It may not offer much comfort but know you’re better off parenting today than my parents were…
My parents often say to me “We just didn’t know…” to which I always respond: No one did. It’s only within the last 10 years have we made huge strides in learning about ADHD andA DHD symptoms, and it has been significantly less since it’s been viewed as a “superpower”.
On that note, think Ma and Pa Kent; Superman’s parents.
They raised their son knowing he was special and had powers and taught him to hold back, and master those gifts without knowing the why’s or how’s of said powers. Because they knew that if the world found out who he really was, they would reject him (think of the scene in “Man of Steel” where Clark is talking to Lois about his dad sacrificing himself of Clark’s secret -tears-).
The ADHDer is no different. The world will reject the ADHDer for not conforming, for not fitting in and for seeing the world differently. But the key here is to view and TRULY believe with every fiber those traits are gifts and superpowers. If you believe, they will believe, if they believe they will “accomplish wonders”!
While you’re reminding yourself of this daily here are a few things that will help the parenting of you little super-boy/girl.
First off, tell the truth about the diagnosis.
Let them know what ADHD is and isn’t. Additionally, tell them all of the strengths they have because of their ADHD. They are creative, witty, funny, decisive, natural leaders, go getters, energetic, full of ideas, highly resilient, and the hardest workers in the classroom (whether you or they realize it). The list goes on…and all of these are their superpowers, by the way. And amongst all of theses gifts is one normal people will never have, it is the best of them all: hyper-focus. Once they find and learn to use this they will truly feel like the Man of Steel.
Next, answer all the questions they may have about ADHD, but don’t be afraid to tell them you don’t know.
If you find yourself not knowing an answer, don’t worry; have them write that question down to bring to a psychiatrist or strength based specialist and have it answered; if they can’t answer it, they’ll know where to find the answer. When answering questions be sure to let them know what ADHD does not mean. It does not mean they are “stupid, dumb, or broken”, all words clients have used or parents have said in anger to their ADHDer. Remember the rooster?
Lastly, coach the child on how to explain it to others.
There’s so much power in knowledge; where there’s power there’s comfort and confidence. Give them accurate words and metaphors to explain what ADHD is and what it isn’t. “ADHD means I have too much attention and have trouble singling out my attention. It also means I can get bored easily, but it doesn’t mean you’re boring. Also, it helps me to focus if I’m able to stand, walk, fidget, etc. And just because I’m doing those things doesn’t mean I’m not listening.” Teach and use positively charged language “too much attention” as opposed to “I have troubling paying attention”. Remove “I can’t”s from you and your child’s vocabulary.
These are just a few things you can do when you have the definitive diagnosis and are trying to parent. These are also things you can do well into the process. It’s never too late for a more positive view of what is going on with your child.