Category: personal growth

Report Cards and Seeing The Exceptional Child That Shines Within

Today was the last Parent/Teacher interview at Michael’s school. As usual, it was bittersweet for me. Another year gone by. More growth and opportunities to learn new things, other areas where there were challenges, but the wonderful staff at his adapted school is addressing them. Also, as always, I was able to troubleshoot and brain storm with them new ways to support him at home, now particularly with his severe anxiety which sometimes manifests itself as aggression at home.

For me it was hard too to see how his anxiety is limiting him in class. My anxiety limited me for years, but not having other challenges, I was able to perform academically and learn with much more ease. Michael, though bright, gets sidetracked easily and worries over things and needs constant redirection. This distraction causes him to lose focus in the classroom and affects his learning. His school is working with him on it, but though I vowed to keep in mind that he is in the best program he is meant to be in and not to push staff, the Mommy tiger in me was disappointed that many peers in his class moved into the modified high school program and Michael was not ready. I felt sad, as I know though academically he would struggle, socially he would benefit a lot in that circle. The hard on myself Mom part questioned the fact that maybe it was me who was at fault. Maybe I didn’t teach him self-soothing/regulating strategies young enough.

While speaking to the professionals, I made sure to say that I knew he would continue in the same academic stream he was in and that was good, as due to his anxiety levels now, he was certainly not ready at this time for other challenges. I truly believed this and agreed with their decision. But I took the plunge and asked if in the future they thought there may be a chance for him in a more academic intense program where there are more pressures? I feel bad as I did not want to sound like I was putting down the program he is in. It is excellent and where he needs to be, at least now. I added only that I think he is capable of  more, and I don’t want his anxiety holding him back. I am scared it is holding him back. Everyone reassured me they understood and knew where I was coming from. They were impressed I was willing to give a little push to him. I was glad, as pushing a little bit can yield great results.

I left the meeting in the end feeling both happy and angry with myself. I berated myself a little for not leaving well enough alone, but I needed to know what was holding Michael back, though deep down I already knew the answer. As a parent, we all want to do everything we can to ensure our child is in the best place they can be to learn, grow and develop. There is nothing wrong with asking questions, but sometimes we worry on how we will be perceived. The best results are gained when parents and professionals look honestly at where the child is and go from there. And as one of the staff told me, pushing your child and asking questions is your right as the parent. You want to make sure your child is where they are meant to be.

Exceptional Parents, do you worry about your Exceptional Child’s future? It is very normal. The most important thing to do though, is to always keep an open mind about where your child is now, and where they are headed. A lot can change, and remember , don’t try and fit your child into what you want for them. Aim for whatever helps them the most to develop to their fullest potential. I know in my case, Michael is in good hands with family and his school as we keep the lines of communication open. Until next time.

 

 

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How To Spot Your Child’s Meltdown Coming And How To Handle Yourself

The first part of this week was incredibly tough. Michael was being triggered by so many different things and at the most vulnerable time of the day for all of us-early evening. After a particularly tough night when he’d finally calmed down, I told him I was glad he was calm and that we would need to talk tomorrow afternoon about how he could handle future stressors better. He surprised me by not only asking for confirmation that I was not giving up on him changing, but also calmly and in detail explained to me what has been setting him off and why he gets carried away and needs help to redirect. To say I was impressed was an understatement. This is every parent’s dream, to have their child, no matter what their challenges, be able to articulate what their mistake was and what they needed to do to change. I was so proud of him for that and told him so.

This got me thinking about my part in Michael’s meltdowns. No, I am not blaming myself for his difficult in learning how to self-regulate. But, sometimes unintentionally I have been saying or doing things that are misconstrued as critical or negative. To someone who has the ability to regulate, they would merely be annoyed. To someone who is challenged in this area, their frustration would definitively escalate to the point of anger and even intense anger. I am learning that the tone of my voice, the words I choose and the context all can make or break a tense moment. Now, again by no means am I saying that the parent or adult causes the meltdown. But the lack of understanding can cause things to go better or badly very quickly.

