Self Esteem

When Good Intentions Mean More Than Great Outcomes

I shamed my child instead of patting her on the back for her initiative and good intentions. And I instantly regretted it because she did all the wrong things for all the right reasons — and that is what should matter.

Stop ADHD Shame: Learn to See the Good in Your Child
Illustration of a sad girl in a pink dress

As soon as my nine-year-old daughter gets home from school, she tells me about her day. Even though she talks a mile a minute, it can take her 30 minutes to tell me a story that most neurotypical kids could tell in five minutes. But I always smile and listen. One of her stories had a big impact on me, not the story itself but my reaction to it.

My daughter told me that during recess, she noticed the garbage can in the girl’s bathroom was overflowing. She said there were paper towels scattered on the floor. She tidied up the trash and stuffed it into the garbage can. As she was doing this, another student walked into the bathroom and told her she was disgusting.

She was looking to me for a reassuring, positive response, but all I could think about was how many germs she touched when she handled the garbage. With a revolted look on my face, I said, “Well, that is disgusting.” She burst into tears, and my heart burst with regret.

[Free Resource: What Not to Say to a Child with ADHD]

Instead of commending my daughter for taking the initiative to clean up the litter, I scolded her. I turned an act she was proud of into something she was ashamed of.

I immediately apologized and told her I was proud of her for taking the initiative and responsibility to clean up the bathroom. Ever since that day, I try to see the good in my daughter’s actions and behaviors. Too often, kids with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) get into trouble for doing the wrong things for the right reasons.

[“I Believe In You!” How to Vanquish a Child’s Low Self-Esteem]