Have you ever asked a group of ADHD kids what they think parents SHOULD know about ADHD (but probably don't)? Or what they should know about their kids? Not everyone would agree, but you would probably get some funny answers.
Well, here's what I would say.
But before I tell you, please keep in mind that I'm a middle school student-ninja-Girl Scout-violinist-published writer (I wrote a book for kids about living with ADHD and how to manage it). My dad, older sister and I have ADHD, and our dog, Slinky, might, too. And these are the four essential things that I THINK parents should know about ADHD, and about kids like me:
- It is hard being you, but it's even HARDER being us.
But please remember -- we don't mean to cause problems. We're not messing up on purpose. Sometimes, we get so caught up in simply starting that we never get to the finish line. Or we start and get distracted. We may rush to finish an assignment the morning it's due more often than you'd like, but with your help (and patience) we'll eventually realize how good it feels to be done on time. Remember -- we're improving in small ways every single day. Try to remind us of that, too.
- It is important to support our hobbies.
Sometimes, the only place we feel successful is outside of the classroom. Please don't punish your child for not excelling at school by taking away hobbies. Hobbies build confidence and teach teamwork -- actual life lessons. I've learned more about discipline and self-control from my karate instructors than I've learned during all my years being educated. I also release my excess energy and get promoted to higher belts as I master new karate moves.
Our choice of hobbies can reveal talents that might go unnoticed at school—like ceramics, cooking, gaming design, and performing. These creative interests may even lead to a career one day.
- Remember that ADHD is a medical condition to take seriously (like asthma or diabetes). Teach your kid how to ask for help so that your child doesn't use it as an excuse.
Set up a system with your child's teachers so they can slowly ease back into assignments. Then when things become a little harder, your child will realize what they can already manage, and figure out when it's time to ask for help with the next step.
- ADHD isn't so abstract. We actually DO forget basic tasks!
My non-ADHD mom's biggest “aha” moment of dealing with my sister and me is that we sometimes forget to do simple tasks unless we're reminded. All true!!
Remind your child, especially during summers, that showers/teeth brushing/dog walking must be done every day, but try not to get mad at them for forgetting. Sometimes, I get so preoccupied with thoughts of YouTubers and shark facts that I forget to untangle my hair and clean my room.
Thankfully, my mom reminds me without getting too irritated with me (most of the time).
If your kids haven't told you this lately, please take my word for it: they appreciate you, even if they don't tell you.
So THANKS AGAIN, parents and caregivers, for the many ways you help in managing our lives.
And don't forget – if you ever wonder what your kids think their parents should know about ADHD, they can give some great pointers along the way. Just ask them.