Things Parents of Kids With ADHD Wish You Knew

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It takes a lot of time, effort, and patience to be a good parent, especially if your child has ADHD. But even though millions of children have the disorder, faulty ideas about it are widespread. Here’s what some parents of kids with ADHD want you to know.

Don’t label my child a “bad kid.”

ADHD causes some children to act hyperactive or impulsive, struggle to follow directions, or have trouble controlling their emotions. Kids with symptoms like these aren’t making a mischievous choice to act out or buck authority. They’re living with a brain disorder.

“That really hurts me when other parents think our kids are just ‘bad kids,’” says Yakini Pierce, a mother of two and a global product manager in Cleveland, OH. Both of Pierce’s children — daughter Reyna, 12, and son Rickey, 10 — have ADHD.

She says that when a child with the disorder has a meltdown or gets frustrated in the moment, “they really are trying to communicate and just do not know how. Once they learn, it takes them to a whole other level.”

“Bad parenting” doesn’t cause ADHD.

Experts aren’t sure why some kids get ADHD, but they think genes play a big role. What we know for certain is this: It’s a myth that the disorder happens because of mistakes that a mother or a father makes.

“I think a lot of people see ADHD as this over-diagnosed label for bad parenting,” says Nicole Schlechter, a special education advocate in Hampshire, IL, whose 11-year-old son, Mason, has ADHD, autism, and anxiety. “It’s not a parenting issue, and I think that is a huge misconception about ADHD.”

Kirsten Hecht, PhD, a scientist and researcher in Gainesville, FL, has an 11-year-old son with ADHD named Dmitry. “There’s a lot of parent-shaming that goes with it,” she says. “Like, ‘you guys must’ve done something wrong.’” Or, as another mom once told her: “‘You must’ve let him watch a lot of TV when he was little.’ I thought, ‘That makes no sense.’”

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