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ADHD in Children Health Center

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6 Parenting Tips for Raising Kids With ADHD

What to do, and not to do, if your child has ADHD.

1. Be honest with your child about ADHD. continued...

In contrast, some parents hide the disorder by telling their child, for example, that their ADHD drug is a “magic vitamin,” he says. But Meyer has done ADHD coaching with kids who have confided that they aren’t fooled: they know that it’s medication.

ADHD isn’t a child’s fault. It’s a brain disorder that causes youngsters to have trouble with concentration, ability to complete tasks, or plan for the future. By being open, Meyer lessened the stigma for his son.

Once, he took his son, who was 7 or 8 at the time, to a restaurant where they spotted a youngster in perpetual motion -- so much, in fact, that one parent had to hold him down. “My mouth must have dropped,” Meyer says. “And my son said to me, ‘Don’t look at him as hyperactive. Look at him as being in a hurry to see the world.”

“We can reframe things,” Meyer says. “We don’t have to always look at the most negative.”

Patricia O. Quinn, MD, a developmental pediatrician in Washington, D.C., agrees that it’s best to tell the truth. “It’s really important to be honest and upfront,” she says. The child really needs to understand that it’s just part of who he or she is and it’s really something they can control.”

Quinn specializes in treating children and adults with ADHD. She has the disorder, as do three of her four children. She has consulted for pharmaceutical companies and has written numerous books about ADHD.

2. Don’t turn ADHD-related problems into a character issue.

Children with ADHD may not perform as consistently as peers who have no problems with focus and concentration.

“I don’t expect consistency from a child with ADD,” Meyer says. “One day, a child may come in with a 90 on a test. The next day, it may be 60. The next day, 70. The next day, it might be 95.”

When grades bounce around, “It’s typical for any [parent] to say, ‘Well, you did so well yesterday. Why aren’t you doing it today?’” he says.

“Often, kids with ADHD are very bright," Quinn says. "They know what to do, but they simply don’t know how to get started, they don’t stick with it, and people may misinterpret that.”

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