What I Wish People Understood About My Child With ADHD

Posted on Nov 20 2015 - 6:31pm by My Little Villagers

My Child With ADHDTo help gain awareness about ADHD in children, I conducted an interview with two extraordinary six year olds (One with ADHD and one without). I posted the interview on YouTube and it gained popularity very quickly. (It currently has over 210,000 views.) The positive feedback I received from the public is astounding and I want to thank each and every one of you for your support.

When I tell people that my daughter has ADHD, they automatically assume she is constantly running around nonstop like the Energizer Bunny and a nightmare for her teachers. Neither are true, of course. There are three types of ADHD: 1. Inattentive, 2. Hyperactive-impulsive, and 3. Combined (what my daughter has). While it is true that some children with ADHD may appear like they never stop moving, there is so much more to ADHD than that. ADHD affects children in many different ways and it is not something people can simply “see.” Besides not being able to focus well, there are many other issues that can coincide with ADHD, such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).

There are many misconceptions about children with ADHD and most people do not realize how much ADHD can affect someone’s life, especially during childhood. I have come to find out that despite a parent’s and teacher’s best efforts, all childhoods are not equal. To get people to better understand children with ADHD, I interviewed a six year old with ADHD (my daughter) and another six year old without ADHD. Although both children were asked the same exact questions, I got very heartbreakingly different answers. The questions covered primarily dealt with school, social situations, and self-image.

While many children enjoy going to school and playing with their friends, my child wakes up every morning crying and pleading with me to not take her to school. Simply getting her into her school uniform is a daily challenge and requires both my husband’s and my assistance. You would think that a first grader would want to play with other first graders, but some children with ADHD have a difficult time making and keeping friends due to their poor social skills. Other parents sometimes suggest I put my child in more groups with other children to help her develop better socialization skills, but what they don’t know is that ever since my child was a baby, I have been taking her to playgroups at the library and the YMCA. She was in daycare and dance class before and she is now in karate and choir. While I do think these groups and classes have had a positive influence in her life, they still unfortunately haven’t helped with teaching her how to wait her turn to talk for example. Despite her best efforts to control it, it is simply too difficult for my child to refrain from blurting out and she has lost friends because of it.

While a classmate is being fought over by his friends about who gets to sit by him at lunchtime, my child is sitting on a bench by herself, sad and lonely. After school, I see parents handing out invitations to other parents for their children’s birthday parties. Don’t they realize all the children see this, especially my child? One time in kindergarten, my child innocently asked the parent, “Where’s my invitation?” It was an awkward situation for everyone. Since my child has begun attending elementary school, she has only been invited to two birthday parties. My child is one of the most imaginative, funny, and compassionate kids I know, but because she can be a bit eccentric at times, her classmates label her as “weird” and tease her for being “different.” Even at the young age of six, children are recognizing the differences in each other, purposely excluding the different children, and letting those children know they are different. That is why it is no surprise to me that my daughter would rather play with her three year old sister than her classmates.

Despite developing a great education plan with the school for my child and the teacher helping her find classmates to play with at recess, my child still comes home every afternoon telling me how horrible her day was. When my child takes tests, a teacher’s aid sits in the hall with her so she is not distracted by the other students. She does very well on the tests, with a B being the lowest grade she has ever received. Even though my husband and I let her know how proud we are of her for getting good grades and reward her with prizes, movie nights, and special dinners, she is still not proud of herself. Nothing seems to ever be good enough for her. As she mentions in the interview, even if she got an A on a test, she is upset that it wasn’t an A+.

What takes an average child ten minutes to complete their homework takes my child about one hour. It depends on how well she is able to focus and what her level of frustration is if she makes a mistake. Before she was clinically diagnosed with ADHD, she used to cry before she started her homework, during her homework, and even after completing her homework. It wasn’t that she didn’t understand how to do her homework. She was crying, because she felt overwhelmed and didn’t know how to begin. She was also very bored with the subject matter. To make homework more fun and stimulating for her, I have to pull out all the bells and whistles I can think of. I turned homework into a bit of a game show by having her use a buzzer when she knows the correct answer and reward her with prizes. To hold her attention, I have to use a cartoon voice when quizzing her on spelling words and come up with songs to get her to remember the names of the seven continents. It is absolutely exhausting, but if it gets her to do her homework without tears, it is all worth it.

Even though children with ADHD are very creative, imaginative, and intelligent, children with ADHD are never the first to boast about their good qualities or brag about their accomplishments. Like many children with ADHD, my child has low self-esteem. Although I make it a point to compliment her about her positive qualities every day, she doesn’t see herself as smart or pretty. Many children with ADHD only seem to focus on their negative features and put themselves down a lot. It is not uncommon to hear my child say negative things about herself, like “I’m stupid” and “I wish I was someone else.” She is aware of the fact that she is “different,” but she explains it as being “bad,” which absolutely breaks my heart. In the interview she explains that when she has a bad day, she becomes negative and grumpy and when she has a good day, she becomes positive and happy. This is true, but it is more like bad moments and good moments throughout the day. I never know what the day will bring, but whatever comes our way, I am ready. I will never stop advocating for my daughter, loving her, guiding her, and cherishing her. Each day is a challenge and a gift at the same time.

