only way to see what worked, medication and therapy and frankly life-wise, is to try and risk failure. And what is so bad about failure anyway I found myself thinking this weekend? It really means we are alive and human. Mistakes make us grow stronger. They make us appreciate the good times. Just like when we are sick we appreciate being healthy. You get the drift.

This summer has been another summer of growth for Michael and our family, and not just in terms of his health and challenges. Dad and I are being pushed to make personal changes too, as well as changes in our marriage, and in what we can expect from one another as each lets the other one grow. There have been LOTS of growing pains. There have been lots of moments when I have felt angry and said, why is it so hard? But, at other times, things have gone so smoothly, so easily. Decisions like taking Michael off his medication is so far going well. Encouraging Michael to join another soccer league has been a success. Pushing myself to clean out the junk, literal and figurative in my home, mind and heart, is helping me to see myself for who I am now, and what I want to change or improve upon, no excuses, no self-pity. We all have our crosses to bear as a good friend once said to me. She is so right. I am often awed by people who do not let life’s stresses and strains make them bitter. I decided five years ago to devote myself to becoming one of those  people. Those closest to me say I am. And when I start to stray from those good intentions, family and friends help me find my way back.

Now that I am back, wow! What a difference it makes being my body. What a difference it makes in how I treat myself, advocate for my son, and treat those around me. Even on hard days, I see my negative emotions for what they are-transient and temporary. I recognize exhaustion, self-pity and anger as things that I haven’t addressed and so I do and make the necessary changes. As a exceptional parent, I have been able to make positive changes and relate to Michael in a calm and loving way, due to operating from my soul upwards. Parenting with your gut is not easy work, but as long as you take care of you, remember the beauty and uniqueness of your child, and stay positive no mattter what, your heart and soul will guide your mind to the right place, people, and therapies for your child.

Exceptional Parents, are you feeling stuck wondering how to help your Exceptional Child through a rough time? Are you personally feeling stuck? As hard as it is, step back and look inside of yourself. How are you feeling? Are you tired, angry or scared? Before you can help and hear your child’s cry for help, you need to hear your own soul’s cry for help and heal yourself. You will know you are on the right track when your thoughts about life are more positive, you practice gratitude in even the most challenging times, and you admit when you are overwhelmed. Meditate, pray, exercise, reach out to others. Get counselling. Do what you need to do so you can get back in the flow of your life and give your Exceptional Child what they most need now-hope and love from the most important person in their life-their parent. 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.

Why Praise Is As Important As Therapy For Your Exceptional Child’s Behavior Success

I have been underestimating the value of praise lately for Michael. It’s not that he has not been doing great things at home as he has out in the world. It’s just that there have been more challenging things happening at home to distract me from his good moments. Throw in some Mommy self-pity during these challenging times, and we have had a vicious circle of him not even trying some days to be at his best. That fortunately has started changing this week. I’d like to say that it was me with all my Exceptional Mom love that made it happen. But no it was Michael who reminded me, as he often does, about what is truly important and/or missing. He was dilly dallying in bed the other morning stalling to get up. He had just had a great dream he said, and he wanted to continue thinking about it. He knew if he got up, he’d have to start getting ready for the day. I told him he needed to be out the door soon for day camp, and he had to move quickly or we’d be late. I was getting annoyed as it had been getting harder and harder for Michael to get to camp on time. The thing is he loves this camp, but is tired in the morning. I’m not sure if it is the medication he is on or the diabetes or both. We are still trying to figure that out . But  I spoke in an annoyed and irritated voice which did not help matters. Michael responded with a sigh and irritation of his own;

“You know Mommy, I’m doing my best. I’m giving it my effort, just like they are teaching me at camp. ”

A tiny part of my brain digested this. Yes, at camp they give the kids beads for positive behavior. The kids then put these beads on a friendship bracelet. Each time a bead is given, they sing a song. Michael has gotten MANY beads for respect, good listening, kindness to others, and giving it his best no matter how hard. I heard him, but my mouth did not follow what my brain wanted me to say. What came out instead was;

“I know you want to continue your dream, but it’s time to get up. People will get upset if you are late everyday. The real world does not work like that!”

