Tag: challenging behavior

How To Plan For A Calm And Peaceful Holiday With Your Exceptional Child

It’s here. The last day of school before Christmas Eve. I am filled with excitement and fear, as I always am at this time of year. I feel excitement for obvious reasons; seeing family, catching up, eating great food, opening presents. Fear is something only other families of exceptional children will understand. It’s the fear of the new routine, and how it will affect Michael and our family. It is the fear of increased tantrums and meltdowns, Michael’s and ours, as we try to make the holiday a peaceful and happy one for the most part. My expectations for Michael are different than when he was a baby. My own expectations about the holiday are different too as are Dad’s. We just want peace. Not perfection. We just want to make it through the day without battles, crying and feeling overwhelmed. We know this is hard. Someone with autism has challenges in a regular routine in our crazy world. Throw in a holiday that lasts two weeks without the same structure and well, you need to expect some chaos. It’s how you manage the chaos as a parent. I can never get used to the fact that the happiest times of the year for other people are the hardest ones for families whose children have exceptional challenges.

Dad and I have had our good days managing our emotions around Michael’s behaviors and our bad days. This week has been a mix of both. It is with caution this year that we are embarking on Christmas. We spoke earlier this morning about what has to change in our household, with Michael, and with how we individually handle our own emotions. The time of year is difficult too with the shorter darker days.  All I know is what I don’t want to do. I love my child, but the last month it has been hard to like him. There I said it. Dad feels this way too. When he tests and fights us on everything it is draining and frustrating. I count down the minutes till bedtime when I can have an hour or two of peace and pray for strength to be there for him in the morning. It is not how I want to go into Christmas, but there you have it. I know Michael has entered puberty and is trying out new things. He’s seeing how far he can push. As parents, we need to remain strong, united. Most of the time we are , but we are only human and have our moments when we fail Michael and ourselves. We get up, dust ourselves off, and start again.

Exceptional Parents, what are you planning to do to have a calm and peaceful holiday? Are you visiting relatives or staying in? Are they coming to you? Remember, whatever you decide to do, make sure it will bring you and your family peace overall. You need to think of the whole picture of the holiday and what will make your child, and other children as well as you and your partner, happy and content. There are no perfect families and holiday scenarios even in neuro typical families. Don’t strive for that. Strive instead to be true to yourself and your family, and do what will give everyone happiness and health and balance. Happy Holidays! Until next time.

Joanne Giacomini is a writer, speaker and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance” www.exceptionalparenting.net. She also blogs on her personal blog, “Exceptional Mom/Exceptional Child” at www.exceptionalmomchild. com,  about how her son with autism is raising her! She writes regularly about parenting and autism at “M List,” as “Montreal Autism Mom”, “The West Island Suburban’s “Parenting 101 bloggers,” and “Huff Post Parents Canada”. Her posts on parenting and autism have been featured on “BlogHer Family-Special Needs”, ”Her View From Home”,  “Romper”, “Yummy Mummy Club Canada, as well as “Scary Mommy.” She also writes for “The Things”,“Baby Gaga” and “The Talko.”You can follow Joanne on Twitter @exceptmomchild.

One of the hardest and most stressful times of the year for special needs families is fast approaching. Are you and your exceptional family ready? Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

How To Balance Motherhood, Work and Exceptional Childcare

Seeing Michael pull yet another bedtime academy award performance for yelling, not listening and rudeness, made me realize something at the end of a very long hour. I absolutely cannot alter anything in his bedtime routine until we get his challenging behaviors under control. It was a question of me needing ten more minutes to finish something for work and he stayed with Dad. He had ten more minutes of the audio visual he had worked so hard to get by good listening. There had even been a nice snack and talking time after school. He had shared news with me about school, though not the details like he used to share until a couple of weeks ago. I had thought things were turning around. I was wrong. He needed the routine to stay exactly the same last night. He needed me to stay calm when he started testing, but all I could think, was NOT AGAIN. He and I were not on the same wavelength last night. We were both tired and not communicating properly.

All Moms and Dads have those days, but if you see you are falling into a pattern in your family of fights, stress, and the same anxieties coming up, it is time to look at your patterns of communication with your child, your partner, and yourself. Our family is going through that now. We have our good days, and our bad days. What is important is to learn from the bad days, to see what changes we could make and to do them. It is important to honestly communicate with your partner about what you and they could do differently and individually. And then, the hardest part. Both partners have to be on the same page and show a united front to the child. Also, both partners have to be open and loving with the child. Authoritarian parenting does not work, and that is where many of us go wrong. We start out loving, present, but as exhaustion and frustrations in us build, we veer to the authoritarian model and who loses, our child.

Being a Mom and Dad is hard work. You have your child, your job, your home. You are pulled in millions of different directions and it is hard to know where to prioritize things sometimes. But at the top of the list is your own self-care. If you are not focused and centered, you cannot handle any curve balls your child will throw at you. Do what you need to do to put things like exercise, sleep and some personal leisure time at the top of your list. If not, it will show in your parenting over time as you reserves of patience and love will run thin. Remember too, as we all tend to forget, that challenging behavior is a sign of something bothering your child, some need that is not getting met in a positive way. When you are both calm, talk to your child about it. Figure out what is bothering them, and then structure their time so they know what to expect.

Exceptional Parents, how do you balance it all and are you at the top of that list of balance? Do you take care of yourself well so you can take care of your child the best way possible? If not, make that change today. Small ways you give yourself care and attention will translate into your parenting, and before long you will be connecting with your child on a whole new level again. Be gentle with yourself. We all make mistakes. Until next time.

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