4 Common Parenting Challenges and How to Overcome Them | Sharon Saline | 7 Min Read

Just when we thought we’d turned a corner in the COVID war, the Delta variant made all of us more nervous than we might already be. It’s worrisome for parents, educators, and students — all of whom are navigating wearing masks with quality instruction, engaged learning, and safe socializing. This complicated transition back to school has been especially tough for kids with ADHD, LD, ASD, and twice-exceptionality. These neurodiverse kids, who already struggle with anxiety and emotional regulation, often become more stressed, worried, and reactive. As parents and caring adults, when you too may be confused or frustrated in this uncertain time, it can be difficult to put aside your feelings and be patient with kids’ questions, concerns, or acting out behaviors. When you consider these numerous academic and social challenges, it is tough to know how to support our children and teens effectively every day. Naming and talking about these struggles, demonstrating compassion and consistency, and nurturing cooperation are the best ways to ease tension, reduce conflict and nurture resilience.

Improving cooperation with children and teens begins with listening and observing what they are saying and showing you with their words and behaviors. Many kids are well beyond their coping comfort zone. They’ve stretched and adapted to 18 months of online school, social distancing, and peer isolation as much as they can. They’ve relied on screens for their education, their play, and their socializing. Many youngsters have regressed in terms of self-reliant living skills and are depending on you in ways they haven’t in a long time. They may well be acting out towards parents or other loved ones because they can’t contain their anger, anxiety, or frustration any longer and they know you are a safe receptacle.

It’s so tough not to react in these explosive moments but self-control and compassion are what’s called for. As long as you import whatever negativity they are exporting and react strongly, your dysregulated response becomes their focus. They’ve succeeded in getting rid of their unmanageable emotions and can blame you for being unreasonable instead. But this isn’t a healthy solution. Instead, manage yourself with whatever tools you can (breathing, yoga, exercise, talking to a friend) and use reflective listening to mirror what you hear them saying. Make sure you set ground rules with logical consequences (not punishments) for physical behaviors such as kicking, hitting, breaking things, or using inappropriate language.…

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Sharon Saline, Psy.D.

Sharon Saline, Psy.D. is a top expert in ADHD and neurodiversity. Dr. Saline specializes in an integrative approach to managing ADHD, anxiety, executive functioning skills, learning differences and mental health issues in neurodiverse and 2e children, teens, college-age adults and families. With over 25 years of clinical experience, she brings a positive, strength-based approach to improving the challenges related to attention, learning and behavior. As a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Northampton, MA, Dr. Saline helps people reduce frustration, develop daily living skills, communicate better and feel closer. An internationally sought-after lecturer, workshop facilitator, and educator/clinician trainer, she adeptly addresses topics ranging from making sense of ADHD and executive functioning skills to managing anxiety to understanding the teen brain. You may contact Dr. Sharon Saline at https://drsharonsaline.com.