How To Tell Your Child They Have ADHD
Your child has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – ADHD now what?
Should you tell them about their diagnoses, or should you wait until they are older? Many of us have wondered this before.
Dr. Hallowell a practicing psychiatrist and founder of the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health in Sudbury, Massachusetts feels strongly about parents telling their children early on.
The diagnosis should not be seen in a negative or shameful manor, therefore hiding it from the child would not accomplish a single thing. How much you tell the child should be very limited in detail at first, but you should get the general point across.
Dr. Hallowell’s example on how to tell children includes wrapping the message in something easy to digest for children, like race cars. He goes on to explain to his young ADHD patient how his tests have shown that the child’s brain is like a turbocharged race car.
By doing this the Doctor is linking the disorder to a relatable subject that is positive. He goes on to tell the boy how race cars are so powerful they need the proper engine oil and brakes in order to not overheat.
Dr. Hallowell then reminds the child of how his brain is so super charged and fast, that sometimes it is hard for him to pay attention in class. Lastly he reassures the child that he is there to help him put the right brakes on his brain, keeping it under control and winning races.
Afterwards he suggests answering any questions the child has, but with simplified and upbeat responses. Children with ADHD do not need to know more than the basics, as we don’t want them to feel defined by the diagnosis.
Steps to telling your child about their ADHD:
• Tell your child early on in the diagnosis, ADHD is nothing shameful and should not be hidden
• Relate the disorder to something positive your child can understand
• Let them know that you and their doctor are there to help them take control of, and succeed with their amazing and fast paced brain
• Answer all questions the child has in a simple and positive way
• Do not overload your child with too much information, the basics are more than enough