People who have Attention Deficit Disorder often suffer from low self esteem. It can be hard not to think less of yourself, especially when you’re a kid.
Kids with ADHD quickly pick up on the fact that they’re different from their peers. They don’t seem to “get” things the way the other kids do, and often their interests are beyond what most of the other kids are into. My youngest daughter, Caitlin, for instance, used to tell political jokes in kindergarten and couldn’t understand why no one laughed.
When school starts becoming difficult and the grades start to fall, self esteem can suffer too. Deep down inside most ADHD people know that they are smarter than anyone thinks they are, and capable of more than is obvious to the outside.
The most successful people I know who have ADHD are the ones who survived with their self esteem intact. It’s not easy, but it is possible.
Be sure to educate yourself as much as you can about ADHD so that you can give your child the answers they need and teach them to advocate for themselves as they get older.
Learn to strike a balance between expecting exceptions to be made for your child because of their ADHD and making sure they are treated fairly. ADHD is considered a disability in the U.S. and it is Federal law that accommodations must be made. At the same time, however, don’t go to the other extreme and lower your expectations of what they can do.
Find ways to help your child build their self esteem. They easily see through empty praise. Help them find things that they are interested in and where they can shine.
Point out the fact that your child’s favorite athletes or singers got where they are by making the most out of what they were passionate about and did well. Even celebrities have weak areas.
Many years ago, my kids wrote a letter to as many famous people as we could think of – ones that we admired – and asked them one question: “We know what you’re good at. What aren’t you so good at?”.
Among the answers we got was a small illustrated “book” – just some pages stapled together – from a children’ book author who confessed that whenever he rode backwards in the family station wagon, he got sick. Whoopie Goldberg sent us a book, too, about learning disabilities. On the front cover, she wrote the page number and signed it. Turns out she has dyslexia.
Help your child see the bigger picture beyond school and your neighborhood. We are all different from one another, with strengths and weaknesses. ADHD brings a set of challenges, but it carries blessings too.
People with ADHD are often highly intelligent, creative, and out of the box thinkers. They can have a great sense of humor and wit about them too.
Point out your child’s own special qualities and help them see their ADHD as a part of who they are.