Tag: anxiety management

Sharing Exceptional Feelings-How Parents Can Help Their Children Open Up


For awhile now Michael has responded really well to stories from my childhood, particularly stories where I spoke about times when I was stressed, struggled or didn’t listen. He is able to fully listen without interrupting and get the life lesson in them. This is a good thing on days like today when there were some rough moments. Michael had some challenging moments at school and his first swimming lesson in a new place. All of this unnerves him, and he will act out by talking louder, not listening and crying more. He did a little of each of these in the late afternoon today. What also didn’t help was that he was overtired. I could hardly wake him up this morning. The first of anything is really rough for Michael: first week of school, first swim class, and as I’ve mentioned before learning to self-regulate is challenging. It is also hard for us as his parents. Dad and I don’t want to cut him slack for not listening. He needs to follow rules. He cannot escalate and hit himself, others or property. Yet, I see sometimes how maybe pushing certain points only makes it worse.  Parents, all parents, but particularly those with Exceptional Kids, need to learn to pick their battles. Sometimes we pick the wrong ones and it does not end well for anybody. But, like with the stories of my youth, I tell Michael that we all make choices and we need to stand by the choices we make, good or bad, and learn from them.

I learned today that when I make mistakes with Michael, picking the wrong time to correct a habit, I can use the experience as a teaching one and learn what not to do for the future. I also am learning to teach him how parents make rules for kids’ safety and that he doesn’t have to like rules, but as a child he needs to follow them. They are made out of love if done properly, and most parents, even those of us who make mistakes, do make rules out of safety and properly for kids. Why I love telling him the stories of my youth is that it reminds me what was good about my upbringing. My parents were loving, but had boundaries in place firmly. I knew I couldn’t cross these boundaries. Sometimes, with Exceptional Kids who see the world differently, we forget that they need to see these boundaries too. Otherwise, they will walk all over us as any kid would. Sometimes more, as the added insecurities make them look for power. I see this with Michael and am learning to be loving, firm and assertive at the same time. He is a good kid, but like all good kids, needs guidance.

Exceptional Parents, how do you guide your Exceptional Children to good listening? What strategies do you use? As with many parenting strategies, there is no one right or wrong answer. What works for one child may not for another. At the base of anything that works needs to be love, complete love and acceptance for where your child is, and then you need to follow that with boundaries and structures that work for your child and family. Don’t ever hesitate to reach out if you need help, but remember, you know deep down inside what your child needs most. Until next time.

Happy New Year! Are you struggling to control anxiety in yourself or your child? It’s not easy, but remember you are never alone. For a FREE COPY of my  EBOOK  “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” email me at joanne.giacomini@gmail.com.

Are you looking to make changes in your special needs parenting life? Do you need support on your journey?  I am a writer and parent coach who is passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: www.exceptionalparentingnet.wordpress.com. 



Victories and Gains-How My Exceptional Child Is Learning To Regulate


I was so proud of Michael at the store once again today. He now understands how money works and knows how to count his money as well as how much things cost, for the most part. He had some very generous friends give him money for his birthday to buy what he wanted. He has been taking advantage of this in pure Michael excitement. With autism, when someone is into something, they are into it. Now he is into going to the store and proudly buying things with his own money. He has even learned how to converse with the cashier. Today he remembered to say Happy New Year to the cashier at the Dollarstore we went to. He needed to buy new bath toys. Yes, he loves baths. We recently had our bathroom renovated and he so excited to start taking baths again so that has become his other thing. He always liked baths, but had to start taking showers when our only tub started leaking a while ago. He will repeatedly tell me how baths relax him. I know. They do the same for me.

