Help Your Child with ADHD Gain a Strong Sense of Self : Additude


It is one of life’s great ironies that our sense of self comes mostly from others.

As children, we learn who we are and how we are valued by the feedback we receive from other people. If we do something and others respond with warmth, admiration, and pleasure, we think of that action as reflecting the good part of ourselves. If, on the other hand, we do something and it is met with disapproval or withdrawal of love, we have been bad and we must not do it again.

How Kids with ADHD Are Perceived and Judged

There are three basic ways in which this feedback loop goes wrong for children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD). The first is that kids with ADHD rarely behave the same way consistently enough to get a consistent stream of feedback. Sometimes they are empathic and other times self-absorbed. If they find something interesting, they can achieve anything but they cannot do 20 minutes of homework without a meltdown. It can be hard to develop a singular sense of self while evoking contradictory feedback.

The second way things go wrong is when children receive feedback based on neurotypical expectations. While neurodiverse children are trying to discover themselves and what the world values in them, there is a fire hose of feedback telling them they should be like other children. The world tells them that having ADHD means they have “bad brains” and belong on the short bus.

These expectations are often expressed with questions that start with “Why.” “Why” questions demand a justification for failure or falling short: “Why did you get a D when you are smart enough to get an A?” or “Why did you do something so impulsive when you’ve already made this same mistake before?” Parents and others may not say it in so many words, but “Why” questions make a statement that says, “You are not the child I wanted or expected.” Pressure to conform to neurotypical expectations leads to shame. If guilt is the painful gut feeling about what we have done, then shame is that same feeling about who we are. Shame is the only emotion that wants to stay hidden.

 

Source: Help Your Child with ADHD Gain a Strong Sense of Self : Additude

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