Category: personal growth

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! 

 

Advertisements

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! 

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! 

 

 

Giving Space And Making Time For One Another In Exceptional Relationships- How To Strike The Best Balance 5 Tips

One thing being an Exceptional Parent has taught me is how tough it can be to balance that with being a wife and partner. Michael has opened up my eyes (and Dad’s) to so many amazing things that parents often take for granted that their children can do. Michael amazed us (and continues to amaze us) with all his talents and all he could do. However, there are those moments when things become challenging to manage as a parent, individual and in a couple, when so much of your energy is spent helping and advocating for your Exceptional Child. I have learned much in our twelve year journey as parents, and nine year journey as Exceptional Parents. Mainly it has been how to ride through the hard moments of parenting, celebrate the easy ones, and ask for help as individuals and as a couple when we have needed it. Dad and I seem to be coming through ok on the other side, though we have had LOTS of growing and lots more to do.

On that note, I have come up with some observations and steps that we have followed to keep our relationship strong and get stronger in the challenging times, so that we could be the best kind of people for ourselves, each other and Michael. Here are some life tips that I am living through and which continue to help me in my couple journey. This is still a learning process for Dad and I.

  1. Write down what is bugging you and show it without guilt to your partner.
  2. Make a schedule where each of you has alone time, family/friend time and couple time.
  3. Make exercise and healthy eating a top priority to be at your best.
  4. Laugh together over the little things.
  5. Seek outside help if none of the above are working

This tips are really common sense, but so many times we all forgot to use our heads when living day to day life that I like the idea of having them on paper in front of me as a reminder for how I want to live my own life in balance. On the tough days, I now commend myself that I have made it through them and learn from my mistakes. On the successful days, I celebrate in little ways my victories. I do this now (or at least try to most of the time), in couple form too. It’s important to support each other, admit when there is anger, and grow from it. This is the only way to move forward and grow together.

Exceptional Parents, what are your tips for prioritizing your personal relationship? How have you learned to re-connect with your partner? Remember, admitting mistakes is never easy, but it’s ok as we all make them. Celebrate the little victories as a couple as you do individual and parenting victories. Be honest with each other and supportive. Give each other space and time.  And remember that your child is evidence of the love you have for each other and can continue to have when you prioritize your couple needs along with other challenges you face. 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! 

 

Food Dilemmnas and Rebellion- Navigating Type 1 Diabetes And ASD Rigidities and Surviving It

Ah rebellion. It is just grand, said not ONE Mom, never mind a Mom of an Exceptional Child that already has enough stuff to deal with. Still, it makes me feel good in one way. As Dad commented earlier this evening when Michael was talking pretty much twenty minutes straight without coming up for air and making intense eye contact with us, “remember when we worried he wouldn’t talk?” I almost laughed. Indeed I do. If you told me when he was a toddler and had been diagnosed with autism that  I’d have to deal with regular puberty things like pushing limits, refusing to go to bed early, swearing, and even being silly with friends, I’d have laughed and said, go ahead, PLEASE give me those normal neuro-typical problems. And yet, here we are. My Exceptional Son is not so exceptional when it comes to puberty. In fact, he is so neuro typical here it is DRIVING ME CRAZY. And just to make things interesting and keep Dad and I on our toes, he has particular food restrictions due to his diabetes (hard for him and us and yet MORE more for teenage rebellion) and with his ASD and ADHD those quirks come out in puberty while he is trying to be a grownup. Oh boy. What can I say? Running for the hills is usually a race for Michael and I lately. Which of us will get there first running from the other, he or I? Yet, somehow with all the craziness, we always do run back to each other. I love him too much to not do that, and I think he loves me or tolerates me, pretty much what any tween/teen boy would feel towards his mother at this age of 12, not a baby and not a teen, a tween. It’s not easy, but whenever I catch myself feeling pity for either of us I remind myself it’s all relative. I also remind myself to learn from the challenging times, mine and Michael’s, as I tell Michael to do.

Sometimes when I want to indulge in a pity party I do that too. I allow Michael that luxury as well. I tell him, it’s ok to be angry or sad. Feel it. Own it. Use strategies to move away from it. Then move on. I follow the same theory myself, and do my best to hold myself to this promise. It’s not always easy. That’s when I call in the Mommy brigade, my friends in the same circumstances who share  in my stress over theirs and their children’s challenges, yet also remind me to celebrate the victories. And there are many victories of exceptional families that help us survive.

