Kids With ADHD Are Not “Bad Kids” & Their Parents Are Not “Bad Parents” by Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead

Kids With ADHD Are Not “Bad Kids” & Their Parents Are Not “Bad Parents”

There are two children in my family with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), one of my nephews and one of my sons. When my nephew was diagnosed at age 5 over a year ago, I educated myself about ADHD. Now that my son is being treated for it, I know even more. Of everything I’ve learned, the one thing I would most like others to know is that children with ADHD are not “bad kids” and their parents are not “bad parents.” 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The cause(s) and risk factors for ADHD are unknown, but current research shows that genetics plays an important role. Recent studies of twins link genes with ADHD ... Research does NOT support the popularly held views that ADHD is caused by eating too much sugar, watching too much television, parenting, or social and environmental factors such as poverty or family chaos...”

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, the most common such disorder of childhood. Neurodiversity is just what it sounds like – brain difference. Not all brains are wired the same way. Neurological differences should not be viewed as negative or bad, just as genetic physical differences should not be viewed as negative or bad.

Neurodiversity comes with strengths as well as challenges. In fact, according to Dr. Marc Lewis on PsychologyToday.com, “Many scientists believe that a certain amount of psychological diversity is built into the human race because it provides an evolutionary advantage for all of us.” 

Adults and children with ADHD “may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the results will be) or be overly active.” ADHD symptoms can cause children difficulties both at home and at school and in their ability to make and keep friends (CDC).

On the bright side, ADHD can be successfully managed. There are a variety of treatment options and resources available. The appropriate treatment plan is dependent on the individual’s unique symptoms and needs, as ADHD does not present the same way in every person. For instance, my son is not especially hyperactive and wasn’t when he was younger either; there are several symptoms in addition to hyperactivity.

If you are a fellow parent of a child with ADHD, know that you are not alone. I recommend joining a local or digital support group as such groups can provide both resources and emotional support. If you are not the parent of a kid with ADHD, please don’t judge those of us who are. Know that we’re doing the best we can and that our kids are so much more than a diagnosis.

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Katie Sloan
Thank you for being so open and helping to shed light on ADHD.
Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds
Thank you for sharing these important insights about ADHD, Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead . I believe it is a very misunderstood diagnosis, especially for the number of people (children and adults alike) who struggle with it. I hope that more research will continue to be done so we learn even more about it and know how to best help those who have it. At least we have better tools today to diagnose the condition. So many kids (and adults) are being diagnosed today (I personally know more kids than not who have been given this diagnosis). It makes you wonder about our generation, and how many people went un-diagnosed or mis-diagnosed because of lack of awareness of the condition!
Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and expertise on ADHD, Renee Herren , Pepi Silverman , Mabel Yiu , Beth Nee , Sheryl Gould , Heather Holter, and Brian King.
Abraham Alarcon
Great article! Thank you. Now to share it to those adults who have an "old school" mindset and who think kids with these conditions are simply given a "pass" or need a good dose of "home" training.
Mike Prochaska
They can also easier for them to do many tasks at once
Mindy Hudon, M.S., CCC-SLP
Thanks Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead! I too have a child with ADHD who is the most brilliant and loving person! It is not only hard as a parent of a child with ADHD...it is very difficult for children themselves with ADHD. My son used to come home crying because he would get in trouble because he didn't raise his hand. When we talked about it , he would say, "But I knew the answer (so he would just shout it out). He wasn't a "bad boy," but other kids and teachers made him feel that way because he got in trouble all the time. I will never forget when he came home and said he wished no one knew his name at school. He was a busy, but kind boy, who just needed to touch, see, and discover so he heard his name a lot "Mitchell sit down." "Mitchell raise your hand." "Mitchell get in line." As an educator myself, I work with these friends daily and that is why it is my passion. Ann you are right, their little brains are wired differently, but my goal is to help them feel successful and in control by providing executive function strategies to help them achieve it...I could go on and on...did I say this is my passion? By the way, my son is now a young adult and is a successful student, friend, boyfriend, actor, employee and an amazing person overall!

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