Parenting ADHD and Autism with Penny Williams

Being a parent challenges us in every way. Parenting an ADHD or Autistic child is even more challenging. Kids don’t come with instruction manuals and the constant struggle can make you feel frustrated, stuck and hopeless.

Today we have Penny Williams on The Dad Edge. She’s a coffee-lovin’, ADHD-obsessed momma on a mission, and she’s honored to help families on this always chaotic, often stressful, anything-but-ordinary parenting journey.

Through her podcast, award-winning books, online parent training programs, parent coaching, and mom retreats, Penny has helped thousands of families survive and thrive in the face of ADHD. Penny says the key is not to learn how to change your child, but how to change yourself.

In this episode, she teaches the mindset and parenting skills, insights, tools, and strategies, to understand your child’s behavior and help them to interact with the world in the best way possible.

This show is a revelation for all dads and moms. Empower yourself with the training you need to be the parent you child needs.

“Your kid is not giving you a hard time, he is having a hard time.”—Penny Williams

Penny Williams

A self-proclaimed “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the creator of the award-winning website,, and a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine, Healthline, and other parenting and special needs publications.

“I endured a long learning curve when my son was diagnosed with ADHD,” says Williams. “I share my experiences parenting my son, Ricochet, in the hopes of shortening that painful time of trial by fire for others.” Williams says she gains strength in parenting Ricochet through a quote from Albert Einstein, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Williams’ first book, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD, is an Amazon best-seller and a USA Best Book Awards winner. Her second book, What to Expect When Parenting Children with ADHD, won the Psychology & Mental Health category of the 2015 International Book Awards.

Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD

Most books on ADHD don’t dare expose the genuine grit of the moment-by-moment peaks and valleys of this special parenthood — the gut-wrenching, crying on the bathroom floor, feeling like you’re losing your mind truth of the matter that is learning to successfully parent a child with ADHD. Boy Without Instructions changes that.

Williams shares her unfiltered thoughts and emotions during her progression through this learning curve during this harrowing ride. Right before your eyes, this initially grief-stricken momma transforms from obsessed-with-ADHD control-freak and helicopter mom to optimistic and (mostly) confident parent of a child who happens to have ADHD. Boy Without Instructions validates your grief and guilt, yet reveals that it’s truly possible to craft a (mostly) joy-filled life for your child with ADHD, yourself, and your family.

What You’ll Learn

  • Behavior looks like disrespect and opposition on the surface, but it’s really your child struggling.
  • We want our kids to reflect on us that we are a good parent, but we must address why the behavior is happening instead of the behavior itself.
  • Acknowledge that your kid’s emotions are real for them.
  • If we don’t allow our kids to be who they are, we’re not supporting them to ever discover themselves. They will feel like we don’t love them just the way they are.
  • When we decide and try to control what is good behavior, we don’t give room for anything else.
  • There is a big difference between trying to guide our kids and changing them.
  • Our kids are trying 10 times harder than we see on the surface.
  • Parents are the scaffolding on which kids grow.
  • The more we protect and try to avoid difficult situations, the more opportunities kids lose to learn how to cope. They only learn to avoid discomfort.
  • Teach them to be able to get through something uncomfortable.
  • Step back enough to let them make mistakes.
  • Set your values apart from your parenting rules.
  • Bad behavior feels personal and against us, but it’s not.
  • The difference between tantrums and meltdowns
  • Dealing with other parents’ judgement
  • Set expectations before doing something like going to the grocery store.
  • How to tune into why your kid is acting out—sensory overload, tired, hungry, struggling…
  • Use empathy instead of authority.
  • What’s the difference between parenting kids with and without ADHD? Nothing.
  • Allow natural consequences instead of punitive punishment.
  • Kids will be hyperaware if they are being treated different from their siblings. Set one parenting plan for the whole house with values and boundaries.
  • Kindness is always the right way. Everything comes from there.
  • Giving ourselves grace—We will fail. When we give ourselves permission to be human and make a mistake, we give our kids permission.
  • Working “the calm muscle”
  • You matter too. We can only do good for others when we feel good ourselves. When you feel good, the house feels good.
  • We give less to our kids when we do not practice self-care.
  • Why it’s important to have a tribe to lean on and learn from as an ADHD/autism parent



Parenting Your ADHD Kid with Confidence Angela Pruess

Strategy Guide for Parenting ADHD Kids with Brian King

Protect your kids with the Bark App


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