Have you ever asked a group of ADHD kids what they think parents SHOULD know about ADHD (but probably don’t)? Or what they should know about their kids? Not everyone would agree, but you would probably get some funny answers.
Well, here’s what I would say.
But before I tell you, please keep in mind that I’m a middle school student-ninja-Girl Scout-violinist-published writer (I wrote a book for kids about living with ADHD and how to manage it). My dad, older sister and I have ADHD, and our dog, Slinky, might, too. And these are the four essential things that I THINK parents should know about ADHD, and about kids like me:
- It is hard being you, but it’s even HARDER being us.
I’m sure it must be tough being the parent of a kid with ADHD. But trust me, it’s hard to be the kid, too. We appreciate that you’re our caregiver, chef, driver, cheering squad, and playmate. We also appreciate all you’re doing to help us at school, even if we rarely say it out loud.
But please remember — we don’t mean to cause problems. We‘re not messing up on purpose. Sometimes, we get so caught up in simply starting that we never get to the finish line. Or we start and get distracted. We may rush to finish an assignment the morning it’s due more often than you’d like, but with your help (and patience) we’ll eventually realize how good it feels to be done on time. Remember — we’re improving in small ways every single day. Try to remind us of that, too.
Repeating negative comments to us, about us, causes a kind of ADHD-brain-drain. When kids like us are told everything we’re doing is wrong, we begin to feel like we can’t do anything right. Instead of saying “don’t, can’t, or won’t”, try to help us find our talents.
And when our procrastination catches up with us, you may have to attend those dreaded teacher meetings. But if you do, try not to be too defensive. Ask yourself: Is it the teacher, my kid’s condition, or my child in general that’s at fault? Find the teachers who understand us and could be our allies at school . . . and team up with them to help us be as successful as we can be.
- It is important to support our hobbies.
Sometimes, the only place we feel successful is outside of the classroom. Please don’t punish your child for not excelling at school by taking away hobbies. Hobbies build confidence and teach teamwork — actual life lessons. I’ve learned more about discipline and self-control from my karate instructors than I’ve learned during all my years being educated. I also release my excess energy and get promoted to higher belts as I master new karate moves.
- Remember that ADHD is a medical condition to take seriously (like asthma or diabetes). Teach your kid how to ask for help so that your child doesn’t use it as an excuse.
NOTHING is more annoying than somebody accusing us of using our condition to get special privileges. Most of us are trying very hard to do our best. I know that some kids do use their ADHD as an excuse, which is really irritating, but usually it’s because they don’t like the idea of needing help, or they’re afraid they may not be able to do what is being asked of them.
The trick is to teach them that everyone needs help in different ways, and if they learn what works for them, and put in the effort, they can do better. This is especially important during back-to-school month or after a holiday break.
Set up a system with your child’s teachers so they can slowly ease back into assignments. Then when things become a little harder, your child will realize what they can already manage, and figure out when it’s time to ask for help with the next step.
- ADHD isn’t so abstract. We actually DO forget basic tasks!
Remind your child, especially during summers, that showers/teeth brushing/dog walking must be done every day, but try not to get mad at them for forgetting. Sometimes, I get so preoccupied with thoughts of YouTubers and shark facts that I forget to untangle my hair and clean my room.
Thankfully, my mom reminds me without getting too irritated with me (most of the time).
If your kids haven’t told you this lately, please take my word for it: they appreciate you, even if they don’t tell you.
So THANKS AGAIN, parents and caregivers, for the many ways you help in managing our lives.
And don’t forget – if you ever wonder what your kids think their parents should know about ADHD, they can give some great pointers along the way. Just ask them.
ADHD Parent Video
At LAST — Operating Instructions for raising ADHD kids! This video gives you the tools you need to tackle ANY challenging situation, one step at a time.