I often recommend that parents set up a structure and real goals that their kids can work toward rather than lecturing your children about how they should respect you. That will never get you anywhere.
2. Misunderstanding the developmental stage of your child.
It can be easy to misunderstand the developmental stage of your child, whether they are younger or in their teens. What I mean by this is that parents sometimes assume that their young child has more understanding about human nature—and how he should behave—than he actually does. On the Parental Support Line, I hear from many parents who have the expectation that their children should be altruistic, for example—that their kids should think of other people first. And if a young child has an advanced vocabulary, it’s easy to assume his verbal ability indicates he’s also physically and emotionally advanced. But as James Lehman says, “They’re not little adults, they’re children.” You can’t expect your child to have the same kind of empathy, altruism or physical discipline and skills that you do. They simply don’t have that capacity yet.
This also shows up with teens—there is an expectation that teenagers should feel gratitude, be very empathetic, and be future-oriented. So parents will try to motivate their kids by lecturing them about their future. The truth is, teens are very selfish in their focus; that’s part of the developmental stage they’re in as adolescents. It’s our job to teach them empathy and goal-setting. I don’t think there’s any point in getting angry with your child for something they can’t do yet. Knowing what your child is capable of at a certain developmental stage can really help you to have reasonable expectations for them.
3. Expecting one type of parenting style to fit kids with a specific diagnosis.
James Lehman says that regardless of your disability, you still have to figure out how to get along in society. This is absolutely true, but some parents take it to mean that all kids can and should respond to the same kind of parenting. The truth is, for kids with ADHD or other diagnoses, your parenting style will have to change a bit to be effective. Simply setting up a structure and using consequences to keep a child with ADHD on task, as you would for a child who does not have it, will usually not work—in fact, it’s been shown that children with ADHD respond better when you alter the rewards and consequences system. (Dr. Bob Myers explains how to do this in his Total Focus Program
for kids with ADD and ADHD.)