Wisdom and guidance is out there. These techniques are taught to parents in special educational programs, but they are applicable to any parents.
First list your child’s strengths
- He or she has family support
- Can be gentle and nurturing (with animals, young children)
- Does well at _______ (writing, music, sports, playing with a sibling)
- Has never harmed him or herself, talks tough but doesn’t act on it
- Is able to attend school, is able to make passing grades
- Talks to you about how they feel
See their potential and not their flaws.
Guide them towards things they are naturally good at.
Steer clear of things they can’t do.
List your own strengths
- You want to be a good parent and gain wisdom
- You have supportive people in your life, and you reach out and accept help
- You take care of yourself, you practice self-calming
- You have a good attitude and realistic expectations
Maintain your confidence
- Silently think, “I can handle this;” “I’m the one in control.”
- Regularly talk through your feelings with others who understand and never judge.
- Get a life; maintain personal interests; and regularly set concerns for your child aside without guilt.
- Commit to doing the best you can, and accept that this enough – plan to let go someday.
You know you’ve done a good job when they are able to take responsibility for their own care. This is a monumental personal achievement!
Tips for settling things down
- Don’t rush it. Give the child plenty of time to unwind and settle. Calm is more important than quick.
- Ensure there’s a calm place to go – a time-out space, even for you.
- Get an appropriate therapy animal – a calm and durable creature unlikely to be harmed.
- Reduce chaos at home: noise, disorder, family emotional upheavals, intrusive stimulation from technology…
Use a NEUTRAL Tone of Voice
In a neutral unemotional voice, give directions or requests . You will need to repeat yourself, calmly, several times. Your voice should not sound anxious, fearful, angry, confrontational or manipulative. The wrong tone in your voice creates the wrong response in your child. It’s hard to do, so practice ahead of time. Practice what you’ll say and how you’ll say it.
Tips for managing defiance
Willfulness is a strength to cultivate IF it can be directed towards the positive. Your child will need to defy the odds someday, like dangerous influences and people, or the urge to give up.
- Be quiet and LISTEN. If you respond, address how they feel, not what they say.
- Use reverse psychology: ask them to do something you don’t want them to do, so they can defy you and do the opposite.
- Choose your battles. Let them think they’ve won on occasion.
- For an ODD child, give multiple instructions at once, including things they do and don’t want to do. It becomes too much work to sort out what to defy.
- Actively ignore – Stay in the vicinity but don’t respond, look away, act like you can’t hear. They eventually give up. Works best for ages 2 – 12.
- Mix it up – Be unpredictable. Give a reward sometimes but not all the time. Try different incentives, experiment with different ways to set boundaries and structure.
- To think about discipline ask “where’s my leverage?” Every child has something that teaches them a lesson them, for example: one child may feel “punished” if sent to their room to be alone; a different child may feel “punished” if required to hang out with mom or dad for a period of time with absolutely nothing to do.
- Remember that your child changes. What works now will stop working eventually. Be flexible, stay creative.
You only need to stay one step ahead. One step.
Avoid these 9 common parenting mistakes
- Treat your home like a democracy, let your child have an equal say in decisions. Always do as they ask.
- Find fault with them and tell them about it repeatedly. If they do something positive, it’s not good enough.
- Pretend your child has no reason for their behavior. Ignore his or her needs or challenges. Are they being bullied? Are they having a hard time sleeping? Is your home too chaotic?
- Make rules and only enforce them once in a while, or have consequence come later.
- Don’t treat your child appropriately for his or her age. Make long explanations to a 3-year-old about your reasoning. Assume a teen wants to be just like you.
- Expect common sense from children who are too young (5), or from young adults with a long track record of not showing common sense.
- Keep trying the same things that still don’t work. Repeat yourself, scream, show how frustrated you are with them.
- Jump to conclusions that demonize the child. “You are manipulative and deceitful,” “You don’t listen to me on purpose,” “I’m tired of your selfishness…”
- Make your child responsible for your feelings. If you lose your cool, insist they apologize.
Adjust your expectations
Don’t be frustrated by these common behaviors in children and teens regardless if they have a behavioral disorder or not. The only difference with your child is that he or she faces greater consequences and takes more time to grow out of them.
- Does not show common sense and is not influenced by reason and logic;
- Has no instincts for self-preservation, and poor personal boundaries;
- Has no well-adjusted friends; has friends who are risky or troublesome;
- Doesn’t respond to rewards and consequences;
- Appears to have limited character strengths: honesty, tolerance, respect for others, self-control;
- Does not make plans they can realistically achieve, hangs on to fantasies;
- Acts younger than their peers. Will not be ready for adulthood by 18;
- Lives in the here and now; doesn’t learn from the past or plan for the future
- Doesn’t notice their effect on others.
When in doubt…
Three long slow breaths.
Your brain needs oxygen to think.
Your brain needs an extra few seconds to think clearly.
Trust your judgement.
Trust your intuition.