Unlocking ADHD writer Stephanie Cheng provides tips for parents on talking to their children about ADHD and helping them to understand it in a positive way.
If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, it is important to address it together. Keeping it a secret from your child may not be helpful, since it may impede the child’s progress in managing their symptoms. As a parent, you may be worried about telling your child about their ADHD diagnosis. How will your child react? Also, how can you explain it in a way that they understand?
There is no need to worry. In fact, it is never too early to begin discussing ADHD with your child. Continue reading for simple and practical tips on telling your child about ADHD!
Speak from your child’s point of view
It is important to make the conversation age-appropriate so that your child understands it. If your child is young, try to avoid any complex words or scientific jargon. Your kid may struggle to comprehend bombastic phrases and become confused. Confusion will heighten their anxiety.
Here are some explanations that you can try:
- “ADHD means that your brain is like a racecar with a powerful engine. However, the race car has brakes that do not work perfectly. The sights out the window go by really fast, and sometimes it’s hard to slow down to look at them or read the road signs.”
- “The doctor said you have ADHD. Do you know what that means? It explains why you’ve been having these problems. You know how you’ve said it’s hard to stop yourself sometimes, and it’s too boring to sit and read? That’s because of ADHD.”
Don’t dwell on the bad
Naturally, it may be difficult to focus on the good in the face of a diagnosis. However, it is essential to have a positive attitude when conversing with your child. A positive attitude will make them feel safe and secure, and encourage them to be more open about their condition.
Address difficulties faced
Addressing your child’s challenges will also help them to understand ADHD. You may begin by discussing behaviors that you have noticed in your child and asking how they felt about them. For example, most children with ADHD may feel frustrated when waiting their turn or sitting still for lengthy periods of time. Linking these events to ADHD may help your child to better understand what they have been going through all along. This will encourage them to learn how to control their symptoms. You can also read resources on managing specific challenges. For instance, Unlocking ADHD has an article on anger management for ADHD kids.
Ensure your child feels loved and valued
Make sure that nothing changes between you and your child after the diagnosis. ADHD children may have unique obstacles, but the diagnosis should not be viewed as a flaw or defect. Highlight your child’s strengths and remind them that they are not alone on this path. If an ADHDer’s symptoms are well-managed, they can be as good as their peers (if not better)!
Discuss treatment and its benefits
Treatment often begins shortly after a diagnosis is made. Discussing treatment with your child can be the first step in helping them to better their lives. Share some of the advantages of seeking treatment, such as better management of symptoms. Proper treatment of ADHD symptoms may also improve a child’s academic performance, social relationships and family life.
Here is a phrase you can try saying:
- Let’s try taking medicine for a few days and see whether it helps you focus better. Just like glasses help someone’s eyes focus, the medicine helps your brain focus. We’ll also work together on ways you can practice slowing down and paying attention. We’ll set some goals, and you’ll feel better and better. I think your behavior will improve, so you won’t have to take as many timeouts. School will probably be easier, too.”
If you are unsure about whether you should medicate your child, check out this article by Unlocking ADHD: “Should I Medicate or not Medicate My Child?” or watch the webinar recap on YouTube!
At the end of the day, it is important to collaborate with your child in navigating their ADHD journey. Remember to be patient and understanding if your child is confused about their condition. Set objectives and try different techniques to see what works best for your child. By taking these small yet powerful actions, observe as your child improves, gains self-confidence and acquires independence!
For more articles about parenting and ADHD, please click here.
1) Hatfield, H. (n.d.). 8 tips for talking to your child about ADHD. WebMD. Retrieved May 15, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/childhood-adhd/features/adhd-talking-to-child
2) Treating children for ADHD can have benefits for the next generation. CHADD. (2022, March 22). Retrieved May 15, 2022, from https://chadd.org/adhd-news/adhd-news-caregivers/treating-children-for-adhd-can-have-benefits-for-the-next-generation/