Seting boundaries in your parenting is just as important as learning to set clear, kind boundaries in all of your relationships.
Even before I started this blog I was obsessed with parenting. I read as many books as I could get my hands on while I was pregnant. Like most clueless well-intentioned first time parents, my husband and I thought we could do it all.
You and I both know that parenting requires a level of self-awareness and patience that is challenging, ADHD or not.
The problem is compounded by the pressure to appear like you have it all together all the time.
At some point you have to stop trying to be a perfect parent, and start setting some boundaries for your children.
Here are the benefits of setting boundaries in your parenting:
Boundaries set expectations
When he was young, I spent so much time trying to coax and coddle my son that he started to think he should be rewarded for doing the right thing. It was a lot like training a puppy, I’d give him a treat every time he peed in the potty.
Parenting experts disagree on the role of rewards in the development of social-emotional skills in children. But I can tell you that for us, small rewards have to be carefully considered and frequent.
For example, at school my son has a behavior chart. As long as he is respectful with adults and his peers all day he gets 15 minutes of iPad time at the end of the day.
The reward is frequent, attainable, and small enough that he isn’t being over rewarded for his behavior.
If you keep the expectations very clear, you won’t have as much room for argument.
Boundaries create security
I was an insecure child who never felt like I belonged anywhere. Sometimes I forget that my son knows nothing but love and approval. Even when he makes mistakes we talk about them and work it out.
E has no problem being argumentative and disrespectful. He is not afraid of being abandoned or ignored by his parents.
Children feel more secure when they know what to expect. If you are consistent with your daily and weekly routines, you won’t have to repeat yourself or explain why you are doing what you are doing.
Their behavior will be more impulsive if they don’t know what the limits are and they don’t know what to expect.
This rule applies to older kids, too. When I taught 9th grade emotional support students, they were better prepared and more cooperative when they knew how the day would flow and what I expected at each transition point.
Punishments and Threats don’t work
Some kids with ODD and other related diagnosis can be perceived as defiant, disrespectful, and argumentative.
My son certainly can*** come off this way in certain contexts.
My child wants to control everything. He wants to argue over who is arguing. (“I’m not arguing.” “You are arguing about not arguing!”)
Everything is a power struggle. There is no easy way to redirect, correct, or even calm.
You know what works waaaaay better than threatening to take away his devices?
Humor. No joke. Sometimes I imitate him when he is being argumentative and then we all start laughing.
I still tell him I love him and do all the “mom” things. I am just not engaging in arguments and threatening to punish him.
If I do take away a device I simply tell him to give it to me, and then I tell him when he will have it back.
You don’t need to intimidate, or get loud, to make your point.
***Remember it’s totally ok in the heat of the moment to tell your child, ” I’m going to think about the consequences and get back to you.” ***
The Bottom Line on boundaries
I am done pretending that I have all the answers.
Obviously, I care about parenting and I will continue to write and learn about being the best parent I can be while working within my personal limitations.
I also highly recommend Why Won’t Anyone Play With Me, by Caroline Maguire. (Affiliate links above. Please see my full disclosure)
Setting boundaries in your parenting is important for the same reasons boundaries are important in our adult lives.
Setting expectations, communicating clearly, and controlling our impulses is difficult.
And it doesn’t get any easier as a parent with ADHD. It actually gets harder because you are now responsible not only for yourself, but for the development of your children.
Do yourself and your children a huge favor and consider setting some boundaries around your parenting. You can thank me later.
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