Category: positive strategies

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! 

 

 

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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! 

 

The Many Sides Of Your Exceptional Child- How To Handle Their Mood Swings

One minute Michael is my little boy for the briefest of seconds, then he morphs into “tween man,” as I like to call him. But even with this, there are still many sides of Michael that I see every day, and many things he is teaching me about me and life itself. It has been in navigating these changes, that I have learned how important it is for parents to be adaptable, to never stop learning, and to bend the old rules sometimes in favor of new rules. No, I am not saying to give into your child to avoid a meltdown. All parents have tried this and usually not had success in the end anyway. What I am saying is that your child, whatever their age, will demonstrate many sides of their character to you in a given day. As their parent, you need to be ready to handle all those sides. I know. It’s not always fun or easy, but that’s life and you will be teaching them a valuable skill.

What sides am I talking about? Well, first there’s the side of dependence where they are super clingy and want you to do things for them. This comes at any age when they ask you to pick up after them, prepare their clothes, pack their school bag. You slowly have to teach them independence and how to handle their own things. Then there is the rebellion stage where they will do things wrong on purpose just not to do them the way you do. It’s kind of like the two year old “I’m the boss of me” stage. You’ve also got to find ways to ride this one out picking your battles as long as they don’t affect safety, and work your way out to your child learning independence and listening to you as the adult in charge who makes the rules. Finally, there is the questioning if they are loved  and wanted stage, where they need reassurance from you that they are special. Sometimes they ask this of friends too. It is important you remind them that love of those around them matters, but that if they love themselves and know their own mind, it matters that much more.

If you are an Exceptional Parent, you must navigate all these stages while usually using reward charts, anger charts, as well as measuring the pros and cons of other behavior programs as well as medication changes. This means you are doing your well rounded job of parenting. It is all worth it in the end, as you will teach your child how to advocate for themselves and be truthful to all their challenging sides.

Exceptional Parents, how many sides does your Exceptional Child possess? It probably depends on the day. After all, some days are easier than others as far as stress and growing up are concerned. The most important thing is for you to remain calm as a parent, not take offence to what comes out of their mouth (they are only kids after all and testing is part of the game), and learn to show and exhibit patience and a firm hand so that they know where they stand with you and in the world. 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

Why Praise Is As Important As Therapy For Your Exceptional Child’s Behavior Success

I have been underestimating the value of praise lately for Michael. It’s not that he has not been doing great things at home as he has out in the world. It’s just that there have been more challenging things happening at home to distract me from his good moments. Throw in some Mommy self-pity during these challenging times, and we have had a vicious circle of him not even trying some days to be at his best. That fortunately has started changing this week. I’d like to say that it was me with all my Exceptional Mom love that made it happen. But no it was Michael who reminded me, as he often does, about what is truly important and/or missing. He was dilly dallying in bed the other morning stalling to get up. He had just had a great dream he said, and he wanted to continue thinking about it. He knew if he got up, he’d have to start getting ready for the day. I told him he needed to be out the door soon for day camp, and he had to move quickly or we’d be late. I was getting annoyed as it had been getting harder and harder for Michael to get to camp on time. The thing is he loves this camp, but is tired in the morning. I’m not sure if it is the medication he is on or the diabetes or both. We are still trying to figure that out . But  I spoke in an annoyed and irritated voice which did not help matters. Michael responded with a sigh and irritation of his own;

“You know Mommy, I’m doing my best. I’m giving it my effort, just like they are teaching me at camp. ”

A tiny part of my brain digested this. Yes, at camp they give the kids beads for positive behavior. The kids then put these beads on a friendship bracelet. Each time a bead is given, they sing a song. Michael has gotten MANY beads for respect, good listening, kindness to others, and giving it his best no matter how hard. I heard him, but my mouth did not follow what my brain wanted me to say. What came out instead was;

“I know you want to continue your dream, but it’s time to get up. People will get upset if you are late everyday. The real world does not work like that!”

Michael sighed and got out of bed. In the end, we arrived right on time, not ten or fifteen minutes late as what had happened in the past. Why did I respond like this even though my brain knew better? It’s called Mommy exhaustion where you get to a point that you are blinded to seeing anything positive. Most of our kids do at least some positive things every day. It’s important as parents that we note the times they do this, and file it away for future when we are frazzled. This way we can tap into those positive things when we need to.