Michael sighed and got out of bed. In the end, we arrived right on time, not ten or fifteen minutes late as what had happened in the past. Why did I respond like this even though my brain knew better? It’s called Mommy exhaustion where you get to a point that you are blinded to seeing anything positive. Most of our kids do at least some positive things every day. It’s important as parents that we note the times they do this, and file it away for future when we are frazzled. This way we can tap into those positive things when we need to.

After a pretty good departure at camp yesterday, I also started remembering Michael the night before showing me with pride his beads on his friendship bracelet. I also remember him talking about how he tests his blood sugar at camp to make sure he really needs to take extra carbs at certain times or not. I also recalled how when we go to the park after dinner, Michael makes sure he has his blood testing kit and a water bottle so he can make sure he is feeling good. I let him walk into the park by himself and supervise from a long way off. He behaves so maturely with the other kids, waits his turn, and loves this independence. How could I have forgotten these milestones that are being performed in the middle of grappling with some serious phobias and anxieties lately? He is also making a bigger effort to control his aggression, both physical and emotional. He is slowly learning to use the strategies for this. He is also motivated to do the exercises his Educator gave him and do them properly. He is trying really hard, and I had forgotten that.

So this morning when he woke up, the first thing I did after saying good morning, was to praise him for his beads at camp and his diabetes management. I was rewarded with a cute shy smile and he said;

“Really? You’re proud of me? Thank you Mommy.”

My heart both filled with love and sadness. I had somehow given him the impression that I was not proud. I started to realize that lately I have been sounding sort of shrill and bossy. I have been hearing my own voice and inside my head saying, “Yeesh Joanne, you sound annoying.” But I could not help it. I did not know why until last night. That is when I did some thinking and realized my tiredness combined with extra challenges made me focus so much on the difficulties he is having that I forgot about the positives he is doing. I vowed with all the challenges Michael is and will be facing in the future, I have to remember every day to find something positive about what he has done or who he is. Even on the really bad days, there have been moments of light and beauty. Our Exceptional Kids struggle a lot and have a hard time putting it all together. That’s where as Exceptional Parents, we are called to be that much more patient, calm, and be the anchor they can safely hold on to when the sea is stormy.

It’s also ok if we lose it as parents sometimes. We can use it as teachable moments, as I do with Michael. Your child may even surprise you with some positive words as I have been receiving lately. Also, we as parents have to see our successful moments and not just the difficulties. I have learned that as well.

Exceptional Parents, do you remember to praise your child even during the times it is not always obvious to do so? If not, remember it is never too late to start. Praise should go hand in hand with good therapeutic practices. Cherish the good times, and with effort on both your ends, the good times will hopefully multiply in the future. Until next time.

 

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

 

 

 

7 Ways To Regroup When You Lose Your Stuff As An Exceptional Parent

This morning was one of those mornings I wished I could press rewind to the moment Michael woke up. I wished I would have said and done things differently from the start when Michael woke up late, started dilly dallying, getting caught up in small details which we did not have time for. I wished I had not been triggered by his anxiety and anger to unburden all my anger and self-pity that I had been bottling up all week as we repeated a bad morning routine which did not seem to be changing any time soon. I also wished, both silently and loud, that someone else would ring the doorbell and take over for me. This woman would be a calm Buddha Mom which  I am striving to be. She would look like the calm Buddha Parent Coach  I am when I work with kids and parents who I am not related to. She would gently take me by the hand and tell me to breathe.

After when Michael and I  had both calmed down, apologized and left for camp, I realized that this bad morning had been a blessing and a huge wake up call as to what I needed to change in my parenting style. Yes, Michael needs to continue making changes as to how he handles stress and anger. He is actually doing better and each day incorporating the strategies he is learning through the anxiety exercises our Educator gave us. But I also have to learn new strategies to cope with my stress and anger as a Mom. As a professional, I know what to do to keep myself calm and in control. I would avoid doing all the things I did this morning as a rule, no matter how angry I was on the inside. But when it’s your child the walls come crumbling down much easier as that there is no child better equipped to push your buttons than your own flesh and blood.

