How do you tell your child they have ADHD? Should you even let them know? It’s a tough question, and one that doesn’t really have a right or wrong answer. Some parents like to be really open with their kids, whereas others don’t like the idea that their child will feel different or “special”. However, the key here is whatever the age of your child when you tell them about ADHD, you keep your explanation simple.
Before you mention ADHD to your child, though, you need to make sure you know as much about it as you can. You never know what questions your child will have, so be prepared! Don’t be embarrassed to ask your child’s paediatrician or psychiatrist as many questions as you need to. Make sure that you understand what is being said to you, so you can find ways to explain it to your child simply.
Don’t talk about ADHD with your child until you feel ready and have accepted the diagnosis. The more kids understand about their diagnosis, the better they can manage their symptoms. You need to be able to discuss it simply and without letting your emotions get in the way.
Start by asking your child what he thinks ADHD is about, and address any misconceptions. He may have heard that kids with ADHD are lazy or stupid, so make it clear that’s not true, and point out all the great things about him. Reassure him that, while having ADHD may mean he’ll find some things more difficult, many people diagnosed with the disorder have achieved success in life despite or because of their condition. Let him know that there will be plenty of help available for him.
Whenever you tell your child about ADHD, make sure you explain it in a way he can easily understand. ADDitudemag.com has some great examples of how other parents have explained ADHD to their child:
We told our son that his brain moves fast, like a sports car, but the brakes in his car are old and can’t slow down his brain. -Jamye, Colorado
I told him that he takes medicine to help him be more focused, but he has to learn to behave well by himself. -Nilsa, Puerto Rico
Everyone is different and that’s what makes us interesting. ADHD is one of the things you were born with, like your brown eyes. I love you with brown eyes and ADHD. -Tereza, New York
I tell my child not to worry, because the people who don’t get how his brain works didn’t get Gates, Jobs, Einstein, or Hawking, either. -Melanie, Georgia
I tell my child, who has inattentive-type ADHD, that sometimes his brain is sleepy. To wake it up, he needs to do brain exercises. -Tania, Puerto Rico
Children with ADHD sometimes take language very literally and they need a simple explanation to help them better understand their condition easily. So keep it simple. Tell them about famous and successful people diagnosed with the same condition, like Louis Smith, Richard Branson and Will.I.Am. And never stop encouraging your children to try their best.