Label My Child? Yes, Please.
I understand why some parents fear and avoid the ADHD label, but for my family it’s provided clarity, resources, and a path toward healing. ADHD doesn’t define us, but it does help explain a lot.
Spend any time on any ADHD forum, and you’ll inevitably find a comment declaring that: “ADHD is just a label.” It’s always said with a mic-drop sort of attitude, as if it’s the end-all in ADHD discussions. Boom — that commenter sure showed us!
Joke’s on that doubter, though, because we know ADHD is a label — and thank goodness for that. Where would we be without the label of ADHD?
Labels Give Us Information
You see, nobody’s out there studying the label-less. No one’s writing research papers on why “Jane Doe gets distracted and loses her keys every stinking day.” They’re studying actual conditions (the labels, if you will): ADHD, ODD, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more.
Without labels, where would we get our information? Where would we get the help we need?
Before I knew my husband had ADHD, I attributed his forgetfulness to a lack of empathy or regard. I was left to label him on my own: Lazy. Selfish. Unkind.
Before my daughter was diagnosed, I attributed her intense tantrums to poor parenting on my part. I labeled myself: Inept. Out of control. Bad mother.
Once they were diagnosed and the labels came out, a burden was lifted in our relationships. Now we’re able to study their symptoms, figure out what makes them tick, and delve into articles, books, and videos to understand their motivations.
We can find solutions.
Even When the Label Doesn’t Necessarily Fit
I have another daughter who has been going through a difficult emotional time that’s leaving me at a complete loss. I finally started typing her behaviors into Google, expecting to find general parenting articles. Instead, what came back was “highly sensitive child.”
I don’t know if it fits my daughter perfectly, but some of it makes sense. She hasn’t been diagnosed, but guess where I’m spending my Google time these days? That’s right — trying to learn how to parent a highly sensitive child.
And I’m finding techniques and answers that work for her. Hallelujah!
She probably is not truly a “highly sensitive child,” but I’m grateful the label exists because it’s providing me with techniques and research that’s changing the dynamics of our home.
We All Actually Secretly Love Labels
There’s a reason personality tests are so popular. Almost anyone can tell you if they’re a Type A or Type B person. Do you have a red or blue personality? Is your love language gift giving or words of affirmation?
Labels, all of them.
We’re all attracted to labels. Why? Because they help us learn more about ourselves. They help us see that some of those negative characteristics we don’t like are signs of a condition we can label — not a moral failing.
And these labels give us the tools to turn those weaknesses into strengths. Perhaps more importantly, they help us recognize our strengths for what they are — amazing abilities that allow us to be our best selves.
The ADHD label is not a bad thing. The label is where the healing begins.