Parenting is challenging. I think we can all agree on that. However, when our kids are not meeting our expectations, we often blame them, when in fact, we as parents need to take some responsibility. Now this is not a blame game because both kids and parents have a part in creating a solid and positive relationship, but I think we are too quick to put the focus on the kids and not ourselves.
When you are frustrated with how your child is behaving, ask yourself, “What could I be doing different to help my child react more positively?” The answer most likely might be, “I don’t know” because when you are in the trenches it’s hard to see things clearly and objectively. Let me share with you just a few small tips about setting expectations without nagging from the book Parenting ADHD Now: Easy Intervention Strategies to Empower Kids with ADHD by Elaine Taylor-Klaus and Diane Dempster. These tips work for all kids, not just those with ADHD!
The authors explain, “More than likely, when you generate negative responses from your kids there are two things going on. First, kids with ADHD often hear neutral comments as criticism because they are hypersensitive to negative feedback. Second, there may well be an underlying message that you are not saying directly but they are hearing loud and clear, like, “You’ve messed up again.” Even though our intentions are good, kids often hear our comments as judgmental, which puts our kids on the defense, making them feel like failures. So, instead of asking, “Why can’t you ever remember to….?” or “How many times do I have to tell you…?”, remember there is a valid reason they can’t remember things (executive function, working memory, distractions, etc.) and shift your expectations. Perhaps you could say, “It seems like you might need a reminder about this. How would you like me to remind you?” If your child is unsure, you can work together and come up with a solution. If it doesn’t work, just revise your ideas and keep trying! And an added benefit, is that as your child gets older, she will learn to set reminders for herself as she takes on more responsibility.
Meeting your kids where they are, and understanding that how and what we say to them can change their responses and self-esteem, can positively impact your relationship and make for a calmer household. Try it out and let me know how it worked!