looking back,what advice would you give your parents about treating you?

Home Welcome to the ADDitude Forums For Teens and Young Adults with ADHD looking back,what advice would you give your parents about treating you?

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    • #75429

      Hi there.

      I am a parent of an 8 year old boy who was diagnosed with ADHD but is currently not receiving any treatment. We tried Quilivant for a little while but the side effects were harsh. Given that you are a teen or adult with ADHD, if you could go back and talk to your parents when you were just a recently diagnosed child, what would you say? What would you recommend? What insights would you give them about yourself that they did not understand? Did medication help you? Did therapy help? Wish they had or had not done something for you?

      We have not even told him or his school that he has ADHD because we don’t him to be pigeon holed or labelled. Did knowing what was causing your struggles help you or did it help you or others look for excuses?

      I really want to do right by my boy, but I’m just not sure what right is.

      I appreciate your time and input.

    • #75441
      Just Waking Up

      I was put on medication when I was 2 years old for ADHD. I recently became aware my mother is a narcissistic mother. As a result,I spent nearly 40 years living in an altered perception of reality. Living with ADHD is a struggle, for both me and my family. I tell my son who also has it, he has super powers. My only advice is when talking to your child, build him up. When he does anything good, tell him,”you should be proud of you,”rather than,”I’m proud of you.” Encourage him every chance you get. There are many coping skills you can teach him. This can be challenging at times, but you both can be better for it. One thing especially, don’t place the blame on him making him feel worse. And don’t blame yourself. ADHD isn’t some horrible life sentence, it can actually be a blessing. I don’t know if this will help at all, but I’ve been both the child with ADHD and the parent of a child with ADHD.

    • #75444

      First of all, thank you for asking such a thoughtful question. Your son’s chances at success and happiness are already better because he has a parent with such insight.

      Both my sister and I were diagnosed with ADHD later in life, so we did not receive treatment. I am on medication now, and I sure wish I was taking medication during my school-aged years! My sister and I had a recent similar conversation to your question. She was expressing frustration about my nephew’s temperament (he is her TWIN! lol!), and I asked her “What do you wish mom and dad had done differently for you?”

      For both of us, we talked about wishing our parents understood how ADHD is not confined to any one part of our life. ADHD affects everything about how you perceive and interact with your environment. Behaviors that those with a neurotypical brain may define as “lazy” or “defiant” are often the result of having executive function “deficiencies”. Its not that I was too lazy to complete book reports, I had no idea where to start! I would have benefitted from an empathic parent who walked me through the process of prioritizing, chunking my work, and setting deadlines for myself. This would’ve saved me from anxiety-ridden procrastination in grad school and late bill payments these days. Its not that my sister had a “bad attitude”, she was discouraged and defensive from repeatedly getting into trouble for constantly spilling juice or forgetting her homework sheets at school. She would have benefitted from more patience than tough love, and she probably would’ve flourished if she had more structure. A daily schedule, teaching her how to keep her room tidy, responsibilities around the house (even if it took more energy to get her to do them then to actually do it themselves), patience and tons of encouragement for things she did well would’ve saved my sister much self-doubt in her adult life. As a parent, this may mean guiding your child for longer than you think you ought to, but if you are teaching your son how to fish instead of fishing for him, eventually he will be able to feed himself.

      To speak to your question about whether to share the diagnosis with your son or the school, I will put on my professional hat; I worked for several years in schools with children diagnosed with learning and developmental disorders. In short, my two cents is that it has a lot to do with how the parent approaches it. If parents feel helpless in themselves, then it can easily become an excuse for the child. If the parent understands the power, hope, and benefit behind the diagnosis, then the child is empowered with knowledge about themselves and is freed to ask for the supports he or she needs. Understand that we know, deep down inside or present in our awareness, that we function differently. For many of us, the diagnosis helps alleviate the shame tied to our struggles and failures and imparts hope. I’ve seen the change in attitude in students I’ve worked with, parents I’ve supported, and have felt it myself. Receiving my ADHD diagnosis at 28 years old came with a sigh of relief and a huge confidence boost because suddenly there was a real reason (NOT laziness) I struggled to get all my work done on time, AND there was a wealth of knowledge, treatments, medications, and strategies I could choose to use to get better. And I did!

      Clearly, I could go on and on. However, I will close by really emphasizing that you get to know how ADHD manifests in your son (because it is different for everyone) so you can find strategies to teach and support him, that you are patient and highlight the things he does well, and that you take care of yourself, too. Find a support group, keep asking great questions, and do things that bring you some peace and pleasure. Then, you’ll be good for both of you.

