How should a Christian mom discipline a child with ADHD or Autism?
For years, I wracked my brain searching for the answer to that question. Because in my mind, I was clearly doing it wrong. I just needed anything to MAKE.IT.STOP.
Traditional Parenting Hurts Kids With ADHD & Autism
I was beside myself exhausted, defeated and isolated navigating my child who was out-of-control.
- Daily meltdowns
- Impulsive and dangerous behaviors.
A Different Christian Discipline Strategy For Kids With ADHD?
I did everything I could think of to make the “good” Christian parenting strategies work. They worked with my girls and my friends’ kids. But nothing worked with our son whose behavior was classic ADHD. It nearly killed us. And if you’re reading this, you may be able to relate.
I’m here to tell you that you are not a failure, your kid is not a bad kid, and most importantly, there is incredible hope.
Christian Discipline Starts With Relationship
There is nothing I talk about more than the importance of our relationships with our kids. Nothing. If we don’t have a healthy, loving and trust-based relationship with our children we have very little power. Period. The End. Scripture clearly points to the need for our relationship with our Heavenly Father through His Son. God influences us through relationship.
Stop Blaming Moms: We’re Not All-Powerful
For way too long moms, including myself, have been fed some serious garbage. You know how it goes. It says that if you don’t nip bad behavior in the bud now, that your child is going to fail and then it’s all YOUR FAULT, Momma.
- When your child rebels, ultimately, it’ll be your fault.
- Your kid disobeys? It’s your fault, Mom.
- If your child ends up doing drugs, guess who’s to blame? Yep. Us. Momma.
- When your kid struggles with grades, organization, impulse control and all.the.things. That’s our fault too.
Whether we received this message from the world, church, parents, neighbors, friends, or even ourselves, buying into this is dangerous.
Christian Discipline For ADHD: Safe Relationship
Raising a child with ADHD, Autism, or any behavioral struggles is NOT easy. In fact, it can be downright hell at times.
Not because of our children, but because of the way we adults handle behavioral issues. Meltdowns, tantrums… whatever you want to call them. These kids (and all people) need to feel safe in order to receive and process the information that we want to impart to them.
As I discuss and teach extensively in my new online parenting course, Barely Surviving to Outright Thriving, relationship must come first.
Parenting ADHD & Autism- Adult Executive Functioning Required
And often, this means, that we moms need to shift our perspective when our kids display “poor” behaviors. We are going to have to use our own executive functioning skills in order to stop, breathe, and look a little deeper. By looking behind the behaviors to seek root issues, we then can equip our children.
ADHD & Autism: Give Tools, Not Condemnation
Through relationship, we can come alongside our ADHD kids with tools and strategies they need to better handle it all.
- sensory issues,
- big emotions, etc.
Not only do we give them tools to navigate the tough parts of life, but we also give them lots of opportunities to practice under our care and grace.
Christian Parenting Using The Gospel As The Model
Kids can’t hear us when they feel threatened. These kids, whether they have:
- Trauma background (even a little “t” trauma),
- Executive functioning issues,
- Learning differences, etc…
Christian Discipline For ADHD- Safety First
These kids are often living in a chronic state fight-or-flight… by no choice of their own. To learn more about God’s design of the brain and behaviors, sign up for Barely Surviving To Outright Thriving.
What’s the best strategy to use when our kids behave poorly? Safety. Our kids need to feel SAFE. What would feeling safe have looked like for you as a child? Listen to today’s episode to learn more about how to handle the most challenging behaviors in a way that breathes life into your child and family.
Links And Resources From This Podcast
- SPONSOR : A Heart For All Students
- Parenting Growth Mindset
- 5 Day Video & Devotional Series For The Exhausted Momma
- Look Behind The Behavior
Podcast Audio Text
Hey, momma. In today’s episode, I am going to talk to you all about the number one most powerful tool that we have as parents in order to equip our children to thrive emotionally, mentally, spiritually, behaviorally, academically, all the things. And you know what it is? It’s called relationship, girl. When this clicked, it was night and day.
Key Ideas And Concepts About Christian Parenting ADHD & Autism Through Relationship
In today’s episode, I am going to talk to you all about the number one most powerful tool that we have to equip our children to thrive. It’s called relationship.
I answer some questions from several moms who needed help navigating some tougher behaviors.
My 4 Year Old Is Always Melting Down
We had one question about the four year old’s melting down because he’s just in that stage where he’s not getting enough attention. And we have Big Brother, who is nine, and he is freaking out all the time.
Discipline Through The Wrong Lens
Our system is set up in our culture to look at children’s behavior, as always through the lens of willful disobedience.
But the reality is, we need to start looking at our children in a way that we look behind the behaviors to try to figure out what’s going on so that we can equip our children well.
The four steps that I recommend always with any child are:
- Emotional vocabulary,
- Physical input,
- Shift attention off the child.
Discipline Well By Creating Safety
The first thing you want to do is you want to lower yourself to your child’s level, because reality is, there is a “fight or flight” system which is totally automatic, which has been created by God. This is how we are wired.
Prefrontal Cortex & Fight-Or-Flight
Our fight or flight system develops faster than our executive functioning part of our brains, which would be like the prefrontal cortex, the executive functioning type part of the brain.
That part of the brain in a child is not even developed until the third decade of life, that’s in the 20s.
You bring yourself down to your child’s level because you look less threatening to that part of the brain, which is wired to protect itself.
Remember, you’re your child’s number one teacher.
So that means your relationship with your child has to be number one.
Not Permissive Parenting
It’s not permissive parenting.
But relationship is always number one, because when you have relationship with your child, when your child feels loved and valued by you in spite of how he behaves, trust is formed.
And when trust is formed, that’s when the doors of communication open.
God has designed all of us individually and unique and even our culture in general, in theory, believes that our children are unique.
Discipline Has At It’s Root A Heart To Teach
The root word for discipline comes from the Latin, which has a student teacher dynamic. We cannot think about punishment. And we’ve got to think about equipping. Always, we must prioritize teaching our children how to behave. Just remember that we melt down too, as mothers, as adults. Adults mess up. And yet we want our kids to fall in line as these immature children right away.
Our goal is long term. Our kids are going to spend eighty percent of their life as adults. So if we don’t equip them now to understand what’s going on inside of them and give them strategies to best navigate the big thoughts and feelings, we set them up to fail.
Select What You Want To Hear
In the above podcast player, you can use the episode chapter icon (bottom center) to select what you want to hear. Also you can use the pop up icon (far right) to share this podcast on social media or download it for later listening. Enjoy!
- [01:53] Momma Questions
- [03:41] Reality And Behavior
- [05:15] Deep Breath Mom
- [07:32] Use Your Words
- [09:01] You Are Your Child’s #1 Teacher
- [11:36] Discipline
- [11:36] We Melt Down Too
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