Guest Expert

6 Tips for Positive Parenting with Complex Kids

What do you think Positive Parenting is? There are several misconceptions about it. Many people think it means weak, unstructured, or overly-permissive parenting. But that is not true.

Kind, Yet Firm, Parenting

Positive parenting really means being a kind, yet firm, parent. Research has proven that this parenting style is important when raising children with complex issues, like ADHD and related challenges. Knowing that complex kids are consistently inconsistent, it helps to be consistently consistent with your communication with your child…. of course in a kind, yet firm, way.

6 Tips to Help You Develop Your Kind & Firm Parenting Skills:

Tip #1: Educate yourself about your child's challenges

There are many things to know about ADHD and all the other issues your child might struggle with, both the stereotypical traits and the unique ways it impacts your child. You have to understand what's going on to know how to set limits with your child and provide the type of structures needed for success..

Tip #2: Avoid power struggles as much as possible

I know, I know… this is not an easy one, especially since our kids love getting into power struggles. They find it exciting, stimulating, and well, powerful! But in truth, avoiding power struggles are best for you and your child. Here are some helpful ways to do that:

  • Provide structure:
    Set a daily routine for you and your child… and make every effort to stick to it! This is especially important in the morning and in the evening. Even
    though your child might resist this at first, and it might be difficult for you, too, following a routine everyday provides structure that will help your child thrive. And for those times when you have to stray from the schedule, even temporarily, make sure to give your child plenty of advance notice to adjust to the change.
  • Set limits and boundaries
    Setting limits is not easy for parents of children with complex challenges like ADHD, but they are necessary. Children can't function without them!
    Since children like to test us and push the limits (over and over and over), it's important to tell your child up front what the boundaries are for any particular situation. This doesn't apply only when she is acting up or lashing out – it applies all the time. Before he turns on the television, make sure he knows he can only watch 30 minutes of TV. Tell her the night before if she needs to clean her room before she goes out to play the next day. Communicating the limits and boundaries lets your child know what to expect, which helps decrease resistance.
  • Give your child choices:
    Children often act out when they feel like they have no control over any part of their life, so giving them choices instead of saying “No” can be productive. Include your child in decision-making. For example, ask your child where she'd like to sit to do her homework, rather than telling her where to sit. Or, let your child pick from two or three options for a sandwich for lunch. When children feel they're part of the decision, they're more likely to be agreeable or follow through with it.

Of course, there will be times you fall into power struggles with your child. When this happens, give yourself some distance from the situation. Don't come up with the consequences right then and there. Take some time to calm down and think about it reasonably and rationally so that your consequences will be more realistic and easier to implement and follow!

Tip #3: Don't Major in the Minors

Children with ADHD and similar issues hear “No” all the time. Try to focus on what they're doing right and acknowledge them. At the same time, don't make a big deal out of little issues -- “Don't major in the minors!” Avoid letting minor things get blown out of proportion, and try not to make a mountain out of a molehill. Learn to let go…

Tip #4: Don't enable them… empower them

Yes, your child may have certain difficulties that require special accommodations at school. That's just a fact of life. But when you educate your child about his challenges, and why it's nothing to be ashamed of, you can teach your child to advocate for himself. This can prevent your child from feeling inadequate or unworthy. At the same time, make sure you help your child discover his strengths and figure out how to use his talents. Your child's self esteem will have an enormous impact on his future. When you help her realize her worth and value as a child, she'll know it intrinsically as an adult!

Tip #5: When talking – less is more

Communication is vital but when it comes to talking… less is more. Learn to prompt your child instead of nagging. For example, rather than asking him five times to brush his teeth while hoping he pulls his eyes away from the television during his favorite program, try this instead:

“Listen Lucas, when the clock says it's 8:30pm, I'm not going to say anything. At that time, it will be time for you to brush your teeth and get ready for bed. I'm not going to tell you what to do, but I will direct you to the bathroom so you can brush your teeth and wash your face.”

Tip #6: Give them a chance to lead the way

It's important to spend some quality time alone with your child and let her lead you. This gives her a safe space to be herself and lets her test out being a leader. This will also help build her self-esteem and have an opportunity to test out some of her natural talents in the world.

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