As parents of complex kids, we can get a little stuck trying to “fix” the challenges our children face. We want to protect our kids as much as possible, but it’s easy to end up concentrating a little too much on the negative. How do we leverage ADHD in children and teens?
According to Dr. Billi Bittan, you can leverage ADHD in kids by focusing on the positive. She recommends learning about how the ADHD brain functions, how it processes information. In other words: “Make it work for you, instead of against you.” Your child’s ADHD brain has strengths, and both you and your kid can discover them.
In this interview, Dr. Bittan gives parents a roadmap to LEVERAGE ADHD: Learn, Evaluate, Validate, Express, Reframe, Act, Grow, and Explore.
To start, figure out how your ADHD child’s brain works. “Not every child with ADHD has the same issues as another one,” Dr. Bittan explains. Each child has both strengths and weaknesses, and once you discover what those are, it is important to empower your child to follow those strengths. “Talk more about what the child does right, not what they do wrong,” says Dr. Bittan. “Validate the stuff they do in their own way.” You’ll be surprised by what your child’s brain can do.
The best way to discover these talents is to give your kids the freedom to express their emotions. “Leave an open communication – give your child the space to express.” Both you and your kid are going to face some challenges, so it’s important to have a space to work through them together. Establish that it’s okay to make mistakes.
It can be hard to maintain open communication with your children, especially when they are reluctant to share what they’re passionate about. Dr. Bittan urges parents to learn more about their kids’ interests, even their favorite TV shows or videogames. “You need to open the door, you need to enter their world. Talk to your child… Listen.”
But most of all, remember to be your kids' advocate. Validate their struggles, emphasize their accomplishments. “At every turn, your child will be reminded of their weaknesses, so we have to accentuate the positive.” We have to teach children and teens to leverage their ADHD. When you do that, you’ll be able to help your kids reach their true potential.