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Sometimes You HAVE to Pick Your Battles

Sometimes You HAVE to Pick Your Battles

Positive parenting. Focus on their strengths, on the successes. Downplay and redirect those moments when they miss the mark.

Easier said than done, isn’t it?

Really, stay positive? When my ADD teen is making me crazy? When for the 17th time (today) I’m asking him, as directly and politely as I can, to turn off their electronics and get to bed? When I really want to scream and throw away his phone?

Yes. Absolutely. Parent positively. 

We discussed this topic in the Parent Success System coaching groups, and across the board, we agreed that we parents want to be more positive and more supportive. We also want to be less critical and frustrated. But how?

Josh McDowell said, “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.” So true.

I know first hand that I’m much less effective as a parent when my kids feel disconnected from me, like I’m not on their side. When our bond is strong, then my ability to parent and influence is magnified. 

Take this morning, for instance.

My kid has been struggling the past few weeks. Something personal is really bugging him. I can see it, but he doesn’t want to share it with me, yet – mostly because it’s not cool to talk to Mom right now. So my job is to find a way to be there for him without him knowing it. 

The challenge is that it’s reached the point where whatever is bothering him is impacting his school work, and his ability to follow the rules at home. Lots of things to correct or punish. 

But instead of asking myself, “what does my child need to follow the rules & get his homework done?” positive parenting takes me in a different direction. If I stop for a minute and ask myself, “what does my kid need now to feel loved and supported?” I am getting back on his team.

With this approach, the solutions change, the approach changes, and ultimately your opportunity to parent expands. Instead of yelling, you are bringing them ice cream; and instead of everyone going to bed frustrated and angry, they are watching TV with you and kissing you good night. Instead of shutting you out, your kids open up (at least a little).

So back to this morning. My natural reaction was to get angry and go into “search and destroy mode.” As I recognized that there was an emergency that could wait at least a few hours to be resolved, I was able to calm myself down enough to problem solve. I focused the morning on connecting with my kid — so that we CAN have a tough conversation AFTER school.

As an added benefit, I was even able to learn a little something I never expected — a critical piece to the puzzle of supporting my teen in managing this really challenging part of his life. I cant’ tell you any more right now – gotta respect his privacy on this one – but, I’ll let you know how it goes when I can.

In the meantime, here’s the bottom line: when you can take a deep breath and find a way to keep your cool, and focus on building a strong relationship, the opportunities you’re looking for will just naturally show up. Not too sure? I’m positive!

Elaine Taylor-Klaus and Diane Dempster, founders of, teach/write about practical strategies to parents of “complex” kids with ADHD and related challenges. To help your kids find the motivation to get anything done, download their free parent’s guide, The Parent’s Guide to Motivating Your Complex Child.

This article was originally published at ImpactADHD. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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