Category: positive behavior

Summer Camp, Independence and How My Exceptional Son Is Coming Into His Own

This has truly been a summer of growth for Michael, both in terms of his physical growth, puberty and his emotional maturity with the outside world, and even with us.  Michael is not only managing his diabetes, he is doing his own injections and getting it done properly for the most part. Michael is not only responsible to be left alone at home for longer periods of time, but he enjoys that we trust him and behaves in a calm way. And finally, Michael is attending summer camp this year without a shadow and doing extremely well. It’s been amazing to witness his growth in these areas, and though he is struggling emotionally in others, I keep reminding myself of his potential and showing him what he is capable of when he believes in himself and in his abilities.

All our kids have their strengths. As parents, it’s important, including when they are struggling in some areas of their life, to look for the areas they are excelling in. It is also important we remind them of their successes in said areas and how proud we are of them. A lot of exceptional kids with anxiety don’t have a lot of confidence in themselves. The lack of confidence does not only come out in crying, panic attacks, but sometimes as rudeness or anger. They feel they have to control everything, and if one thing goes out of whack, their world goes out of whack for a time being. If we as parents show them their strengths and praise them for it acknowledging how far they’ve come, this will help them go a long way towards learning to love themselves.

Michael, being a Jekyl and Hide Kid, is one way at home and one way in society. He does very well in society, managing his emotions well, but at home will unleash in anger and frustration or anxiety. My heart breaks for him, as I know he is still developing the tools to cope with his emotions while handling puberty in a brain that is not mainstream and with Type 1 Diabetes. He does a great job most of the time, and when he messes up, it’s getting him to learn from the experience and move forward. What has impressed me, is that even when he loses himself in anger or frustration momentarily, he is able to circle back and see where he went wrong. He is learning his triggers, both what over excites and over frustrates him, and he is learning how his health affects his overall attitude at home and in society.

I for one am just trying to give him as much control as possible in decision making, and be there if he needs me to steer him in a better direction. But when I see him out in the world, I see a calm, steady young man who is learning who he is and what he wants. This gives me great hope that he will master this quality at home, and see that he can handle the emotional ups and downs of life without pushing things down. Of course, there are still boundaries. That is important for all children in order to grow in a healthy manner.

Exceptional Parents, what moments of pride do you have when you look at your Exceptional Children? Just remember, remind them of their successes. Put it on a sheet of paper if necessary. When it is writing, as they say it is a permanent reminder of where they are and where they are going. Until next time.

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

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

“Mom, I want to spend time with you.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Balancing Positive Parenting With Behavioral Parenting-How Combining The Two Can Help Your Exceptional Child Succeed

Oh how difficult it is to be a parent of any child. An Exceptional Child though, takes a different kind of mindset. Michael has become very patient with me over the years as I have adjusted my style of parenting to meet his needs as well as show him the appropriate boundaries kids and parents must have. I have found that the way to do this, is to have a balanced parenting approach. What has worked for me as an Exceptional Mom, has been to use both behavioral and positive parenting approaches, depending what situation I am parenting in and what the problem is. Now that Michael is in puberty and acting out a lot, I have leaned A LOT on behavioral parenting approaches and have used things like reward points, direct consequences for actions and talking out the why’s and how’s of conducting oneself in society. This has been helping a lot, but on its own, is not the total solution.

Michael has still benefited from a lot of the positive parenting solutions I used before when he was younger, that is, giving him choices and leeway whenever possible, reminding him of the importance of family relationships and how much Dad and I want to be with him, and prioritizing family time activities when he is pushing away from us developmentally. Now there are some days when I will admit that positive parenting strategies have not been at the top of my favorite list, as Michael has been rude, lashed out, or I am tired. But when it all come down to it, I have seen that kids need balance just as much as us grownups do. Have you ever been so intense with your eating and exercising regime and then you have one night off and indulge? Perfectly normal. It makes a balance. Likewise, if you are constantly doing things with your children or partner, alone time for a few days feels real good. Just as when you are alone for too long, you need time to connect with family and friends. Our Exceptional Children need this balanced approach to their time with us at ALL AGES even when they seem to be pushing you away.

Michael is a non-stop talker when he is with Dad or I, though he very clearly puts his boundaries up when he wants alone time in his room or with friends. Yet today when I got back from a night out with a good friend, Michael quickly said good night to me and seeing Dad’s face  I asked how the night went? Dad said good, but that Michael is high maintenance. Yes, he is. But that goes for all our children. They need us to be there for them, but stay away. They need to know they can come to us with problems and push us away when they feel capable of coping. And how do they learn to do this? They learn by parents trusting their own gut on what combination of strategies work best to raise their child or children.

Parents also need a strong support team of therapists and like minded other parents behind them offering tips, tricks and ideas for what worked and didn’t work for them and their child. In the end, don’t give up. Tune in to what your child needs. There is not ONE fix to repair the relationship and communication challenges with your child. Nor is there a necessity to say that my child is troubled because he is not communicating in the way other kids are. Maybe your child needs extra time to express themselves. Maybe communicating via technology is easier. Whatever the case, tune into what seems to work for a better relationship with your child and family. You will most likely hit the nail on the head if you remember that often more than one approach will make things easier. 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 you personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

 

 

Navigating Tween Rebellion, Puberty And Anxiety Thrown In the Mix- How This Exceptional Mom Survives

Humor. The other day I was talking to a friend and she expressed her admiration for me and Dad and how we held our relationship together after the stress of exceptional parenting and other life challenges. I thanked her, but told her my secret to holding it all together was one thing, humor. Laugh your head off at the little things  you do, your partner does, and your kid or kids do. And I can tell you there will be lots to laugh at, even when you have your tough parenting days, and we all know when those happen that we are in the midst of them.

