Our Community Weighs In: Explaining ADHD to Your Child

By Tara Drinks on Mar 22, 2018

Telling kids they have ADHD isn’t easy. You don’t want them to feel scared. You also want them to know that having ADHD isn’t their fault, and that it doesn’t mean they aren’t smart.

If you recently found out your child has ADHD, you may be unsure how to start talking about it together. It can help to hear from parents who’ve been there. We asked our Facebook community to share how and when they talked to their kids about having ADHD. Here’s what they said.

“As soon as we began testing with the psychologist, we talked about it. We chose to frame it as energetic not hyper, aware not unfocused, committed not obsessed.” —Kristine G.

“Having ADHD myself, it has been a continuous conversation with him since I started to see signs. It started with telling him that I think he has a brain like mommy’s. This has progressed into, here are some of the tools I use to help myself, some of the things I feel during the day. Trying to build his awareness around his own thought patterns and what helps.” —Erin E.

“Instead of telling him about his diagnosis, I told him about mine—my struggles and my triumphs. I explained how I’ve used it to my advantage. It’s not a bad thing in our house.” —Jessica L.

“We sat him down and went over his reports just as the psychologist did with us. We explained his ADD and diagnoses, and explained his strengths as well. We told him how his brain is just wired different and he can learn the same things, he just needs to learn it in the way his brain works.” —Julie F.

“As soon as he was diagnosed in the second grade, I didn’t want him to feel shame. I have always talked openly and sometimes share articles from Understood when I think it fits him. The biggest thing I focus on is that ADHD is his normal and that is OK, but it is not an excuse.” —Nicole R.

“Both of my children were diagnosed around first grade (girl) and second grade (boy). We were always open with them and explained age appropriately, then broadened the explanations as they were ready.” —Lori Ann K.

“They were tested in second grade and were in the room for the diagnosis. They knew something was challenging for them and deserved to be part of the process of finding support.” —Kim P.

“I explained ADHD when he began taking medication. He wanted to know why and I explained that it helps his brain focus on things. I always refer to his brain—not him as a whole. This has helped. —Hannah D.

“I made it a part of his entire life. No big reveal, just talked about it all the time. Sharing both the joys and struggles of having ADHD.” —Cindy F.


Hear more from our Facebook community: Read 20 things parents wish people knew about ADHD.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Tara Drinks is an associate editor at Understood.