4 Essentials of Effective Parenting

It’s not easy being a parent – especially if you are a parent of a child with AD/HD. Most kids seem programmed to give you a run for your money in some form or fashion. There are literally hundreds of techniques that parents use to raise their kids. However, there are four components that lay the foundation for effective parenting.

1. Agreement – if you live in a two-parent household then it’s essential that you and your partner agree on child rearing approaches; otherwise, you’re creating a breeding ground for the development of the “divide-and-conquer” strategy by your child. It’s easy for kids to sense if their parents are not on the same page with regard to handling child issues.

Self-reflection question: What’s an issue that I and my partner disagree about regarding our child and how could we come to more of a middle ground?

2. Patience – don’t you wish that you could snap your fingers or wave your magic wand and – “ZAP!” – your child would instantly change into the person you want them to be – no arguing or complaining or blowing you off after you ask them to do or stop doing something? It takes time for behavior to change. In particular, kids with AD/HD require additional chances to learn things that you want them to do. Be patient…change is not only possible, but probable. In some cases, parents become impatient because they don’t see enough changes happening as quickly as they want them to (or may simply forget to use disciplining, teaching or child rearing strategies in the first place). Old habits die hard and so it will take some time for your child to develop new ones. Responding to them in a consistently positive manner when they display the desired behavior is key.

Self-reflection: When do I tend to become most impatient with my child and how can I change my perspective or look at him/her differently to develop greater patience?

3. Consistency – too often parents are inconsistent in their use of child rearing/disciplining strategies. Unfortunately, this encourages kids to “up the ante” and display more challenging behaviors – at least in the short term. This can even happen when you try using these strategies more consistently than you did before because kids sense that you’re changing the rules of the game and may not buy into it. Whatever the case, the key is to strive for consistency in the use of the strategies as this will eventually result in more consistent positive behaviors by the child.

Self-reflection question: What would it take for me to become more consistent with regard to how I discipline or teach my child about desired behaviors?

4. Persistence – along with patience comes persistence. As a parent or caretaker you have to “keep at it” with regard to using disciplinary/teaching/child rearing strategies. The enemies of persistence are complacency and “wearing-down” of parents by their kids when they detect change and resist efforts to do the things their parents want them to do. Unfortunately, they’ll keep doing the negative things if you don’t persist. Hang in there…things WILL change for the better!

Self-reflection question: What keeps me from persisting when it comes to disciplining my child and what is one thing I can do this week that might help me be more persistent?

What seems to work best to discipline kids?

There are lots of child discipline systems on the market, but “1-2-3 Magic” (https://www.123magic.com/) is the one I’ve consistently recommended to parents and teachers. It’s easy for parents to use and for kids to understand and it has good research support. In all my years of recommending this system to parents I’ve found that the parents who are most successful using it are the ones who incorporate the four components above into their parenting approaches. In other words, a discipline system – whether it’s 1-2-3 Magic or something else – isn’t sufficient to address child behavior problems. The four components lay the foundation for the success of the system.

Christopher Quarto, Ph.D., PLLC is a licensed psychologist in Tennessee & Michigan.  Do you suspect that you have Attention Deficit Disorder?  Dr. Quarto provides quick & convenient in-person and online/”Skype-like” psychological evaluations.  Click here for details.

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