Table Of Contents
I would like to dedicate this book to my mother, Billie K. Harris, who provided me with everything I needed so I could believe in myself when others doubted me, who gave me the strength to make the impossible possible, so I could create my own limitless life.
I also dedicate this book to my friend and mentor, Hans Steiner, MD, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. A master at his craft, to help others heal themselves and recognize the true gifts they already possessed inside themselves. Hans was a pioneer, a mover and a shaker, a true “John Henry” of his time. Our mission in life was the same, helping others go beyond what they thought was humanly possible, by pushing them beyond their limits, beyond their comfort zone, to what we could easily see inside of them. At his memorial, there were countless stories about the people he had helped in profound ways. His mission, my mission, our mission at Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic, is worthy of our life’s work. To help others discover their own true potential and reach deep inside themselves, to live life to its fullest, to become what they once thought was impossible. ONWARD AND UPWARD my friend, my mentor, my inspiration.
Jordan was the typical class clown. All the girls in his class loved him. He could make anyone laugh. He was bright, and could talk endlessly about a variety of topics. He seemed to have useless knowledge about a thousand things. When he was interested in something, he could apply himself to it for days. At the age of 8, he taught himself to code. At the age of 10, he built his own computer and used it to mine cryptocurrency. At the age of 13, he hacked into the school’s computer lab and got himself suspended for a week. At the age of 15, he built a program to disable his parent’s alarm system from his phone so that he could sneak out of the house. Jordan could get straight A’s, or he could get all D’s. He hardly ever turned in homework. Now in his junior year of high school, he was getting an A, two Bs, two Ds, and an F, and had 37 missing assignments. His teachers implored him to try harder. His parents nagged him to just apply himself, and endless fights erupted about his lack of ambition and inability to just sit down and do his work. It began to impact Jordan’s self-esteem. He knew he was smart, but why couldn’t he just get it together?
If this sounds like your son or daughter, then this book is for you. Over the last decade, we have encountered countless children and young adults like Jordan at our clinic. Our mission is to change the lives of these children and set them on a new path by getting the correct diagnosis and so that you, as their parent, will be fully informed about what ADHD is, what it is not, and what you can do about it. ADHD doesn’t just mean you can’t pay attention. It is a debilitating neurocognitive disorder that affects children socially, emotionally, academically, and cognitively. Children like Jordan are at higher risk for depression, relationship issues, incarceration, workplace difficulties, and substance use by the time they are adults as a result of their ADHD. Our mission is to prevent those things from happening, by identifying these difficulties and helping children to overcome them before it is too late. Over the last 15+ years, we have worked tirelessly to develop treatment programs that work using your child’s own internal resources. We’ve set out to write this book so that parents will have a valuable resource in understanding their child’s ADHD and gain some insight about what to do about it. There is hope for your child. If you are feeling lost as a parent our aim is for this book to give you a starting point. We are here to help you change your child’s life.
What is ADHD
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both children and adults. Symptoms of ADHD include difficulty sustaining attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Additionally, children and adults with ADHD experience problems in decision making, organization, time management, and interpersonal relationships. ADHD can be a difficult diagnosis for parents to understand. Every child is different and will exhibit different symptoms of ADHD. Here’s a checklist to help you determine if you should have your child evaluated for ADHD:
✔ Difficulty sustaining attention during tasks or play
✔ Excessive fidgeting or squirming
✔ Getting out of their seat in class or during meal times
✔ Talking excessively and failing to notice that people have lost interest
✔ Difficulty waiting their turn
✔ Difficulty making and keeping friends
✔ Falling behind academically
✔ Not turning in homework
✔ Their room is constantly messy
✔ Making bad decisions
✔ They consistently leave the house without one or more items they need later in the day
✔ Fighting with siblings
✔ Doing poorly on tests despite knowing the information
✔ Backpack is constantly a mess
✔ Need to call their name several times before the look up
✔ Can focus for several hours on videogames or areas of interest
✔ Constantly forgets to do chores
✔ Needs reminders to do daily routines
✔ Waits til the last minute to do assignments or projects
If you checked more than 4 of these items, your child should be evaluated by a qualified professional.
Types of ADHD
Here are some of the children whose lives we have changed through our process. They all have ADHD, but their symptoms of ADHD look very different.
Caleb is an 8 year old boy that can sit still and focus on video games for hours, but when it comes to her homework, his 10 minute assignment becomes a two hour battle. I’m often asked if it is possible that children like Caleb have ADHD even though he can focus on video games for hours. Read on to learn more.
Ellie is a 10 year old girl who is shy and doesn’t ask questions at school because she feels embarrassed. She reads fantasy books for hours, but when it comes to homework, she has a lot of trouble knowing where to start and getting it done on her own. Her dad helps her prepare for math tests, and even though she knows all the materials the night before the test, Ellie can’t have ADHD because she reads independently for hours, right? We have heard from so many parents this is what they thought for years.
ADHD Inattentive Type
There are three types of ADHD. The first is ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Type, which mainly describes a child who has significant difficulties controlling their attention. You may notice that I did not say, “cannot pay attention”. This is often misunderstood. That is, ADHD is a disorder of attentional control, not that your child cannot pay attention at all. We will discuss this more in sections that follow, but for now think about it this way. Just because your child can do their favorite activity for hours on end does not mean they don’t have ADHD. To the contrary, the difficulties sustaining attention are found in activities that they don’t find intrinsically interesting or rewarding, such as doing math homework, reading their history book, or writing a paper. It’s the repetitive tasks, the ones the “grunge work”, the tasks that require grit. Ten minutes of homework can turn into a 2 hour battle. Sound familiar?
It’s not that your child isn’t smart enough or can’t do it. The majority of our clients are described by their parents and teachers as being very bright, and we have confirmed this through IQ testing. It has to do with their ability to control their attention, and when they can’t do it for the things that aren’t intrinsically interesting or motivating, they feel dumb even though they’re smart, defeated, and worn down.
