It’s OK if You Don’t Like Your Kids All of the Time

6 min read
Msi Press

Source: Msi Press

This week is National Parenting Week, which highlights how important parenting skills are in society. Therefore, it’s the perfect time to share my review of an excellent parenting book by special needs educator and consultant Franki Bagdade with a fantastic title: I Love My Kids, But I Don’t Always Like Them. The book is a swift read, providing tips for parents, based on Bagdade’s extensive experience, on navigating the challenging behaviors of our kids, whether they are neurotypical or neurodiverse.

As a mom of a son with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), I identified with the case-study scenarios and appreciated the practical advice Bagdade shares in her book. Many of the strategies presented in her book are ones I found most useful when raising my son (I wish the book was published when he was young!). Now parents can find all the information they need in one comprehensive resource.

Right size your expectations.

This is a major theme throughout the book. Understanding your child and what is reasonable for you to expect from them is crucial to the parent–child relationship. I know my ADHD son will not listen to me if he is hyperfocused on a particular task, yet I still get annoyed when I am talking to him and being ignored. It took some time, and learning about his ADHD, to realize he does not ignore me on purpose; he truly doesn’t hear me speaking to him when his ADHD brain is otherwise engaged. I need to get his attention first or wait until he reaches a break in what he is doing before discussing something with him. I had to right size my expectations for how my son behaves, and how his ADHD brain works. It’s all about setting realistic expectations for your child.

Bagdade also points out that it’s important to help your child right size their own expectations as well. Switching between tasks is difficult for kids with ADHD, especially when they are engaged in a preferred task (e.g., playing a computer game) and they have to switch to a mundane, boring task (e.g., completing homework). To avoid battles over homework with my son, we came up with the plan that he could play video games for a specified amount of time after school, and then he would have to do his homework. To set his expectation that homework was to be started by a certain time, we decided he would set a timer alerting him he had 15 minutes of game time left. Having an agreed-upon plan resulted in less arguing over getting homework done (most of the time).

Manage tantrums and meltdowns.

Bagdade offers some words of wisdom regarding tantrums: “They aren’t giving me a hard time; they are having a hard time.” She also stresses that behavior is communication, and parents have to work to understand their kids’ behaviors. When my son was younger and would forget to turn in assignments for school, I would get frustrated with him, he would yell at me, I would yell back at him, and then he would have a full-blown meltdown (emotional dysregulation is common in ADHD). After I understood why my son was not turning in assignments and why he had extreme emotional responses to frustrating situations, I realized I had to modify my behavior that was contributing to his emotional meltdowns. I also had to remember he was not making the choice to act in such an explosive manner.

Communication is the key to your child’s success.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help and listen to the professionals (e.g., educators) who work with your child every day. I find this advice from Bagdade extremely important, especially when it comes to neurodiverse kids. If we had not listened to my son’s second-grade teacher, it’s likely his ADHD would have gone undiagnosed. Based on her experience with students over many years, she recognized my son’s behaviors, like shoving incomplete worksheets in his desk and disappearing from the classroom for extended periods of time to avoid work, as signs that something may be going on.

I identified completely when Bagdade mentions “you hope your child’s teacher ‘gets them’ because they are so much more than their test scores…” This was one of my biggest concerns with my son since I knew his performance did not always reflect his capabilities. Inspired by the story of a father who would send letters to his son’s teachers explaining the boy’s learning disability, I email my son’s teachers at the beginning of each semester detailing his ADHD, his weaknesses, and, most importantly, his strengths. I was pleasantly surprised that the reaction from many of his teachers over the years was positive; they were grateful for parental communication and support. Teachers are more than willing to help, and Bagdade encourages parents to ask for it.

Communication between parent and child is equally as important as the communication between parent and professional. Bagdade points out that parents need to be active listeners and collaborate with their kids to problem solve. My son and I wrote a contract together outlining his accountability for completing school assignments on time and preparing for tests. He determined a daily schedule and picked the consequences for not completing tasks. I agreed that I would check in with him two days a week (selected by him), and I was not allowed to nag him to complete homework or to study. Once the contract was finalized, we both had to sign it. Collaborating with my son was the most effective way to change his behavior and improve his performance in school.

I recommend Bagdade’s book for parents who are struggling with raising challenging kids. I’ll close this post with a final quote from the book: “The perfect parent doesn’t exist. The best parents are the ones that keep trying.”

You know you love your kids, and it’s OK if you don’t always like them.

You May Also Like

More From Author

+ There are no comments

Add yours