The interview ended with a question for my daughter: “What do you want other kids your age to know about the kids that have ADHD?” Her heartbreaking answer: “They could help them by telling them that ‘Whatever you do is still right, because you tried your best.’” I am so happy she said that, because it made me realize that she listens to me. I always tell her to try her best in everything she does and that is all that matters to me. All children deserve and want to be loved. No child should ever have to feel the way my daughter feels, but the sad reality is that there are many children that feel the same way as her, despite their parents’ best efforts.

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), 5% of children ages 4 to 17 are affected by ADHD. Having ADHD and other coinciding issues is a lot for a child of any age to handle and it is absolutely heartbreaking for them and their families. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for parents of children with ADHD. Although our children will not “grow out of it,” ADHD is definitely manageable. Very successful people had/have ADHD, such as Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, Will Smith, and Justin Timberlake. Believe me, I know how difficult raising a child with ADHD can be, but now more than ever, our children need us to help them, love them, and just allow them to be themselves. Children with ADHD are very unique and know they are “different,” but I don’t see my daughter’s difference negatively. It’s what puts a smile on my face and makes me proud to be her mother. She is fiercely creative and passionate and I know it is because of her ADHD, so I not only celebrate her being different, I encourage it and look forward to what her future holds. My child is amazing and I wouldn’t change a single thing about her.

To the parents of children without ADHD, there is at least one child with ADHD in a classroom of 30 students according to ADDitude Magazine. That means that there is most likely a child suffering from ADHD in your child’s classroom. We need to teach our children to show love, kindness, and compassion for all of their classmates, no matter how different they are. Simply asking a child with ADHD to play with them at recess would mean the world to them. Instead of coming home from school and saying they had a bad day like they usually do, your child could be the reason a child with ADHD happily announces, “Guess what, Mom! I had a great day at school!” Know that you and your child have the power to positively influence the way a child sees the world. You can change childhoods. You can change lives.

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22 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Laura Wall November 20, 2015 at 7:22 PM - Reply

    I loved this story, i have 3 children with ADHD, two daughters and a son, and i have it myself. I remember what it was like to feel different as a child, and I try to help celebrate my children every day. They range in age now from 25 to 13 so I am past the stage you are at, but it sounds like you are doing an amazing job! Thanks for sharing your and your wonderful daughter’s story with us.

    • Cristina Margolis November 20, 2015 at 8:45 PM - Reply

      Thank you very much! You are an amazing mom and your children are lucky to have you as their mother.

  2. Liz November 21, 2015 at 1:03 AM - Reply

    I loved your article! I work with diverse learners and your article touched me. I also have a niece with ADHD. Thank you for sharing your story.
    I could not view the video and would love to see it. It says that it is restricted and must be approved to view it. Is there some where else I can view it?

    Thank you

    • Cristina Margolis November 21, 2015 at 6:34 AM - Reply

      Thank you so much! And thank YOU for all of the hard work you do as a teacher and role model for these young children. I am not sure why the video said it was restricted. It doesn’t have any privacy settings. Sorry about that. I hope you will be able to view it eventually. The interview is eye-opening, but heartbreaking.

  3. Shelly November 21, 2015 at 4:18 AM - Reply

    As I read your article, this sounded so much like our life with our creative, imaginative, and passionate 10 year old ADHD boy. Thank you for sharing what it is really like for both the child and the parent. With our unconditional love and support, I know my son’s passion and creativity hold the promise for a bright future!

    • Cristina Margolis November 21, 2015 at 6:36 AM - Reply

      Thank you. It is so nice to hear that other children are just like my daughter. You are doing an amazing job as a mother and you are absolutely right about him having a very bright future!

  4. Jan P November 25, 2015 at 4:05 PM - Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. It sounds so familiar. I have found some light at the end of the tunnel for my son with treatment at the Institute of Functional Neuroscience. I must say it’s the best thing that has happened to him (and us) particularly with the self esteem, social aspects and mornings are so much LESS stressful for all of us. (I know they have clinics in Canada and Australia and about to open up in HOng Kong but I’m not sure where you are – if you want to find out a bit more try Thinkwell Brain Connections a Facebook group). Jan

    • Cristina Margolis March 1, 2016 at 8:28 PM - Reply

      I am so happy to hear that your son is doing so well! I’m in the US. I’ll definitely check it out. Thank you for the recommendation.

  5. Kim B. December 11, 2015 at 9:22 PM - Reply

    Thank you so much for putting this out there! I saw so much of myself in your little girl. Your video just about brought me to tears. I too had low self esteem, a hard time with homework and making friends while growing up. I’m so blessed to have had my mom help my through it all. God bless!

    • Cristina Margolis March 1, 2016 at 8:23 PM - Reply

      Thank you so much. Although it saddens me to know that you went through the same thing my little girl is currently going through, I am happy to know that your mother was there for you when you needed her the most.

  6. ann February 23, 2016 at 1:28 AM - Reply

    You article and video almost made me cry… i have a 11 yr old with adhd and odd its a struggle with her everyday sometimes i know I do a horrible job coping with it and i lose my temper to often when she doesn’t listen or pay attention other parents don’t realize the amount of patience it takes. The saddest part for me is how spot on you are about the kids at school my daughter has come home and said exactly what you have stated that the kids call her weird and no one likes her she cant keep a friend and the friends that do stick around all have friends that despise her and make her feel useless… she struggles everyday socially shes always been a smart kid but without meds she has no focus or patience for school work, everyday i hope that when she comes home she will tell me about a new friend she made today talking to her school has done nothing i despise pink day with a passion( its an anti bullying day in canada) its the biggest scam ive seen in my life pretending that kids care about making everyone fit in… I dread and fear next year as where im from she will be going into junior high there will be alot of fighting and crying for both of us this year.

    • Cristina Margolis March 1, 2016 at 8:30 PM - Reply

      Believe me, I know what you mean about other people not realizing how much patience a parent of a child with ADHD has. It is incredibly frustrating and irritating when others judge me and my daughter when they don’t have the slightest idea to what our life is really like. I can tell that you are a great mother who wants the very best for your daughter. She is very lucky to have you in her life.

  7. Gretchen Karst April 9, 2016 at 1:55 PM - Reply

    This interview made me cry. I saw myself in your little girl. My life as a child was miserable. I was undiagnosed until 2 years ago. I am 51. I have always been very smart but did horrible in school. I had no friends. I was able to discover things that helped me in adulthood and I have gone on to become a successful nurse. I still become easily overwhelmed(especially if it involves paper and sitting down), cry in frustration, and interrupt people, but I solve problems people can’t find solutions for and am the kind of nurse you want to have around. I am not afraid to passionately advocate for my patients and I am great in stressful situations. Keep telling her she is smart and support her creativity, you are a great mom!

    • Cristina Margolis April 13, 2016 at 4:21 PM - Reply

      Thank you so much for sharing your story with me! A lot of adults are being diagnosed with ADHD now and just like you, are realizing why their childhoods were so challenging at times. Congratulations on being such an awesome nurse! That is a HUGE accomplishment and you are helping so many people. 🙂

  8. Jennifer I April 9, 2016 at 3:03 PM - Reply

    So much of your story sounded exactly what we went through with my oldest boy. He is now headed into middle school and doing very well. First and second grade were nightmares, but with the support of his school, he was sailing by fourth grade. The stories about making games of homework, we did that, too.

    I hope she has a special talent that she can focus on. Being good at hockey, and then seeing his progress at school, really boosted his confidence. Once he felt good about himself, everything just fell into place. I have had similar moments, where he told me he thought he was stupid, and I didn’t even know he was feeling thay way, and it broke my heart.

    You are doing so much for her. Hang in there. I think back on my childhood, and I know I had many issues because no one diagnosed ADHD back then. I made it through life on my own, but it was rough, and I am so thankful we got help early for my boy. Give her a hug from a stranger, we know. Tell her it gets better, keep working, and I think she is beautiful.

    • Cristina Margolis April 13, 2016 at 4:25 PM - Reply

      Thank you very much for sharing your son’s and your story with ADHD. I am SO happy to hear that you are both doing well! (I love ADHD Success Stories!) My daughter loves to sing and draw, so she is in our church’s children’s choir and is taking a drawing class. Like you said, they are boosting her confidence and self esteem. Thank you so much for your kind words about my daughter. I really appreciate it.

  9. Amy April 15, 2016 at 4:36 PM - Reply

    Thank you for the video. My daughter is in second grade and has ADHD / combined type, and her self-esteem is currently taking a skydive. Even though she is the sweet belle of the playground, she says she has no friends and that nobody likes her because she “talks too much.”

    Your description of the after-school meltdowns and the torture of homework reads like my own journal. I’m finally getting through to the school that she needs to be evaluated for “specific learning disabilities,” which are very common among kids with ADHD. It’s been hard for everyone — including me — to realize that it’s not just her hyperactivity, distractibility, anxiety, or shakeups in our home life (divorce, out-of-state move) that are the root of her struggles with writing and math.

    School nights and mornings are a nightmare for us both. No matter how hard I work on home structure, established routines (don’t even talk to me about going out to dinner on a school night), and positive reinforcement, all with support from pediatricians and counselors, and help from family — can give us the patience we need to harmoniously get ready for school or dinner or bed. We’re both beyond exhausted.

  10. Cristina Margolis April 15, 2016 at 4:46 PM - Reply

    Thank you for sharing this with me, Amy. I always say it takes an even BIGGER village to raise a child with ADHD and it sounds like you have some great support, which is very important. But I know even with all of that support, parenting and life in general can still be a struggle. You are an amazing mother and you are doing everything you can to help your daughter. I know how much hard work and patience you need to have, so I applaud you. You are doing great!

  11. Anjie April 15, 2016 at 8:32 PM - Reply

    Wow..your article just moved me to tears..so nice to connect with someone going thru the same thing..and who knows our children are intelligent funny..little people and its our job to build them up and help them along this bumpy journey..So glad I found this blog

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