Ellie is a 10 year old girl who is shy and doesn’t ask questions at school because she feels embarrassed. She reads fantasy books for hours, but when it comes to homework, she has a lot of trouble knowing where to start and getting it done on her own. Her dad helps her prepare for math tests, and even though she knows all the materials the night before the test, Ellie can’t have ADHD because she reads independently for hours, right? We have heard from so many parents this is what they thought for years.
Children with ADHD ostensibly take a minimalist approach to homework they don’t care for, such as writing assignments, at least it seems that way. But in reality, it’s extremely difficult for them to muster the energy and stick with it, because they find these seemingly mundane tasks arduous, and getting them to write at all is similar to asking them to take a chisel to a stone tablet. It literally feels like it takes that much effort to get the words on paper for some children with ADHD. You know the words are in there, they say them all day long, but to get them to write for their homework can be grueling for them. On the other hand, you may otherwise find them writing pages and pages on their own when it comes to writing about their favorite topic, such as Pokemon, Legos, or some make-believe world they are having fun with. We will explain more later, but this can be very confusing to parents and teachers.
One caveat about ADHD Inattentive Type is that it can be easily overlooked, because although your child may be struggling to focus and pay attention, they may not be disruptive. This is especially true of children who are high to above average in intelligence, because they can compensate in other ways, like doing well on tests without studying, or writing a term paper the night before. But at some level, when the bar is raised high enough, their attentional control and executive function weaknesses become exploited. It could happen in middle school, high school, or even college. We have even seen students graduate medical school and law school before they discovered the problem because they couldn’t pass their medical board exams or the bar. There is hope; however. Even when a diagnosis is discovered this late, your child can learn how to use their own internal resources, build up their brain, and overcome their weaknesses. Of the clients who failed their medical and bar exams multiple times, 100 percent of them who completed our transformative program have passed their exams.
Children with ADHD may be accused of being lazy and not trying hard enough. This can be extremely frustrating for your child, educators, and you as parents, because it is very confusing to try to figure out how their attention can vary from, “not interested in schoolwork” to “hyper focused on video games”. “Are they not trying?” “Are they just lazy?” “If only they would try harder, put more effort into it, listen.” If you find yourself saying these things to yourself over and over, then read on, this book is for you. Every child is different, and you may see and relate to some things while others don’t fit at all. That’s the amazing thing about ADHD. A child can have some, but not all of the 18 symptoms, and so every child may look a bit different with their own strengths and weaknesses.
ADHD Impulsive/Hyperactive Type
The second type of ADHD is Predominantly Impulsive/Hyperactive. In this type of ADHD, the primary symptoms are moving around, cannot sit still, while also having trouble standing in line and waiting for their turn. You may also see your child talking over others or blurting answers without raising their hand at school. Perhaps the teacher has given you feedback about this very issue?
ADHD Impulsive/Hyperactive Type is much easier to spot by teachers, professionals, and parents, because your child may be disruptive and their difficulties controlling their behaviors often cause problems for others. For example, your child may often be talking to their peers nearby in class, and the low rumble turns into a conversation that interferes with the teacher’s lesson. The teacher may find herself talking louder and louder, and finally, once again, has to remind your child and others to stop talking and listen. This may be a constant problem that is brought to your attention during parent/teacher conferences.
In addition, children with this type of ADHD find it very difficult to sit still. They are often constantly in motion. Your child’s legs may be in motion under their desk, perhaps they are tapping a pencil or drumming a beat with their hands, or they have trouble sitting in their chair and are up out of their seat moving around. The myth is that this problem goes away over time. While it is true that children who are hyperactive appear less so as they grow older, inside they continue to have challenges controlling their behavior. They find it hard to watch an entire movie in one sitting, they “hate waiting in line”, and they may still feel jittery inside even though their bodies aren’t constantly moving.
ADHD Combined Type
The third type of ADHD is the combined type. In this type, the child has a significant amount of difficulties with both controlling their attention, as well as controlling their impulses and activity levels. This type of ADHD is also easily picked up by teachers and caregivers because often the child is disruptive in the classroom and is falling behind in school, and so their symptoms are easily noticed. Getting them to sit through an entire meal may feel impossible. They may start one project, then off to the next, with a trail of legos, games, and toys left behind them. Their backpack for school may be incredibly disorganized and their room would otherwise be a disaster unless you stay on top of them to clean it up. They may seem to be at their best when doing activities, such as soccer, dance, or basketball, because they are constantly in motion.
Now that you know the definition of ADHD, it is important to discuss what ADHD is and what it is not. First, ADHD is not a medical condition like diabetes that cannot be reversed or significantly improved without medication. Instead, it is a developmental disorder that reflects stagnation of attentional control. Stagnation means failure to keep pace with developing at the same rate as peers. So, even though their attention abilities are growing relative to themselves year after year, your child may seem 2 to 3 years behind their peers in their ability to focus, plan, and organize. You will discover that this is good news by reading this book, because there are ways to increase the pace at which your child is developing their attentional control and executive functions. So, if you can speed up their development, then it is possible to catch them up, and this means it is possible for you to provide the help your child needs to reverse their ADHD. How do we know this, because we have helped 1000s of parents reverse their child’s attention and executive function weaknesses, many of whom no longer qualify for the diagnosis, and most of whom have done better than the help they would have received from medication alone. More on this later, but this is very exciting news.
“I was worried my child would have the same fate that I had as a child. I felt stupid, I couldn’t read, and it was hard for me to focus on any one thing. Even when I learned to read I hated it. I had a lot of interests, but I just couldn’t seem to get anything done. I would get some As, but also Bs, Cs, and inevitably a D or two. Back then, there wasn’t a lot you could do about it. Later, I was diagnosed with ADHD and I took medication, but I hated the way it made me feel. I didn’t feel like myself, it dulled my personality and my friends felt like I wasn’t very fun like I usually was. Unfortunately, the medication would wear off by the time I had to do homework, and it didn’t help me to read. I had fallen behind so far in school that the medication never caught me up. I had many tutors and I always seemed to struggle to read and get my work done.