I love how he is learning to find his own in the world, and even when things worry him, like the first day of school back from Christmas holiday, he compensates by getting up early to give himself time to play, get ready calmly, prepare his toys and his mind for change. He plans on doing the same thing today. We’ll see. I tell him that he needs to find strategies that work for him and go from there. I also remind him though, that eventually he will be tired and have to catch up on his sleep. When that happens he can get up his usual seven am instead of five thirty. The important thing is that he is recognizing where he has control, what he can control, and learning how good behavior produces good results. He told me today, “Mommy I am really trying to listen. Sometimes I forget and I feel bad.” I answered him back that he is doing well and I am very proud of him. I know he is capable of listening all the time. And if he makes a mistake, he can apologize and start again. As with any child he is not perfect, but is doing the best that he can. So am I.

Exceptional Parents, what victories and gains do you notice in your Exceptional Children? Sometimes after many falls you may notice a few gains. The reverse happens too. That is ok. Just be patient with them.  Be firm. Be steady. Be loving. And remember, sometimes in their struggle if we leave them alone, they will figure it out and find their own strategies to manage stress and anxiety. As long as they have love, they can get through anything. Until next time.


Are you looking to make changes in your special needs parenting life? Do you need support on your journey?  I am a writer and parent coach who is passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism. Remember,  parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children! For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparentnet.wordpress.com

 Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety? Are you looking to make a fresh start this year? Contact me at joanne.giacomini@gmail.com to downloand my FREE EBOOK:  “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” 





Keeping Busy and Having Choices-How This Has Helped My Son With Autism Handle Anxiety Better

Michael has a lot of anxiety. I have talked about this in previous posts, and will touch on it from time to time as it is an important part of what he and many other children with autism must live with every day. I constantly am amazed though by how well he does lately in handling his anxious thoughts and feelings. He is beginning to ask questions about techniques he could use, remembering he can’t hit his head, the wall, or other people or things, and where he can go to calm down. What most impresses me is how he is connecting activity and movement to regulating his emotions and calming down.

“Mommy, I changed my mind about baking tonight. Can we go to the park and finish playing tennis and bake another night. I need to move Mommy.”

I am so impressed with him and how he is learning to read his body and mind. I am impressed with how good his tennis game and other physical skills are improving, and even though I cringe when I hear how hard on himself he is when he misses the tennis ball, or gets stuck on a word in reading, I am calmly able to point out to him it’s ok, we all make mistakes. Lately, he has been saying it back to me if he hears me saying it to myself. What is striking me is how far he has come in identifying his feelings, his likes, and dislikes. He will tell me who his “real” friends are, “my best buddies are”, and who are friends that he is not as close to. He does not want hugs “because I am a big boy”, but at night wants cuddles for a few minutes. He is my baby, my preteen, and my teenager all in one.

Where we are still grappling with is Michael’s difficulty letting go of worrying about the future. He will come up with elaborate scenarios of what will go wrong, what he will hate on a field trip, at an activity, and I will have to remind him one day at a time. He will also experience something he does not want to hear from me, and will say, quite dramatically, “now my day at school will be ruined tomorrow.” Again,  I tell him stories of how I used to think that way when I was little, and how I suffered a lot because of it when I did not need to. I teach him strategies like taking it one day at a time, looking at the positive things in his life, and venting about it for a bit before moving on. What is helping Michael  is something I had completely overlooked prior to the last few months; giving him the floor to be heard and a choice of what he can say and do. That freedom is helping him handle anxiety a lot better.

Exceptional Parents, what kind of surprises do your Exceptional Children throw your way? How have they impressed you with their insight, ability to cope, and intelligence? Do you remember to give them a positive choice in how they could respond to things? Do you let them talk and have the floor? This will make a big difference in their ability to handle things in their world. Until next time.

