Today I want to discuss you. What I mean by that is that I want to discuss you as a parent. Many parents who have ODD children, or ADHD children, or otherwise difficult children feel very ineffective and helpless as parents. I want to dispel some of the negative feelings that you might be having.
First, it is important to understand one thing. No child comes to the world completely blank. Children come in with certain personality traits, certain problems, certain skills and certain abilities and that combination makes up your child. Some children are easy to raise, and some children are hard to raise.
The general principle is that ODD children, ADHD children, and other children with other problems are much more difficult to raise than the normal, average child without any problems at all. You might be getting a lot of negative feedback from people around you about your child’s behavior and your inability to be an effective parent.
I would say in that many cases, if not in most cases judging people on their successes or failures is unfair. Parents who complain about some else’s parenting skills, do not have the difficult children you have nor do they have the same tests and trials that you have. An ODD child’s behavior with a very, very good parent will be much worse than the behavior of a very normal easily controlled child whose parent is not as good.
I will give you a couple of examples of this. We had our children evaluated by the school psychologist. A few years earlier he evaluated my first two children. I remember when he evaluated my third child he came out of his office and said to me “This one is much easier, isn’t he?”
And he was. My third child is a very easy child. My first two children were very difficult. It is not a reflection of my parenting skills. It is the way it is. My children have different basic natures.
Once we were at a family gathering with another family and this same child, who was easy child, was playing with another child of the same age. They began to get a little wild. The father said to me that this child of his is the wildest child he has, and he said this particular child is my calmest child.
And, it is true. He has very calm children and I have very wild children. But, again, you cannot compare the two children nor can you compare each of our parenting skills. One thing you have to understand as a parent is that if your child is not behaving properly, if he is ODD or ADHD, it is not a reason not to fix the problem.
You have to get the skills you need. You have to get a parenting problem that addresses these issues specifically. If a child is under twelve, you need a specific child behavior program for children under twelve. If he is between twelve and eighteen, you need a teen behavior program that addresses teenage behavior. Each age group needs different techniques and you should not get a program that blends them all together.
You should understand also that if you invest in developing parenting skills for your child and address the problems properly, you are doing your job as a parent to its fullest. You should also accept the child you have.
It is not a reflection of your skills. You should feel very proud of your child and of your ability as a parent if you get your child to improve his behavior even a little bit. It is not an easy task. If you have a hard child, no one can really blame you for that. If they do it is their problem and not your problem.