“I was worried about my children, and sure enough, I noticed my daughter having similar problems. So I brought her into the Abbey Clinic. The assessment revealed my worst fears, that she had ADHD and dyslexia. She completed all the treatments at the Abbey Clinic and was doing her work at grade level (3rd grade at the time). Even through remote learning due to the pandemic, she excelled, and is now doing her work above grade level. She loves to read and reads all the time. I no longer have to worry about her and I am confident that she will do well in middle school. I am also not worried she will think she is stupid like I thought about myself. She is at the head of the class and I know she feels smart, and the teachers and I do too.”
Quite frankly, this story chokes me up. This mother suffered through her childhood and was so concerned about her daughter. She is her daughter’s hero! She provided our life-changing Transformative Brain Program for her daughter, and changed her life forever! Life-changing stories like this are why we get out of bed each morning and help parents provide the help they need for their children. We are on a mission to change the world one child at a time. So this parent’s story is heartwarming and inspiring to us!
What Is A Growth Mindset And Why Is It Important For Children To Develop One
A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence and abilities can be developed through hard work, dedication, and learning. On the other hand, a fixed mindset is the belief that intelligence and abilities are static traits that cannot be changed. The idea of a growth mindset was first proposed by Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University. She argued that children who are praised for their intelligence are more likely to have a fixed mindset, whereas those who are praised for their effort are more likely to have a growth mindset. Fixed mindsets can have negative consequences in many areas of life. For example, individuals with a fixed mindset are more likely to give up in the face of adversity because they believe that they lack the ability to improve. They may also avoid challenging tasks because they are afraid of failing or being perceived as unintelligent. Finally, fixed mindsets can lead to poorer performance in both academic and work settings because individuals with this mindset are less likely to persist in the face of difficulty or take risks that could lead to growth. In contrast, individuals with a growth mindset view difficulties as opportunities for learning and growth. As a result, they tend to exhibit greater motivation and perseverance in the face of setbacks. They are also more likely to take on challenging tasks and embrace failure as a learning experience. Ultimately, growth mindsets provide a foundation for success in both academic and work contexts.
How Can You Help Your Child With Adhd Develop A Growth Mindset
A growth mindset leads to greater resilience in the face of setbacks and a greater willingness to take on challenging tasks. As parents, we can help our children develop a growth mindset by modeling it ourselves and encouraging our children to see mistakes as opportunities to learn. For example, instead of praising our children for getting an A on a test, we can praise their hard work and effort. Give it a try. The next time you see your child working hard on their homework, praise them with a labeled praise. A labeled praise is a praise followed by a description of what you are praising them for. You could say, “Sarah, I’m so proud of you for working so hard on your math homework and completing it on your own. I could see that you had to recalculate a problem because you skipped a step, you found that error on your own, and you really stuck with it.” Now if you do this, watch what happens. Finding your child doing something RIGHT does wondrous things. You will see that they will start doing more and more of that behavior. Why? Because they love you so much and getting this type of recognition and praise feels so AMAZING and good. You are giving them some WARM FUZZIES! When you do this, stay away from criticism no matter how tempting, just stick with the praise. In addition, you can also encourage them to persist in the face of difficulty by telling them that we believe in their ability to overcome any challenge. By instilling a growth mindset in our children, we can help them reach their full potential.
What model best fits your own perspective about your child with ADHD? Do you believe that your child can grow their brain performance through hard work, determination, and learning? If so, then you are in alignment with the perspective that we take at Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic. We strongly believe in your child’s ability to strengthen the areas of their brain that are lagging behind so they can catch up to the ones that are already optimized. You should know that with modern technology, it is possible for the first time in human history to use technology in amazing and fun ways to help your child learn ways to improve their brain performance. If you espouse a growth mindset, then you already have the first key factor to help your child develop stronger grit so they can push themselves harder and harder, thereby learning how to grow and strengthen their own brain to their full potential throughout their lifespan.
The Top 3 Things To Avoid If You Want Your Children To Have A Growth Mindset
It is important to instill a growth mindset in your child from a young age. This will allow them to develop resilience in the face of setbacks and view their ability as something that can be developed through effort. Some things you should avoid doing if you want your children to have a growth mindset include:
- Praising them for being smart instead of praising them for their hard work. This sends the message that intelligence is fixed and cannot be improved.
- Telling them that they should give up when they encounter difficulty. This sends the message that they are not capable of overcoming challenges.
- Comparing them to other children. This sends the message that their worth is based on how they compare to others instead of their own efforts and progress.
By avoiding these three things, you can help your child develop a growth mindset and set them up for success in all areas of their life.
How Can You Continue To Help Your Children Foster A Growth Mindset As They Get Older
One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to help your children develop a growth mindset. People with a growth mindset don’t believe that intelligence is fixed. The old way of thinking was that the intelligence of children was fixed by age 8 years. This is in fact not true. Parents with a growth mindset understand that they can get smarter through hard work, persistence, and when given the right tools to grow their brains. The good news for you and your child is that there has never been a better time to be alive to help your child with ADHD. There have been numerous advances in research and technology to help them overcome their ADHD. Some of them are actually free and you can do them at home. Others take advantage of the latest research in neuroscience and can be done with a cognitive skills trainer. We have seen numerous children improve their intelligence with follow-up assessments. It is amazing to see them grow and improve through their own resources and growing their brains and increasing their intelligence.
A Look At Your Child’s Future With ADHD
The future of your child who has ADHD really depends on the choices that are made. Knowledge is power, so the more you know about your child’s condition, the more you will potentially know about how to help them. Research shows that doing nothing about your child’s ADHD will make them more likely to result in many potential negative outcomes for your child. Since many of our clients come to us for an assessment for their child to determine their condition, we have a lot of experience working with families who make different choices for their child’s ADHD.
Take Action Now Before It’s Too Late!
There are at least 2 moments in time in which it may become “too late” to help your child fully overcome ADHD and its negative consequences.
