Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Comparing our children can be detrimental to ours and our children’s mental health.
As a mum and teacher, I know how easy it is to look at a child and worry about their development. To compare them to the next child, or worse, to the ‘milestones’ featured in literature and online baby apps, we can be left feeling anxious, blaming of ourselves and/or frustrated with the child. Our children can sense our feelings, and their sense of worth and self-esteem can be affected.
This is exactly what happened with our first child when, at 18 months old, he began to find processing instructions, filtering his thoughts and forming sentences tricky. This summer, he was diagnosed with ADHD and but the 6 years before the diagnosis were difficult for our family.
I read countless books to try to understand and support him. Inevitably, he just needed time to grow and mature, be praised, loved and given plenty of patience.
The day he was diagnosed, we felt huge relief. Now we could all move forward, understanding him better. He is an incredible boy and I have so much faith that, like most children, if we celebrate all he can do and nurture him to follow his interests, he will succeed at whatever he chooses to do. We’re thinking artist, dancer, engineer, computer-boffin...!
ADHD effects up to 3 in 10 people in the UK. The symptoms are wide ranging - from the stereotypical chatterbox bouncing off the walls, to the daydreamer. ADHD effects the brain’s executive functions, which present as some, or all of the following:
- Short attention span and easily distracted, difficult to get their attention (even when calling their name)
- Making careless mistakes, forgetful or losing things
- Having difficulty organising or staying on tasks (if they find it tedious)
- OR may be hyper-focused and unable to pull-away from a task (if they are enjoying it)
- Unable to listen to or carry out instructions
- Constantly changing activity or task
- Being unable to sit still, fidgeting
- Excessive talking, being unable to wait their turn, interrupting conversations
- Impulsive, acting without thinking
- Little or no sense of danger
From recent experience, people don’t understand enough about ADHD and ASD - so the child can too easily be written off as attention seeking, lazy, defiant, or 'just young'! The truth is that children with ADHD struggle to filter the information, ideas and stimulation rushing around their brains and do not have the same self-control, organisational skills and working-memory as a ‘neurotypical’ child (whatever one of those is). They are however, as intelligent and creative as their peers (if not more so!).
If you can think of anyone who is displaying the symptoms I mentioned, I urge you to speak to a paediatrician and begin the journey of getting them support and understanding.
People with ADHD are two thirds more likely to develop a mental health issue and are ten times more likely to commit suicide due to low self-esteem and other issues related to the executive function/social expectations mismatch. Sorry, that’s a little dark, I just wanted to illustrate the gravity of this.
On a lighter note, here are some amazing ADHD winners … Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Michael Jordan, Abraham Lincoln, Sir Richard Branson, Steven Spielberg, Michael Phelps, Simone Biles… (https://www.gracepointwellness.org/3-adhd/article/60778-famous-people-with-adhd
ADHD is not a negative infliction but something that should be celebrated. I know we are in this house!!
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