Category: meltdowns

Tackling Your Own Exceptional Impatience While Helping Your Child With Theirs

I have a problem with patience. There, I said it. I feel better now. What has been hard for me to admit is that I need to build this skill really well as an Exceptional Mom because Michael’s patience is worse than mine and that’s not saying much. Most days and nights I can reign in my impatience, stress, and anger when Michael pushes limits, but then there are those days. You know the ones I am talking about, parents. They start tough with you feeling frustrated that in spite of all your best efforts your Exceptional Child will not compromise, and they end with two meltdowns-yours and your child’s. That was Michael and I the other night. I realized some common denominators in why we clashed. We were both overtired, not taking the time to hear one another or sympathize with the other one’s viewpoint, and we both were stubbornly holding on to the fact that we had it right. As it turned out, neither of us had the situation completely correct. It was an evening that called for some negotiating, respectful listening, and patience with the other tired person. Neither of us possessed it that night as we had our own agendas. “Do you hear me, do you really hear me?” These were the words both of us were uttering while the other was clueless. Each thought the other one was uncaring when really two tried people who loved each other clashed and clashed badly.

After as I lay in bed totally wiped out by the tough evening not even having the energy to take a calm warm bath as I had planned, I thought to myself,  there were some steps I wish I had followed to stay calm and centered. As a model to Michael, I may have been able to prevent the evening from at least getting worse even if I could not have prevented the fighting we did.  I vowed to follow these steps and recognize what I needed to do the next time there was a conflict and I know that there will be conflicts with an opionated tween in the house!

  1. Evaluate my mood: Before Michael came home, I needed to recognized how tired I was and what would charge my batteries in a positive way. Then it was time to do that before the bus pulled up. Probably doing some yoga or listening to soft music my cup of coffee or tea would have helped.
  2. Review the strategies to use: The strategies would include what I would use to calm down and what I know would work for Michael. If necessary, having them on paper close by to refer to may have been a good option for both of us.
  3. Remember not to take my kid’s anger personally: This is a tough one, but most kids act out due to THEIR issues not their lack of love or respect for you no matter what they say or do. They are on the egocentric side, and so pain is all about them. As the parent and adult in the relationship, I needed to recognize that Michael was in a bad mood due to HIS issues and not MINE.
  4. Validate some of his anger and mine calmly: This is also tough, but as I tell Michael, anger is not bad, but reacting to anger with aggression of any sort in unacceptable. Just because Michael yells I do not yell back. The same goes for physical aggression. I am guilty of yelling only, though I have been known to slam doors, not my proudest moments as a Mom. As the adult, I need to model how to be angry and use tools to get control of myself. Also, it’s important to acknowledge mistakes and anger with an “it’s ok. we move forward,” and no blame game. We all make mistakes. It’s not the end of the world. I may say it, but I need to do it too.
  5. Don’t make assumptions about what is being said-communicate clearly from the beginning: What got Michael and I in trouble, was that we both assumed the other one was deliberately trying to hurt and disrespect the other one. This was not the case. We had a BIG communication problem. With a neuro typical brain and an autistic one, it can happen all the time if we are not careful. Once the snowball got rolling, it was hard to stop. I saw now that I assumed falsely as did Michael  what the other one was saying, and that made things worse for both of us. Next we need to be direct right away.

Exceptional Parents, do you feel like you are losing your cool more than you want to with your child? Do you feel like you have it under wraps and then suddenly explode and you can’t see why? It’s time to look at your own parenting tools for YOUR anger and anxiety. Do they need a tune up? Do you need a reminder of what helps to calm you down? It’s ok to use bad nights as a learning curve for you and your child. That is what we do in our family. After all, if your Exceptional Child sees that you lose it sometimes and recover from mistakes, they will eventually learn not to be too hard on themselves. Take heart if you are an impatient person. There are ways to build patience- get enough sleep, meditate, exercise and eat right, and take time for you to recharge your batteries doing things alone that can center you as a person. If you need to, seek outside help. There is never any shame in doing so. You will be a more patient parent and human being because of it, and your relationship with your child will only get better. Until next time.

Are 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! 

