Category: Family issues

How To Regroup And Forgive Your Old Reactions To Exceptional Parenting Stress

The last week has had its challenges in our household. Michael is trying a new medication for his ADHD to help with focus in school. I was told that any differences, either good or bad, would be noticed in the first few days of taking it. Let’s just say we have seen a little bit of both kinds of differences, though I am not fully convinced it is not working, but questioning if it is. That has been part of the problem. Michael is telling me how it is becoming easier for him to focus at school, and that he rocks and claps his fidget a little less than before. However, at home he is more outspoken and easily angered than he was prior to taking the medication. I am conflicted. The fights and the repetitive nature of what he is saying to set me off, have me believe it is more than provocative behavior, yet that is what provocative behavior is, right? I also don’t want him on too many medications, unless they are working. As a result of my conflicted feelings and worries, my patience has not been the best the last few days. We have had some fights. I have reacted in ways I am not proud of. It’s been awhile since I’ve felt this way at home. I thought I’d said goodbye to the easily provoked Mom who became frustrated with her hyper active tween, and inadvertently triggered him by some of her comments. Last night after Michael finally went to bed because on top of a fight he also had low blood sugar and needed to wait to retest before having his bedtime injection, I went downstairs and started researching the medication he was on. I also researched ADHD some more, to try and understand this different brain that is so like and unlike autism.

I realized I had come far away from listening to my child over the last week. I was too busy worrying if the medication was right, if he was having side effects, if it would counteract with his insulin and other medication, that I forgot to trust in two very important things-Michael’s instinct about how he feels and my own about my son. I was so busy worrying if the outbursts at home were due to the new medication and if we should stop it, that I was tuning out Michael saying he is feeling good, and to please try it for a little longer. Strangely, as much as end of day has its challenges, Michael actually seems happier since he started the medication and more organized with getting ready for school, bed and other activities. We are having less fights about sequencing stuff. So what does this mean? I think that sometimes as parents we stress so much about every little thing and read too much into things being one way. It’s important not to micromanage too much, step back, and listen for your child’s feedback, especially if they are on medication and are older. They can tell you how they feel.

It’s also ok to occasionally slip up and get angry. You’ll move forward into a calm and zen way of parenting your exceptional child then something stressful will occur and you may temporarily fall back on old habits. Don’t stress. Recognize the angry and scared part of yourself. Nurture it. Forgive yourself your mistake, and apologize to your child. Michael and I both spoke about our mistakes, and and Michael said to me this morning, “Today we start fresh Mommy, right?” Of course, I answered right away.

Exceptional Parents, do you ever feel that making a mistake in how you react to your child is the end of the world? It’s not. It just means that you need to do some more nurturing towards yourself and your fears and worries. It also means that you could be tired and need a break. It’s ok if you feel provoked by your child on occasion. Use the mistake as a learning experience for yourself to get stronger, as well as to show your child that we can grow and become stronger after moving on from mistakes. Tomorrow is always another day after all. Until next time.

 

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I Want To Spend Time With You-When Your Tween Wants To Engage And How To Keep Communication Open

Tonight I experienced a beautiful Mom moment. Michael, who has been engaging in normal growing up rebellion coupled with his exceptional issues, actually said out loud;

“Mom, I want to spend time with you.”

Wow! I almost asked him to repeat it, but then realized, no, I heard him right. He actually said he likes to go to stores with me and when I take him in the car to his activities during the week and weekend. He looks forward to our weekly store run which happens most Friday nights, sometimes Thursdays. He will navigate in the car with me experimenting with different ways we can take home, though he has his favorites. He asks me to blast the radio when it is his favorite song, though when we talk in the car I lower the music of course, so we can hear each other. I love this. It brings me back to my youth when I was driving in the car with my Dad. That is where we had our best conversations. With my Mom, they happened after school at snack time and family conversations happened at the dinner table. But back to Michael and I. I love that he listens to the same dance countdown that I did as a tween and teen on the same station. I love the music he is listening to, and we both rock in our different ways to the beat. 😉  We are falling into a new routine together, still close, yet with different expectations from one another. He is growing up and needs more space alone and time with friends, but still craves conversation and being together in the same area. It is really sweet. Then when he’s had enough I’ll get the tween eye rolls. That’s ok. I have the equivalent adult eye rolls when I need my space. Dad knows this about me as a partner too. I love my family and friends, but there are some moments when I need to be alone, and if I don’t get my alone time I become cranky and irritable.

