ADHD, featured, homeschooling

17 Things Your ADHD Child Would Tell You if He Could

 If you disagree with the phrase “ADHD Child”, please read this post: ADHD and Self-identity. If you disagree with the use of “He” in the title of this blog post, see this post: How I Use Pronouns on My Blog.

17 Things Your ADHD Child Would Tell You if He Could (based on my and my husband’s lives living with ADHD and raising ADHD children):


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***

You can find more of my posts about ADHD here.

This a reminder that I am not a doctor or a scientist. I am just a writer and artist with ADHD making graphics and posts based on information I have read from leading authorities on ADHD. I encourage you to research these issues yourself and watch the Dr. Barkley videos at the bottom of this post called What You Need to Know About Your ADHD Child for more information about the science behind ADHD.

I hope this information is helpful. If you enjoyed this post, I would be honored if you would subscribe to my blog and follow me on Facebook.

Sarah Forbes



44 thoughts on “17 Things Your ADHD Child Would Tell You if He Could”

  1. I REALLY needed this.  I don’t know what my child has, maybe ADHA, I don’t know, but this was a much-needed thing to hear.  THANK YOU

    1. I never knew I was ADHD until I read about it in regards to my daughter. There were so many things I didn’t understand about myself until I was 36 years old – I wish I had known earlier so I would have been a better mother to my beautiful daughter

    2. WOW; this is very well done! As the father of an ADHD son, and a dyslexic son; I find it interesting (and ironic) how much this applies to my own challenges as a recovering alcoholic (thankfully with 7 years of sobriety).

  2. I have a beloved nephew, age 9, who has ADHD. He is more than a handful; more than a hundred handsful, some days, but my God, is he ever easy to love. He thinks just like I do, so I understand him better than a lot of people do, and I try my hardest to apply that understanding to my interactions with him. I was seemingly born with Bipolar I w/psychotic features. Believe it or not, ADHD manifests many similar behaviors/actions, so I feel an even closer connection to my baby nephew.

    He is incredibly intelligent, funny, and so so lovable, it’s making me cry to write all this, because I fear so much for his future, if we can’t figure a way to help him get things under some kind of control. At the literal end of a day, when I’m present in his home or vice versa, I can look at him sleeping and feel the same exact burst of love that I feel for my own children and my other niblings. My baby is worth whatever it takes, and I hope to God he ALWAYS knows I feel that way.

    1. Medication can make a huge difference for those of us who have ADHD. And, having adult support in his life is huge! What a blessing that he has you. ❤

  3. Sarah – This is superb insight and genuinely softened my heart and that of my wife with respect to our beautiful daughter. We’re going to use it as a daily reminder! Bless you!

  4. I didn’t have this list when I was going through the tough times of parenting , but let me tell you if you stay on course they grow up to be amazing adults and my words of advice is Don’t lose your sense of humor, love unconditionally, and know your doing the best you can!

  5. I am an adult that was diagnosed 20 years ago when i was 30 now I’m 51.What a difference medication makes. I am still not organized but I can focus now and stay on task. I still get overwhelmed but I have learned how to handle it. I can tell you it’s horrible knowing your different but when I was young there were no iep or adhd I was the kid that talked and daudreamed all the time.

  6. Thank you, my childhood & most of adult hood explained in this list. From an adult diagnosed ADD as an adult.

    1. My husband and I were both diagnosed with ADHD as adults, too. I wrote this list based on our experiences growing up and our experience with our own ADHD kids. I’m glad you found it helpful. ❤❤❤

    2. I understand because I am Bipolar and ADHD.
      As an adult I now also worry about altheimers
      and other brain malfunctions. I do as well as I
      am able to in my life.

  7. Really good stuff, thanks for sharing this information. As a parent of a child recently diagnosed with ADHD I still have so much to learn, I appreciate you putting this info together. ❤

  8. Thanks for this I have two boys that have ADHD that drive me insane but I’ll change that by being more u standing and get them the best help I can.

  9. Pingback: Gift Ideas for ADHD Kids – Grace Under Pressure
  10. I’m so glad I found this list. My son (8 1/2) was diagnosed 2 years ago and it’s been a real struggle. This one post gave me a bit of insight into what he’s feeling. I’ve tried to get him to explain, but it’s hard for him since he doesn’t fully understand and the fact that he’s only 8. So thank you for explaining for him. This will definitely helping us from this day forward.

  11. This is soooo true!! With this new understanding I have changed my approach with my teenage son. He is also doing neurofeedback twice a week which has helped him tremendously with his feelings of despondency & sadness. Hoping to also target issues with focus and attention. 🙂

  12. Thank you for sharing your post! I think this gives great insight into knowing, working with, and living with a person with ADHD.

  13. Thank you Sarah from an Educator who works with these great kids on a daily basis. If I can get this printed I am going to post it at school. Or maybe give a copy to each teacher.

  14. This was exactly what I needed to read at this moment to get some clarity and reevaluate my own actions dealing with my son. Thank you.

  15. I really needed this. It’s such a struggle at times with my son and this just reminds me of the grace I need to have with him and that I am to be his advocate in life.

  16. Wonderful piece of writing from the heart. As an adult diagnosed with adhd and a parent of two children with diagnosed autism and adhd this was handy to share with friends and family who still have a long way to go to understand what it is about

  17. This is fantastic! Once we had a diagnosis for my daughter when she was 5, I did a lot of reading and research. We pulled her out of public school and enrolled her in a small private school. We totally changed the way we did things as parents. I had to be constantly aware of how I corrected her. It’s amazing how one word could change how she perceived criticism. I educated her grandparents also. I think education of the parents in behavior modification and just about the condition in general is a huge piece of the puzzle that is missing in the healthcare of ADHD kids. My daughter is now a junior in college on the dean’s list.

  18. I sure could have used this list 35 years ago! But it’s never too late to help someone else, right? I appreciate this. And in memory of my late ADHD son, I can only say, be an advocate for your child and teach him/her how to do it for their future success.

  19. Thank you.. I’m an adult with ADHD and this really hit home and I struggle to find ways to help my almost 6 year old (who I’m 100% positive) has ADHD as well.. this is all so true..

  20. Great insight. My son is a freshman in college- he has been challenging since he was a toddler. And yes he has been on medication since 2nd grade. At what age do boys with ADHD finally start to mature, calm down, learn to control their impulses. My son behaves like a complete lunatic sometimes. His anxiety is skyrocketing, he was easier to take care of as a child. I’m at a loss with his outbursts and anger and unreasonable behavior. When does it get better???

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