What parents of children with ADHD want to know

It takes a lot of time, effort and patience to be a good parent, especially if your child has ADHD. But while millions of children suffer from this disorder, misconceptions are widespread. Here’s what some parents of children with ADHD might want to know.

Don’t label my child as a ‘bad child’.

ADHD causes some children to be hyperactive or impulsive, have difficulty following instructions, or have difficulty controlling their emotions. Children with these symptoms do not make mischievous decisions to act out or give up authority. They live with a brain disorder.

“It really hurts when other parents think our kids are just ‘bad kids,'” says Yakini Pierce, a mother of two and a global product manager in Cleveland, OH. Both of Pierce’s children — daughter Reyna, 12, and son Rickey, 10 — have ADHD.

She says that when a child with an illness has a meltdown or momentary frustration, “they’re really trying to communicate and they just don’t know how. Once they learn it, it takes them to a whole other level.”

“Bad education” no It causes ADHD.

Experts aren’t sure why some children get ADHD, but they think genes play a big role. What we do know for sure is that it is a myth that the disorder is caused by the mother’s or father’s faults.

“I think a lot of people see ADHD as an overdiagnosed label for bad parenting,” says Nicole Schlechter, a special education consultant in Hampshire, IL, whose 11-year-old son has ADHD, autism, and anxiety. “It’s not a parenting issue, and I think that’s a huge misconception about ADHD.”

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Kirsten Hecht, PhD, a scientist and researcher in Gainesville, FL, has an 11-year-old son with ADHD named Dmitri. “There’s a lot of parental shame involved,” she says. “For example, ‘you must have done something wrong.’ Or, as another mom once told her, “You must have let her watch too much TV when she was little.” I thought it made no sense.

ADHD is real.

That’s according to federal health agencies, medical associations and doctors around the world. But some remain skeptical.

At one point, Pierce sent his son Rickey to a camp that ignored his instructions to treat his ADHD. Someone on the staff didn’t believe in the disorder, and Rickey ended up struggling.

“A lot of people think ADHD isn’t real,” says Pierce, who shares her insights on social media using the handle @adhdlove2020. Skeptics can benefit from learning more about the disorder, which can help them empathize with children with the condition, he says. When this happens, “children know they are understood and feel that adults have their backs.”

ADHD cannot be punished out of a child.

When Schlechter’s son was in third grade, he was suspended for 10 days within 3 months for behavioral problems — even though Schlechter met with the school to explain that his hyper, impulsive behavior and difficulty controlling his emotions were part of ADHD.

“I wish schools would focus less on the consequences of behavior and more on proactive solutions,” she says. “Suspension doesn’t teach them anything.”

According to Hecht, some teachers tend to think that they can punish a child’s ADHD as if they are “just bad” or willfully disobedient. There were many times his son Dmitri had meltdowns “because he was constantly getting in trouble for…trying to live with ADHD.”

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Traditional parenting advice may not help.

When Pierce was growing up, his parents raised him with a “because I said so” approach. Now the mother of two children with ADHD, she patiently provides detailed feedback and encouragement to her daughter Reyna and son Rickey to help them understand the spoken and unspoken rules of life.

“We can’t do it like our parents did it,” says Pierce. “We have to be flexible parents and meet our children where they are.”

What’s more, parenting tips that work for children without ADHD may not necessarily help children with ADHD. Schlechter knows this from her own experience as a mother and special education advocate who supports families of children struggling with social, emotional or behavioral delays. In her work, she has met parents of children with ADHD who tell her about the conventional advice others give them.

“The school, their family or their friends say, ‘Well, if that was my kid, I’d do this.’ Or, “My kid would never get away with that.” Or, “Maybe you should try a sticker chart, some kind of motivation.”

However well-intentioned 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 put a lot of time, energy and research into creating a structured daily routine for their child.

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“It’s completely exhausting,” says Schlechter, the special education advocate. Parents who call her for help aren’t looking for easy answers, she says. “They are parents who do all the research and call all the doctors and spend hours on Google trying to find help for their kids.”

“It’s absolutely overwhelming at times — especially now with COVID, my son is still homeschooled,” says Hecht, a Gainesville researcher. “I also think that I feel like you’re failing, you’re not doing your best for your child. It is very difficult.”

“Every day is very active, it’s an event,” says Pierce, the global product manager in Cleveland. “The reality is, it’s not an easy journey, but you can get there.”

Treatments such as talk therapy and medication can help a child get over ADHD. Assistive technology and an individualized education plan can help them learn more easily, too. You can ask your child’s school to do an ADHD assessment to see if they are eligible for the plan.

Look for the silver lining.

Hecht doesn’t want his son Dmitri to think of his ADHD as a bad thing. He feels that it also gives him a gift. She admires how Dmitri thinks outside the box, finds new ways of doing things, and focuses deeply 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 designed for people who necessarily fall outside the norm.”

Source: https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/features/parents-kids-adhd-wish?src=RSS_PUBLIC