Guest Expert

Did I Cause my Child’s ADHD?

Guest Expert Tim Edwards-Hart, DPsych, a psychologist in Melbourne, Australia who specializes in working the teens with ADHD, discourages parents from asking the question, "Did I cause my child's ADHD"? Instead, he encourages you to ask, "I wonder why?"

Says Tim, "When we have a fixed expectation or feelings of guilt, it is linked to blame -- someone is at fault. If we can let go of the blame, let go of the notion that someone is at fault, and just realize that 'my child is having a hard time with this,' …. we shift the focus from 'what did I do wrong?' to 'what can I do now?'"

What do Parents Want?

Parents don't want their children to suffer. In fact, most parents want their children to do well. But parents get caught up in the frustration, and disappointment, and the little knocks day by day. We lose touch with the humor in parenting.

Tim explains that when a child is not doing what is expected, like their homework for example, that it helps to remember that they are having a hard time doing whatever is being expected of them. That gives us the perspective to ask our selves, "If my child is having a hard time doing homework, what would help? And if you know that previous responses haven't helped, well that's great. That's not something to feel guilty about. It is actually a whole bunch of research. I have tried all of these things and they didn't work - fantastic, I wonder why?"

When parents are trying to work out what they can do, Tim encourages them to ask the question: "I wonder why"? because curiosity opens possibilities. He explains, "if we say it didn't work because they don't care, or because they can't do math - as soon as we affix a reason, that locks us in. But if we think, 'my child is having a hard time, I wonder why?' then we are in a very different space to work out solutions" -- whether they be from a website like, with a therapist, with my child, or with the school. "I have seen some amazingly creative and wonderful things that families have done just from changing that perspective."

When parents ask, "what did I do wrong"? it is usually being asked from a perspective of blame and guilt." Which means that when we ask a question like "Did I Cause my Child's ADHD?" – we're really not moving the situation forward. As Tim says, "That blame mindset is rarely helpful. But if we can shift it to "I wonder why my child is doing this," that is what opens up possibilities. When we say, "my child is doing this because of me" - that doesn't leave us much room. That is why "I wonder why" is a much more helpful question than "what did I do wrong?"

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