How to Empower Your Unique Child and Find More Peace Parenting ADHD

As parents, we tend to find fault with ourselves for our kids’ challenges. Like me, you may find yourself running to school with the forgotten homework or lunch and judge yourself (how could I miss that?). Or you could be a parent like I was, receiving the phone calls about the inappropriate outburst on the playground (where did he learn those words?) Something had to give after the phone call I received that our kids mooned the security cameras outside their religious school.   

I can laugh at it now, but I dragged myself through the mud at the time and consistently judged myself as a parent. Instead of enjoying my creative, fun, and spunky kids with ADHD and executive functioning challenges, I loathed the taskmaster role I believed I needed to take on. I felt exhausted, drained, and alone. 

Especially if you're a parent who lives with ADHD yourself, you may feel responsible for your child’s struggles.  You may ask yourself, “How can I help my child if I have challenges managing myself.” Blaming yourself for your child’s behavior makes you feel horrible about yourself, and doesn’t help your child.


Here are three ways to empower your unique child with ADHD, and have more peace and calm in your family. 


Let Your Child Struggle  

It was tough for me to learn that I couldn’t always make things right. As parents we want to shoulder our children's burdens and be fixers, making everything better. We value dedicating ourselves to our children, but we may doubt ourselves as parents, and over-parent to compensate.   

When we take responsibility for our children’s challenges, we unintentionally send the message that we don’t believe our kids are capable.

It’s Ok to let your child struggle. This is how your child will ultimately learn how to problem-solve, make decisions, and become more resilient. 

Quick Tips:
• Allow your child to face the natural consequences of their actions. For example, if your child forgot to study for a test and performed poorly, grant your child the time and space to be better prepared next time, rather than sweeping in on your child to solve the situation. If you see a pattern, discuss things calmly, and asked open-ended questions, such as “What’s your study plan for today” to elicit problem-solving responses from your child. 
• Evaluate how your satisfaction with being in the driver’s seat. Be clear about your role in your child’s development, and gradually transferring ownership. If your child isn’t moving forward, this is a sign that you could be doing too much and you need to be doing something differently.  
Acknowledge your child's experience. All too often our kids aren't looking for us to solve anything; they just want us to recognize what's they're experiencing. Letting them know that we hear and see them is what they really want.  "It sounds like you were so frustrated when you forgot your gear and couldn't play."


Honor Choices  

We want our kids to feel empowered, but when we take on their challenges, we tend to disempower them in ownership. The result is their behavior is from their perspective, but not in the realm of their responsibility. 

Give your child their own agency and have them make choices that will help them understand what their responsibility is to that choice. 

Quick Tips:
• Resist offering advice unless asked.  Your child can know they have you as a support if they ask, but if they don’t ask, they need to make their own choices so they can own their responsibility for making that choice or for not making a choice.  If your child isn't yet sure about what to do about a situation, stop yourself from telling your child what you'd do in a similar situation or what you did when you were their age. 
Make realistic choices available to allow your child to take ownership of their actions. For example, if we hear “I have so much homework to do. I’m never going to do it all and it’s so late.” You can say, “Seems like you have a few options. You can do some now and do some early tomorrow. What would be best for you?” Or, you notice your child has lots of garbage all over his room. “We need you to grab some garbage bags to clean out your room now or after school, whatever works for you.”  
Help your child gather information to make informed choices, considering the people involved in their decisions, what the expectations are, and what the non-negotiables are, with the understanding that they are responsible for the outcome, so they can learn and grow from their own decisions. This can be tough when our kids with ADHD resist taking ownership. Even so, if we do all their worrying and choosing for them, they will not take responsibility for their actions, even if their actions involve a non-action, because no choice is still a choice. 
When your child is ready, help your child evaluate a poor choice without judgment and revisit the choices that didn’t go well.

Loosen Judgment

As parents, we tend to judge ourselves, and our kids. We get frustrated when we recognize a problem our child is having that we notice in ourselves.

When we focus on what’s broken, this limits our ability to stop being critical of our kids and ourselves and make changes.

Quick Tips:
Stay neutral. Judgment is seeing something as right or wrong, good or bad. If you live with ADHD yourself, you may tend to gravitate towards this type of black and white thinking. Tell yourself in a matter-of-fact way that this is where we are right now, and this is what we need to work on next. Your child may not have certain skills or behavior mastered, but this doesn't mean he won't ever, it just means not yet. 
Stop “shoulding” on yourself. Should’s are judgments disguised as expectations or rules you’re imposing on yourself. Should’s set you up for failure if you don’t abide by them. 
• Be curious. Rather than asking yourself, “Why can’t she do this?” Ask yourself, “I wonder why she can’t do this.” By remaining curious, you’re educating yourself about what’s happening, which shifts you to a more compassionate and understanding mindset. 
Use the 3 – 5-year rule and manage your expectations. Kids with ADHD and executive functioning challenges tend to be 3 – 5 years “behind” developmentally than their same-aged peers. Let’s say your child is ten years old, and he’s having a tough time getting ready in the morning on his own. Count back five years and ask yourself, is this an expectation I can require from a 5 – 7-year-old. This can help you decide if your expectation is reasonable and keep you out of judgment. If the expectation is reasonable for a child of that age, then you may need to break down the task to help your child be more successful.
Give yourself permission to make mistakes. We all fall into old habits, so expect that mistakes are going to happen especially with kids with ADHD and executive functioning challenges because it takes more repetitions and more experiences for learning routines, maintaining skills and regulating behavior. When you make a mistake, let your kids know it so you’re creating a home where it’s Ok to makes mistakes. 

To sum up, to release yourself from blame and empower your unique child to problem-solve and become more independent by:

• Let Your Child Struggle 

• Honor Choices

• Loosen Judgment

Try these and let me know how they work out for you!




 PS. Need more support to empower your child so you can have more peace and calm in your family? 

Contact me for an ADHD Strategy Assessment and we can talk about some practical steps you can put into place now!


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