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Q: How Can I Break My Son’s Obsession with (and Non-Stop Talking About) His Hobby?

My kid is obsessed with [fill in the blank]! He won’t stop talking about it! He spends all of his time researching it! The ADHD brain is prone to hyperfocus and fixations. It is also lousy at perspective taking and seeing things from other perspectives. When these two tendencies collide, parents need to set healthy limits — learn how here.

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Q: “My 9 yr old son is obsessed with fishing. He will talk about it non-stop, watch YouTube videos on it, would rather fish than play what a friend wants, talks about what rods/lures/ocean fishing and ice fishing equipment he wants to buy, makes minnow traps out of garbage, has difficulty leaving the lake after we go fishing, is upset if we can’t go, etc. What kind of boundaries should I set on his behavior? How can I help his understand how this obsession is impacting him and us? It is disrupting our family life and his social life and prevents him from doing homework or other hobbies. In the past, he has had similar hyperfocus obsessions with Nerf guns or Halloween. So it changes, but is a pattern. He is not fixated on this at school or in sports — just with unstructured time at home. Thank you!”

A: “Number One, put some time parameters around when he can engage in this interest. When it’s something harmless like fishing, I would suggest saying, ‘You can research fishing for one hour’ or ‘During dinner, we will talk about fishing for five minutes.’ Number Two, we need to help him understand other people’s thoughts about fishing. Kids with ADHD have difficulty with perspective taking, so they tend to talk at people. To address this…”


ADHD Hyperfocus and Obsessions: Next Steps

1. Read This: Hyperfocus and the ADHD Brain
2. Recognize Signs: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Hyperfocus
3. Read This Blog: Just a Tad Preoccupied

Ryan Wexelblatt, LCSW is the facilitator of the ADHD Dude Facebook Group and YouTube channel.

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