Johnny knew he was late, again, and rushed to his desk as the teacher rolled his eyes and said, “I see you’re late again Johnny, you really need to get it together.” Johnny actually planned to be on time today, but he forgot his history assignment and had to run back home to get it before school. Later that day while his history teacher is collecting homework, Johnny is searching frantically for his assignment in his backpack. All he can find are crumpled up papers, so he starts looking through everything in his desk. His teacher, Mrs. Stevens, exclaims, “Oh, looks like you failed to do your assignments once again!” Johnny feels terrible, because he just realized that he was distracted by the television when he went back home to get his history homework, and forgot to put it in his backpack. Later that day, Johnny walked by a group of kids, who were laughing and snickering in his direction. He figured they were laughing at him since they were in his classes earlier and heard the teachers yelling at him. This is a typical day for Johnny. Now imagine, rinse, repeat, and repeat again. Hundreds of days turn into 1000s of negative messages, and he starts forming a very distorted, and unfortunate negative self-image.
When children have ADHD, there are many things that they do unintentionally, which results in your child being bombarded with negative messages from teachers, caregivers, and even coaches. This is because their symptoms of ADHD are invisible, and individuals who interact with your child will erroneously conclude that your child, “Isn’t trying hard enough”, is “too lazy”, or intentionally interrupts others and talks out of turn. Over time, your child will start to develop a negative self-identity, saying to themselves, “I’m not good enough”, “Maybe school just isn’t my thing”, or “I’m so stupid” even though they are very smart. At some point, this negative impression becomes an integral part of their identity, and they falsely conclude that their symptoms of ADHD define who they are. It is critical to help your child get what they need before this happens, because once this negative identity is engrained in who they are, it may be a part of them for life. Even if they overcome their ADHD, there may always be a part of them that just doesn’t feel like they measure up.
The other situation usually occurs some time during adolescence. There often is a curvilinear relationship between perceived intelligence of parents and your child’s age, such that, at younger ages, children look up to their parents as though they “know everything”. However, at some point during adolescence, many teenagers think they have it all figured out. During this time, it becomes nearly impossible for teens to cooperate and get the help they need.
Jackie was a very intelligent girl and did very well in school. That is, until she hit her junior year of high school. She started having trouble with her friends and there seemed to be a lot of “girl drama”. This was the least of her troubles. Jackie was starting to prepare her college applications while studying for the SAT. She found it difficult to balance her studies while also doing well at all her extracurricular activities. Her courses were becoming more demanding and she wasn’t able to write her papers at the last second and get good grades. She was falling behind in math and her other homework just seemed to be piling up. Over the years, parent/teacher conferences involved concerns about Jackie talking with her friends when she was supposed to be doing her schoolwork. They felt that she was constantly behind but she was very bright, so she usually was able to “pull it off.” In hindsight, her parents wished that they would have paid more attention to the signs and symptoms of her ADHD. Because when she was diagnosed, she was unwilling to accept help from her parents, teachers, or doctors. She felt she was “fine” and just wanted everyone to “leave me alone.”
A Look At The Future Of Parents Of Children With ADHD
Most people don’t realize that parents of children who have ADHD are 3 times more likely to get divorced, and the reasons for the marital discord are mainly due to the stress that is created surrounding your child’s condition. There may be arguing about how to discipline your child with ADHD. The parent who spends most of their day with the affected child is exhausted from managing their child’s behavior through constant reminders, breaking up arguments, and constantly worrying about how to help their child. Supervising simple homework assignments, going to the store for last minute school projects, helping your child keep track of their homework so it actually makes it from their backpack to turning it into the teacher. We all need to remind ourselves, parents are human, and managing an untreated child with ADHD takes its toll on everyone! Sometimes, the stress is too much, and it bleeds into our other relationships. You may find yourself with nothing leftover to offer your spouse. Your spouse may, in turn, grow tired of the lack of affection in your relationship. You may be irritable from staying on top of your child all day and lash out at your spouse for the smallest thing. For the spouse that spent all day at work, the other parent may appear grouchy and unreasonable. They may wonder just how you spent your day and why nothing seemed to get done. Why are you always in such a bad mood? However, life just doesn’t have to be this way. There are solutions, and these solutions will not only help your child, they will help you, your relationship with your spouse, your other children, and your friends.
Why Children With ADHD Fall Behind In School
Children with ADHD often fall behind in school because they have trouble focusing and paying attention. ADHD can make it difficult for children to pay attention in class, follow instructions, and complete assignments. As a result, children with ADHD often fall behind in school. In addition, ADHD can also lead to other learning disorders, such as dyslexia and dysgraphia. These disorders can further impede a child’s ability to succeed in school. Early diagnosis and intervention are essential for helping children with ADHD succeed in school. With the right support, children with ADHD can overcome these challenges and reach their full potential.
Many Children With ADHD Do Not Enjoy Reading
It is common for children with ADHD to hate reading. In part, this is because ADHD can make it difficult to focus on the task at hand. Additionally, many children with ADHD also have dyslexia, which can make reading even more challenging. As a result, these children are often at risk for falling behind in school. This problem is critical, because as most children get older, they progress from learning to read, to reading to learn. As their peers enjoy the reading process and learn from vast materials, books, and research, many children with ADHD fall significantly behind in reading skills AND their knowledge base. Acquiring knowledge through reading is like compound interest. While most children are learning from what they read, children with ADHD “blankout”. They can read an entire page while daydreaming and not even know a single word of what they just read. They may choose to move on or re-read the passage (most just keep on reading). Because of their reading challenges, children with ADHD tend to avoid reading or just skim the passages. So as other children increase their knowledge exponentially from reading, children with ADHD tend to fall further behind not only in their reading efficiency (due to lack of practice), but also in the wide range of knowledge and topics that their peers are learning. However, there are ways to help ADHD children overcome their challenges and learn to enjoy reading.
Why Math Can Be Challenging For Children With ADHD
ADHD can make math difficult for children in a number of ways. ADHD can make it hard to focus and attend to the task at hand, which can make it difficult to understand the material. ADHD can also make it hard to control impulsive behavior, which can lead to making careless errors and ignoring important details (e.g., forgetting to carry, filtering extraneous data in math/story problems etc.). In addition, ADHD can make it hard to remember steps and details, which is often a critical part of understanding and solving math problems. As a result, children with ADHD often fall behind in math and may have difficulty catching up.
Why Writing Can Be Challenging When Your Child Has ADHD
Writing also presents challenges for children with ADHD, because it emphasizes good executive functioning skills. Moreover, reading and writing skills are often correlated. For a child who reads a lot, they have a lot of solid examples and experience of what good writing looks like, numerous writing styles to use as models, and a good sense of how writing flows.