Tired of anxiety controlling you and your child? Download my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

Exceptional Love, Testing and Suffering: How to Weather the Sun and Storms of Parent/Child Relationships

White Lightning Heating Mountain

I don’t know what to tackle first. There is his insistence on being right, his worrying over the future, and his putting his foot down on what he wants to do and does not want to do. It is so frustrating as this is also my list and my issues too. It is hard as a parent. You have to pick your battles, stay firm, give in, and at other times, walk a tightrope somewhere in between with your child. Any child. And an exceptional child is just exceptionally challenging at times like these.  We had many fun moments yesterday, but this week there have been many more testing moments, angry moments, and moments where Michael, I could tell, was seeing how far he could push before I gave in. I pretty much stayed firm, but there have been some activities I have had to remove from his schedule. They have been academic ones, as the pressures in school have been proving to be too stressful for him lately. I feel like I have failed as a Mom. I have failed to hear him and listen to what he needed, choosing instead to challenge him. But see that’s the thing. That is what worked in the past. My little boy is changing. He is growing up and I have to be ready for some surprises. Though it has been hard, I am coming to terms too with the fact I cannot control all circumstances, all things, all life. I have to admit defeat and errors where I have made them and carry on. That’s what I tell other parents to do. Forgive yourself and move on. It is hard for me to do though. However, I am finally starting to do it.



I am so glad that he is able to communicate so well with me about his feelings of  stress with school performance (though he is doing amazing), his anxiety over pleasing the “stimming lady” (I think she represents adults all around him that he is trying to please),  and I can see how even when he is engaged in pleasurable activities, the ability to control, predict and anticipate everything come into play everywhere. He is such a smart kid. He is so happy and full of life in so many ways, yet I see his suffering, his anxiety, and his insecurities. I don’t know how to reassure him he is enough. I tell him. I show him by hugging, kissing and laughing with him. But due to my own busy schedule, there have been times I think I have failed him. I have failed to give him the security, patience and support he needed as I have been tired, busy, stressed myself. I am re-emphasizing self-care again in my repertoire so I refill my own bucket. Love and support are a two way street, but they are ones that are difficult and challenging to follow when both parties are exhausted and at their wits’ ends.

Exceptional Parents, how do you weather your child’s storms and anxieties while staying sane yourself? If you have lost your temper and patience once in awhile, that’s ok. So have I. So have all of us. The important thing is to remember how by taking care of your needs, physically, mentally and spiritually, you will be able to show your child how best they can have balance in these areas. They need to learn to take care of their inner stresses before they can balance their outer feelings. Until next time .


Feeling overwhelmed by stress and anxious thoughts? You are not alone. Parenting is hard work. Try out some new tools. Download my FREE EBOOK ON “5 WAYS TO MANAGE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.site88.net.

How Embracing Failure Has Made Me A Better Mom

child, eyes, face

Failure. Who would ever label that a positive word, but still it can be. Why? Only when we fail and fall down, can we rise and learn from our mistakes, new ways of being and doing. I used to be so hard on myself when I would come up against challenges with Michael in the past. Now, I see that it is not me failing him, but him needing to learn the proper tools to help himself handle failure, obstacles and stress. Life is not easy for him. Life is not easy for any of us. Most of us though know how to regulate our emotions though, and look to others for our cues. For exceptional kids, this is hard. They have a more difficult time relating to people and what people are saying. Still, when I have failed in reaching Michael, or in losing my temper it has shown me something amazing.

It has shown me what I need to work on to be stronger, more compassionate and a better all around human being. It’s not that I am a bad human being when I fail. None of us is. It’s just that I have temporarily lost touch with what I need to be working on, honing my energy in taking better care of my internal compass and inner workings, so I can model that for Michael. And believe me, even though I know what I need to do to keep the balance in my life, I still sometimes fall back into old habits of ruminating, worrying, getting angry when I can’t control anything, all the things I tell Michael to not worry about. I re-learn the lesson the same time I am teaching it Michael. I also learn that it is alright to be vulnerable, ask for help, as well as offer help at the same time. It is alright to be human and to teach Michael the same thing.

child, childhood, family

While I have been finding new ways to reach Michael and keep my own spirits strong while navigating new challenges with him, I have also had the privilege of supporting other Moms in their journey. And a privilege it is. While I help them, they help me. Just as while I help Michael, he helps me. And we all heal. We heal from the need to be perfect, untouchable, fearless. We are all afraid sometimes. We are all brave at other times. Life is a roller coaster. You can choose to ride it in full glory and brace yourself as best you can with the ups and downs, enjoying the ups and knowing you’ll figure out how to handle the downs when you get there. Or, you can choose to not ride it, fearing the downs only. As each day goes by, I know I will sometimes have down times, stressful times, times when I feel weak. But I know it is temporary and will pass. The up times are coming, and I will have what I need by then to coast beautifully. This is what I now teach Michael too.

