Category: Mother and son time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Long Drives And Conversations-How I Learn About My Exceptional Tween

Michael has always been a talker and extremely social, with us and the world around him. Then puberty hit. He became social with peers and semi-social with us, but more often than not, I am noticing more retreating and heading to his room for private time alone with his videos or talking to friends. It is great when I have things to catch up on in the house, but I have had to get creative to find ways for us to bond and talk. We do eat meals together, but his appetite is not huge lately due to his medication so it is a quick deal. Other times he is either on the phone or on videos. How do I reach Michael? Well, interestingly, he gave me the opening. It is on long or longer drives around our neighborhood. Yes, as most of you know Michael loves to navigate on Google Maps and loves being in traffic. So you can guess that two of his favorite things to do are to go for drives in the car with ways he has mapped out, or to go for long walks with with me on busy boulevards where he has mapped out what streets he would like to take. Bike rides come in third. 🙂

As most parents will tell you, it is important for your child’s interests to become your own in order to continue to build a good rapport with them. If they see you loving what they love, they will continue to trust you and open up to you, even if you are no longer as cool as their friends. 😉 This has worked for me as Michael in many ways is the typical teenager, except with a dash of ADHD, anxiety, autism and blood sugar issues due to his diabetes that affect his moods one way or another. I have noticed on either walks or drives, he will talk about things that are important to him- friendships, crushes, puberty, anxieties about school or the upcoming summer vacation and we can talk about it together without it sounding like Mom grilling him again. He will also share with me his favorite music. When a song he likes comes on the radio he will tell me. We often have the same taste in music which has been a cool thing to talk about too.

With all the ups and downs he has with learning how to self-regulate, I can honestly say that our drives and walks though sometimes challenging for me when I am tired, have really cemented our mother/son relationship. I feel him opening up to me and sharing thoughts, and it is helping him to learn how to converse and handle emotions that come up. I also get a glimpse of the amazing kid I have, which I sometimes forget is there when he is having behaviors and well, rebelling against his parents as tweens do. Hey, I’m human too, and have my moments when I sigh and say, not another emotional crisis. It is important to truly be there for your child and see them in all their states and abilities. It is important to give them a chance to prove to you and themselves that they can overcome obstacles. And most importantly, it is important to encourage their passions-whatever it is.

Exceptional Parents, how do you continue to stay close to your Exceptional Children? Whatever their interests are, and of course it can be a bit of a challenge, try and immerse yourself in them. Show them you are fascinated by it. Ask questions. Stay close by if they want to talk about it. Eventually they will want to share and let you be a part of the whole experience. That is truly a priceless thing for a parent and child. Until next time.

Musical Michael-How My Exceptional Tween Regulates and Soothes with Music

As with any tween or teen, Michael loves to unwind and regulate by listening to music, all types of music, though his favorites are pop rock and hip hop. Seeing him listening to music on his portable radio with or without headphones and sometimes watching music videos, I am reminded of myself at that age. Even his rocking while listening to music reminds me a little of me. Ok, I didn’t rock the way he does as I don’t have autism and it was not in a stimming sort of way, but I see his love of the music, beat, and how it soothes and excites him at the same time. He does not look much different than any teen or tween when he is doing it.

The thing is getting him off the electronics is tough. As for any kid today, the allure of its immediacy is only too great. I am glad that though his tastes are changing vis a vis parks and going to stores, he at least will still do long walks with me and I am looking forward to doing bike rides together this summer when we have more time. Still, even with it being difficult to get him out of the house, I like the fact that he connects so easily to music. He reminds me of me when I was his age. “Michael, who sings that song?” “Michael, what is the title of that song?” And 99% of the time he knows the answer to both questions. He also likes to talk about what my favorite songs are. The other day in the car when a song came on we both liked he said, “Hey, that’s cool. We both like the same song.”

I truly believe, especially with the all the tumultuous emotions Michael is experiencing in puberty so far, that music and song lyrics are one of the things that are keeping him grounded. He also has something additional to discuss with me. As his tastes change and he moves away from the sporty young boy who wanted to kick the ball in the park with me, I can now have discussions about musical genres, directions, and other topics he likes to bring up when we are in the car together or on long walks. This is where I am still able to bond with him, to share and ask him what he is feeling, and to remind him he is loved, respected, and that I am there for him.

Exceptional Parents, has music helped build a bridge from your child to you when they were little or older? For many children, they sing before they talk, so music plays a very important role in communication. For others, parents and their child/dren can learn songs together, talk about different genres, and share how music helps them heal from trauma and stress. Whatever the way it is used, music can really help a child learn, regulate and find their way in the world with other people.  Try and see if this is something you and your child can bond over. Until next time.