So this whole kid still wanting to spend time with me thing has got me thinking about the importance of continuing to maintain a close relationship with your Exceptional Child, even as they grow and their interests and attention span changes. What things can you do to continue to keep the doors of communication open, especially as every age brings with it extra challenges for your child? Here are some things that have worked for our family:

1) Let your child know you are there for them: This does not mean insisting they talk to you every day, but in direct and not so direct ways, let your child know you are available to listen to them if they are stressed or will celebrate with them if they experience a victory. I have a certain time of the day set aside where Michael knows I am there for him, and we have mother/son rituals like our spring and summer walks.

2) Be excited when you are with your child: Even if you are tired or stressed yourself, make sure your child knows that whatever time you spend together with them is a happy time. It’s all about quality not quantity.

3) Create opportunities to talk: Always create opportunities in pockets of time in the day for your child to communicate with you. If after school over a snack works, talk then. If driving them to an activity makes it easier to talk, use that as a starting point. Sometimes at dinner or over a tv show works too.

4) Plan out activities away from technology: If you are out at a park playing a sport together, walking, biking, swimming. All of these sports create different opportunities to bond. Sometimes reading side by side can be a good way for exceptional kids who like books, to bond.

5) Have family only time, alone time, and friend time divided up in the day: Make sure that your child knows that balance is important and that time with family, time alone and time with friends is equally important for everyone. Respect those boundaries for them and teach them to respect them for you too.

Exceptional Parents, do you feel as if your child is growing closer or further away from you? Both are normal events and they happen in all families. The only thing is that with Exceptional Children they are usually more intense either way. If you and your child are drifting apart, take some time to look at what is not working and open up the communication in a different way. If you are becoming closer, look at what is working and make sure to keep that momentum going. You want to repeat the positive experience, and if it falters, know what needs to be adjusted. It is also totally normal for your child to rebel, grow away from you, and struggle. Let them experience all their feelings good and bad. This will help them grow. As long as they know you are there to catch them if they fall and are always in their corner, you are on the right track. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

 

 

 

The Amazing Moment It All Clicks-Getting And Implementing New Behavior Measures With Your Exceptional Child

After a few tough weeks, it is really wonderful to see how this week in spite of challenges, Michael is beginning to understand his actions both positive and negative, as well as the consequences of this behavior. He is constantly surprising me with his insight, “oh, I guess I made a poor choice there so I lost my point towards a reward for good behavior,” to actually stopping himself from saying or doing something aggressive in the nick of time and then visibly breathing or saying, “I need a strategy reminder or where is my blue folder with my strategies?” Wow. The months and months of hard work we have all been putting in are paying off. Dad, Michael and I are communicating better, more clearly. I have never seen him so polite with me and his father. I am also finding reserves of patience for the tough times when he is escalating or rude towards me, by standing my ground quietly. This has usually helped calm him and help him make a better choice.

So what method has been working for us the last few months as a family? Here is what seems to be making the difference for better behavior and home satisfaction for everyone:

1) Have a reward system in place: We use a points system where Michael earns points for not behaving in an aggressive way. Each point can build towards a pre determined list of rewards that we jointly agree on in advance.

2) Have a steady home schedule for weekday and weekend: Whether the schedule is on paper, computer or verbally agreed upon by parents and the child, it is important to have a schedule where the child knows what is happening, where there can be wiggle room should plans change, and where parents and child each have a say, with parents vetoing if something major is upset, of course.

