Four Keys to Parenting Children Dealing with ADHD, Emotional Challenges, or Autism

By Dr. Brad Schwall

When we think of children who may be facing emotional, developmental, or psychological challenges, we often think of what they need to be doing or learning. Instead, we must first think about our own attitudes and actions as parents, caregivers, and teachers.

1. See your child as an individual rather than a label.

Each child is unique. Assuming our child is just like all other children with the same challenges limits our ability to tailor our responses and encouragement to help our own child grow and develop.

2. Grow a strong relationship.

Your relationship with your child serves as your child’s greatest resource for developing a healthy sense of self. Be aware of your own interaction style. Check your awareness of how you respond to your child. Do you have too high of expectations or too low of expectations? Are you anxious, protecting your child too much from failure? Are you withdrawn, not giving your child enough attention? Are you critical? Are you intrusive, doing too much for your child? Be aware and have a balanced approach to responding to and interacting with your child.

3. Focus on promoting development.

Understand the social and emotional milestones for each age and stage. Think of your child’s strengths and growth areas. Your child’s differences in processing, sequencing, or reactivity to sensory input will impact how your child develops socially and emotionally. Understand that your child will uniquely achieve those developmental milestones at his own pace and in his own way.

4. Encourage skill-building.

Exposing your child to a variety of experiences allows for the opportunity to develop social and emotional skills. Provide opportunities for successful independence appropriate for your child. Start with situations in which your child is comfortable to build up the skills. Build on strengths and gradually develop skills in areas of weakness. Have a growth-promoting approach to guiding your child building one skill on top of another facilitating the process of learning.


Source: The Child with Special Needs, Stanley I. Greenspan, M.D. and Serena Wieder, Ph.D.