Cybill Goldberg Newton MA

Parenting children with ADD/ADHD by Cybill Goldberg

I met Cybill when my son was in preschool. She’s a very together person and when I learned that she is now a practicing therapist, I asked her to guest blog for me.

Cybill Goldberg Newton MA

If you want to reach her, her contact information is:

Cybill S. Goldberg, LICSW
634 Commonwealth Ave
Ste 205
Newton, MA 02459


Parenting children with ADD/ADHD

By Cybill S. Goldberg, LICSW

“Don’t let yourself become so concerned with raising a good kid that you forget you already have one” 

-Glennon Melton 

Every parent wants the best for their child. Parenting a child with challenging behaviors can make that quest seem impossible at times. It is exhausting mentally, physically and emotionally, often leaving one feeling hopeless, as if they are failing as a parent.  The painful cycle of self-blame beings and it doesn’t help to feel others may be blaming you too.  This blame can grow into shame and isolation at a time when parents need support, validation and compassion.  

As do their kids.

Assuming your child is PURPOSEFULLY acting out is going to get you no where fast.  Blaming the child gets in the way of progressing to a healthier relationship.  Many feel their child is being lazy, manipulative, attention-seeking, self-centered, and pushing the limits, when in fact they simply do not have the skill set to do otherwise.  Once a parent is able to accept the fact that  “children do well if they can”, it is much easier to diffuse their frustration when their child is struggling.  Simply changing your parenting perspective can yield amazing change.  Shifting your mind set from assuming the child’s behavior as “acting out” to the belief that the child is feeling challenged and is desperately grasping for a solution, will lead to a more positive outcome.

When the parent is able to successfully accept this point-of-view there is understanding and acceptance of why a reward/punishment system does not work with these children.  I often make the analogy that if a child with dyslexia was struggling to read, a parent would not punish them with a time-out.  Instead, they would compassionately support and offer guidance in developing the skills necessary to read successfully.  It is the same with ADD/ADHD.  We need to act compassionately and offer guideline to help these children succeed emotionally and relationally.

As a therapist who works with parents of ADD/ADHD children, we work together to identify the specific skills the child is lacking and move to include the child in problem solving each conflict or issue.  To simplify,  the presenting conflict may be the child refuses to brush his teeth.  The parent has tried reward charts without success and even attempted to take away screen time if the child does not brush.  The parent is exhausted and starts to think the child is purposefully being defiant, lazy and controlling.  

The more productive intervention is to investigate with the child WHY he isn’t brushing and WHAT he proposes the solution to be.  Surprisingly the child may say it it the taste of the toothpaste or the bristles on the brush that bother him.  He may say he doesn’t like to brush at that specific time.  This conversation is guiding the child to learn to identify and own the issue and reduce a reactive response.

The teeth-brushing story is overly simple but does help understand how to partner up with our children in a way that allows for less explosions and more connection.   I believe this collaboration between parent and child is the core base to a happy healthy relationship and allows the child to develop sophisticated skills that will forever serve them.  

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