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 them differently to develop greater patience?  What will it take for me to be on the lookout for my child’s positive behavior as opposed to expecting and reacting to what they’re doing wrong?  Why might they be behaving the way they are?  What function or purpose does their behavior serve within the context of the situation in which it occurs? 

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. Having said this, it’s just as important to be an emotionally-responsive parent…ensuring their you persist in attending to the emotional needs of your child.  Indeed, this plays an important role in helping kids develop emotional regulation skills as well as self-confidence and positive self-esteem.

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?  Also, what will it take for me to be more responsive to my child’s emotional needs?

What works best in raising and disciplining kids?

Many parents would pay lots of money for the answer to this question!  However, it’s not an easy one to answer because kids are unique; what works for one child doesn’t work for another one.  Also, no matter the child there’s always going to be trial and error involved in figuring out what works best.  The bottom line is that if you use the four strategies above within the context of your rearing and disciplining system – and you truly have the best interest of your child in mind – you are more likely to raise responsible and emotionally-stable kids.

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 telehealth psychological evaluations with children, adolescents and adults.  Click here for details.

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