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BellaOnline's Attention Deficit Disorder Editor

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Telling Relatives About a Child with ADD


When you have a hyperactive child, you get an overabundance of unsolicited advice. “If you would just discipline that child, he would be fine.” “Have you tried an old-fashioned spanking?” “Take that kid in front of the ‘board of review’ and he’ll straighten out!” “You need to quit letting that child get away with everything. Rein him in!” How many variations of this have you heard? Do you just get sick of hearing these things?

When a child has Attention Deficit Disorder with hyperactivity, they don’t mean to aggravate people with their behavior. Hyperactivity means that the child may talk incessantly. Fidgeting and constant movements are just a part of his makeup. Breaking into conversations and interrupting adults is an expression of how the child’s brain works. While it is annoying to adults and peers who are around the child who has ADD/ADHD, it is even harder to be that child. Often in trouble wherever they go, these kids are frequently pushed to one side by their peers. They have a hard time making and keeping friends. These difficulties with adults and peers are misunderstood as intentional poor behavior. This is especially true if people don’t understand that these behaviors have a biological basis. The ways that their brain is constructed take many behaviors out of the control of the child unless environmental structures are put in place to assist.

When a child finally has a diagnosis, it can be a time of great relief. At least with a diagnosis, families understand what they are facing. Now, what do you tell the relatives?

Your child has a biologically based brain difference.--Recent research has shown that kids with Attention Deficit Disorder have differences in their brain structures and chemistry. This means that their brains work a bit differently from most of their peers. Environmental structures need to be put in place to help them be successful. The family can be instrumental in doing that. The research section of the BellaOnline Attention Deficit Disorder Site has research-based information. It can be helpful.

A child with Attention Deficit Disorder needs a family who will be strong advocates for them. This child needs to be taught how to advocate for themselves.--Families need to communicate with the child to find out what he needs in each setting. What does this kid need to be successful? Then, those needs should be communicated in writing to adults who work with the child. The child must be taught how to ask for what he needs in a respectful, clear manner.

A child with ADD/ADHD needs to have a place where they are loved unreservedly and cared about unconditionally.--Having strong advocates can give a child a sense of belonging at home. It will be their safe place. At home, let the child work to his strengths. If he likes to build things, make sure that he has materials. Kids who love computers can be taught computer language or how to construct their own computer. An artist needs tools and supplies to express himself. Home should be a place where the child hears more positive comments than negative ones.

A potent reward system needs to be developed with the child.--Children with ADD need rewards to help their minds attend to tasks. One of those tasks is maintaining appropriate behaviors. Research has shown that rewards help children with ADD do those things that kids without ADD just do without rewards. It is not coddling the child to help their brain function better with potent rewards.

If your family, child, and healthcare professional have decided that medication and therapy are good options, don’t let family members argue with you about it. Likewise, if you have decided that medication is not what you want at the time, don’t be bullied into getting it. --Do your research and find a medical professional who has a lot of experience with Attention Deficit Disorder. This professional will not have a one-size-fits-all philosophy. Your child will be carefully evaluated. Provide your relatives with research and valid information about ADD/ADHD. The resources and reviews section of the Attention Deficit Disorder Site has information that you can trust. Let relatives know that you have faith in your medical professional and the decisions that your team has made. Be open to revisiting those decisions as new information about your child comes to light.

Kids with ADD/ADHD are creative and “think outside of the box.”--At times, people will ask a child with ADD/ADHD to complete a task. It’s simple, and the adult has certain expectations. However, kids with ADD/ADHD have more than their fair share of creativity and ingenuity. Their response to the task will be completely outside of the realm of what the adult expected. Praise their efforts! If you want them to do a task in a certain way, just know that you can’t leave the instructions open-ended. Tell the kid how you want it done. Be specific.

Mirror traits can be harnessed and help your child become a successful adult--Mirror traits are the flip-side of those behaviors that typically get a hyperactive child in trouble. A child who specialized in running around and bouncing off the walls can become a high-energy adult. Those perseverations, times when your child just won’t stop what he is doing, can become the persistence to finish a tough job. Times when you just shake your head and say, “What in the world?” can become novel ways to approach problems in business. A child who talks non-stop may be a salesman or a teacher in training.

Your child can be successful. They will follow in the footsteps of many other people with ADD who have led interesting and productive lives. --Entertainers and celebrities Karina Smirnoff, Howie Mandel, Justin Timberlake, and Jamie Oliver have all discussed their ADD/ADHD publicly. So have sports stars Terry Bradshaw and Michael Phelps. Even successful business people have Attention Deficit Disorder. The founder of the Virgin companies, Sir Richard Branson, Paul Orfalea who founded Kinko’s, and David Neeleman the intelligence behind JetBlue Airlines, are creative, wealthy, and very successful.

Let your relatives know that Attention Deficit Disorder is only one part of who your child is. This amazing bundle of energy can live a life of creative joy. To a great extent, that depends on how his family perceives him and the ADD/ADHD that is part of who he is.


There is a simple message in this amazing book. As a parent, you can help your child who has Attention Deficit Disorder “unwrap the gifts” that he was born with. Sometimes people with ADD have trouble unwrapping their gifts. Drs. Hallowell and Jensen teach how to help children use these natural abilities. A link is below.

Superparenting for ADD: An Innovative Approach to Raising Your Distracted Child
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Attention Deficit Disorder and Rewards
Rewarding Children and ADD
Tangible Rewards to Intrinsic Rewards and ADD
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Content copyright © 2014 by Connie Mistler Davidson. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Connie Mistler Davidson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Connie Mistler Davidson for details.

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