 

How Bonding Changes As Your Exceptional Tween Grows Up

The other morning as Michael was talking with me about what he’d like to do this summer together, I had to smile. He has changed so much yet the important things are still remaining there. Michael is a kid who likes to go out places and experience things. When he was little it was playing in parks, then it became going to stores, now as a tween his love of navigating and exploring driving around new neighborhoods and places in our city has become what he wants to do most. He is not interested in playing games with me like when he was a child with figurines, and will only halfheartedly kick his soccer ball with me, but driving, wow, does he get excited when he talks about doing that. I was worried as Dad and I started losing our importance as fun beings to him and friends took precedence that the bond we had established would suffer too. There are things now he will say that I don’t want to tell you. But, he still shares most of his school day willingly when he comes home WITHOUT me having to drag it out of him. 🙂 Still, he will ask me if we can spend time driving together. This, I now realize, is Michael’s new way to bond with Dad and I.

He still enjoys bike rides and walks, long ones on busy streets, but the appeal of the car is that he has planned out the route in advance navigating on Google Maps and I’m sure feels in control and excited to see that he can find his way around. I, for my part, am happy that I still have a way to bond with and reach my exceptional son. Dad and I always leave the communication lines open and Michael knows he can tell us anything. I remind him of this, that there is nothing he cannot share with us. This has particularly come in handy when puberty hit and he will ask questions about sex and sexuality openly which is good. I am happy that we can both be passionate with him about his interest, even though he LOVES being stuck in traffic, and me, well, not so much. It’s really important for parents to keep the communication lines open so they know where their child’s interests are and see how they support that interest in order to continue the bond they have with their child. If you are not sure what your child is interested in, here are some things to keep in mind:

1) What videos do they like to watch

2) What music piques their interest

3) Are they art lovers or sports fanatics

4) Which friends are they hanging out with and what are their interests

4) What movies or books do they like

All of these things can help you see into your exceptional tween’s  (like any tween’s) mind a little more clearly, and help you bond more easily. In the end though, the most important thing is being physically present for them at predictable times of the day (meal time, bed time, morning), and ready and able to talk or listen to them. If kids sense that, they will open up and be more willing to bond, even children for whom it is more challenging. Until next time.

Mother’s Day And New Changes As Your Exceptional Child Grows

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and it was quite a different experience celebrating it with an exceptional tween this year who is not afraid to share how he is growing up. Well, first of all he was a little embarrassed that he forgot his Mother’s Day card at school. Yep.  I told him the most important thing was remembering to wish me which when I gently prompted him Sunday morning with a shy smile, he did. Then he told me what he wrote in my card which made me almost laugh out loud though I restrained myself:

“I wrote in the card I like you very much Mom. Happy Mother’s Day! Thank you for taking me places.”

Then he drew pictures of his favorite video games all over the card. Yep. It was a hoot. When I saw it today and thanked him as the artwork is beautiful, he also did point out, “look I put pictures of beaches and spas for you too. ” Yes. He does care! Not that I doubted it for a minute. We spent a fun day going on a long mother/son walk, I took him to his swim lesson, to the park, and then we ordered in Indian food, the family favorite and a yearly Mother’s Day tradition. 🙂

See, it’s just hard to see sometimes as he is growing up and away from me. He is going through putting up a little wall right now too with what he is choosing to tell me and Dad. I understand this. All I can do on my part and Dad on his, is remind Michael daily that we love him, teach him to respect us as well as himself, and give him space to be himself, as well as know that we are there to catch him if he falls always. I had several happy moments as well this weekend when my child who does not want me hugging or kissing him came close to me and put his hands on my shoulder when he was talking to me asking me a question. It was a light touch. I leaned in and touched his shoulder and he relaxed a little against me. I know how healing physical touch is and how this used to help Michael handle so many stressful things when he was younger. I truly hope that when he is ready he knows he can ask for a hug, a kiss or anything of that sort to feel calmer and loved. He has not strayed that far away.

Exceptional Parents, how has celebrating Mother’s Day changed for you over the years? How do you mark it with your child? As your child grows up, you will see certain traditions change and some stay the same. Make sure to keep the ones that have meaning for your family, and don’t worry about the ones you can’t control. Your child is growing up, and as long as they know you are right beside them during that process, they will grow up happier, healthy and secure believing in their love for you as well as loving themselves. Until next time.

Spring Fever-Exceptional Changes Over the Years

So we are officially in Spring, and have been for awhile actually. And this year is no exception to all the other years. Michael is acting weirder than normal. I see it in other exceptional kids as well. Our Educator re-confirmed to me tonight that she too sees kids with different brains having more challenging moments during these months. This was a consolation. I was worried as I find Michael has regressed with some of the ways he is dealing with anger and stress. I blamed a lot of it on his last medication, but now am wondering if I was wrong. There are a lot of ups and downs in our kids’ lives and different ages bring with it different challenges. For example, toddler hood to school age child is one challenge. Then school age to tween/teen is another one. I am going through this watching Michael as a tween/teen handle all the angst that goes with that. When he was little he needed to physically move only. Now, it seems he needs to vent verbally and probably move physically to get out his emotions. I have to be careful how I approach this subject, however. The reason is that Michael is rebelling against so much, he will probably try and rebel against me even if it is in his favor as I am Mom, the adult, and in some ways the enemy at this teen age, unlike cool friends or friends he wants to emulate. I don’t take it personally. In some ways, I even celebrate it. He is growing up. I just worry how to still show him I love him. I do this with words, gestures, and when I can sneak it in, a pat or tap on the shoulder. I say a lot of “I love you’s,” and “I am proud of you’s.” I hope it sticks. That’s all I can do.

