Parenting a Person With ADHD: Chapter 1-Ignoring The Negative

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

This is the 2nd part in my new series “Parenting a Person With ADHD”.

In the prologue, I went over how we as a family got to where we are today and briefly discussed some of the tools we used. In this chapter I will be going over in detail the first tool: ignoring the negative nonsense.

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To actively ignore someone takes skill, patience, and practice. To actively ignore your own offspring while they are attempting, very hard, to REGAIN your attention….well that takes the above things and some direct, frequent support. Either from someone who’s been through it or a professional skilled in managing cases like this. Someone whom can give you reassurance. Because this one skill is probably one of the most important and effective.

We started living by the rule: if it wasn’t hurting someone or something, and wouldn’t lead to undesired behaviors later, it could be ignored.

To achieve this can sometimes be tricky. There’s a lot of behaviors/actions that fall into a grey area. I’ve found the easiest way to sort out some of those in between things was to ask ourselves “Is this an actual problem or do I just have a problem with him doing this?”. For example, he used to love being upside down on the couch. I had to readjust myself and learn to be ok with him having his legs up in the air. My only rule was his legs had to be still-no kicking or squirming as that becomes dangerous to others. Now, he doesn’t sit like that anymore. I let it go, and so did he.

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You may be familiar with the saying you get more of what you pay attention to and that is quite true. Especially for a child with ADHD who is defiant and/or has ODD. They like to know they can get a rise out of you, it gives them a sense of control in a world where they have very little control. They like being in control (I don’t blame them, so do most of us) and have a hard time when they are not. Ensue melt down.

The way to break this cycle is to take your own control back…by not giving into the cycle in the first place. When you actively ignore your child’s negative behavior they will (eventually) see they no longer effect your mood/actions with how they choose to act. So they will stop, because the norm has changed. Then they will learn to re-set their brain into active choice making rather than instant response.

Now, keep in mind this will take time. Sometimes a long time. And you cannot, I repeat CAN NOT, give up anywhere in the middle of this transition period. Otherwise you will have just reinforced all over again that they can get a rise out of you, and it will be that much harder to get them, and yourself, to make lasting and meaningful change. This is really a time when consistency counts.

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This is usually the most exhausting part of parenting a defiant child for many. You don’t have room for many mistakes and you don’t have the luxury to throw in the towel. For our son we still have to do this every so often! He’ll be turning 7 this year and we started this when he was 5, just to give you an idea of the road ahead. But he rarely ever needs this now, and he never throws fits like he used to. But the reality of raising a person with ODD or defiant ADHD is that these issues will never fully go away; these skills will always be needed.

Stay tuned for the next chapter: Reward System

Normal Is Overrated

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

Today I watched a Pixar Short titled “Float” with my son. I’ll give a brief description so *spoiler alert*. It’s the tale about a father and his little boy, who is quite special. The child is able to float in the air, completely of his own accord. At first, the father is amazed and just looks at his child in wonderment; then he sees neighbors and rushes to hide his boys gift. Of course that doesn’t pan out and he ends up hiding inside the house with his child. I’ll end my recap there, you can check out the film for yourself on YouTube but what started as a whimsical lil’ clip I was sharing with my eldest kiddo turned into a very personal realization moment.

After the film itself ended, they posted “Dedicated with love and understanding to all families with children deemed different”*. Reading that was almost like a forehead slap. It made me go back in my mind and replay all the moments that other characters were staring and glaring at the boy and his dad, and the dad is apologetically chasing after his child only to end up yelling “Why can’t you be normal!”* in desperation. How they spent a lot of time indoors more or less hiding from society and the dad has to prep the kid before they can even go out for a walk.

It made me wonder…have I ever felt that way about my child?

I already knew my answer…

It’s hard not to feel shame saying this but yes I have wished my child was “normal”, I have wished my child was simpler and easier to handle. I don’t mean to, but I am guilty of comparing my son to other children in his age group and even family members. It never feels good to say that I have done those things; all I can do is give myself grace and always do better each day. This got me to thinking “What the hell is normal anyway? Why do so many people (if not most) want to be considered normal?”

Like, real talk. Tell me if this sounds familiar: it’s good to stand out-but not too much. You should be yourself and authentic-as long as you still fit into the “norm” and aren’t too far off that spectrum. You can have fun and be silly-but don’t look crazy or sloppy. Maybe it’s just me but I’ve certainly felt those pressures in my daily life. We all want to fit in, that’s part of human nature. But this notion of “normal” is something intangible. Normal can and does mean SO many things! What’s normal for one may be way weird for another. We as humans seem so adamant on putting ourselves and others into pre-packaged boxes. Then, how do we prevent it happening (and doing it) to our children?

Acceptance. Accepting our children exactly as they are and learning to see the beauty in the conditions they may have. Letting them just BE; be themselves and be free. At the end of the film the father accepts his son for who he is and enjoys him as he is. No pressure, no chains or ropes, just pure love. Here’s the kicker though, everyone is staring! I thought this was really important because in typical films we usually see everyone accept the outcast, but here it was just the son and father having their moment; and the dad stopped caring what other people thought. Which brings me to my second realization.

Don’t let the opinions of others get inside your head, especially with your child.

It’s hard to do and can be kind of a gray area because you want to listen to professional advice and make adjustments where needed when working on behavioral issues. But if you let those facts and knowledge through while keeping opinions out, I feel like that is key. People can have their opinions. They can also have them to themselves and it’s ok (in fact it’s good) for you to tell them so. I know firsthand how hard that can be, and how people can take it the wrong way but that’s on them-not you. Plus professionals don’t usually take things personally.

You have a right to keep as clear a head as possible when being a parent, and if that means telling family members, friends, or otherwise “Thanks but we know what works for us” then by golly, more power to ya! Raising a person is hard enough without dodging all the crap that others think you should do.

I was really impressed by this little film. It got my heart and mind stirring. I hope you will take the time to check it out and see if you can gain something from it as well.