Let Go of Judgment - Parenting a Child with ADHD
There we were, in the front foyer of the restaurant, my ADHD son screaming, barely catching his breath in frustration. Do I cave and let him have his way or do I hold my ground? Mortified and exasperated, I felt I had failed my child and failed as a parent.
Here’s what happened that helped me reframe my judgment of myself and of my son.
Why Can’t He?
My son was adamant about choosing both the burger and the chicken nuggets meals. The nerve of this child to want two dinners! All I kept thinking was why can’t he just choose one? I get that decision-making wasn’t easy for him, but it’s something he needed to learn!
Why can’t he stop screaming? Why won’t he just listen? What kind of parent am I who can’t teach her son these basic values? As people walked into the restaurant, I felt myself sweating in humiliation.
Just as I was about to sweep up my son to take him into the car, a lady came into the restaurant and said warmheartedly, “He certainly is persistent. He’ll get what he wants in life.” That’s all I needed to change my mindset and shift to a position of problem-solving.
What did I learn?
Reframe What Drives You Crazy: Ask “What Else Could Be True?”
I find the one thing that makes us crazy about our kids turns out to be their greatest strength. When we ask ourselves, “What else could be true,” we shift our mindset to understand our kids in terms of their strengths. This helps us pause and move towards a position of problem-solving.
The above story happened years ago; my son couldn’t make a decision because he was persistent about trying everything --- he still is, which has given him the capacity to reach beyond to achieve his dreams.
When you identify a strength by asking yourself, “what else could be true,” focus on what’s possible and hold that vision for your child, until your child can hold that vision for herself.
Why can’t he stop screaming? Why won’t he listen? These were questions I kept asking myself, that were not helping me problem-solve. Instead, I learned to ask myself “I wonder why he’s so upset.” “I wonder why he’s not listening.” “I wonder what happened today that’s getting in his way.” Getting curious adjusts our mindset so we can shift the emphasis from blame and expectation to problem-solving.
When you find yourself getting frustrated with your child, pause and ask yourself, “I wonder what’s going on at school, with her friends, with him, with us, that could be influencing this behavior.”
I was sweating in humiliation. What kind of parent am I who can’t teach her son these basic values? How many times do we feel judged by others when our child is behaving in a way others don’t expect? How many times do we judge ourselves for our “bad parenting?” Staying neutral is a helpful way to stay out of judgment. Tell yourself, in a neutral way, “this is the way it is right now, we’re working on it, and we’re doing the best we can.”
Next time you feel you are judging yourself or someone else is judging you, try an empowering response to yourself or to the person judging you. “This is a goal we’re working on.” Or, if it’s an issue you haven’t yet started on, “This isn’t a goal we’re working on now.”
So how did we solve the issue with my son? I realized it wasn’t about caving to my son or holding my ground.
Instead, we got curious about what was going on with him. Although we realized our son wasn’t able to make the decision in the restaurant, it was a goal we were working on.
Shifting to problem-solving mode, we didn’t force a decision right away. We did our best not to judge ourselves for bad parenting, and tried to stay neutral about the situation. With this in mind, we chose to share the burger and chicken nuggets and modeled cooperating with each other as a family, a win for everyone.
And we thanked the kind lady for shifting our mindset to what else could be true!
The next time you feel yourself going to a place of judgment, shift your mindset:
• Ask yourself “What Else Could be True?”
• Use Curiosity
• Stay Neutral
Let me know how it goes for you!
P.S. Whenever you’re ready, Contact me for an ADHD Strategy Assessment Session and we can talk about a plan to support you to be more effective and help your child reach their full potential.
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