 

 

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An Angry Child Is A Scared Child- Taking A Breath, Learning More Exceptional Parenting Lessons

So to say things have been tough in our family lately is the understatement of the year. More has been coming to light for us about Michael’s emotional issues. I have always known this deep down inside, but only recently have really discovered something. That something is how much Michael’s anger inside is related to feeling afraid, powerless, and out of control in the world. He has so many insecurities, and despite being able to articulate this feelings well, feel the tension in his body, it is still hard for him to self-regulate. We also have yet to find the right medication and therapy combination, so this is wreaking its own havoc on a very intense brain. Some days I have felt like I could not get through another day of walking on eggshells around him or handling yet another meltdown and aggressive outburst. Dad has felt the same. Still, we are both slowly seeing some progress. That progress is Michael understanding that his anger, both angry words and actions, have consequences at home. And when we mess up as parents due to our own stress being high or being tired or both, we chalk it down to a lesson learned and move on to NOT make that lesson again.

Michael is a child who holds back ALL the anger from school, all the horrible thoughts, but at home feels safer to express them in all his rages. When I am feeling tired and weak, it is hard to be compassionate and see the anger for what it is-fear. But when I am feeling strong and in control, I am aware that when he loses control and looks quite scary and older than his years, he is still a scared quiet little boy who does not know what to do. It is then up to Dad and I to model calm, collected behavior, to reach out and show Michael that he does not need to be afraid. He just needs to learn to self-soothe, use his strategies. We have taken great comfort, after a very hard start to the week, that even though Michael is still having blowups, yesterday and today he is recognizing, “I need to use my calm card. I need to breathe.” Also, due to Dad and I putting down firmer boundaries over unacceptable behavior- (i.e. losing points he is accumulating towards a bigger prize, outings in the community) he is beginning to recognize and immediately apologize for his mistakes as he is seeing what is costing him when he is misbehaving. I have felt a lot more respect for Dad and I as the week has progressed whenever we have been consistent.

Consistency is what is the key. No matter how much the child is upset, angry, afraid, the parent needs to put boundaries in place. I have sensed a closeness from Michael since I began doing this. He has expressed his love for me more frequently, and reiterated how he wants to get better so he could live peacefully with us and in society. Things like this have made the hard nights easier to bear. I see that Michael is a tough kid, and that I may not have been giving him enough credit to cope with stress. As he matures, he needs to know that we trust him to behave in a certain way, and that he is bigger than his fears always.

Exceptional Parents, have you sometimes missed your Exceptional Child’s fear for anger? It is easy when we see them blowing up that it is all about the anger. But really, anger is just the child feeling super powerless, and like they have nothing to hang on to. This is where you come in as the parent. You remind them about their tools, let them use them to calm down, and stay close by for emotional support. Once your child realizes they do not need to be afraid and they can handle things, the power games will disappear. Until next time.

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? Looking for tools to cope with raising your child while handling your own emotions at the same time? I will be there alongside you. As a parent who has been there and is still handling more challenges, I know what needs to be done to help your family be healthy and in balance.

For more information about me and my journey as well as my coaching programs,  check out my website http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com,  as well as my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks. 

Who Will Come Home To Me Today?- More On Puberty and Your Exceptional Child

All parents see huge changes in their children when they are going through puberty. It is no different for parents of exceptional children. The thing is, we sometimes see the changes more intensely and can’t always follow where our child is going. This is kind of where we are with Michael these days. He hit puberty a while ago, and now it’s learning to navigate new domains- more intense crushes, more surly behavior, how to be affectionate and close with him in a different way, and how to do this while keeping in mind that puberty is intermingled with his other issues. At the top of this list is remembering that as challenging as it is to be Michael’s parent, he is the one going through the challenges. He is looking to Dad and I to explain the complexity of life, puberty and the other changes his body is going through when we do not fully understand his brain chemistry. He is quite an incredible kid. Tonight he had three low blood sugars. He has been having a lot of low blood sugars this week. We have recently stopped an OCD medication that was doing more harm than good, including to his blood sugar. He is so good natured about it, though he was a little stressed noticing some OCD type things slowly coming back. Dad and I reassured him we would continue to help him with strategies to manage the stressful thoughts, as well as possible new medication. He took it in stride.

