Self Esteem

“I Feel Like I’m Not Good Enough Sometimes”

A 10-year-old with ADHD learns to fight through his doubts about himself.

Scissors cutting the "t" off "I can't" to turn negative self talk into positive
Scissors cutting I can't

Imagine that your mind can’t sort out everything you have to do in the mornings, so about half your days start like this:

Your sister is crying, and you forgot to do your homework. You start to freak out and then you hear your dad yell at you to hurry up and get dressed. You get dressed and go downstairs and eat. Some mornings you don’t even have time to eat, so today you feel lucky. Now you’re hearing your momma yelling, “Five more minutes,” and, five minutes later, it’s time to go.

Halfway to school you realize you forgot your backpack, homework, and your folder. You’re too afraid to tell, so you keep quiet. At school when you tell your teacher what happened, she calls your parents. After two minutes, when she’s finished talking to your mom, she hands the phone to you and your mom says, “You’re in big trouble and you’re on punishment.” You know exactly what she means — no TV, no computer, no Kindle, and no Xbox.

This is my life. It’s an ongoing battle to conquer Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD or ADD). It affects everything. In class I try my hardest to stay quiet and be still during carpet time, but my mind urges me to talk. No matter what I do to try to stay quiet and focus, I get so agitated and I feel like I have to move. It’s like, during math lessons on the carpet, I know I need to learn the math, but I can’t stay still. My brain wanders and starts thinking there are way more interesting things that I could be doing. I start looking for things to entertain myself.

My teacher, Ms. Kacy, tries to help me by letting me take energy breaks. An energy break is when you get to go walk around the school to get your energy out. They help a little, but it doesn’t help with what I missed in class.

[Get This Free Download: Yes! There are People Like You, The Many Faces of ADHD]

Sometimes when I’m at my table with a worksheet in front of me that I don’t understand, I know I should have done better listening to the lesson. I want to do a good job. I try to learn from my mistakes, but it keeps on happening. It’s like I’m an iPod on repeat, playing the same annoying song. Some days I feel so sad, like I’m failing my parents because they’ve put a lot into my education and they want the best for me. I feel like I am letting them down. I also sometimes feel like I don’t belong in my class. I get stuck on problems that are easy for my classmates but hard for me. I sometimes feel like I’m not good enough.

Jackie Robinson struggled through a lot in his life, too. He could not eat in the same restaurants as white people because of segregation. Many white people did not want him playing Major League Baseball and people yelled racist comments at him during games and on the streets, but he never ever gave up. He knew he had to be strong so he could achieve his dreams.

Jackie’s example of determination and courage are inspiring to me. I can’t give up on the things I know I need to do, at home and at school. Jackie Robinson’s life wasn’t easy; it was hard. And what I am trying to tackle is hard.

Deep down, I know I’m just as smart as everyone in my class. I know that I know how to learn and that I can handle the schoolwork. I had to accept my learning differences and accept myself to be the best boy and student I could be. It’s important for me to ask for help when I need it because there are a lot of people around me who want me to succeed. Sometimes when I have a big, overwhelming project, I try to break it into pieces and just do a little at a time. At home I write myself notes to help me remember things that I need to do. It’s still a struggle, but I fight through.

I now know that my difference makes me special. I feel like, if I could hear Jackie Robinson talking to me now, he would be telling me to be brave, to never give up and to be myself.

[Read This Next: Never Punish a Child for Behavior Outside His Control]

Updated on January 5, 2020

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  1. I think that this is a highly inappropriate article. Although these adhd symptoms are super severe, the comparison to Jackie Robinson and how he had to face racism daily is appealing to me. How are you going to compare feeling inadequate with your adhd brain to Jackie Robinson being socially and racially degraded? It just doesn’t make sense to me how somebody can compare something so serious and horrible as racial segregation to their feelings of worthlessness. Wow

  2. @hmwow: He isn’t saying his problems are as bad as those of Jackie Robinson, he’s saying that Jackie Robinson’s courage in the face of struggle inspired him to do the same. And, fer cry yi yi, even if you think that’s an inappropriate comparison, the idea that you can look at an article in which a ten-year-old describes the kind of struggle that this boy describes and dismiss the whole article as ‘highly inappropriate’ because you disagreed with that one part of it… now, that strikes me as highly inappropriate. Even if you need to disagree with that part, then have the humanity to acknowledge that this is a kid who’s going through a horrible time and not getting the support he needs and who’s been brave enough to a) write about this and b) declare his intent to go on doing his best rather than give up. Don’t just dismiss the entire thing the way you did.

  3. How wonderful you were able to connect with such an important historical figure! In a way, both of you are experiencing lack of “inclusion” Your article came across very mature and well thought out. My 11 year old daughter has ADHD too, so its wonderful to hear your point of view about adhd. We live in Canada and have been very fortunate to have experienced a school that was inclusive of all children including those with adhd, autism, non verbal, and wheelchair just to mention a few. They allowed breaks to walk or get a drink too, but they also offered wiggle seats, bands that stretch across chair to kick and fidgets. This is her first year in middle school and she finds doodling on blank pages to be helpful. At home we have alarms that help us remember to pack our backpack for school the night before and have a special spot where it lives on route to the door, so it’s harder to forget lol! A post it note on the door near the handle or on your shoes can be a helpful reminder as well. And now I will share with you what I tell my daughter: there will always be people out in the world who say or do things that are thoughtless or unkind. But that’s not on you, that’s their challenge. They may not even realize how they are coming across to others. Always treat others the way YOU want to be treated. Try to do things from a place of kindness. Don’t let someone’s negative opinion become your reality because YOU ARE A CHAMPION! Thank you for being brave enough to share your thoughts, as a mom I am very grateful for kids like you!

  4. To hmwow- you are so far off its amusing. He’s only comparing him struggling with something to someone he admires that also struggled with something. Get a grip & don’t put down a 10 year olds thinking because That behavior is what’s APPALLING!!!

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