I came away from this morning’s difficulties, realizing that not only do I have to be Buddha Mom as I am Buddha Professional in my work, BUT I need to anticipate that my child, on purpose or simply due to me being Mom and him knowing he can throw all his difficulties at me at once,  will give me multiple challenges, and I need to be in shape to handle them calmly, predictably and compassionately. As always though,  my philosophy is taking a bad experience and seeing what positive thing I can learn as the take away. The take away in this case is 7 ways Exceptional Parents can regroup when they lose their stuff with their Exceptional Child and learn to do for future stressful encounters.

  1.  Breathe and Take 5 : It’s important to remember to breathe then take 5 seconds before responding to anything negative or stressful your child says, whether intentional or not.
  2. Deal With Your Own Daily Stress and Anger: You need to make sure that any anger or stress you feel towards your child or others is handled at the end of each day. Don’t let this pile up.
  3. Exercise, Yoga and Meditate: This is important to do to handle stress in advance, but do it after too. Your body will thank you.
  4. Forgive Yourself: This is a toughie for a lot of Moms who feel they have to be perfect.   You don’t. You are human. You will do and say things you regret. Apologize, forgive and learn from it.
  5. Talk To Your Child About What They Can Learn: If your child is able to have this discussion, talk to them about what they can learn from yours and their mistakes.
  6. Make Sure To Give Them And You A Clean Slate:  Make sure that once the fight is over, there is no more lingering anger, fear or resentment. Start over.
  7. Talk To Other Exceptional Parents: Talking to other parents, either friends or parents in support groups, can help you remember that you are not the first parent to lose it with your child nor will you be the last. Again, it’s ok. You are a human being.

Exceptional Parents, how long did it take you to forgive yourself when you have lost your stuff with your Exceptional Child? Remember, we all have moments we regret, but these moments and experiences are what shape us into stronger more resilient parents and human beings. Sometimes the best way to grow is through these challenging times. You and your child can use that as a stepping stone and move forward into easier terrain from then on. 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 Push And Pull Of Child And Teen-An Exceptional Family’s Survival Strategies

I realized it the other day as I sat on a bench at the park watching Michael run through the splash pad and scream in happiness for what seemed the umpteenth time,

“Mommy, look at me! Look Mommy! Look!”

I was trying to chill out and give him his space, as he had asked me to about a half hour before at the park.
“Mommy, I want to go myself to the park. When will I be able to walk here by myself?”

This park is located at the corner of our street. I would have LOVED to say now, but there are still things I am concerned about for Michael’s safety. Sometimes he will say or do inappropriate things. It may just be with me, but I can’t take the chance of him making a scene alone. He has also asked when he could bike ride alone, go to stores alone, and get his own cell phone. Sigh. The teen hormones are raging even though he is just eleven and a half. Now, this is cute and it feels good to be complaining about these kinds of issues. This means my little guy is growing up and becoming independent, but then a half hour later he wants ALL my attention like when he was five or six  years old and gets upset if I am not focusing one hundred percent on watching him play in the splash pad. He will also question, even when I am animated and obviously not upset, if I am interested in what he has to say and happy.

This is the part that I have only recently understood. My Exceptional Son is caught between two worlds-that of child and teen. Tween is smack in the middle. He is still trying to figure out who he is, as well as handling controlling his stress levels and performing well at school, summer camp and in relationships. He is also trying to manage ASD, ADHD and Type 1 Diabetes. He is pretty fantastic, though lately I have been failing to see that. You see, I am also trying to navigate this labyrinth, even though it is from the outside looking in. Whenever I am having a rough moment though, I remind myself that it is ok to feel frustrated and fed up, but that it is Michael’s choice whether he wants to change the negative behavior and adopt positive replacement behaviors. This means admitting he needs help and letting those around him help him. This means admitting you are vulnerable. This is hard even for most adults, never mind an eleven year old child.

