Reply To: How to help a kid with ADHD when my own ADHD gets in the way

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Penny Williams

“Smart enough,” “doesn’t care,” and “unmotivated” are three red flag words for parents of kids with ADHD.

First, recognize that ADHD is a developmental disorder that causes development to be behind as much as 30% in some areas. That means, parenting your child is really parenting about a 10-year-old. That’s where your expectations of him should lie.

The ADHD brain builds motivation through interest and urgency, not importance.

Secrets of Your ADHD Brain

Kids with ADHD struggle to force them to do school work they aren’t interested in for this reason. It’s their brain. With this knowledge, the question then becomes, “How do I create interest in tasks he seems unmotivated to complete?” And, understanding that he isn’t always going to have motivation for things that simply need to be done.

The phrase “smart enough” works me into a tizzy. My son has heard this in school all his life, but it’s an inaccurate phrase. Intelligence is in a different part of the brain from functioning (executive functions, attention, etc…). One can be highly intelligent and completely incapable of completing tasks that are outside of their current functioning. For instance, my son has a gifted IQ. He gets several C’s and D’s because he has severe executive functioning deficits and learning disabilities that prevent him from being able to show what he knows in the traditional ways mainstream public education expects.

As for helping your child when you yourself have ADHD, check out Terry Matlen’s book, “The Queen of Distraction.” It’s packed full of short and simple tips and tricks for this, and other things in life.

ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism