Parents raising kids with ADHD are not only trying to raise a child who experiences the world differently, but they also have to dispel the myths and misconceptions about ADHD for others. Like many disorders that are not visible to an onlooker, it can be challenging for people not living with it to really understand or empathize with those who are. While moms are amazing at supporting one another and sharing advice, moms with kids who have ADHD can often feel isolated as they don’t feel seen or understood by their peers. Here are three things moms of kids with ADHD would like you to know so you can continue to connect with and understand them.
We love our kids as fiercely as you love yours.
We want our kids to be successful, have lasting relationships, and find joy in life. However, since our kids’ brains are wired differently because ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, we will parent them differently than you may be parenting your child. Our kid’s fidgety-ness, impulsivity, or not listening is not due to our lack of parenting. It’s helpful to know this because if we don’t take your advice or have different rules for our kids, it’s because our kids need something different.
Kids with ADHD can have up to a 3-year delay in developing executive functioning and social skills.
Executive functioning describes the set of skills that help us get things done, set goals, plan, and exercise self-control. The brain is continuing to develop these areas until around 25 years of age. It’s helpful to know this because our kids with ADHD may seem young, immature, or inflexible at times and it’s not that they’re being stubborn or lazy. And, as parents, we’re not being pushovers or enabling them; they need a different type of support and communication.
Kids with ADHD want to be included and have friends.
Kids with ADHD have highly sensitive nervous systems which means that they can seem to overreact to things from the outside world, especially when they weren’t expecting something to happen. Rejection, perceived or real, can cause an emotional reaction that seems extreme for the situation. ADHD researchers estimate that by the age of 12, kids with ADHD get 20,000 more negative messages about themselves than other kids their age. This means that their self-esteem is not as strong as other kids and they are more likely to perceive things as negative. It’s helpful to know this because in social situations, where there is a lot of nuance, kids with ADHD may need some additional support and understanding.
All humans have a fundamental need to be seen and heard. Parents of kids with ADHD, as well as kids with ADHD, are no different. At times, it can be confusing or challenging to know how to connect with someone who’s having a different experience than your own. Connecting from the heart and coming from a place of empathy can go a long way. You can put yourself in their shoes or show support by saying “I would feel (fill in blank), too, in that situation” or “I can see how difficult this has been.”
Or perhaps you need to problem-solve a difficult situation between yourselves, your kids, or your families. At times like this, it’s often helpful to stay focused on co-creating solutions together to address the situation accounting for the needs of all people involved.
What else would you be interested in knowing about ADHD? What strategies have worked for you to connect with parents of neurodivergent kids? Comment below to share your thoughts and questions.