3) Balance family time, alone time, and time with friends and extra curricular activities: Make sure your child has a balance in their schedule of time with you, alone, with their friends and in extra curricular activities. Time with me can be spent talking over dinner, on the way to an activity or in the am or pm before bed. Make sure they know you care by your actions and words, especially as the tween set don’t always want to hug you. 😉

4)Be clear and calm on your feelings at all times: It is so important to know what you need as a parent and individual. Make it clear to your child by putting in personal boundaries for yourself and teaching them to do that with others as well as with themselves.

5) Have a therapy team, books and support that click with how you want to raise your child: Last but not least, there is not one right way to raise any child, exceptional or not. Make sure that whatever your child’s team consists of (therapists, books, friends, support groups etc.), the suggestions they make to you jive with how you want to raise your child. As long as there are good boundaries, structure and consistency in how you parent, your child will respond positively. Do your best to bring out your child’s best in this way.

Exceptional Parents, what behavior system have you used that has worked to help your child either overcome or get better at handling challenging behaviors? Make sure that whatever style you are using, respects everyone in your family, including yourself. The system has to be clear for all to understand and implement. You will know you are on the right track, when your child’s attitude towards listening and making good choices improve and negative behaviors go significantly down. Be patient. The process takes time, but is more than worth it in the end when your child and you have a strong bond together. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

 

 

Staying Calm and In Control When Rebounding From Parenting Errors-Using Yourself As An Example

So tonight when I said something that made Michael upset and provoked an anxiety attack, I realized too little, too late that I needed to save having the conversation to a better time. A meltdown ensued, with everything in between. When things finally did calm down, I am proud to say that I used myself as a model for how to calm down when you are upset.  I was just as upset as Michael was about our fight. I was in the process of leaving the house, but due to the fight I knew I would end up being late. So, what did I do first? I showed Michael through example how to calm down so we could talk. He actually ended up calming down faster than me, so I told him I still needed a few minutes. Here are the steps I used which I am trying to replicate each time there is a fight or misunderstanding:

1) My mantra of Stop, Breathe, Act. I stopped my own anger, breathed and then acted on a positive strategy to carry myself forward. In my case, a mantra that tells me I can do this.

2) Used the Zones of Regulation (Green, Blue, Yellow, Red) to see which zone I was in and ask Michael for time till I got into the proper zone for talking for me-green. I had the conversation when in green.  http://www.zonesofregulation.com/index.html.

3) Practiced patience in reassuring Michael about the next steps we would take to fix the problem. In our case, we wrote down the rules on paper, so that everyone was in agreement about how this particular situation would unfold this time.

4) Got the whole family together to have a family meeting and agree to said conditions: It is important that everyone learns from anger outbursts and moves forward. No blame, just taking responsibility for their own actions.

Exceptional Parents, how have you handled your children’s outbursts and your own reactions when they haven’t been so positive? Like with anything in life, you need to remind yourself that mistakes happen,  you learn from them, and move forward. Acting calm and matter of fact like this even after a fight, will show your child that you too make mistakes and can learn from them personally and as a family. Remind them that they can always move forward,  formulate an emotional regulation plan that works for them, and then put it into practice like you do for yourself. When they see you modeling your own emotional regulation plan, they will be more likely to eventually start doing it themselves. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

Thinking Back and Looking Forward-Adjusting Your Expectations For Where Your Exceptional Child Is At

The other day I was looking at Michael and thinking how fast my little, er, big boy is growing. His outlook on life is changing almost as fast as his interests. He does not want hugs and physical closeness to Mom and Dad. That is not for “big boys,” yet he will come out of his room and ask can he talk to me about his day, his excitement, his worries? Of course I always say yes, and continue to just be there for him as a kind ear, sympathetic, loving, firm and consistent, or at least as consistent as I can be when I relate to him. Sometimes I have to do a little Mom catch up and relate to him and talk to him as I would have a year ago. This does not go over well and I get things like I’m not a baby. I don’t like that anymore. I want you to trust me to do things aloneMy friends are all that matter. I am learning how to carry forth the good progress we have made through relating to one another as Michael’s aggression and anxiety began escalating two years ago, to negotiating all that with a teen to be in the house. 🙂 The results are usually good, though there are days that I chalk down to experience when I will lose my patience as Michael loses his and we both take breathing room apart before making up and moving forward.

