ADHD, ODD, RAD, ASD, SPD, … the alphabet soup of labels can be mind-boggling!  When your child is diagnosed and you’re not sure what it means, life can be so overwhelming and confusing.

What I find so often is that a parent will say, “My child has a diagnosis of ADHD and anxiety.  It’s driving me crazy that she can’t remember to pick up her clothes and her room is a mess!” My first response is often that these are signs of ADHD, which comes as a bit of a surprise to the parent.  Even though she has looked up the symptoms on the Internet, she hasn’t put two and two together – that right now she’s seeing the symptoms of her child’s diagnosis.  It’s trickier with mental health diagnoses than it is with physical ones. If your child has a rash, you can see the rash and you fully understand why she wants to scratch it.  You normally don’t call a parenting coach to say, “I don’t understand why she wants to scratch!”  But since the symptoms of ADHD, ODD, etc., are not in clear view, and since they are behavioral, it’s easy to jump to “bad- behavior-make-it-stop” than to reflect on the reason behind the behavior.

The other day I spoke with a parent whose child is grieving. She said, “The child is really clingy and we don’t know how to make that stop.”

Last week I worked with a family whose child has an anxiety diagnosis. The parent said, “He constantly asks when we’ll be doing every single thing, and it’s driving me crazy.”

A month ago I had a client whose child was diagnosed with giftedness.  She said, “She acts like she knows everything already, and challenges us at every turn. It’s exhausting just trying to get through the day.”

I recently spoke to a parent whose child has Sensory Processing Disorder related to taste and texture.  He said, “I can’t get him to eat the dinner we put on the table. Shouldn’t he just be grateful for a good meal?”

All of these parents love their kids and want the best for them. It’s just that when you’re in the thick of raising a challenging child, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s really going on. Each of these parents, after gaining insights into the root cause of their child’s behavior, can reduce their own irritation with the child, who is simply demonstrating the effects of the diagnosis, not being disrespectful.

Once the irritation is reduced, understanding and compassion can come into play. Most parents want to be compassionate toward their children, but they don’t know how to navigate the behavioral aspects of the diagnoses without feeling like they’re “giving in,” which feels awful.  The last thing parents want is a child who thinks she can “run the show.” When your child is diagnosed, or even just suspected of having a diagnosis, this is a really tough spot to be in as a parent.

The good news is that parent coaching can help you see what you’re looking at, and to learn new ways of interacting that truly work and don’t involve “giving in.”

For a quicker view of how this works, read Present Moment Parenting: The Guide to a Peaceful Life with Your Intense Child.

Or if listening is more your style, get the book on Audible.

And as always, parent coaching is an option.  Don’t wait. You can be released from thinking you have to be the “heavy” with your child, and find ways to communicate that cause great harmony.  Sound good?  We think so, too.


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