Some kids take extra energy to parent. We call them high needs, high maintenance, exceptional, and sometimes even exhausting. They are often quite intelligent and quite an enigma! And as parents, we tend to find ourselves overwhelmed and feeling very alone in our every day life.
But, trust me, you are not alone, and you can find peace in your parenting!
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While I’m not an expert, I do have 2 very high maintenance children who have taught me so much about myself and my parenting over the years. One is 17 and the other is 5. One is a girl and one is a boy. One is emotionally taxing, the other physically demanding. And they are both in this crazy-big family we live in for a reason!
So, rather than keep everything I’ve learned to myself, I wanted to share with you my tips for parenting a high maintenance child, along with ways to cope as a parent.
Acknowledge the diagnosis, but don’t live there.
It took me a really long time to acknowledge that something was different about my 2nd born child. Honestly, I knew something was different – she didn’t smile, she woke up every morning screaming, she didn’t like people talking to her – but I wasn’t willing to look beyond the behaviors for an actual diagnosis.
Now, truth be told, we chose not to seek an “official” diagnosis for a variety of reasons, but we did finally acknowledge what everyone was telling us – her different wasn’t simply idiosyncrasies.
However, once I accepted that she fit the high-functioning autistic description, I camped there for a while. Too long, in fact. I went from trying to manage every symptom to managing nothing. Until the night I sat and bawled through Phoebe in Wonderland, realizing how wrapped up I was in surviving.
From there, I realized I had to move forward, and that starts with…
Researching your child’s specific issues
You are not alone. Let me say that again – you are not alone. Yes, you feel alone, but trust me – there are people out there who are going through the same thing and have written about it. When I was first trying to find answers, there was not the wealth of information there is now, but I did find the book Homeschooling the Child with Aspergers to be invaluable! It was full of practical tips, not just theory. That’s what I needed – something to try, something to teach me and her to cope with all the craziness.
One thing I remember distinctly that still affects our lives every day is her need to know what time it is. I was exhausted with her constantly needing to know, especially when we were traveling. This book suggested I buy her a watch, teach her to tell time, and let her be in charge of the questions she had. It worked! And still to this day, she timestamps everything she writes.
You may not have an actual diagnosis to research, but you probably have “symptoms” or “behaviors” you can look up, and while not every blog post or medical journal article is helpful, there are plenty that are. Look for dietary changes, environmental changes, coping mechanisms, and mom-to-mom encouragement that speaks to you right where you are. And if you can’t find exactly what you are looking for, consider starting your own website! You may not feel qualified, but I can guarantee that there are other moms out there looking for the information you have to offer along your journey!
Get to know your child.
This seems obvious, but often our high maintenance children are really hard to get to know. It takes a concerted effort to figure them out because they live such enigmatic lives. They don’t always know how to express what they are feeling or thinking, but you can get glimpses into their world, if you are patient and consistent in your efforts. Take the little bit you can get along they way to give you fuel for your next researching session!
What do they dream about? What are they afraid of? Where do they want to go and what do they want to do when they have you all to themselves? What are they passionate about? What are their triggers? Keep watching, mama!
Don’t excuse bad behavior.
This is something that really bugs me about so much of the culture today. We allow a diagnosis to be a crutch. Instead of giving children who are high needs the tools and the big ideas they need to navigate society, we throw up our hands and just let them act badly, excusing their behavior to everyone they run over in the process. Folks, that is not ok. Yes, high maintenance children are loose cannons at times, but you can discipline and expect better behavior because of the discipline.
Take the diagnosis and use it to learn discipline methods that work for your child rather than let it become an excuse! Even if you don’t have an official diagnosis, you do have traits of your child to help you know what path to take to discipline toward better behaviors.
My 5 year old is rambunctious and very physical and seems to get into trouble a lot. His first response to anything that doesn’t go his way is to lash out physically. I’m always looking for ways to divert his attention and teach him to master his impulses. It’s not easy, it’s often frustrating, but I’m not allowed to “give up.” He needs me to teach him a better way.
God didn’t make a mistake
I know you know this, but you need to hear it again. God knit your child together and He is NOT surprised by how they turned out. He knew they would need a little extra from you, and He entrusted them to YOU because He knew YOU needed your child to turn you toward HIM! It’s ok that you feel inadequate. God’s got this! You just need to faithfully walk it out.
I have a friend who often tells her high maintenance little girl, “Use your super powers for good, not evil!” I love this because I truly believe it is the high maintenance children who have a special purpose in this life that will bring glory to God in a mighty way. They are bold and unstoppable! Don’t despair, mama!
Some children take more energy to parent. They are emotionally, physically, and mentally taxing, but we can learn how to parent them best if we just take the time to understand who they are and what makes them tick.
Do you always seem to be irritated and frustrated with your children? Are you worn out and stressed out by all the issues and interruptions throughout the day? Do you want to be a gentler, calmer mama, but all your resolve flies out the window after the first altercation of the day?
You’ll learn how to head off frustration before it starts, how to refocus your attention, how to have fun without stressing out, and what to do when everything is a crazy mess. All of this straight to your inbox! Won’t you join me?
Every winter, this rich, creamy soup calls my name. It’s my comfort food. It reminds me of precious friends, roaring fires, and frost on the windowpanes. But, I never limit myself to just having this soup in the winter. That would be crazy! This soup should be a staple and always paired with a crusty loaf of bread.
Let me introduce you to my Creamy Sausage Vegetable Soup!
I usually double this recipe for my family, and often have enough to stretch for lunch the next day. While it’s not my norm to buy dry soup mixes, there is just something about a quality creamy potato soup mix being in this soup that makes it amazing! I often buy Bear Creek brand, but frankly, Aldi’s creamy potato soup mix is just as good (and cheaper!).
