Untreated ADD/ADHD can create significant depression and anxiety for kids; if left untreated, their self-esteem plummets and they quickly learn to believe they are unable to succeed. Until a family figures out what ADD/ADHD is and what that means for all family members involved, they typically keep spinning their wheels only to get nowhere other than more frustrated and discouraged. It wreaks havoc on all family relationships until it is treated. The good news is how much help is available!
KNOW THE SIGNS – Below are some symptoms of ADD/ADHD. These are behaviors that are out of your child’s ability to control and they will always be present, however, this does NOT mean they are excuses to underachieve! The way you interpret these behaviors will be of utmost importance in helping your child minimize the effects of these behaviors in their life.
- Difficulty concentrating – Your child will take longer to learn new things or complete tasks like chores or homework.
- Easily distracted – It will always be harder for your child to sustain their attention.
- Trouble completing tasks – Follow through on any task may seem virtually impossible; you may notice your child will start but never finish or complete a given task or project (at least without your constant nagging, that is!)
- Losing things often
- Forgetting things often – At some point this might feel as though “I forgot” is just a constant excuse or lie.
- Difficulty following directions – It may seem as though your child isn’t listening, especially when there is more than one or multiple requests given for them to follow.
- Interrupts often – Your child will exhibit difficulty with impulse control such as blurting out answers, interrupting others, lying or anger outbursts.
- Fidgety, unable to sit still
So what CAN parents do when they are up to their ears in frustration?
- ACCEPT – These will be the daily struggles for your child. These won’t disappear or stop. They just need to be treated, managed and adapted to in creative ways to enable your child to succeed. It is extremely helpful when the whole family learns how to manage and adapt together.
- EMPATHIZE – Children quite honestly describe their experience like trying to climb Mt Everest with no legs yet with the pressure to perform as if they have both legs. They are at an unfair advantage and fighting an uphill battle every day that no one can visually see and understand. Discouragement, declining self-worth and loss of motivation are things that can easily pile up for any kiddo with this struggle.
- ASSUME POSITIVE INTENTIONS – Symptoms are not malicious, not intentional and truly not much within your child’s control without treatment. It may feel that way in your overwhelm and frustration, however, (to remain empowered) you must remain focused on how much control you have in how you choose to think about symptoms, your responses to them and your tremendous influence and ability to guide your child to adapt and succeed.
- ENCOURAGE – If left untreated, your child will quickly notice that uphill battle we just spoke of earlier. Unfortunately, kids internalize their experiences. This means they interpret their struggle as thought it is them. When left untreated, kids with ADD/ADHD can go on to develop depression and anxiety. They come to believe they are failures, stupid, not smart and all sorts of things that are just not true. They hear constant nagging and criticism simply because of the levels of frustration symptoms create for everyone in the household. It is EXTRA important to be deliberate about speaking positive, encouraging words over them. Speak the things you hope for them over them and their life. “You are doing a great job at trying.” “I am so proud when you try your best.” “You are so brave for never giving up!“ are just a few examples.
- EXTERNALIZE – This means to help yourself, your family, and your child see symptoms of ADD/ADHD as separate from who they are. Words can play a powerful role here. Rather than perceiving or saying, “You ARE forgetful.” Try saying, “Remember forgetfulness is part of ADD/ADHD and I can see it is hard on you. But, you are a hard worker and with your hard work we can all try to learn ways to help you remember more often.”
THERE IS HOPE!!!
After nearly 2 decades of doing this work, I can tell you that my belief is that treatment for ADD/ADHD is one of the easiest of all mental health related disorders to treat. Medications tend to be the lowest risk, with high reward and mostly immediate response. The hardest part is dealing with it on your own, before understanding what it is while it wreaks havoc on family life. Once there is understanding and treatment, there is typically great relief, and tremendous resilience built within a family. Don’t wait until everyone is at their wits end to reach out! There is help available. The process does not need to be so painful. Call my office anytime and lets schedule a time to talk!