ADHD in Boys

Mothers and Fathers Misunderstand ADHD in Different Ways. Here’s How.

No, your son with ADHD is not lazy. Or careless. Or lacking empathy. And, no, talk therapy is not the magic cure for this ADHD challenges. Here, Ryan Wexelblatt debunks the two most common misperceptions among parents of boys with ADHD.

What Mothers Commonly Misunderstand About ADHD

Talk therapy is not required, and it’s not a solution for addressing ADHD-related challenges. Sitting in a therapists office talking about feelings and reviewing the week is not going to help you develop executive function skills. It’s also not going to help you develop the ability to think in a social context.

A lot of women find that talking about things helps them feel better. Men, on the other hand, drop out of therapy at a rate of 1 to 4 or 1 to 5. Just because you find therapy helpful does not mean that your husband or your son will find it helpful.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, on the other hand, can work with older adolescents and adults with ADHD — but not with kids. Why? CBT is very focused on your internal dialog, so if you are a kid with ADHD who can’t hear their internal dialog, it is not going to be effective.

What Fathers Commonly Misunderstand About ADHD

I hear a lot of fathers say things like, “He doesn’t care.” Or “He’s lazy.” Here’s what I want fathers to understand: Your son is not lazy or apathetic; he has difficulty getting through non-preferred tasks because he hasn’t developed a resiliency for that yet. ADHD is not a condition of inattention; it is difficulty sustaining attention on non-preferred tasks.

If your son is argumentative or oppositional, he’s not doing that to upset you. He’s doing that because he has difficulty being flexible and with perspective taking — understanding others’ thoughts and feelings. Getting angry and getting into a power struggle with him is not going to help him develop flexibility or stronger perspective-taking skills. When he is in that state and you start going after him, he can’t hear you and he can’t learn. The best time to teach him things is when he’s calmer.


Misunderstanding ADHD: Next Steps

1. Essential: 5 Pieces of ADHD Advice Every Parent Should Hear
2. Read This: Why Parents Underestimate Boys’ Flexibility and Resiliency
3. Read This: 10 Hard (But Essential) Truths for Dads of Boys with ADHD

Ask your question about ADHD in boys here!

Ryan Wexelblatt, LCSW is the facilitator of the ADHD Dude Facebook Group and YouTube channel.