What will become of your child with ADHD. What will be in their future? Because we have worked with 1000s of children, we have seen a number of outcomes, and we can tell you what the most likely outcome is for your child depending on what you do for them over the upcoming years. We also turn to the research that clearly shows what the outcomes are depending on what is done and not done today.
8 Things Every ADHD Parent Should Know About Their ADHD Child’s Brain Misconceptions And Myths
ADHD Is Caused By Bad Parenting
Picture this. You’re in the produce section of your local Trader Joes, scrutinizing the bananas. Behind you, a little boy is running around, yelling at the top of his lungs while darting out in front of people’s carts. His harried-looking father tries to regain control of the situation, imploring him to please stop, please come back to the cart. The little boy ignores his pleas and continues careening around you and your fellow shoppers. Just then, BAM, and the little boy, not paying attention, crashes into a kumquat display, sending tiny orange globes flying across the floor. He starts howling, and by now every single person in TJ’s, including you, is thinking “that parent is a bad parent. I can’t believe they’re allowing their child to act like that in Trader Joes.” We’ve all been there. I’ve been there. The trouble is, this parent probably is an excellent parent, but the regular parenting rulebook does not apply to children with ADHD. Unfortunately, many parents of children with ADHD don’t realize that parenting their ADHD child requires a special skill set, one that is tailored to their child.
ADHD is not caused by bad parenting any more than diabetes is caused by bad parenting. ADHD is a neurobiological condition in which the development of the prefrontal cortex, the part of our brains responsible for impulse control, decision making, and emotional regulation amongst other things, develops more slowly than the rest of the brain. This results in children who can be very bright academically, but struggle with what are called our executive functions, or our ability to plan, organize, focus, and self-regulate. So, the next time you encounter a whirling dervish and their very stressed parent at your local grocery store, have a little empathy, and remember, they are working with a completely different set of rules than your average parent.
ADHD Isn’t A Learning Disability
Technically, this myth is true. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), ADHD is its own disorder and is not classified as a learning disorder. ADHD is grouped with other neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism because it is the result of delayed brain development in certain areas. However, ADHD does impact a child’s ability to learn because they are unable to focus on the material for long. Kids with ADHD often pick up only bits and pieces, and so may have many gaps in their knowledge. Additionally, they often struggle to pay attention to what they read, and may skip or omit words, altering the meaning of their texts and impacting their understanding.
My Child Clearly Doesn’t Have ADHD Because They Can Focus On Minecraft
If we had a dollar for every time we heard this, we could give up our professional license and live in Tahiti! This is probably the most common misconception about ADHD, and for good reason. We hear countless stories about how kids can laser-focus on Minecraft, legos, or Fortnight for hours on end, but can’t even spend 5 minutes on their math homework without getting distracted. Allow us to correct this myth once and for all. ADHD is NOT the inability for your child to pay attention. ADHD is the inability for your child to regulate their attention. When something is boring, difficult, or plain old not that much fun like that math homework, we need to recruit our frontal lobes to help us stay focused. Remember what we said earlier about the prefrontal cortex? You got it right, the exact part of the brain that we need to help us focus on something uninteresting or difficult is the same region that is underdeveloped in children with ADHD.
Children With ADHD Are Choosing To Misbehave
Let’s talk about impulses for a second. When was the last time you had an impulse that you managed to squash? For me it was about 5 seconds ago. I had an impulse to check Facebook while working on this section. Fortunately, my PFC stepped in and I decided that wasn’t such a great idea because I’d probably go down a social media rabbit hole and this chapter would never get finished. That original impulse though? That wasn’t a decision, it was just an impulse that occurred on the order of about 250 milliseconds, faster than you can blink. We all have thousands of them, every single day. Having a fully-functioning PFC allows us to think ahead and inhibit our impulses, and thank goodness because otherwise a lot of us might end up in jail. Children, and adults, living with ADHD run off of their impulses, and have little-to-no choice in the matter. Recall, I said impulses occur in a quarter of a second. Our prefrontal cortex needs about half a second in order to step in and inhibit our impulses. So, children who are “misbehaving” are simply acting out the impulses we all have, sort of like a Porsche 911 with bicycle brakes.
Children With ADHD Do Better In Montessori Schools And Other Unstructured Learning Environments
There is a huge push toward experiential learning and unstructured educational environments. I went to one of these schools (although back then it was called a hippie school – we built a solar-powered car out of a VW van, we grew vegetables, studied Latin and called all of their teachers by their first names.) I think they’re great, but not always great for kids with ADHD. Kids with ADHD don’t have a good executive functioning system, or internal structure. Academic environments such as Waldorff and Montessori schools that are nondirective and unstructured in their approach don’t require children to think ahead, self-monitor, self-regulate, and stay focused, so unfortunately, they are not in an environment to develop these skills.
My Child Doesn’t Have ADHD Because They Aren’t Hyperactive
One of the most common myths about ADHD is that people who don’t have hyperactive symptoms don’t really have ADHD. However, this is simply not true. There are three types of ADHD-inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined. While people with inattentive ADHD may not be particularly hyperactive, they still experience all the other symptoms of ADHD, including difficulty paying attention, impulsivity, and poor organization skills. So if you think your child may have ADHD, don’t wait to get them help. Early intervention can make a big difference in their ability to manage their symptoms and succeed in school and in life.
Children Can “Grow Out” Of ADHD
The myth that children will outgrow ADHD is unfortunately widespread. ADHD is a condition that can negatively impact every area of life, from school and work performance to social skills and self-esteem. While medication can provide some short-term relief, it does not address the underlying problem and will not prevent symptoms from returning once the medication wears off. Moreover, the benefits are limited to simple, sustained attention, and does not address executive functioning, as well as several other areas discussed above. The only way to reverse the effects of ADHD is through brain training. This specialized therapy uses a variety of techniques to retrain the brain and help individuals learn how to manage their symptoms. With proper treatment, children with ADHD can go on to lead happy, normal lives.