The thing to remember for most parents, is that your child is always the same kid inside, though through growth spurts, mental maturity and puberty, their tastes in activities, people and even food can change. Keep in mind the character your child has had from birth. That really does stay with them for life, I think. However, it changes a little as they grow. For example if they were spirited babies, they will be spirited kids and tweens that like to be on the go and are quite opinionated. If they are anxious about new experiences and people, when they are little it may have been demonstrated by tantrums. As a child or tween, it may manifest in a sore stomach, touchy attitude, or yelling. As their parent, you know your child’s temperament the best. It may surprise you how little they change. The reactions look different, but it is the same fear expressing itself in two different ways. Think of yourself and your fears. You may show anxiety and anger differently than when you were a child, but they reactions to similar things are still there, and unless you make a conscious effort to deal with your personal fears, you will still struggle too, albeit in a different way. It’s important to be sympathetic to your child as well as supportive, and what I’ve found has worked in our home is asking Michael for input in handling this problem.  I can offer some suggestions, but he gets the final call on how to handle his anxiety, anger or schedule his leisure, with some obvious adult imposed limits for his safety. This too sometimes is met well other times with some resistance, but with gentle negotiation we can usually come to a compromise. 🙂

Exceptional Parents, do you find your child is the same yet different in how they handle some of life’s challenges as they grow older? This is normal. Growth has to happen on both ends, parent and child, for everyone to be in a happier and healthier place. Just remember to trust that you know your child’s character the best, and that with some tweaking from what the tell you and observations made, you will find the best way to relate to them as they age. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

“Hey, I’m the Adult Here”- How to Make It Clear Who Sets The Pace While Still Respecting Your Child’s Boundaries

So tween hood has been challenging, very challenging so far for Michael and I. Sometimes he is downright funny like tonight when I knew he was trying to do something silly with a friend and I called him on it and he said, “Wow, Mommy! You are so smart! How did you know I was going to do that?” With a straight face, I answered him, because Moms are adults and we have lots of life experience. Other times, conversations can be downright frustrating, like when he argues that he is not hungry for breakfast and why can’t he not eat like so and so does in school? Because it is not healthy and I want you healthy. There are also fights about bedtimes. “Well so and so gets to stay up till 10 pm and HE is twelve years old. Sigh. If it was only these regular issues that I have to deal with. But then there are the inevitable challenges his anxiety, ASD, ADHD and diabetes bring for him and me. He needs LOTS of reassurance when stressed, can be quite impulsive when routines are interrupted, and diabetes, well, for the most part I’ve figured out the basics, but it throws me and Dad WAY too many curve balls and Michael too, of course.

This brings me to raising Michael now in this mindset, when I am not the Queen and center of his universe I once was. Friends have taken that spot, though he will still tell me about his day most of the time, talk about his problems, and occasionally, I get compliments on my cuisine even. 🙂 All jokes aside, he will also try to upset the power boundaries in our relationship and insist that he is in charge and I can’t stop him from

1) not brushing his teeth

2) not swearing in his head

3) not eating all his fruits and veggies

I say, you’re right, but I want you to make the healthy choices that are good for your overall functioning so that you feel good, be able to play and learn well. I have learned how to sidestep a power struggle with everything, though we have our mornings like this morning where he was misinterpreting everything I was saying and being grouchy about eating, moving fast and brushing his teeth. I looked at him in pure frustration and said,

