First, ADHD is very common. Second, it’s a real condition with biological causes—it’s not caused by “bad” parenting. Third, a diagnosis of ADHD doesn’t change who your child is. The things that make your child unique don’t disappear. And fourth, there are ways to help.
Here are six steps to take if you think your child has ADHD.
1. Learn the signs of ADHD—and the myths.
It can be hard to know if what you’re seeing is a sign of ADHD or not. Explore this list of common signs to get an idea.
There are lots of myths about ADHD that can make it hard to know what to think. You might hear that it’s just “a boy thing,” isn’t real, or that ADHD is all about hyperactivity. The fact is that ADHD is a real, biological condition that’s common in girls and boys. And it affects kids in lots of different ways.
2. Look for patterns.
Keep an eye out for signs, taking notes on what you see and when. All kids do things that look like ADHD from time to time. Taking notes helps you spot patterns in your child’s behavior.
Does your child get up and move around when expected to stay still? Have trouble keeping track of belongings? Do things without thinking through the consequences? Keeping track of behaviors you see over and over again makes it easier to explain your concerns to others.
3. Find out what’s happening at school.
Connect with your child’s teacher. Explain what’s going on at home and ask if similar things are happening in the classroom. Sharing information can shed more light on patterns you’re seeing. And it can help both of you better understand how to help your child.
4. Connect with others about what’s going on.
ADHD is very common. By talking about what’s happening with people you trust, you might learn that others have experienced something similar. You can also trade tips and support in our secure Understood Community.
5. Let your child know it’ll be OK.
Even if it doesn’t seem like it, many kids feel bad when they don’t act the way they’re expected to. Kids with ADHD in particular tend to beat themselves up when they misbehave. That’s because they can have trouble managing emotions.
If you sense your child is feeling guilty, acknowledge that you see that. Don’t excuse behaviors you’re not OK with, but do let your child know you’ll work together to find solutions.