My Child With ADHD Just Isn’t Trying Hard Enough
Imagine you have a broken ankle, and you are about to run a marathon. You’re hobbling along, gimping through the slowest mile of your life. Along the way, your coach is yelling at you to “run faster!” “try harder!” “Come on, just believe in yourself and you can do it!” Now picture how that would make you feel. Pretty bad, right? That’s how your child feels when adults in their life are telling them they just need to try harder. They can’t “just try harder” any more than you can run a marathon with a broken ankle
Relationship Difficulties Due To “Deficits” In The ADHD
ADHD can often lead to difficulties in the parent-child relationship. For example, children with ADHD may be more difficult to discipline, and parents may feel like they are constantly fighting with their child. Additionally, children with ADHD may have trouble completing tasks or following directions, which can lead to tension between the parent and child.
It can be really hard. You ask your child to clean their room, and they start walking towards their room. Five minutes later you go to check on them and find them playing a game that was left out in their room. So you do your best to keep your cool and reassert yourself, “I need you to clean your room now”. Your child says, “Oh, I’m sorry”, and says they will get to it right away. When you come back, it looks like they put away the game but now they are working on their lego project that they had started earlier in the day. Now your temper is running short, and you very sternly demand, “I need you to clean their room now!” The cycle continues, you know the story. Cleaning their room would have taken 30 minutes if they could have just focused and not gotten distracted, but unless you hover over them, they drift off to something else that distracts them every 5 minutes or so. It’s exasperating to say the least.
Many parents feel guilty when they yell at their child with ADHD. They may feel like they are not being patient enough, or that they are not providing the support their child needs. Yelling can be a stressful and ineffective way to communicate with a child who has ADHD. It can also damage the parent-child relationship. The thing is, most parents don’t talk to each other about this issue. The yelling happens behind closed doors. There is so much guilt experienced from a child with ADHD who may have several meltdowns a day.
A meltdown is when the child can’t control their emotions when reacting to a situation, and your child may become angry, cry, or withdraw. For a child with ADHD, a meltdown can be caused by anything that is overwhelming or upsetting, such as a change in routine, being asked to do something they don’t want to do, or even a simple task. Many children with ADHD have difficulty regulating their emotions, so they are more prone to meltdowns than other kids. In addition, many children with ADHD are impulsive and have difficulty controlling their impulses, which can also lead to meltdowns. Meltdowns can be very frustrating and exhausting for both the child and the parent. However, there are some things you can do to help prevent and manage meltdowns. Parents I talk to often feel so frustrated and sometimes they just feel they are out of options. I get it, it’s not easy, it’s frustrating, why can’t they just listen? It would take a fraction of the time to just listen and get things done. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way. Stay tuned and you will learn about the solutions. There is hope, it can and will be different with the solutions we will provide for you.
As much as possible, try to stay calm and constructive when you are communicating with their child. If you feel like they are becoming frustrated, they should take a break and come back to the conversation later. Yelling will only make things worse, and it will not help your child to improve their ADHD symptoms.
If you have a child with ADHD, you know that meltdowns can happen anytime, anywhere. But there are usually warning signs that a meltdown is about to occur. If you know what to look for, you can sometimes head off a meltdown before it happens.
Here Are Some Common Warning Signs That A Child Is About To Have A Meltdown:
✔ Your child seems unusually tense or agitated.
✔ Your child is having trouble following directions or completing tasks.
✔ Your child is acting impulsively or making careless mistakes.
✔ Your child seems overwhelmed or frustrated.
✔ Your child is isolating himself from others or withdrawing from activities.
If you see any of these warning signs, take a deep breath and try to stay calm. Remind yourself that this is just a temporary situation and it will eventually pass. Take your child to a quiet place where he can calm down and regroup. Help him identify his feelings and talk through what he is feeling. And most importantly, be patient and understanding. With a little bit of help, your child will soon be back to his happy self again.
What Are Some Common Triggers For Meltdowns In Children With ADHD
Parents of children with ADHD know all too well the challenges that come with managing meltdowns. These episodes can be triggered by a number of different things, including stress, fatigue, hunger, and sensory overload. In some cases, a child may have a meltdown simply because they are feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. No matter the cause, meltdowns can be incredibly difficult to deal with. Not only do they cause disruptions in the child’s life, but they can also be very draining for parents and caregivers. However, there are some strategies that can help to lessen the frequency and intensity of meltdowns. By being aware of the child’s triggers and providing them with a structured routine, parents can help to reduce the likelihood of an episode occurring. Additionally, it is important to provide support and understanding during and after a meltdown has occurred. With patience and care, parents can help their child navigate these challenges successfully.
How Can I Help My Child Calm Down During Or After A Meltdown?
First, it is important to stay calm. Children are very good at picking up on the emotional cues of those around them, and if you are feeling panicked or stressed, your child will likely mirror those emotions. Instead, try to take slow, deep breaths and speak in a calm voice. This will help to set the tone for the situation and make it less likely that your child will become further agitated.
Next, try to understand what triggered the meltdown. Was your child feeling overwhelmed by a task? Did something happen that upset them? Once you know what sparked the meltdown, you can address the issue directly and help your child to develop a plan for avoiding or coping with similar situations in the future.
Finally, provide plenty of love and support. Meltdowns can be extremely overwhelming and exhausting for both children and parents. After everything has calmed down, take some time to cuddle with your child or give them a loving message. This will help them to feel safe and secure, and remind them that they are loved no matter what.
While meltdowns may always be a part of life for children with ADHD, following these steps can help to make them more manageable and less disruptive for everyone involved
What Should I Do If My Child Has A Meltdown In Public?
Stay calm: It can be difficult to stay calm when your child is having a meltdown, but it’s important to try. If you get frustrated or angry, it will only make the situation worse.
Try The Following 3 Strategies If Your Child Has A Meltdown In Public:
1. Remove your child from the situation: If possible, remove your child from the situation that is causing the meltdown. This will help to diffuse the situation and allow your child to calm down.
2. Identify triggers: Try to identify what triggers meltdowns for your child and avoid these situations if possible.
3. Encourage positive coping mechanisms: Teach your child positive coping mechanisms such as deep breathing or counting to 10. These can help to diffuse a meltdown before it starts.
