Many parents are eager to share their child-rearing experiences when they see another person's child acting out. However, what works for one kid may not work another—especially when yours has a behavioral issue such as ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, or a learning disorder, or if your child struggles with meltdowns, focus or confidence. The problem of unsolicited parenting advice often comes to a head during the holidays, when friends and families spend a lot of time in close proximity. So how can you respond to unwarranted recommendations without ruining the holidays?
Often, the best way to reply is to be frank—but respectfully frank. When a family member dishes up advice you don't agree with, simply thank them for trying to help then firmly clarify that you're not looking for advice. This is particularly important when the disagreement is based on a difference in core beliefs (for example, you don't believe in time-outs, but your mother does). Politely addressing philosophical differences head on can potentially nip years of arguing in the bud.
If the person is actually interfering rather than simply making a suggestion, stand your ground. You may find it helpful to validate the advisors' choices. For example, try saying "I can see that worked for you, but not all children are the same." The compliment may help ease insecurities the other person may be feeling about their own parenting abilities, leaving you free to deal with your child as you see fit.
Sometimes, though, being honest incites more drama than it's worth. That's where innovative solutions come into play. One of the best? Humor. Cracking a joke can go a long way toward easing the tension when family members are at odds during a large gathering. If your child is throwing a fit, or otherwise acting out, and family members are butting in, try a line like "You should've seen him/her last week when the stock market tanked." The quip will hopefully elicit a few chuckles and let everyone know you've got things under control.
Let It Go
If all else fails? Simply agree with a smile, and then move ahead with whatever you were going to do anyway! There's no point in getting angry with someone who just wants to help. It can be especially difficult raising a child with social problems, but don't forget that respect and understanding is a two-way street: You have to give it to get it.
To learn more about why our whole-child approach is the most effective way to help your child, contact us online or find a center near you.