Parenting for the 21st Century

  • I see parents overwhelmed with all the choices and information available to them in regards to treatment options for their children with behavioral and academic concerns.

  • There needs to be a multi-disciplinary, holistic approach to treatment that is individualized to what works best in the long run. This helps acknowledge that difficulties are rarely due to a single cause or to only look for a single solution.




Parenting for the 21st century endorses communication and behavioral models along with family coaching techniques.


Psychologist, Albert Adler approach to parenting children was from a more phenomenological view as he advocated for parents to be more hands-on than the behaviorist model. He conceptualized it as the theory of psychology of use. Instead of being at the mercy of their genetic makeup he viewed children as interpreters of their world where they placed meaning that enlisted their response. He believed that humans were goal oriented and the goal is created by the individual and not by the environment.


A fundamental goal for children is to belong and to feel valued. A child’s failed attempts to belong create the problem behaviors so they revert to attention getting, power struggles, or revenge because they feel in adequate.


This parenting theory helps parents understand the purpose of these behaviors. Effective communication is vital to family life. A family’s connection is based on communicating successfully. This is accomplished when each family member understands shared thoughts and feelings. When thoughts are rational and congruent other family members can respond effectively, but when a family member is perceived as irrational then communication is lost and problems develop.


When a child acts out they appear disturbed because of their extreme feelings. It is still the child’s attempt to be understood even though it is ineffective. The child is simply discouraged and the parent is instructed to find ways to empower the child and to use natural and logical consequences to address the unwanted behavior.


I see parents overwhelmed with all the choices and information available to them in regards to treatment options for their children with behavioral and academic concerns.


From my experience there is a lack of cohesiveness between providers where everyone is on their own team when there should be a collective effort to design the best possible solution. Schools, PSR agencies, doctors and the family have competing agendas that complicate the wellbeing of the child. There needs to be a multi-disciplinary, holistic approach to treatment that is individualized to what works best in the long run. This helps acknowledge that difficulties are rarely due to a single cause or to only look for a single solution.


In addition there is often a mismatched between the child’s natural characteristics and their environment. These kids are often at risk to becoming diagnosed as ADHD or ODD. The child is acting out because they are academically bored. But take the same child and offer them an engaging activity the ADHD symptomatology disappears. I believe this indicates that children could adapt to any learning environment if properly taught to their learning styles.


The diagnosis of adhd is a blanket statement produced by the people in their environment who are not willing to approach them in a more positive manner. Stimulant medication does not teach behavioral control or how to improve academic scores. It does not increase motivation or provide insight. Parents and teachers need to be equipped with innovative strategies to help reduce their distress when working with children who present with adhd symptoms.


All children are special in their own right and its important to help them to discover their unique talents and qualities. We need to help them identify and value their strengths.


Parents and teachers should be encouraged to guide these children to understand that trying their best is more important than winning or needing to score at a certain level because as they become more confident and their self esteem is intact they will see

themselves as learners instead of some diagnoses that excuses others failures to properly reach them.


I am bias against labeling and medicating children. The focus needs to be directed back to innovative and creative approaches that addresses the need for parent support that is collaborative with the educators because at the moment there is a lot of frustration and finger pointing going on. There is no solution in blaming instead we need open communication as to the facts without fear of retribution or backlash.


I do not have all the answers but I do see the lack of parent support as psycho education has been replaced with labels and drugs. We need to get back to basics and not further aggravate the situation with terms of pathology.


My parenting style was to help establish a sense of self-esteem and confidence for my boys in a non-authoritarian style. This helped them feel safe to explore their surroundings and to try out new ideas or personas. I wanted them to know that failing was part of the process and growth comes from re-evaluating their choices. I used natural consequences and applied gradual shaping techniques to help them find success. Key was to do this in a non-coercive way. I made a point to be with them but to also allow them to struggle to find self-acceptance and understanding through their own self-reflection.


Today they know they can come to me for advice but ultimately it is their decision as it’s their outcome that keeps paving the way for original thoughts and purposeful direction.

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Michelle Barrett

​​Phone, text or email

Tel: 858-254-5342

DelDiosCounseling@gmail.com​

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