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10 Parenting Tips

Updated: Mar 2

I’m just going to say it. Parenting is challenging.

I often think that at the heart of it, all children want to get their way. They want to do what they want to do. They don't want to do what they don't want to do. They often have more stamina than their parents and will stop at nothing to get what they want. As a parent myself, I often feel that something I thought would be enjoyable, like a trip to Liberty Science Center, or mundane, like getting ready for camp, simply becomes unpleasant. There is inevitably a tantrum, a “5 more minutes,” a “no”, or a “not yet!”.

Parenting can be even trickier when you are parenting a child with a brain difference, like ADHD, giftedness, or autism spectrum disorder, or experiencing emotional difficulties like anxiety. Sometimes typical parenting strategies don’t work. What may be effective for one child, doesn’t work for the other, and sometimes, despite our best intentions, the way we are parenting may actually exacerbate the challenges.

I counsel a lot of parents on how to approach parenting differently. When you have a child with neurodiverse traits, it is important to use strategies that are a good fit for the child’s brain. Parenting techniques and strategies are most helpful when they match the child's particular pattern of strengths and weaknesses. Often these approaches are counterintuitive and require parents to be more intentional with what they say and how they say it, while also providing more structure and support in the environment.

Some of my favorite parenting tips include:

  1. Tell your child what to do rather than what not to do

    1. “Please walk” instead of “Don’t run”

  2. Be specific with your requests

    1. “Put all your toys in the toy box” rather than “Clean your room”

  3. Give commands as a statement, not a question

    1. Please put your plate in the sink” rather than, “Can you put your plate in the sink?” When you ask it as a question, the child has the option to say no!

  4. Avoid lengthy explanations or rationales

  5. Use “If…then statements”

    1. “If you choose not to turn off the TV when I ask, then you also choose not to have electronics for the rest of the night”

  6. Make consequences brief, as immediate as possible, and moderate in intensity

    • Don’t punish yourself by taking things away that are going to be difficult to enforce!

  7. Make tasks fun or game-like, create competition

    1. Race to see who can get dressed first

    2. With trying new food, give the child chopsticks or a toothpick to make it interesting

    3. Do things together or take turns completing tasks

  8. Pick your battles, try not to focus on trivial behavior or minor rule violations

    1. If your child doesn’t sit still at dinner, allow movement or for them to stand

  9. Focus on what your child is doing well, catch them being good

    1. Provide specific labeled praise.

    2. Focus on “high quality” praise versus “low quality”

    3. Say:“I love the way you listened the first time I asked” rather than “Good job!”

    4. Give high fives, pats on the back, and fist bumps to acknowledge your child’s effort

  10. Practice being a good listener. Rather than telling your child what to do or trying to solve a problem, simply validate what they are saying

    1. If your child comes home saying “No one likes me,” Rather than saying “That’s not true, you have lots of friends,” ask for them to tell you more or how it made them feel. This actually builds self-esteem!

Lastly, if I could distill parenting advice down, it would be this: love your child and have good boundaries. It doesn’t matter what those boundaries are. Some parents are okay with their child putting their foot in their oatmeal, while others want them to use a spoon. What is important is that your child knows that when you say something, you mean it. It’s often hard to know the “right” thing to do in any situation, and genuinely, there often isn’t a “right” answer. However, if you make choices and take action based on knowing you love your child no matter what, even if you don’t like their behavior in the moment, and, you are willing to uphold your boundaries, even if it makes them unhappy, you can’t go wrong.

Interested in more parenting tips and techniques? Inquire about Parent Management Training today.

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