It takes a lot of time, effort and patience to be a good parent, especially if your child has ADHD. But even though millions of children suffer from this disease, misconceptions about it are widespread. Here’s what some parents of children with ADHD I want you to know.
Don’t call my child a “bad child”.
ADHD causes some children to act hyperactively or impulsively, struggle to follow instructions, or have trouble controlling their emotions. Children with such symptoms do not make the malicious choice to take action or overthrow authority. They live with a brain mess.
“It really hurts me when other parents think our kids are just ‘bad kids,'” says Yakini Pierce, mother of two and global product manager in Cleveland, OH. Pierce’s two children – daughter Reyna, 12, and son Rickey, 10 – have ADHD.
She says that when a child with this disorder breaks down or gets frustrated in the moment, “they’re really trying to communicate and just don’t know how. Once they learn, it takes them to a whole different place. level.
“Bad parenthood” doesn’t cause ADHD.
Experts don’t know why some children have ADHD, but they think genes play a big role. What we know for sure is this: it is a myth that illness occurs because of mistakes made by a mother or father.
“I think a lot of people see ADHD as this over-diagnosed label of bad parenting,” says Nicole Schlechter, a special education advocate in Hampshire, IL, whose 11-year-old son has ADHD. autismAnd anxiety. “It’s not a parenting issue, and I think that’s a huge misconception about ADHD.”
Kirsten Hecht, PhD, a scientist and researcher in Gainesville, Florida, has an 11-year-old son with ADHD named Dmitry. “There’s a lot of parental shame that goes with it,” she says. “Like, ‘you must have done something wrong’.” I thought, ‘That doesn’t make any sense.’
ADHD is real.
That’s according to federal health agencies, medical associations, and doctors around the world. But some remain skeptical.
Pierce once sent his son Rickey to a camp that ignored his instructions on how to manage his ADHD. Someone on the staff didn’t believe in the mess, and Rickey ended up struggling.
“There are a lot of people who don’t think ADHD is real,” says Pierce, who shares his thoughts on social media using the handle @adhdlove2020. Skeptics could benefit from knowing more about the disorder, which could help them empathize with children who have it, she says. Once that happens, “kids know they’re understood and they feel like the adults have their backs.”
You can’t punish a child’s ADHD.
When Schlechter’s son was in third grade, he was suspended for behavioral issues for 10 days in 3 months – even though Schlechter met with the school to explain that his hyper-impulsive behavior and difficulty controlling his emotions were part of it. of his ADHD.
“I would like to see less focus on consequences at school for behavior and more on proactive solutions,” she says. “The suspension teaches them nothing.”
Hecht says some teachers tend to think they can punish a child for ADHD, like they’re “just bad” or willfully disobedient. There were many times when her son Dmitry had seizures “because he was constantly in trouble for…trying to exist with ADHD.”
Traditional parenting advice might not help.
When Pierce was growing up, her parents raised her with the “because I said so” approach. Now a mother of two children with ADHDshe patiently gives her daughter Reyna and son Rickey detailed commentary and encouragement to help them understand the spoken and unspoken rules of life.
“We can’t just do what our parents did,” says Pierce. “We have to be flexible parents and meet our children where they are.”
Also, parenting advice that works for children without ADHD might not help children with this disorder. Schlechter knows this from her own experiences as a mother and as a special education advocate who supports families of children with social, emotional, or behavioral delays. Through her work, she met the parents of children with ADHD who talk to him about the conventional advice that others give them.
“The school or their family or their friends say things like, ‘Well, if he was my kid, that’s what I would do.’ Or, ‘My child would never get away with this.’ Or, “Maybe you should try a sticker chart, some kind of motivation.”
However well-meaning such advice may be, it may not meet the needs of a child with ADHD.
Raising a child with ADHD can be exhausting.
Some parents spend a tremendous amount of time, energy, and research creating a structured daily routine for their child.
“It’s completely exhausting,” says Schlechter, the special education advocate. Parents who call on her for help aren’t looking for easy answers, she says. “These are parents who do all the research and they call all the doctors and they spend hours and hours on Google trying to find help for their children.”
“It’s completely overwhelming at times — especially now during COVID, my son is still homeschooling,” says Hecht, the researcher at Gainesville. “I also think there’s this feeling of failure, like you’re not doing your best for your child. It’s really difficult.
“Every day is very active, it’s an event,” says Pierce, the global product manager in Cleveland. “The reality is that it’s not an easy journey, but you can make it happen.”
Treatments like talk therapy And medication can help a child manage their ADHD. Assistive technology and an individualized education plan can also help them learn more easily. You can ask your child’s school to give them an ADHD assessment to find out if they qualify for a plan.
Look for the silver lining.
Hecht doesn’t want his son, Dmitry, to see his ADHD as a bad thing. She feels that it also gives her gifts. She admires how Dmitry thinks outside the box, finds new ways of looking at things and intensely focuses on topics that interest him.
“All the good things about ADHD are never mentioned,” she says, “and I think that’s partly because the school system and the world aren’t really set up for people who are necessarily outside of it.” Standard.”