Exceptional Parents, how often do you fail as parents, as human beings? If it’s often, that’s good. It means you are human. It means you are trying. It means you will find the tools if you search and look in your heart for them. They are there. As we tell our children, they are perfect in their imperfections and so are we. So don’t worry. Treat your failure as a gift. Let it take you to new heights and help you overcome hardship. Let yourself and your child soar. Until next time.


Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO MANAGE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” here: http://www.exceptionalparenting.site88.net. 

4 Tips to Handle Exceptional Mommy Meltdowns

I am not proud of the way I have been handling Michael’s stress lately. In part, in large part, it has been because I have not been taking the best care of myself. I have not been sleeping, exercising and eating the way I want to. I have done my best to be present for him, but when I am not at my best physically, mentally and spiritually it is hard.

Our kids are treasures. Michael is not exception to this rule. He teaches me lessons every day about life, love, respect, faith and what really, I mean really matters. But it doesn’t make it easy. For either of us. He doesn’t always understand that Mom needs time alone. Away from him? With her writing? A blog? A friend’s book launch?  A writer’s meeting? Her business? What is this? Then, just as soon as the anger flares up, it is gone. I feel like a failure when I yell, though I know what to tell other parents about patience. It is hard to practice it myself. Still, I do tell Michael that Mom needs to work better on using her strategies to handle anger. It is fine to be angry, but we can’t let it rule us.

Michael is very forgiving. We always make up before bedtime even when we have fights at bedtime. But I hate Mommy Meltdowns. I try to avoid them whenever I can. Still, sometimes in spite of my best intentions, they happen. So here are some tips for other Moms to handle their Mommy meltdowns better:

Tips to Help with Mommy Meltdowns:

  1. Am I sleeping enough? What is happening to cause your sleep to be interrupted? Are you not delegating things so as to alleviate stress? Are you not exercising? Are you not communicating to those around you about your problems? These can all trigger stressful episodes that get worse without you being pro-active.
  2. Are you not making time for 5-10 min of “Me Time” a day: This is especially hard if you have more than one child and/or if you are a single parent. But it is essential. I have one child and a partner, and still there have been times when I tend to get overwhelmed. Take the time for you. You, you partner and/or kids will thank you.
  3. Don’t be overly strict: Yep. As I write these words now, I know this is what I am striving for, yet I still have days and weeks when I fail to practice this. Why? Because it is easy to fall back on what we learned as children. The same strategies do not work for a child with autism. I sometimes need to be reminded of that. If you forget, don’t worry. Just remember for the next time.
  4. Reach out to other parents of exceptional children: I guarantee you. Whatever story you tell to your community of how you badly handled a situation with your child with autism, they will still support you and commiserate. I have been in both positions with my Mom friends, confessing and supporting.My parent community has always rallied  around me (as I did to them), and told me that my child and I are amazing and doing the best we both can. And we are and do!


Exceptional Parents, do you have Mommy and Daddy meltdowns with your Exceptional Child/dren? It’s alright. We all do, just as they do with us. We are human, and even if we know better, parenting and being a child is hard work. Forgive yourself, forgive your child, and learn from your mistakes. Don’t be afraid to try new things for you and your child either that will break the dynamic of tension. You will be amazed by the results. Until next time.


Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO MANAGE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” here: http://www.exceptionalparenting.site88.net. 

