Like many, many families, our struggles center around 2 kids with ADHD (with one who is also extremely sensitive to boot). And so, I have read a lot of parenting books. I have started many more than I have finished, but I am always hopeful for a new perspective and some helpful advice. The language of parenting has changed drastically since I was being parented and I often feel ill-equipped. Among all the books I have read I can recommend 3 great parenting books for families struggling with ADHD.
While these books are not geared towards ADHD or Highly Sensitive Children specifically, they have truly helped me be a better listener and communicator as a parent of two ADHD kids. Their advice has made me a calmer, more peaceful parent. Collectively they have allowed me to set firm limits without being the bad guy and get my children to be more cooperative, My hope in sharing these is that one of them may give a little more peace and ease to your family life. Here we go!
Book One: Simplicity Parenting, by Kim John Payne
Having just completed my Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach training, I am perhaps slightly biased towards Kim John Payne’s, Simplicity Parenting. But, it’s for a good reason. This book has had such a huge impact on both the way I parent and run my household. Payne’s message is just as relevant today for my tweens as it was when they were toddlers.
Simplicity Parenting serves to help families navigate the ever increasing pace of today’s world and the pressures that can cause anxiety and behavioral problems in children. Both the accumulation of stuff and the fury of screens have a major negative impact on our children’s growing brains.
Payne cites a study where children with ADHD showed remarkable improvement in their negative behaviors simply by changing their environments. The effects were even more positive than those achieved thru pharmaceutical medications, alone.
Payne shows us that simply by making changes to your families’ lifestyle you can have a tremendous positive effect on the life of your child, whether they have ADHD or not. The book offers inspiration as well as concrete ideas to hep you give your children the space, freedom and time to experience a childhood where they can become their best selves. Real life examples from families are given to help you come up with your own plans.
How Simplicity Parenting changed my families’ life:
This book made me realize how much our home environment played a role in the day to day stress and anxiety of both myself and my kids. I became vigilant about keeping only a few toys and books out at any given time and made a conscious decision to really limit screen time. I continue to feel empowered to change what I have control over and not worry about the rest. There is less fighting and rushing around when I make conscious decisions about our time, our stuff, and what media filters into our home.
Book Two: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Mazlish
Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish’s books were some of the first parenting materials I read. My favorite is How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. Faber and Mazlish are amazing at showing parents how to deal with children’s negative feelings. Their advice is practical with changes you can start making as soon as you put down the book.
Why I still consult How To Talk So Kids Will Listen on a monthly basis:
I was drawn to this book when my son began to have behavioral issues in first grade and I had no idea how to respond to his anger. What I found to be of help in How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk are the real life scenarios with different examples of ways to respond appropriately. I learned how to validate my son’s feelings without condoning poor behavior. These things are so tricky that I still refer to this book for a refresher.
I also love the alternatives to punishment section. I have known forever that punishments don’t work for our family. Punishments only serve to make me feel more in control of the moment, but have no lasting effects on stopping the bad behavior. Faber and Mazlish get to the heart of this issue and give lots of alternatives to punishment. I love, love, love the language they use – it’s been so much more helpful than yelling!
Book Three: Connected Parenting , by Jennifer Kolari
I first learned of Jennifer Kolari when a friend sent me her YouTube video. The topic resonated so strongly with me that I ordered her book about 15 minutes into her presentation. I find her writing very similar to Faber and Mazlish in many ways. Kolari encourages what she calls “mirroring” – a way to show your child that you are listening and understand her feelings. As parents we often dismiss feelings as insignificant, saying things like, “You’re okay, Don’t worry about it ” I responded like that for years, with good intentions, thinking it was helping my highly sensitive son “toughen up”.
The Best Part About Connected Parenting For Me:
Once I started mirroring my sons feelings, our relationship has changed only for the better. My son’s anger is defused more quickly when his feelings are acknowledged. This has had such a positive effect on our family and the way I view interactions with my son.
Kolari’s book is filled with so many strategies for managing sticky situations–many of which have resonated with me. From how to prevent outbursts from happening to learning ways to deescalate them once they’ve begun, her ideas have been so incredibly valuable to my family. There is a whole chapter on eating, sleeping, and bathroom issues – and who hasn’t had troubles with those? Connected Parenting offers so many suggestions, I have not gotten to put all of them to use yet. How great to have something in my back pocket!
I know the advice in all three books is broad enough to help any number of struggles we go thru as parents. Parenting our children through their challenges can be so isolating –and coming thru it to the other side can be so life giving. When we take the time to understand our children’s struggles we give them and us such a great gift. Please let me know your thoughts on any of these books if you are already familiar with them — or what works if you decide to pick one up! WE can learn so much from each other.