Please Don't Say This About My Child Who Has ADHD

No, kids with ADHD don't "just need a good smack".

10/08/2016 7:11 AM AEST | Updated 10/08/2016 9:04 AM AEST
An ADHD diagnosis often comes with a stigma.

Receiving an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnosis for your child can be a shock and a relief at the same time. Unfortunately, the diagnosis does come with a stigma which is just another burden to bear.

Despite the negatives associated with having a child diagnosed with ADHD, for many parents it opens another path of options and with dedication you can make a significant impact on the difficulties associated with the disorder.

It helps if your friends and family understand that you are not an inadequate parent just because your child has ADHD. You are not letting your child run the house. You are dealing with one of the 5 percent of children who are extremely headstrong and defiant, and you require extra-special parenting superpowers to get through the day.

These are three things you probably shouldn't say to a parent of a child with ADHD.

"Kids with ADHD just need a good smack."

Smacking is usually not effective for a child with ADHD -- nor any child. In a study published in 'Pediatrics', researchers from Tulane University found that children who were smacked more than twice a month were more likely than those who weren't smacked to develop aggressive behaviours not limited to bullying and destruction of property.

In my opinion, smacking alone will only make your child with ADHD worse as it's not teaching any values or delivering any long-term consequence. The message "Do what I tell you or I will smack you" doesn't generally sit well with any defiant child.

"Children who have ADHD simply eat too much junk food."

Usually said by someone who has no idea what your child eats on a daily basis. I have frequently witnessed this being said only to watch the person shut down because the parent is a full-blown crunchy mum deeply offended by such an ignorant statement.

It is well known that treating ADHD with dietary changes can improve the symptoms of the disorder. This often means taking an already healthy diet by Australian standards and stripping it back even more, making it particularly annoying when people still make the assumption junk food is the primary cause of ADHD.

"I read in an article which said ADHD doesn't exist."

This is where you wish you could bring your paediatrician along with you everywhere you go. In some cases, diagnosis is a long road. It can be emotional and distressing for the parent and the child. Listening to someone debunking ADHD is not music to your ears.

If you walk through all of the opinions and past the debasement theories of ADHD, your final conclusion will still be that your child needs support. That is something that cannot be argued.

Take other people's poor opinions with a grain of salt and keep being awesome. As a parent who has heard some huge assumptions about my own child who has multiple diagnosis (none of which define his whole existence) I completely sympathise with the struggle of parenting an ADHD child.

You will never please everyone and attempts to change people's mind about your child are often fruitless. No parent is perfect and if you have Vegemite in your hair on the way to the principal's office it's likely to be a testament to how hard you work with your little person every day.

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