Are extracurricular activities overwhelming you? Learn a better way to choose activities for your family that put the entire family first and build strong relationships within your family rather than pulling you apart!
For years, I have been intrigued by amber necklaces for babies. I know they are reported to have properties that help the pain of teething for babies, but I also think the jewelry is rustic and beautiful. However, I never ended up purchasing any amber jewelry for my teething babies probably because most of my babies haven’t had a difficult time with teething. But then I had a baby with a condition that causes pain, and my interest was renewed, and Baltic Wonder graciously sent me a necklace of my choosing for little Miss Mercy.
When you have a child with a chronic condition, you are willing to do anything that may help ease their symptoms. Since amber, particularly amber from the Baltic region, contains Succinic Acid that is said to have healing properties for arthritis and inflammation, I wanted Mercy to have a necklace from there. And I especially loved the multi-colored amber necklace from Baltic Wonder – such a pretty piece of jewelry for my pretty little girl!
Mercy wears her necklace most days (in fact, she point to it on the dresser, and stands still like a little lady while I put it on her every morning!), and she definitely seems to be less fussy on the days when she has it on. I’m obviously not a doctor, and can’t make any claims to the efficacy of amber, but again, I’m willing to try it for her sake. (note: I do take the necklace off of her for naps and at night.)
We all want our little ones to be comfortable as they explore their world. Whether it be teething pain or joint pain or some other kind of pain, it’s definitely worth the money to try amber!
If you have more questions about Baltic Wonder amber, check their FAQ HERE.
If you are looking for an easy Nature Study project that won’t take a lot of time and resources, a Flower Nature Drawing is perfect!
I did this years ago with my older kids, and when I saw a hyacinth bulb, not yet blooming, in our local Aldi, it jogged my memory, and I snatched it up for our homeschool!
Supplies needed for a flower nature drawing
A flower, not yet blooming A vase with water A sketch book or blank paper A pencil and eraser Optional: colored pencils
For our flower nature study, we purchased a purple hyacinth from Aldi, but if you have flowers in your yard that are getting close to blooming, you can use those for free! Another option is a bouquet that hasn’t fully bloomed. You can separate the flowers out and let the kids choose a flower to draw from the individual blooms, or you can have them draw the entire bouquet each day!
How to do a Flower Nature Drawing
There’s no right way to do this, but what I like to do is give the kids blank sketch books so that they see the progression of drawings all in one place. Every day, let them observe the flower and draw what they see. They can color it in too. You can tell them about the flower, talk about the colors and how it grows, but ultimately, your main objective is to get them to notice the changes and appreciate God’s handiwork. Don’t let “education” get in the way!
Be sure to keep the sketches in their crates or whatever you use to separate out each child’s school work. That way they can easily find their book each day and can even sketch on their own if they notice changes from the morning to the evening!
This week and last were pretty typical following a holiday. I pour myself into holiday schooling (see what we did for Valentine’s week), and then need a few weeks to recover. Plus, my oldest child had his 20th birthday earlier this week, so I spent a lot of energy preparing for that and cooking his favorite foods on the actual day of his birthday. I also had a hair appointment this week, so that cut into my extra time as well.
So, when I say typical, I mean we did our usual morning subjects and did very few extra projects in the afternoons. I did buy supplies needed to do a Brown Bear, Brown Bear project I do with all the kids when they are little. There will be more on that at a later date, but you can find the template we use HERE.
Our Resurrection Garden is growing, so the kids have enjoyed cutting the grass and tending to it every day.
For Tapestry of Grace, we watched several YouTube videos. One on the beginnings of video games, one on Mother Theresa, and one on Easter Island. I try to save as many resources as I can to my Tapestry of Grace boards, so if you are interested in what we watched, you can find them there!
Another reason I didn’t get a lot of extra projects done this week is because I was working on a new book and revamping some posts and pages here on the blog that tend to get a lot of traffic this time of year. When you’ve been blogging as long as I have, it is a good idea to look back over older posts that are still getting traffic and add more information to them. That’s what I did with my How We Homeschool Preschool and Kindergarten post from 2009. I also put together a page for the Homeschooling Year Round information here on Raising Arrows. So, I guess blogging was my extra project this week!
If you are on Instagram, this month you can catch glimpses of how I juggle home, homeschool, and blogging because I am posting with the hashtag #hsbloggers as they share what it is like to be a homeschool blogger. Follow me on Instagram here!
Years ago, I did this with my oldest two kids. I purchased this hyacinth from Aldi and every day, they sketch the plant as it begins to bloom. It really is fascinating, and a super simple project! You can see pictures and read more about here!
That was my week! Pretty low key. Next week, my oldest daughter and I are traveling to the state capital for TeenPact, so the other kids will be doing the very basics at home while I’m away.
If you are looking for a simple granola recipe that makes great crunchy cereal and fantastic homemade granola bars, this is it!
Not too long ago, I shared our favorite Homemade Granola Bar recipe, but I mentioned the fact that I had yet to find a granola recipe I actually liked. Well, a reader sent me her recipe (thank you!), and this past week I tried it (with a few tweaks) and LOVED it! It was definitely crunchy, and perfect for cereal and granola bars.
The recipe nearly filled a gallon plastic bag, as you can see below:
You can definitely freeze or refrigerate this recipe to use later, but it keeps really well out on the counter for a long time too!
I added a little extra cinnamon because we love cinnamon! We also added cranberries, shredded coconut, and pecans to ours because that was what I had on hand, but the possibilities are endless with this simple granola! Experiment until you find one that your kids love.
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