Understanding Children With ADHD

Imagine what it's like to be a child with ADHD

distracted boy in class
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In general, young children tend to be active, rambunctious, and impulsive. They often play loudly and love to climb and run. They squirm and fidget and would much rather be up and out, exploring the world around them. It is not unusual for kids to have trouble listening, remembering, and following directions. Parents all over the world feel frustration at one time or another about the need to remind their child to do something and the child simply forgetting or getting distracted by another, more interesting activity.

Many kids are also careless, lose things, and have difficulty waiting their turn. This is all a normal part of being a child.

Children With ADHD

For a child with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), however, normal childhood behaviors and challenges are tremendously amplified. The symptoms of ADHD are pervasive, chronic, and disruptive and cause significant problems for the child at school, home, and with friends. Symptoms must have been present for at least six months to a point that is disruptive and inappropriate for the child’s developmental level. In other words, the impairments are far greater than in other children of the same age. 

Children with ADHD can become frustrated and overwhelmed very easily, have trouble regulating their emotions, and struggle with executive function issues. They may, for example, have great difficulty planning, prioritizing, paying attention and remembering details.

They also tend to be less mature developmentally. Some children with ADHD are very charismatic, personable, and popular. For many others, however, behavior problems result in rejection, isolation, and plunging self esteem.

What's It Like for a Child With ADHD

It can be tough living with ADHD. For the child there can be a spectrum of feelings.

Just a few may include a sense of frustration, a feeling of being lost and disconnected or confused, or a feeling of being overcharged, restless, and out of control. So often children with ADHD run up against negative labels that are inaccurate and they may begin to feel like “the bad kid” or “lazy” or “dumb” when this is not true at all.

The Importance of Understanding ADHD

Understanding more about ADHD and how it affects a child individually can be empowering to that child.  It is helpful for these kids to understand what ADHD is, and what it is not. With understanding comes the ability to work with parents and teachers to develop coping strategies. In this way the child can also find their areas of strength and build upon those areas. When a child sees himself as having both challenges and strengths, and receives both support and recognition, self esteem grows. Instead of seeing themselves as damaged, the child can see himself in a more positive, more capable, and more accurate light.

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