All I can do is encourage Michael to see he has people in his corner, “Team Michael,” who want him to realize his full potential, be happy, healthy and learn to manage stress and know he has options to function in a more positive way with himself and towards others. He has chosen to fight and change his negative patterns. I’m not surprised. He has been a fighter since conception, birth and beyond. It may mean reminders on behavior when times are tough, but he is up for the challenge. I have to remind myself that I am also up for the challenge during those times I feel defeated as a Mom or that I messed up. We all need to remember that sometimes we all feel stuck and it simply means we need to try something new. Everyone, even adults, have growing pains from time to time. It’s important to remember our kids have them too, and though exceptional kids experience them differently, it could still be a struggle.

Exceptional Parents, have you noticed your Exceptional Child experiencing an identity crisis as they got older? For some it is uneventful. For others, it is life changing. The important thing to remember is just to be there for your child, and go with their flow. Also admit that you are having growing pains and may need to blow off some steam now and then with family and friends. That’s ok. Do whatever you need to do to stay calm, collected and be the example your child needs as they mature. 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 To See Your Exceptional Child’s Strengths During Hard Times

Summer is a very difficult time for exceptional families. Ours is no different. The adjusting from school to being home is a change. Then home to camp is another change. Then camp to home or family vacation is a final change. All of this causes a lot of stress for exceptional kids who suffer from anxiety and for their families. When things are complicated with many different issues that your child faces, you can imagine how hard it is to stay positive as a parent. But staying positive is a must. I learn every summer, through all of Michael’s challenges, that it is when I am calm that I can make the most difference to helping him learn better ways to handle stress, anger and anxiety. I was reminded recently by professionals working with our family and by my own Mommy gut, that I needed to focus on the positive things my child is doing.

Yes, amidst all the emotional chaos and worry Michael is carrying around he is still, hands down, doing some pretty amazing things. He is trying out new sports at camp and liking it. He has earned several beads for his friendship bracelet for cooperation, kindness and a good attitude , but what strikes me most of all, is his willingness to continue doing the things he loves- cooking new recipes, (I am excited he wants to start this up again), playing soccer, trying out new activities, and taking on more management of his diabetes care. When I see good listening, responsibility, creativity in any of these or other domains, I am making sure to praise Michael. He has also started opening up more about fears he has, real and imagined, and is willing and interested to get help to fix what is holding him back. He knows he is stuck. His self-esteem is at an all-time low, and any lifting of it is progress.

On the tough days when he is argumentative and verbally or physically aggressive to us and himself, it has been hold to stay positive, but I find that if I make the effort to look for the positive in a rough day, we will end on a good note. I realize that I may need to do some pruning with therapy for me in the future. As a parent coach and someone that others turn to for help, this is what I owe them to continue being strong for them and their children. I also owe it to myself  too to go from a place of despair and stress, to a place of hope and belief again for me and my child.  I believe I am a good Mom, coach and person. I believe my child can and will conquer his demons. He is a powerhouse, after all. He has overcome so much in his eleven years on this planet, I know he will not fail. It’s getting him to believe in himself and me to stay positive in the darker times that the challenges lie. I am up for it. It’s my child’s future at stake, and I want him to have every advantage possible to believing in himself like Dad and I believe in him. I know he will get there. I see his potential as do those around him. It’s time we get him to see it too.

Exceptional Parents, are you having a hard time seeing the positive or beauty in your Exceptional Child due to severe behaviors, obsessions, anxiety or fear? Remember, your gem, your child is buried under all the baggage. You will get them out. Never stop seeing their light. It is there even in difficult times. Look for the moments they are victorious over their fears, they make you laugh or admit they are at a loss. This means they are coming out of the fog of their fear. You are their anchor. You are the boat they climb into in the wild sea. Never stop believing in their strength to overcome their struggles, and in your power to help them. See the positive in both of you and you will make progress together. 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.

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.