Some people would answer something such as “the ability to stay calm,” or “providing the right kind of structure,” or “keeping yourself healthy and well-rested.”
Although these are crucial for long-term success in raising a child with ADD or ADHD, the most essential parenting trait is trust.
A child with a disability of any kind has the potential to grow and develop beyond any expectations that adults in his life current hold for him, but only if he himself believes in his future. Without belief, he is limited to modest gains at best.
Children who believe in themselves and their outcomes are committed in their endeavors. We all know from experience that the things we are committed to are not only easier for us, they are the things we stick with until we complete them.
The messages you send your child influence his level of commitment through his belief about who he is and what he can accomplish
Think back to a time in your life as an adult when things were tough for you. It might be a particularly challenging time at work, a health crisis, difficulty in a relationship or a financial setback.
Now that you have that instance in mind, think about the people you interacted with during this stressful time. Did you feel criticized … judged … or did you feel their acceptance and willingness to be patient as you tackled the challenge?
It’s obvious that if you felt negative messages from others, it worked against you. You may have made errors … you might have lost your temper … you might even have given up.
Adults have far more coping strategies than children do. If you, as an adult, were influenced by the negative messages of others, think about what it is like for your own child.
Your child reveres you. Your child has no ability to separate your parenting messages from his or her sense of self-worth. Children get the meaning of parental messages twisted in their minds. Because children see their failures larger than they see their successes, and because they believe that failure is a sign of their imperfection, they believe that when they disappoint their parents, their parents don’t like or want them.
Parenting children with special needs requires that parents have a success-oriented belief system.
A success-oriented belief system is grounded in the understanding that today’s thoughts fuel tomorrow’s results. Parents who appreciate that their child’s success is grounded in a “can-do” attitude know how to foster resilience and persistence in their children.
Strategies for developing a success-oriented belief system:
- You uplift your child from a position of liking yourself. Commit to developing and maintaining a strong, positive self-image. Be on a quest for personal development.
- Be committed to positive change in the family dynamic. Be alert to identifying and committed to eradicating maladaptive parenting patterns. Begin to see yourself as your child’s mentor, not your child’s boss.
- See your child’s life in positive and goal-directed terms. Reframe the meaning of genetics to understand how little is “set in stone.” Understand that individuals with disabilities are capable of attaining and becoming more than anyone can imagine or believe! Commit to focusing on what will be, and not to giving undue emphasis to what currently is.
- Be comfortable with your child’s free expression. Never, never, never plan your child’s life to suit your needs or fulfill your desires. Believe in your child’s dreams, not your own dreams for your child. Teach your child to lead her life with purpose and clarity.
Raising a child with special needs pulls forth from you power, clarity, and connection with your life’s purpose, and connection with the knowledge and ability to guide your life in more purposeful ways. If you are struggling in one or more areas of your relationship with your child, I suggest the best way for you to improve the situation is to rededicate yourself to 100% trust in your child’s ability and willingness to grow beyond your wildest expectations.