Parents of newly-diagnosed ADHD children face many dilemmas. Aside from figuring out how best to treat ADHD, there's also the problem of how to talk to your child about ADHD. Some parents think that their children should be kept in the dark about their condition because of their fear of the ADHD stigma. On the other hand, there are negative consequences to this too - just ask any adult who has lived decades without knowing why they struggle so much at school and work. Other parents believe that it's important to discuss ADHD, but are not sure where to begin.
So why is it so important for your child to be aware of his or her ADHD? By sharing what you know about the disorder with your child, he or she takes a proactive role in overcoming the challenges of the disorder. You can problem-solve together and make lifestyle choices that reduce the symptoms' severity, which increases your child's opportunity for success. Additionally, having ADHD isn't always a bad thing; there are many positive traits that come with ADHD, such as the ability to hyperfocus and strong creative energies. With a little help, your child can harness these traits to his or her advantage.
Here are some tips on how to discuss ADHD with your child.
Consider your child's age
As with any complex subject, ADHD should be discussed on a level that your child can comprehend. Take your child's age into consideration and tailor your discussion based on his or her cognitive level. Try not to give your child too much information, and do avoid using difficult terminology.
What to tell your child
How to talk to your child is equally important as what you say to your child about ADHD. It's easy to dwell on the challenges presented by the disorder, but painting a bleak and hopeless situation will not help your child. ADHD is best talked about in a constructive yet realistic manner. Introduce the topic by saying that everyone is good at some things and bad at other things, and ADHD makes it hard to do certain things. From here, you can say that an ADHD brain has a difficult time paying attention, controlling impulses, or controlling energy. Reassure your child and say that you and the doctor will be there to help him or her overcome the problems caused by the disorder. And remind your child that ADHD is not an excuse to misbehave or slack off at school
Use a book
Younger children might have an easier time understanding ADHD through stories about children going through the same problems. There are many children's books about ADHD available today. Why not make a trip to the bookstore or library with your child and look through these books together?
Focus on your child's strengths
Many ADHD children suffer from self-esteem problems because the adults in their lives place too much emphasis on their ADHD foibles. Praise your child for his or her accomplishments and work together to find solutions for weaknesses.