“Next thing you’ll agree what color our toaster is with me. Just cooperate. The bus is coming!”
He surprised me by laughing, and saying he wasn’t like that. Then he paused and got moving. I stepped outside with my morning coffee and waited for the bus outside the house until he came out five minute later. This little technique (along with having my second cup of coffee Al Fresco) 😉 has saved many a morning from erupting into a full fledged fight. Most importantly, I am learning how to express myself to Michael making it clear that Dad and I are in charge and that there needs to be rules, but we can negotiate on compromise on things like bedtime (Bedtime Monday -Thursday and Sunday is at 9. Fridays and Saturdays you can go 9:30 as long as we see you are listening and calm). We also compromise on video or computer time the same way. And food, well, we let him pick a meal once a week, and the other times, he eats what he can, making an effort to eat a whole balanced plate.

Exceptional Parents, how do you balance your authority with giving your child choices? Like with everything in life, the middle road is actually the best road taken. It allows for a stable routine with some flexibility and negotiation with both sides. This method teaches your child respect of you and themselves, and you learn to respect them as well as growing thinkers and doers in charge of their destiny. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

The Truth And Lies About How Exceptional Children Make You Stronger

Your child’s challenges will make you stronger and more resilient.

You will wake up as an advocate when you see your child struggling.

You will learn things you never knew existed.

You will need to turn this all off eventually in order to stay strong and help everyone around you, including yourself.

As Exceptional parents of Exceptional Children, we hear all of the above repeated to us MANY TIMES, but the last sentence, about turning off talking about special needs, our children’s challenges, and our challenges as parents, we don’t often hear this, and it’s a message we need to hear. Why? Because if Exceptional Parents don’t remember what made them who they were BEFORE having their Exceptional Children, they will not be much good to anyone, including their children. Resentment, anxiety, stress, and anger will build. Feeling overwhelmed at handling unpredictability and other emotions in our child will build. And when well meaning people tell us about articles, tv shoes, videos and other such things, if we are not strong in who we were PRIOR to our child’s diagnosis, we will collapse. I know this because it happened to me. Family and friends had a hard time relating to me. I had a hard time relating to me. I was a walking, talking, exposition on autism. I did not think or talk about anything else happening in the world. You see, to do so would have meant losing time on helping my son catch up, do well, thrive. This was normal to think then.

All parents  think this at the beginning. But the truth is, it is not realistic. Our kids need us to be healthy, balanced, happy and calm. This means that our lives as exceptional parents have things in it that concern our child. We do immerse ourselves in it, but then decide at some point, I need to focus on other things. I need to see friends, watch television again, read books, go to concerts, exercise. In my case, I do not watch shows about autism at the moment. I plan to in the future, but for now, working and living in special needs, means my evenings are spent honoring the rest of my life. This is for both my sake, my husband’s and Michael’s. He needs a Mom that is whole. He needs a Mom that does what she did before having kids and is proud of it. He needs a Mom that has her own interests outside of him and how his brain works. Now, this does not for one more minute mean I do not still read up on other articles, blogs and books that talk about what it is like to be in Michael’s mind. However, I do not immerse myself in it like before. And Michael sees the difference as I do. The other day, his parting words to me as I left for an evening out with a good friend at a spa were:

“Enjoy yourself Mommy and relax.”
It was great that he is catching on and seeing who I am, what makes me whole. I hope as he grows he will find things outside of his diagnoses, to live his life whole too. He is a great kid with such a cool way of seeing the world. This is not due solely to his different brain. This is due to him being Michael.

