In addition to helping children learn to regulate their emotions, there is a second implication in Dr. Barkley’s findings related to the strong link between ADHD and the development of ODD. He states, “The single best predictor of who will develop diagnosable ODD is parenting.”
What does this mean for parents? We must recognize the tremendous stakes involved in how we parent our children with ADHD. ODD has two main components: emotional regulation and social conflict. The social conflict component of ODD has to do with being argumentative, defiant, and stubborn. It seems that the social conflict component is a learned behavior. “The way parents manage the emotional gambits of the child may make the emotions of the child better or worse, and may teach the child that emotions are a tool to use on others. This is known as coercion theory,” Dr. Barkley states.
By being inconsistent in how we react to a child’s emotions and actions, both emotionally and actionably, we leave the door open for children to use negative emotions to coerce others into doing conforming to the child’s desires.
It is not easy parenting a challenging child. Love and logic are not always enough when parenting kids diagnosed with ADHD. Specific education, tips, tools and strategies are extremely valuable. More than with other children, you must gain clarity on your rules and expectations, strengthen your resolve when you are secure in your decisions, and remain consistent in your parenting. This must at all times be adjusted as your child matures and seeks greater need for independence and inclusion in decision-making. Helping your child gain the tools of collaboration and proper decision-making will ultimately help her learn to regulate her emotions more than punishment and restriction will.