What I have learned and am now still tweaking, is how I need to stay calm, collected and almost clinical when Michael starts to unravel in order to do my best to show him how to redirect himself.  This has been working, even on our toughest nights, as Michael is slowly starting to understand how he can control how little or big his anger is.

There are signs parents can spot that a meltdown is coming. There are slight differences, but for most kids it looks like this:

1) Talking or moving faster

2) Irritability that is not fading but increasing with each second

3) Crying or anxiety

4) Standing too close to you

5) Voice or sounds getting louder

What can a parent do when you see one or more of these signs?

1) Prompt them to breathe

2) Ask them what they need, you to be close or move away

3) Redirect them to a safe place (ideally have this place or places in mind before the meltdown)

4) Stay calm yourself by not screaming or reacting

5) Do not talk if meltdown progresses and if you need to one or two words like breathe, calm. Silence is usually preferable.

6) When you can, go somewhere to regroup yourself especially if you are angry or need to cry

Exceptional Parents, what do you do when your child has a meltdown and what have you done that has helped de-escalate the tantrum? If you’re not sure where to turn, there are great resources and articles out there. But really, the best predictor of how a meltdown will go is if you and your child have good self-regulating strategies, learn how to stay calm in a crisis, and if possible, are able to redirect thoughts away from negative or stressful events and towards positive ones. Take care of yourself so that you can be at your best, and then you’ll be your child’s ideal guide to learn about self-regulation. Until next time.

Why Mindful Parenting Rocks And How To Do It

So I have just finished reading this great book on ADHD called “Mindful Parenting for ADHD” by Mark Bertin, MD. It encompasses much of what I already know about ADHD and how it affects executive function and organization. It also talks about another subject that is super close to my haert- how practicing mindfulness can help you be a better and more effective parent of a child with a different brain. I truly believe being mindful and learning to be present, calm and focused, can help a parent with any child, but especially a child whose brain and body don’t work the way ours does, taking a moment to center ourselves can make all the difference in how we handle their stressful moments which eventually become ours.

At the end of each chapter are exercises which compliment the chapter and help parents plan out a home program. I am working my ways through these, because even though I currently have great resources to support Michael, this helps me on the parent and child front. One of my favorite chapters is the one on self-care and the importance of taking care of you first in order to better nurture your child. A lot of us exceptional parents know these things, but putting them into practice is hard. You can find so many good tools here that it is a truly worthwhile looking into.

When I really started understanding Michael better was when I started delving deeper into my own handling of anger and anxiety. Meditation and yoga as I’ve mentioned countless times before, showed me how to center myself when I was falling through space, and helped me see how scary it is when we don’t have access to the right tools to calm ourselves down. If we are a neuro typical adult it is scary. Imagine now if you are an exceptional child with a neuro diverse brain and way of looking at the world. Scary would not even begin to describe how fear, anxiety and anger would be experienced.

Meditation and mindfulness can be taught to a child or adult at any age. You can start with 5 or 10 minute meditation blocks and move on to 20 when ready. For kids you would talk about mindfulness different than for adults obviously, but as long as you teach them to stop, be in the moment no matter what they are feeling, and learn to breathe in and out slowly to calm their mind, they are on the right path. So many of our kids, whether they have autism, ADHD, learning challenges or other neurological or physical challenges feel misunderstood, overwhelmed and incapable of handling their emotions at times. As their parents and advocates, our best way to teach them the skills they need to learn is through learning them ourselves first. How do I handle my anger and anxiety? How do I organize my life? How do I simplify and break down a problem into smaller pieces so that it is easier to understand?

Exceptional Parents, do you parent mindfully? If not, don’t worry. It is never too late and you are never too old to learn. All it takes is learning to be present with yourself first and how you are feeling honestly. Once you learn to identify your emotions and how you deal with them, you can find many wonderful guided meditation practices online that teach you to focus on the present. Trust me this will be an invaluable tool to helping your anxious or angry child. If they see you calm and in control even when there are problems, they will begin to understand that they can do it too and adapt strategies that work for them and their brain. Until next time.

