How to Explain ADHD to Children

Terrific Teddy’s Excessive Energy: A Book for Families Living with ADHD

How to Explain ADHD to Children.

As a parent raising a child with ADHD one aspect I like, but also find challenging, is that my wife and I are constantly learning ourselves. When our six year old child was diagnosed with ADHD we were not sure what to tell him and the psychologist gave no advice after delivering the news. We didn’t know if telling our child would hurt self esteem so we didn’t tell him anything. Looking back it would have been nice to have a book to read to our child to explain ADHD. That’s part of why I wrote Terrific Teddy’s Excessive Energy. Read these two scenarios and consider which one you’d use with your child.

Good vs. bad ways to explain ADHD to children.

Scenario 1. Come here we have something we want to tell you. We heard from the doctor you went to and we found out what is wrong with you. The doctor said you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD for short. Your bad behavior is from your ADHD so that’s why you get into trouble at school and why you can be so annoying at home. We are not bad parents, it’s your ADHD that is the problem. The doctor said you need to take medicine to help you behave. We are going to start this right away so that you can get better. If you get better it will make our lives better. By the way the doctor said you need to take this for the rest of your life but it will be worth it. Do you have any questions?

Scenario 2. Come here we have something we want to tell you. We heard from the doctor you went to and the doctor gave us this book to read with you. Sit here next to me and I’ll read it to you. Don’t worry about reading any words; you just look at the pictures. We can talk about them as I read the words. The book is called “Terrific Teddy’s Excessive Energy.” Look at the cover, doesn’t it look like Teddy moves a lot.  I bet this will be a good book.  (parent reads story) Do you have any questions about the book?  You have a lot of energy like Teddy does.  I think we can try some of the things that helped Teddy and they can help you too.

Which scenario do you believe children will relate to best? If you said the second then you were correct. How you frame the news makes all the difference. You can set up an atmosphere of caring and hope rather than one that implies the child is broken. If you’ve already explained ADHD to your child in a manner that did not instill hope that’s ok because it’s not too late. You can use the book Terrific Teddy’s Excessive Energy to explain ADHD to children. This book is appropriate for parents, grandparents, teachers, counselors, and others who want to explain ADHD to children.