Exceptional Parents, when was the last time you did something outside of research for your child? When was the last time you did something fun for yourself or with your child without thinking of milestones or catching up? If it’s been awhile, give yourself and your child a break. There is a time for therapy, and then there is a time to just be the person you are and let your child be the person they are. This will eventually bring the two of you back in balance in your life so that there is no burnout, resentment or any negative feelings on either part. And remember, don’t apologize to anyone for your feelings. Feel them, live them, work through them, and teach your child to do the same. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

The Struggles Of Being An Exceptional Parent And What It Has Taught Me So Far

Most of my posts about raising an Exceptional Child and being an Exceptional Mom have been positive and optimistic, because after all, if our kids can handle a world that is not always set up to help them succeed, then who are we as their parents to complain? Yet, there are times when as a Mom and a woman who blogs about helping special needs families and lives it, I  want to run screaming into the wilderness saying, let me out alive! These thoughts used to frighten me. Not any more. I see them now as a necessary thing, a way to balance all my sides,-mother, wife, writer, coach, woman. It’s not always easy. But once I started sharing my parenting journey and my own personal human journey on this blog, my life became even more rich, as did my fiction. But that’s another story.

I have to say that coming to terms with how Michael and helping kids like him has changed me as a person, has been quite a journey. Our kids, all kids, teach us life lessons every day. They build us up and break us down, only to build us up again. They make us realize the work we have done on ourselves and may still need to do. They help us stay honest with who we are and who we want to become. So, on that note, I want to share what parenting an Exceptional Child  has taught me so far:

  1. I am stronger than I think.
  2. Self-care is the most important thing. If I fail in prioritizing my health, I fail everyone in my circle.
  3. Being a parent  feels like a spiritual calling most days, and it’s important to treat it that way.
  4. Sometimes you want to run away from being a parent and that’s not only ok, but normal. Go deeper and see what’s missing- More alone time? More sleep? More time with friends?
  5. Your personal time will be compromised as you prioritize the child. Make sure you schedule, and I mean schedule in everything else or it will never get prioritized.
  6. Your child will open up worlds you didn’t know existed.
  7. Your child will test your beyond anything in the universe.
  8. You will grow as much from the painful moments as from the beautiful. Don’t regret either of the lessons.
  9.  You may think another parent would do better for your child when you are the parent your child needs.
  10. You are your child’s teacher and advocate. They are your teacher and spiritual guide. Together, you will do amazing things.

Exceptional Parents, have you ever felt overwhelmed in a good or bad way by parenthood? Both are normal states of being. Your child needs to see you experience all the emotions out there. This way they will know that it is normal and ok to be angry, happy, sad, fearful, fearless and brave. As we teach them how to navigate the world around themselves, they teach us the same. Keep striving to learn from each other and when times are rough, remember you are both human and will get through it together. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

 

When To Plow Forward and When To Step Back- Learning How To Parent Exceptionally

Oh boy. Picking your battles. This is a phrase I was aware of when I first became a mother twelve years ago, and even before that time. But not having lived it, I had a hard time actually learning how to follow it until, well, Michael came into my life. I was terrible at doing this until Michael had started school pretty much. Yes, I knew he was different. Yes, many of the ways I was raised did not work with Michael, but oh I tried, tried so hard to control things so as to help him, that I picked a battle with pretty much every thing I did. This was not fun for me. This was not fun for Dad. This was especially not fun for Michael. Finally, with a lot of great support from therapists for Michael, I learned how to stop fighting and truly pick my battles. I am pretty good at it now, but alas, I have my days when I make it my way or the highway. Those days don’t end well for Michael and I. And I have questioned myself recently now that things are going better in our family, what I am doing differently? And it hit me. When things are going well for Michael and I, I am truly not fighting him on every little thing.  Sometimes he does listen. Sometimes he doesn’t. But you know what? Even if he raises his voice, it does not turn into the battle it once did. Same with me.

But it is hard parents. It is hard realizing you can’t control your Exceptional Child. There. I’ve said it. And why do I want to control him? Because, one day in the world he will have to follow rules where there will not be the choices and options he has now. They will accommodate some things, but not others. I wanted to prepare him so badly for this future world, that I waged a battle on a daily basis in the present one. I realize now that was not necessary. I also realize that a lot of the battles were about me asserting that I am in control, I am in charge as the Mom. I was trying to convince myself that I had all the answers even when I did not so I wouldn’t feel so scared so worried about failing as a Mom. What did I miss? Is he aggressive because I have been too lenient as a parent? Is he swearing because I’ve been too permissive. It’s all my fault. No. No it is not. We set examples for our kids. We make expectations clear and concise. Then, we calmly sit back and see what they do, what kind of choices they make. We reward the good. We give consequences for the bad, but we tell them we love them, and are there to help them make better choices. We take care of ourselves along the way too, practice self-care, so their comments, especially when rude or disrespectful, do not hurt like a knife in the heart. These are our issues, after all, not our children’s to handle.

