Ask the Experts

Explaining ADHD to Kids

It’s hard to know where to start explaining ADHD to kids. It’s a complicated conversation, but so important. Start with these ideas to keep things simple and encouraging.

Q: “My 10-year-old son has ADHD. Is it okay to talk to him about it?”

A: Absolutely yes. He needs to understand his problems and any treatments in place.

Make sure you understand the disorder first, and then begin the discussion. If he is hyperactive, speak of “brakes” that are not working as well as they should. If he’s distractible, speak of the “filter systems” in the brain that are not working well. If he’s impulsive, speak of the brain’s difficulty with stopping to think before speaking or acting. End each discussion with an encouraging comment.

Explain what is being done to help. Stress that ADHD is not something he caused. Then sit back and listen to his questions. You might have explained everything he wanted to know. If not, he will ask.