    • #75445

      I’m a 51 year old woman with probable ADD. I was medicated as a kid and they withdrew the meds in adolescence as was the practice around 1980 or so. Two things I wish had happened differently for me was real ongoing help at school, both with staying organized and on task, and with the social stuff, I was the picked on child and I was told that if I ignored them they would stop. Horse Hockey!! Of course they didn’t and my self esteem took a major hit.

      Unless you have good reason to believe the school won’t step up properly you should discuss this with them and get their input and your son’s as well. Some teachers have the touch with these children and can find the right balance of praise and push to help your son, plus their observations along with the input of the school nurse and the school counselor can be enormously helpful in helping him balance it out, it’s also helpful if you do try meds again, to work out a plan so he can have the lowest effective dose. Can you get a pediatric psychiatrist involved or at least find a local pediatrician with an interest and expertise in ADHD.

      I am now an RN and I substitute for school nurses in several districts and I’ve seen that there are numerous different medications and regimens that can be set up to help, and having the school in the loop might mean smaller, more frequent doses and fewer side effects then from longer acting drugs.

      I don’t know where you live, but if you live in a more densely populated area you might find resources on local mommy boards on the internet.

    • #75453

      hi I am a teacher with add
      many parents don’t want their child “labeled” but it’s so much better to be labeled accurately and helpfully,
      than to not be “labeled” and your child gets labeled naughty, lazy, bad, behavior problem, etc.
      Also your child has rights that they cannot receive without a “label”. They can get a “504” iep which gives them help
      at school, modifications of work, environment, homework, etc. They may qualify for some sp ed services.
      Also if your child cannot resist impulses – they may have lack of friends – which is HUGE!!
      They may feel badly about themselves because they can’t “be good”. HUGE
      Treatment is NOT SURGERY! You can stop if you don’t like it. But if your child had diabetes, heart issues, etc. you would treat it!
      Having brain issues is equally if not more important!
      Learning affects your salary for the rest of your life! If you can’t learn…your life will be harder. If you don’t have friends…your life will be harder. If you don’t like yourself…your life will be harder.
      It is HELL to live a life where you are in trouble every day. If there is help… why not give it to your child???
      What do you have to lose? Also there is a triangle to help – sleep, nutrition, and exercise.
      Michael Phelps has add (mom is a principal who put him into swimming to help).. What happened when olympics were over and he didn’t have quality sleep, nutrition and exercise??? He self-medicated with marijuana. Look at Dennis Rodman –
      he was ok when he played basketball (sleep, nutrition and exercise) what happened when he retired? Self-medicated.
      Kids who don’t get treated – often treat themselves with drugs/alcohol
      Please go to DR. Amen’s website – guru of add – lots of books he’s on PBS all the time
      please help your child today! They are hurting inside!

    • #75458

      there are lots of different meds
      just like lots of different birth control pills, – some make you break out, nauseous, gain weight – so you try a differnet one
      you can take advil, tylenol, aspirin – different meds for headaches
      so don’t give up if one type doesn’t work
      I have seen miracles
      last year my kinder student stalked a girl, choked, kicked, spit, profanities, etc and put everything in his mouth
      so no crayons, scissors, etc. On meds – he changed to a great kid (not perfect…meds don’t make you perfect) but a great kid
      but the most important thing is that it helps your child succeed at school – which is pretty much their life
      so try to find outside things they are GOOD at, because you have to be successful to feel good about yourself
      many add kids are good at art, sports – so find their passion and enrich that area
      my brother struggled in school but was football and basketball captain
      also let your child see what you struggle with
      I’m working on my diet, my cleaning, my smoking…. so that they know they’re not the only ones who have a challenge.
      Everyone is working on something (hence new years resoloutions)

    • #75493

      28 years old, and only recently diagnosed.

      I wish my parents had gotten me tested/diagnosed earlier, so they could have worked with my teachers (especially my Math teachers) to help me focus.

      I wish they had told me maybe when I was about 9 or at least old enough to understand how my condition could affect my social interactions. That way I could have adjusted better.

      I wish they did not use therapy as a ‘threat’ to get me to behave or calm down according to their wishes. This was why I did not seek help for so many years.

      I wish they told me that I was not being a ‘bad’ girl, or that ‘I didn’t care enough about anything’, but instead helped me think of solutions to adjust.

    • #75518
      Penny Williams

      Here’s a great essay from a teen with ADHD on how his mom helped him succeed.

      “Mom Always Treated ADHD As a Difference, Not a Deficiency.”

