8 Tips for Talking to Your Child About ADHD
If your child has ADHD, it is important to talk to them about it.
“It’s never too early to start talking about ADHD with your child,” says Patricia Collins, PhD, director of the Psychoeducational Clinic at North Carolina State University.
You want them to get involved, understand and participate, “says Terry Dickson, MD, director of the Northwestern Michigan Behavioral Medicine Clinic and ADHD trainer.” I have two kids with ADHD, I can so talk about experience here. “
What you say should be appropriate for their age, but your goal is the same: to help your child understand what ADHD means, what it doesn’t, and how to be successful in school and in life. You will talk about this several times as your child grows and develops.
“You have to help your child feel special and like they’re part of the plan,” Dickinson says.
These 8 tips can help you:
1. Make sure your child feels loved and accepted.
Help him understand that ADHD has nothing to do with his intelligence or his abilities, and it’s not a flaw, says Dickson.
You might tell them that treatment can help their brain focus better, just like someone wears glasses to see better.
2. Choose the timing of the discussion wisely.
“This should be a time when you’re unlikely to be interrupted,” Collins says.
Try to choose a time when your child doesn’t feel like doing other things, like playing outside or before dinner or bedtime.
Leave some time for follow-up so that they are available to the child after the conversation is over if they have any further questions.
3. Let your child know that he is not alone.
Many other people have ADHD as well, and anyone with ADHD can be successful.
Give your child examples of people who have or had ADHD that they might know, such as Walt Disney, Michael Phelps, and singer Adam Levine. It can help your child talk to someone with ADHD, such as a parent or close family friend.
Let your child know that he is special and that he can be successful.
4. DON’T expect instant interest.
Don’t be surprised if your child doesn’t respond immediately or doesn’t seem interested, Collins says.
It takes time for some children, especially younger ones, for new information to make sense or to know what questions to ask.
5. Find out more about ADHD.
Talk to your doctor or contact advocacy and support groups in your area.
“One of the best things you can do is talk to other parents who already have ADHD experience about what they’ve learned,” Collins says.
6. DON’T focus on the negative.
“Focus on their strengths, what they do well and praise their accomplishments,” Dickinson says.
“Whether it’s sports, the arts or dance, they can pursue their interests and be successful with your support.”
7. DON’T let your child use ADHD as an excuse.
“Kids can’t take the easy way out of attributing their setbacks to their ADHD,” Collins says.
“Parents need to help their child understand that ADHD is not a reason for not handing in homework, doing your best, or giving up.”
8. Maintain open communication.
“A conversation is just the start,” Dickinson says.
“Keep the dialogue going, talk about school, their friends, homework, extracurricular activities and keep a positive attitude.”
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