How can I help my child with ADHD accept that he is different?

In this exercise you will help your child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to realistically accept that he's different, and guide him to have a compassionate response to his difference rather than getting mad at himself for being different.
  1. Ask your child what having ADHD means to him. Let him respond as much or as little as he wants. Answer any questions, but try to get a sense of how he feels about the diagnosis. Turn this into a game by showing your child how he can use one of his hands to share with you how his heart feels. Hold your hand out in a tight fist and say, "When someone tells me I did some- thing wrong, my heart closes down and feels like this." Then, open your hand with the palm up, like a bowl, and say, "When someone says I'm great just the way I am, my heart feels like this."
  2. Now ask your child to show you with his hand how his heart feels when the teacher says he is disrupting class or scolds him for not paying attention. Remind him that there is no right or wrong answer -- this is just a game of make-believe. After he shows you how his heart feels by using his hand, ask him to show you what his heart feels like when the teacher notices he is trying very hard and is pleased with him.
  3. Now ask your child to show you with his hand how his heart feels when he hears that he has ADHD. He will probably have a closed fist. Ask him to tell you why his heart is closed. Ask him what he needs in order to open his heart. Listen to him and make note of changes you can make in the home and in the school setting.
  4. Tell your child that ADHD is something that makes a person different, but that differences are good and the difference of ADHD is a gift. Tell your child that because he is different from other children this sometimes makes life harder for him. Tell him that he can take one of two different attitudes about the diagnosis: (1) he can be mad at others for not having the diagnosis and he can feel sorry for himself for being different, or (2) he can realize how strong he is for making it through school when he is different from what the school leaders expect of children. He can realize that his traits make him really good at some things, and that his differences can serve the world in important, needed ways.
  5. Ask your child to show you with his hand how each of these beliefs makes his heart feel. Tell him that he will want to focus on repeating the second option to himself in order to keep his heart open.
The Gift of ADHD: How to Transform Your Child's Problems into Strengths

More About this Book

The Gift of ADHD: How to Transform Your Child's Problems into Strengths

As a parent, you already know that your child has many gifts. What you may not know is that attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) related symptoms—the very qualities that lead him or her...

Continue Learning about ADHD

Living with Adult ADHD
Living with Adult ADHD
Work, money, relationships, emotional well-being, and health -- ADHD in adults can affect many areas of your life. And when you've been living with ad...
Read More
What are the subtypes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?
Discovery HealthDiscovery Health
The three types of ADHD diagnosis are: ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type; ADHD, Predominantly Hyp...
More Answers
Do children with ADHD experience emotional sensitivity or other problems?
About two-thirds of children with ADHD also have other problems, such as depression, anxiety, dyslex...
More Answers
Minimize Side Effects from ADHD Medications
Minimize Side Effects from ADHD Medications

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.