I hear from parents how difficult parenting ADHD child is. They tell me that they just want their child to be normal and successful. Instead, they feel judged, isolated, frustrated, overwhelmed, and often, like they’ve failed their child.
Parents, I can not say this loudly enough, you are not failing your child. Your stress, worry, and frustration is evidence that you are doing your best to help them.
Raising a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD requires a mind shift. If you have the same expectations for your ADHD as you do for your other child you are setting yourself up for failure. It’s normal to want your ADHD child to act, think, and behave a certain way, but the truth is they won’t. That disconnect between how you want them to act and how they act is where that isolation, frustration, and exhaustion starts.
All parents have unrealistic expectations for their child. That is completely normal. As a parent, our expectations for ADHD child is that expect them to be “just like everybody else” that we aren’t able to meet them where they are.
What do we mean by that? It means that we need to take a step back and have realistic expectations based on their ability. Instead of wanting our child to sit still for 30 minutes and become frustrated when they don’t, we set an expectation that is achievable for our child. Whether that is 2, 3, or 10 minutes. That way when our child becomes restless after 2,3, or 10 minutes we don’t become all stressed and upset because that was what we expected they’d do and we’re already prepared to handle it.
This isn’t to say that we’re telling you not to have expectations, rather we’re wanting you to focus on helping your child move forward and improve where they’re at. It’s meeting them at their level. We talked in greater detail about changing our thoughts in episode 1 and recommend you listen to it if you’re having trouble changing expectations for your ADHD child.
How to help a child with ADHD is to not compare them to other children and to focus on having realistic expectations of what they can do. As you believe in them and meet them where they are at, you are giving your child the tools they need to be successful as they will feel less judged and less pressure to be something they’re not.
By empowering ADHD parents with the mind frame to change the expectations for ADHD child, Siope Kinikini shows families how they can heal.
This is episode six, let’s get started.
Smarter Parenting welcomes you to our podcast series, The Parenting Coach for ADHD. Here to heal and elevate lives is your parenting coach Siope Kinikini.
I am so excited to be here to talk to you about ADHD, and actually, expectations that parents have. During this discussion, of course, I really, really think it’s important to focus in on the struggle that parents who have children with ADHD go through. It’s a difficult thing, it’s a very difficult thing to have a child who struggles with ADHD. Exhaustion stems from these perceptions, and these ideas that a child should behave in a certain way, and that they should be somewhere where they’re not.
For example, I worked with family where the parents expected their child to be on a level with the other children in the grade that he was in, and the child was, clearly was not. The child actually struggled quite a bit. They were frustrated, they were angry, and they were upset. I also received an email from a mother who was upset because she felt judged by the other parents who were around them, and especially by family members who she felt did not understand the struggle that she was going through with her child.
I hear this quite a bit, this anger, this frustration, this exhaustion that they go through, and it’s real, it’s absolutely real, and I don’t deny it. In working through parents and discussing this, one of the things that I always go back to and focus on with them is their overall perception of the reality. What is the reality of the situation that they’re in?
A lot of times, parents have unrealistic expectations for their children. In fact, the majority of parents have unrealistic expectations for their children, that’s a normal thing, and that actually is why parents are wonderful people, is that they want what is best for their child, and what they perceive to be what is best for them.
One thing, and this is the hardest thing that I’ve asked parents to do, is to step back and assess what is the reality of the situation you’re in? It’s that simple. Having the parents step back, and look at their child honestly, and say, “What is the reality of where my child is right now?” What is that reality? Now, with the parents who had a child who was struggling in school, that’s what we did. We sat down, and I asked them, “I need you to step back, I need you to look at your child honestly, and I need you to tell me the reality of where your child is.”
Now, the father was silent, in fact, he did not want to do this at all. And the mother broke down, she just started crying, and crying, and crying, and crying. As we worked through this, and we talked through this, I started to discover a little bit more about what she was feeling and what she was going through. It became apparent that her expectations for her son were completely different than the reality of where her son was at.
By the same token, after time the husband started to realize this too, and that his expectations were far away from where his child was. This is a hard realization for a lot of parents, it’s really hard to sit there and look at the truth, what is the truth? But, the benefit of being able to do that is that you are able to move forward, once you realize where you are you can actually create a path for where you need to go.
Now, the other way of working in it, where you have these expectations and your wants for your child, if you’re not realistic of where they’re at you will be frustrated, you will be exhausted. This is a very common thing to happen because they cannot meet that expectation. So, my suggestion to a lot of parents is to give yourself a break and give your child a break. Step back, make an assessment, where is your child, what’s the reality? And then, from there you can build a path of where they need to be.
Now, for this parent, for the parents who were working with this child who was not on level, they were able to create a path that was parallel to what they hoped their child would be, but they were able to create a realistic path, expectations that were steps that were achievable by their son over a course of time, and by being able to do that we saw progress. So, we saw progress in the son increase, and we saw stress in the parents decrease, because they started to recognize ways to celebrate the progress that their son had made.
It was actually a very beautiful thing to see between the parents and this child. So, as the child began to make little steps, even just minor steps, the parents recognized those as movement in the right direction, and they applauded it, and they were super happy. That all came about by them being able to step back and realize that their expectations were unrealistic, and to face the truth, the reality.
Now, that is a lot easier to do when you have somebody who is willing to help you through that, and that’s what a therapist does, that’s what a counselor does. If you are on your own, and you’re trying to figure this out, what I recommend is that you sit down in a time that’s peaceful for you, or quiet, or just away, it doesn’t have to be for a long period to time ’cause children need things, and you need to be there for them, but take some time, maybe five minutes or so, sit back, and really, really assess the reality of where your child is at, okay.
You can start asking yourself questions like, “Okay, what can my child do right now?” “What is my child capable of doing right at this moment?” And then, compare that with, “What are my expectations?” And, “Where does my frustration lie in between the gap between those two?” Being able to answer these questions as you go through … And I’ll leave, actually, a handout on the ADHD course that you can walk through, and questions you can ask yourself to help you assess the reality of where your child is at, and where your expectations are at, and how to make them meet. I’ll leave a link on that for parents to use as they self reflect and self assess, what it is that they need to do in order to help their child succeed.
You need to really evaluate your expectations for your child and whether or not they’re realistic. And sometimes they aren’t, and if they aren’t you’re just building an environment where you’re going to remain frustrated, anxious and angry because your child is not measuring up. This is different than saying, “I want my child to be able to do this,” or, “I dream my child to do this.” They’re different things, this is actually a focus in helping your child improve where they’re at moving forward, and keeping your desires out of that in order to help them progress. You can get more information on this, actually, on a blog post in the Smart Parenting website, which will talk a little bit more in-depth about this whole process of how to be self reflective, and understanding where you are, and where your child is, and then closing the gap in between those so your frustration level is less and their success rate is higher.
That’s it for me for this week, but feel free to leave me a comment or a remark. I’d be glad to read them, and I would love to have some feedback from you. Just feel free to subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep in touch, and also be aware of our ADHD course which is coming out for parents and for children, which is specifically focused on helping children who struggle with ADHD. So, I will see you later.