After a pretty good departure at camp yesterday, I also started remembering Michael the night before showing me with pride his beads on his friendship bracelet. I also remember him talking about how he tests his blood sugar at camp to make sure he really needs to take extra carbs at certain times or not. I also recalled how when we go to the park after dinner, Michael makes sure he has his blood testing kit and a water bottle so he can make sure he is feeling good. I let him walk into the park by himself and supervise from a long way off. He behaves so maturely with the other kids, waits his turn, and loves this independence. How could I have forgotten these milestones that are being performed in the middle of grappling with some serious phobias and anxieties lately? He is also making a bigger effort to control his aggression, both physical and emotional. He is slowly learning to use the strategies for this. He is also motivated to do the exercises his Educator gave him and do them properly. He is trying really hard, and I had forgotten that.

So this morning when he woke up, the first thing I did after saying good morning, was to praise him for his beads at camp and his diabetes management. I was rewarded with a cute shy smile and he said;

“Really? You’re proud of me? Thank you Mommy.”

My heart both filled with love and sadness. I had somehow given him the impression that I was not proud. I started to realize that lately I have been sounding sort of shrill and bossy. I have been hearing my own voice and inside my head saying, “Yeesh Joanne, you sound annoying.” But I could not help it. I did not know why until last night. That is when I did some thinking and realized my tiredness combined with extra challenges made me focus so much on the difficulties he is having that I forgot about the positives he is doing. I vowed with all the challenges Michael is and will be facing in the future, I have to remember every day to find something positive about what he has done or who he is. Even on the really bad days, there have been moments of light and beauty. Our Exceptional Kids struggle a lot and have a hard time putting it all together. That’s where as Exceptional Parents, we are called to be that much more patient, calm, and be the anchor they can safely hold on to when the sea is stormy.

It’s also ok if we lose it as parents sometimes. We can use it as teachable moments, as I do with Michael. Your child may even surprise you with some positive words as I have been receiving lately. Also, we as parents have to see our successful moments and not just the difficulties. I have learned that as well.

Exceptional Parents, do you remember to praise your child even during the times it is not always obvious to do so? If not, remember it is never too late to start. Praise should go hand in hand with good therapeutic practices. Cherish the good times, and with effort on both your ends, the good times will hopefully multiply in the future. Until next time.

 

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there before realizing the gift of who my son is.  For more information about me and my journey, check out my website :www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com  as well as my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks. 

 

 

 

How A Day That Breaks You Can Make You-Learning From Your Exceptional Mom Mistakes And Getting Stronger

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I’ve learned long ago to ask myself the age old Oprah question, “what can I learn from what just happened?” particularly when I’ve reacted in a less positive light than I would have liked. The other evening  Michael and I had a rough time. There was anger and misunderstanding on both sides, and lots of self-pity, mainly on mine. I was not Buddha Mom or anything close to it. I was “feeling sorry that I had to deal with yet another obstacle with her challenging kid Mom” and I resented the hell out of him. He had enough things that were hard for him, why add more? Why, ’cause my kid is a tween and into arguing about everything and taking everything personally. It’s also due to his anxiety. Everything I said sounded angry to him, he was either verbally aggressive or insulting, and I was tired still knowing there was another five hours to go until bedtime. Would I survive?  I knew I would, but it was a hard night and I was not proud that I had yelled and ended up storming out of the room.

However, after asking myself what I could learn from this, I realized there was the gem. I had to learn to control MY anger as well as teach Michael to control his. You see, until recently I thought I had kicked anger to the curb five years ago. Well, I had for awhile, but now instead of turning my anger and frustration inward and burning out, it is going WAY outward at my kid. Like most women who’ve experienced depression and anxiety, I never want to go back to that dark hole again, so fear has made me act on the offensive not to internalize and deal with the feelings inside or outside. This is not good. I end up also yelling or slamming doors  which is not a good way to handle anger. In the last few days, I have been reading up on various ways to handle anger in a positive way. Some I already do most of the time and know of them from Michael’s Educator. But it was great to have a refresher course all the same. So, for all those Exceptional Moms kicking themselves for yelling and losing their own self-control, here are some basic ways to reign yourselves in:

1) Breathe and count to 5: In the time it takes you to do this, you will think of a far better response to your child’s outburst.

2) Make sure to exercise: Exercise will give you lots of energy and recharge you so you can face more stress than someone who does not exercise.

3) Meditate for twenty minutes a day: This one I have always done, and it helps A LOT. At the very least, you can recognize when you become “crazy Mom” as I do and file it away for later as a NOT TO DO.

4) Practice gratitude: You do the practicing when NOT angry of course, so when self-pity threatens to come in during an angry moment, you can count the blessings you do have. We all have them and remember, it’s always darkest before dawn.

5) Rest and be gentle with yourself: I always lose my top the most when I am not sleeping enough or not having enough “me time”. Go to bed early, curl up with that book or movie, or indulge in a bubble bath or a coffee on a terrace. Your body and mind will thank you.