      I actually interviewed and surveyed adults with ADHD a couple years ago for a book I was writing. I found that the common thread from all 97 of them was that those whose ADHD wasn’t acknowledged or was misunderstood wanted understanding and to be believed when they described their struggles, and those who felt good about their childhood and successful as adults said that their parents worked to understand and support their differences and needs. They described that it felt like their parent was in their corner and had their back.

      They were more split on the issue of medication. Many wished it had been offered to them, but some who took medication wished it hadn’t been forced on them. Of course, many of these adults were kids in an era when we had one or two medications and no time-release formulations, etc., so the medication experience was tougher for many.

      And, focus more on positives than weaknesses.

      More Than His ADHD

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

    • #76044

      Hi ~
      My son struggled with school until 4th grade (age 9) when he was diagnosed with ADHD. My husband and I talked to him about it from the start. We had our/teachers’ suspicions before his diagnosis, so had done a lot of reading about ADHD; we went into our first conversations pretty well-armed with information. I later was also diagnosed, so it’s a family thing. We have all learned to see ADHD as an exceptional gift. One that has a few drawbacks, but a “superpower” nonetheless. My son has been on medication since his diagnosis (as have I, with mine); he’s now 12-years-old. Ritalin works for him – it took a couple of tries to get the meds/dosage right at the start (which was/is very scary as a parent). Too, he sees a therapist (now monthly) to learn how to cope with any struggles that may arise. We discuss it all, as its his body and his ADHD.

      I struggled with the medication issue for a while. It was initially thought that it may be ADHD when he was 7-years-old. Nope…too early for that diagnosis for me…I was hearing none of it. Again, at 8-years-old, a second teacher implied ADHD. We started our research, but we were not putting my child on medication! By age 9 we were convinced after all of our reading, our son’s difficulties in school, and both doctor and teachers indicating probable ADHD that yes, we should call it what it is. By that point we had learned all about the medications available and how they worked. Somewhere along the way it was explained to us like this: if your child had trouble seeing, wouldn’t you give him glasses? If he had a broken leg, a cast? The medication helps him quiet his mind so that he can be present at school. Perhaps more recess, less sitting all day, would help so that he wouldn’t need the medication, but unfortunately he needs to be able to function in the world in which he lives. Medication helps him with that.

      Teachers get it. Nowadays, thankfully, people at every end of the spectrum are learning and dealing with ADHD. My son’s in middle school now and needs no accommodations; his teachers and classmates all know he has ADHD as he talks about it openly. In the past I informed his teachers at the start of the school year, so they could let me know if they saw changes in his behavior or performance (which would indicate meds being off). It’s nothing that needs to be hidden; I know my son is actually proud of his ADHD (although he does get angry with it often too). It shines through in his never-ending creativity, over-the-top humor, and playful energy that won’t quit. Before his diagnosis he said he “felt dumb”. His teachers used words like “unmotivated”, “disruptive”, “unfocused” before. He now does wonderful in school, is far more organized, and feels confident that he is a likable, smart kid. We tell him (as does his doctor), “medication didn’t get you a good grade, you got the grade with the focus that medication helped you with”.

      On my end briefly…I was diagnosed in my 40’s after years of feeling bad about myself, struggling with focus, and not understanding what was wrong with me. Researching ADHD with my husband, he brought it to my attention that this was my deal too. When I looked at ADHD newly thinking about me, and not my son, it brought me to sudden tears. I felt utter relief. There was a reason I felt the way I’ve always felt. I have now been on medication for nearly a year, and it, along with my diagnosis in general, has definitely had a positive impact on my life and well-being. I wish, somehow, ADHD could have been revealed to me when I was a kid. I wouldn’t have beaten myself up so bad all these years over all of my perceived failures.

      Don’t know if any of that is helpful to you, but I know I looked for anyone’s story when ours began. Any morsel of real-life input was grasped at when we started our ADHD journey…best of luck to you and your son, in his.
      ~ Dina

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by dinamspice.
    • #76053

      My husband has ADHD. He was never treated as a child. He’s brilliant. He struggles his entire life until he was medicated and then, his self esteem was so broken and so many bad habits were formed. Our daughter has ADHD. She is brilliant, straight A student, creative and her life is VERY different because she was diagnosed, medicated and follows the plan below. her self esteem is stellar.

      START TODAY !!!

      First step: Medicate – There are many medications to try. Don’t give up. There may come a time when an “extender” medication is necessary to complete homework. Embrace it.