I always feel guilty when I lose patience with Michael when he is challenging. It is not his fault the way he is wired, any more than it is my fault the way I am wired. I know he tries so hard and succeeds much of the time in exhibiting self-control. He is getting better at learning how to navigate his emotions too, and most importantly, has empathy for me and Dad when he goes too far. We always acknowledge that and praise him for recognizing his mistakes and doing reparations of any sort. The thing is sometimes it is so hard to know what to address with him- his anxiety, his anger, his blood sugars, his learning, his social skills. I also never know lately who will come home to me, my lovable boy child who wants to sit and talk about his day, my surly tween who barely acknowledges me and goes to call his friends, or an angry child in a much younger developmental stage who blows up at me physically and at property and is totally unpredictable. I do my best to call it, redirect and afterwards have Michael learn from the experience. There has been some success, but as always, with a special child there are new things to tweak, skills to work on. I worry so much that I am failing him when I don’t get it right some afternoons. Some mornings too we start off rocky. However, I am learning as a Mom that it is ok to still be learning. It is ok to be upset if your child throws you a curve ball, as long as you stay calm, focused, don’t take what they say personally (a DEFINITE tough one), and learn from their overreactions as well as your own.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle your Exceptional Child’s various mood swings? Even if they are not in puberty, kids throw us emotional zingers all the time. It’s important that we work with a good team who can help us decode our child for sure, but the most important work is done by you, the parent. Only you know best who your child is on the inside and what they are capable of. Only you can love unconditionally, support and encourage your child like no one else can. And remember, even during the hard times, that your child is a gift to the world with so much to offer. Help them learn to unwrap the treasures inside themselves. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD  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.

 

Meltdowns And Learning From Them-How Best To Help Your Exceptional Child

As Michael has gotten older, many things have changed. What has especially become more difficult to navigate have been his meltdowns, or breakdowns when he has become overstimulated, stressed and angry. I realize he and we are dealing with many different challenges to how he views things, and this has affected me on figuring out how best to help him. OCD is still a killer for me. I am still trying to wrap my head around this aggravating, frustrating and stressful condition. I feel so angry sometimes that the compulsions Michael feels inclined to do take up so much energy and stress. With a new medication to handle it, the compulsions have gotten better, but the problem is still there, and when Michael becomes overwhelmed with other stimuli, we have a weekend like we just did with lots of behaviors, hyperactivity and aggression. It was not that Michael wanted to do this or that we wanted to bring it on. But sometimes as parents, we only see the triggers too late and then it all has to come out.

I am happy to say that though it was a rough weekend, we all learned what NOT to do. This is always my takeaway when Michael has a hard time or Dad and I do understanding him. If we cannot give ourselves a break and learn from the mistakes we make, how can we expect Michael to be less hard on himself? So, in lieu of our weekend, here are some tips I can offer to parents on how to help your child post meltdown:

  1. Sympathize with them: Remember, no child would choose to fail at regulating. If they are overreacting, it is because they do not have the mechanisms to control their anxiety in place. See what new tools you can give them.
  2. See what your triggers were: Your triggers? Yes, sometimes as parents we inadvertently make aggressions and anxieties worse or escalate them when we overreact initially or are stressed out. Of course, you are not to blame for your child losing control. They are. But you do need to remember to stay as calm as you can to give them a calm model. I am still learning that as a Mom.
  3. Share your successes and failures with self- regulation: I truly believe that sharing your own struggles with controlling stress in your life could help your child immensely. Tell them what worked or did not work for you in the past.
  4. Give them as much control as you can: Often times meltdowns happen because your child does not feel they have choices  OR you have given them too many choices and not enough boundaries over what they can and cannot do. Have a balance and show them by modeling how you do this in your life.
  5. Check on your child’s overall health-sleep, food, medication and see if anything needs tweaking: Finally, seeing if something in their regime needs to be adjusted. That could be what is setting them off to have the meltdowns and making it harder to recover afterwards.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle things post-meltdown with your Exceptional Child? As long as compassion and sympathy are present, as well as clear strategies to help them replace the negative behavior, you are well on your way to helping them learn to understand their emotions better and on you doing the same. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD  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