Self-Regulating And How You Can Make The Difference

All of us self-regulate whether we are aware of it or not. We move, we breathe, we use fidgets or visualization, we do yoga, meditate. These strategies help us handle our stress and anxieties. It is very important that we practice ways to de-stress ourselves and then look at what our children can do to calm themselves. When they are babies, there is nothing wrong with helping them with self-soothing, showing them what they need to do. As they get older, it’s important to slowly start moving away from helping and letting them figure out what works for themselves. I was a very hands on Mom, and still am to some degree, but I have been slowly learning to let go and remind Michael how he needs to self-regulate finding out what works for him. He is not a big yoga fun or likes meditating, but watching calming videos and taking a deep breath while squeezing the edge of a chair seems to be something that works.

It’s been tough though, reminding Michael what he can do. He will usually ask me to help him, and now that he is older I am redirecting him to find strategies on his own as he is old enough and capable enough to do this. He struggles with self-esteem and speaking up for himself. I am doing my best to remind him that he needs to learn to calm himself before he can understand what it is he needs to do to be happy and in balance. It is a learning curve, but I know with some great new tools he received, he will get there.

Having discussions with your children about thinking before you speak (Stop and Think), taking deep breaths and putting yourself in other people’s shoes, are great beginnings for starting to see what you need to change in your attitude to stress. As exceptional parents, we also need to make sure we are modeling using our strategies to diffuse or handle stress. This will help our children make more positive choices. And when we mess up, that’s ok. We need to say, “we’re all human and make mistakes. Mom/Dad learned what to do differently next time.”

Exceptional Parents, what are your regulating strategies? What hasn’t worked? It’s important to keep that in mind as you guide your child on their journey of self-control and so they see that making mistakes is ok as long as we learn from them and move forward in a different direction. 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.

Exceptional Tween Mood Swings-5 Tools To Survive Them And Thrive As An Exceptional Family

So it’s another late afternoon at my home and Michael is angry about something small that I said that sounds like it is a criticism of him, his way of doing things, or simply a “less try things differently” approach. I am getting better at going with the flow with Michael’s mood swings. There is the I like you Mom, I don’t mind being in the same room as you Mom. This lasts about ten minutes a day, to you’re ok, but don’t try and hug or touch me, give me a high five if you’re proud of me, to get away from me and trying to control my life as you want me to stop watching my videos now! Yep. And because he’s exceptional, the rebellion is quite over the top.  A book gets tossed across the room, a swear word (or words) are uttered, and repeatedly Michael will say things like I want to be with  my friends, stop being critical or the eye rolling. I almost laugh at that one. Yep. It’s all normal, relatively speaking.

So, back to the tween mood swings and how I survive them? They are quite similar to what my mother and father used back in the day, only tweaked for exceptional kids.  Here they are:

1) Make sure to keep your sense of humor: I know. Your exceptional tween is having the meltdown of a century, how  do you laugh or even begin to? Well, you may not laugh during or right after it, but later on you remember the tumultuous hormones that is puberty. You remember how confused you were as a neuro typical youngster, imagine your child. You also say that this is just a phase. Sooner or later they will outgrow it like they did toddler and preschool behavior. And then you pour yourself a cup of coffee or wine (depending on the time of day), and say to yourself, “this too shall pass.”

2) Put yourself in their shoes: This is similar to number 1, but also a little different. Remember not feeling like you knew who you were? Remember, feeling so alone and frustrated and hormonal? Well, your exceptional child has this and their different brain affecting their outlook on the world. In Michael’s case, ASD, ADHD, and Type 1 Diabetes. In your child’s case, whatever challenges they face. Be patient. Give them opportunities to try again. Don’t enable them or have them use their neuro diversity and challenges as an excuse, but make sure they know they can learn and grow from their behavioral mistakes.

3) Give them space to physically and mentally vent: This is a work in progress as their interests change, but it is important for all kids to have a space in the house to let loose. Physically vent means they can have places to scream, punch a pillow, jump on a trampoline, cry, or do whatever they need to do to release pent up emotions. Mentally vent, make sure they have a journal or place to draw or sketch how they feel. Make sure when they and you are calm, the two of you can sit down and talk together about what happened. It’s important you both learn from your mistakes.

