We all want our kids to be happy and succeed no matter their age, abilities, and interests.
As parents we tend to focus attention on challenges and outcomes. It’s hard not to when we are constantly being reminded by teacher comments on progress reports, assignments, and report cards, as well as those dreaded parent-teacher interviews; or comments made at social gatherings by family members or friends who just don’t get it.
Watching your child struggle whether it’s academically, socially or behaviorally is not for the faint of heart!
When parenting kids with complex challenges it’s important to pay attention to the process, as well as the outcome; when we meet our kids where they are at, remove our own expectations, and have a deeper understanding of the why and what makes them tick, we are better equipped to nurture their neurodiversity and help foster independence.
In order to foster independence it’s essential to make the process iterative, to continuously listen, understand, and problem-solve along the way, rather than being attached to an individual outcome. It’s a process; and to be honest, it takes time, patience and trust!
When we allow our kids to learn from their own experiences, keep the “I told you so”, “you should do it / have done it this way” comments to ourselves, and fight the urge to jump in and “help fix” the problem we are encouraging their development of independence.
It’s important to remember that …
- Improvement happens over time.
- Not every mistake or bump in the road needs immediately correction or attention
- It’s a marathon not a sprint
Here’s what I learned …
- Parenting can feel like a complicated process:
- You feel like you’re stuck on a hamster wheel
- You’re worried that things will always be difficult
- It’s hard to observe and do/say nothing.
- It’s exhausting, frustrating, and sometimes even a little scary.
- Perspective is everything:
- “Now” is only a snapshot in time, and does not predict the future.
- Take inventory; assess what has worked and what hasn’t worked in the past? Can a strategy be modified?
- Don’t jump in with a solution. Fully assess the situation and then make a recommendation.
- It’s never too early to foster independence:
- Treat your child the way you want to be treated.
- Sometimes it’s just easier to do it for them, but when we do we take away the opportunity to build independence.
- Offer support when needed, don’t force it.
- We are all are perfectly imperfect:
- Mistakes happen – things don’t always go according to plan.
- Just because you feel that you or your child “should be X, Y or Z ” doesn’t make it so.
- We all have our own set of strengths, challenges, opportunities and experiences that make us who we are.
- Just because we don’t understand why does not mean that it’s not true or that their feelings aren’t valid.
- We aren’t fooling anyone, nor doing our kids any favours, by pretending that everything is ok all the time. It’s ok to let your kids know that you are human.
- Self care is fundamental to effective parenting:
- Parents will do anything to help their kids but rarely get support for themselves.
- We tell our kids that they need to learn how to regulate their emotions and behaviour, understand boundaries, and advocate for themselves but somehow it doesn’t apply to us as adults.
- Walk the Talk – What are we teaching them when we aren’t doing the same.
- Don’t let pride or stigma keep you from getting the support that you deserve
I can’t change your child, nor do I want to – they are exactly who they are meant to be. Don’t let the stress of raising a child with complex challenges get in the way of enjoying your child! Discover how taking the coach approach to parenting helps you help your child to flourish. It’s all about family empowerment!
Have questions? Visit www.alexleech.ca for more information