Exceptional Parents, do you feel guilty and like a failure when you blow your top at your Exceptional Child? Don’t. You are human and make mistakes. Your child may even surprise you and will probably forgive you before you forgive yourself. The other day Michael told me that I was a really good person. I found this particularly significant as we had had a fight that morning and though we had made up, I carried the guilt around all day. Our kids are wise. We need to trust that we are too, and that we will learn from our mistakes and not just survive, but thrive afterwards. We are parents. We are strong. Until next time.

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there and lived these very words before realizing the gift of who my son is and what he has helped me realize. If you want to have more information about me and my journey, check out my website http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com and my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks.

 

 

Signs That Your Exceptional Child Gets Their Anxiety And How To Help Them Find New Strategies

Eureka! I found myself saying this the other day in my head when Michael had an “Aha” moment. This moment was so important as it has shaped the last three days of our family life. Michael has finally began understanding his severe anxiety and his phobias  and how to start using strategies. Thank goodness he is a child who can talk to me about his fears, real and imagined. Besides doing this, however, he is also learning to detect signs that his anxiety is growing. He experiences stomach aches, tension, and panic attacks. The panic attacks are new. He will start to cry and say he does not want to be home. Home is where even when structured, he can hear the inner critical voice that says things he gets overwhelmed with and he can never be as busy than he is outside the home.The first time he shared this with me my heart broke. The only consolation was I could commiserate. As an anxiety sufferer myself, and one who has been on that roller coaster of emotions for most of my forty odd years, I was able to tell Michael that his inner critical voice exaggerates and even lies. It is a scared voice that needs support and acceptance as well as love from the rest of him. Once he learns how to love all of him, his anxiety will lessen. I know this, as I have learned tricks over the years to manage my own anxiety. I am constantly honing new mental muscle to be able to cope as well, and know that I can and will reach out for help whenever I need it.

In the meantime, we are doing the great exercises his Educator has given us for anxiety. They range from writing out scenarios of fears along with the worst and best possible outcomes, as well as wonderful ones that teach children about red thoughts and green thoughts, red thoughts being negative or stressful ways of looking at events, and green thoughts being positive ways to frame things in their minds. They also talk about how problems can be viewed as challenges to be overcome. Finally, he filled out a sheet that had him read situations and he had to label them as an Antidote or a Poison. Michael got them all right, and I could see him beginning the process of understanding his own anxiety. We talked about how everyone has anxiety as well as fears and phobias.

So how to know when your exceptional child gets their anxiety? Here are some of the signs:

  1. They recognize signs of fear in their bodies: The first time Michael was able to say his stomach or head hurt, I knew we were on the way to him recognizing the first signs of anxiety.
  2. They cry or are angry more often: Anger and anxiety often go hand in hand. As I have told people, Michael cycles in and out of anger and anxiety most days. Lately it has been anxiety, and I see the panic attack as he will cry and tell me he is feeling overwhelmed.
  3. Appetites change or diminish: This is so true, though if your child is on medication for anxiety or aggression, that will affect appetite too. Still, you will see that some times they say they are scared and don’t want to eat. At other times, you will see them eat more.
  4. They want to learn ways to manage it: The day that Michael was eager to do the homework and strategies to manage his anxiety, was when I knew he was ready for it.
  5. They start applying what they have learned. As a Mom what has made me most proud, is to see Michael using the belly breathing I have showed him to manage his anxiety, start replacing his negative thoughts with positive ones, and slowly move back into meditation and mindfulness. He has also went and retrieved old articles and read them to himself to figure out how they could help him.

Exceptional Parents, what are your stories when your Exceptional Child started to understand how to manage their anxiety and stress? Every child is different, and they will regulate their emotions differently too. The important thing is when you see your child practicing the strategies you have taught them, looking at articles or books that help them regulate, and asking for help. This means they are ready to take the next step-that is, managing to control their own fears and knowing that they are the true masters of their destiny. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker, and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism, ADHD and type 1 diabetes, is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom by showing me how different brains view the world in a whole new way! 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 them to do! 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.

 

Understanding What Your Exceptional Child Can and Cannot Control-New Tips For Easier Exceptional Parenting

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Eureka! I have reached a new way of understanding Michael and it feels so good. This way has been by closely observing many of his behaviors and seeing which ones were a product of his having difficulty controlling his emotions. It turns out that many of his behaviors are a product of lack of impulse or poor impulse control. Sometimes it is due to Michael misreading my signals. Sometimes it is due to him not understanding what is asked of him. I am loving the book “The Impulsive Child” so much, as it is one of those rare finds that reminds us parents that our child’s brain works differently than ours for various reasons and this can and does lead to communication breakdowns. Our children need our help in controlling negative emotions, outbursts, aggression and anxiety. They need the tools and words to express how they feel as no matter how verbal they are, they cannot always tell us.

Tonight and pretty much all this week I have been seeing evidence of when Michael is stuck and failing at communicating his frustrations to me. In the park, he started becoming upset that we would have to leave even though I had warned him we would be going soon. It was a beautiful night, and using one of the book’s rules of categorizing which are the main priorities parents are working on first, I realized that letting him have five minutes more or less in the park was not reason enough to have a power battle. We are working on curbing more aggressive issues at the moment. He liked the five more minutes and we left the park peacefully. Another event happened later this evening. Michael unfortunately had two bouts of low blood sugar. He had cooperated so well with the testing and retesting required, but got into a fight with Dad over Dad not hearing a question he had asked him. It quickly moved from annoyance, to anger, to hitting Dad on the back. Dad could not get through to him about using his words at this point as Michael was angry and screaming. Dad asked me to take over as he was exhausted and needed a break. I’ve used the same technique when I was there. I gently redirected Michael to his room. He sat down on his bed and screamed at the top of his lungs. He tried to break his alarm clock and hit the bed hard. Ordinarily I would have closed the door and told him to come out when he was calm to talk about it. Instead, today I stood in front of him and in a quiet voice asked him, “Can I help you with your anger? Do you want to stay or go?” He stopped screaming and looked at me and said, “Please stay.” Less than a minute later he calmed down.

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We retested his blood sugar after the required waiting time and it was in the normal range. He apologized to Dad, said goodnight and then I went to tuck him in and said good night as well. In bed during the traditional bed time hug, Michael actually said to me, “Thank you for helping me control my anger tonight Mommy. I really appreciate it.” You see, in the past , something like tonight would have ended with something getting broken, more screaming, more yelling (on ours and Michael’s part), and a lot more stress. Tonight, we all managed to stop things before they got completely out of control. Mutual respect, understanding, and using strategies all around is slowly helping us as a family learn how to manage our emotions in a healthy way.

Exceptional Parents, are you really listening to what your Exceptional Child is communicating to you? Do you know what is in and what is beyond your child’s control? Yes, of course our children test us with challenging and provocative behavior. Of course there are times they want attention and time with us, and they may act out not knowing how else to get us to listen. This is why as parents we need to open our eyes and look at what our child’s behavior is really telling us. We need to move beyond consequences and rewards if they are not working, and think to ourselves, what if my child is stuck in some mental mud and just needs a push out? We can be the tractor that helps guide them out slowly. Once they are out on the pavement with us, real communication and learning can begin. Until next time.

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

 

Seeing Your Exceptional Child Soar-How Your Belief In Them Causes A Ripple Effect

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It was the morning of Michael’s first non adapted art class on Saturday. He had wanted to take this class since last year, but I had been afraid. His aggression had peaked last year at home to new scarier levels. I also had spoken to the coordinator of the program who had gently suggested that it may be a good idea for me to either shadow him or wait in the room to see if I was needed the first class as she was not sure if she would have an assistant. If not, I could wait outside the class. I was so tired, physically and emotionally as a Mom, that I did not see myself as having energy to shadow. I also thought that what if Michael tried the class on his own, and due to his high anxiety and difficulty controlling his stress, was not able to do the class and became frustrated? For both our sakes, I told Michael we would talk about him taking this class when he started listening better at home. I wanted him to have success and felt in my gut that he was ready to try new things.

This spring, exactly one year later, thanks to a combination of good strategies, medication and maturity, Michael is in a better place emotionally at home and even at school. He is learning how to talk about his feelings and not “push down” his anger.  However, he was still incredibly scared to take this class alone, that is, without a shadow or me in the room. This year though, I knew he could do it and I could do it. That is, I could let go and trust him to handle it. I also realized I could remind him he had support at school. Michael spoke to his teacher and the school psychologist. Both encouraged him that he could face his fears on doing this class and succeeding, just like he had faced his fears in the past and succeeded. With lots of encouragement from them and additional from Dad and I, Michael tried his first “creating with clay” sculpture class last Saturday. The result? Success! I had told administration about his autism, and that I would be outside waiting for him should there be a need for assistance or any other problems. They had not informed the teacher or her assistant, but both had figured out that Michael was a little different. Both had embraced that difference, having had experience teaching children with autism and ADHD. Both had told me how calm, smart and polite he was. Yes, he needed a little extra assistance, but was very good at creating and loved art. They saw his promise and joy. They helped him soar!

