Updated: Jun 25
If your child has ADHD, performing school assignments and navigating social interactions comes with added challenges. Here's why
It's morning. 7 am and the daily grind begins.
You wake the kids, hit the coffee drip, and put on your game face. Another day, another attempt at sending the kids off to school, and yourself off to work, in good spirits.
"Katy, if you're not up and dressed in 15 minutes, you'll miss your bus. Again."
"Yes, I know where your socks are. They're right where you left them 10 minutes ago."
"Do you see the water dripping on the floor? Please pay attention to what you're doing!
If you have an ADHD child, any or all of the above may sound familiar. Despite doing your best to remain calm and composed, morning send-offs often end with anger and frustration for both you and your child.
At best, your prompts go unheard and unfollowed. At worst, they're met with cries of "I hate you," "you don't understand," or "I'm not going to school."
So, does it get any better?
The good news is, it most certainly can!
Given the right resources and coping mechanisms, your child can go on to lead a highly successful personal and professional life. And your daily routine can resume a calm, more pleasant atmosphere.
You're Not Alone!
While it may feel like you're navigating ADHD on your own, the truth is – you're not.
About 8.8% of children and 2.5% of adults have ADHD
That means there is a world out there of equally frantic parents and children, all doing their best to navigate a tricky situation.
So what do you need to know to help your child?
It starts by really understanding them.
ADHD: The Science Behind It
Scientific research has shown differing levels of dopamine in children with ADHD than in comparison to those without. Neurotransmitters play an essential role in brain happiness and emotional control.
The impact? Kids with ADHD have shorter attention spans and added difficulty controlling their impulses. They may be hyperactive and have trouble with executive functioning or the ability to plan and juggle multiple tasks.
It is NOT because they are lazy or rebellious (yes, we've all thought that in our worst moments). And it's not because you, as a parent, did a lousy job guiding them.
As a Parent, Make the Mental Switch
So, where does that leave you?
Well, it's much easier to have compassion for your child if you understand what's causing their behavior. It's one thing to have a rebellious child that won't go to school on time. It's quite a different picture if you understand that your child has physiological difficulties making it hard for them to plan and organize their time.
To make that mental switch (and we know it's a tough one), you really need to first get up close and personal with ADHD.
Common ADHD Difficulties
What exactly is it you and your child are up against? Here's a list of common ADHD difficulties for you to be aware of and how they most commonly impact daily functioning.
Working memory difficulties
"I totally forgot it's due tomorrow."
Children with ADHD quickly lose focus and have difficulty managing several tasks. During their school years, this often translates into issues with:
Arriving on time for class each day
Leaving reports for the last minute
Failure to study for tests in advance
"Look mom, it's a bird!"
Environmental distractions are also a common problem. Rather than focusing on what's said, children with ADHD are easily distracted by their thoughts or passing events. Practically speaking, it makes it hard to follow the teacher or even interact with friends during recess. Instead, ADHD kids often have a strong impulse to say what's on their minds.
"I'm just going to get a snack."
Sound familiar? Difficulty sticking to tasks is another common theme. Whether it's cleaning their room, finishing their homework, or playing a game, your child is probably experiencing added difficulty staying on task. The long-term fallout of this is that they may start avoiding problematic ongoing tasks i.e. homework, in effort to 'save' you both frustration. For you, this translates into a constant tug of war.
"I hate you! You're the worst."
The struggle to manage their emotions and maintain positive interactions with peers comes with added difficulty for children with ADHD. It’s hard for them to hold in thoughts and emotions, or manage stressful situations. Without these necessary coping skills, they are far more likely to morph into a full out screaming and hitting nuclear meltdowns. Once your child calms down, they are likely to recognize their behavior and apologize for it. But that recognition also comes with added feelings of embarrassment and disappointment in themselves. And that can be rough for everyone.
Working memory difficulties
"But you never told me where it is."
Recalling simple instructions is problematic for ADHD kids. They often forget the details of what they were told, making it difficult to work independently in class or follow the simple instructions you left. While the working memory difficulty is real, parents tend to interpret it as "my child is ignoring me" or "doesn't care."
"I didn't know flying downhill would end with holes in my pants."
Has your kid come home with holes in his pants when all the other kids came home with their pants in one piece? ADHD children have difficulty assessing consequences and risks, meaning they'll often be the first to volunteer for activities that lead to injury. Activities that other kids had the 'better judgment' to steer clear of. It's not because your child is bad. It's because they have added difficulty calculating risk.
You're Not Alone
As a parent, while dealing with the above may seem maddening at times, approaching your child with understanding and compassion can help them overcome some of their difficulties. Remember, they genuinely aren't doing these things on purpose. They have a biological difficulty. Your child needs your help, and we're here to support you in providing it.
Together, with the right resources, you and your child can succeed.
ADHD is a real biological difficulty.
ADHD children have problems with time management, impulsivity, distractions, & more
You can help your child lead a successful, fulfilling life. It starts with understanding what you're up against