Posted by Soribel Martinez, LCSW
Children who are neurodivergent, such as those with ADHD, often seem like mysteries to their parents. You may wonder why in the world they behave the way they do. You probably feel frustrated often and wish that your child was “easier” to raise.
But at the same time, you feel frustrated for your child. Seeing them struggle weighs heavily on your heart. You wish you could make their life easier for them and remove the struggles. You get angry when people make judgmental comments about your child’s behavior or give you unwanted parenting advice.
If this sounds familiar, please keep reading. As you gain a deeper understanding of your child’s life with ADHD, you’ll be better able to meet them where they are.
They Aren’t Just Misbehaving
Your child with ADHD may be inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive, or have a mix of these symptoms. It can be really tempting to think they’re misbehaving when they don’t do what you ask them to do, or can’t sit still for more than a minute, or forget to do their homework.
Even though you probably already know these symptoms are out of their control, it’s easy to forget. Our society has expectations for children’s behavior, whether or not realistic. And while all children display inattention, forgetfulness, and high energy at times, not all children have these traits to the extent that ADHD kids do.
It’s likely that you’ll repeatedly assume your child’s behavior is merely misbehavior. This can be automatic. But practice reminding yourself that they aren’t acting out or trying to aggravate you. They are living with symptoms of a very real disorder.
They Need You to Advocate for Them
As a result of their symptoms, kids with ADHD often encounter difficulties in school. While they can have learning disorders, this isn’t always the case.
Unfortunately, the traditional classroom style of learning usually isn’t well-suited for kids with ADHD. Sitting still for hours at a time isn’t easy for most kids, and it’s even harder for neurodivergent kids who have excessive energy. Adding impulsivity and inattention to the mix makes it even more difficult.
As a result, your ADHD child may struggle in the classroom. Their teacher may not understand what they’re going through and have little patience for their differences. While some schools are adapting to the needs of neurodivergent learners, not all of them are.
You can educate yourself on how to help your ADHD child thrive at school. Be their advocate with their teachers and school administration. Encourage the use of small adaptations, such as a standing desk or wiggle cushion, for your child in school.
They May Have Concurrent Disorders
Many ADHD children also struggle with other emotional and behavioral issues. These include anxiety, oppositional defiant disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more. As a result, it’s difficult to know what’s causing what when it comes to their symptoms. And it can be impossible to sort out all of this on your own.
Maintaining a close relationship with a therapist or pediatric specialist is very important for these issues. Having a professional walk alongside you during these important years of your child’s development can make all the difference.
They Need You
Just as with all children, at the heart of the ADHD child is a strong need for you to be there for them. The manifestations of their disorder often cause low self-esteem (i.e., from school issues and being made fun of) and difficulty making friends. They can feel left out and like they don’t belong.
While you can’t erase all of this, you can provide them with the safe, stable place they need.
And if you find you need an extra voice to help guide you through these years, please reach out to my office to learn more.
If you are considering finding a therapist for your child, we have created a mini guide that shares with you 5 tips on how to select the best therapist for you and your family. You can click here to get your FREE copy:
You can also give us a call at 203.800.9778
Soribel Martinez, LCSW, CEO of SMPsychotherapy