Easier said than done... right?
Yes, it is easier said than done especially when there are so many other things going on in life. But, that's no excuse. You CAN do this and all you need to do is start with the intention to want to do better and change.
Learning to be mindful, intentional and calm when parenting (especially with neurodiverse children), will move you in the direction of feeling in control and grounded despite everything crashing around you.
Remove the myths
First, you need to change your mindset about why your child is displaying behaviors to gain a greater understanding of why behaviors are really happening.
I challenge you to stop thinking these myths...
“My child is intentionally manipulative”
“My child intentionally wants to make me sad”
"My child wants to make me mad and get's a kick out of it"
“My child likes to upset everyone because he/she just smiles and laughs”
“They don’t care about anyone else”
"They are selfish and ungrateful"
"They just want to control everything to be their way and don't consider others"
And replace these myths with 'truths':
"My child doesn't have the understanding to behave in the way I expect."
"My neurodiverse child don't see the world in the same way as we do."
"My child hasn't learnt about emotions and the complexity of relationships yet."
"My child has Autism and is hypersensitive to the stimuli in the environment."
"My child isn't learning social skills and processing information in the same way as others."
"My child hasn't learnt how to get attention in appropriate ways yet."
"My child likes control because they haven't learn the flexibility and coping skills yet"
None of the myth statements are really true. We need to look at our children with a loving heart and step into their shoes.
What is your child dealing with that you aren't aware of?
What have they learnt works for them to get what they need?
Lead with LOVE
Yes, I'm repeating myself from last week's blog post to showcase the importance of leading with love!
Loving your child means helping them learn and grow to become independent.
Loving your child means making learning successful.
Loving your child means providing a secure environment by setting clear and realistic boundaries.
Loving your child means making specific time with them. Getting down to their level and connecting WITH them, following their lead.
Loving your child means supporting them through their mistakes and guiding them by explicit and kind correction (so they learn what TO do)
Loving your child means reinforcing them (with social praise as much as possible) when they are engaging and responding appropriately.
STOP before you react
Become more aware of your triggers and when you are starting to get angry and frustrated. Have a go at answering these questions:
What does the anger feel like for you? Where do you feel it?
When you are starting to become frustrated or angry, where do you feel this build up in your body?
These feelings are your early warning signs. The warning light for you to choose anger or calmness.
This is a choice, no one is forcing you to act in any particular way. So, choose calmness and intentional, rather than reactive parenting.
As soon as you notice your early warning signs tell yourself "STOP!"
DON'T YELL DON'T TALK DON'T SLAM DON'T GET PHYSICAL
DO FIND SOMETHING THAT CAN BRING YOU INTO CALMNESS DO TURN AWAY DO CLOSE YOUR EYES DO TAKE A BREATH DO WAIT FOR CALM DO RESPOND IN A CLAM AND INTENTIONAL WAY
Please note that I do not recommend stopping and walking away from behaviors that are dangerous to your child or others. If you are experiencing dangerous behaviors from your child, book a 30-minute complimentary call to discuss the situation and a tailored action plan.
Some extra tips...
Make time to plan what you will say or do when behaviors arise. Being prepared is the most precious tool in your toolbox. Practice what you will say and the respectful and calm tone of voice you will use.
Your response should go something along the lines of...
Acknowledging your child's feelings or desires
A brief and clear statement about the expectation (and 'why' if needed)
A final statement that let's your child know it's their choice or that you'll wait for them when they are ready (in some cases this might not be the option, but other strategies could be used to follow through gently)
“I know this can be tricky to do. First shoes, then outside. It's your choice. I’ll give you some time”
If you would like to know more about making positive behavior changes, register for the complimentary webinar on Tuesday May 16th 2023 from 8 to 9:30pm MST (Edmonton time).