Today Michael was supposed to have a tennis lesson. It got postponed due to unforseen circumstances. He still remembered to bring home his shoes from school WITHOUT reminders. The other day going to a new place at school he navigated there on Google Maps to know where he was going, a pastime that is pleasurable for him and reduces his anxiety. This again was all on his part, no reminders. And countless times lately I have been witnessing him using strategies instead of giving into his anger,- deep breathing, using fidget toys.  Finally, he has openly talked about his struggles in puberty with me, still shares his day with me, and likes getting the occasional hug or kiss, or tolerates it. For this for now, I am grateful. 🙂 These are things I hold on to when the day or night is tough. These are things I remember when he is asleep at night, however good or bad the day has gone. These are things I see will help him navigate the world and survive and thrive when I am no longer here to advocate for him. Finally, these are things that tell me I need to fine tune my own coping mechanisms and let go over what I cannot control and control what I can. I can show my son I believe in him and want him to learn and do better. I can show my son I will hold him to a great future. And I can show my son that faults and all, I love him as much as I do me, and everyone else in the family. After all, we are have our issues to work on. What’s important is to learn and grow from the tough times so we can get ready for a brighter future all around.

Exceptional Parents, how do you survive your Exceptional Child’s quirks? How do they survive yours? Yes, you have quirks too and sometimes unintentionally make things more stressful for you and them by over reacting or under reacting. You are a human being and you will mess up just like them. Where’s the lesson? It is in learning from your mistakes, showing up the next time to do better as an individual and parent, and making sure you set a positive example for your child to follow at the same time. 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 Eureka Moment When Your Exceptional Child Connects Their Own Behaviors and Consequences

It has been a long hard two years. I look at how far our family has come in understanding anger-Michael’s anger and our own. This goes beyond behavior and reward charts. This means really understanding where anger is coming from, what is being triggered, what is in and out of our control, and how to control it. Michael by far I am the most proud of, as he is the child and he has a lot more hurdles to overcoming anger than any of the adults around him. This week, even with some tough days, I had the pleasure of seeing and hearing Michael make the connections of what his behavior (good and bad) got him. When he had positive moments, I celebrated with them. When he had negative moments, my heart broke for him, yet I was happy to hear him say, “I lost out on that fun activity because of my behavior. I have to learn to control my anger.” Yes! This may not sound like much, but a child who is extremely impulsive and struggles with self-esteem and hyperactivity, realizing he can have control over his actions, even if it is not always easy, is huge. At least for me it was.

Things that Michael has started doing is using fidget toys again to keep his hands busy so they are not doing anything inappropriate like squeezing or touching without permission. Michael has also started using his words to express how he is feeling. For example, he will now tell us that he wants privacy and no reminders about getting up in the morning. He sees the time on his alarm clock and will get up and in the kitchen at an agreed upon time. The same goes for his bath or shower time. We have discussed his schedule and he knows what he has to do. If he gets a late start, he has to hurry through, but get the important things done. He has learned that good self-regulation begins with learning how to use tools to calm ourselves down and having medication that helps make this possible.

I have also learned what words or phrases set him off and make it harder for him to calm down. He is learning how to not panic if Dad or I forget and in our anger use trigger words. After all, he will sometimes use words that trigger us, and Dad and I have to use the same tools to self-regulate and set a good example. When we do not, we need to come clean, apologize, and move forward. After all, everyone out there has trigger words. A civilized society exists when people learn to communicate beyond their initial anger impulses. There is a lot of discussion, clarity and consistency now in how Dad and I parent, how we explain things to Michael, and how he communicates to us as well. It has made an amazing difference and I finally see a light at the end of our behavioral tunnel, so to speak.

Exceptional Parents, are you struggling with challenging behavior from your Exceptional Child now? Whatever form it takes, remember first calm down and observe your child. See what they are doing and why. What is the root cause of their behavior? Are they frustrated? Do they need attention? Are they overwhelmed and lack impulse control? Chart it-what happens before the behavior, how they react, and what happens including what you do. From there, you can work to teach them proper ways to self-regulate and learn some tips yourself about keeping calm in the storm. 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.

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. 

Being The Harbor For Your Exceptional Child

How many times have most parents thought what the heck have I gotten myself into in becoming a parent? I can tell you, I have thought this SO many times as an exceptional parent. I love my son more than anything in the universe and could not imagine life without him, but oh, to have the experience I have now in parenting him years ago. And even now, there are times I think, where do I go from here? Puberty, multiple diagnoses, and just general testing of boundaries, makes exceptional parenting a  minefield for most parents. But what I have learned in the hard moments is to trust in my parenting gut when I know and do not know what to do. When I know it, I do it. Easy enough. When I am unsure and on new ground, I meditate and calm my inner mind. Next I ask God and the Universe for guidance. I ask to be directed to the right people and resources to help Michael. I am never let down. Within days, my path is cleared and I have new tools. My confidence builds and I move forward again.