4) They are communicating! Yes!: Again, a day ago when my tween was angry and yelling at me I would not have been enthusiastically preaching this, but afterwards when he calmed down and regrouped, I realized that a meltdown, an outburst, or any display of emotion means that they are authentically communicating their needs to you and you know what they need to work on (and you too). Celebrate this and move forward with your team. Your child is telling you how they feel!

5) Self-Care: I’ve said this time and time again and will continue to do so, but only when parents are taking care of their needs (physical, mental, spiritual), can they parent from their soul and see the child as a whole. If you are tired, frustrated, depleted, you will not be strong enough to help your child through any crises. Self-care does not have to be fancy. Taking time to curl up and watch a favorite tv show, read a good book, spend time with your partner and friends, take a bath or a walk and exercise, are all important to overall mental well-being. I can’t emphasize enough how much guided meditations help too. For me, they saved my life and showed me how to remain in the moment with Michael. When I have forgotten, I would immediately think about breathing and refocusing my energy. I also would ask myself, when was the last time I had “me” time?

Exceptional Parents, how do you survive the tough times? We all have tricks of the trade, as they say. As long as they speak to what works for you as a parent and individual, you are on the right track. Until next time.

 

Exceptional Handling of Life’s Challenges-How My Exceptional Son And I Learn From Eachother

“Mommy, you don’t have to call the nurse to tell her to do my lunchtime injection. The needle on my pen is too tight. Here, let me replace it and the NPH pen will work.”

These were the words that came out of Michael’s mouth on Tuesday morning when we were on our usual race against the clock to do his two diabetes injections, so he does not need to do a lunchtime injection, have him eat his breakfast, get dressed and make the bus. He’d gotten a later start that morning and was his usual talkative self IN SPITE of the fact that we had about ten less minutes than usual. I, remaining calm on the outside, was a little stressed on the inside, and when stressed on the inside, my technical dexterity is the first thing to go. Hence, me thinking this injection pen had malfunctioned when it had not. It had happened legitimately in the past, so I wasn’t totally crazy. Still, something told me to trust him, oh yeah, it was the voice that said, Michael is cool with handling his diabetes, way cooler than you. You worry a lot about this and tense up. Well, as you can imagine I was right to listen to that voice. Michael fixed the pen, I gave him his two injections as usual, and away we went with the morning. What did this incident teach me? I need to be able to tune into Michael’s strong areas and grow stronger in my weaker areas.

Diabetes is something I have come to expect is part of Michael’s and our life. I kind of had no choice, but I don’t like it. Not one bit. I also am someone who is a tad squeamish about blood, needles, (giving needles and seeing them given), and argh, there is all that number crunching when calculating carbs at every meal. As a word person, numbers is SO not my thing. 🙂 This is my challenge as a parent and individual, and though I have risen to it, it has been tough. Michael, on the other hand, has excelled in handling his diabetes. It has been implementing new ways to handle emotions, deal with ADHD and anxiety that have been his more challenging areas. He has often turned to me for support with that part of his life, and here I can advise him. I have seen tremendous improvements in how he handles his emotions and responses to them. I’d like to think just like him watching him calmly take charge of diabetes management, he can see me calmly taking charge of showing him how to manage his emotional regulation. He has often asked me, “Help me Mommy. What do I do?” Over time, we have found ways to help him manage his emotions. There is still a lot of tweaking involved, on his and my part, but I can see him listening, really listening to what I have to say and following through with it. I have done the same thing when he has taken the wheel and showed his responsibility towards managing diabetes. His next exciting venture-learning how to do his own injections. As he has taken charge of controlling aggression and outbursts, Dad and I have told him that we will show him how to do his own injections very soon.  All he needs to do is demonstrate the same calm, collected behavior on a regular basis. Then, we know he will be ready.

Exceptional Parents, what have you learned from your Exceptional Child and what have they learned from you? Remember, you are both constantly in a teaching/learning mode together. As you begin to pay attention, you’ll see your child’s life lessons become yours and vice versa. It’s important to help support each other and overcome personal weaknesses as well as celebrating individual strengths. This will strengthen your child’s confidence and yours. 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! 

 

 

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!