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Teaching Your Child to Respect Boundaries…With Respect

May 16, 2022

Does it feel like your child with ADHD, autism, SPD, or ODD is constantly testing you? All children push boundaries because that is part of the developmental process.  Kids are trying to figure out how they fit in this world.  In their body, their home, school, or in the community.  This is a great big world to explore.  It is exciting for kids to explore new things, but it can be downright terrifying at times for parents. 

As parents, we need to keep our kids safe.  This can be difficult because kids do not see the danger that we do as adults.  Not only do we need to keep our kids safe, but we as parents are also working to preserve our sanity.  So, we have house rules.  We also want to build social skills in our kids, so we have boundaries for how our kids interact with others.  The problem is that our kids do not have the same goals as we do.  They simply want to play and explore.  Sometimes it is innocent fun and other times our kids seek to feel adrenaline or to just feel something rather than numbness.

So what are we to do?  As a parent coach, I often hear from parents that they feel disrespected and that their child feels out of control. Children with challenging behaviors due to autism, sensory processing disorder, ADHD, or ODD have other layers of difficulty in following rules and respecting boundaries.  Each child is different, but complications like lack of impulse control, delayed problem-solving skills, language processing difficulties, and an inability to read social cues makes parenting more challenging. Having an empathetic parenting mindset helps.  Our kids need more patience and compassion. As you already know, yelling and punishing only makes things worse. 

Here is a parenting tip you can use this week! Pick an issue that has become a battle on the boundary line.  First, it is time to drop the power struggle.  When I talk to parents about dropping power struggles, they are shocked.  Here is an example…Your child does not clean up after himself when asked.  Rather than arguing about it and punishing him for it, try something new. When your child is in a calm mood, explain that you don’t want to keep having arguments about cleaning up.  Explain that you have noticed that cleaning up feels overwhelming for your child and that you are going to help him for a while.  The next time it is time to clean up, give a few cues that it will be time to clean up soon to get ready for the next thing and that you will work together to get it done.  As you clean together, look for positive things your child is doing and give a heartfelt compliment.  At the end appreciate him for cleaning up even if he gave minimal help.  Emphasizing the positive and supporting him during a stressful task will help to build an internal desire to live within healthy boundaries.

Do you ever wish you had someone to support you and coach you in parenting your child with intense behaviors? I can help!  I am a certified parent coach, and I love helping parents move from feeling overwhelmed to feeling calm and confident.

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