One of the most common neurodevelopmental conditions, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects millions of grade-schoolers and adolescents in the United States.
Characterized by varying degrees of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, ADHD makes it more difficult for children to pay attention, follow directions, sit still, and restrain spontaneous urges. ADHD treatment aims to help kids manage these symptoms so they can be more successful in school, with peers, and at home.
Despite its challenges, ADHD isn’t all bad — in fact, here at EXIS Recovery Inc., we prefer to think of “ADHD brain wiring” as a neurodevelopmental difference, not a disorder. Why? Kids with ADHD also have many natural strengths, positive traits, and unique talents to enrich their lives and offer the world.
Here, our seasoned team discusses the importance of encouraging your child’s strengths as they work to manage their ADHD symptoms and offers five effective ways to help you do just that.
It’s important to be aware of a child’s attention deficits and impulsive or hyperactive behaviors, so they can be effectively managed and supported. Unfortunately, this awareness often leads to an overemphasis on ADHD difficulties that can make a child hyper-aware of their problems and how they’re different from their peers.
Many kids with ADHD are used to being disciplined or kept in check, causing them to feel stuck in what others perceive as negative behavior patterns. Children often internalize the routine comments and constant corrections that come with ADHD, transforming them into an ongoing barrage of traumas. This can gradually erode a child’s positive self-concept and make them see themselves as inherently deficient.
For this reason, ADHD management can’t simply be about identifying and curtailing attention deficits and negatively perceived behaviors — it must also be about recognizing and building your child’s personal strengths and positive attributes.
When kids with ADHD don’t understand or accept themselves, they need the adults in their lives to understand and accept them. Meeting your child where they are — rather than where you’d like or expect them to be — requires compassion that allows you to appreciate their gifts and support their strengths as they face their challenges.
Instead of focusing on what may be “wrong” with your child or comparing them to their peers, ask yourself what’s right with your child.
From creativity, curiosity, and intelligence to passion, energy, and enthusiasm, children with ADHD have many strengths that make them who they are. Nurturing these beneficial traits can help your child gain the upper hand over their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.
Here are five concrete strategies to help you encourage and support your child’s strengths:
Helping your child cope with ADHD means identifying and addressing their challenges. But as you focus on your child’s weak points, don’t overlook their strengths: What is your child good at? What do they really enjoy doing? Do they excel in certain subjects or activities? Observe your child closely and see them through this fresh, positive lens.
Many kids with ADHD have various interests and are eager to learn more about them. In direct contrast with their attention deficits in certain situations, kids with ADHD often have abundant attention for subjects and activities they find absorbing. Encourage them to explore their interests and engage with like-minded peers by participating in clubs, workshops, and other extracurricular pursuits.
As you gently encourage your child to make the most of their personal strengths and natural talents, offer positive reinforcement, genuine praise, and reliable support. Praise from parents goes a long way toward building better self-esteem in kids who struggle with ADHD — never waste a chance to tell your child that you see their strengths and their effort and that you’re proud of them.
Discuss your child’s natural strengths with their teachers and work together to find ways to hone these abilities. If your grade-schooler loves math, for example, their teacher could keep them challenged and engaged with more advanced material. If your middle schooler has high energy and emotional intensity, joining the drama club or the annual school play may provide an excellent creative outlet.
Most children only feel free to exhibit their strengths in a safe, supportive environment where they won’t be judged for being themselves. For example, some kids are exceedingly creative, but only when they can talk to themselves or pace around the room when brainstorming. Let your child do what it takes to succeed, even when their behavior seems unusual.
To start making the most of your child’s neurodevelopmental difference, call or click online and schedule an appointment with our team of ADHD experts at EXIS Recovery in West Los Angeles, California, today.