Michael is asking for more space, literal and figurative. He wants to go places by himself, have a phone, have more responsibilities for his choices. He is a tween in full blown puberty and as he nears adolescence, is craving more independence to make choices. Still, then he has other moments when he wants to me to look at him, praise him, hang out with him. He is clingy and wants hugs, very much like when he was a small child. I was told that the 11/12 year age is exhausting as kids are still young, yet burgeoning with adolescent energy. Things actually can become a little easier once they hit adolescence and they become teenagers able to make some adult choices, still under parents’ guidance, of course. It is all stressful for me though, and I’m sure for many Moms. You don’t know who you are raising. Then there are the times he is deliberately “playing us” with behaviors and provocative actions to get a reaction. This has to be downplayed, unless of course a serious accident is underway. I always try to focus on the positive, and when I mess up, I am the first one to admit it to myself and to Michael. This was we both can learn from it.
Lately, I have begun taking Michael to the park up the street and deliberately sitting on a bench far from the park area. Michael loves this. He goes to the park himself, yet I am still there on the premises if something happens. He had asked me about a month ago, when he will be able to walk to this park up the street himself. I told him possibly next year or the year after. Dad and I needed to know that he would be appropriate by talking non aggressively and following traffic rules. I think he is ready to do this most of the time, but there have been issues in the past with safety, so Dad and I decided to hold out for now. I am proud of Michael’s independence however, as is Dad. He started by asking for more responsibility to make his lunches, cook meals, choose who HE invited to birthday parties, where we go, and if he could stay up late once in a while. It’s been an adjustment for me learning how to stretch the boundaries to keep him safe, while also opening up other realms to give him more flexibility. It’s been challenging, to say the least, especially as Dad and I have had to factor in severe aggression and anxiety issues and continue working with him to manage that.
I have learned in the meantime, that there are ways to spot when it is time to step back as an Exceptional Parent and give your Exceptional Child more freedom and independence. Here are some of them:
- Child Asks For It With Words Or By Moving Away From You: Sometimes it is as easy as your child telling you they want more independence or wanting to do more things on their own.
- Child Wants To Be More With Peers: If your child wants to be on play dates with peers versus hanging out with Mom, there is another sure sign.
- Child Seems Happy When Given Responsibilities: If your child loves the feeling of independence they get doing chores or other responsibilities, they are ready for more independence.
- Child Talks About Being Older With Excitement: This is a surefire way to tell that the child is ready for more independence in doing things on their own.
Exceptional Parents, how often are you conflicted if you are micro managing your Exceptional Child too much and not giving them any personal space to grow? We all struggle with this. It is especially challenging when your Exceptional Child has a different brain and ways of perceiving the world as well as mental health issues which require additional parental support. Still, if you take the time as a parent to read your child’s cues, you will begin to see when they need more of parent time, and when they need more alone time. Don’t be afraid to let them try things on their own. This is a surefire way to help them build self-confidence and become more risk takers. These are life skills that will help them out tremendously as they get to adulthood. 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.