17 Things Your ADHD Child Would Tell You if He Could:
1) I’m trying way harder than you’ll ever know even though it doesn’t seem like it to you. I really, truly am.
2) Criticizing me or getting angry at me that my brain doesn’t work better doesn’t help me. It makes me hate myself even more.
3) I’m painfully aware of all the areas that I’m not measuring up. Instead of making a big deal about my shortcomings, try to find ways to help me.
4) An accommodation isn’t the same as enabling. If you help me where I’m genuinely struggling, I’m going to be grateful. Don’t assume that I’m manipulating you.
5) I’m not doing this to you; it’s not something I am doing on purpose.
6) If you think it’s hard to live with me, imagine trying to live inside a body that won’t do what you want it to do.
7) My brain doesn’t work right but I don’t know how to tell you that. It makes me angry and unkind, but I’m not trying to be that way.
8) When I’m being horrible, what I really need is for you to tell me you’ll love me no matter what. And maybe hug me, too. I probably believe that I’m unlovable, so prove me wrong.
9) I know that my lack of motivation is frustrating, but pushing harder doesn’t help me do better.
10) My anger and frustration is a result of my brain not processing properly. When I’m overwhelmed and freaking out, don’t escalate by freaking out or getting angry too. I need you to be calm and show me that everything’s going to be fine even when I feel like it’s not.
11) If I get overwhelmed, don’t expect me to sort out the problem all by myself. The part of my brain the controls regulation doesn’t work properly. That’s why I need your help to regulate.
12) Don’t try to break me of things that you see as weaknesses. My sensitivity as a child means I’ll be compassionate as an adult. My stubbornness as a child means I’ll be independent and assertive as an adult. Instead of squashing these characteristics, channel them toward something good that can benefit me when I’m older. Don’t view me as something that needs fixed or toughened-up.
13) Don’t be afraid of labeling me. A label gives me answers and help. If my condition is serious enough to need to be diagnosed, you can guarantee that I’ve noticed something’s wrong and I’m wondering why I’m different too. Unless you tell me what’s going on, I’m likely to grow up angry and confused about why everyone has it all together and I don’t. A label means I can get help; it gives me answers and vindication.
14) I have a real, actual medical condition in my brain. It’s just as real as if I had Type 1 Diabetes. Just like Diabetes, I need help to deal with the condition. No one tells someone with Type 1 Diabetes that they are lazy if they’re tired because their blood sugar is low. They understand that it’s part of the condition. Please, please, please learn about my condition, and don’t blame me for things that are out of my control. Just like leaving Type 1 Diabetes untreated results in serious complications and even death, untreated ADHD can lead to serious complications –potentially including death. Thankfully, there are many ways to treat ADHD (and medication isn’t the only way).
15) My frontal lobe is developing 30% behind normal. Please understand this and don’t put me in situations I’m not ready to handle. If you give me responsibility that’s beyond my developmental age, don’t be angry with me that I do poorly. That’s setting me up for failure, and that’s just cruel.
16) Stop expecting me to be normal. I can’t be. Not for all my trying. Until you accept that, I’ll always be a failure in your eyes, and I’ll always view myself as not good enough.
17) You have the power to make me miserable by how you treat me. Remember to treat me with love and grace. Treat me how you would want to be treated if you were struggling with a problem in your brain. I may make myself miserable sometimes, but don’t add to that by treating me poorly. When in doubt, be kind. Believe me, I need your kindness.
This list has been reviewed and approved by adults with ADHD.