I tend to cope with my daughter's negative behavior and temper tantrums by blaming it on the ADHD. Is that a parenting cop-out?
by Kay Marner
Last week, our in-home therapist, Gayle, helped me to feel good about an instinct I have when it comes to parenting my ADHD child.
When Natalie is totally out of control—you know the drill—flailing around, kicking and screaming, biting, grabbing everything in sight to throw or to rip apart (shall I go on?) I try to figure out what set her off. I work on putting that into words for her. I focus on helping her to calm down and regain control. I don’t address each individual negative behavior.
Last Thursday night my niece Hannah was at our house (she works for Gayle) to work with Natalie. Gayle stopped in, as she does every few sessions, to guide Hannah’s work.
Nat was wild, and Gayle suggested Hannah help Nat to release some energy by doing some sit-ups and using her exercise ball. Nat complied, just barely, but this coping skill wasn’t working-yet.
Nat was being mouthy, disrespectful. Gayle and I ignored it.
And I felt embarrassed; deeply ashamed.
Hannah didn’t say this, of course, but this is what I heard: “No wonder your child acts this way. How can you let her get away with talking to you like that?”
Somehow, Gayle sensed I felt this way, and she brought it up later, after Nat had calmed down. My instincts weren’t wrong, according to Gayle. For a kid with ADHD, in those particular circumstances, focusing on using a coping skill trumped confronting her smart-mouth comments.
It takes understanding where a child’s behavior is coming from to see this. I strive for just that, and I can certainly see how looking for ways to connect her behavior to ADHD can look like a parenting-cop-out.
I’m not a perfect parent. Not even a “very good” one. My feelings will continue to get hurt.
But I’m trying.