What is ADHD?
- Neuroscience, brain imaging, and clinical research tell us a few important things: ADHD is not a behavior disorder. ADHD is not a mental illness. ADHD is not a specific learning disability.
- ADHD is, instead, a developmental impairment of the brain’s self-management system. Common symptoms of ADHD:
-inattention -lack of focus -poor time management -weak impulse control -exaggerated emotions -hyperfocus -hyperactivity -executive dysfunction
- Individuals with ADHD hyperfocus and lose track of time, or misplace their keys, or blurt out an unrelated thought when their focus breaks free from its chains.
- ADHD is not caused by bad parenting, too much sugar, or too many video games. ADHD is a brain-based, biological disorder. Brain imaging studies and other research show many physiological differences in the brains of individuals with ADHD.
Don’t Mistake Your Child’s ADHD Symptoms for Bad Behavior
- Your child is not deliberately willful, disobedient, scattered, demanding, obnoxious, aggressive, or lazy. He or she has ADHD — a neurological condition with symptoms too often mistaken for willful “bad behavior.” But research shows that criticizing your child is likely to make her symptoms worse.
- Here are a few behavior strategies for parents — strategies that my three decades of experience have shown will likely help you and your child.
Trust the Top Expert on Your Child: You
- Not teachers. Not friends or relatives. Not the doctor. Not even other parents who have a child with ADHD. You live with your child, day after day. You know his unique potential — his energy, passions, curiosity and creativity, qualities that can get buried under distractibility, impulsiveness, and restlessness.
- The best strategies for making sure your child gets what she needs to thrive will come from your own instincts, intuition, and intelligence. There are as many approaches to behavioral management as there are children, and you are the one to decide on the best approach for your child.
Rewarding Your Child for Better Behavior
- Children with ADHD misbehave so often that they receive a lot of punishment, which creates hostility and resentment. Rewards work much better. In fact, kids with ADHD respond better to rewards and positive feedback than kids without the disorder, according to research.
Criticizing “Bad Behavior” Worsens ADHD Symptoms
- A recent study, funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health, shows that criticizing your child is likely to make her symptoms worse, not better.
S.A.I.L to Stop Being Overly-Critical of Your Child
- Think of it this way: If your child has a runny nose, you don’t say she’s a bad child whenever she sniffles. You say she has a symptom of a medical problem, like a cold or an allergy. If your child is running uncontrollably around the house, it’s the same thing — she has a symptom of a medical problem. Without parental help, your child can no more inhibit her motor activity than she can stop her nose from running.
- After you’ve labeled the behavior a symptom, say to yourself: ADHD is a medical problem, not a behavior problem. Whatever the behavior, your child is not doing it to irritate you. Your child wants to behave. But he can’t without your help. And criticism is no help.
I: It's O.K.
- In the grand scheme of things — your life and the life of your child — the behavior is probably not that big a deal. Whatever your child is doing that annoys you, tell yourself, “It’s OK.”
- I cannot overstate the value of listening to your child. ADHD children have great strengths and talents — including the insight to help you parent them. If you tap into your child’s intuitive and creative energy, she can help you help her. The best way to do that is to listen to what your child says and to respond positively. When I meet with a child alone and listen, the child is often able to articulate the exact information his parents need.
RESOURCE: You can find the full article by James M. Greenblatt, M.D. at https://www.additudemag.com/bad-behavior-adhd-symptoms/