ADHD and the new school year

The start of the school year is just days away.  I have one child eagerly awaiting Meet the Teacher day and bus stop friends on Monday morning.  And I have one child where I have been instructed to not even use the dreaded “S” word, you know it as school.  My eager beaver is able to sit quietly, pay attention, take notes, complete assignments, all with little to no help needed.  My girl needs a bit more prodding, to say the least.  Here’s the thing, one child has ADD/ADHD and one does not.  I let you figure out which one.

To say that I am anxiously awaiting the start of 7th grade is an understatement.  Of course the normal fears of hoping my daughter finds a good group of friends, stops asking for a cell phone, gets good grades, does her homework, and is respectful of her teachers exist.  But the true anxiety comes in the form of helping her to manage her ADHD throughout the day so she can succeed in all these areas.

There are 5 things I have learned not say to my child about their ADHD

  1.  “Why do I have to keep repeating myself?”

If you have asked your child to eat their breakfast repeatedly, saying it one more time will probably not change anything.  Instead have everything ready to go so they can grab it quickly, eat, take meds, and be out the door for the bus.

 

2.  “Just calm down, focus, and then you can get your homework done!”

Um, that’s not going to work.  It’s like saying if you close your eyes and wish hard enough, you can fly.  Instead try to find strategies that will make the task more manageable.  Have a snack first when they get home to avoid a blood sugar crash, let them run around and get some energy out, then do the homework in small chunks of time, preferably in a quiet area of the house.

 

3.  “Don’t worry, you don’t have to tell anyone that you have ADHD.”

All this does is send a message that there is something wrong with them and that they should be ashamed.  Instead you need to focus on the fact that this is how their brain was made, it is special and unique in its’ own way, and is just another part of who they are.  As your child goes through school, it can be up to them when and how they would like to explain ADHD to their friends and classmates.

4.  “The medicine will fix it, don’t worry.”

Medication should be looked at as a tool, just one of the tools in her toolbox.  Tools are there to help us manage different aspects of life, and medication can help capitalize on their strengths.  You never want your child to feel like they won’t be enough if they don’t take their medicine.

5.  “I know what it feels like to be distracted, I know how you feel.”

ADHD is more than just being distracted, and although you don’t want your child to feel alone, you also don’t want them to minimize their challenges.  Letting them know other people have ADHD and connecting them is a great strategy.  There are also many resources online that can be used to help facilitate conversations.

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