      2nd – Take your meds as soon as your feet hit the floor. You are setting your the pace for your day. THIS LEVELS THE PLAYING FIELD.

      3rd – Put routines, processes in place – make a daily schedule. Write it out. Post it. Have your child get involved in making the list. This will help develop good habits and executive function skills. Check it off until it becomes engrained.

      4th – Diet – High protein, low carb – sugar is a treat.

      5th – Exercise – do 5-10 min EVERY the morning (jumping jacks, push ups, set ups, etc), then 20-30 min at least 6 days in the afternoon. Any form of exercise.

      6th – Rest -Take melatonin 30 min before bed. Stop all things that simulate 1 hour before bed.

      7th – Make this plan a priority in your life and the ADHD will function optimally. Given the proper environment and the ADHD gifts will bloom and grow.

      BE DILIGENT!!! Be INTENTIONAL!!! You can’t approach ADHA hap-hazardly or it will eat you alive!!!

    • #76064


      I’m 22 and found out I had ADHD last year. I wish I knew when I was in school. I still did well but everyone was always telling me that if I just tried harder I’d be getting A’s all around.
      I think with ADHD, knowledge is power but you do need to prepare him for the stereotypes. How to ADHD has a great video on how to talk to people who may have certain expectations of people with ADHD, which your son might benefit from knowing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5tLi1bYilA&t=371s

      I’d also recommend this video, which explains how to accommodate someone with ADHD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcZuL1jQJuM

      I think the most important thing for me in accepting my ADHD was learning about what it does to my brain and why. This then gave me the information to accept my ADHD and understand the barriers. The youtuber I linked is great for educating people about ADHD and overcoming ADHD symptoms. Good luck 🙂

    • #76039

      I’m 62 years old and ADHD has been around a long time I had it ruff when I was in school believe me
      I was fine as long as I was not in school so it seemed
      I was about 12 when my Primary doctor thought I had ADHD very few new about this in 1970
      When he went to put me on a small dose of Ritalin it was the weirdest thing I felt like I was in
      in slow motion.

      The reason why that I did not know then it proved how hyper I was and now I was really normal
      as far as most other people go BUT it was the worst feeling like you been drugged to have a tooth pulled
      or something maybe not that bad but it was to drastic of a change so I suppose the sooner you know the better.

      Step one: Find out what type of ADHD you have there are 7 different types.

      Step two: Once you know what type you have do what it right for your type. https://www.amenclinics.com/

    • #76087

      Hi, I often say I would have been able to bypass many of the bad choices I made if I were given the chance of medication as a child. I did choose to self medicate and it cost me allot, with that said, I know if I could have had an understanding of my ADHD I might have chosen differently. Today I have a proper diagnosis and I do choose to use medication to help me and my family with my ADHD. I feel I was denied the chance to be who I was supposed to be because my parents were anti medication. Education along with medication with healthy motivation that’s allot of tions…today In my life finally, this is how I’m my happiest. ❤️

    • #76140

      Coming from a different angle, my 14yo son was diagnosed with ADHD (inattentive) right after he turned 11. Adderall worked great for him, but he started developing bad headaches. This year we switched to Vyvanse, which doesn’t give him headaches, but I don’t think it works as well, or maybe he needs a stronger dose. He still struggles with working memory, organization and time management, especially in the afternoons. He’s very smart but won’t work on homework or projects at home and won’t study for tests. He says he is fine and doesn’t need to study. His grades are passing but could be better if he would just spend a little more time on his studies.

      I am trying to learn about ADHD all the time, but I worry that whenever I try to tell him something I read or encourage him to consider a different way, that I am telling him he isn’t worthy as he is and that he is broken and needs to be “fixed.” I don’t want him feeling that he isn’t good enough. I know that small efforts could improve his outcomes, but I don’t know how difficult making those small efforts can be for him. What’s easy for me could be next to impossible for him. He tends to resist any kind of structure or routine, and I would rather encourage than punish, but most of the time I don’t know what to do. I have been advised to restrict and control and force him to follow a structure, but to me that feels even more like “You aren’t good enough.” Thoughts?

      • #76279
        Penny Williams

        Spend more time talking about positives, gifts, interests, passions, etc… than you spend talking about the weaknesses and the negative. Give hime as many opportunities for success as possible — that means lots of activities he can succeed in, but also making sure your expectations are appropriate for his developmental level and the way ADHD impacts him.