How Can You Prevent Meltdowns From Happening In The First Place?
Parents of children with ADHD know all too well the frustration and embarrassment of child meltdowns. These tantrums can happen anywhere, at any time, and often leave both child and parent feeling exhausted and defeated. But there are things that parents can do to prevent child meltdowns from happening in the first place.
One of the best ways to prevent child meltdowns is to establish a routine and stick to it as much as possible. Children with ADHD thrive on predictability and routine can help provide a sense of structure and calm. Try to create a daily schedule for your child that includes time for school, homework, meals, play, and relaxation. And be sure to review the schedule with your child each day so they know what to expect.
Another way to prevent child meltdowns is to avoid triggers that you know will set off your child. If your child gets overwhelmed in large crowds, try to avoid taking them to places like the mall or amusement park. If loud noises or bright lights tend to upset your child, try to steer clear of places like arcades or movie theaters. When you know what will trigger a meltdown, you can take steps to avoid those situations.
Setup expectations prior to going into a situation which may cause a meltdown. Perhaps your child has had a meltdown at the store when they didn’t get their way about something. Maybe you didn’t purchase something they really wanted. The next time you go to the store, spend some time in the parking lot setting up your expectations for their behavior. You could say,
“There are 4 rules I need you to follow when we are in the store today. 1) There is no running or horseplay in the store 2) I expect you to have good manners 3) We are not purchasing any toys for you today; however, if you demonstrate good behavior, we will visit the doughnut shop after we are done shopping as a reward for your good behavior 4) If you do not follow these rules, we will leave the store immediately and go straight home without going to the doughnut shop. Please repeat the rules back to me.”
This will help you set up the situation for success and avoid meltdowns in the future.
Finally, it’s important to model calm behavior for your child. When you remain calm in the face of adversity, it sets a good example for your child and shows them that it’s possible to handle difficult situations without losing control.
The Benefits Of A Diagnosis For Your Child
A diagnosis can help your child get the treatment they need to thrive.
Early diagnosis and treatment of ADHD can make a big difference in your child’s life. Children with ADHD often have difficulty paying attention, following instructions, and controlling impulsive behavior. As a result, they may struggle in school, at home, and in social situations. However, there are many effective treatments available for ADHD. If discovered early enough, your child may be able to completely reverse their symptoms of ADHD. It’s never too late to seek the help they need. Our center has helped 1000s of children by learning how to use their own internal resources through medication free, brain strengthening exercises. It’s important to know that getting a diagnosis does not “give” your child anything. Rather, it gives you the knowledge you need to make intervention decisions that best fit your situation.
A Diagnosis Can Get Your Child The Help They Need At School
A child that has been diagnosed with ADHD can get many different types of help from their school. The assessment that was done should include a comprehensive report, that includes helpful recommendations and accommodations. For example, your school may create a 504 plan that may include preferential seating to minimize distractions, extra time on tests, or having notes read aloud in class to ensure comprehension of the instructions.
A Diagnosis Helps Others Understand Your Child Better
It can provide insight into why your child may act certain ways and have difficulty with certain tasks. It can also help to dispel any myths or misconceptions about ADHD. A diagnosis can also be a relief for parents, who may feel that they were doing something wrong or that their child was somehow to blame for their difficulties. If you choose to do a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment to determine whether your child has ADHD, the results will delineate your child’s specific strengths and weaknesses, so that you, teachers, and others working with your child will know what approaches will be the most helpful to them. Many parents find the assessment processes enlightening, because they gain a much deeper understanding of their child. Your child may experience a sense of relief because they no longer have to feel like something is wrong with them. We have heard from countless children with ADHD, that they feel “dumb” even though they are smart. Hearing they are smart from their parents only goes so far, but when we discuss your child’s strengths with them, they understand what they knew all along, that they are in fact smart, and that something they couldn’t put their finger on was holding them back, making things harder than they should be for them. Ultimately, a child’s diagnosis can be a helpful tool in understanding and supporting your child for you, teachers, and even themselves!
A Diagnosis Helps Other Professionals With Planning Treatment
A child ADHD diagnosis helps other professionals with planning treatment, as the diagnosis can provide insight into the child’s condition. A child’s diagnosis can also help to rule out other potential causes of the child’s symptoms. In addition, an ADHD diagnosis can help to identify any comorbid conditions that may be present. Comorbid conditions are often associated with ADHD, and they can include anxiety, depression, and learning disabilities. An ADHD diagnosis can also help professionals to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to the child’s individual needs. Without a diagnosis, it would be difficult for professionals to provide the child with the most appropriate care.
5 Stages Of An ADHD Diagnosis For Parents
1. Anger: “How Come Nobody Told Me This Before? I’ve Lost So Much Time Not Knowing This
As any parent knows, there is nothing quite like the feeling of seeing your child successfully diagnosed with a condition that you have been worried about for months, even years. To finally have a name and a course of treatment for what has been preventing your child from reaching their full potential is immensely relieving – and also extremely frustrating. After all, why did it take so long to get here? If only you had known about this condition sooner, you could have started treatment sooner and spared your child a lot of anguish. But as they say, hindsight is 20/20. But try to take it as a chance to learn more about your child and how to best support them. With the right help, your child can still lead a happy and successful life. So don’t let the ADHD diagnosis get you down – use it as an opportunity to advocate for your child and ensure they get the best possible care.
2. Denial: “I Don’t Have That!”
Many parents react with denial when they start noticing symptoms in their child or when their child is first diagnosed with ADHD. They may feel like they failed as a parent or that they are being judged. Sometimes we see one parent starting to notice the symptoms while the other parent is in denial. Other times both parents are completely unaware and their child asks for an assessment, because they suspect that they do have ADHD. It is important to remember that ADHD is stagnation (i.e., failure to keep pace with peers) in the development of attentional control and other executive functions. It is not something that your child will merely “grow out of”. However, with proper treatment, children with ADHD can lead happy, normal lives. If you are a parent who is in denial about your child’s condition, it is important to seek out support from professionals who can help you come to terms with the diagnosis and find the treatment that best fits your child and your family.
3. Depression: Life Is Never Going To Be Good With ADHD
As a parent, it can be difficult to watch your child struggle. When your child is diagnosed with ADHD, it can be overwhelming. You may feel like you are failing as a parent or that you are to blame. It is important to remember that ADHD is a real medical condition. It is not your fault and there is nothing you could have done to prevent it. Your child is not struggling because they are lazy or unruly. They are struggling because they have a real medical condition that makes it difficult for them to focus and behave like other kids their age.
4. Relief: I’ve Always Known …
As a parent, it can be difficult to watch your child struggle in school and at home. You may feel helpless as you see them falling behind their peers and struggling to maintain focus. However, when a child is diagnosed with ADHD, it can be a relief for both the child and the parent. With a diagnosis comes understanding and a plan for treatment. Parents can work with the child’s teachers to ensure that they are receiving the support they need. In addition, medication and counseling can help the child to focus and manage their symptoms. As a result, a diagnosis of ADHD can provide both parents and children with a sense of hope and a path towards success.
5. Acceptance: “Ok I Have An ADHD, Now What?
As a parent, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do when your child is diagnosed with ADHD. It is important to remember that you are not alone.
8 Common Negative Aspects Of ADHD That Children Experience
1. Difficulty Paying Attention In Class
A child with ADHD can have difficulty paying attention in class for a number of reasons. First, ADHD is a condition that is characterized by impulsivity and hyperactivity, which can make it hard for a child to sit still and focus on a lesson. Additionally, many children with ADHD also have difficulty processing information quickly, which can make it difficult to keep up with the pace of a classroom discussion. Finally, some children with ADHD may simply be bored by the material they are being asked to learn, leading them to tune out and daydream. As a result, it is important to work closely with the child’s teacher to ensure that he or she is getting the accommodations and support needed to succeed in school.
2. Trouble Completing Tasks Or Projects On Time
For children with ADHD, completing tasks or projects on time can be a real challenge. The child may start the task with good intentions, but then get sidetracked or become easily distracted. This can make it difficult to finish what they started, leading to frustration and feelings of inadequacy. One way to help children with ADHD is to break down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. This can help the child to focus and stay on track. In addition, it is important to provide encouragement and support. letting the child know that you believe in their ability to succeed can make a big difference in their motivation and confidence. With some planning and support, children with ADHD can learn to successfully complete tasks and reach their goals.
3. Impulsiveness Leading To Poor Decision-Making
Childhood is a time of exploration and discovery. For many kids, it’s also a time when they learn to make choices and control their impulses. However, for children with ADHD, impulsiveness can lead to poor decision-making. because they haven’t yet learned how to think through the consequences of their actions. This can result in problems at home, school, and in social situations. As parents, we can help our kids by teaching them how to pause and consider the possible outcomes of their choices. With practice, they can learn to control their impulses and make better decisions. In the meantime, we need to be patient and understanding, knowing that our child is working hard to overcome these challenges.
4. Easily Distracted By Noises Or Movement Around Them
Children with ADHD are easily distracted by noises or movement around them. This can make it difficult for them to focus on tasks or pay attention to what is being said to them. They may also become easily frustrated and have difficulty completing tasks. In addition, they may act impulsively and have trouble controlling their emotions. These symptoms can significantly impact a child’s daily life. Children with ADHD may struggle in school, social situations, and at home. However, there are treatments available that can help children manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. With the proper support, children with ADHD can reach their full potential.
5. Inability To Stay Seated Or Focus On A Task For More Than A Few Minutes
It can be difficult to focus on one task for more than a few minutes, whether you’re a child or an adult. But for children with ADHD, this symptom can cause problems at school and at home. When homework or classwork is difficult, it’s hard to sit still and focus on the task at hand. As a result, children with ADHD may have lower grades than their classmates and may struggle to keep up with schoolwork. This symptom can also make it hard to follow instructions and participate in activities like sports or music. As a child grows older, this symptom may improve with age and treatment. However, some adults continue to struggle with attention and focus throughout their lives.
Talking out of turn and difficulty following instructions are child adhd symptoms that can play havoc in daily life. When a child with ADHD talks out of turn, it can disrupt class and make it difficult for the child to focus and learn. Additionally, when a child has difficulty following instructions, it can lead to frustration and further behavioral problems. Fortunately, there are strategies that parents and teachers can use to help children with ADHD manage these symptoms. For example, parents can provide structure and routines at home, while teachers can use visual aids and explicit instructions in the classroom. By using these strategies, children with ADHD can learn to cope with their symptoms and succeed in school and in life.
6. Struggling With Social Interactions, Often Feeling Shy Or Withdrawn
Children with ADHD often struggle in social situations. They may feel shy or withdrawn, and have difficulty interacting with other kids their age. This can make it hard for them to make friends and participate in activities. As a result, they may end up feeling isolated and alone. If your child is struggling with social interactions, there are a few things you can do to help. First, try to encourage positive social interactions by setting up playdates or joining a youth group. You can also help your child practice social skills by role-playing different scenarios. Ultimately, it’s important to be patient and understanding as your child navigates the challenges of social interaction.
7. Constant Emotional Highs And Lows, Leading To Mood Swings
One of the characteristics of ADHD is mood swings. These can be caused by changes in the child’s environment, their level of activity, or their hormones. The child may go from feeling happy to feeling sad or angry very quickly. This can be confusing and frustrating for both the child and those around them.
Mood swings can also be a result of the child’s impulsivity. They may act on their emotions without thinking about the consequences. This can lead to them saying or doing things that they later regret. It is important to help the child learn to control their impulses and to think before they act.
There are also certain situations that can trigger mood swings in children with ADHD. These include changes in routine, being overstimulated, or feeling bored or frustrated. It is important to be aware of these triggers so that you can help the child to avoid them or deal with them in a constructive way.
8. Difficulty Sleeping Due To Racing Thoughts Or Inability To Relax
Many children with ADHD find it difficult to fall asleep at night due to racing thoughts. Their minds are constantly moving and they can’t seem to relax. This can lead to difficulty concentrating during the da