For Moms And Dads Of Kids With ADHD And/Or Challenging Behaviors
Parenting is hard! ADHD is a whole family issue: it impacts the parent/child relationship, as well as relationships with siblings and friends, and it affects school satisfaction and performance.
Using an authoritarian parenting style results in the inevitable power struggle, with only one party (the parent) “winning” and the other (child) being told what to do, and often resisting or only complying in exchange for a reward. The parent feels frustration and resentment over having such a “difficult” child and the child feels sad and angry and out of control. The cycle continues, unless you are willing to try something different.
To improve the entire dynamic, we begin with a model of parent/child collaboration. If you are not familiar with Ross W. Greene, now is a good time to check him out on www.livesinthebalance.org. Dr. Greene is notorious for his assertion that kids do well if they can. Not if they “wanna”, not if they are incentivized with treats, and not if they are threatened with removal of recess, iPad, computer, etc. I follow Dr. Greene’s model, and will soon be working on becoming a certified provider!
Parent/child collaboration involves both parties being able to see each other’s side and find an acceptable outcome. It is not “letting your child get away with” (bad grades/ risky behavior/ slacking their responsibilities at home/ fill in the blank). It is figuring out how to solve your biggest struggles together. Your child is learning problem-solving skills while improving self-esteem. And you get to break out of the reward/punishment cycle!
Most kids with ADHD have lagging skills in their Executive Functions. You may have heard the term “Executive Functions” – or it may be new to you. Simplified, Executive Functioning (EF) skills are skills that support goal directed behavior. These skills are not fully developed until the brain reaches maturity, around age 23! When the skills continue to lag or are never fully practiced in childhood and young adulthood, individuals with ADHD may continue to have issues throughout their lives.
Weaknesses to these executive functioning skills may show up as problems following directions, remembering a sequence of activities, getting stuck on a problem, staying focused for duration of a task, organizing, maintaining emotional control, transitioning from one task or location to another, follow through with boring or difficult tasks, and being flexible with unexpected changes.
Kids often also have difficulty with their language processing/communication skills, emotional regulation skills, cognitive flexibility, and social skills. I help you look at all of this with a new lens!
Parents can help their kids, and improve their own parenting, immediately by understanding the struggles the child is facing, and learning how to use a collaborative model to help. Then, the issues are approached with compassion and empathy, rather than with gritted teeth and threats.