Finding the Right Tools To Help Your Child Handle Their Overpowering Emotions


Man in White and Black Sneakers Standing Outdoor during Daytime


So yesterday Michael and I went on a power walk. Well, he power walked. I kept telling him to slow down. I’m in pretty good shape, but late afternoons are not the best time for me to exercise unless I’m alone and can go at my own pace. Still, I saw he needed it. He was a boy on a mission to rid himself of stress. As with other times, he walked and talked quickly, then gradually as he began to relax he slowed down his pace. I was relieved, yet as always, worried about the kind of stress he carries inside of him. Right now the main issues are about working and focusing at school, as well as  learning to sit quietly in a body that has hard time doing that due to his sensory issues. Michael also has a hard time asking for help or letting people know he is in distress.

I am experimenting with different ways to help him learn to calm down. Right now he pushes emotions down and then explodes in the evenings when things don’t go one hundred percent his way. Being told what to do all day is extremely draining and stressful, so at home he bargains and tries to change the rules on EVERYTHING. It’s been a process, and we are still teaching him that all of us have to follow rules, listen to either teachers or bosses, and find ways to manage our anxiety, stress and negative emotions. Exercise, yoga and different sensory tools can help. I am constantly adding or taking away from our toolbox. Talking too and giving him the space to share is also important.


Photo by: Frank Mckenna at Unsplash


This is challenging for adults, but even more so for kids, and exceptional kids have a more difficult time due to their very complex nervous systems. I remind him that he needs and can always turn to TEAM MICHAEL for help. It’s been tough though. Positive moments have been our talks about music, watching his agility improve climbing on park equipment, and he is interested in going on his scooter again soon. I’m also happy he is continuing with tennis. It, swimming, and soon soccer, will be great outlets for his nervous energy release. As parents, we have to find outlets for our kids. As with neuro typical ones, sports and being active is very important, but there are always other things to consider. Would they benefit from talking to a therapist privately? Do they need a new more structured home routine?  An educator can help with that. Are they sleeping enough? Parents, as teacher, caregiver and therapist have to not be afraid to try any of the above (or all) so that they can give their child the best tools for success out there.

Exceptional Parents, what’s in your toolbox to help your child regulate their emotions? Have you made any changes recently? Sometimes shaking things up a bit can be helpful. Our kids are growing all the time so what worked previously may not anymore. Don’t be afraid to try new approaches. Talk to other parents. Talk to professionals. Read books and articles. Remember, you are your child’s voice to the world and can help explain them to their team the best. In the end, it’s all about giving them success in life to be the best they can be. Until next time.


Looking for new tools to help with anxiety management? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO MANAGE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” here: http://www.exceptionalparenting.site88.net. 


Strengthening Your Relationship: 5 Ways to Find Time for Exceptional Bonding With Your Child



So I realized this morning when Michael got up a little earlier that I have become “that Mom or parent” I said I wouldn’t. You know, the one who is so focused on work and getting stuff done, she is annoyed that her child is up early when she had planned to do work. Yes folks. I have succumbed. I repeatedly say to myself, my partner, and Michael that my job is flexible and I do it around Michael’s schedule, all of which is true. But of course there are also times that I need to catch up on things. Early morning or late evening are best as that is when Michael is asleep. But as I heard his little steps outside the room I was finishing my yoga in I became nervous and sad. Nervous that we would have another “fight” about my work and sad that I was thinking that I wanted to still be alone.

And that is when it hit me. Michael missed me. He missed having time to talk in the morning, share his thoughts and just be present with me. Many of our kids want this too as do parents. But how can we do it?  Here are some ways that have worked in our family and in families I personally know:

