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9 Mean Teacher Comments Every Student with ADHD Knows Too Well

“My teacher is so mean. She doesn’t like me.” If your child has ADHD, you know that “mean teachers” are rarely cruel on purpose. But sometimes their lack of knowledge and training on ADHD means that they have expectations — and comments — that are wholly inappropriate and/or unhelpful for our kids. Here are the 9 that I remember most clearly.

5 Comments: 9 Mean Teacher Comments Every Student with ADHD Knows Too Well

  1. @vallance33- thanks for asking what would be helpful. My perspective is honestly that everyone is trying their best. This looks different for everyone. Even neurotypical adults and children have off days but there is always a reason! You’re tired, you’re hungry, you’re overwhelmed and stressed. I am sure you understand what that feels like. Well, this is how it is daily for a child with ADHD. I swear these kids are judging themselves more than any one else. If they can accomplish something they will. I think encouraging the child and having empathy is important and believing that they are giving it their all is the first step. Then it is important to look at how they can be accommodated to keep up with their peers as best as possible. Sometimes this looks like extra time on a test or being able to take the test in a separate room. There are many different ways to brainstorm how to help set the child up for success and there are alot of resources on this website. I also think it is important that children aren’t treated as though having successful scores is the most important thing in life! I think it’s important for teachers to know that children with ADHD are managing so much. Just getting through the day without a meltdown can be a huge accomplishment.

  2. As a teacher and parent, i have said all of these things. I hardly ever remember that these children have a “disorder.” i fall into the ,”Ya right, he has this disorder, but I still think in the back of my mind he is capable of controlling it, or even I am adept to controlling them” So for the sake of this article, what words SHOULD we say instead. If,for example, we think think they’re just not applying themselves, knowing they have add, what can i say that’s positive or reinforcing? I don’t want to lie and blow smoke up their ___________ .

  3. !,2,3,5, and 6 were my main k-12 comments. My dad called me a con man. I think that hurt the worst. Just to prove everyone wrong I got a PhD in CS. Now that I’m taking medication and can see things more clearly I have a new perspective. While I’m not sure I would have gotten the PhD had I known then what I know now, I’m okay with it. I’m still amazed at how poor everyone else’s imagination is. My mom really loved me and for that I’m truly thankful. I wish I could have told her that before she died. I found love in my wife and kids but now I can just be happy watching them do their thing. I tell them I love them and am proud of them no matter what. Since one of them, I’m fairly sure, is also ADHD, I know what she’s going through and she talks to me when she’s really stressed out. My main goal now is to bring some joy to the world.

  4. I’m a parent of two (adult) kids diagnosed with ADD, a former educator, and a current tutor. And I honestly have to say, I heard and continue to hear these comments way more from parents than I ever did from teachers. Parents say these things to me in front of their children and they say them to their children in front of me. When the child has an official diagnosis it is much easier because I am comfortable reminding the parent that these behaviors are connected to the ADHD and we can talk about ways to help support the child.

    When the child hasn’t been diagnosed, however (and particularly when the family is new), it is really difficult for me. It is hard to think of ways to intervene, especially if I get the sense that the family is going to be resistant to an ADHD diagnosis. I would love some appropriate responses to say to a parent when they get going on the, “my kid is just lazy” or “she’d do great if she just applied herself” routines. Or any of the other comments you listed above…I seriously think they have all been said in front of me (including the “she won’t stop talking to her neighbors” even though obviously there is nothing I can do about that since it occurs at school!

  5. Even though I have been out of elementary school for over 50 years I still remember hearing these statements and feeling pretty worthless. The hurt, shame, and lack of self-esteem can stay with a person far longer than any physical wound. I have one more for the list “If you would only apply yourself to your schoolwork” my response was always – I’m not wallpaper!

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