During a bathroom break, the teacher came out to speak to me and tell me how well he was doing. You see, I had also been worried as the class was ninety minutes. Michael usually had a hard time with a sixty minute class, unless it was swimming as he was very active and had a difficult time sitting still in the past. His worries that it would be too long for him were unfounded for both of us though. The first words he spoke to me when I stepped inside to pick him up at the end of the class?

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“Mommy, I had such a good time! I could not believe how fast ninety minutes went!”

Tears threatened to pour down my cheeks as he proudly showed me his first work of clay which he would get to bring home in three weeks, then promptly hugged both the teacher and assistant telling them and me how he could not wait to go back to class next Saturday morning!

Timing. Timing sometimes is everything for our children and for us. I was not in the right frame of Mommy mind last year to believe in Michael. Frankly, I was having a hard time believing in myself as a Mommy to Michael too, though I knew I loved him and was not giving up on finding the right help for him. I asked other parents what worked and didn’t work for them. I read articles. I spoke to his school team, and finally made the call to get more help in our community for Michael, encouraged by supportive family members. All of this was happening as I was succeeding on the work front to help families. It was hard to live through, but I made it. Michael made it. And now life is not perfect, but we are finding the balance together. I always remember to tell Michael I believe he can do anything. This way my voice becomes his voice. Parents are their child’s best advocate until the child learns to become their own advocate.

Exceptional Parents, how do you help your Exceptional Children soar? I’m sure it’s by telling them that no matter what, you believe in their ability to do anything they set their mind to. Yes, sometimes the timing is off to try something. That is ok. That’s life. It’s important you remind them that when the time is right, you believe they can do it and then follow through. Remember, as their advocate, they believe what you do even more than what you say. Actions speak louder than words. Until next time.

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

Encouraging The Positive In Your Exceptional Child By Pointing Out The Good Moments

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When things are rough at home, it is sometimes hard for me to remember to praise the good moments I have with Michael. Those good moments though do happen, and often enough, if I look for them. That is why I have a new phrase that I use with Michael, even when we’ve had those rough weeks. That phrase is the following: Where is the Michael I like seeing, the one who listens, stays calms and tells me how he feels? or when he has listened, Now this is the Michael I like to see!  It has helped Michael a lot to hear these words. It will either keep good behavior on target, or help him change his trajectory. It’s something I keep in mind during the tough weeks.

I also am learning how to praise the positive in myself, and when I am not at my best, I openly practice my strategies on how to get in a better head space by deep breathing, retreating to a quiet corner of the house to close my eyes and do a quiet meditation or reflection, or even just journal a bit. I find this process is helping Michael handle things better as well. This evening he was stressed and upset about something that happened at school. He had been behaving inappropriately, and as we usually do in our house, there are consequences for that. Those consequences were the loss of the rest of audio visual time as he was making bad video choices, then due to swearing and disrespect towards us I told him no bedtime story and massage. He needed to calm down, and when he was ready he could talk to us. After much fanfare, he did some deep breathing, looked at some strategies we had written down, and proceeded to calm down. When he was calm I heard him talking to Dad about how sad he was about something that had happened at school. Then I was in my office taking a breather from the emotional night. He came downstairs to find me. I had just been about to go upstairs and ask him if he wanted to talk.

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He told me about how upset he was to have been separated from a friend in school in the classroom due to being silly with him.  He said he hated school, something I had never heard him say! I asked him if he thought it was appropriate to be silly with his friend when the teacher asked him not to. He said no, but he was still really angry. I told him he needed to learn to handle anger and any feelings it brought up. Life was about getting along peacefully with those around us, and learning to handle stress and anxiety. We had a long chat about this, and he not only calmed down, but apologized for his behavior. He said he would try harder to listen the next night to get his story and massage. I forgave him. We hugged. And after Dad did his insulin injection for the night, I went after he finished watching his meditation video and put on his relaxation music, to hug him and say goodnight. I said a short prayer and left.

I made sure to praise the good things of the day and talk about the fun things we would do the next day which happens to be a PED DAY that I am home with him. I truly believe in the importance of praising the good. The more we do that , the more we encourage that in our children. It’s the same principle with us.

Exceptional Parents, do you comment on when your Exceptional Child is behaving and making good choices or only speak about the negative times? It is ok if you forget. We are all guilty of addressing only the negative. It seems to stand out more in our minds. But remember, by harnessing the positive in your child, you will bring out more of that behavior. Most kids want to do good, but don’t know how. Show them. If you need other tools and professionals’ help get that help. Your child has a gift to offer the world. The only way they will be able to bring that forward is if they learn to let their own light shine. You are there to help them light it. Until next time.

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