I have always figured out what Michael has needed during the Spring months to balance out, even in the summer months. Each year is a learning curve though as Michael and his needs change. This year I can see he needs to learn better self-regulation and build on what he already has down pat, recognize when he needs to move physically, and when he needs to talk to an adult. I need to learn to step back more, yet be clear on what I expect him to do and be. I am getting better at this, but still have times when this is challenging and Michael and I run into friction. I am making an effort to be clear to him and honest to myself so I know where everything is going.

Long walks, sports in the park, organized and other, as well as exploring new hobbies and time spent with friends, are ways to help Michael continue to regulate, have fun, and get more confident with himself. I am looking to helping him learn to do things more independently from me this spring and summer, while still having fun mother/son time and mother and son alone time where each of us get to have our space.

Exceptional Parents, are your Exceptional Children experiencing spring fever? Are they out of sorts or acting strangely? Have a look at their activity level. See if they can switch things up by moving more, doing different activities, having more play dates, spending time alone finding interests, and in the end, make sure they know how to self-regulate and learn how their body and brain work and what they need to do to feel at their best. This is what will help curb things like aggression, behavior and outbursts. Until next time.

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.

 

Those Happy Tears And The Wonders Your Exceptional Child Shows You

This week I had three moments when I experienced tears of joy  as a Mom. One was when I saw the latest book of handwriting and penmanship from school. Seeing how far Michael had progressed in his printing left me speechless. There was a time I thought he would never learn to write. So glad I didn’t let my own fears stand in my way. Michael, as usual, surpassed even my expectations as I’ve seen his progress through the years. The next moment I cried was when he spoke to me about the importance of his stimming. My son is starting to advocate for himself. It was absolutely beautiful to experience. And finally, Michael told me that he may be chosen to be a class reader over the school for literacy month as his reading is so good. I immediately told him, “Wow! I am so proud of you!” Michael’s response was, a little bit of shock and awe, “Really? You’re proud of me Mommy?” And I could hear his pride and happiness that I was proud of him. I know his posturing about not needing Dad or I, not wanting us to hug him etc. is all part of him trying to find himself and make his own identity in growing up, but still I was happy to see he still valued our opinions and was reminded how important it is to tell our kids we love them and are proud of them.
“But I may not get chosen.” He said all earnestly.
“It doesn’t matter. You are being considered. I am proud of your hard work at school. You are a smart and wonderful kid.”
He beamed, I beamed, and I asked his permission to share all of us in the blog tonight. He gave his permission. 🙂 There are still challenging moments, and Michael, like all teenagers, can say some pretty hurtful or insensitive things at times. It’s all relative though, and I don’t REALLY take it personally, but I tell him he needs to be respectful. He is, for the most part. So when we have a week where I can celebrate these positive milestones then, wow, it is great!

Exceptional Parents, what tear jerking moments do you have with your Exceptional Children? Do they come as a surprise or do you anticipate them? The important thing to do is mark them by words of appreciation to your child, and while you are at it, give yourselves a pat on the back for a job well done as their parent. It’s not easy riding the highs and lows of exceptional parenting, but you manage and in turn teach your exceptional child to manage their highs and lows too knowing that they are loved, respected and thought of highly in all their personal efforts. Until next time.

What Spending Time With Your Exceptional Child May Look Like At Different Ages

Bonding with our exceptional kids is so important, but often parents don’t know how to go about doing it. It’s not that our children don’t want to spend time with us, but they show their love in different ways because they see the world differently than we do. To make matters more confusing, is that a small exceptional child will want to do different things with you as a parent than a tween or older exceptional child. A small child may enjoy cuddling on your lap, playing with you at a park, having you take him/her on a play date. A tween child will enjoy talking to you and asking you lots of questions, want you to give them your time when they need it, and want you to drive them to friends’ houses or parks and stay clear of them. An older child will need you to listen to them and guide them, but will want as much independence as possible.

In the end, what matters is that you find a way to connect with your child and that no matter what form it takes, don’t judge it or your relationship. Some kids thrive on a parent/child movie night once a week or a dinner out. Some take a class together. No matter what, in the end you need to show your child they are a priority in your life. In our family, Michael the navigator loves to go on  drives. He does this with Dad and I. By using strategies and controlling his anger he has been working for longer and longer drives which he does with Dad on the weekend. With me, there are trips to his favorite stores and soon long walks outside. It’s important you find a way to bond with your kids to show them their priority in your life.

With our exceptional kids, this will most likely look different than it would with a neuro typical child. Michael’s long walks are on busy streets as he enjoys talking with me and stimming to traffic. Some with long drives. Dad and I understand this, and want Michael to be comfortable in his own skin and with us, so we will do this. It keeps the doors of communication open.

Exceptional Parents, how do you bond with your Exceptional Child whatever age they are? Remember, no one knows your child like you do. You know what makes them tick so don’t be afraid to make suggestions on what the two of you can do together, keeping in mind their overall needs. The priceless bonding will be wonderful for everyone. Until next time.

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!