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ADHD Parenting Tip: Looking Beyond ADHD Symptoms

Posted Aug 26 2008 11:12pm

Usually early on in the coaching process, the topic of understanding what is ADHD and what is not ADHD eventually comes up. And it can cause quite the commotion until we are able to collaboratively overcome this roadblock.

It would appear that when a child is diagnosed with ADHD, almost everything they do and become is somehow related to ADHD. At least it can come across this way. I don’t know whether it’s the sudden shock of the diagnosis, the lack of information that many parents first receive, or this negative portrayal in the media…

But somewhere… somehow… there is this notion that everything our children struggle with is now somehow related to ADHD. Or perhaps it’s that ADHD has a hand in everything.

And while this can be a factor in some cases, I think a crucial first step is understanding that ADHD is just one layer of who your child is…of who our children are…and who our children will become.

Understanding ADHD Is Everything

Having a fundamental, working knowledge of what ADHD is and how ADHD presents in our own child is very critical. Don’t get me wrong about that. It’s the stepping stone to really being successful in supporting a child with ADHD.

However, it’s just the beginning. It’s just a stepping-stone. It is NOT the end all, be all. It’s NOT the solution.

After understanding, or along with it, comes the important process of finding out what else is going on… Ask the question, “What else might it be…? Or what else might be impacting our child’s behavior?”

ADHD is just one layer. Attention Deficit Disorder is just one piece of the puzzle.

Perhaps what’s really making your child more impulsive (lately anyway) is more related to sibling rivalry or the idea that he is not getting as much attention as he thinks he deserves.

Sure, perhaps ADHD has a piece in this…but there is always more. There are always other things happening.

More frequently, we are overlooking the external pressures and life events that play a major role in what we see as the behavior in our children.

Instead of focusing so much on “What is the ADHD,” step back and evaluate what else is contributing to the problem. Is there an underlying stressor or event that is making things worse?

One could argue that ADHD is at the core of our problems, but in my humble opinion, we cannot just classify, label, or diagnose a child with ADHD and expect it to be the answer for everything.

Raising a child is difficult. And certainly raising a child with ADHD, or other learning differences, is no easy task. But these “labels” do NOT define who our children are, or who they will become.

I’d rather have you see these differences just as that - differences! Your children or our children just require different strategies and supports in their lives.

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