One of the phrases I hear from parents the most is they ‘need ADHD parenting help to reduce their kids’ angry meltdowns or crying episodes’ that happen with no warning. Each week, I send parents strategies and tools in my Raising the Blinds Weekly to make raising a child with ADHD easier. The response was so great I decided to share a version of a recent newsletter here on the blog as well.
We all know that ADHD parenting is hard. No denying that.
It’s sort of like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Just when you think you have prepared for the day, something is off with your child.
So, we become jugglers. Trying to maneuver emotions and hoping anything else that needs our attention can wait until we have a chance to breathe. Whatever the reason, we parents are human and sometimes (okay, show of hands, a lot of times?) parents raise their voices.
What if I told you the action your child really wants from you when they’re having a hard time? (Hint: It’s not juggling and it’s not angry Mom or Dad.) When they emotionally off, they want one thing.
They want VALIDATION.
Even better, what if you had the exact words your child needs to hear that would change things for the better? 5 simple words that you can use EVERY time:
‘How can I help you?’
It’s a powerful phrase. Then watch how the tone of the conflict begins to change.
My husband’s favorite phrase until he discovered these magical words used to be ‘These things happen. You need to cut it out.’ Or, ‘You need to calm down.‘ That did nothing but point out to our child that he was struggling.
Or he could have said, ‘How can I help you?’
When our other son was feeling overwhelmed to sit down and write a paper from start to finish, I could have said ‘Quit stressing and get it done already.’
Instead I said, ‘How can I help you?’ And suggested he break it up into 5 mini paragraphs, writing the topic in the first sentence of each one. He realized it was a manageable assignment and got it done.
Or when one of our children was having sensory overload and refused to attend a sports clinic, I could have said ‘Get a grip, you’re fine. Stop the whining.’ Instead I said, ‘How can I help you?’ He explained that it was too loud and he felt anxious being in a big crowd, so we came up with a compromise.
How can I help you? is a phrase that changes the tone of what is happening for two reasons. It validates what they are feeling, even if we don’t understand it. And it doesn’t shame.
Afterwards, they may want to talk, maybe not. Maybe they want to be alone, but you diffused the situation and can discuss it later once everyone is calm. (Including Mom and Dad.) One of my favorite responses came a day later, when one mother posted in our private Facebook community group ADHD Superparents:
After school today I used “How can I help you?” (from the email yesterday). It completely diffused my daughter’s upset. She didn’t have an answer but she stopped being mad so it was a win for me! Tomorrow I’m going to try it on my husband!
How can I help you? shows your child you may not have all the answers, but you are on their side to create a solution. And that’s what our kids want. They want someone on their team to help them navigate this journey.
How many times do your kids get angry, or extremely sad, and blurt out words like ‘I HATE myself!” They are really asking you to show them how to manage their emotions. They need to know that Mom or Dad are in control when they can’t be.
How can I help you? is a phrase that disengages. Give it a try today!
Want more? Read about the One Thing You Must Do For Your Child with ADHD HERE.