Reply To: Grandparents who don't get it

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My situation is slightly different, but yet may offer some insight or solutions.

I am myself gifted (IQ 130+) and have ADD (both never officially tested, yet extremely likely), and (divorced) father of 2 kids, both officially gifted (tested 135+).

My daughter (11) is (although very sensitive in nature) a “perfect” student, with a slough of issues and troubles of her own, but all in all extremely diligent (to a fault) and quite composed.

My son however (8), has (as yet to be confirmed by a specialist) AD(H)D (not truly hyperkinetic, but still often impatient, fidgetting, overzealous and *extremely* talkative.

I had the same issues with my girlfriend, my mother, and *especially* the parents of my girlfriend, who couldn’t seem to understand how an extremely smart, sensitive, caring boy could *also* be prone to “temper tantrums”, “dumb/childish” behaviour and disruptive acts (shouting in restaurants, ignoring demands for quiet, and exploding violently when impatient/insecure)

All negative words above have of course to be taken with a grain of salt, as they merely describe how his behaviour is *judged*, rather than *lived* by himself.

I have already been able to convince my mother and my girlfriend of his ADD, and of the ways we have learnt to handle eg his tantrums.

My girlfriend’s parents are slowly but surely coming around our view (although it takes constant reminders of why eg calling his behaviour “childish”, or calling him “an annoying kid” have the exact opposite effect.

We have explained again and again how a “classical” approach (carrot-and-stick/”bribing-and-punishing”) and overemphasising his “faults” often have a negative outcome,… to no avail.

Luckily, we have in the meantime a list of positive experiences with AND without tantrums. We have started to overshare these to the people around us (through facebook, in conversations, etc…)

We tell about how we didn’t know how to solve his tantrums, until we learnt to let him calm down by himself in his room, then hug him and talk *with* him (not *to* him) about his feelings and what might have brought out his anger. We tell his grandparents how big a difference it makes to *him*, but also to *us*, next time around! How he *learnt* to control his anger & fear enough to learn how to say goodbye, how he *learnt* to take a pencil & paper with him, and channel his creativity when he has to wait or feels overlooked. How he *learnt* to negotiate instead of exploding, *learnt* to hug & express his feelings, instead of crying & running away.

We share how we use an egg timer to limit his “ramblings” during breakfast, while providing a moment to share his thoughts.

We share the moments he does something spontaneous, caring, or funny. The times when he shows the world he actually can be *more* caring than all around him, *more* creative, *more* honest, *more* smart or insightful… and dare to tell our friends & family it is a *part* of his ADD, his oversensitivity, his giftedness…

This way, we hope his ADD doesn’t become an “excuse”, but also a “guide”, a “manual”, a “toolbox”. To my son, as much as to his friends & family (& maybe co-workers)

I had a harsh & confronting journey in my private and professional life, only to learn now that all my idiosyncrasies (even the “annoying” ones) are my most redeeming qualities, and the reason my close friends and family have learnt to love me.

I’m sure your kid has some of these moments of *learning* and *wonder*. Don’t forget to be proud of them! And don’t forget to boast 😉

Kids with ADD (myself included) often have to learn more of these “small social skills” and ways of coping, than kids without ADD. And their journey should never be taken for granted.

Yes, their behaviour can seem “childish” and “undisciplined”, but that’s also because their brains are far more *active*, *attentive* to everything around them, and *in the moment* than all those slower, regular brains around them. They have to learn twice as much, to adapt to a world that doesn’t care to understand them. In my eyes, my son is a little superhero.