Reply To: Emotional Distance

Penny Williams

I challenge you to see words like “disrespectful, rude, and mean” as signals that there’s something else going on for your child in those moments. Behavior is communication, a symptom of the real problem, so what is your child trying to tell you in those moments? 1. that he’s having a hard time. But, what else? Is he struggling with frustration tolerance, emotional regulation, self-awareness.

Empathy and emotional validation are very powerful parenting tools. Say something like, “I see that you are really angry right now, and you’re having a hard time with your emotions. We all get angry when _________ happens. How can I help you?”

Know that your child may not be able to respond to that in a positive way, YET, but continue to use this approach frequently and consistently and it will improve behavior drastically. You’ll see empathy start to soften outbursts pretty much right away.

ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism