Tag: sleep issues

More Bedtime Battles And What NOT To Do

Bedtime has been tough from the beginning this week. Michael is getting up earlier to get out of the house with his Dad due to me working earlier now, and it takes its toll at night. He both needs sleep and fights against it. Last night was the first night I wished I had thought of using melatonin again. I have used it a few times only when he is really off his schedule to reset him. By the time I thought of it though, it would have been too late anyway. He was wired. It was late and the stress was there. Stalling, insulting and deliberately misbehaving to lose his bedtime routine is what he does. Then, at the end of the routine he is crying that he is alone and I am not lying down with him, reading to him, or giving him his massage. He will not use pictos and when I gently remind him each night he has to go through his routine calmly in order to get the steps in his routine, he still misbehaves. It is discouraging and I feel bad for him making these choices and I remind him at the end of the night to make better choices tomorrow. We will be making some changes to his behavior program at home with his team, so that he can make learn to make better choices. He has said in anger and through crying that he cannot do it, but I remind him that he can. He just needs to calm down, look at his options, and go.

So what did I do last night that could have made things worse? Here are some things I have learned NOT to do:

  • Do not yell: This is hard one for parents. You are tired by the long drawn out bedtime routine. You are tired of the screaming, stalling and them yelling. You yell. You may say things and threaten to take things away. Not good. It just adds fuel to the fire. Give yourself a time out or, as Michael reminded me after we made up, “You needed to use your self-control too, Mommy.”
  • Do not talk about tomorrow and forecast: Yep. Guilty of this when I am losing control. I will say things like, “Tomorrow you will be tired. Tomorrow I’m going to tell your teacher. “It’s stress and anger talking. Don’t let them win.
  • Calm down ourselves: It’s important we calm down slowly too so we can handle what comes our way
  • Make sure from the beginning that rules are clear: I am looking for things I can improve upon in the bedtime routine so Michael is clear on what he can and cannot accept.
  • Ask for help from another adult if you can: If you find yourself burning out, ask another adult to take over bedtime for a few nights to get a break. If not, make sure to take care of yourself when they do go to bed.

Exceptional Parents, what are some of your tricks for bedtime battles? What has and has not worked for you and your child? In the end, just know that tomorrow is another day. Don’t be afraid to try new things and let your child know you love them no matter what. You will help them learn how to self-regulate and calm down, and that they have the power inside to help themselves. Until next time

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Exceptional Family Growth This School Year

 

 

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I can’t believe that another school year is over. Yesterday was Michael’s last day. And though it started out rainy and stormy, it ended on a great note. The kids still had their bouncy rides, BBQ and fun day (albeit inside the school gym instead of the schoolyard), and it was magical for Michael as always. What also made the end of this school year easier, is that we found out that Michael will be having the same teacher and assistant as this year. The stress of who will be in his class was also slightly elevated when Michael found out that a few of his friends from this year would be following him into the same class next year. We even get the school supply list so busy Moms and Dads can shop early if more convenient. 🙂

As I was waiting for his school bus to round the corner yesterday afternoon,  I thought back to the year we had had, shocked that it was already over.  I found myself getting emotional over how far he has come, how much he has learned. He could not write his name at the beginning of the year. He now he writes semi legibly, and is getting more legible by the day. He did not have the skills to manage his emotions. By the end of the year, he was doing a fantastic job of this the majority of the time. Finally, he was co-sleeping with me due to severe night terrors, and now for the last month (over a period of several months of me gradually distancing myself from him at night),  he goes to bed by himself and uses strategies to fall asleep on his own and STAY asleep. I am beyond proud of my little guy. He has come far, and I can see that he will continue this progress with the help and support of understanding family, friends, teachers and therapists.

 

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What I also realized though, was how far I have come this year as an Exceptional Mom, Michael’s Exceptional Mom. I learned even more about advocating for Michael, while continuing to learn to advocate for myself as a woman and parent. It was like climbing up a hill. It was hard at first. I was out of breath like when I began to exercise again after a long break. As I got better at it though,  I became stronger and soon was in great shape. I did this by recognizing what my emotional triggers are, and putting healthy coping strategies in place. I also learned how to ask Dad and other family and friends for whatever I needed, down time, friend time, alone time, writing time. And finally, I took the next step in my business and launched a website and parent coaching programs to help other Moms and Dads learn to trust their gut when it comes to their child or children. I remind them to never give up on their children, and to reach out to the community. Isolation for any of us is deadly. Connection is everything.

Exceptional Parents, what kind of growth did your Exceptional Child experience this year? How did it affect your growth as an Exceptional Parent? And remember, even the mistakes we make are great learning experiences. Sometimes the down times are when we learn the most about ourselves and our children’s resilience. After all, it’s often how you bounce back from setbacks that determines future success. Don’t give up. Celebrate yours and your child’s small and big victories. And remember, in the fall there will be another school year to learn wonderful things. Until next time.

A Flower In Bloom-Results from Team Michael

 

So this morning we will get our latest update on Michael’s ASD status for governmental purposes, but I have to say that Dad and I will be interested to see where he scores, not because it will be something we don’t already know, but out of curiosity how the world views Michael. I have seen him grow by leaps and bounds this year at school, even when we were in the midst of challenging behaviors. His body and mind have grown, and he is now able to understand so much more about his feelings, the world, and due to his recent victories over night difficulties and conquering handwriting problems, his confidence has risen too. Dad and I both proud, and though today’s meeting brings up a lot of emotions in both of us, I can honestly say that we, and Michael, have had lots of positive experiences with therapists and medical personnel. We’ve been lucky in that regard.

Michael, for his part, knows we are going to get the results from these members of “Team Michael,” so that we have even more tools to help him succeed in life. We now have regular talks about his autism, his different brain, and how and why he sees the world in this unique way. Dad and I are having to teach him appropriate physical boundaries with people as well as emotional ones. We have an individual who loves to hug, talk to strangers, and sometimes, well, has revealed some personal information. Dad and I are trying to tread that fine line of teaching him stranger danger while not making him too frightened of our world. He does not understand how scary it can be. I hope in time our examples, social stories, and being open to answering all his questions, will help Michael continue to mature and become confident in himself, in his body, and in the world. He talks to us in a more confident manner, sometimes even bordering on teenage arrogance. We have to correct him often when he uses “his attitude”, but another part of me sees the strong personality and mind behind it, and knows that once he learns social skills in a more appropriate manner, then watch out world, he’ll be a force to reckon with!

Exceptional Parents, how do you feel when you go to get evaluations for your Exceptional Child/dren? Are you ever surprised by what the professionals say, or do you feel that all of you are on the same page when it comes to your child’s progress? I hope it is the latter. There is much our children teach us parents and professionals, so I hope your experience is a positive one. I hope yours and your child’s “team” can see their talents, their intelligence, and help continue to lead your child, along with your help, on to bigger and better things. Until next time.

 

Handling Nocturnal Fears-Exceptional Tag Teaming

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The other night Michael had trouble sleeping again. It wasn’t so far fetched as he had a big event the next day (his first ever dance concert in his dance program), and this is usually when his night fears come out. It was a difficult early morning rousing for all of us, but in the end, Michael did manage to sleep a few winks as did Mom and Dad. It was challenging though, for me to keep my patience with Michael while fighting tiredness and the returning of bad sleep habits. There was lots of back and forth, and then Dad fortunately heard the start of anger in my impatient voice and took over with helping Michael use his newly learned strategies. We did amazing couple tag teaming, and the next morning that came WAY too early we spoke of what worked, what didn’t, and why Michael had the issues he did.

I was worried that Michael would be left with no confidence in himself that he had these fears. He kept repeating he is not proud of himself that he couldn’t handle the night fears, and it broke my heart. He was me many many years ago, until I found my formula. But, the good news is that Michael surprised me the next day by saying he learned what he could do differently the next time and what he could change. My little guy is growing up, and I am growing wiser too. Michael helped me see that I don’t always have to do things alone. I can rely on Dad to help me and him out if I wearing thin. We all worked as the tag teaming duo, and though it was tiring for us that day, we had a good day as a family. It showed me that what I tell Michael in the day is true at night too-you can still turn it around.

Exceptional Parents, what do you need to turn around in your parenting for your selves or your child? What can you learn from past mistakes or moments of weakness? Our Exceptional Children are our greatest teachers. We need to be honest, look at the messages we are sending out to them, and most importantly, learn together how to handle stress and fears at all times of day and night. It will help us grow as people on the inside and out. Until next time.

5 Things To Do For Sleep Training Success

 

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Ok, I can’t believe I am typing these words on the screen. We had sleep training success last night with Michael. I was so proud of him. I was so proud of me. I was so proud of Dad. Yes, there were nerves, a little bit of testing, and lots of questions from Michael questioning if he was ready to sleep alone. But I sensed it in my gut, his readiness, his maturity, the way he spoke to me about his fears earlier yesterday and on previous days. Many bathroom trips, many visits to our room before bed to try and bargain, but then quiet, blissful quiet while he slept. It took him awhile, but my boy finally saw that he could do it-sleep the whole night by himself. And me. Well, other than getting used to sleeping with my partner again, had a great night’s sleep in my own bed knowing that I had succeeded this time in teaching my son how to self-soothe.Now the trick would be keeping these strategies in place.