Michael has taught (and continues to) teach me SO much about my patience, anger, strengths and limitations. I have been broken down and rebuilt as a Mom, woman and human being. He has humbled me to work on my frailties while helping him work on his. I have had my eyes opened when I have misinterpreted what he is feeling. I realize that no parent can know any child one hundred percent, whether they have special needs or not.  And I have also learned how to make the tough choices. How to do things he does not like. How to teach him to cope with stress. This is a daily struggle for both of us. How to navigate my marriage with an exceptional child in puberty, how to navigate and practice self-care with an exceptional child in puberty, and most importantly, how to admit when I need a shoulder to cry on-family, friend, deity or all of the above. I do not hesitate now, even with all I’ve learned, to say  “I’ve had it. I need help. I need a break.”

Every parent has to learn to do this. Every parent has to learn to teach their child to do this. Every parent needs to know when they need to switch on or off. If you do not know, talk to someone about it. If family or friends don’t understand, seek professional help. The sooner you are in good shape, the sooner you can help your child reset and understand them better. In the meantime, keep these tips in mind to be your child’s safe harbor:

  1. Sleep Enough
  2. Eat Enough
  3. Laugh Enough
  4. Share Enough
  5. See Your Child As Struggling In Themselves, Even In Their Darkest Moments With You.

Exceptional Parents, are you often your Exceptional Child’s safe harbor? If you feel that lately you are the one needing that harbor, it is ok. Remember, even when you feel you can’t go on, you will find a way to do so. You are your child’s safe harbor. Keep your own lights on and your vehicle ready to help, and you will be able to see your child through any challenge. 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

Recognizing Deliberate and Uncontrollable Behavior In Your Exceptional Child

 

The last month has been a little bit of a whirlwind for Michael and I. We have both been trying to wrap our heads around the changes he is going through- Michael asking for help, and me turning to our team, great articles, and mostly to God as well as doing a lot of inner contemplation of my feelings as a Mom, particularly as Michael’s Mom and how I could do this exceptional Mom thing better.

“Is the new medication going to help me Mommy?”

This was Michael’s intelligent and heartbreaking question to me this morning. We have tried a few new medications to help him control his severe anxiety and phobias, and all have ended badly. Michael’s brain chemistry is not compatible with them. This is a true of a lot of kids who have ASD and other mental health challenges. Of course, every person is different so that makes it difficult to find the right medication/therapy formula too. But I felt so bad. So bad that as his Mom, I could not find the miracle solution to help my little boy as I did when he was younger, before puberty and diabetes hit and changed his body so completely.

“I hope so honey. Remember, we won’t know until we try it.”

I decided that in spite of a very rough week with Michael due to the side effects of yet another medication gone bad, I needed to remind myself to praise the moments when he was calm, thoughtful, and handling things beautifully. I needed to see when he was in control, and when he was not. A couple of times this week I forgot this message and simply got angry myself. It did not go well for either of us. Michael’s Educator reminded me he is not well at the moment. He needs the right formula to heal, and until we find it, we need to cut him some emotional slack. It does not mean allowing aggression or abuse, but supporting him in finding positive tools to calm himself and modeling those tools myself.

I have had some moments this week I have regretted as a Mom. I yelled and was less patient than I wanted to be. I was feeling sorry for myself which is understandable. Raising an exceptional child is a 24 hour a day job. But Michael is the one living it. Michael is the one that wants to be like everyone else and can’t. This is another thing he says that breaks my heart in a million pieces. But then come the moments when he gets it and I think, it will be ok. We will be ok. He is back to mapping out areas to go, watching cooking shows, and talking to friends on the phone. These were all things with OCD that flew out the window this summer with his fear. He is also more observant, savvy and catches on quickly to so many things. He is so smart when he chooses to focus. But then there are the times that he can’t stop himself from being distracted. He can’t turn off. I get so worried and angry, worried because his blood sugar has been going up due to the medications he is on, as well I am sure as stress and lack of exercise during the week as we both get in later.

I get so angry that I can’t fix this. I can’t make it better. Then I remember, I am separate from Michael and he from me. I love him and he loves me, but although I can support and show him the right path to take, I cannot make him take it. It is so frustrating, and I hope in time we can find the right balance for him. Until then, all I can do is see what is in his control and what is not. What is in his control I am encouraging him to take charge of. What is not in his control Dad and I are trying to help him with. Here is where the patience comes in to not take the hard times personally. I tend to do this. What am I doing wrong as a Mom? I used to know him. I used to be able to reach him. Now I have this argumentative, anxious stressed child that I don’t always have the answers for. I know that is not realistic. No mother can know her child one hundred percent. We’v all got to be patient, not take each other personally, and go from there. That is what I have started doing as a Mom

Exceptional Parents, are you able to see what your Exceptional Child can and cannot control concerning their behavior? Once you see the pattern, you’ll know more how to help them handle it and learn ways to handle your own guilt. It is not your fault. You are separate from your child and need to know that you and they are responsible for your own emotions always. Until next time.

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.