If you are a parent of a child who struggles, here are some pieces of unwanted advice you can expect to hear from strangers (if you haven't already heard them). These are also followed by suggested responses that will help you politely acknowledge another person's desire to help, while also letting them know that their comments are not useful.
What people say: "You should get them evaluated."
If a stranger sees your child behaving in an extreme way, there is a chance that they will feel the need to tell you to take them to a specialists. There is a good chance you have already done this, or you are already considering doing this.
What to respond: "Maybe so!"
Rather than engaging with a stranger to tell them the steps you have taken to manage your child, consider simply saying "Maybe so!" Maybe so is a good way to end the conversation while still allowing the advice giver to feel somewhat validated.
What people say: "This is how I would handle this situation!"
Some people will approach you and offer advice about how to handle situations with your children. That advice will be about how they personally handle similar situations but they likely have no idea about the unique needs of your child.
What to respond: "This is what works for us."
Rather than get into a discussion about their way of handling children, simply explain to them: "This is what works for our family." You know your child better than anyone, and you have developed methods that work for managing behavior and stress. You can simply let a person know that their advice is unnecessary by explaining that you are the expert in handling your own family.
What people say: "Be harsher; your child needs more discipline."
When people see children misbehaving, they are quick to encourage more discipline from parents. Often, they will speak about their own experience being disciplined or having disciplined their own children (sometimes, in a different era when stricter or more physical discipline was more widely accepted).
What to respond: "I wish it were that simple!"
Go ahead and acknowledge that harsh discipline worked for the speaker. But you can also say that your child's situation and your beliefs are nuanced, and that your parenting methods aren't as simple has spanking or yelling.
What people say: "Have you tried this natural remedy?"
People will often approach parents of children with challenges and offer herbal or homeopathic remedies. They may also talk about how medicine is unnecessary.
What to respond: "Thank you for the suggestion, I'll include it in our process."
Figuring out how to parent a child with challenges is a process—and one that may involved medication or not. Acknowledge the person's suggestion while explaining that you are working with professionals to figure out what solutions best work for your family.
What people say: "They'll grow out of it."
In order to be reassuring, people will try to tell you that your child will "grow out of" whatever behavior they are exhibiting.
What to respond: "He won't grow out of it, but here are some ways he has grown."
Children with disabilities often do not grow out of them on their own. You can speak that truth to the advice giver, but also acknowledge that your child is still growing and making progress in so many ways. Celebrate your kid and what he has accomplished and let people know that he is still loveable and valuable, even if he might not completely grow out of the condition they are witnessing.
If your child needs more support to succeed, consider reaching out to Brain Balance Centers. For over a decade, we’ve helped over 40,000 children improve the critical skills needed to create a brighter path for their future.