Better parenting tips


Better parenting tips


your avatar   Ann, 36-year-old woman

I have a son who is 12 years old. He has been "in trouble" ever since he started school. Teachers are always complaining about his behavior and schoolwork. I've had him tested for ADD, ADHD, depression, learning disorders, and whatever else the teachers wanted. He's been on and off medications for years, depending on the doctor's current diagnosis. I feel his real problem is one of self-esteem and depression - after years of people telling him there's something wrong with him I think he's come to accept that. I blame myself for a lot of his problems, because I was too trusting of and afraid to question the diagnoses of the doctors and the teachers. Furthermore, I have been constantly negative toward my son's behavior, and always focusing on the bad things he does, trying to be a disciplinarian.

How do I move my focus to finding the positive things about my son and develop his self-esteem, instead of constantly yelling at him or telling him what he did wrong? How do I do this while still maintaining my authority as a parent and responsibly to discipline him? Whenever I try to be positive, I feel insincere, like I'm just trying to find something good to say and it sounds hollow - because it usually is! I need to find a balance between controlling his negative behaviors and ruining his self-esteem. I fear it may be too late - I think his self-esteem is shot. Is it possible to repair this relationship?


    Jef Gazley, M.S., LMFT, LPC, LISAC, DCC

Dear Ann,

One of the hardest things for parents to do is not take things personally. Parents are supposed to take care of their children and protect them, but it is important to realize that humans make mistakes and are incapable of being perfect.

If even trained therapists and physicians are having a difficult time diagnosing and treating your child effectively it is simply not fair to expect that you should have solved this problem. Just by your description it sounds as if some kind of chemical problem is going on with your child besides just a lack of self-esteem. However, I agree with you that yelling at him is not going to be helpful. My guess is that you yell at him most when you are feeling most responsible for his problems. It would help to take the pressure off of both of you and realize that if a chemical disorder is going on then he is probably having a hard time controlling himself as well. This does not mean that he doesn't still have to be held accountable, but it would help to realize that he is at present a bit challenged. It sounds that given his behavior you might be feeling the same way. I would also recommend that you become as knowledgeable about the possible childhood disorders as is possible. Even doctors can be wrong so make your healthcare a 50%/50% collaborative decision.

Good luck.

Jef Gazley

This question was answered by Jef Gazley M.S. Jef has practiced psychotherapy for twenty-five years, specializing in Love Addiction, Hypnotherapy, Relationship Management, Dysfunctional Families, Co-Dependency, Professional Coaching, and Trauma Issues. He is a trained counselor in EMDR, NET, TFT, and Applied Kinesiology. He is dedicated to guiding individuals to achieving a life long commitment to mental health and relationship mastery. His private practice locations are Scottsdale and Tempe, Arizona. You can also visit Jef at the internettherapist, the first audiovisual mental health online counseling center on the net.For more information visit:


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