Lately, Michael’s rapidly intensifying teenage hood combined with anxiety, ASD rigidities, ADHD hyperactivity and food management due to his diabetes, has kind of left me feeling, well, a little on edge and shell shocked shall we say. Even my meditation has not been the same and that is not good. “And it’s not even happening to me,” as an amazing exceptional Mom and special needs advocate once said, while telling of her own experience in handling her son’s anxiety and other health issues. I always feel humbled remembering those words. And not because I don’t have trials and tribulations as Michael’s Mom and Dad as his Dad, but because as hard as it is for us, it is even harder for him. He is living it. He is surviving it. And every time we fail ourselves we fail him. This does not mean that a bad night here or there obliterates all the good a parent does for their child. If that were that case, I would have failed Michael A LONG time ago. I have now learned to breathe, see my mistakes, take responsibility, and then teach Michael that he needs to do the same thing. It’s not easy. It’s also not easy to learn to laugh after a tough experience, but this is  the way to survival for you and your Exceptional Child. Humor goes a long way.

Without divulging too much of Michael’s privacy, let’s just say that Michael has learned recently about his sexuality and how good it feels to be in tune with a certain part of his body. This is creating all kinds of havoc with his sleep and morning routine. No jokes please. I know it is funny, and I try to laugh in the midst of the fighting to get up and get ready or go to sleep on time, but it is not. While it is normal to be experiencing puberty in this way, due to Michael’s understanding of his body (or different way of understanding) and still following his usual routine, we’ve run into some snags. With the help of our team and me looking truthfully at what is going on and not laughing or screaming, we are making inroads to understanding each other and coming to a consensus. Every time I think about it, “I thought puberty would hit at 13. I thought I had two more years to just handle his special needs stuff and diabetes, now this,” I remember he is handling it all. Laugh at the little things Joanne. And the bigger things that are troubling him and yourself, get help from your team. Ask your Mom friends. Ask co-workers who’ve lived through and survived their kids’ puberty, and see the light at the end of the tunnel for Michael and you. It is a challenging time for everyone.

Exceptional Parents, where are you on your Exceptional Child’s developmental stage? Are you in babyhood, childhood or venturing into adolescence ? How do you survive the stages and stay sane for your own sake, your child’s, and the rest of your family’s? I can tell you that humor will and should be at the top of your list to handling any kind of stress. It will help you from taking yourself and your emotions too seriously. On another note though, self-care in the form of time alone, exercise and meditation and/or prayer, can help with your spiritual balance too. Finally, pursuing a hobby or passion outside of being someone’s partner, mother or family member, will do so much for your soul and self-esteem that nothing else will quite match it. In the end, taking care of the important things in yours and your child’s life will make all the difference. 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! 

 

Noticing And Rewarding The Positive Moments Of Your Exceptional Child

Michael amazes me. I have said this before, but now more than ever, I see his future potential when I see the mature moments he is capable of, despite the challenges. This is something I hold on to, for when things are tough, they are tough. He has been doing so well out in public at doctor’s appointments in particular. There is a new maturity in how he handles medical information about his diabetes, his eye health and his mental health. He admits his struggles with controlling his temper, and is scared about how he loses control. Dad and I are constantly trying to help him tweak new strategies to get calm and stay that way. I am also learning how to reward the positive moments. This means verbally and with a points system where he earns a certain amount of points for a predetermined prize. Praise and time spent going places with us is one of his favorite rewards.

I have to admit that I sometimes forget about how important it is to acknowledge the positive moments. I am trying though. I truly believe that all kids want to do good, act appropriately and control their impulses. Some of them are wired differently though, so impulse and self-control are challenging.When parents don’t have the right tools to handle kids with these issues (or have those issues themselves), this can spell disaster for self-regulation in these kids. The good news is that children can be taught how to control impulses and self-regulate, even exceptional kids. It just takes A LONG time and  A LOT of patience on the part of families. But we can’t give up on them. It is especially important that when we see they are truly connecting with positive parenting changes we are putting in, tough love initiatives, and wanting to be with us even if they are the surly teenager at other times, we are certainly doing something right.

So what things should a parent watch for to reward? Here are some:

1) Your child does things without being asked: This is important as a lot of oppositional kids need to be told over and over what to do.

2) Your child wants to be with you: A lot of challenging kids will not want to listen to parents or be with them. If this changes and they want time with you, success is happening.

3) Your child is polite and respectful- manners, talking calmly and being sympathetic to you: This is awesome if they are doing this. Most challenging kids want to get a rise out of you by doing negative things. If they are instead happy to get attention by positive things it is all the better.

Exceptional Parents, how do you reward positive behavior in a challenging child? Do you sometimes forget to acknowledge it? If so, how about charting positive behavior like you do negative? This could be a great way to remind yourself (and your child) of all the time they do well and make good choices. It will help them and you not lose faith about a positive future. Until next time.

Are the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior?  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!