9 things parents of kids with ADHD want you to know
It is likely you’ll come across more than a few kids and teens living with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD). In spite of how common ADD and ADHD are, many people hold a surprising number of misconceptions about kids with attention disorders and what exactly it means in terms of their behaviour, intelligence and day-to-day lives.
We spoke to parents who are raising ADHD kids, and while it’s important to note that every parent and child’s experience is different, here is what they wish people knew about kids with ADD/ADHD:
1. It’s not their fault, and it’s not their parents’ fault. It’s nobody’s fault.
There’s nothing we did, or didn’t do, to have kids with ADD/ADHD. Everyone has something to deal with in life and this is our child’s ‘thing’. ADD/ADHD is not the result of bad parenting and they aren’t bad kids. ADD/ADHD is a neurological disorder and kids hate having it as much as we hate dealing with it and watching them struggle at times.
2. Medicating is not a failure or an easy fix
There’s no single ‘fix’ for ADD/ADHD and the steps we take to manage our child and help them to feel happy, safe and secure is up to us. If changes to diet work, great. If counselling helps, also great. But if those things don’t work and medication is the chosen treatment (and you’d better believe that most of us have tried everything), don’t judge us. If drugs work and help a child through the very confusing world they find themselves in, then we are going to use the tools available. Scroll past anyone on Facebook who insists on posting ludicrous stories about French kids not having ADD/ADHD, or claiming there are far too many kids diagnosed with ADD/ADHD these days etc etc. When you have a child with either condition, you really know they have ADD/ADHD.
3. We have to be our child’s advocate. And we are.
All parents would agree – no-one else knows our kids like we do. That includes all experts and other parents whose own kids have ADD/ADHD. As their parents, we have to be their advocate in life. That means pushing and pushing to get them the help they need. Researching, trying different things, seeing different people until something clicks and there’s an improvement.
4. There is no shame in ADD/ADHD
Which is why we try not to hide it. We tell our child’s teachers, soccer coach, dance teacher – anyone who comes into contact with them in a position of authority. They need to know, for our child’s sake. Once someone knows that the reason that a child fidgets, disobeys, breaks the same rules repeatedly, can’t stop talking, they will hopefully understand a little more. That won’t stop people getting angry with them but they are the adults and should be able to control their feelings. Our children can’t. As for friends who find it all too much. Well, those who mind, don’t matter, Those who matter, don’t mind.
5. Our kids can’t read body language
Those with ADD/ADHD can’t pick up on body language or understand social cues as well as other kids. That means that they can annoy or upset someone without ever being aware of it. And then they’re in trouble with a teacher but don’t know why. Or they don’t get invited for play dates or to parties because word spreads quickly at the school gate. That’s why it’s so important for us to find teachers or kids who do appreciate our children for all their quirky, eccentric, hilarious, brilliant ways. They are out there and when we find them, it makes the world of difference.
6. Our kids need to feel safe
The world can be a scary, confusing, frustrating and isolating place for ADD/ADHD kids. They don’t understand why they’re left out or how to change their behaviour. In fact, they can’t physically change. As much as a child can’t magically fix a broken leg on their own, nor can they get their brain waves to work properly. We have to be their safe harbour. The one place in the world where they can feel loved, supported, accepted and worthwhile. The more people they have in the world who make them feel safe, the easier it is for them.
7. Our kids aren’t ‘naughty’
One of the biggest misconceptions about kids with ADD/ADHD is that they’re the ‘naughty’ kids. While behavioural issues can be part of ADHD/ADD, it’s not because they don’t want to behave, or because they’re not trying. Also, just because a kid is well-behaved, it doesn’t mean they’ve been misdiagnosed – hyperactivity and misbehaviour aren’t always parts of the equation, and understanding that is so crucial to understanding our kids.
8. ADD/ADHD doesn’t mean our kids aren’t smart – in fact, it’s often quite the opposite
The myth that kids with attention deficit disorders aren’t as intelligent as kids without the disorder is so damaging – and so untrue. In fact, many kids with ADD/ADHD are of above average intelligence; it’s just more difficult for them to learn in the traditional way.
9. We could use your understanding and support – and so could our kids
Taking the time to understand us and our kids could make all the difference in the world.
Related ADHD articles
- What is ADHD?
- Could my child have ADHD?
- Getting ADHD diagnosed
- Types of ADHD
- Is ADHD inherited? + other FAQs
- ADHD treatments
- Should I medicate my child?
- ADHD and alternative therapies
- Coping with your child’s diagnosis of ADHD
- Strategies for parents managing ADHD
- How will ADHD affect my child’s future?
- Celebrating ADHD
This article was written by Bek Day for Kidspot.com.au and has been for Kidspot.co.nz