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ADHD Traits and Tendencies

Do You Need to Change Your Perspective on ADHD?

It seems most people who don’t have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) don’t really understand it. ADHD is often associated with what is wrong with a person so a diagnosis of ADHD may leave you feeling shame, fear and self-doubt. Changing your perspective on ADHD is the start in removing the stigma surrounding ADHD.

I believe in emphasising the positive traits of ADHD.  People with ADHD represent some of the most fascinating, fun, and accomplished people I have met. Nevertheless, words such as organisation, structure, supervision, reminders, and persistence don’t even begin to describe the magnitude of the task people with ADHD have to tackle every day, particularly children and young people.

Children need their parents and teachers to understand their difficulties, and help them to overcome those challenges. When explaining ADHD to a child, say, “you have a superfast mind – like a Ferrari engine, but the brakes of a bicycle, and I’m the brake expert.” When ADHD is properly managed, children can achieve: doctors, lawyers, CEO’s, dreamers, innovators and explorers. Remember the flip-side of distractibility is curiosity.

Barriers Parents Face: Steps to Changing Your Perspective on ADHD

1. Educate yourself

The biggest barriers for parents are denial, ignorance and a refusal to learn. If this goes on tfor oo long, children can suffer further loss to their self esteem. The stakes are high, not only for the child, but the whole family. So learn what ADHD is and what it isn’t. The most powerful treatment for ADHD is understanding ADHD. It can be a positive attribute in your child’s life. So ,read books, talk with professionals and talk with other parents with ADHD children. You need to understand ADHD well enough to embrace it so you can help your child avoid unnecessary stigma, as that breaks children rather than builds them up.

2. Look for that special spark

Children with ADHD invariably have a special something, a spark, a delightful quirk – which they sometimes try to hide. Look for that special something and help your child feel good about who they are. Identify talents, strengths, interests and dreams. Teach them to see and believe in what they can do, and avoid the tendency to focus on what they can’t do. When you believe in your child, it makes it easier for them to believe, too.

3. Unconditional Love

Let your love for your child carry the day. Tune out the diagnosticians and labellers and notice and nourish the spirit of your child for who they are. Providing this unshakable base of support will set the tone for all interactions to come. This is what builds self-esteem, confidence, and motivation, which in turn create joy and success in life.

Several studies suggest that loving acceptance by parents is the most important thing young people with ADHD need in dealing with behaviours. Ensure your child knows, every day, how much you love them. Showing your love and affection will reinforce your child’s sense of hope and help the family weather criticism from outside sources.

Young people need love that never gives up.

4. Reframe Challenges in terms of Mirror Traits

Remind yourself and your child of the positive sides of the negative symptoms associated with ADHD. By recognising the mirror or flipside traits, you avoid the impact of shame and fear.

5. Surround yourself with Laughter

Laughter is the best medicine. Surround yourself with people who can laugh. It is important to be able to regain a perspective that allows you to see the humour in all of the situations these youngsters can get into. Why wait to look back on something and laugh at it – go ahead and enjoy the ridiculousness of the situation in the moment.

When our young people begin to laugh at themselves, and not take themselves quite so seriously, it allows them to learn humility without shame, and adds to their character and their enjoyment of life.


As a parent, how you approach your child’s ADHD will set the tone for how your child manages their ADHD. When you show them compassion and understanding, you teach them to love themselves and see their strengths. That will help them find the motivation they need to manage their ADHD, one strategy at a time.

Adapted from Hallowell, E.M., Jensen, M.D. & P.S.,Ballantine, M.D. (2008) 'Superparenting for ADD: An Innovative Approach to Raising Your Distracted Child', 2008.


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