How to explain to a child with ADHD?

We went to the clinic worried about our son, who doesn’t sit still, gets bad grades and takes us by the thumb. After a long testing process, the psychologist informs us that our child has ADHD.

We are relieved to know that the child is not doing this, that he does not have an intellectual disability, or that we have failed as parents. Finding out that you can improve yourself with treatment helps.

However, at this point a problem arises: how to say it. This is a very common situation among parents who have just learned of this diagnosis, and they don’t know how to tell a child with ADHD. Well, we’ll see how to do it.

    How do you tell a child that you have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

    Many families have a child who appears to be misbehaving. In some of these cases he is restless and impulsive and has learning difficulties and these problems begin to deteriorate relationships at home, at school and in other environments in which the child is developing. The parents are worried and decide to go see a psychologist to assess what is happening to him.

    After you go to the consultation, the professional does the relevant tests to find out if it is a case of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Once it is confirmed that the child has the disorder, the professional informs the parents. Parents are psycho-educated and understand what this disorder is, the symptoms, what to expect, and the treatment the professional will perform.

    However, even though parents feel relieved to know that their child’s problem is not due to bad manners or an intellectual disability, they are asked a question: should they tell their child that they have a problem? ADHD? They are not sure that counting the benefits will outweigh the harms, And they fear that the child will consider himself a “mentally ill” who is mad and will come to believe that he is a danger to himself and to others.

    Why is it important to tell him that you have this disorder?

    It is very important to tell him that he has this disorder. The reason it is so important to tell yourself that you have ADHD is that no matter how tall you are, he already knows that he behaves in a problematic way, very different from that of other colleagues and friends. He notices that he doesn’t concentrate like the others, that he moves around too much and can’t help himself, that he has a hard time learning and that sometimes others don’t want to play with him.

    Your problem will become more apparent as time goes by without professional help. As he gets older he is expected to have better control of his impulses in school and the subject gets more and more complicated. As the child with ADHD has self-control issues and has difficulty paying attention, he is expected to have more behavioral issues in class, and his academic performance will deteriorate. That is why it is so necessary to identify him as early as possible and make him a participant in the treatment.

    It is also important to explain why, If you don’t, you risk seriously damaging your self-esteem and your self-image.. Seeing that no matter how much effort he puts into it, he fails to be on the same level as his classmates, he will begin to believe that he is “stupid”. Plus, as others will see him as the most restless, scandalous, and unsupervised child in the class, he will begin to believe that he is a lazy and bad person. Avoiding explaining the topic will cause the child more anxiety and frustration.

      How to do?

      In order to be able to explain to the child what he has, three fundamental aspects must be taken into account. The first is age, as it is not the same to say that an 8 year old is 16 years old, the second is their maturity level, which may be different from what is expected for their age. Finally, there is their degree of understanding, because although the disorder masks it, the child may be smarter (or less) than children their age.

      No matter how professional the psychologist is, if the patient does not want to cooperate, it is difficult to make therapy prosper.. A child who does not know why he should go to the psychologist will feel confused and, on top of that, will think he is hiding information from him, which is true. This will make him more afraid and not feel confident with the psychologist because he will see him as someone who befriended his parents for cheating on him.

      For this reason, parents, once they know the diagnosis, should tell their child what they have. It is essential that when the explanation is given, the child understands that he is behaving this way not because he is lacking intelligence or is a bad child, but because he has a problem. that makes it so. cal explain that no one is perfect, that we all have weaknesses and strengths and what we can improve as people. You should also be informed that you will be receiving help from a psychologist and / or that you will be taking medication.

      To explain it, we can mention the behaviors that the past has done related to the following symptoms of ADHD: lack of attention, lack of impulse control, difficulties in social relationships, lack of autonomy and lack of reflexivity, among others. . It is very likely that the child will ask us questions such as “is it because I am never still?”, “Is that why I am not paying attention in class? or “Is that why you tell me to stop so many times?”

      Letting him ask is the best way for him to understand what is happening to him. This will identify any difficulties that may be related to ADHD and in this way you will be able to better understand them and learn how to deal with them. As the child recognizes ADHD within himself and knows what is happening to him, he will begin to realize that the things that are happening to him are due to something that is not his fault, and he will be able to cope with it.

      How to help come to terms with your situation

      As we have mentioned, the child will surely feel very frustrated because it is not performing in the classroom, despite all the efforts that he makes. He may also feel depressed because on several occasions he has been told that he is too outrageous, agitated, rude, off-center, that he doesn’t care what the teacher says, that he is got along poorly with other classmates. … Because of all of this, his self-esteem and his own conception are on the ground.

      For that, the family should strive to avoid labeling the actions of the child that define him. Our actions do not define us as we are, we do them over and over again. Also, in order to improve your self-esteem, especially once you start treatment, it is essential to highlight any achievements that you have made, whether or not it is attributed to the treatment or not. If he behaves well, if he is raising his marks, if he is still in class and other behaviors that would be considered “normal” in children his age.

      When the child is known to have ADHD, the family should normalize this fact. In other words, we cannot pose the trouble as an insurmountable obstacle, that there is no solution to your problem. What needs to be made him understand is that he has been given a lot of circumstances which, indeed, make it a little difficult for him to be at the same level as his peers but, with a little help, he can achieve them. . You have to explain to him that facing difficulties is a fundamental thing, and it is something that can be learned.

      In case the child has older siblings, it is very important to make them understand that their little brother has this problem, And that they should help their parents to normalize this situation. Older people, if they are teenagers, will understand the problem in a more adult-like way. However, it is very important that they do not go ahead with their parents and talk to their brother with ADHD as there is a risk that they will not be able to explain it properly and think he is a “mental illness”.

      To facilitate the process, it is never too late to seek the support of local ADHD groups, such as associations, centers and foundations, in addition to the professional help offered by psychologists and psychiatrists. It is also crucial to ask the school if they have a special program to teach these types of children, as well as to make their teacher understand that the child has this problem, which explains his school problems.

      To help children cope with stigma, it is strongly recommended that you research informative children’s stories about ADHD that are appropriate for their age. It is crucial to demystify false beliefs, Like those who are “vague” or “stupid”, and if they have been unlucky to hear nasty comments at school, remind them how good they are and why their behavior is not theirs. fault. Putting a list of the good things they have and hanging it in the fridge is a good option.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Knife, LE; Safren, SA (2010). Current state of cognitive behavioral therapy for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults. Psychiatric clinics in North America. 33 (3): pages 497 to 509.
      • Lange, KW; Reichl, S .; Lange, KM; Tucha, L .; Tucha, O. (2010). History of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. 2 (4): pages 241 to 255.
      • Verkuijl, N .; Perkins, M .; Fazel, M. (2015). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children. [Trastorno por déficit de atención con hiperactividad en la infancia]. BMJ (BMJ Publishing Group Ltd) 350: h2168.
      • Wolraich, ML; Hagan, JF; Allan, C .; Chan, E .; Davison, D .; Earls, M .; Evans, SW; Flinn, SK; Froehlich, T .; Frost, J .; Holbrook, JR; Lehmann, CU; Lessin, RH; Okechukwu, K .; Pierce, KL; Winner, JD; Zurhellen, W .; Subcommittee on Children and Adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Disorder. (2019). Clinical practice guide for the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and Adolescents. Pediatrics. 144 (4): e20192528.

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