  1. Have talk time set aside for each child with each parent at home or at a special place you go everyday: Michael has his morning time with me and evening with Dad. In families where there are two or more children, it’s obviously more complicated. Friends of mine “trade off” time with kids, and sometimes as in the case of three or four kids parents will each take two kids out and do a common activity that both kids like.
  2. Spend time talking or being available to listen in the car: This was when I had all my best chats with my Dad as did my brother, while he drove us to activities. My Mom was a stay and work at home parent who worked around our schedules so we would talk to her after school.
  3. Put aside one night for family stay in time: Ok, this does not always work in my house. My kid DOES NOT like to stay in, but we are working on doing a family stay in movie night, maybe board game night etc.
  4. Make a parent/child night or day out tradition once a month: This is one I don’t do as having one child makes it easy for Dad and I to have our alone and together time as a family with Michael, but I have friends that swear by this, Mother/Daughter movie night, pizza night out, book club etc. Go for it. Your child will love it.
  5. Cuddling up at bedtime: This is my favorite time with Michael. He has always been nervous in the evenings and at bedtime. He loves the calm predictable routine of story, Qigong massage, and me tucking him in and cuddling for a little bit before leaving the room. I like it too. It reminds me of the sweet little boy he is even when he has driven me crazy during the day as I have him. 🙂


These are just a few ways you can strengthen the bond with your child or children. It will be well worth it. Kids, exceptional or not, who feel loved, cherished and supported handle stress and anxiety much better. They are resilient, and are fighters in every sense of the word.

Exceptional Parents, what suggestions do you have to add to this list? I would love to hear from you! Are you a hands on parent or does life sometimes distract you? Don’t worry if you agreed with distraction. As long as we show our kids how much we love them by being present as much as we can, the rest will slowly fall into place. Until next time.


Looking for new tools to handle anxiety, yours or your child’s?  You are not alone. Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO MANAGE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” here: http://www.exceptionalparenting.site88.net. 



A Cry For Help: How Exceptional Child Anger Shows Where Moms Can Make Changes


adult, annoyed, blur

How many times have I wished I could take back things I have said and done. How many times have all of us felt that way as parents. Our children feel it too. Michael and I had had a really tough morning the other day. Lots of factors contributed to it. The routine changed. He had not slept well. And he has been feeling increasingly out of control, probably to adjusting to the demands of school where he has to do things he does not always like. I would like to say that I was one hundred percent present for Michael, but alas, I also have been out of sorts. I have been very busy with work, things in the house, and have been feeling my own nerves fraying at the edges. I have done my best with using strategies,  but the other morning when Michael woke up super early I knew we were both in trouble. Two stressed family members does not a good morning make.

I realized he was upset that we couldn’t plan out our after school time, but I had told him we would look at the calendar after school. Now was not the time. Michael was not happy with that and a lot of emotions had been building up. He started screaming, hitting himself and me, and banged the wall. I could not remain calm myself and started yelling and told him to go to his room. I briskly directed him there. Five minutes later he emerged and went to eat his breakfast. I stayed in the bathroom breathing and calming myself a few minutes longer than stepped into the kitchen to join Michael for the remainder of breakfast. He had let out all his anxiety,  and we talked after apologizing to one another how important it is to use our words, be in touch with how we feel in our bodies, and use these strategies to calm down not aggressive behavior. What is important for parents to realize, even when we are angry, is that anxiety and aggression are a cry for help in our child. They are feeling out of control and powerless. It is imperative for the parent or individual close by to stay calm and collected or as calm and collected as possible. If you fail at that, just own up to it. I did. And it changed things for the two of us from then on.


When he came home from school there were hugs for me after I repeatedly assured him I was no longer angry and reminded him that even when angry, I love him very much and never stop. He told he had been afraid to come home thinking I was still angry. I told him I was not, and that he need never be afraid to be home, but that rules need to be followed and respect worked two ways, me and him towards one another. I realized that I maybe had not been as  clear as to what he needed to do that morning. It is something I now remind myself of as much as I do other parents. We all make mistakes once in awhile.

Exceptional Parents, what has lead your Exceptional Children to be aggressive in the past? What was your child doing before the behavior, and what was the consequence for their actions in the past? Also, how have they been handling stress in general in their life? Have they looked to you as the safe port in the ocean? If not, make sure you remind them that you are always there, even with mistakes, imperfections and anything, to love, teach and accept them for all that they are. Good luck parents. You can do it. Until next time.


Looking for new tools to manage anxiety and stress in yourself and your child? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO MANAGE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” here: http://www.exceptionalparenting.site88.net.