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

    • #76188

      go to Dr. Amen’s website – he’s my adhd guru
      he’s written lots of books/videos
      try the 7 typed of add

      we are worthy as we are – but we have special brains that are delicate
      our brains need special things to make them run better – i.e. meds, fish oil, etc.
      we absolutly need structure/routine kids will push boundaries, but they also make us feel safe
      how would you like driving with no laws, no speed limits, no rules, no police – sounds like fun for a minute then scary unsafe
      having structure is what we do at school and it’s not mean. If you don’t have structure you don’t get things done.
      It feels good to know that after I do this…then we do this… No structure feels insecure – what will happen next?
      like kids with 2 houses and 2 sets of rules have a hard time because of trying to handle two different structures.
      If you don’t have structure you would eat a different times everyday (not good for your body) and sleep at different times
      (not good for brain or body) you need structure to have a job, be on time for appts, a million things
      structure is our friend. I’m a teacher and when I’m on vacation with no structure – I don’t get things done – and it makes me
      mad at myself.
      kids don’t like things “that are good for you” i.e. vegetables, sleep, exercise – but we still have to give them what they need
      not what they want!
      keep reading and help him – just like every mom (not just adhd mom) all kids resist but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good enough
      let him know what you are working on – (losing weight, cleaning, not smoking, drinking, etc. – everyone has things they are working on – not just him!)

    • #77083

      Thank you everyone who has responded to my post. I really appreciate the insights and advice! It is so hard for me to understand what having ADHD is like. I wish I could feel what he feels for a day so that I could “get” it. It is so much more than I thought it was before he was diagnosed. Thanks again and best of luck to all.

    • #77175

      I am not a parent, but I am a 23 yo daughter. I will try to stick to what I know and apologize if anything sounds like I’m a parent (not my intention). I love my parents; and I am very thankful for all they’ve done and are doing for me. I know that it would of helped if somethings were done differently but my parents loved, protected, and taught me the best way they could. Plus, I wouldn’t be able to pass down the insight that caused my parents all the white hairs they have now.

      But you’re his mother, you will always do right by him. Because the beautiful thing about ADHD: what worked today had to be changed for tomorrow because we got bored or distracted.

      When I was 8, I didn’t feel different but I was treated differently. & we tend to internalize that feeling because it’s very hard to explain or express how that feels. This may not be the case for your son and hopefully its not, but sometimes the world around makes us feel labeled &/or that we’re different. Sometimes even our loved ones do that unintentionally. Our best medication comes from the support we get or when you look at us and you see us and not our ADHD. You set the standard or definition of how the world will look at him. Most importantly, how he will look at himself.

      One thing I want to commend you on, is that you’re educating yourself on what is ADHD. That’s huge! And it does make a load of a difference because you’ll understand why our gift made the mess that you might have to clean up. My parents were very skeptical on my diagnosis and took them a while to research.

      (I’m getting to lengthy, sorry)

      Not saying that you’re not already doing the things that I listed
      1. Let us be ourself (warning: we might look a bit crazy)
      I wanted a place where I could be myself. Where my adhd is normal like my brown eyes. I couldn’t be myself with my parents bc 1. they didn’t know what was going on or why 2. they probably thought that how I am wouldn’t help me survive the brave new world.

      2. Let us just express ourselves (they are very distinct)
      I couldn’t express myself. Either I ramble for 45 minutes and never talk about what I wanted or I can’t find the words to truly describe how I feel. & sometimes it becomes very “static-y” inside. He’ll take you to amazing places, and his deepest places where he will show you different parts of himself.

      3. Please remember that we’re very sensitive and we feel as deep as the ocean.
      By all means, correct and teach him (and I’m very grateful for my parents everytime they did, because I wouldn’t the woman I am today). Remember that our guilt or shame does that for us.

      3a. Rejection: sometimes very hard to bounceback
      Whether it be an idea or my friendship with anyone, if I felt the slightest disapproval or rejection, I would feel like the world is crushing me the all the feels. Is that big of a deal? No. But… I’m not sure yet. Even if you know his idea/plan won’t work, just help him back up and try again. You might have the next Albert Eistein.

      This is a tough one, and kind of confusing.
      4. Help him: when he doesn’t know what he needs help on, but is asking for help.
      I know I need help in whatever situation. I just don’t know where to start. Or what the problem is. Or why I feel the way I do. or… help us out of this rabbit hole and bring us back.

      As for him knowing, well that’s up to you when you think he is ready. My dad always reminds me that there are so many people with other differences and accomplishing things that we’re more than capable to do. My parents made me accountable for whatever actions, difference or not, I made. There are always consequences: good or bad.

      Your son has a gift, enjoy it.

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