Things Not to Say to a Child Who Has ADHD

Everyone wants to be sensitive to a child who is struggling with ADHD. But the reality of the situation is that interacting with a student with ADHD can be frustrating, making it easy to say the wrong thing even when you have the best of intentions.

Understood.org recently published an interview with David Flink, co-founder of Eye to Eye, an organization that provides supporting mentors to students with learning differences. Flink offers some tips on what to say (and what not to say) to kids with ADHD.
His first example of words to avoid is particularly interesting:

“I know how you feel. I get distracted sometimes, too.”

You want to help your child feel less alone. But unless you have ADHD, too, a comment like this may trivialize her challenges with ADHD. She may wonder, “If Mom can get along OK, what’s wrong with me that I can’t?”

Instead, try, “I can’t know how you feel, but I will help any way I can.” One of the best ways: Connect her with kids and adults who have ADHD and really do understand her experience.

It is important to not trivialize the struggle people with ADHD face by equating their attention issues with typical inattention. It is important to acknowledge the unique experience of students who are struggling and engage their perspective when looking for strategies to succeed. I encourage you to read the rest of the article, which is full of excellent suggestions.

Here at SMARTS, we have always felt that one of the best ways to help students with learning differences to adopt new strategies is through work with a mentor who shares their personal experiences. As a former mentor in the SMARTS Leadership and Mentoring program, I witnessed the powerful impact that supportive peer mentoring can have. You can actually see this process in action! Check out these videos of SMARTS mentors on our YouTube page.

Do you have advice on how to communicate with children who have ADHD? Let us know in the comments!

Elizabeth Ross, M.A., SMARTS Media Manager