I’ve been a pediatrician for 30 years. In that time, I’ve seen countless patients with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). I’ve also seen countless parents walk into my office, exhausted and looking for answers on how to raise their son or daughter with ADHD.
ADHD causes attention or hyperactivity issues in kids, and is often over-diagnosed and misunderstood
ADHD is essentially a wiring problem in the brain that causes attention or hyperactivity issues or both. It is often over-diagnosed and misunderstood. Even when it’s not, and a child is correctly diagnosed with ADHD, parents are left with more questions than answers as far as how to raise that child successfully, without completely losing their minds.
This episode of my Parenting Great Kids podcast was inspired by a letter I received from a parent in the middle of this struggle and is dedicated to all parents of children with ADHD. I want to give you hope, and I want to give you real answers.
Something I try to explain to parents is that the brain of a child with ADHD is like a Porsche engine stuck inside a Volkswagen bug. His body is going at one pace but internally he has a motor that’s running a million miles an hour.
The brain of a child with ADHD is like a Porsche engine stuck inside a Volkswagen bug.
Your job, as his engine continues to revs, is to calm his outer world. How do you do that? I have a few suggestions:
Make sure you have the correct diagnosis.
If you are going to learn how to raise a child with ADHD, you must first be sure that you are indeed raising a child with ADHD.
I get so frustrated with kids who come into my practice on ADHD medication when they don’t actually need it. Many times a learning disability or dyslexia can be confused with ADHD. You’re not going to be able to read like everyone else and concentrate like other students if you have a learning disability.
Many children with depression and anxiety have attention issues, too. These cause attention problems in school because the child is preoccupied with what’s making her depressed or anxious.
Go to your doctor and ask specifically about ADHD—not just a well-child check. In my practice, I recommend kids go to an education specialist or a place where people can run tests to rule out things like dyslexia, depression, and anxiety.
Many times kids are young when a diagnosis is made. If you label a child with ADHD in the first grade, that label sticks. You need to make sure it’s right.