I began thinking of the five months we have spent slowly this time, going over how Michael needed to learn to separate from me, and over the techniques and ways he learned basic self-soothing. He is still working on that one, but aren’t we all? And I have vowed to stay strong and continue to show Michael what he can do against the odds. Last time we sleep trained too quickly and I caved when he became fearful. I have changed too, and now know that the best gift I can give him is to let him find his way out of troubled spots.

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I thought back to the 5 basic steps I used in sleep training, thanks to the wonderful suggestions of our Psycho Educator. I have included them here to help other parents in their sleep training issues:

5 Things to Do For Sleep Training Success:

  1. Gentle separation from child: What worked for us was gently separating from Michael, 5 minutes a night. Also, in my case I would still go back to sleep in the same bed until Michael got used to being alone for longer stretches.
  2. Monster Social Story: Our Psycho Educator wrote a wonderful monster social story for us that we still are reading now. If you need help, google Carol Gray social stories or ask for help from a professional in writing one.
  3. Coping strategies list: Michael and I compiled a list of things that would help him cope with nighttime anxiety: monster spray, (you can buy in pharmacy), nightlight, white airplane noise on computer etc. Let your child choose these strategies. Last night he sprayed all the walls with monster spray. A mother could not be prouder. 🙂
  4. Keep routine EXACTLY the same no matter who puts child to bed: This is imperative. You need to have the basics and keep it consistent. No aterations. Kids will play you when they are insecure. They are smart. We used: shower, story, massage, prayer, cuddling for 12 minutes and I would leave room
  5. Stay strong and don’t try to fix child’s stress: I can’t stress this one enough. I am a nurturing Mom who thought I was helping when I would rescue Michael every time he was scared. Comfort then yes when they are frightened, but I ended up showing him that he needed me to calm down, not intentional. You’ll know when they are refusing to use strategies you have talked about that it is slight manipulation. That is when you gently redirect them to calming down strategies.

I don’t fool myself that there won’t be challenges ahead, but then as a parent there always are. You take it one day at a time.

Exceptional Parents, are you struggling with sleep issues? You are not alone, and the best advice I could give is to work with someone who understands you and your family’s situation. You and your child can do it. Everyone will sleep better as a result, and most importantly, you will show your child that they can soothe themselves and cope with stress, something invaluable to help them in life. Until next time.

 

 

Rosary And Dream Catchers-Exceptional Stress Protectors

 

With all this nighttime anxiety lately I am happy to see a positive spiritual development occurring. Michael has become quite attached to the rosary he got at his last catechism workshop. He is using it as a sort of talisman against the monsters that are in his room at night. He also has taken a renewed interest in the dream catcher I had hanging by his bedside. I am trying to have him use both as talismans against the things he fears. We also read a good “Monster Social Story” every night, written by his Psycho Educator. In it, we go over his strategies to deal with the monsters, monster spray, the picture on the wall (a picture of him with his Dad and I) centered on construction paper. What is written on the paper is “Monsters Keep Out.” And of course, he has his assortment of pillows, figurines, a little lantern that sheds some light in the room and Barney, his go to when life gets challenging. I know with time, and as his confidence gets stronger in himself, he will see that he can conquer the monsters. This is hard for any child, but a lot of exceptional children have particular challenges in the sleep arena, Michael being the norm here.

Self-regulating is hard, that is, controlling how we handle stress in our lives, daily and nightly. It is hard for most adults to do. I used to be one of those adults, but over the years I have found ways to deal with stress naturally and how to turn off my brain at night. Not always an easy thing to do. Seeing Michael struggle with regulating his daytime and nighttime stress was also eye opening for me. I learned that by helping myself, I could slowly help my little boy get a handle on how he deals with stress in his life, even if it is only one day at a time. This is a tough problem to deal with, and one that many people struggle with all their lives. I hope I can help Michael find a way to calm himself before he reaches adulthood.

Exceptional Parents, what talismans and help do you use to quiet the minds of your Exceptional Children? It’s tough when there is so much anxiety involved, but we also can’t keep rescuing them from their demons. Being there for them to hold and comfort is one thing, but strong boundaries are also important and help to show them what they need to grow up and into themselves. Seek support, remember to stay as calm as you can when they rage, pray for patience, and know that as they begin to weather the small storms of life they will be able to tackle the bigger issues of their life. Until next time.