Picking battles for me has been about giving Michael autonomy to succeed and celebrate or fail and learn from it. It has also helped me distance myself from Michael’s actions. It is not my fault. If as a parent I have put rules, guidelines and expectations  in place and Michael knows what to expect, the rest of the ball is in his court, so to speak. Make no mistake parents should never be afraid to parent with clear expectations, boundaries and love. They should also not be afraid to show all range of emotions, including anger, as long as it is reasonable. But reacting emotionally to everything your child does means you need to take a step back, detach, and see the behavior for what it is. A control battle where no one will win. The only way success can happen is when your child knows you are in charge, but they have the free reign to either make a positive or negative choice and reap the benefits or have to handle the consequences. Make no mistake, it is a LONG road. Some days are harder than others. You need your strength, rest and a sense of humor. But when you make a list of non negotiable things where you will pick battles no matter what, and they usually fall under life/death safety, and the other important issues which range from important to minimal, you and your child will have an easier time co-existing in the same home.

Exceptional Parents, how many times a day are you picking battles with your Exceptional Child? Are you exhausted, angry and frustrated? Step back for a minute and see who are fighting against and what is the purpose of hanging on to that control? Who is winning? Chances are, neither you nor your child. Once you are in a calm state of mind, look at what objectives are really important for your child to meet and which you can agree to disagree on. Then, let go and let your child experience the good or bad of what happens. You will parent in a whole new way, and they will probably surprise you with how fast they also respond to firm boundaries, love and acceptance, and some flexibility in making decisions. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

Learning From And Teaching Your Exceptional Child-Finding The Balance

So this week has been both an exercise in learning from Michael and in teaching him how to handle some of life’s stresses and strains. There have been times, like the other night when Michael handled low blood sugar in the middle of the evening all by himself, that I stood totally in awe of my son, how he is handling a disease that is not always easy to manage, particularly with blood sugars that go up and down and not always with any reason. I often think that I would not be so good at handling diabetes as calmly as Michael does, particularly as I still have a lot of anger that Michael has this problem. I see how Michael is teaching me to stop fearing this and to move forward.

Then there was another night when the opposite happened. Michael escalated to fury and aggression so quickly over something so silly, a future outing that may or may not come to pass, that I became the teacher, once again reminding him after he had calmed down, that the next time he needed to pause and think before jumping the gun. We often interchange in these rules, of teacher and student. And even when at times he has triggered my anger, impatience or anxiety, I ask myself the question, why? What do I have to fear? What need of mine is not being met? What do I need to change? And I thank Michael. Ok, maybe not directly at that time when I am angry or upset, but afterwards. I see that I am meant to learn life lessons from him just as he is from me.

That’s the thing. Our children are our greatest teachers, and exceptional kids’ brains see the world a whole lot differently than ours. This means that if we keep an open mind and heart, we will see the world through their eyes and learn to think like them too, especially when they are on the right track. Of course, there are times that they learn to think like us and get themselves on the right track too. That is also great. We are each other’s guide in a world that does not always make sense, but that is a journey of self-growth if we remember it like that.

Exceptional Parents, who are the teacher and student in your parent/child relationship? If you chose one or the other, it’s probably not accurate. In all relationships, you learn from each other. We learn from co-workers, family members, strangers, even our pets. If we look deep enough at the lessons life is trying to teach us through adversity, joys, blessings and pain, we will be on our way to parenting our children, and ourselves, in a whole new way. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive!